Column: Not hungry for breakfast? Try reading this, thenWORTHINGTON — I stayed overnight with Aunt Maggie and Uncle Bert. Now this was more than three or four years ago. On the farm east of Wilmont. There were kerosene lamps because Bert and Maggie did not yet have electricity. When I got up in the morning, Aunt Maggie was frying pork chops and potatoes. Nice gravy. “Strange,” I thought.
By: Ray Crippen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — I stayed overnight with Aunt Maggie and Uncle Bert. Now this was more than three or four years ago. On the farm east of Wilmont. There were kerosene lamps because Bert and Maggie did not yet have electricity.
When I got up in the morning, Aunt Maggie was frying pork chops and potatoes. Nice gravy. “Strange,” I thought.
I knew about oatmeal and Post Toasties. Wheaties. Those were breakfast foods. Maggie seemed to be saying, “Pork chops aren’t just for dinner any more.” In fact, this is exactly what she was saying. She explained, “These men do a lot of work in the morning. They need something on their ribs. It is a long time until noon.”
Aunt Maggie surely made sense. And I have to grant — pork chops and all for breakfast — Uncle Bert always looked like he never ate enough.
I stayed more often with Gramma and Grandpa. Gramma used to make corn bread from scratch for breakfast, in the oven of a wood-burning stove. I don’t think Grandpa got pork chops, but there was quite a spread on the breakfast table nonetheless.
I loved those breakfasts, but they seemed strange to me. City kid. I suppose all of this was usual on many farms of that time, although we never had pork chops or corn bread for breakfasts even in the U.S. Army.
Today I know many people eat much more breakfast than I do. I always have a breakfast, however — doesn’t one of the ads say breakfast is the most important meal of the day?
I heard a Depression story lately. A man remembered, “We had a few chickens. We had oatmeal for breakfast, but we had scrambled eggs the rest of the day.” The man had my attention in part because there was breakfast even when there scarcely was money to buy any food. (A Depression joke: She eats her cereal with a fork so she doesn’t have to spend so much money on milk.)
I mentioned lately that I like puffed wheat. Puffed rice, too. I get Quaker puffed stuff. Do you remember when they advertised Quaker puffed wheat was shot from guns? I never believed this. I still don’t really understand it.
I was buying a box of Quaker puffed wheat lately. The good clerk at the checkout lifted the box and said, “Oh, this reminds me of Gramma. Gramma always had puffed wheat.” I suppose. It is grammas and grandpas today who look for such breakfast fare. If you’re young — if you’re under 65 — you probably go for cereal mixed with marshmallows, or flakes with chocolate drizzled over them.
I worked at the old Sav-Mor market on Second Avenue, the building that had a big chunk of YMCA dumped through its roof earlier this month. I can’t give you the whole Sav-Mor breakfast inventory, but I can tell you the section for cereal was not really big. Post Toasties. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. Nabisco Shredded Wheat. Grape Nuts. The puffed rice and the puffed wheat. Cheerios. Kix. Lots of oatmeal. Many people looked for Mother’s Oatmeal; Mother’s had a dish in every box. Oh, and Wheaties, of course. “Have you tried Wheaties? It’s the best breakfast food in the land!”
There was another old joke:
“We eat Hawkeye oatmeal. We eat it on plates.”
“Why do you call it Hawkeye oatmeal?”
“Because it’s never in a bowl.”
(Apologies to all at Sibley, at Spirit Lake. Rock Rapids. This joke is from the time when U of M still had football teams, when the Gophers were golden.)
In the Sav-Mor days, the prizes in Cracker Jacks boxes were often better than the prizes in cereal boxes. There weren’t a lot of prizes, save for Mother’s Oatmeal dishes. Wheaties (the Breakfast of Champions) had great pictures of the great athletes, of course. If you haven’t had Wheaties lately, it might be worth the price of a box just to get a neat picture of Albert Pujols.
Another thing from Sav-Mor days: the oatmeal/puffed wheat section was called the breakfast food section by everyone. Now of course it is the cereal section.
Do you remember when we made the change from breakfast food to cereal?
Ray Crippen is a former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.