News of the Week: Quarantine Reading, Dum Dums, and Why You Should Put Peanut Butter on a Burger

In the news for the week ending May 8, 2020, are all the burgers you can eat, all the books you can read, a helicopter on Mars, and much more.

Books and a computer tablet.

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Read This!

In the current issue of the Post, Amazon editor Al Woodworth picks 10 books you might want to read. Here are seven more, a mix of fiction and nonfiction, you might want to add to your quarantine reading list.

If It Bleeds by Stephen King. It’s not easy to keep track of all the books King releases, but I believe this is his 94th this year. This one is a collection of four new novellas.

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker. Oprah’s latest pick is the extraordinary story of how schizophrenia took over the lives of six children in the same family.

Me and Patsy Kickin’ Up Dust: My Friendship with Patsy Cline by Loretta Lynn. This memoir tells the story of Lynn’s friendship with her fellow country star, who died in a 1963 plane crash at the age of 30. Dolly Parton writes the foreword.

What Makes a Marriage Last by Marlo Thomas and Phil Donahue. The couple — who will celebrate their 40th anniversary later this month — interview 40 other famous couples to see how they’ve stayed together for so long, including Al Roker and Deborah Roberts, Alan and Arlene Alda, (Judges) Judy and Jerry Sheindlin, President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter, James Carville and Mary Matalin, Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner, and Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen.

Dirt by Bill Buford. Buford’s book Heat explored the world of Italian cuisine. This one focuses on France, or as the subtitle says, “adventures in Lyon as a chef in training, father, and sleuth looking for the secret of French cooking.”

Officer Clemmons by Francis S. Clemmons. Clemmons was a regular on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and this memoir explores his life on and off the set (and a secret he kept from the audience) as well as his friendship with Fred Rogers.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix. How can you resist a novel that’s described as “Steel Magnolias meets Dracula?”

We’re Sending a Helicopter to Mars

A helicopter that will fly around the red planet? Sure, why not? It’s called Ingenuity — named by Alabama 11th grader Vanessa Rupani in an essay for NASA’s “Name the Rover” contest — and will be launched later this year for a February 2021 landing.

Uploaded to YouTube by NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

It’s a Wrap

I don’t know how this escaped my snack food history-obsessed mind, but since 1953 the company that makes Dum Dums lollipops, Spangler Candy, has sent toys and prizes at a reduced price to people who mailed in wrappers.

You probably know what’s coming next, right? The company is ending the practice after 67 years.

Since 2016, customers have been able to do it online by entering in codes that are on the wrappers instead of doing it via snail mail, but all of it will come to an end on May 31. They’re still going to make Dum Dums though, and will be introducing new flavors in the coming months.

Headline of the Week

A 5-Year-Old Boy Was Pulled Over While Driving to California to Buy a Lamborghini

RIP Sam Lloyd, Don Shula, Peter H. Hunt, Matty Simmons, Gil Schwartz, John Ericson, Greg Zanis, and Madeline Kripke

Sam Lloyd had a lot of great roles in his career — including on The West Wing, The Middle, and Modern Family — and was probably best known for his role as Ted on Scrubs and as the TV Guide-loving nerd who was obsessed with Elaine on Seinfeld. He died April 30 at the age of 56.

Don Shula was a Hall of Fame football coach who led the Miami Dolphins to the NFL’s only undefeated season, in 1972. He won a total of 347 games in his career, still an NFL record. He died Monday at the age of 90.

Peter H. Hunt won a Tony for directing the musical 1776 and later directed the film version, along with episodes of Touched by an Angel, Ellery Queen, Baywatch, and other shows. He died Sunday at the age of 81.

Matty Simmons produced National Lampoon’s Animal House and was the cofounder and publisher of National Lampoon magazine. He also produced the various Vacation films that starred Chevy Chase. He died last week at the age of 93.

Post multimedia editor Tim Durham knew Simmons and has written a nice tribute to him.

Gil Schwartz led two lives. As Schwartz he worked in corporate media for three decades, at Westinghouse Broadcasting and as chief communications officer for CBS. He also had another career as Stanley Bing, writer of sharp columns about the media for Fortune and Esquire. He also wrote several business books and novels under that pseudonym. He died Saturday at the age of 68.

John Ericson costarred on the ’60s action series Honey West with Anne Francis. He died Sunday at the age of 93.

Greg Zanis was the carpenter who made 27,000 wooden crosses to honor victims of mass shootings and natural disasters around the country. He died Monday at the age of 69.

