Today on the tray: Cheesecake

July 30 is National Cheesecake Day.

Why not celebrate by watching a Golden Girls marathon? The Girls ate cheesecake more than 100 times during the course of the series, according to The History Kitchen. That’s why some consider The Golden Girls the most fattening show on TV—you can’t watch it without craving cheesecake.

In  real life, Bea Arthur didn’t like cheesecake—but acting as if she did won her an Emmy.

Exactly how many problems have the Golden Girls solved over cheesecake?

Today on the tray: Milk chocolate

Cadbury's Milk TrayJuly 28 is National Milk Chocolate Day.

How does milk chocolate differ from other types of chocolate? Wikipedia says, “Milk chocolate is solid chocolate made with milk in the form of milk powder, liquid milk, or condensed milk added. In the 1870s, Swiss confectioner Daniel Peter had developed solid milk chocolate using condensed milk, but German company Jordan & Timaeus in Dresden, Saxony, invented milk chocolate already in 1839; hitherto it had only been available as a drink.”

Cadbury introduced Milk Tray boxed milk chocolates in 1915. Today, in honor of National Milk Chocolate Day, let Michael’s TV Tray be known as Michael’s Milk Tray!

Vintage Australian Cadbury Milk Tray chocolates commercial (early 1960s)

For the girl who’s got that lonely, all-by-herself feeling, here’s an invitation to happiness: Milk Tray! Cadbury’s Milk Tray!

Milk Tray has those happy centers
Centers you can crunch or chew
Fruity, creamy, soft, or crisp
Milk Tray means it’s happiness for two!

Happy National Milk Chocolate Day!

Today on the tray: Scotch whisky

Groundskeeper Willie

Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons brushes his teeth with whiskey.

July 27 is National Scotch Day.

Scotch is malt or grain whisky made in Scotland that follows certain regulations. According to, “There are just less than 100 distilleries operating in Scotland, and they all must abide by the Scotch Whisky Association’s rules. The alcohol has to be made entirely in Scotland and aged there in oak casks for at least three years and one day.” Also, they spell “whisky” there without an “e”.

Whiskey always makes me think of the parrot that sang about whiskey in an episode of The Flying Nun. The episode was “Polly Wants a Cracked Head.” You see, Sister Bertrille rescues a parrot named Junior from a seemingly abusive owner and hides him in the convent (without the Reverend Mother’s knowledge, of course) until a new home can be found. Unfortunately, Junior sings sea shanties (“Whiskey for My Johnny”) and makes off-color remarks at the most inopportune times.

Here is the episode in its entirety. Junior sings “Whiskey for My Johnny” for the first time at the eight-minute mark, and then again several more times throughout the episode.

The Flying Nun, “Polly Wants a Cracked Head” (Oct. 19, 1967)

O, whiskey is the life of man,
Whiskey, Johnny!
O, I’ll drink whiskey while I can
Whiskey for my Johnny!

O, whiskey makes me wear old clothes
Whiskey, Johnny!
Whiskey gave me a broken nose
Whiskey for my Johnny!

See the full lyrics

I’ve just found out that “Whiskey for My Johnny” is an Irish song, so the parrot apparently was singing about Irish whiskey and not Scotch whisky. 

Okay, then. Here’s a traditional drinking song sung by The Simpsons’ Groundskeeper Willie, a Scotsman. Surely he is singing about scotch:

Groundskeeper Willie sings “I'm So Drunk” in the episode “The President Wore Pearls” on The Simpsons (Nov. 16, 2003)

I’m so drunk I could barely see!
But it helps me get through another day!
My stomach is filled with haggis and hurt!
I’ve got to go puke in some hay!

Have a happy and safe National Scotch Day!

Born on this date: Vivian Vance

Vivian Vance would have turned 105 today, July 26, 2014. She died of bone cancer in 1979.

Vance, of course, is best known as Lucille Ball’s sidekick as Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy and then as Viv on The Lucy Show. She was already a seasoned performer when she began on I Love Lucy, having begun her career on stage in the early 1930s. Vance became the first actress to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in 1954 for the role of Ethel. 

On I Love Lucy, Ethel Mertz and her husband Fred (William Frawley) had been vaudeville performers before becoming landlords, and sometimes scripts called for the two to perform corny song routines. It was always fun to see Vance sing as Ethel. Below, she sings the memorable song, “I Am Lily of the Valley,” in an operetta penned by Lucy as a fundraiser for their women’s club.

Vivian Vance sings “I Am Lily of the Valley” in “The Operetta,” I Love Lucy (Oct. 13, 1952)

It is well known that Vance and Frawley disliked each other in real life. Vance and Ball, on the other hand, were friends, but it was a friendship that was understandably complicated.  See Vance’s roast of Ball below:

Vivian Vance roasts Lucille Ball, The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast (1975)

Did you know that Vivian Vance once appeared on Rhoda? She plays a new neighbor with whom Rhoda becomes friends.  Rhoda’s mother is jealous of the relationship. Watch the episode here (Vance first appears at 1:50):

Vivian Vance in “Friends and Mothers,” Rhoda (Nov. 24, 1975)

TV’s identical cousins: They laugh alike, they walk alike

cousins day cardJuly 24 is Cousins Day.

