Tromping down memory lane, who could forget these (now somewhat ghastly) staples of our early diet:
Cheez Whiz… much like Velveeta, this processed food made its debut in 1952 and was piled on crackers and spread on white bread
Hostess Twinkies and Cupcakes
Scrambled Eggs and Bacon
Iceberg lettuce with watery bottled dressing
Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Campbell’s Tomato Soup
Yoo Hoo (chocolate flavored soft drink developed in New Jersey in 1928 and manufactured by Keurig Dr Pepper)
Swanson Frozen Dinners
Meatloaf (smothered in ketchup)
Tuna Noodle Casserole
Chicken à la King
Red Delicious Apples
Meatballs and Spaghetti
and some of the first convenience foods:
1950. Minute Rice
1951. Ore Ida Foods (frozen potato products)
1953. Eggo Frozen Waffles
1954. General Mills Trix cereal
1955. Kellogg’s Special K cereal
1956. Imperial Margarine
It’s fun to look back and see which of these bastions of the early years we still consume and even enjoy, and which ones we wouldn’t eat on a bet (can you spell J-e-l-l-o?). We’ve traded sugary cereals for Irish Steel Cut Oatmeal, Chinese take-out for spicy Thai noodles, Cheez Whiz for goat cheese and Brie and fish sticks for fish tacos. Our first bite of KFC fried chicken is an ancient memory, our first McDonald’s we probably can’t even remember and our first white Minute Rice a bland, boring starchy filler. Many of us still embrace peanut butter, but it’s the natural organic variety, not sugary Skippy.
Baked Alaska? Good luck finding it on any restaurant menu these days. Head lettuce has given way to crunchy Napa cabbage, arugula and romaine, cremini, portobello and shitake mushrooms and and the revered avocado added to salads, sandwiches and our new favorite Mexican foods. Risotto rice with savory veggies, beautiful pasta dishes with nary a meatball in sight, endless flavors of tortilla chips and salsas, designer pizza, white chicken chili, fresh fish with flavorful sauces or just grilled on a barbeque.
Okay, so maybe you have a box of Twinkies or Little Debbie snack cakes hidden in the linen closet; a stash of Hershey bars under the dish towels in the kitchen; or a jumbo bag of Lay’s Potato Chips in the trunk of your car (in case you get stranded on the freeway for several hours). You’re in control, aren’t you? And sometimes you just draw the binds, don’t answer the phone and down an entire bottle of Pinot Grigio wine with your Laughing Cow cheese triangles (on Ritz Crackers, of course). Life is good. Food is good. And aren’t we lucky. We can pick up a roasted rotisserie chicken at the supermarket, a carton of garlic mashed potatoes, pop a bag of frozen vegetables into the microwave and have a whole dinner in less than 15 minutes. What a world. And not a jiggly bowl of cherry Jello in sight.
Later I’m going out for shrimp tacos drenched in fresh lime juice and Pico de Gallo. And maybe some double chocolate swirl gelato. This Boomer is a full-fledged foodie with no end in sight.