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My childhood began when JFK was president and passed uneventfully thru LBJ, Nixon, Ford and Carter. I was a Freshman in college when Regan was elected. My mother cooked from scratch. She might give in and buy a cake mix or bottled salad dressing, but that was about it. When we went grocery shopping she often had one of these in her hands to keep track of the total.
My brother, about four years older than me, was often the more persuasive child when it came extras at the grocery store. I understand he tells that story differently, wrongly thinking I was somehow usually the winner. Memories can be tricky.
In the Cereal Aisle
It’s not true that all 60s kids grew up on cereal for breakfast. We certainly didn’t. It might be set out on Saturday morning so we could serve ourselves while Mom and Dad slept in, but it was rare to have a bowl of cereal before school. One big problem was that, like all 60s kids, we believed the commercials. Most cereal tasted then, and tastes now, like crap. Or milk. It tastes a lot like milk. Since milk had to be covered up to get it past my lips this probably is why I have not minded missing out on this cultural norm. I do like some cereal dry as a snack and did back then, too. I recall begging for Kaboom when it came out. It tasted exactly the way a cardboard vitamin pill should taste. I think my grandfather got stuck finishing that box. Poor man.
Yet another problem was my brother preferred things like Rice Crispies (with bananas–gag!) or Crispy Critters (yes, children, that pejorative label comes from a very humble breakfast cereal) and I wanted Alapa-bits. They were exactly the same cereal in different shapes. Both tasted exactly like the box. But they looked FUN. Like Alphabet soup. Same soup, but with more expensive macaroni.
Understandably, we wanted to try the newest kinds or those with the coolest prizes. I recall Sugar Crisp had a “record” [that’s “vinyl” to you whippersnappers] on the box once. Very cool. We had a habit of dumping out the cereal into a Dutch oven or mixing bowl, retrieving the prize and then never wanting to eat the cereal again. Maddening kids!
But the Holy Grail of cereal was the little individual serving boxes. Boy were those rare in our house! And, always there was something gross like Raisin Bran in the package.
Elsewhere in the store
Pudding and Jello loomed large in any 60’s kid’s meal plan. These three were possibly the coolest of the products. I longed for those little snack pack cans!! Nope, I got a Tupperware with the kind my Mom made at home. I remember the pure joy when she started buying the instant mix kind–no think “skin” (“scum”) on the top to make me gag! I think I did get the canned pudding ONCE. It was as horrible and stingy a serving as Mom had said, but like any kid I merely gloated over how great it was.
Shakeapudd’n went to my other Grandpa’s house with me. This man had fought in World War II from the beginning to the end. All over North Africa and Europe. I’m pretty sure Shakeapudd’n was among the things he fought to protect me from. He just sat there trying not to laugh as I ate it and it failed to live up to expectations.
1-2-3’s we had several times. I’m guessing my Dad must have actually liked it. That’s usually what it took.
Iconic Snacks of the Era
Surprisingly, even though they tasted like erasers, my Mom allowed Space Food Sticks. Go figure! Jiffy Pop was another matter. I got to take one to my Great Aunt’s. Once. That was enough. Yet, Jiffy Pop was the one product that lived up to the hype. It was great. I even bought it once for my kids. But it did nothing for them. The microwavable bags were much cooler to them.
Milk Flavoring Products
Bosco! My goodness how many days did a DREAM of Bosco! We had to make due with Nestle’s Quik (or, if there was a store brand version then that was what we got). Bosco, like it’s cousin Hershey’s Syrup, could be used up in a single day. Mom knew better than to buy that! If it was on sale, she would buy us PDQ. It dissolved quicker. It also came in a vomit-inducing Egg Nog flavor that I promise you never darkened our door step! Bosco, was once sold by afternoon talk show legend Phil Donahue, when he was a neighbor of bestselling humor writer, Erma Bombeck. How cool is that? [Phil who? I’m so old…..]
The Dairy Aisle
Photo credit: Nabisco and Kraft
My mouth is watering just looking at the bright orange goodness on this page!!! One problem: my Dad sold REAL cheese for a living and sold it for Kraft’s biggest competitor. We got real blue cheese, real cheddar and stuff like that. Velveeta, individually wrapped slices and, naturally, the goodness depicted here were clearly VERBOTEN. But I think my Mom may secretly have liked this stuff too because once in a while she’d let me get this and some good crackers. The kind of stuff we’d enjoy with the Afternoon movie in the summer or when staying up till midnight to see reruns of Upstairs, Downstairs when I was teen.
Want More Childhood Memories?
Thank you for taking this long trip down memory lane with me. If you enjoy Childhood Memory posts, then check out my friend Susan’s Blog, Girls In White Dresses. Most Fridays she features a Childhood Memory of her own. You can read more of my own Childhood Memory Posts here: