Category Archives: Food

Pirates of the Caribbean in the Cereal Aisle

Do you ever feel overwhelmed when you turn the corner to enter the cereal aisle?  How did we ever go from Corn Flakes and Quaker Oats to five thousand brands and flavors of cereal?  Realistically, they could all be whittled down to two categories:  1.) Vat of Sugar and 2.) Tree bark.  Adults have to pay for this food, yet we end up with kids on a sugar high while we scarf down the shavings of a dogwood. 

The fact that cereal was not in the Garden of Eden should be a major clue.  Adam and Eve were eating fresh fruit, not Fruit Loops.  We are talking about dead food in a box, but apparently it is the centerpiece aisle of the supermarket.

When you walk down the cereal aisle with children, it’s a bit like going for a ride at Disney World.  With all of the flashy colors and marketing, it’s a wonder the supermarkets don’t turn it into a Pirates of the Caribbean adventure.  You could get on a little boat and sail down a darkened aisle, while carousing pirates sing “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life For Me)” and advertise the various cereals. In between bouts of pillaging, they could toss out samples. When you get to the end of the aisle, you could sail down a little waterfall and get off the ride.

I bet you thought supermarkets were all about food.  On the surface, yes, but when you delve into the heart of a supermarket chain, you will find that they have more tricks than the Trix Rabbit himself.  Starting with the prize inside the box.

Decades ago, the prize in a cereal box was a simple toy or a decoder ring.  The other day I noticed that the prize offered was a possible trip to Turks and Caicos.  One in a million people might actually get to go on this trip, but it must increase sales to at least offer the potential of a Caribbean cruise.  More incentive is needed because we all recognize that the older we get, the more our cereal starts to resemble rabbit pellets. Some poor guy who is freezing his tushie off in Vancouver will gladly buy the cereal for the chance to run his fingers through the hot sand.  Realistically, the only thing he will run his fingers through is his collection of decoder rings from the 1950s, while he throws another log on the fire and yearns for Frosted Flakes.

If the pattern holds, in ten years cereal boxes will include a sweepstakes drawing for a trip to the moon.   

The marketing plan seems devious, but it works.  How else are they going to sell the tree bark?   Part of the plan is to give the cereal a name that makes you think you are eating the most healthful foods on the planet, despite the artificial ingredients, sugar, and high fructose corn syrup.  Heart Healthy, Smart Morning, Natural Goodness. 

That’s because you would never buy the following cereals:

Death in a Box

Chemical Overload

Fructose Flakes

Sugar Valley

Unpronounceable Ingredients

Stove Top Stuffing Causes Mr. Potato Head Breakdown

Mr. Potato Head Undergoing Treatment For Stress

AP – Idaho. An ugly scene unfolded yesterday as Mr. Potato Head broke down on the set of his new movie, Mashed.  “I don’t know what happened, ” an eyewitness reported. “One minute he was rehearsing his lines with Daniel Day Lewis; next thing you know, he was weeping like a baby in his trailer.”

“Spud’s had a rough year,” explained Lewis.  “He just turned 60.  The stress of being a has-been is getting to him.”

And a stressful year it has been.  Mr. Head recently got voted off Dancing with the Stars after an embarrassing attempt at, of all dances, The Mashed Potato. 

“I feel bad for the dumpy little guy,” said Dancing star, Maksim “Maks” Chmerkovsky. “He was trying to revive his career.  But he doesn’t have any legs.  And those spindly arms kept getting twisted around in a creepy way.”

DWTS host Tom Bergeron agreed. “Nice guy, but America just thought he was boring.”   

“Unlike me,” Maks added, flexing his pecs.

When pressed for more information, Daniel Day Lewis finally shed more light on yesterday’s breakdown. “It was my brogue.  It reminded him of Ireland and the potato famine.  He’s a little bitter about that.”

