According to Punchbowl.com, “People have been eating their meals outside in the beauty of nature for centuries. In fact, our modern-day idea of a picnic evolved from Medieval hunting feasts and Victorian garden parties. These were usually quite sophisticated affairs, which involved multiple courses and elaborate preparations.”
People often think of insects, particularly ants, as picnic-spoiling pests—but ladybugs (coccinellidae) are a different story. Come picnic with the ladybugs in this Sesame Street classic, “Ladybugs’ Picnic.” The ladies have a grand old time—competing in sack races, telling knock-knock jokes, and toasting marshmallows.
Ladybugs’ Picnic is brought to you by the number 12.
April 16 is Day of the Mushroom (not to be confused with National Mushroom Day—that’s October 15).
Day of the Mushroom sounds like a movie where mushrooms take over the earth, doesn’t it? While there are good mushrooms to be sure, some can be pretty evil. The Amanita phalloides variety, for example, can cause organ failure and death. And then there are Witchiepoo’s evil mushrooms on H.R. Pufnstuf. They can turn you into a mushroom just by touching you.
That’s what happens to Freddy the Flute in the 1969 episode titled “Flute, Book and Candle.” Despite Pufnstuf’s warning (“Don’t anyone touch the evil mushrooms!”) poor Freddy winds up in a patch of the evil talking fungi and is touched. One of the mushrooms is smoking a cigar, so you know he’s evil. What I don’t understand is this: If Freddy can talk, and the mushrooms can talk, and everything else on Living Island can talk—how come Freddy can no longer talk once he becomes a mushroom?
Watch the episode below. Pufnstuf’s warning is at 2:12. Freddy’s mushroom transformation is at 3:15.
“Autumn’s fresh pecans—plump and tender for Imperial Harvest Pecan Cake…” Did the same actor do the voiceovers for every commercial from the ’50s and early ’60s? I swear they all sound alike.
Here are some fun pecan facts from NationalPecanDay.com
- Pecans are known for their buttery flavor and soft crunch.
- The pecan tree is the only nut tree native to North America.
- Pecan is a Native American word, of Algonquin origin, used to describe “all nuts requiring a stone to crack.”
Tiny Tim, the performer known for his vibrating falsetto and his ukelele, and David Cassidy, the Partridge Family heartthrob, were both born on April 12 in different years (Tiny Tim in 1932 and Cassidy in 1950). Tiny Tim died in 1996.
I can’t help comparing their long hair—Tiny Tim with his greasy ’60s locks and David Cassidy with his blow-dried ’70s mane. I wanted hair like Cassidy’s, but the most my mother would allow was a modified Danny Bonaduce.
Here are some pretty groovy performances by each of the birthday boys.
Below, Tiny Tim sings his signature song, “Tip-Toe Thru the Tulips,” on Laugh In. Dick Martin’s reactions are priceless.
Here’s one of my favorite Partridge Family/David Cassidy performances, “Bandala,” from the episode “Soul Club.” The Partridge family has never looked so white, banging their tambourines and swiveling their hips while pseudo Black Panthers accompany them on violins at an inner-city block party/fundraiser. Richard Pryor and Lou Gossett Jr. are in this episode.
The University of Illinois Extension offers some Facts for Families for National Egg Salad week, including this:
Hard-cooked eggs should be stored in the refrigerator and used within one week, advises Carol Schlitt, University of Illinois Extension nutrition and wellness educator.
When storing hard-cooked eggs, you may notice a “gassy” odor in your refrigerator. The odor is caused by hydrogen sulfide that forms when the eggs are cooked. This gas is harmless and usually dissipates within a few hours.
Hey, remember the “Nerds” series of sketches on Saturday Night Live, and how Lisa Loopner’s mother, played by Jane Curtin, always offered people her “famous egg salad”? Gilda Radner played Lisa Loopner, and Bill Murray played Lisa’s boyfriend, Todd.
Below, Mrs. Loopner offers Lisa some advice as Lisa prepares to go to her prom. (Go to 1:45 in the video for the egg salad part; full transcript here):
Now, listen, what I’m about to say is very hard for me to say. Lisa, dear… making a baby is like… it’s um… it’s like making egg salad. You, the woman, produce the eggs, and the man furnishes the mayonnaise—of course, you don’t need chopped celery for… Oh, I’ve just given you my egg salad recipe, and I was saving that for your 21st birthday!
“Nerds Prom Night,” Saturday Night Live (May 20, 1978)
Even if your egg salad recipe isn’t as famous as Mrs. Loopner’s, have a great National Egg Salad Week.
James Best died yesterday, April 6, 2015, at age 88.
The actor was best known for playing Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane on The Dukes of Hazzard from 1979 to 1985. He also appeared on lots of other shows over the course of a career that stretched back to the 1950s.
In the former, Best plays a handsome country boy who is fought over by two young women, one of whom uses a love potion to secure his affection. (The episode was penned by The Waltons creator Earl Hamner.)
In “The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank,” he plays a man who awakens, alive and well, in the middle of his own funeral, causing the superstitious townsfolk to fear him.
I always think of coffee cake as the cake with the cinnamon crumbs on top that fall off and make a mess, but apparently the term can be applied more loosely to any cake intended to go along with coffee.
Coffee cake can come in handy in many situations, so it’s good to take some with you wherever you go. On Seinfeld, for example, Jerry uses Drake’s Coffee Cakes to bribe Newman in order to buy his silence about Jerry’s spending time with someone else’s girlfriend. See the scene below from the episode titled “The Suicide.”
So enjoy National Coffee Cake Day—and watch out for those cinnamon crumbs.
- April 7 is National Coffee Cake Day (foodimentary.com)
“There’s something exhilarating about salty, crunchy popcorn that’s been coated with sweet, amber caramel. Maybe that’s why a particular brand of the stuff is a mainstay at ballpark concession stands across America,” writes CD Kitchen—referring, I’m sure, to Cracker Jack.
This Cracker Jack commercial from 1965 just screams pedophilia, as the strange man furtively reaches over towards the sleeping child to grab his… Cracker Jacks. Or maybe he’s going for the boy’s toy surprise. Seriously, I can’t imagine that they would ever make this commercial today. (I don’t mean to cast any aspersions on the actor, Jack Gilford, whom you might recognize from Cocoon.)
- April 6 is National Caramel Popcorn Day (foodimentary.com)
In honor of the first night of Passover, here’s a 1962 radio commercial for that staple of Passover seders, Manischewitz wine. Bob Crane, later of Hogan’s Heroes, does two different voices in this spot. Plus there’s a jingle!
Manischewitz tastes just like grapes right off the vine
Imported sun-drenched berries make the very wines divine
That’s why this famous label is your natural flavor sign
Man oh Manischewitz!
What a wine!
- The 11th Plague? Why People Drink Sweet Wine on Passover (theatlantic.com)
April 3 is National Chocolate Mousse Day. And though it is spelled differently, I’d also like to take the opportunity to recognize two of my favorite TV moose: Mr. Moose from Captain Kangaroo and Bullwinkle from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.
Let’s pay them both a visit:
- National Chocolate Mousse Day (eatocracy.cnn.com)