News of the Week: The Rockefeller Tree, Dangerous Toys, and Little Debbie Needs Your Help!

The Tree Has Arrived

How was your week? I pulled a muscle in my neck, had to get my stove fixed, and for the 32nd year in a row I wasn’t named People’s Sexiest Man Alive. But there is good news: The Christmas season has begun.

You might think the season officially begins when the red and green candy appears on supermarket shelves or when the department stores hang their wreaths, but it officially officially begins when the Christmas tree arrives on a truck in front of Rockefeller Center. It’s almost as if you’re given permission to call it the holiday season and listen to Christmas music when the big tree gets to New York City. Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la.

The lighting of the 75-foot Norway spruce happens the night of November 29 on NBC.

Toys: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Toy Robot

Two different toy-related lists were released this week, one naughty and one nice.

The consumer safety group WATCH (World Against Toys Causing Harm, which sounds like the name of a secret team of superheroes) has released their annual list of the 10 most dangerous toys. This year’s list includes the Wonder Woman Battle-Action Sword, Jetts Heel Wheels, the Slackers Slackline Classic Kit, and the Itty Bittys Baby Plush Stacking Toy. Yes, even toys with the word “plush” in them can be dangerous.

But this week also saw the induction of several toys into the National Toy Hall of Fame. The three inductees are the board game Clue, Wiffle Balls, and paper airplanes. What finalists didn’t make it this year? My Little Pony, Risk, play food (toys that look like food), Transformers, PEZ dispensers, UNO, and sand.

That’s right, sand was a finalist this year. Sand.

Where Will Amazon Build Their New HQ?

That’s the big question every state is asking these days. Well, maybe not Hawaii, but many of the other 49 states. Amazon is going to build a second headquarters, and many cities have submitted plans to the online retailer with their best pitch.

The Wall Street Journal has done a study to figure out which city would be the best fit for Amazon, taking into account such criteria as cost of living, taxes, access to college graduates and tech help, and culture. The paper says that the top three contenders are Dallas, Boston, and Washington, D.C.

What the company should do is build it at the North Pole. There’s plenty of land, there might be some elves looking for work, and people sort of think of Amazon as Santa Claus already.

It Better Not Be the Oatmeal Cremes

That’s a tweet the snack company sent out recently. They’re getting rid of one of their popular snacks, and they want to know from you which one should go (actually, they say “one gotta go” and boy is that an odd phrase). Of course, there’s no real reason why they have to get rid of one of the snacks. It’s clearly a publicity thing, something they want to become a “meme” and “go viral.” Writer R. L. Stine likes the Oatmeal Creme Pies, and William Shatner wants them all to stick around.

I think it’s obvious which one will be hitting the unemployment line. It’s the Honey Buns. No one has a heart black enough to get rid of a cake shaped like a Christmas tree, Oatmeal Creme Pies are too delicious, and Nutty Buddy rhymes, and everyone likes when foods rhyme. So Honey Buns gotta go.

RIP Liz Smith

Liz Smith was a journalist for 60 years and is best known for writing about celebrities and the culture of Hollywood and New York for various newspapers from 1976 to 2009, when she was let go from The New York Post at age 86. She died Sunday at the age of 94.

Here’s a great video interview with Smith at The New York Times, where she talks about her experiences with people like Frank Sinatra, Donald Trump, Katharine Hepburn, and Barbara Walters.

Casablanca at 75

The classic Humphrey Bogart/Ingrid Bergman drama premiered in New York in November of 1942. Bill Newcott talks about the film in this week’s edition of “Movies for the Rest of Us,” and on Sunday, CBS Sunday Morning did a story about the film and its dedicated fans, including interviews with the children of stars Bogart, Claude Rains, and Paul Henreid.

This Week in History

George S. Patton Born (November 11, 1885)

Post Archive Director Jeff Nilsson explains how General Patton was part of the century’s best-kept secret.

The Star Wars Holiday Special Airs (November 17, 1978)

I’m not even sure if this has been seen on television since it first aired. Maybe only a few times or in snippets here and there. But thanks to YouTube, you can watch the whole thing. Along with Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, and Carrie Fisher, you get sketches with Bea Arthur, Art Carney, and Harvey Korman. Plus: Jefferson Starship!

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Squawking Turkey (November 13, 1915)

Squawking Turkey by Tony Sarg
Squawking Turkey
Tony Sarg
November 13, 1915

I’m trying to figure out how the scene in this cover by Tony Sarg unfolded. Why was a little kid sent to get a live turkey that’s even bigger than he is? What exactly is that on the ground, a pan and water?

“The Thumb Twiddlers” — mentioned below the picture — sounds like an article that could be written today about people addicted to smartphones and social media, but it’s actually a short story by writer and director Rupert Hughes, uncle of Howard.

Thanksgiving Recipes

Dog looking at cooked turkey

Are you a traditionalist when it comes to Thanksgiving, or are you a bit daring? I’d like to think I’m the type of person who wants to try something new and out of the ordinary, maybe ham instead of turkey or Brussels sprouts or a pie made with a fruit I’ve never tried before. But when you get right down to it, I like my turkey and my mashed potatoes and the classic green bean casserole. Thank you, Dorcas Reilly!

But beyond those favorites, you’re going to need more for the day. Here’s a recipe for a sweet potato casserole, and here’s one for the perfect pie crust. Not sure how to cook your turkey? Here are some tips from McCormickFood Network, and Melissa Clark at The New York Times.

If you have trouble cooking that turkey, you can always call the Butterball Turkey Talk-Line. They’ll tell you how long to cook your turkey, what to do if you bought your turkey in 1969, and what safety measures you should take for the stuffing.

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

World Hello Day (November 21)

This international holiday started in 1973, and the goal is for everyone on the planet to say “hello” to 10 people. And no, saying it to them on Facebook doesn’t count.

National Tie One On Day (November 22)

It’s not what you think!

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (November 23)

While the turkey is cooking and the yams are yamming, you can turn the TV to NBC, where you’ll see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which NBC has televised every year since 1948. It starts at 9 a.m. Eastern.

Happy Thanksgiving!