Last year Mr. Potato Head made headlines when he ruined Larry King’s final interview by confessing that he had been “living a lie.”   According to sources at the show, Mr. King wanted to leave on a positive note, and he was very disappointed by Mr. Head’s depressing story.

A Larry King staffer explained, “Mr. Head just kept droning on about how everybody thinks that millions left Ireland during the famine because they were missing potatoes, when in fact they came to America because they heard about a new side dish called “stuffing.” Stove Top was supposedly organizing an #unpotatofest, and that’s why the massive exodus occurred.”

This isn’t the first time Mr. Potato Head has called out Stove Top in his conspiracy theory.  In January, Oprah invited Mr. Head and a spokesperson from Stove Top to air their differences on her show with Dr. Phil’s help. 

Things got ugly from the beginning, when Mr. Head was asked to sit on Oprah’s couch. “A couch?  Is this some sort of joke?  I’m supposed to sit on there and look like some sort of couch potato or something?”

When Dr. Phil tried to address bitterness issues, Mr. Head got nasty.

“You’re darn right I’m bitter.  You think I enjoy wearing this stupid disguise?  Everyone knows that behind my mustache and glasses, I’m just a boring, dumb potato.” 

It didn’t help when Mr. Stove Top Rep started listing the virtues of choosing stuffing over potatoes.  “Who wants to have to scrub potatoes and wait an hour for them to cook?  Stove Top stuffing is tastier and only takes two minutes to prepare in the microwave.  Plus, the canister is re-sealable, so you can take as little or as much as you need.”

“I eat it right out of the canister,” added Dr. Phil.

Apparently that was too much for Mr. Potato Head to endure.  He challenged Mr. Stove Top to a duel, who responded with, “See you later, Tater.”

“Why don’t you look me in the eye spot when you talk to me?” Mr. Head fumed, to which Mr. Stove Top replied, “Which one?”

To add to the humiliation, Oprah’s audience chanted, “Stove TOP!  Stove TOP!” after which TV host Rachel Ray came on the set to demonstrate Chicken with Stove Top Stuffing and Balsamic Cream Gravy.  

Yesterday’s breakdown on the movie set was clearly a long time in the making.  Mr. Potato Head has reportedly admitted himself into the Nightshade Vegetable Institute for evaluation. “I’m afraid he has a long road ahead of him,” claimed the admitting nurse. “We’re serving Stove Top for dinner tonight.”


Michelangelo’s Easter Eggs

Dyeing Easter eggs is a tradition that was apparently started by some guy named Paas.  I don’t think he started out deliberately trying to color eggs for the holiday.  Who would ever think of coloring eggs to celebrate the resurrection of Christ?  More likely Mrs.Paas gave her husband some chicken coop chore, which he botched miserably and tried to cover up by saying, “Look, honey, I made these beautiful eggs for you.”

“What am I supposed to do with blue eggs?” she replied skeptically.

“You could put them in a basket full of fake grass,” he answered.

 “And what does that have to do with Easter?”

“Er, well, eggs symbolize new life?”

Noticing her blank stare, he threw in, “and if we market this we could make millions.”  And thus, the egg dyeing industry was born. 

Of course, over time some adjustments had to be made. The Paas family children demonstrated why you should only dye hard boiled eggs, never raw.  After their first five hundred attempts rolled onto the floor, they also realized the need for egg holders.  And thankfully, they also accelerated the need for stickers to cover a shoddy job on the coloring. 

So we begin by throwing little colorful tablets into vinegar and watching them dissolve like Alka Seltzer.  Should it concern us that our food is going to be dipped into a substance which looks like it would remove pesky toilet stains?  And the smell is unmistakable.  Christmas smells like gingerbread, candy, and cookies. Independence Day smells like mouthwatering barbeque. And Easter? Stain remover. Thankfully, we can cover the smell somewhat by placing Peeps in the microwave until they explode.  The burning sugar nicely displaces the rancid smell of the vinegar.

