Today on the tray: Croissants

January 30 is National Croissant Day, a day to celebrate everyone’s favorite flaky, buttery, crescent-shaped pastry.

Punchbowl.com says:

croissantsAlthough it is most likely just a myth, the history of the croissant is a colorful tale full of adventure. In 1683, the Turkish Empire laid siege on Vienna, Austria. The Turks made several attempts to enter the city by force, but were unsuccessful, so decided to dig an underground tunnel. The bakers of Vienna, who worked in the basement storerooms, heard the sound of digging and alerted the army.

The bakers received high honors and thanks for their assistance in outwitting the Turks. In celebration, they baked their bread in the shape of a crescent moon—the symbol of the Ottoman Empire. After the Turks were defeated, it became custom to serve morning coffee with the crescent-shaped pastry!

Sara Lee: The Next Generation

This 1984 Sara Lee croissant commercial stars Gates McFadden, who would one day play Dr. Beverly Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The future USS Enterprise physician puts on a French accent and insists that only the French can make a true croissant. After tasting it, she concludes, “This Sara Lee—she is French, non?”


Sara Lee croissant commercial with Gates McFadden (1984)

Born on this date: Eartha Kitt

Eartha Kitt as CatwomanSinger/actress/cabaret star/Catwoman Eartha Kitt was born on this date (Jan. 17) in 1927. She would have been 88.

In this video, she performs the 1989 Hi-NRG electropop hit “Cha Cha Heels” with Bronski Beat. The song is inspired by the scene in the John Waters movie Female Trouble where Dawn Davenport demands cha cha heels for Christmas.


Eartha Kit and Bronski Beat, “Cha Cha Heels” (1989)

Today on the tray: Spaghetti

spaghettiJanuary 4 is National Spaghetti Day.

It happens to fall on a Sunday this year—but in Boston’s North End, Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day. If you don’t get the reference, watch this award-winning commercial:


“Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day” commercial (1969)

‘Anthony! Anthony!’

Anthony Martignetti lives in Boston, in the Italian North End—the home of the Prince Spaghetti Company…Most days, Anthony takes his time going home. But today is Wednesday. And in the North End of Boston, Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day.

Anthony Martignetti was cast in the Prince spaghetti ad in 1969 at age 12. This article tells how Martignetti happened to be cast, and catches up with him 40 years later. And here’s a photo gallery showing grown-up Martignetti and the woman who played his mother. (That’s right, it wasn’t his real mother!)

Also, find out what Martignetti thinks about the new “Anthony” commercial, in which someone else plays him as an adult. Spoiler: He’s not a fan.

Today on the tray: It’s a buffet!

January 2 is National Buffet Day. Here’s a little buffet background:

Swedish schnappsOriginating during the middle of the 16th century, the buffet table comes from the Brannvinsbord – Swedish schnapps (shot of alcoholic beverage) table.  The prime of this custom was during the early 18th century and was developed into the more modern buffet around the beginning of the 19th century.  It was during the expansion of the railroads throughout Europe that the smorgasbord buffet increased in popularity.   Read more at NationalDayCalendar.com

By 1978, the buffet concept had spread so far from its 16th-century Swedish schnapps origin that it was used by Kentucky Fried Chicken. Watch this commercial for Colonel Sanders’ Do-It-Yourself Buffet:


Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial for Colonel Sanders' Do-It-Yourself-Buffet (1978)

Whenever 30 or more hungry people get together, let Colonel Sanders make everyone happy with his Do-It-Yourself Buffet.

Each person gets salads, bread, and three pieces of finger-lickin’-good Kentucky Fried Chicken… Give us two hours notice, then come and get it!

Well, what if you don’t have 30 people? What if it’s just you? Maybe you’d like to heat up a Banquet Buffet Supper. In this 1968 commercial that spoofs a movie trailer, Banquet Buffet Supper wins awards for Best Sliced Turkey, Best Performance by a Giblet Gravy in a Supporting Role, and Best Performance by a Housewife. Yes, really.


Commercial for Banquet Buffet Supper Giblet Gravy and Sliced Turkey (1968)

I don’t understand how a frozen dinner constitutes a buffet. In fact, isn’t it the opposite of a buffet, since you only get to eat one thing?

Anyway, if you’re eating a frozen dinner “buffet” by yourself, chances are you live alone with your cat. And why shouldn’t Kitty also get to celebrate National Buffet Day?


Friskies Buffet commercial (late 1960s)

Ready for dinner, darling? Got fish and chicken. Friskies Buffet Fish & Chicken.

So whether you’re hosting a dinner party for 30 or eating alone with your cat, have a happy National Buffet Day!

All You Can Eat Buffet sign

In memory of Donna Douglas

Here’s something guaranteed to make you feel old: Donna Douglas, who played Elly May Clampett on The Beverly Hillbillies, has just died at age 81. As Elly May, Douglas played a hillbilly tomboy who loved her critters and didn’t realize she was seen by others as a bombshell.

