News of the Week: Summer Books, Pat Sajak, and a Few Things You Might Not Know about Pop-Tarts

In the news for the week ending June 16, 2023, are Pat Sajak, Joan Rivers, Cormac McCarthy, Jacques Cousteau, Rockwell’s fathers, mom’s cherry tarts, and more.

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Read This!’s Steph Opitz gives the Post her picks for the books to read this summer, and below I list eight more. Even though it’s not officially summer yet, I give you permission to buy them today.

  • The Book of Charlie by David Von Drehle. The Washington Post columnist moved to Kansas and learned the secrets of life and other wisdom from his 109-year-old neighbor. (You can read more about the book in this piece by Von Drehele adapted from the book.)
  • Drowning: The Rescue of Flight 1421 by T.J. Newman. The ex-flight attendant’s first novel, Falling, was a bestseller, and this new airplane-in-distress thriller is about a plane that crashes into the ocean. The survivors only have a short time to be saved by the rescuers above, led by the mother of a child on board with her father.
  • Burn It Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood by Maureen Ryan. This book by the longtime TV critic has already created waves for excerpts that show what was going on behind the scenes on such shows as Lost and Saturday Night Live.
  • 100 Places to See After You Die by Ken Jennings. The Jeopardy! host’s new tome is described as “a hilarious travel guide to the afterlife, exploring destinations to die for from literature, mythology, and pop culture.”
  • Kiss Me in the Coral Lounge by Helen Ellis. The newest collection of essays from the terrific New-York-City-via-Alabama writer (and poker player) focuses on married life during the pandemic. (The Coral Lounge is a room in her apartment.)
  • Swamp Story by Dave Barry. The latest satire by the humorist, about a mixed bag of characters looking for treasure in the Florida Everglades (and a fake monster created to increase tourism), is right now the number one book in the “Hunting and Fishing Humor” category on Amazon, which is a very specific category.
  • All the Demons Are Here by Jake Tapper. This is the CNN anchor’s third entry in the Charlie and Margaret Marder mystery series. This one is set in the 1970s and features the Marder’s grown children. (Out July 11.)
  • Baking Yesteryear: The Best Recipes from the 1900s to the 1980s by B. Dylan Hollis. Just what the title says, a great collection of 101 retro recipes from decades gone by. Chocolate Potato Pie, anyone? (Out July 25.)

No More “Pat and Vanna”

Pat Sajak has announced that he’s leaving Wheel of Fortune, after the 41st season, which starts in September.

Four decades is an amazing run as the host of one show. You can probably count on your fingers the number of people who have done that.

I guess we could have more “Pat and Vanna” if someone else named Pat hosts the show. I suggest either Pat Boone or Pat Benatar.

65,000 Jokes

What do you do when a famous comedienne dies and leaves behind a catalogue of 65,000 typewritten jokes? The family of Joan Rivers gave them to the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York, the place where Lucille Ball grew up.

Rivers was interviewed for the July 1, 1967 issue of the Post, and she talked about how she got her start and her first time appearing on The Tonight Show.

Something I Learned This Week

Most people assume that Pop-Tarts were the first fruit-pastry-from-a-toaster breakfast food, and technically they were, but did you know that Post came up with the idea first? (That’s Post, not the Post; sadly, we didn’t do it first.)

In an excellent episode of the History Channel’s The Food That Built America (well, they’re all excellent), I learned that in the mid-’60s, a scientist at Post — inspired by, of all things, Gaines Burgers dog food — figured out a way to partially dehydrate pastry to keep it from spoiling, and used the knowledge to create a new breakfast treat called Country Squares. Post was so excited by the idea that they issued a press release well before it was even in production, and Kellogg’s raced to create a rival product. Pop-Tarts got on store shelves first in September of 1964.

Post eventually got their breakfast pastry out, but the name was changed to Toast’em Pop-Ups (and they’re still made today, by the Schulze and Burch Biscuit Company).

By the way, Pop-Tarts were so popular when they debuted that Kellogg’s actually ran out of them and had to take out this ad to apologize to consumers. This summer the company’s frosted strawberry flavor is available in retro packaging. They’re a limited edition, but hopefully not too limited.

RIP Cormac McCarthy, Treat Williams, Silvio Berlusconi, The Iron Sheik, Thomas Sarnoff, James Watt, Carroll Cooley, Jim Turner, Paul Geoffrey, Noreen Nash, and Ted Kaczynski

Cormac McCarthy was the acclaimed author of such novels as No Country for Old Men, The Road, and All the Pretty Horses. He died Tuesday at the age of 89.

