News of the Week: A Very KFC Christmas, a New Classic Song, and the Best Peppermint Bark Ever

In the news for the week ending December 13, 2019, are fried chicken logs, chocolate bark, artistic bananas, Christmas music, and much more.

A festive statue of KFC founder, colonel Sanders, outside of an Osaka, Japan restaurant.
(Quality Stock Arts / Shutterstock)

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Everybody Knows, Fried Chicken and Some Mistletoe

I don’t think Colonel Sanders could have ever predicted something like this.

KFC is selling firelogs that smell like their chicken, complete with their “11 herbs and spices.” The reviews so far run from one star (“Doesn’t really smell like fried chicken”) to five stars (“Very tempted to eat the log”). It’s a “limited edition” available on Walmart’s website for $18.99, while supplies last. I just checked and those supplies did not last, but maybe they’ll restock in time for Christmas Eve.

I can imagine dogs being driven crazy by this. They already have to contend with strangers coming into the house, a tree suddenly standing where they used to lie down, and now they’re going to have the smell of chicken everywhere.

Maybe this could start a new trend: fast food fragrances for the home. We could have scented candles that smell like Pizza Hut and air freshener sprays with the scent and ambience of Taco Bell.

Someone Ate a $120,000 Banana

What’s crazier about this story: the fact that someone taped a banana to a wall and called it a piece of “art” worth $120,000, or the fact that another artist decided to eat that banana as a form of his own performance art (he calls it “Hungry Artist”)? Don’t worry, the artist said that the banana can be replaced at any time if it had to be (though the installation has since been taken down because of the publicity).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to nail a nectarine to a piece of wood I found in a dumpster behind the White Hen Pantry. The bidding starts at $25,000.

And the Merriam-Webster Word of the Year Is …


Is that a boring choice? Why not pick the or and? Actually, the reason the dictionary picked the word is because in 2019 it became better known as the pronoun of choice for people whose gender identity is nonbinary, who don’t want to be referred to as he or she, as well as the choice for many who want to support these people.

Merriam-Webster isn’t the first organization to declare they the Word of the Year. The American Dialect Society did it in 2015.

A Song That Should Be a Christmas Classic

Even though I love Kay Starr (and Christmas music), I hadn’t heard of this song until last year, when it was played on Comcast’s holiday music channel. It’s called “December,” and she recorded it in the 1940s with Billy Butterfield’s band. It’s on some of those “various artists” CD collections, and you can find it on places like Spotify, Amazon Music, and YouTube. It’s really beautiful and I don’t know why it’s not more well-known.

Uploaded you YouTube by Kay Starr / Kontor New Media GmbH

RIP Caroll Spinney, Ron Leibman, René Auberjonois, Paul Volcker, Pete Frates, Marie Fredricksson, Philip McKeon, Robert Walker Jr.

Caroll Spinney played Sesame Street’s Big Bird from the show’s 1969 premiere until his retirement in 2018. He was also the voice of Oscar the Grouch. He died Sunday at the age of 85.

Ron Leibman will probably be best known to most TV fans as Rachel’s father on Friends, but he also had a great career on stage and in film, appearing in such movies as Norma Rae, Slaughterhouse-Five, The Super Cops, and The Hot Rock. He won an Emmy for his role in the CBS drama Kaz and a Tony for Angels in America: Millennium Approaches. He was married to actress Jessica Walter. He died last week at the age of 82.

René Auberjonois was a veteran actor, appearing on TV shows like Benson, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Boston Legal. He appeared in hundreds of other shows as well as movies like M*A*S*H, Pete ’n’ Tillie, The Player, and The Patriot. He died Sunday at the age of 79.

Paul Volcker served as the chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1979 to 1987, and later advised President Obama during the 2008 financial crisis. He died Sunday at the age of 92.

Pete Frates was the former college baseball star who came down with ALS and inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge, which has raised almost $200 million for research and treatment. He died this week at the age of 34.

