Archive for Oreo

Classics in American Snack Food

Posted in Entertainment, Food, Life, Uncategorized, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2012 by urbannight

Velveeta is not a cheese I like.  Unless having a grilled cheese sandwich or making some kind of cheese dip for Mexican food.  In those cases, it is the only cheese to use.

Despite the fact that the info sheet placed in the bathrooms at work, for bathroom reading (yes, my workplace provides bathroom reading called “The Bottom Line”), says it didn’t make an appearance in American homes until 1928, it was actually invented in 1918 inNew York and sold through the Monroe Cheese Company.  I did not know that it is a variety of American cheese that is smother and softer, more velvety, hence the name Velveeta. 

I always thought of Velveeta as the Spam (oddly enough, I’m not addressing Spam today) of the cheese world. But I hate American cheese even more and won’t use it for anything.  Although I must admit my roommate can make a fairly good grilled cheese sandwich out of it.  So I will amend my statement and call American cheese the Spam of the cheese world.  Even if that isn’t actually an accurate a statement it is how I feel about it. 

 I find it very strange that it was originally recommended to be served on a toasted sandwich of peanut butter and sweet pickle relish.  Three items I would NEVER put together.    Was the test group that came up with that idea full of pregnant ladies?  I have to wonder.

I felt the need to look this up because I thought the 1928 date was incorrect.  Like I mentioned, it first came out in 1918, was spun off into its own company in 1923, and then was sold to Kraft in 1927.

Jell-o was created by a cough syrup maker in 1897.  I suppose he could have found a way to make it up into a form that was marketable and easy to make.  In the early 1900’s it was offered to immigrants on Ellis Island to welcome them toAmerica. 

This sounds really funny now.  But if you know a little bit about where it comes from it makes more sense.  Gelatin was a time consuming item to make.  It required hours of boiling bones, connective tissues, hooves, hide, and intestines to produce the gelatin that could be then flavored and put into moulds.  Even when it was sold in sheets, it still had to be purified before using.  So even that convenience still left it in the realm of the wealthy who could afford kitchen staff who could spend the day in making a fancy gelatin desert.  Imagine some of the poorer immigrants arriving on Ellis Island and being given a bowl of something only the wealthy could normally afford to eat.  Of course it would help give the image of America as a land of prosperity, flowing with milk and honey.

But even the date and inventor of Jell-o is incorrect.  Powdered gelatin was invented and patented in 1845 by Peter Cooper, the industrialist who built the first American Steam Locomotive.  The formula was purchased by Pearle Wait, the cough syrup maker (and carpenter, go figure) and his wife added flavorings to the mix and they renamed it Jell-o. 

Am I the only one who finds it interesting and strange that food products were being invented by people who were in industries that did not produce food?

Cracker Jack showed up in 1983 at the Chicago World’s Fair.  But it wasn’t perfected yet and clumped together (like a popcorn ball, I imagine).  It took until 1896 to find a way to keep the popcorn separate.  Toys didn’t show up until 1912.  Sailor Jack didn’t show up until 1918.  He was modeled on an 8 year old boy who died of pneumonia shortly after his image first appeared on the boxes.  The dog appeared at the same time and was also modeled on a real-life dog who died of old age. 

I have no issue with the dates on this product.  I just wondered if they still put prizes in the boxes.  I remember growing up when the prize was more important than the treat.  It is such a part of my childhood that the idea of Cracker Jack w/o a prize seems sacrilegious.    They do include something still, but usually a comic or other paper item because it is cheaper to produce and avoids having choking hazards in a box of candied treats.

Oreo turned out to be less interesting.  The only point of interest is that it was created in 1912 as competition for a cookie another company started making 4 years earlier.  Today we still have Oreo Cookies and the other cookie has disappeared into the mists of time.