Lots of people have cousins, but let’s talk for a moment about something rarer—the identical cousin. Are identical cousins possible? How about if two sets of twins married each other? Couldn’t their children be identical?  The question was posed on Yahoo. Some guy named Brian gave this answer, and he sounds authoritative, so he must know:

It’s virtually impossible. But technically not impossible.

It’s so improbable I can guarantee it’s never happened and never will. The statistical chances with these two gene variations matching up EXACTLY would be one in quadrillions, if not more. Astronomically low chances.

So to answer your question:

Yes. Identical cousins could exist.

But it won’t ever happen. You have higher chances winning the lottery 100 times in a row.

But in the TV world, we know the chances are very good for cousins to be identical!

Patty Duke as Cathy and Patty Lane on The Patty Duke Show

Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens and Serena on Bewitched

Everyone knows there must be one wild cousin and one cousin who is more proper. On Bewitched, Samantha behaves more conservatively, while Serena is a free spirit. On The Patty Duke Show, Patty is the wild one (she “likes to rock ’n roll, a hot dog makes her lose control”), and cousin Cathy is more level-headed. So you see, even though they are identical, there must be polarity.

On Patty Duke, a third identical cousin, Betsy, arrives to stay with the Lanes for one episode (“The Perfect Hostess”), and it totally screws with that polarity. Played by Patty Duke with a blonde wig and a Southern accent, Cousin Betsy tries to get between Patty and Cathy because she is jealous of their friendship. Rest assured, she learns her lesson before she goes away, never to trouble us again.

A lot of people mistakenly assume Barbara Eden’s dual characters on I Dream of Jeannie are cousins, but Eden’s brunette character (also named Jeannie) is blonde Jeannie’s sister, not her cousin.

And how could I write a post about identical cousins and not include the Patty Duke Show theme song, which explains the whole identical cousin concept?

The Patty Duke Show opening credits

Let’s have equal time for Samantha/Serena:

Compilation of Samantha and Serena clips, Bewitched

So there you have it: identical cousins. Happy Cousins Day!

Born on this date: Sandra Gould

Sandra GouldSandra Gould, known to many as the second Mrs. Kravitz on Bewitched, was born 98 years ago today. She died in 1999.

Gould assumed the role of Mrs. Kravitz in 1966 following the death of Alice Pearce, who had originated the role. Gould’s Mrs. Kravitz was a bit more antagonistic towards the Stephenses, always wanting to report them to the authorities. Nevertheless, they were kind to her—for example, they took her in when she and Abner separated in the episode titled “Splitsville” (below). At the 3:37 mark, watch her come down to breakfast wearing curlers in her hair and a face full of cold cream as she lectures the Stephenses about nutrition.

Bewitched, “Splitsville” (May 16, 1968)

Gould guest starred on many TV programs in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. She appears in the “Oil Wells” episode of I Love Lucy as a Texas oil tycoon who, with her husband, sells oil wells to the Ricardos and the Mertzes. I also remember her from a Brady Bunch episode in which she winds up stuck in a closet in the Brady house with a goat. I know it sounds strange, but it will make sense if you watch “Getting Greg’s Goat” below. The goat in the closet scene starts at 22:01.

The Brady Bunch, “Getting Greg’s Goat” (Oct. 19, 1973)

If you are a Sandra Gould fan, you might also enjoy this novelty recording of hers from 1963. It’s called “My Son the Surfer.”

Sandra Gould, “My Son the Surfer” (1963)

Today on the tray: Hot dogs

hot dog and soda

Veggie dog and Diet RC cola at my favorite hot dog spot, Top Dog in Oakland, Calif.

July 23 is National Hot Dog Day.

In 2013, consumers spent more than $2.5 billion on hot dogs in U.S. supermarkets, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. On Independence Day, Americans enjoy 150 million hot dogs, enough to stretch from D.C. to L.A. over five times. Yet hot dogs sales are declining, according to BusinessWeek. Perhaps that’s because today’s hot dog advertising doesn’t match the great hot dog commercials of the past.

This 1967 Armour Hot Dog commercial emphasizes equity and inclusion, inviting all kids to take a bite regardless of body size/shape, gender role conformity, or health status.

Armour Hot Dogs commercial (1967)

Hot dogs, Armour Hot Dogs
What kind of kids eat Armour Hot Dogs?
Fat kids, skinny kids
Kids who climb on rocks
Tough kids, sissy kids
Even kids with chickenpox
Love hot dots, Armour Hot Dogs
The dogs kids like to bite!

