Today on the tray: Cold cuts

March 3 is National Cold Cuts Day.

I can’t imagine that anyone doesn’t know what a cold cut is, but just in case, here’s Wikipedia to the rescue:

Oscar Mayer bolognaCold cuts—also known as lunch meats, luncheon meats, sandwich meats, cooked meats, sliced meats, cold meats, and deli meats—are precooked or cured meat, often sausages or meat loaves, that are sliced and served cold or hot on sandwiches or on party trays. They can be bought pre-sliced in vacuum packs at a supermarket or grocery store, or they can be purchased at a delicatessen or deli counter, where they might be sliced to order.

Hey, remember that kid whose bologna had a first name and a second name? And he even knew how to spell it? Well here he is:

Oscar Mayer bologna commercial (1973)

Do you wonder what that kid is doing now? His name is Andy Lambros, and he’s “a web and graphic designer, developer, marketing expert and business consultant.” Here is his website. Not only can you see what Andy looks like today, you can also watch a video of Oscar Mayer’s former VP of marketing telling the story behind the famous commercial.

Today on the tray: Banana cream pie

Today is National Banana Cream Pie Day.

banana cream pie“Mmmm… banana cream pie,” begins the voiceover in this vintage commercial for PET Milk. “A very special dessert. Smooth, tempting, delicious… and quick and easy to make with double-rich PET — handiest milk you can get!”

Get the recipe by sending a postcard to the PET Milk Co., assuming the offer from 1958 is still good.

PET Milk commercial featuring banana cream pie (1958)

In memory of Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy as "Oontah" on Daniel Boone

Leonard Nimoy as “Oontah” on Daniel Boone (1966)

Leonard Nimoy, known the world over for his portrayal of Star Trek‘s Mr. Spock, died yesterday at age 83.

A glance at his IMDb profile shows he appeared in a great many TV shows. Did you know that he was the voice of the Zarn on Land of the Lost? Or that he played Oontah, an American Indian in an episode of Daniel Boone?

Nimoy published two autobiographies, I Am Not Spock, and its sequel, I Am Spock. Dude, make up your mind.  Sorry, no disrespect intended.

Since Star Trek photos and videos can be found all over the Web, I’m posting something else. In this clip from 1967, the multi-talented Nimoy performs “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins,” backed by dancing ’60s chicks. The women are wearing hobbit ears that look suspiciously like Vulcan ears, while Nimoy’s ears are human. I don’t know what to make of that. And they are wearing protest buttons that say things like “Hobbits Unite.”

Leonard Nimoy performs “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins” on Malibu U (July 28, 1967)

Today on the tray: Chocolate souffle

February 28 is National Chocolate Souffle Day.

chocolate souffleAccording to CNN Eatocracy, “The name comes from a French verb, souffler, which literally means to ‘blow up’ or ‘puff up,'” and that’s exactly the magic that happens when you bake custard and egg whites together.”

I can’t think of chocolate souffle without thinking of the episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show in which Sue Ann has an affair with Phyllis’s husband Lars—and Phyllis retaliates by ruining Sue Ann’s chocolate souffle. (She slams the oven door, causing the souffle to fall).

At the close of the episode, Phyllis innocently asks Sue Ann if she knows how to remove chocolate stains. “Why, yes!” chirps Sue Ann, eager to show off her knowledge as the “Happy Homemaker.”

“Good,” says Phyllis, dipping her hand into the ruined souffle and flinging chocolate at Sue Ann’s white apron.

Sue Ann's chocolate souffle

Phyllis (Cloris Leachman) watches with satisfaction as Sue Ann (Betty White) removes a fallen chocolate souffle from the oven. From “The Lars Affair,” The Mary Tyler Moore Show (Sept. 15, 1973).

Today on the tray: Banana bread

February 23 is National Banana Bread Day.

According to Wikipedia, “Banana bread first became a standard feature of American cookbooks with the popularization of baking soda and baking powder in the 1930s. It appeared in Pillsbury’s 1933 Balanced Recipes cookbook, and later gained more acceptance with the release of the original Chiquita Banana’s Recipe Book in 1950.”

Who is this Chiquita Banana? Funny you should ask…

Chiquita Banana commercial (1940s)

I’m Chiquita Banana and I’ve come to say
Bananas have to ripen in a certain way.
When they’re flecked with brown and have a golden hue
Bananas taste the best and are the best for you…

The Chiquita website says the famous jingle “was written to help teach Americans how to ripen and use bananas, which were, at the time, an exotic tropical fruit.” The commercial was shown in movie theaters. Read more about the Chiquita jingle

Today on the tray: Chopsticks

chopsticksFebruary 6 is National Chopsticks Day.

So, is the holiday intended to celebrate the eating utensil, or the song? I don’t know—there was some discussion of it yesterday on William Shatner’s Twitter feed. Glad to see the Trekkers have moved on from discussing tribbles and obscure Star Trek continuity errors.

Let’s take a moment to listen to “Chopsticks” as performed by renowned pianist Liberace.

Liberace performs “Chopsticks”

You know who has a real problem with chopsticks? Sister Bertrille on The Flying Nun. Sure, she can fly, but she can’t master chopsticks. In the clip below, while dining in a Chinese restaurant with Sister Jacqueline and some of the orphans, she offers a merry musical complaint about how hard it is for non-Asian people to use chopsticks. “Why do they give us chopsticks?” she sings. “What we need is a knife and a fork!” (It begins at the 8:45 mark.)

The Flying Nun, “The Reconversion of Sister Shapiro” (Feb. 29, 1968)

The scene is from “The Reconversion of Sister Shapiro,” a Very Special episode about a Jewish girl who is staying at the convent while her parents are away. If you watched any television in the ’60s or ’70s, you may recognize the girl: That’s Pamelyn Ferdin, whose credits include appearances on Family Affair, The Brady Bunch, The Odd Couple, Star Trek, Lassie, Daniel Boone, Bewitched, and others, including voiceover work as Lucy in some of the Peanuts specials and Fern in Charlotte’s Web.

I think it was a rule in 1960s-70s era television that whenever Asians are shown, they must be accompanied by a gong and some variation of the Oriental riff. I remember it being used not only on The Flying Nun, but on Here’s Lucy and Family Affair and just about every La Choy commercial. In fact, here’s an excellent example: La Choy makes “honorable egg rolls” swing American!

La Choy Egg Rolls commercial (1960s)

If you just can’t get the hang of chopsticks, you can always eat “honorable egg rolls,” since they’re a finger food. Happy National Chopsticks Day!

Today on the tray: Croissants

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

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


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