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Grandparents

July 26, 2011
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Nana E always had bottles of Dr. Brown’s Cream Soda in the pantry. A visit to Nana S meant I could drink a can from her stash of Dr. Brown’s Black Cherry Soda. Nana E had bowls filled with Hershey’s miniatures. The bowls Nana S would set out were filled with caramel nips.

When it came to visiting the grandparents, each one had their own special treats. But both of them spoiled me rotten.

Nana E tells the story of when I was four and she was delivering me breakfast in bed. Well, not quite bed. I was wrapped up in the softest satin blanket, laying on the couch, watching their color television. So she puts the tray of food down on the coffee table. I look at the bowl of oatmeal. Then I look at her. And I exclaim,

Who put these fuc*ing raisins in my oatmeal!

Visiting grandparents makes kids a very special kind of crazy. Is it the sugar or the lack of nutrients? It’s hard to tell. And my own kids are no exception. Well, they have yet to bust out the salty language, but it is surely only a matter of time.

The first full day on the farm was a calliope of forbidden delights for the children. It started off with individual boxes of Fruit Loops. Just in case it’s been a while since you’ve looked at the ingredients on a box of these things, here’s the rundown:

Sugar, whole grain corn flour, wheat flour, whole grain oat flour, oat fiber, soluble corn fiber, contains 2% or less of partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (coconut, soybean and/or cottonseed), salt, red 40, natural flavor, blue 2, turmeric color, yellow 6, annatto color, blue 1, BHT for freshness.

For your convenience, I bolded the items above that I’m less than thrilled about. Usually sugar wouldn’t make that list, but given that it’s the first ingredient of something that is cereal and not candy, I consider it to be a problem.

Actually, it makes all the cakes sitting out around the house to appear downright virtuous. The cakes aren’t cakes at all, but rather large, square pieces from a variety of enormous sheet cakes made by a local Italian bakery. There are only six ingredients in the piece of chocolate cake, the worst of which is oleo. One piece that would be a reasonable dessert for four hungry people also only costs $1.99.

The gobs only have five ingredients. Six, if you count, “Lots of love” as it states on the label. To the best of my knowledge, gobs aren’t fundamentally different from whoopee pies. But untangling regional variations surrounding this form of snack cake is a project for another day.

Sugary cereal and cake are nothing without ice cream. In this instance a few of the kids (Young Master Fussy and Cousin H) also got to go out for frozen custard to an Altoona institution called The Meadows. Actually, it was the original 1950 location of this regional mini-chain that opened in Duncansville.

I have to say, this frozen custard gives Albany’s best soft serve a run for its money.

Did I mention that this was just day one. We also have on the agenda a trip to the county fair, which will invariably include something deep fried and covered with sugar. My father-in-law will be making his family’s famous pancakes, and despite my best efforts, Young Master Fussy insists on eating them with high-fructolicious “pancake syrup” and “blueberry syrup.” These seems to be an endless supply of candy and whipped cream. In short, it’s a kid paradise.

The good news is that YMF is really skinny and could use some more meat on his bones. The other good news of course is that just like my grandparents, his are doing their job, and doing it well.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 26, 2011 3:15 pm

    Same. My parents have hooked my kids on Chocolate Milk (which the older one has learned to make herself… makes for lovely messes on the kitchen floor). But, I know this is a bond I had with my grandparents too (such things as Fig Newtons, Chocolate-covered Shortbread Cookies, Rocket Pops, and yes, Chocolate Milk), so I tend to overlook it.

  2. July 26, 2011 11:07 pm

    The thought of a four-year-old you cursing like a sailor just made me laugh out loud.

  3. Ellen Whitby permalink
    July 26, 2011 11:45 pm

    My grandmother always had ginger ale to give me on the sly. I don’t think my parents would have objected but they didn’t know about it and ginger ale wasn’t something we drank at home. When she was hospitalized before she died it was my turn to smuggle in her favorite drink to her. If the drs knew, they would not have approved but it was a special way of bringing happiness to her during a very difficult time. Also, I love having that memory.

    In addition to the “syrup” and other non-foods you’re hoping will fatten him up, I hope YMS is getting a chance to be outside and play some baseball.

  4. July 26, 2011 11:47 pm

    Gobs! They were also a part of my childhood trips to my grandmother’s house in Western PA. Great memories.

  5. July 27, 2011 7:15 pm

    I guess I’m deprived. My nana was a health food nut. The only cereals in the house were Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes and Wheaties. Of course, I always snuck a generous spoonful of sugar in to my bowl and nana did at least look the other way.

    There were also doses of cod liver oil and a “health” drink with orange juice, a raw egg (!) and some other stuff. Brewer’s yeast and wheat germ were always available for sprinkling on foods for an extra special “treat”.

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