I’ve noticed something over the years. It’s like every snack that I cherished as a kid is shrinking. I’m taking about the actual snack. I know I’ve grown, obviously, but the candy bars are just smaller.
Let’s take a “Snickers,” for example. The Snickers bar was introduced by Mars, Incorporated in 1930 and was named after a favorite family horse. A nougat topped with caramel (my downfall), peanuts, and sheathed in milk chocolate. When I was 13 that candy bar could hardly be finished in one sitting without getting sick. It cost five cents. Yes, five cents. Now that candy bar can be finished in three bites and costs close to a dollar if not more depending on where you get the sugar craving. Independently owned convenience stores are the worst.
The other morning I had an ice cream sandwich for breakfast. Mostly because I was looking in the freezer for a frozen waffle and the ice cream sandwich seemed easier. It was right there in the box at eye level screaming, we all scream for ice cream but sometimes it screams back I guess, so I grabbed it.
The first thing I noticed about the item in my hand was that it was considerably smaller than the ones I used to get at Weber’s Grocery for 25 cents. That was a purchase that could only be made once a week on my lofty income of 35 cents allowance. The allowance was paid on Sunday from my Mom’s tips the night before. By Sunday afternoon I was broke, not unlike the way my life has worked ever since, the only difference being I usually got paid on a Friday and was broke by Friday night.
The ice cream sandwich I was about to eat for breakfast was thinner, not as wide, the chocolate wafer was thinner, and was encased in a paper wrapper that was glued with some brand of ultra-Super Glue. In those days past, the ice cream sandwich was wrapped in a foil wrap that was easily removed and could be folded down as you consumed it.
In order to get to this undersized ice cream sandwich, I had to use a pair of kitchen shears to cut the paper wrapper off. In my mind, it is impossible to unwrap it any other way. The glue and the paper won’t give anywhere along the seam. I’ve tried it many times, and the kitchen shears work the best. Then maybe there is a correct way to eat an ice cream sandwich and I haven’t figured it out yet. And, yes, there are “instructional” videos out there if you think you’re doing it wrong. I watched a couple but they all seem to be dealing with different types of glue.
When I was younger, eating that ice cream sandwich, you had to lick around the edges to keep the melting ice cream from falling out of the sandwich wafers. Not anymore. Four bites and that sucker is gone. No time for it to melt. And when you’re done, it’s not enough, but you know two would be too much. The ice cream sandwich just needs to be bigger.
On Saturday nights, back on Burkitt Street, my older sister and I were “employed” to watch the kids while my parents worked at the Elks Club. My dad played in the dance band, and my mother was a server. She always said that she was a “bar hop,” but that’s not the true definition of a waitress in a bar. Bar hopping, as some of us know, is going from bar to bar on a mission to get as drunk as humanly possible.
Every Saturday night, after the kids, five of them, were tucked away in bed upstairs, I would head across the street to Weber’s to get a bag of chips. Money would be pooled to purchase the 45 cent bag. Preferred choice was “Lays” BBQ flavored chips. When I returned with the bag, it was emptied into an unfolded napkin on the floor, and “evenly” divided. This process was not without some heated discussion about the evenness of the division. When the deed was complete, we would each take our half of the contents and watch the late movie on television, black and white television. Late being 10:00. The TV would go off the air at the end of the Kennecott Copper Corporation’s Saturday night movie. Kennecott Copper Corporation, an open pit copper mine in Utah, was the sponsor of the movie, with limited self-aggrandizing commercial interruptions. The half bag of chips would last most of the movie, with a “Kool-Aid” chaser.
Open a regular size bag of chips today. The first thing you’ll notice is that they have indeed settled to the bottom of the large bag as the bag clearly warns. “Packed by weight, not volume,” the bag says, “Some settling of the contents will occur.” Got that right. Why don’t they just make the bag smaller so you know what to expect. Dump that bag on an unfolded napkin and divide equally, you won’t have enough for the first 30 minutes of the late movie.
I always strived not to be one of those people that was always eulogized the “good ‘ol days,” but it’s getting harder and harder not to. We just got more bang for our buck when it came to snacks back then. Back in the 60s, when a Snickers was more than a few bites, an ice cream sandwich could melt in your hand in the time it took to consume it, and a bag of chips could be shared into the late hours of a Saturday night.