News of the Week: February Blues, Cursing in Virginia, and How to Make a Chilly Night a Chili Night

In the news for the week ending February 28, 2020, are McCandles, Girl Scout cookies, lunch counters, chocolate chili, Super Tuesday, and more.

Closeup of a woman swearing

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Okay, I’m Ready for Winter to Be Over

Regular readers of this column know that I much prefer the cold days and nights of the fall and winter over the warm days and nights of the summer. Actually, regular readers of this column might be a little sick of hearing that. But I bring it up again so I can say this: I’m ready for spring.

I love the cold temps and the fact that it gets dark early, and I even love snowstorms (yes, I’m one of those people), but there comes a time, right around the end of February, when even I have had enough. I want to put the shovels away for the season, the chill in the air and the dry skin start to get to me, and I’m ready for more tennis to be shown on my television. So bring on the warmer temperatures.

Of course, stay tuned to this spot in July, when I’m sure I’ll be complaining about how humid it is, the ants and the bees, the fact that I have to wear shorts, the tourists that double the population of my town, and how Labor Day can’t come soon enough.

Oh, who am I kidding. I’ll be complaining in June.

Maybe what I’m really itching for isn’t spring, but fall. Maybe the only reason I’m ready for warm weather to come is that it means we’re that much closer to September.

The Closest Thing to Home

That was McDonald’s slogan in the late 1960s. Now it looks like they’re literally trying to make that happen.

The fast food chain is selling six scented candles that smell like beef, cheese, ketchup, pickles, onions, and a sesame seed bun. I know they’re going for a Quarter Pounder theme here, but I think it’s a mistake that there’s no candle that smells like french fries.

The best thing about these candles is that they’ll make your home smell like a McDonald’s. The worst thing? They’ll make your home smell like a McDonald’s.

Here’s the first appearance of Ronald McDonald, in a 1963 commercial, long before the company thought of selling candles. That’s former Today show weatherman Willard Scott under the makeup. He has a tray of food on his head.

Uploaded to YouTube by VintageTVCommercials

This Woman Has Been Selling Girl Scout Cookies Since 1932

This weekend is officially Girl Scout Cookie Weekend. The cookies are available from your local scouts or online (yes, there’s an app for that), including the best ones, the Samoas (they may be called Caramel deLites, depending on where you live).

If you’re near Wernersville, Pennsylvania, you can buy them from Ronnie Backenstoe. She’s been selling the cookie for 88 years. Back when she started there were only three flavors of cookie, many troops baked their own, and Herbert Hoover was president.

It’s worth noting that she’s not still selling the same boxes of cookies she was selling in 1932. That’d be weird.

Road Trip!

Breaking News: You can now legally swear in Virginia.

RIP Clive Cussler, Katherine Johnson, B. Smith, Hosni Mubarak, Sy Sperling, Larry Tesler, Diana Serra Cary, and “Mad” Mike Hughes

In addition to writing or co-authoring more than 80 books, including popular novels like Raise the Titanic! that featured his hero Dirk Pitt, Clive Cussler led various expeditions to shipwrecks and lost treasure. He died Monday at the age of 88.

Katherine Johnson played a major role in getting Americans to the moon in 1969. She was one of the subjects of the Oscar-nominated 2016 film Hidden Figures. She died earlier this week at the age of 101.

B. Smith was a style and home decor expert who was also a successful restaurateur and author. She died last weekend at the age of 70.

Hosni Mubarak was the former president of Egypt. He died Tuesday at the age of 91.

Sy Sperling was not only the president of the Hair Club For Men, he was also a client. He died last week at the age of 78 with a full head of hair.

Larry Tesler was the computer scientist we can thank for creating the cut, copy, and paste functions we use every day. He died last week at the age of 74.

Diana Serra Cary — aka Baby Peggy — starred in several popular silent movies when she was a child. After leaving the industry at a young age, she went on to author several books. She died Monday at the age of 101.

You can donate to her GoFundMe page to help pay for medical bills and funeral costs.

“Mad” Mike Hughes was a daredevil and inventor who was convinced the Earth was flat. He died when his rocket crashed on Saturday. He was 64.

Quote of the Week

“They asked Katherine Johnson for the moon, and she gave it to them.”

—opening line of Margalit Fox’s obituary for Johnson, in The New York Times

This Week in History

First Woolworth’s Opens (February 22, 1879)

I miss this chain. I have a lot of great memories of shopping and eating there when I was a kid.

If you happen to be in Bakersfield, California, at some point, you can eat at the last remaining Woolworth’s lunch counter in America, at the Five and Dime Antique Mall.

Ben Hecht Born (February 28, 1894)

The writer of such movies as The Front Page, Wuthering Heights, Some Like It Hot, and dozens where he didn’t even get credit wrote several short stories for the Post, including “Swindler’s Luck,” featured in our January 12, 1952, issue.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Party Holding Up the Elevator (February 25, 1961)

I bet the people on the first floor in this Ben Kimberly Prins cover are swearing like people in Virginia.

Illustration showing the a party holding up an apartment building's elevator

There’s Still Time for Chili

Sure, it’s been warm lately and I’m ready for spring, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still have some cold nights ahead of us in the next month or so. And what better to eat on those nights than chili?

Here’s a recipe for Cowboy Beef and Black Bean Chili, and here’s one for Turkey Pumpkin Chili, which won a contest among Post staffers in 2009. If you’re looking for something a little more healthy, how about this Vegetarian Chili?

There’s even a Chocolate Chili, though I don’t know if you can use the chocolate from Samoas or Thin Mints, but hey, give it a shot.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Leap Day (February 29)

How are you going to take advantage of the extra day we have in February this year? Call in sick? Take a trip? Go shopping? Clean the house? Get married? Maybe you can just sleep in late.

South Carolina Primary (February 29)

… or maybe you can celebrate the day by watching live coverage of this Democratic Primary.

Super Tuesday (March 3)

Here are all the states holding primaries on Tuesday: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and #%$&! Virginia.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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  1. You can still shop at Woolworths in southern Africa. Prices may seem a bit high, but the quality is good.

  2. Yes! Of course, the chicken-scented fireplace logs!! That was only in December?!

    With too much happening in just Jan./Feb., it seems much longer than only 2-3 months ago.

    Nice opening picture of that foul-mouthed young woman, by the way.

  3. Bob M.: In December I talked about KFC’s chicken-scented fireplace logs. Looks like this is a trend. I can’t wait until we have Pizza Hut air fresheners and Arby’s Roast Beef bath soaps.

  4. The cold weather and it’s drawbacks really MUST be getting to be too much to be saying all that!

    I’ll want to know all the ugly details of the heat from you when it gets here!

    Due to the virus situation, my (third) business trip to beautiful Tokyo has been shelved, indefinitely. I can never get enough of those neon lights Bob, never!

    Scented candles from McDonald’s sounds and seems (and sounds) like a bad, unhealthy idea. Wasn’t there another idea like that not too long ago, from
    Kentucky Fried Chicken?!

    Ms. Backenstoe, selling Girl Scout cookies at age 98 makes her a national treasure. Fantastic all around, wouldn’t you say?

    Having tech glitches and not able to see the videos and links. My regular computer’s messed up, so these comments are courtesy of the iPhone tonight.

    Love the 1961 ‘elevator’ Post cover very much! It’s one of “those” covers that regardless of how many times I go through my ‘covers’ book, I’ve somehow always managed to miss! It’s beautiful, but more than that, extremely clever.

    Sorry about the word redundancy in paragraph 4. Can’t fix it, so I’m trying to embrace it!


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