August 10 is National S’mores Day. This campfire favorite is a sandwich made of toasted marshmallow and chocolate between two graham crackers. The first s’mores recipe was published in the Girl Scout Handbook in 1927.
“S’more” is a contraction of “some more.” But if you say, “Please, sir, I want s’more” in a 19th century English workhouse, they’ll think you’re asking for gruel, not chocolate and marshmallows.
Poor Oliver, holding out his empty bowl. If only he could have filled it with S’mores Crunch instead of that nasty gruel. Marketed by General Mills from 1982 to 1988, S’mores Crunch was a cereal composed of chocolate graham cracker cereal pieces and tiny marshmallows.
Every cereal must have its advertising mascot, and S’mores Crunch was no exception. It had the S’morecerer, a magical creature who was like a cross between Dumbledore and the Great Gazoo.
Whatever you want s’more of, be sure to treat yourself to s’more of it on National S’mores Day!
- 10 Things You Didn’t Know About S’mores (realsimple.com)
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.
July 23 is National Hot Dog Day.
In 2014, 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.
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.
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:
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!
- July 23 – National Hot Dog Day (ireport.cnn.com)
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.
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.
Thirty-nine years ago, on July 4, 1976, the U.S.A. celebrated the its bicentennial anniversary with great fanfare. In 1975 and ’76, evidence of the impending milestone was ubiquitous. Every sort of product packaged itself in Bicentennial-themed artwork. Even fire hydrants were painted red, white, and blue. On television, celebrities delivered 60-second bicentennial history lessons in nightly “Bicentennial Minutes.” (Here’s one starring Jessica Tandy, and here’s a Bicentennial Minute spoof from The Carol Burnett Show.)
If you were alive then, come reminisce—and if you weren’t, see what you missed. Let’s spread out our Bicentennial tablecloth and let the picnic begin!
Are you a bit hazy about the Declaration of Independence and why we celebrate the anniversary of July 4, 1776? Not to worry: This Bicentennial-year Schoolhouse Rock video should bring you up to speed.
Did all that learning make you thirsty? Which would you rather drink—cola or un-cola? Lucky for you, we have both.
First, “Coke Adds Life” to a 1976 Fourth of July parade and festival. It’s lots of fun, with Revolutionary War costumes, Uncle Sam on stilts, Paul Revere, Crispus Attucks, Betsy Ross, and a firehouse dalmatian. They even show someone painting a fire hydrant. The spot ends with fireworks spelling out “Coke Adds Life” in red, white, and blue. If this doesn’t make your chest swell with pride at being an American, I don’t know what will.
“That’s all well and good,” you might say, “but I prefer the fresh, clean taste of 7-Up.” Well, just for you, we have a 7-Up in a limited-edition Bicentennial bottle. (You can get one for real on eBay for $10.)
Now that you’ve had a moment to wet your whistle, it’s time to join the party. Harry Reasoner is here, hosting The Great American Birthday Party live from “the American Broadcasting Company’s Bicentennial Center in New York City.” At least watch the first minute to experience the fantastic star-spangled set and the funky ’70s opening music. Harry Reasoner’s intro is delightful, as he marvels at the amazing speed of communications in 1976. Twitter would have made his head explode!
“My inclination was to open each of the three hour-long programs we have scheduled by setting off a four-inch firecracker. Cooler heads prevailed: It’s not only illegal, but we couldn’t figure out which union would have jurisdiction.
“That’s one of the things that is different from 200 years ago. Another is that we can sit here like a patriotic spider at the center of a national electronic web and look at things from East Eagle Jaw, Maine, to Falling Arches, Oregon. Two hundred years ago, it took until August for the word of independence to get to Georgia from Philadelphia.”
Have you had enough? Are you nice and full? Good. Now that our picnic is over, we’ll want to clean up. Fortunately we have our “Summer of ’76 Survival Kit” from Reynolds Wrap to take care of the leftovers.
Have a safe and happy 4th of July!
“Invented in France, pralines started out as sugared almonds,” says Food.com. “Settlers in 18th-century Louisiana replaced the almonds with pecans and added cream—voila, the Southern praline was born.”
