Muggy is not a word that should be used after Columbus Day. I’ll accept crisp, cool, and even apple-picking, but not muggy (or any of its sister words: humid, stifling, oppressive). This is October. Hockey season has begun. There are already Thanksgiving decorations at the supermarket. Shouldn’t we be wearing pants instead of shorts and drinking hot tea instead of iced?
I don’t know what the weather has been like where you are, but here in New England it feels like June or July. It has actually been rather depressing. Sure, I really dislike summer weather anyway (what many would consider “nice weather” I consider “bad weather”), but I sense that even people who live in flip-flops and love the beach are wondering when they can put their air conditioners away until next year.
Eat Love? Nay!
You can find a lot of things in granola: nuts, fruit, grains, brown sugar. But one thing you won’t find (and can’t eat) is “love.”
That’s the finding of the Food and Drug Administration in their case against the Nashoba Brook Bakery in Massachusetts, which for years has listed “love” as one of the ingredients on the granola they make and sell. Of course, the bakery wasn’t saying that there was an actual ingredient they put in the granola called “love.” It was more about the love and care they put into the making of their products. But the FDA says no, you can’t do that. They ruled that “a human emotion cannot be an ingredient in baked goods,” a line that has a sort of poetry about it.
This ruling has gotten a lot of attention, but what got a bit lost in the story is that the bakery has a few actual health code violations they have to deal with. But the company says they’ve already dealt with those problems.
Pillsbury Dough (Now with Less Dough)
There are changes afoot at The Pillsbury Bake-Off.
Since 1996, the company has given $1 million to the grand prize winner of the cooking contest (along with lesser amounts for other competitions within the contest). Before that, they gave $25,000. With the return of the contest this year — the most recent year for the contest was in 2014, with the winning recipe being Peanutty Pie Crust Clusters — Pillsbury is making several changes that might irk some longtime fans and participants.
First, they’re dropping the $1 million prize and going with $50,000. Now, that might seem like a lot less money, and it is, but the winner also gets a complete kitchen makeover from General Electric, an article in Food Network Magazine, and a guest appearance on Food Network’s The Kitchen. The total prize package is now around $92,000. I don’t know if cooks will find those things an adequate replacement for the million, but that’s the reality of the situation this time around.
Also, the contest is now completely online. You have until November 10 to get in your recipes for Cozy Breakfasts, Appetizers for Any Party, Dinners with Heart, and No-Fuss Desserts. Three winners will be named in each category, and the big winner from those winners.
Make sure you check the official rules to see if “love” is an acceptable ingredient.
Whatever Happened to Philately?
Stamp collecting has always seemed like a Herculean hobby to me. So many stamps, so many themes, how do you even know where to begin? But it’s also something I’ve always wanted to do.
This New York Times op-ed by a former stamp collector is rather sad. The author actually got rid of his stamp collection recently, even though he had an emotional attachment to it. With everyone paying bills online and stamps being produced in a cheaper way, he feels he’s being realistic about giving up his hobby.
But is being realistic even part of having a hobby? Even if people aren’t sending as many letters as they once did, does that make the collecting any less enjoyable or important? I would think that these factors would make stamp collecting even more enjoyable and necessary. Then again, as someone who still sends out letters, I have a soft spot in my heart for stamps and envelopes and the smell and feel printed matter.
I draw the line at quill pens though.
We are drowning in news and information. We have 24-hour news channels and social media, and it seems like a never-ending flow of information and words and pictures are streaming into our heads every single day. I used to laugh at people who needed “digital detox” days or breaks from technology, but I understand it completely. As this Guardian piece notes, our brains are being hijacked. I actually think that getting away from it all once in a while can give us a better perspective on the world when we come back to our computers and phones.
Ex-Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer has a new book out, Overload: Finding the Truth in Today’s Deluge of News, which delves into how all of the media and technology changes are not only affecting how news is reported but how we consume it. It could even be dangerous.
Schieffer interviewed 40 journalists for the book.
RIP Ralphie May, Bob Schiller, Y.A. Tittle, Mark Mooney, Nora Johnson, Elizabeth Baur, and Jack Good
Ralphie May was the big, beloved standup comic who came in second on the first Last Comic Standing on NBC in 2003. He died last Friday at the age of 45.
Bob Schiller was one half of a great comedy writing team with Bob Weiskopf. They wrote for I Love Lucy (including the famous “grape-stomping” episode and some of the episodes where the Ricardos and Mertzes visit Hollywood) and later for shows like All in the Family, Maude, and The Carol Burnett Show. Schiller died Tuesday at the age of 98.
Y.A. Tittle was a Hall of Fame quarterback who helped lead the New York Giants to three consecutive championship games and was seen in one of the iconic sports photographs of the 20th century. He died Sunday at the age of 90.
Mark Mooney was a veteran reporter who wrote one of the great goodbye columns in journalism history. He died last Friday at the age of 66.
Nora Johnson wrote the classic novel The World of Henry Orient, later made into a film starring Peter Sellers, along with other works. She died last Thursday at the age of 84.
Elizabeth Baur played Officer Fran Belding on Ironside and co-starred on the western Lancer. She also appeared in movies like The Boston Strangler and TV shows like Emergency! and Remington Steele. She died in late September at the age of 69.
Jack Good was an influential music and TV producer who changed how television presented rock and pop to British and American audiences with shows like Shindig!, Oh Boy!, and Six-Five Special. He died in September at the age of 86.
This Week in History
The Great Chicago Fire (October 8–10, 1871)
The classic story is that a cow owned by a Mrs. O’Leary started the fire that destroyed much of the city, killed as many as 300, and left a third of the citizens homeless by knocking over a lamp, but there’s always been some skepticism about that. It might have been caused by gamblers knocking over a lantern or simply related to other fires that were happening in the area at the time.
Eleanor Roosevelt Born (October 11, 1884)
Did the former First Lady write for the Post? She did! Roosevelt wrote a five-part series in 1958 in which she gave her opinion of several people, including Winston Churchill, Richard Nixon, and John F. Kennedy. Five years earlier, she appeared as the mystery guest on What’s My Line?
This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Flirting Soda Jerk (October 11, 1947)
I was looking at these pictures of beautiful soda fountains that I’d love to visit (road trip anyone?) and wondering, do soda jerks still exist? They do, of course, though I wonder if teens today would like being called “jerks” in any context. I love this cover by Constantin Alajálov. It’s very 1940s, with its sharp lines and big grins and all the men in hats, irritated that the guy in the paper hat is paying more attention to the cute girl at the counter instead of refilling their coffees.
National Yorkshire Pudding Day
Like a lot of people, I used to think that Yorkshire Pudding was, well, pudding. English pudding, but pudding nonetheless, a chocolate, gooey concoction you ate with a spoon. But I found out a few years ago that it’s actually a type of popover. Okay, so I’m not completely up to speed on my food knowledge.
Today is also Friday the 13th. That has nothing to do with Yorkshire Pudding, but it seems odd not to mention it.
Next Week’s Holidays and Events
Dictionary Day (October 16)
When I was a kid, I used to read the dictionary. Not just once in a great while when I needed the definition or correct spelling of a word; I read it all the time, for pleasure, like kids read Harry Potter. There’s something fascinating about words, their origins, and their meanings. I even love how a dictionary is formatted, and even though we now live in a world when dictionaries are just a few clicks away, a big old Webster’s or Oxford or American Heritage are still something we should all own.
Boss’s Day (October 16)
This holiday was started by Patricia Bays Haroski in 1958. Some people don’t think much of the day, but I’d like to take this opportunity to say that my boss is the nicest, kindest, best-looking person on the planet.