People eat scrapple. People eat bugs. People eat dogs. All because their parents fed them scrapple, bugs, or dogs. Unsurprisingly, studies by anthropologists confirm that, for the most part, human beings like to eat the foods they grew up eating. Let me give you an example from the world of Don.
Growing up in the 50s, my parents took me and my brothers on frequent road trips. I have many fond memories of highway food—exotic treats, roadside picnics, and snacks consumed in the back seat of various station wagons.
If Dad stopped to refuel and was in a generous mood, he might come back to the car with a snack for the kids. He would never choose any treat that could melt. No chocolate. Often, Dad would return to the driver’s seat carrying a package of Fig Newtons he’d picked up in the service station. This was in the time long before sell-by dates appeared on packages, so these bad boys had probably stood neglected on the shelf of the service station for decades. Fig Newtons were introduced in the 1890s and it is possible that some of the cookies Dad fed us were from Nabisco’s first batch. These Fig Newtons were always rock hard and sometimes seemed to have a faint taste of gasoline from spending years next to service bay number one.
To this day, I prefer a stale Fig Newton. I can eat a fresh Fig Newton but it just never seems right—far too soft. For me, a Fig Newton isn’t at its peak until the package has been opened and the contents allowed to dry out for a month or more. An ancient one is pleasantly resistant and offers an obstinate chewiness that will always seem right to me.
Good or bad, my parents taught me what to eat and I’m still on the highway they showed me. Thanks, Dad.
Do you have any fond memories of the odd things your parents fed you?
Don—Pittsburgh, December 19, 2019.