Monday, February 15, 2010

The Good Ole' Days

A friend and I were talking a while back how things were different when we were kids. For instance, holidays meant special dishes and desserts that were only prepared for that particular holiday. And as kids, we did not get dessert every night after dinner. It was reserved for special times or to mark a special event. And soda? Soda was also for special occasions, like holidays or camping trips. 

I remember as a child being allowed a can of soda a day, any flavor I wanted, during  holidays such as Christmas or 4th of July. During our camping events, I remember opening the ice-cooler that contained soda cans in pretty colors that were snugged in thousands of ice cubes. I was allowed one per day. Sometimes if things went very well, I was allowed two. I remember my sisters and brother and I sharing sips from each other's cans because we all chose a different flavor of soda and wanted to try as many flavors as possible so we could make a decision which soda to choose the next day.

I remember my mother making both "Blueberry and Cherry Delight" for 4th of July and my father's birthday a month later. It was the dessert of summer because it didn't require baking or heating up the kitchen. Mostly, our dessert--if we had any during the hot late spring and summer months were fruits and fruit salads. We just didn't consider them as dessert so much as regular food.
I recall the days when cakes and cookies and ice cream was for extraordinary occasions. The only time we had a container of ice cream in the freezer was when it either someone's birthday or we were celebrating a special occasion--like company was coming for dinner or relatives from out of town were staying with us. Cookies were an occasional treat and whenever my mom felt like baking  up a batch. Once they were gone that was it until the next batch. 

I also remember going to out to eat at a restaurant or even a fast-food joint was reserved for special occasions instead of being the main source of eating. I remember the first time my beloved gramma took me to Arby's. I must have been about 5 or 6 years old and it was a magical moment in my life. We went to this too modern looking place and had lunch--just she and I. I don't remember why it was just her and I or what the occasion was, but I remember enjoying my time with her and it was marked by lunch at Arby's. 

Both my friend and I noticed that it's different in today's society. That going out to eat at a fast-food joint or a restaurant is considered more of the norm, while staying home and cooking is the occasional special treat/occasion event. That drinking soda is something one can do every day and all day long, rather than save for special occasions. That cookies, cakes, and ice creams are staples in our kitchens for daily consumption. That we were healthier as a society and as a nation when meals were prepared from the beginning rather than from convenience. 

Do you remember the television ads that first listed Hamburger Helper as a nutritious meal that took less time preparing? My mother wasn't the only one who jumped on that bandwagon. I remember when she used to make beef stroganoff from scratch, including thinly slicing the potatoes, mixing the sauce with fresh sour cream. It was one of those meals that was so good, but we couldn't eat any more because we were stuffed. The first time she bought Hamburger Helper it was beef stroganoff and it tasted nasty. We complained and she told us that it was nutritious food, even if it came out of a box. By the time Hamburger Helper came out with Tuna Helper, our tastebuds had been killed off and the pre-packaged foods did taste good. 

It seems like it was a major achievement to be able to serve your family a meal that only took 30 minutes or less to prepare.  Pop open a can or two, tear open a box, slice the top of the package off and presto-chango--you have a meal fit to serve...well...anyone who was hungry. It would not serve our nutrious needs, but it will fill that hungry hole in our middle for a little bit. 

For the last 30 to 40 years, we have been bamboozled into believing that we are entitled to have dessert or soda whenever we want it. We are now finding out that some of those chemicals that they mix to preserve "food" and to make prepackaged foods taste better are actually as addictive and as damaging as methamphetimines.  Thanks to global farming, we can have strawberries in the winter months. And we don't have to grow our own.  We are so removed from our food that we lost our connection to it and how it feeds us.  

I'm supposing that is the sign of progress--that we can have our desserts whenever we want them--even if they replace a meal. But I miss the old days when we marked special occasions with something special, instead of something we do every day. Maybe I'm just getting older?!?!?! 

How about you? Do you miss those days or are you glad you can just reach for what you want, when you want it? Do you have personal rants about our foods? How do you feel about health and food in general? 

PS:  Don't forget about the giveaway! 



  1. I remember when Mac Donald's first opened. It was 1/2 hour away, we went occasionally. 15 cents for a hamburger wow LOL. When my son was growing up, we used to go a lot. I pretty much think that was one of the ruins of our society and obesity. Secondly, I think a lot of our health issues are related to processed foods and drugs put into the animals we eat. We pretty much never had dessert unless it was a cake or cookies for a birthday. I don't watch as much as I should with the processed food as I should. It's probably because of the convenience of it.