Parents: Why not serve Armour Hot Dogs at your next pox party, and turn a boring disease-spreading event into a fun cookout? After all, “even kids with chickenpox” love Armour Hot Dogs.

Oscar Mayer took a different approach to marketing its hot dogs, choosing to tap into kids’ universal desire to be loved and to be wieners.

Oscar Mayer wiener commercial (1965)

Oh, I’d love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener
That is what I’d truly like to be
’Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener
Everyone would be in love with me.

Okay, but what would that jingle wound like if it were sung by Jay Sherman of The Critic on an episode of The Simpsons, in Italian? Probably something like this:

Jay Sherman on The Simpsons with Italian dubbing, “A Star is Burns” (March 5, 1995)

Whether you call them hot dogs or wieners, whether your taste runs towards Armour, Oscar Mayer, or another brand, have a happy Hot Dog Day!

Born on this date: Bobby Sherman

Bobby ShermanSinger/actor/heartthrob Bobby Sherman turns 71 today, July 22, 2014.

Sherman was all over TV in the 1960s and ’70s. He was a regular on Shindig! and appeared on American Bandstand and in episodes of The Monkees and The Partridge Family. He starred in Here Come the Brides and Getting Together.

Did you have a crush on Bobby Sherman? If you did, you’re not alone. So did lots of people, including Marge Simpson, who revealed it in an episode of The Simpsons.

There are lots of Bobby Sherman clips on YouTube, and it was hard to decide which one to feature in this post. Ultimately I settled on this interesting 1964 clip from Shindig! Sherman is singing “She’s Not There.” It was a hit for The Zombies that year, but it seems to me like an odd song choice for him.

Today on the tray: Lollipops

lollipopJuly 20 is National Lollipop Day.

According to the holiday site Punchbowl, “Culinary historians believe that the lollipop (or at least some form of it) has been around since the prehistoric era. Early humans often enjoyed honey on a stick as a delicious treat. No one really knows how the modern-day lollipop was invented, but we do know how it got its name. George Smith, the owner of a small American candy store, came up with the sweet’s name. In the early 1900s, he called the candy a ‘lollipop’ after his favorite racehorse—Lolly Pop.”

cindy brady lollipop

Cindy Brady (Susan Olsen) and Penelope Fletcher (Natalie Schaeffer) sing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” on The Brady Bunch.

When I first posted this last year, I desperately searched YouTube for a clip of Cindy Brady singing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” with Natalie Schaeffer from the episode of The Brady Bunch titled “The Snooperstar,” but it was nowhere to be found. This year, however, the Brady gods smiled upon us and someone posted it. It’s embedded below.

Here’s what happens: Earlier in the series, Cindy showed herself to be a tattletale; in this episode, she’s a snoop who reads her sister’s diary. Jan and Marcia decide to teach her a lesson—aren’t those Brady kids always teaching each other lessons?—and plant an entry about a talent scout being interested in making Cindy the next Shirley Temple. Say what you will, the Brady kids knew their classic cinema—Peter with his Humphrey Bogart voice in “The Personality Kid” and now Cindy, who styles herself like Shirley Temple and sings “Good Ship Lollipop” to Mike’s visiting client, convinced the woman is the talent scout. But she’s not. She’s Penelope Fletcher (played by “Lovey Howell” actress Natalie Schaeffer), and she’s a difficult client, but she is so charmed by Cindy that she joins her in the song and dance. The audio is way low, but here it is. The singing and dancing start at 08:59.

Cindy fashions herself as “the new Shirley Temple” on The Brady Bunch in “The Snooperstar” (Feb. 22, 1974)

But wait—there’s more lollipop goodness. Here is a video of the Chordettes singing “Lollipop” on The Andy Williams Show. And it has the words, karaoke-style, in case you can’t remember “Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolli lolli lolli lollipop.” That’s Andy Williams making the pop sound. Didn’t his mother ever tell him to keep his fingers out of his mouth?

The Chordettes, “Lollipop,” on The Andy Williams Show (1960s)

Today on the tray: Caviar, dahling

July 18 is National Caviar Day.

Caviar, as we all know, is a fancy fish egg. According to the National Caviar Day website, “It may be hard to believe, but at one time, caviar was served in bars, sometimes for free like peanuts are today to encourage customers to drink more. That was during the caviar boom experienced in North America during the 19th century after sturgeon fish were discovered in U.S. rivers.”

Zsa Zsa Gabor enjoys eating her caviar with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, if this 1970 commercial is to be believed.

Lawry's Seasoned Salt commercial with Zsa Zsa Gabor (1970)

Voiceover:  Zsa Zsa? Uh, Miss Gabor?
Zsa Zsa:  Yes?
Voiceover:  Have you tried Lawry’s Seasoned Salt?
Zsa Zsa:  Of course.
Voiceover:  Good. It’s really terrific on hamburgers. How did you like it?
Zsa Zsa:  On caviar, dahling.


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