Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Twinkie, Twinkie, Little Cake

by Connie Cortright

Our trip down memory lane this week takes us to another food that our grandparents might have tasted and can still be found on the grocery shelves today. Hostess Twinkies have been around for eighty-four years, invented on April 6, 1930 in River Forest, Illinois.

Hostess brand named snacks were sold originally in the 1920s by the Continental Bakeries Company. At that time, they sold a product called Hostess Little Shortbread Fingers, which included a strawberry filing in the little cakes. They sound yummy! This product sold well, but was only produced during a couple weeks in June when strawberries were ripe in Illinois.

James Dewar, the vice president of the Chicago plant, wanted to find a use for the Shortbread Fingers baking pans during the rest of the year. He baked some of the shortbread cakes and injected them with banana cream filling and named them Twinkies, a name he came up with when he saw a billboard advertising Twinkle-Toe Shoes. Seems like an odd thing to name something after, but it stuck!

The newly invented snack was an instant hit when it arrived on the shelves. Two Twinkies were sold for a nickel back then, a price even a mother could love. The one big problem they had was that Twinkies had a two day shelf life, so a Hostess truck had to replace the supply every two days. I imagine that they must have been only sold to local stores at that time.

The recipe was later changed to replace the milk, eggs, and butter to have a longer shelf life. This also improved when the snack was sealed in cellophane wrappers. Today Twinkies have a shelf life of twenty-five days.

The banana cream filling was changed to the well-known vanilla crème filling during World War II. The banana shortage caused by the war precipitated this change, but the vanilla filling was well-received by all. Wish I could have tasted the banana flavored Twinkies. They've been vanilla filled most of the time since then.

Twinkies has been a snack in lunch boxes or after school for generations. The only time they haven't been in production was during the last part of 2012 and first half of 2013 when Hostess Company filed for bankruptcy. Apollo Global Management bought up the company in early 2013 allowing Twinkies to return to production by July of that year. Thank goodness for that!

What is your first memory of eating this delicious snack?

Information taken from Delish - History of Snack Foods

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

The Cookie Crumbles

by Connie Cortright

Now that the holiday season is behind us, many people are starting their annual diets to lose the weight they added over the last month. However, chocolate chip cookies will probably sneak past the diet police since it is generally accepted that they are the favorite cookie of our country.

This favorite cookie had its beginning during the Depression so here is the chocolate chip cookie story.

Ruth Graves Wakefield, who ran the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, loved to bake for the boarders of her inn. She wanted to make them Butter Drop Do cookies which called for an addition of Baker's chocolate to the recipe to make a chocolate dough. Mrs. Wakefield discovered that she didn't have any Baker's chocolate in the house that day so instead substituted a chocolate bar cut into tiny morsels. That chocolate bar had been given to her by Andrew Nestle.

Ruth hoped the chocolate bits would melt making the cookies chocolate like they usually were. Instead she was surprised to see that the cookies retained their vanilla taste with the addition of melted chocolate morsels. They were such a hit with the guests of her inn that she continued to improve the recipe and make the chocolate chip cookies for them.

Thus the connection between the Nestle Company and Mrs. Wakefield's Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies was born. To accommodate the popularity of the cookies, for several years Nestle's formed their chocolate bars so they would be easier to break into chocolate bits for the cookies.

In 1939 the Nestle Company started packaging chocolate chips specifically for the cookies so women everywhere didn't have to chop up a Nestle chocolate bar to add to the recipe.

With her recipe becoming more famous all the time, Mrs. Wakefield contracted with Nestle's to have them print her cookie recipe on the back of every package of Nestle's Chocolate Chips in return for a life time supply of Nestle's chocolate for her kitchen. That was quite a deal! Nestle's benefited from the popularity of the cookies and only had to supply her with chocolate.

When I was a girl, I learned to bake chocolate chip cookies with the recipe on the back of the Nestle's Chocolate Chip bag as I'm sure did most every other woman in the country. They taste the same today as in 1933.

I wanted to share another bit of history with you that we share with our loved ones who lived so many years ago. I, for one, am very glad that Mrs. Wakefield came up with this wonderful recipe. It's been a favorite for myself and my family for many years. Now, where's my cookie?

Information taken from History of Chocolate chip Cookies

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A 1926 Happy New Year!

by Connie Cortright

New Year's Eve is approaching quickly. What are your plans for that night? Since historically this holiday isn't much different than we celebrate today, I'm going to share what New Year's Eve might have been like in 1926 via an excerpt from my novel Guide Me Home available at Amazon.com Freddie and Emma. and Jules and Vivi are at a ballroom celebrating the big event:

