Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Chips and Crackers

It might have begun with thinking about what to have for lunch and wondering if we had enough of our favorite chips to go with some sandwiches.

These, by-the-way, are our favorite potato chips. They are manufactured in Southeast Iowa (Burlington) and it used to be the only time we had them was if we were down that way. Now our local Hy-Vee carries them. There's just something about these chips that is like no other I have ever tasted.



Thinking about chips made me recall the way I used to eat the potato chips Mom sent in my school lunches. I would sort out the potato chips and always, always, ate the small broken ones first before eating the whole chips. And those I ate from the smallest to the largest in size. (Saving the best for last?)

I considered it very telling about us that when Bud and I once discussed this, he said that is how he always ate his chips, too. We still do.
Why do we save the best for last? Does that have something to do with eating dessert - because we eat it last?


Chip(s) also made me think of the saying "a chip off the old block" represented in this lithograph by Robert Deyber. The saying refers to a person whom closely resembles, in looks or actions, his or her parent. The analogy that a chip of stone or wood closely resembles the block it was chipped from dates from ancient times (270 B.C.) and was already a proverb by the 17th Century. (The title of the art work is "Another Chip off the Old Block".)

Naturally thinking about my favorite chips led to me thinking about their relatives, the crackers.

Two of my favorite crackers are FlipSides - the original pretzel cracker by Town House - and Triscuit's Rosemary & Olive Oil. Give me some of these with cheese or one of my favorite dips, spinach or crab, and a glass of wine and I'm a happy camper.
The pretzel thins with sea salt shown here are almost the same as FlipSides except for the shape. I don't know if these are taking the place of FlipSides or if they are just something special for Christmas. Weren't there some crackers in the shape of Christmas trees once?

Christmas crackers? That's a whole 'nother topic. Just ask a Brit, Irishman, Australian or Canadian if you want to know about Christmas crackers. (Or look it up like I did.)

 Also known as bonbons, crackers are cardboard tubes wrapped in paper or foil and twisted at the ends. (Like a piece of candy.) Two people pull apart the cracker which makes a popping sound and spills out the small gifts and joke or riddle packed inside. They are usually pulled at the dinner table or at parties.
I learned that Christmas crackers have been around since 1847 when Tom Smith of London invented them to sell as an addition to his candy business. I wonder if my English and Irish forebears looked forward to pulling Christmas crackers as youngsters?

This is the cover of Tom Smith's 1934 Christmas Crackers and Novelties catalogue. I bet paging through it and looking forward to Christmas was as much fun as thumbing through the Sears Christmas catalog was for me.

It was a journey from potato chips to Christmas Crackers, but that is how my mind wanders. I also learned about the Finsbury Square drinking fountain commemorating Tom Smith and his wife Martha. (You can look that one up for yourself if your mind works the way mine does.)

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