My first awareness of pralines came from the I Love Lucy episode “First Stop.” Driving through Ohio en route to Hollywood, the Ricardos and Mertzes repeatedly pass signs advertising Aunt Sally’s Pecan Pralines. “Fifty miles to Aunt Sally’s Pecan Pralines,” Lucy reads aloud from a sign.
“Well, we’re closing in on her. The first sign we saw said ‘Two hundred miles to Aunt Sally’s Pecan Pralines,'” says Ethel.
“I’m surprised she has time to make pralines—she’s so busy making signs,” Fred quips.
Lucy says, “I’ve just got to drop in on Aunt Sally. I feel like she’s an old friend.” By this time, the foursome is very hungry, having been on the road for quite a while with no food. Finally, they see a sign reading “One mile to Aunt Sally’s Pecan Pralines.”
“Three hundred yards to Aunt Sally’s!” reads Lucy. “Two hundred yards!” reads Ethel. “One hundred yards!” reads Fred. “Just around the bend!” reads Ricky.
“You have just passed Aunt Sally’s,” reads Lucy. Dismayed, they turn the car around to see if they can find it. But what they find is an old shed with a sign readling “Out of Business.” If you’ve ever been on a road trip, you can relate to their disappointment.
Interestingly (to me at least), Lucy and the Mertzes pronounce it “praw-leen,” when, as New Yorkers, they would be more likely to say “pray-leen” as it is commonly pronounced in the Northeast.
There actually is an Aunt Sally’s Pralines Shop, but it’s in New Orleans, not Ohio. I can’t determine which came first, the real Aunt Sally’s or the fictional one. This Aunt Sally’s offers a choice of creamy, Creole, chewy, prainette, sugar and spice, and lite original—and they’re even kosher. Incidentally, according to Aunt Sally’s website, it is pronounced “prah-leen” in New Orleans.
Below, meet Edna Mae, a candy maker at Aunt Sally’s who refuses to divulge the secret recipe.
- National Praline Day (Taylor Takes a Taste)
June 22 is National Onion Ring Day.
The Huffington Post rated the onion rings at five casual dining chains in its Chain Food Showdown series. “There were high highs and low lows with this one,” they reported. “We loved the thinner ones that gave ample room for breading and spice. Crunch was the key factor to the stand-outs though—a soggy onion ring not only offers bad texture, but also never tastes as good.” The bottom line: Avoid the onion rings at The Cheesecake Factory, which were found to be soggy and flavorless. Your best bet is Chili’s, where the onion rings had a “nice, slightly sweet flavor.”
Never mind the flavor… Are the onion rings easy to digest? In this 1933 ad, Mrs. Tasker suggests frying them in Crisco to keep your stomach settled. During the Great Depression, people had to be satisfied with less. If it didn’t make you sick to your stomach, that was good enough.
Now, let’s travel to a 1977 home economics class, where Bob outshines Jane by making onion rings like Mrs. Paul’s does, the natural way. (But Jane probably built a better birdhouse than Bob in shop class.) I don’t know what school this is, but they have a pretty great teacher-student ratio—only two students in the class.
- 170/365: National Onion Ring Day* (eatmywords365.com)
Exactly how many times did Endora call Darrin “Durwood”? How come the Tates only occasionally remembered they had a son? How far away did Darrin’s parents live? If you’ve watched a lot of Bewitched, these questions may have crossed your mind.
So who has the answers? A continuity expert with a passion for Bewitched, that’s who. That expert is Adam-Michael James, whose book, The Bewitched Continuum: The Ultimate Linear Guide to the Classic TV Series, examines the consistency and logic of every single episode of the series’ eight seasons.
While other Bewitched books devote attention to behind-the-scenes information and actors’ bios, James’s book sticks to the fiction. It’s a hefty tome, packed full of details and insights that range from the observations about the arrangement of the Stephens living room furniture to questions about the appropriateness of the dialog between characters in the context of their evolving relationships.
If you like detail, there’s plenty to like in The Bewitched Continuum. The back section of the book provides a handy reference guide including indexes of who was transformed into what and who had what disease (both witch and mortal illnesses), a database of McMann & Tate’s clients, and other goodies.