  2. Such a thoughtful post. There's no question that I eat a lot of what I eat because of the convenience of it. Our culture, values and personal relationships have also been impacted because we don't sit down as families together for regular meals. Everyone is out grabbing something here and there. You have a wonderful way of expressing the feelings that many of us share.

  3. Interesting post. We've never eaten out much, but then I really like to cook and bake. So while my kids had cookies, going out was a treat. We didn't have a lot of chips or candy around either. It's not that we NEVER had chips/candy, but just not that often. I've always wondered if my kids hearing about their friends eating out all the time made them want to do that as soon as they were out on their own. My son cooks (his wife doesn't) and my daughter is a great cook but it's just too easy to eat out - expensive, but easy.

  4. I remember vividly that going out was a special treat and usually for adults only so when the youngsters tagged along, we had to be on our best behavior. I have to say well behaved children is something that I miss. Well behaved adults are missed for that matter, LOL.

    I remember ice cream as home made and everyone took a turn at the crank. Good times.

    I remember playing outside until dark everyday in the summer no matter where we lived. Just groups of Army kids because all our mothers had kicked us outside while they cleaned or just chilled. I remember how unworried we were about being outside, down the street. Everything seemed safe...except the bomb that was going to drop on all of us, but we didn't have to worry about being outside with only other kids. Hmmmm.

  5. When I was a kid going to McDonalds was so special. It was about 30 minutes away and we only went there if we were going to be in that area for another reason.

    We ate a lot of fast food and boxed foods when our kids were in sports. There was never time to cook anything. It was all about practices, games, meets and school programs. I wish I had known back then our awful that stuff was for them. I feel guilty some times for feeding them like that.

    We didn't allow our kids to eat and drink whatever other junk they wanted. We ought pop and chips, but there were limits.

    When I was a kid, you were told what you could eat. It wasn't so much of a choice. My parents bought food for meals and you ate what they made or you didn't eat. There was no heading to the fridge or cabinets for something else.

    It was a different time for sure...I don't think it was all good or all bad back in my day or when my kids were growing up.

    Dessert? Did someone say dessert? I would love some!!

  6. Once a week we could pick out one chocolate bar as a grocery day treat. That chocolate bar was so freaking good. I am 110% sure I enjoyed every one of those chocolate bars 110% more than the kids who get fun sized bars in their lunch boxes every day have ever enjoyed a bite of chocolate in their lives.

  7. Well you know how I feel. ;-) It really is a sad state of affairs, but I don't see it changing for the vast majority of Americans. We will continue to eat crap and get sick and live on drugs and think that's just the way it is, the price we pay for living longer. But we are wrong. We're killing ourselves and our kids, slowly but surely. And our quality of life is diminishing as we depend more and more on medical treatments. It makes me sad. I know, I sound melodramatic, but it's not really an exaggeration at all.

    And even all that aside, I like your point that it used to be that some things like dessert and soda were special and fun. And now we just feel entitled to them at all times. I suppose some call it progress. I call it spoiled. LOL.

  8. I remember on Fridays when my Dad would order a pizza and that was a special treat. Another memory was having jiffy pop popcorn!
    We only had soda about once a month. It was RC Cola. Other days we drank Wylers fruit drinks.
    Those were the days as they say. Now I feel really old...

  9. I think some of the difference was when everybody's mothers started working, don't you? My mother always worked, but when I was a little kid in the 60s she was very much the exception. Most of my friends' mothers stayed home. My mother mostly cooked for us but she tended to stick with very simple things - and I still don't know how she worked and kept house and did all the things she did, to this day. I'm not saying there's a cause and effect there, directly (and I'm sure not saying everybody should necessarily stay home with their kids, because that's a very individual thing), but I think there was a big cultural shift as more and more women started working. It gradually became a lot more acceptable to take your kids out to eat all the time - I think back in the day there would have been considered to be something wrong with that!

    (And there wasn't a McDonald's in my hometown until after I graduated from high school. We did get a Jack-in-the-Box a few years earlier than that, though!)

    Oh, and I was a southern kid, in that way - we mostly drank iced tea, from the time we were quite young.

  10. I just remembered something else - before there were chain fast-food restaurants in town, we used to go eat on Friday nights at DairyLand, which was the local hamburger place. My dad was a football coach so attendance at football games was mandatory in the fall, and we went to DairyLand before football games. We thought it was a HUGE treat.

  11. I'm sure there is a correlation between when women started working more and more outside the homes--especially during the recession of the 70s when men were laid off and women became the breadwinners out of necessity. Excellent points from everyone!