Have you seen the cereal and cookie aisles at the grocery stores lately? What is all this stuff? How many variations of one cereal do people eat? I remember when there was one Cheerios, one Raisin Bran, and one Rice Chex.
Wow, do I sound old?
I go to the grocery store a few times a week, usually accompanying m'lady. Our standard places for shopping are Shop N' Kart and the Food Co-op.
Shop N' Kart is an interesting place. Independently owned, open seven days a week, 7 in the morning to midnight, it has an old store ambiance. That doesn't come from the decor but from the employees. Mostly young college students and kids out of high school, many of them chat, gossip and sing with one another as they go about their business. They stock excellent vegan choices, necessary for the vegan wife, along with excellent organic produce at decent prices. It's my go to place for Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia Fro Yo, and my blueberry bran granola. There's a wonderful sense of community at Shop N' Kart.
We're members of the Food Co-op, which is a co-operative. We're all owners but non-owners can shop there. They offer Ashland's best organic produce but they're pricier. It's a busy place, with crowded aisles and an erratic order to me. It's sense of disorder throws me off. My friend doesn't like it. He says people just go there to socialize and shop.
Before continuing, I nust mention Ashland's great beer and wine selections. Seriously. If you like to drink beer and wine, visit us. Although the Co-op and Shop N' Kart are small stores, they have excellent and varied wine and beer. Both also have a delightful cheese selections.
We go to Market of Choice as our number three place. Then there are 'the others'. Safeway and Albertson's. We go in there once in a while but not often. I keep my eyes averted when I'm in there. Seriously, we know what we're looking for and we rarely venture past what we seek.
Yesterday, I had to venture into...the other...Albertson's...aisles.
A friend was laid up and I offered to pick up a few things for her and her kids and drop them off.
Oh my God.
Oreos. Remember them? I remember when they came out with double stuffed Oreos. There are now like thirty variations of Oreos. I'd heard that they were developing some square ones for China but in the meantime, I hadn't realized what was happening here in America. My quest was to get 'double stuffed cool mint oreos' and 'peanut butter oreos'.
Peanut butter Oreos.
They have done it. They have put peanut butter in instead of creme in our beloved Oreos.
Seeing aisle upon aisle of changes put me into shock. Potato chips...crackers...soups. Soda beverages. Nothing was sacred. In a sugary rush, I ran through the aisles shouting, "The Twinkies, the Twinkies, what have they done with the Twinkies?"
There was only one type of Twinkie on the aisle. Picking up a package, I stared at it, smiling in memory. It's been so mocked in television and movies. What other manufactured food product has been featured in so many entertainment venues? Sure, there have been references to Pop Tarts (have you seen what they've done to them), Ho Hos, Thin Mints and other Girl Scout offerings but the Twinkie remains our iconic American food. And it's still unchanged from when I was a child, five decades ago, creme on the inside, golden sponge cake on the outside, wrapped in clear, thin cellophone.
I was tempted to buy and eat one but I decided to preserve its memory as something special and not sully it by trying to recapture what it used to mean. As I returned it to its place, a woman passed.
"Have you heard?" she asked. "They have chocolate filled Twinkies now."
Chocolate filled Twinkie?
What will be next? Strawberry filled Twinkies? Coconut Creme?
Peanut Butter Twinkies?
Mom never liked Twinkies. She said they had no taste. Clearly she had not taste.
I'm certain, no matter what happens, these foods are all becoming special memories for some kids, just as Twinkies, Snowballs, and Ho Hos were for me. But for now, all I could think was, I wonder what happens when you microwave a Twinkie?
Fortunately Youtube provides an answer. Isn't the Internet wonderful?
I wonder what they did to Twinkies before microwaves?
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com