Food and Whine

     All right, all right, all right!

     I’m glad this isn’t one of those online influencer blogs, which prompts thousands of contradictions each day whenever I write something.  But enough people have pointed out to me that THEIR grocery stores still stock the classic frozen orange juice with metal ends on the can, just waiting to be purchased and put in the freezer so it can dent the toes of unwary Americans.  Serves me right for checking my facts on the Interwebs instead of just walking over to the convenience store.  And, anyway, I keep telling you this is not a food blog.

     But while we’re on the subject, I don’t suppose anyone knows where I can buy Hi-C in metal cans.  That always used to be the great attraction for us: the beverage was just colder coming out of a metal container, somehow.  I have gone into this at some length, and find I can still buy Hi-C in completely different flavors and containers than the ones I knew in olden days.  My childhood, which was back in the days before Covid, came before the controversies concerning Lavaburst orange or Ecto-Cooler (both of which caused great anguish when they were axed by unfeeling executives.)  So it’s not about THAT.  It’s just…well, since I haven’t drunk any of the stuff in a couple of decades, I could go on without it, I suppose.  I can also go on, I suppose, without Choo-Choo Cherry drink mixes, or Sir Reginald Lime-Lime beverage powder, or even Diet Coke with Lime.

     But I do still quest, now and again, for an analog to Roma Pizza, a frozen pizza I ate a great deal of in the days when pizza was still a mild novelty in any form, and frozen pizza was the only way most of us could experience it.  Roma made a thin crust pizza which took, oh, twelve minutes to cook in an average Midwestern oven.  It probably formed my adult judgment of pizza, which involves great quantities of cheese and sausage, in that order.  Besides the flavor, which was salty and greasy and unique, it featured several aspects lacking in modern frozen pizza which were of great interest to a discerning diner whose age had only recently moved into two digits.  The cheese was pure white.  Not yellow, not golden-brown: it was pure white unless you left it in the oven too long, whereupon it would start turning black.  It WOULD, if allowed to cool long enough after cooking, turn slightly green, but I deduced after some examination that this was the grease from the thick round wafers of sausage.  Who knows what other discoveries I might have made in food science had the makers not decided, under the pressure from newer brands of frozen pizza on the market, to change the recipe?  The new Roma Pizza would turn golden brown, and the pools of green grease disappeared.  And it never tasted the same ever again.  I seek solid white slightly plastic cheese on my pizza to this day (and DID succeed for one year in a college cafeteria in Milwaukee.  Did NOT think to ask for their secrets, and they would probably deny it all now.  Oddly, this is also the only place I ever had roast Cornish hen.)

     There are other taste sensations from that distant century that I miss.  Mr. Salty and his pretzels disappeared long ago (and the thin twists which were standard seem to have been replaced by mini-twists, pretzels rods, filled pretzel bites, and other variations.  Yes, I know: a few companies still make the classic, but I regard it as an endangered species.)  It was a great moment for me each spring when I could buy my first pack of baseball cards and find that unique pink wafer of bubblegum.  (I actually set aside the very first one each year, dated it, and put it with my collection.  There is an artist who went further and actually created art works by drawing on the brittle pink canvas.  Is he still around?  And where does he get his supply now that cards do not soil their collectability by including food products?  Do grandparents have to explain Lucy’s joke about Beethoven not being on bubblegum cards?  Do you understand, you food executives, how you disturb our culture at its very roots when you make these decisions?)  And if you want to discuss candy bars, which….

     But we are out of space and this isn’t a food blog.  And, anyway, I’m getting hungry.

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