Madeline Kripke wasn’t just a casual collector of dictionaries; she eventually owned 20,000 of them, one of the largest personal collections in the world, mostly stored and stacked in her small Greenwich Village apartment (and sometimes in the hallway). She died in April at the age of 76.

This Week in History

Decoration Day First Observed (May 5, 1865)

We now know it as Memorial Day, a name that became more popular after World War II and was officially adopted in 1967.

Coca-Cola First Sold (May 8, 1886)

The public was first served the soft drink at Jacob’s Pharmacy in Atlanta, Georgia. It was given its name by the owner’s bookkeeper, who also came up with the script logo that is still used today.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Heinz Ketchup (May 6, 1939)

Hienz Ketchup ad
Heinz Ketchup ad, published in The Saturday Evening Post on May 6, 1939.

We’ve had the “does ketchup belong on a hot dog” debate here before, and common wisdom seems to say that it’s fine for kids but not for adults. But I keep seeing ads where ketchup is being placed on hot dogs, so a lot of people must be doing it. (I’m a mustard man myself.)

National Hamburger Week

Better yet, put that ketchup on a burger. National Hamburger Week begins on May 10. This month is also National Hamburger Month (it’s hamburgers 24/7!), so if you don’t get around to making burgers next week, don’t freak out about it.

I’m not going to link to recipes for making a basic burger — you know what you like and I’ll assume you’ve made them before — but maybe you can try something a little different, like these Sweet Hawaiian Mini Burgers, these Spiced Buffalo Burgers, or these Grilled Lamburgers with Lemon-Rosemary Aioli. If you’re really daring, how about a Peanut Butter Burger? The peanut butter is supposed to add a sweetness and nuttiness to the burger. I don’t know if ketchup belongs on something like that, but it’s worth a try. (Note: Now that I think of it, it’s probably not worth a try.)

By the way, burgers go great with Coke.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Mother’s Day (May 10)

If you don’t happen to be living with your mother right now, you won’t be able to see her or eat with her this Sunday. You still need to honor her, though. Make sure you call her. Don’t just send a text with a heart emoticon or post something on her Facebook page. Better yet, bring her dinner and leave it outside her door so it’s one less meal she has to cook.

Twilight Zone Day (May 11)

In the list of weird holidays — and that list is long — Twilight Zone Day has to rank near the top. Oh, it’s a fine holiday to have, but why is it on May 11? That’s not the day the show premiered (or ended) and it’s not Rod Serling’s birthday. There’s no real reason to have it on this day. Better to celebrate it on October 2, the day in 1959 the show premiered.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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  1. Well, I don’t know about peanut butter on a burger…but on a BLT it’s da bomb!! I don’t know why I started doing it, maybe because my mother told me to? Who knows, but I’m 66 and have done it since I was big enough to put my own together! I like it on the tomato side as it keeps the tomatoes in place, and I like peanut butter/mayo tomato sandwiches, too.

  2. The Post’s reading recommendations ARE good. The Marlo Thomas book on marriage sounds like it would be very helpful. It looks like she interviewed Alan and Arlene Alda. In a fun coincidence, I put comments in on Andy’s new ‘Hardest Substance’ feature where I mentioned my Dad (an attorney) was consulted by Elizabeth Taylor one time as an attorney outside of the industry for a 2nd opinion in getting herself out of having to make ‘Butterfield 8’. She could not.

    He was Joan Alda’s (Alan’s mom) attorney though for many years, however. I love that Mars helicopter demo video. Quite interesting. Let’s hope it’ll be worthwhile, with so many problems down here. Definitely click the link on Tim Durham’s Matty Simmons feature. A very kind, multi-talented man you’ll want to read about!

    Today is Coca-Cola’s 134th birthday. Wow. I’ve had a tough time finding caffeine-free regular Coke in the stores, and regular Vanilla. They have the ‘zero’ version which is another word for diet. Not interested. Hopefully when the new abnormal resumes, I can find what I’m looking for. Can’t find boil-in-the=bag rice either to save my life. Had no Lysol until last week. My friends surprised me with a nice (large) can! Americans that are hoarding essential supplies? Karma needs to get you for that!

    Ketchup definitely belongs on hot dogs, along with mustard and chopped onions. Chop Chop! Everyday seems like the ‘Twilight Zone’. In addition to sleeping and spring cleaning, reward yourselves with the ’60s ‘Batman’ & ‘The Monkees’ if they’re available. If not, buy each series online. For quality quiet time, get out your new POST!

  3. peanut butter is the best as the famous sandwich that Elvis Presley loved.Do you know the sandwich Bob? It’smy favorite!


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