Douglas also appeared in a classic Twilight Zone episode, “Eye of the Beholder.” [If you’ve never seen it, here’s a SPOILER ALERT.] She played Miss Janet Tyler, a woman so hideously deformed that she has to undergo surgery in order to be permitted to live among normal people. In the photo above right, the bandages have been removed and Miss Tyler sees that the surgery has been unsuccessful. Here’s the ironic twist you’ve been waiting for: They think Donna Douglas is ugly! Also, everyone else has pig snouts. Condemned to life as a freak, Miss Tyler is exiled to a colony of similarly disfigured individuals.

Douglas’s death leaves Max Baer, who played Jethro, as the sole surviving member of The Beverly Hillbillies main cast.

Happy birthday, Happy Hotpoint!

Mary Tyler Moore as Happy HotpointToday (Dec. 29) is Mary Tyler Moore’s birthday.

Did you know that the 78-year old actress started her career as Happy Hotpoint, a diminutive dancing elf in ads for Hotpoint appliances? See 19-year-old Mary in the first 15 seconds of this video.


Hotpoint dishwasher commercial (1956)

Today on the tray: Chocolate candy

chocolate candyDecember 28 is National Chocolate Candy Day.

Chocolate candies are a wonderful treat, whether you’re stuffing them into your mouth, into your hat, or down your blouse. Just ask Lucy and Ethel.

Below is the famous chocolate factory scene from I Love Lucy, from the episode “Job Switching,” in which Lucy and Ethel go to work at jobs while their husbands do the housework. Petticoat Junction fans might recognize Elvia Allman, who plays the factory supervisor; over in Hooterville, she played Selma Plout.


Clip from I Love Lucy, “Job Switching” (Sept. 15, 1952)

Today on the tray: Fruitcake with a hair in it

December 27 is National Fruitcake Day.

“It’s the most thoughtful gift of all, because you cared enough to bake it,” says the sugary voiceover in this vintage Imperial Sugar cordial fruitcake commercial.

Yet according to the holiday site Punchbowl.com, 38% of people say they give away fruitcakes when they receive them. So next time, spare yourself the trouble! Your loved ones won’t appreciate it anyway.


Imperial Sugar cordial fruitcake commercial (1960)

This year, renew the merry custom of giving something homemade — like your own fruitcake! It’s the most thoughtful gift of all, because you cared enough to bake it.

Fruitcakes always make me think of the time that Roseanne Roseannadanna (Gilda Radner) gave Jane Curtin a fruitcake on Saturday Night Live. As Jane pulled a long hair out of it, Roseanne told her, “You can just throw that out — it still tastes good.”

Though I coudn’t find a video, you can go here to see a transcript. (The part with Roseanne, Jane, and the fruitcake is toward the bottom of the transcript.)

Roseanne Roseannadanna with fruitcake

It’s just like the holiday advice passed down to me by my grandmother, Nana Roseannadanna.

She used to say, “Life is just like a fruitcake. When you look at it, it’s rich and sweet with honey and sugar and spice, tastes delicious, makes your mouth water and everything. But if you look at it real close, there’s these weird little green things in it and all that and you don’t know what it is!”

Happy Festivus!

December 23 is Festivus. Are you a Seinfeld fanatic? Think you know all about Festivus, the “holiday for the rest of us”? See how you do on this 10-question Festivus quiz. I’ve already given you the first answer.    Take the quiz


Festivus clips from Seinfeld, “The Strike” (Dec. 18, 1997)

Festivus pole

Chaz Stevens erects a Festivus pole at the Florida State Capitol

Last year, a Florida resident named Chaz Stevens made headlines when he erected a Festivus pole made of beer cans in the Florida State Capitol, where a Christian Nativity scene was also on display. Then Fox News host Gretchen Carlson made even bigger headlines by being outraged by it. “Why do I have to drive around with my kids to look for a nativity scenes and be, like, ‘Oh, yeah, kids, look, there’s baby Jesus behind the Festivus pole made out of beer cans!'” she demanded.

Others say the real outrage is that it was made of beer cans instead of the traditional plain aluminum pole specified by Frank Costanza.

Born on this date: Agnes Moorehead

Agnes Moorehead as EndoraActress Agnes Moorehead would have celebrated her 114th birthday today, December 6. Moorehead, of course, played Endora on Bewitched, as well as many other roles over the course of a career that spanned more than three decades. Some memorable roles were Velma in Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte, and the woman who battles miniature intruders in the Twilight Zone episode “The Invaders.”

Below, it’s Endora’s birthday as well, and her daughter Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) is going to surprise her with a Kodak Instamatic camera. Darn! That’s what I was going to get her.

Though initially underwhelmed by the gift—after all, what need would she have for such a device—Endora ultimately concedes, “These poor mortals are getting rather clever.” Taking pictures with the Kodak Instamatic Camera is easier than witchcraft!


Bewitched Kodak commercial (1968)

Samantha: I just bought the most marvelous birthday present for Mother.

[Endora pops in]

Endora: Did you, darling? How nice. What is it?

Samatha: It was supposed to be a surprise.

Endora: [Sees gift.] A camera? Whatever for? I can always conjure up pictures if I want to without all that fuss.

Samantha: Well that’s why I chose it. There is no fuss with a Kodak Instamatic Camera!

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