Marie Fredricksson was the singer for Roxette, famous for such songs as “The Look,” “Listen to Your Heart,” and “It Must Have Been Love.” She died Monday at the age of 61.

Philip McKeon played Linda Lavin’s son on the sitcom Alice. He appeared in several other shows and was recently the host of a radio show in Texas. He was the brother of Facts of Life actress Nancy McKeon. He died this week at the age of 55.

Robert Walker Jr. appeared in the classic Star Trek episode “Charlie X” as well as shows like Columbo, Bonanza, and Murder, She Wrote. He also appeared in the movies Easy Rider and Ensign Pulver. He died last week at the age of 79.

This Week in History

Coronation Street Premieres (December 9, 1960)

We here in the U.S. always talk about the long-running prime time shows we’ve had, like The Simpsons (currently in its 31st season) and Gunsmoke (20 seasons). The British nighttime soap Coronation Street debuted 59 years ago and it’s still on, airing several times a week.

Poet Emily Dickinson Born (December 10, 1830)

The influential poet was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, and died at the age of 55 after a lengthy illness.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Hidden Gifts (December 10, 1949)

Woman checking a gift box while her husband sleeps.

If I were the woman on this Constantin Alajálov cover, I’d wait until the morning for my husband to go to work before I started snooping around the Christmas gifts. Also, the husband should do a better job at hiding them.

Peppermint Bark Recipes

I’m in love with Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark. No, I don’t think you understand. I’m not saying that in a joking way. I mean I’m holding-hands, walking-together-on-the-beach, registered-at-Bloomingdale’s in love with it. I don’t know which states currently allow marriages between humans and seasonal chocolate candies, but I would seriously consider it.

But if you’d like to make your own, here are four recipes. I tried to find variations on the recipe so they weren’t all making pretty much the same thing. This one from Allrecipes includes milk chocolate and a lot of candy canes, while this one from Delish uses semi-sweet chocolate. This one from A Classic Twist adds some mixed nuts, and this one from Little Dairy on the Prairie adds … saltine crackers!

That last recipe is known as “Christmas Crack,” but you can just call it Peppermint Bark with Saltines if you want.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Heisman Trophy Winner Announced (December 14)

The official name for the annual award is the Heisman Memorial Trophy, and it’s given to the most outstanding player in NCAA football. The winner will be announced on ESPN at 8 p.m.

The Kennedy Center Honors (December 15)

The honorees this year are Sally Field, Linda Ronstadt, Michael Tilson Thomas, Sesame Street, and Earth, Wind & Fire. Ronstadt made headlines last week for something she said at the taping of the show. It airs at 8 p.m. on CBS.

Featured image: Quality Stock Arts / Shutterstock

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  1. The local KFC here closed a few years ago. It was taken over by a Thai restaurant but they didn’t change the building at all so you can tell it was once a KFC.

  2. I know several KFC’s have disappeared in my general area, including Woodland Hills, Encino, Granada Hills and North Hollywood. Not sure what’s going on with the chain corporately, but they have a reputation for being expensive. McDonald’s too for that matter. Still, there’s nothing like one (okay two) of their drumsticks every now and then. The firelog thing is pretty outrageous; seeming more like a publicity stunt than anything else. I am curious about the scent though. I hope it’s safe to breathe…

    Peppermint (unlike incense) has never been my thing, but if I get the chance to try this chocolate, I will. The word of the year is ‘they’, okay then. Thanks for the Kay Starr Christmas song, it’s really good. I’ve been sharing the 1974 K-Mart Christmas soundtrack (per your own column) with friends and co-workers. Beautiful music from a drastically bygone era of long ago.

    I got my out-of-state Christmas cards ((SC. PA. IN. MA.) sent on the 12th, so hopefully they’ll be there by mid-week. Keeping my fingers crossed things don’t go awry like last year. Same with the woman on this 1949 Alajalov cover. Naughty, naughty, peeking at 3:50 am. I’m sure 8:50 would have been just fine. Check out the Post’s recent video on Constantin Alajalov.


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