Treat Williams starred on the WB drama Everwood as well as Chicago Fire, Chesapeake Shores, Good Advice, and Blue Bloods. He also appeared in such movies as Prince of the City, The Phantom, Hair, 1941, Deep Rising, Once Upon a Time in America, The Late Shift, and many others. He died Monday at the age of 71.

Silvio Berlusconi was elected prime minister of Italy in 1994 and then again in 2001. He died Monday at the age of 86.

The Iron Sheik — real name Hossein Khosrow Ali Vaziri — was one of the most popular wrestlers of the 1980s. He died last week at the age of 81.

Thomas Sarnoff was not only part of a powerful media family and the influential head of NBC Entertainment, legend has it that as a child he was the very first person to appear live on television. He died Sunday at the age of 96.

James Watt was the controversial first Interior secretary under President Reagan. He died last month at the age of 85.

Carroll Cooley was the arresting detective in the case against Ernesto Miranda that led to the Miranda rights warning that police now give to people they arrest. He died last month at the age of 87.

Jim Turner kicked three field goals for the New York Jets in their only Super Bowl win. He died Saturday at the age of 82.

Paul Geoffrey appeared in such films as Excalibur, Anna Karenina, Wuthering Heights, and Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, as well as many TV shows. He died earlier this month at the age of 68.

Noreen Nash appeared in such movies as Giant, Phantom from Space, The Tender Years, and The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold. She also starred in the show that replaced I Love Lucy in the summer of 1956, The Charles Farrell Show. She died last week at the age of 99.

Ted Kaczynski — aka the Unabomber — died Saturday at the age of 81.

This Week in History

Jacques Cousteau Born (June 11, 1910)

The famed explorer and TV host was one of the first environmentalists.

Supreme Court’s Miranda Rights Decision (June 13, 1966)

Here’s a full explanation of what your rights are when you’re arrested.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: General Electric Toaster (June 16, 1951)

This would have been good for Pop-Tarts, if they didn’t come out until 13 years later.

Saturday Is Apple Strudel Day (and Sunday Is Cherry Tart Day)

Okay, these aren’t exactly Pop-Tarts, but they’ll do.

Here’s a recipe from AllRecipes for Easy Apple Strudel, and here’s another one called Easy Apple Strudel from Stress Baking that’s different in one key aspect: it includes vanilla ice cream.

Vintage Kitchen Notes has a recipe for an Easiest Ever Fresh Cherry Tart, and Hello Little Home has Mom’s Mini Cherry Tarts.

That last one doesn’t have “easy” in the title, but they look simple to make.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

U.S. Open (June 17-18)

The final rounds of the 123rd golf tournament will be televised by NBC, USA, and Peacock.

Father’s Day (June 18)

Here’s archives director Jeff Nilsson on how Norman Rockwell depicted fathers in the pages of the Post.

Summer Begins (June 21)

It begins at 10:57 a.m. EDT, and I can’t wait until it ends on September 23 at 2:50 a.m. EDT.

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  1. I think Pat Boone or Pat Benatar would be great choices for host of Wheel of Fortune. From what I have been reading Whoopi Goldberg is interested, but she would be a controversial choice due to her strong political views on the left. I also heard the possibility of Ryan Seacrest being the host….Not sure about that either. Here’s a couple of ideas: What about Barry Williams or Donny Osmond being considered as hosts of this game show?

  2. ‘Burn It Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood’ sounds like an interesting read. It’s already crashing and burning, but a little extra push can only be to the good. That opening picture by Rockwell always makes me uneasy. The cat on the right too.

    Thanks for mentioning Pat Benatar, even if she’d have zero interest in co-hosting ‘Wheel of Fortune’. One of my favorite female rock stars. I haven’t seen those retro packs of the Pop-Tarts yet, but I did see (and buy) a 20 oz. bottle of Coke’s new ‘ULTIMATE’ limited-edition from their ‘Creations’ series out of curiosity. They try to keep the flavor ambiguous, but this one is more fruit-like. I detected pineapple. Enjoyable, but hardly ultimate.

    I like the 1951 General Electric toaster ad. I wonder if this was the one Lucy Ricardo used when the toast would pop up and she’d catch it? Could be! So yeah, Sunday’s Father’s Day, and (let’s be honest) few people care. The Post does though, with a great mid-century George Hughes cover feature. Otherwise, mmm… not so much.


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