Article by Markup on 12/20/2000.
Our favorite foods that have remained unchanged through the years.
Sometimes It is Hard to Improve on a Good Thing.
Don't get me wrong - I like innovation. The fact that there is a new computer out every year that is 50% more powerful than the previous model excites me to no end. Why? Because it means I'll be able to view porno at a much higher resolution. And, let's face it, the more cable channels we can shove through a line, the more chance there is that we'll actually find something to watch on the boob tube more than 10% of the time (so many channels, so little interesting on). Technology is a good thing! :)
But then there are those rare creations that NEVER change, and for good reason - they are all but perfect. Nails, for instance, are pretty much the same now as they were 50 or even 100 years ago. Mouse traps that were used in the 1940's are almost identical to most of the ones made in 2000. And though a Ginsu knife can cut through a lead pipe, it still shares the same basic design as the steak knives our grandparents used. Innovation may be everywhere, but it is obvious that there are some ideas it hasn't touched in a LONG time.
No where is this more apparent than in the areas of food and drink. Below are five of the most interesting foods and drinks we could find - all of which have remained nearly untouched by the passing of time. Take a look, and see what Father Time has been hoarding in his pantry over the years...
Marshmallow Peeps: Sugar-Filled
What do you get when you combine marshmallows with the impressionist movement? Marshmallow Peeps! These little gobs of sugar and goo have been made by the Just Born, Inc. company since 1953 when they acquired the Rodda Candy Company of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Though the process has been automated and new colors have appeared, the peeps themselves remain almost identical to the originals. Your grandparents (and potentially your grandchildren) could easily have enjoyed the same candy-filled fun that you do today!
Notice the amazing similarities between "modern" peeps and the originals?
Fun Facts: Each individual Peep has 32 calories and 0 grams of fat. Some people like to eat them on pizza, especially "Hawaiian style" variants. Personally, I like to put them on sticks and watch them burst into flame over a camp fire.
Turkey Legs: The Favored Scepter of Kings!
Thanksgiving meals in my family were always the same when I was growing up. My mom, dad, uncles, aunts, and cousins would all gather at my grandparents' house for a nice meal - one that featured a turkey. The problem, of course, was that all of the little cousins WANTED THE TURKEY DRUMSTICKS, and there were only two. Wrestling and other forms of combat quickly ensued, and the last two standing would get the fabled food. The adults, of course, were forced to settle for the white meat. Stupid grown-ups! Could you pretend to be the King of England and then bash someone in the head with a turkey breast? I think NOT! Turkey legs are the ONLY way to go.
Two very different people enjoy turkey legs.
Turkey legs (aka drumsticks) have been made in roughly the same way for millennia. Though a few basic spices might be added (or, in the case of the photo above, barbecue sauce), the turkey leg itself and how it is eaten remain almost the same. The eating process is simple: 1) Grab the exposed bone, 2) bite off a huge chunk of meat, 3) chew, 4) swallow, 5) repeat until there is no meat left. Simple.. and strangely effective.
Fun Facts: During the Thanksgiving of 2000, Butterball.com was knocked off of the internet numerous times by excessive traffic (too many people wanted directions on how to cook a turkey!). One of the favorite foods at renaissance festivals are large turkey drumsticks marketed as "official" renaissance food.
King Henry VIII is often portrayed holding a large drumstick in one hand. Apparently, forming new religions and beheading wives makes a person EXTREMELY hungry.
Fruitcakes: The Gift That Keeps On Being Given.
Everyone has heard the urban legend about the fruitcake that was passed from one person to the next for years until, one Christmas a decade later, it returned to the original giver. I don't know if this is true or not, but I DO have my own legend: Every year, I receive a fruitcake from someone. Every year, I put it in the freezer to keep. I now have 6 fruitcakes. When I have ten, I intend to build a tiny walkway across my gravel driveway so I don't get my feet wet when it rains. I know that's not particularly ironic, but it does illustrate my point: fruitcakes are NASTY.
Some people said I shouldn't include fruitcakes on this list - either because they didn't like them or because they thought there were too many different varieties. I say, "Bah!" To the majority of Americans, a fruitcake is a fruitcake is a fruitcake.. and they all taste the same. I call THAT timeless, so they get added to the list.
The legendary FRUITCAKE! Ughhh...
Fun Facts: I don't know any fun facts about fruitcake except that most are made with brandy. Personally, I think their are better uses for that liquid than dumping it into one of these abominations.
Mead: Elixir of the Ancients.
The TRUE drink of vikings, kings, and renaissance enthusiasts, mead has been around for a long time. It is older than beer, older than ale, and even older than grape wine. It is considered one of the first alcoholic beverages ever invented, and keeps the same basic formula of honey, water, and yeast to this day. Try a bottle today!
Four different meads I've had in the past. The one on the far left I made myself, while the one on the right is my favorite brand.
Fun Facts: The term "honeymoon" actually involves mead! Back in the old days, a newlywed couple were given a moon's supply of mead in order to help ensure pregnancy. Mead was also thought to have medicinal properties, especially the spiced "metheglin" variant.
Hardtack: The Real Reason the Civil War Ended.
Last (but certain not least) comes one of our favorites: Hardtack! These "crackers" are made from wheat flour and water. That's it. No salt, butter, egg, or anything else.. just wheat flour and water. What can I say? The classics never die!
The best thing about hardtack (besides its shelf life) is the fact that it is FILLING. A hardtack cracker will literally sit in your stomach like a brick, making you feel full. They may not taste like anything while you eat them, but these crackers FEEL like you've eaten a hundred of them once they go down. I like to eat one after getting Chinese to ensure that I don't feel hungry an hour later.. but that's just me.
A hardtack cracker sits out on an antique plate. Which do you think is older?
Fun Facts: Hardtack crackers are best known for the role they played in the Civil War. They were one of the main sources of food for soldiers in the field, though few fighting men actually liked the flavor. Civil War reenactors commonly purchase hardtack and unroasted coffee in order to get an "authentic" experience.
So Now That You Know...
Why not give these delicacies a try if you haven't already? Besides the enjoyment you might get out of having a new taste experience, there's knowing that you'll be experiencing the same aromas and flavors that members of numerous other generations tried as well. Take a step back in time, and see what a LACK of innovation can be like for a change.
Marshmallow Peeps Homepage: Everything you ever wanted to know about Marshmallow Peeps but were afraid to ask can be found on their homepage! They also have direct sales for those who have trouble finding them at the local grocery! http://www.marshmallowpeeps.com.
White Winter Winery sells some of the best mead on the market. Though a bit drier than I like, they are never the less one of the most popular meaderies on the internet. http://www.whitewinter.com.
Bent's Cookie Factory continues to make hardtack the same way it did over 140 years ago! Taste a piece of American history! http://www.bentscookiefactory.com/hardtack.htm.