For most of my life, I have been a self-proclaimed egg dyeing coward.  I know there are people who double dip and make professional grade multi-colored eggs. I’m happy for those of you who can use a flimsy wire holder and turn out Faberge eggs fit for the Romanoff family.  Believe me, I’ve tried. My egg always flips out of the holder and drowns itself, leaving me no choice but to pretend that I really intended for my egg to be one color.  I’ve tried using a spoon and even my fingers, but my eggs are always one color. I’m a Monochromatic Mary.  I’ve got no tricks up my sleeve;  I do one color and slap on some dopey looking stickers to cover up the fact that my three year old could do a better job.

My brother is the only person I know who can use that “magic” white crayon and do an invisible drawing on an egg, tie-dye it, and make it look like a painting on the Sistine Chapel.  I tried it once, but it looked more like graffiti on a Vegas Wedding Chapel.

I’d like to think that even  Michelangelo would have had trouble with the Paas magic crayon.  But the truth is he probably could have even used the wire holder as a paint brush.  He could have painted beautiful eggs while standing on his head.  But using the cardboard egg holders?  That’s another story…

Fort Knox and the English Walnuts

Sometimes we can go a little overboard with buying in bulk.  The word “bulk” should give us the first clue.  Do we truly need a vat of mayonnaise that can only be transferred home on a barge?  It gets a little embarrassing when you have to rent a storage unit just to hold the overflow.  I wonder how many kitchen renovations are actually initiated by the inability to store tubs of cheese puffs in inadequate cupboard space. 

We just bought enough nuts in bulk to survive hibernation for the entire winter.  To save money, we selected nuts with shells, as we figured the extra effort to open them would also prevent us from overeating.  What we didn’t plan on was the possibility of starvation while trying to crack the nuts open. 

Our children gathered around in fascination as we showed them these new snacks that required the use of a tool to get open.  Of course, our two boys were hoping to smash them open with a hammer.  But alas, I used a nutcracker, and I don’t mean the scary wooden guy from a certain holiday ballet with dancing sugar plum fairies.  Somehow  I ended up with the same nutcracker my family used back in the 1970s.  After much frustration, I realized that this antique couldn’t even open a cobweb drenched in dew.

I placed a giant English walnut in the nutcracker and squeezed.  The nut shot like a cannon across the room, much to the delight of our kids.  Who would have thought that nut cracking could become a circus act. After what seemed like several hundred tries, I considered hiring a squirrel to come help us.  They made it look so easy, and I guess they had lulled me into a false confidence that I knew what I was doing. 

Before I checked the yellow pages for squirrel temp agencies, I was filled with a sense of dread that every squirrel in our neighborhood had caught wind of our nut delivery, and had surrounded the house in a siege.  Forget about that cute little squirrel from Rocky and Bullwinkle, these were menacing little rodents, directly descended from the squirrels of Attila the Hun.  I hunkered down and hurried my efforts.

Craaack! That’s when I discovered that flying nutshells can potentially take out an eye.  So can the nut pick in the hands of a three year old.  Soon shells were flying far and wide, and our living room looked like a horrifying scene from WWII.  Only instead of the Battle of the Bulge, it was the Battle of the Bulk. I have a feeling that for years to come, we will be picking the nutshell shrapnel out of furniture and rugs.  When I finally cracked the shell, I realized that I only had one nut and three little kids hungrily waiting for a snack.  This was going to take awhile.

With such a lapse of time between the opening of each shell, every nut was devoured as though it might be our last.  Ironically, we looked like a bunch of squirrels ourselves, pouncing on even the slightest morsel that managed to free itself from the shells of Fort Knox. 

The next day I asked the kids what they would like for a snack.  I braced myself for the inevitable four-letter word: “NUTS!”  Rubbing my carefully bandaged hands, I grabbed the nutcracker and settled down for another try.  Then I made a mental note for next winter’s bulk purchase:  raisins.