I spent some time talking with James, whose enthusiasm for Bewitched comes across just as much in conversation as it does in his book.
Bewitched is one of my favorite shows, and when I got your book, it was very exciting to read it. It’s quiet a hefty volume!
We call it the Bewitched phone book now.
Well, I’m sure it took quite a bit of work to put that together, so I wanted to ask you: What inspired you to do that? And how long did it take?
Bewitched has been a part of my life since I was eight years old. Back in 1977 is when I discovered the show for the first time, and I remember everything about that moment. It’s really weird. I remember which episode it was, what the room looked like—it’s just the show had this effect on me from the very, very beginning, to the point that I recorded it on cassette tapes, because this was before VCRs, and eventually I started working with continuity in my adult life.
I did script coverage for Hollywood studios, and also I write opinion columns for soapcentral.com, and I would analyze the soap The Bold and the Beautiful. So there’s things involved with that, analyzing continuity. And what else got me into continuity was this book that I read in the ’90s called The Nitpicker’s Guide for Next Generation Trekkers by Phil Farrand. That was the first time I’d seen somebody point out how things did or did not match up in episodes of a show, like, “Oh, well if you look, Tasha Yar is in the turbo lift waving at the camera,” and I never would have noticed that!
That’s what got me down the road of continuity, and then, of course, the show—when I could videotape them in the ’90s, and when they came out on DVD. You start watching them back to back, and you do start noticing that things do match up, or they don’t match up. And as I said, I noticed that on The Bold and the Beautiful and other shows that I watch, and I thought: Back in the day they did not have to pay as much attention to the continuity because you had a show that would be on maybe once during a season, twice if it reran. It was on little 13-inch screens. Producers and writers of the TV shows knew that they could throw an actor that had been on a month before and have them play somebody different and the audience would not realize it.
They knew that they could change a rule that they had set up two years ago because the audience wasn’t going to remember it. That’s just how television was. And of course now, we’re live-tweeting during a show. We are picking things apart as it’s airing. We’re looking at spoilers and making our predictions even before show airs. It was kind of under that microscope that I thought it would be fun to go back and look at Bewitched that way and see how things did or did not match up. So the impetus was there, and I thought, “Oh, I don’t know, is anybody going to find this interesting?” And then when I realized the fiftieth anniversary of the show was coming up last year, I thought, “If I I’m going to do it, I’d better do it now.”
I sat down with the first season; I started taking my notes. All my notes were handwritten. I don’t know why I just didn’t use a laptop, but it felt better handwritten, and I guess it was more appropriate with the show, talking about a show that took place in the ’60s and ’70s. I would say the first draft took about eight or nine months where I just pretty much sat there and did almost nothing but, because there’s 254 episodes, and that’s why the book is so hefty.
Did you ever reach a saturation point where you thought, “Okay, as much as I love Bewitched, I’ve just had enough”?
Yes, and then not only a saturation point, but you get to a point where, how petty am I being? How much is too much? Yeah, usually, around the middle of the eighth season, “Okay, enough already.” Maybe that’s what they were feeling too with Bewitched, because sometimes some things in the episodes feel like they don’t have their heart in it as much. But then you would go back to the beginning and start editing and get all fired up again. And then, of course, you get back to eighth season and it’s like, “Oh geez.”
I heard you say in another interview that since it’s linear, by the time you get to the end of the series, you have so much data from the beginning to factor in—would you say that makes it harder to write about the later seasons?
Definitely, yeah, because when you’re in the first season or two there’s not as much to throw back to and by the time you’re at episode 250, you’ve got 249 episodes before that that you could potentially link back to, and your brain kind of … I think that’s why the saturation kicks in, because your brain just goes into overload, and it’s like, “What do I include?”