Emma could hear the music blaring when she emerged from the car. Her feet threatened to tap out the rhythm already, and they weren’t even in the building. “It seems like it’s been such a long time since I’ve gone dancing I probably forgot all those steps for the Charleston and Longbottom, and other dances you taught me.” She took hold of Freddie’s arm as they sauntered toward the lighted doorway, the hem of her flapper dress swishing with the click of her heels.
Freddie looked down at Emma, patting her hand, and smiled. “Just stick with me, baby, I'll help you out.” He leaned in closer. “You’ll be the cat's meow all dolled up in that dress.”
“Thank you.” Emma could feel the heat rise in her cheeks. Finally she was wearing her new silky dress with her black silk stocking to go dancing. Would this night be a dream come true? Excitement coursed through her veins. 
As the clock approached the hour of midnight, Emma floated around the ballroom floor in Freddie’s arms. Since the first beat of the music, this night had turned out to be as wonderful as she hoped. She’d remembered all of the dance steps she learned before, dancing either with Freddie or Jules. When Freddie spun her in circles during the waltz, she felt like she was on a carousel at the park. She wanted the evening to go on forever.
As the music stopped, everyone crowded around the stage in anticipation of the stroke of midnight. Freddie had his arm draped around her shoulder. “You sure are a terrific hoofer.” He gave her shoulder a squeeze. “I could dance with you all night long.” He leaned over giving her a peck on the cheek.
Emma could feel her cheeks burn. She wasn’t used to the show of intimacy in front of people. She stepped away from Freddie. “Thanks. I’ve really had a great time, too.” She looked over at Vivi. “Let’s go to the powder room, Vivi.”
“Great idea.” Vivi looked at Jules. “We will be right back. We still have a few minutes before midnight.”
When Emma and Vivi headed back toward the guys, Emma saw Jules hand something back to Freddie. Freddie glanced up while he shoved the item into his pants pocket. His ears turned red, like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar, as his eyes met Emma’s again. What could that have been about? Jules and Freddie were laughing loudly as the girls reached their side. 
“Are you ready for the celebration?” Freddie leaned closer to Emma to make himself heard above the noise. “I’m ready for my New Year’s kiss.”
She turned to him and smiled. “I’ve never had a New Year’s kiss before.” This would be the icing on the cake for her. A kiss to usher in the New Year. It definitely would be a fantastic year if it started out with a kiss from this man whom she surely loved.
  “Five, four, three, two, one!!! Happy New Year!” The room erupted in a symphony of shouting, with the song “Auld Lang Syne” playing in the background. Freddie took Emma in his arms. As he bent her backwards, she put her arms around his neck and held on. She had expected a warm romantic kiss but was instead surprised by a loud, wet smack. Freddie said with a smile on his lips, “Happy New Year, doll.”
Standing up, Emma pulled away from him. What was that smell on Freddie’s breath? It reminded her of Uncle Max after he had been drinking on the night her cousin got married. Was that mysterious object in Freddie’s pocket a flask of whiskey? Her mind raced trying to figure out what to say. “What were you and Jules doing while we were gone?” The bubble burst on her idea of a nice romantic New Year’s celebration.
“What’s eating you?” Freddie straightened up. “You were only gone for a couple minutes. We didn’t do anything.” He shuffled his feet.
“Oh, come on, Freddie. I can smell something on your breath.” Emma put her hands on her hips. “Did I see you stick a flask in your pocket?”
“You betcha. Did you want a swig?” Freddie put his hand on his pocket.
Emma gasped. “Are you serious? I’ve never even tasted any stuff like that.”
“Don’t be such a dumb dora.” Freddie glared at her, his nostrils flaring. “What’s a sip now and then? It’s a New Year’s Eve party. It’s what everyone...” Freddie froze. Scrubbing a hand over his face, he stared at his feet. “Uh, Emma, I’m sorry. Um, I didn’t mean to snap at you.”
Biting her lip, Emma shook her head. What should she do?
Jules sidled over and put his arm around her shoulder, giving her a brief hug. “Hey, come on, doll. Where’s the crime? Nobody’s going to get plastered.”
Emma narrowed her eyes and peered at him. “What do you mean? What about Prohibition? Last time I checked, it was a crime.”
With a shallow smile on his face, Jules shrugged. “It’s only a crime to sell the stuff, not take a drink.”
Emma scowled. Was that true? Oh yeah, what about Ella’s wedding last year? The scowl faded. “You’re right. Our neighbor had homemade beer at a wedding since that was not illegal. Our pastor even had a beer that night.” 
Vivi smiled at Emma as she leaned against Jules. “Let us not ruin the night with this.” Vivi took Jules hand. “I hear the Charleston starting up. Let us go dance, Big Daddy.”
Not sure what to say, Emma stared at her feet. “I’m sorry I jumped down your throat before.” She couldn’t make herself look at Freddie.
Freddie put a finger under her chin, tipping her head until she gazed into his blue eyes. “No, you don’t have to apologize.” He brought his face close to hers and gave her a soft kiss. “I’m the one who needs to apologize for getting angry at you.” He used his thumb to brush a tear off her cheek. “I don’t want to spoil your special night.”
Now Emma was definitely confused. This kiss meant so much more to her than the one at midnight. She’d been angry after the first kiss, but this made up for it. If only her mind didn’t act like a kaleidoscope-change the angle a little and a completely different view emerged. 
Freddie smiled at Emma and took her hand. “The music is calling me.”