This is part two- of a four-part series: ”DO YOU EAT VINTAGE FOOD / NEW FOOD / CULT FOOD / REAL FOOD?”
CULT FOODS: Food that we love that is limited edition or scarcely available. Food with a reputation for being awesome and/or nostalgic.
Conversation Hearts. Necco makes more than 8 billion boxes of these candy hearts annually for Valentine’s Day and they sell out every single year. Sentiments written on these sugary sweet hearts have evolved greatly since their first appearances in 1866. Old-time favorites such as “Be Mine”, “Kiss Me”, and “Call Me” remain among newly introduced modern sayings, “Email Me” and “Fax Me” (?) – a long evolution from early sayings such as “Married in satin, love will not be lasting”. Custom stamping has allowed for candy hearts to serve a variety of other purposes as well, such as proposing marriage and teaching people how to read.
Dr. Pepper. It is widely available all over the world but it has a fan club, strange for a soda brand, so here it sits.
Girl Scout Cookies. These tasty cookies – Samoa’s, Thin Mints, yum, yum, yum – are available only from January to April each year but sales exceed 700 million dollars annually on average. Good lord, that amount of cash buys a whole lot of character building for Girl Scouts across America! Thin Mints are the highest selling cookie in America, beating out Oreos.
Pez fun fact: This compressed candy with its famed dispenser came to America in 1952. It was originally created and sold in Austria and was named after the German word for peppermint, Pfefferminz, the first Pez flavor.
In-N-Out Burger. From Sunny Southern California, the nation’s best cheeseburger (behind Dick’s Drive-In in Seattle, of course.) Aficionado’s credit this burger with having “crack-like” abilities to addict you to this version of America’s favorite cult-fast food burger chain. (Just got really hungry writing this…)
Bazooka Bubble Gum. Did you hear the news? Pretty soon, you won’t be able to get a Bazooka Joe comic and fortune along with your Bazooka Bubble Gum. The comic and fortune is one of the only reasons we remember the gum. Get ‘em and save ‘em while you can. Bazooka was first marketed shortly after World War II with a patriotic red, white and blue wax paper wrapper and added the “Bazooka Joe” comic strips in 1953. Did you hear the other news? Hollywood announced in 2009 that Bazooka Joe would become a hero of the big screen.
Pop Rocks. Eating a bag of Pop Rocks is kind of similar to sucking on sugar coated gravel. Although they are disgustingly sugary and totally unfulfilling, chefs and other foodies in cities like Chicago, New York and Seattle are swiping up small bags of this gimmicky, noisemaking candy to add a little pow to desserts and other recipes. We’re intrigued.
Pop-Tarts. Who doesn’t love a pop-tart? Tiny little toaster-baked pastry squares with frosting and a little dose of cut throat thievery early on. The first Pop Tart was actually called “Country Squares” and was developed by Post to compliment breakfast cereal in 1963. But Post made a huge marketing blunder and announced the product to the media before it was ready for market. Kellogg jumped on the opportunity and made a competitive product, called the “Pop Tart”, in just six months and beat Post to market. Advertised by an animated toaster named Milton, the product exploded and “Country Squares” dissolved into a thing of the past.
Spam. Cult-vintage-cult-vintage – it’s a tossup. Although it has extreme historical value, we’re giving it to the cult category because of the strange wave of celebrations surrounding it. Want to go to the Spam Museum? Head to Austin, Minnesota where you can learn about the history of Spam and compete in the National Spam Recipe Competition! Want a little more hula with your mystery meat? Go to the annual Spam Jam in Waikiki in April. Shady Cove, Oregon has a yearly Spam Parade and Festival, and Austin, Texas has an April 1st bonanza called: Spamarama.
The name “Spam” is a combination of the words “spiced” and “ham.” First introduced in 1937 and still widely eaten today, Spam is pre-cooked meat made of chopped pork shoulder, ham, salt, water, potato starch (binder), sodium nitrite as a preservative, and aspic – a gelatinous glaze that occurs from the cooling of the meat stock.
Do you call emails that you don’t want to receive spam? That name came from a Monty Python sketch – in which Spam is pegged inescapable. Rumor has it that the seven billionth can of Spam was sold in 2007.
Fluff Marshmallow Crème. An all-American cult favorite—the fluffy sweet spreadable counterpart to peanut butter in a Fluffernutter sandwich. One of the factors the cult status of Fluff is that it is available in the Northeast and Canada, and very hard to find anywhere else. According to Wikipedia, the earliest mention of marshmallow crème in an American cookbook was in 1896 in Fannie Farmer’s Boston School Cook Book. Live vegan? Try Ricemellow Creme.
Black Jack Chewing Gum made from aniseed— the first flavored gum in the U.S.; the first gum to be offered in sticks. We used to find this product in Joker’s Wild, our neighborhood specialty joke store. But the creation of Black Jack was no joking matter to exiled former Mexican president and General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (famous for losing the Texas War of Independence), who in 1869 brought chicle (natural gum extracted from trees) to New Jersey. It was purchased by a New York inventor, Thomas Adams, who used it as a rubber substitute in a failed product. His wife (like the Mayans) liked to chew it. Adams turned it into gum, altering the formula to include sarsaparilla and later licorice, and sold it locally. He found immediate success. Sales for Black Jack Gum has ebbed-and flowed in the last 40 years, but has hit their stride with Cadbury Adams, who continues to manufacture Black Jack and other nostalgic brands of chewing gum, like another one of our favorites: Beeman’s.
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