I do have a tendency to be a little verbose in my writing, and I’ve gotten progressively better at cutting, but I was very lucky—lucky and honored—because I got to work with Herbie J. Pilato, who started the whole Bewitched book thing in 1992, actually with The Bewitched Book. I had it in my shelf for 20 years before I even met him, and I had approached him to find out some other things, and it led to him obviously writing my foreword and also being a consultant. He came up with the title; I had such a hard time coming up with the title, and he just said, “How about The Bewitched Continuum?” and I went, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
And of course as an editor he was wonderful. I mean he wasn’t so much concerned about length; he was more concerned with tone, because with my soap opera columns, I can be kind of snarky. It’s fun to look at a show that way, and sometimes I was a little less forgiving with Darrin than I could have been, and Herbie just suggested that I kind of just kind of change that tone a little bit.
And that’s what led to editing a lot of other things out, not because they were snarky, but just because I kind of got into mercenary mode with my red pen and said, “Okay, well this is silly, let’s just cut that, nobody is going to care about that detail, let’s just cut it…” For as long as the book is, it could have been a lot longer!
What would you say most surprised you when you were doing this?
A lot of things surprised me. I tended to prefer Dick Sargent over Dick York, which is not the popular opinion, by the way. It was nothing against Dick York, it’s just I think because… I mean, I was born in 1969, that’s the year Dick Sargent took over from Dick York, and I think that world was more familiar to me because I was around then, and coincidentally Dick York’s world was before I was born so, so it seems a little more foreign, but, one of the things the I was surprised by was just by how much I like Dick York’s performance throughout his first few years. I mean, he did get—Darrin, not Dick York—get rather belligerent there for a while. I think that was a writing choice and a directing choice; I don’t think that had anything to do with Dick York. I thought that was interesting.
I was fascinated by the rules of witchcraft that they established—how they stuck to some and not others. For example, they couldn’t make up their mind at first over whether a witch could undo another witches’ spell, and then finally in the third season they established that a witch could not, and I thought that was a much more interesting device in terms of telling story rather than witches being able to undo spells randomly. Also the idea that in one episode, Endora said that Samantha could not use her powers going back in the past, and then you had seasons and seasons of witches using the power on the past, so that seemed to be the rule, and then they switched back and suddenly said you couldn’t.
Those kinds of things interested me. I think the thing that surprised me the most, and maybe it shouldn’t have, but just when you start in 1964, and you have this very black and white quaint kind of post-Leave-It-to-Beaver kind of environment, and then you go back to back to an episode that aired in 1972 and you have the long hair, no bras, you’ve got bell bottom pants, and plaid carpet, and just the sensibility was so much more liberated, a little more racy, and it’s wild to think how accurately the show represented the time period and what America and the world was like going through the sexual revolution, the civil rights movement, and how fast it all happened. I think that’s the most surprising thing, because you don’t really think about it now all these years later, but this is just in an eight-year period, and it’s just worlds apart, and it’s fascinating.
So, as you know, Michael’s TV Tray is a classic TV and food blog. In your book, you provided all of that quantitative information about how many times Darrin was called “Durwood,” and who all the McMann & Tate clients were. So if you don’t mind, I want to test your knowledge: How many of McMann & Tate’s clients were food products or restaurants?
Oh my God, you mean just coming up with the number, or…
Well, a number—and then I’m going to see how many you can name.
Oh, wow. I think I can probably name them easier than trying to count them. I know there was… I’m just going to rattle off. I know there was Perfect Pizza in first season, and also Mario’s Restaurant in the same episode. There was Colonel Brigham’s Spare Ribs seventh season. I was going to say Springer Pet Food, but that’s not human food.
We don’t want to count dog food.
There was Ah Fong’s in eighth season… Oh, I know there was more food than this.
Well, I’ll tell you: There were 31.
Oh nice. See, that’s one you should know. I feel kind of bad that I don’t know that, but I’m glad it was that many. I’m just surprised that I can only think of three off the top of my head.
It surprised me there were that many. My memory wasn’t that there were so many food clients. I remembered a few. I certainly remembered Bobbins Bonbons, because that was one of my favorites.
Of course, I wasn’t thinking of that kind of food. Yeah, definitely, Bobbins Bonbons. Then, of course, there was the witch food. I mean that wasn’t clients, but every once in a while… like the episode in seventh season where Hepzibah comes to visit, and kind of lays down judgment on Darrin, and they’re serving hummingbird tongue parmesan, and tail of iguana bourguignon in neatsfeet oil. I don’t know if that counts as the kind of food you’d talk about on your blog but… It was interesting that they called it “ethnic food.” That was kind of a neat correlation.
So, in “Samantha’s Lost Weekend,” she mistakenly thinks she has voracious ravenousitis. Is that something mortals can get too? Because I think I have it.
I think that’s definitely possible… Anything fried… With me, my biggest vice is chocolate, so I think I definitely have voracious ravenousitis when it comes to chocolate.
Well I hope someone gives you a box of Bobbins Bonbons on Mother-in-Law’s Day.
“Because only the finest costliest ingredients are used!”
I hope you’re not going to ask me to count how many times they chugged!
We’d be here all day.
You know, Darrin would go out to the bar, Maurice had his giant martini glass… They even got the tooth fairy drunk on brandy. So what was up with that? Why do you think there was so much drinking?
I think it’s just kind of the world that they lived in, the smoking and the drinking. Smoking was fashionable. Both my parents still smoke; that’s how they got started, and that was the in thing to do. Alcohol, I think they didn’t realize how… I want to say to say toxic—I don’t drink, so that’s the word I would use—I don’t think they realized how harmful it could be. Now, as soon as a woman becomes pregnant, she is not supposed to drink the entire time she is carrying. When our parents were expecting us, they drank, and they smoked, and that’s just that’s what they did. They didn’t realize anything was wrong with it. So that obviously reflected onto Bewitched especially. I think I probably figured all advertising agencies had the booze flowing. That may or may not be the case, I’m not sure.
What else would you like the Michael TV Tray audience to know?
Well I think the thing with the book is, even though I spend however many hundreds of pages digging in and nitpicking at things, and maybe sometimes being petty, it’s all meant to be fun. As I said, they didn’t realize it back in the day that continuity was going to be such a big thing, so it’s just my way of celebrating the show, having fun with it, hoping that folks will obviously remember the show, but also that that book might inspire them to revisit the show and fall in love with it all over again, and look at it a whole new way. It’s meant to be respectful, and I hope that I pull that off. It was certainly my intention, and I kind of…actually it’s ironic because tomorrow, is the twentieth anniversary of Elizabeth Montgomery’s passing, and I’ll always regret that I didn’t get the chance to meet her.
But you know, when you’re doing a book like this and you’re talking about peoples’ work, you want to be respectful of them, and you want to hope that, maybe they might have liked what you have to say. I always see Elizabeth on the cover I feel like she’s been there the whole time, and I hope she would appreciate what I tried to do, because, I certainly appreciated what she did.
I don’t know if you feel this way, but I always feel really sad when I watch it thinking about how all the adult actors are gone except for Bernard Fox [Dr. Bombay].
He is still here; he just turned 88 this past week.
And yeah, it’s true, I do think about that sometimes too, and it is sad. But at the same time, look at the legacy that they left us. We’re still talking about their work 50 years later—and that’s not such a bad thing.
How much do you love chocolate ice cream? Think you could scarf it down fast enough to win an ice-cream-eating contest? Well, that’s what Bobby Brady thought, and [spoiler!] he was wrong.
In the episode titled “The Winner,” the youngest Brady boy feels bad about himself because he’s the only Brady kid who’s never won a trophy. (See, Jan isn’t the only Brady with self-esteem issues.) Ultimately, Bobby decides that his best bet for getting external validation is to enter an ice-cream-eating contest. He loses to a fat kid, which they play for laughs, because it’s always funny to stereotype fat kids as gluttons. Who cares about their self-esteem?
Then Mr. Brady says to Bobby, “You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.” Oh wait, that was Homer’s advice to Bart and Lisa on The Simpsons. Mike Brady’s advice, given earlier in the episode, was “Find what you do best, and do your best with it.” Well, clearly that didn’t work.
So Carol and Mike take Bobby home, where the rest of the kids and Alice surprise him with a party. They present him with a makeshift trophy reading, “To our brother Bobby, for trying harder than anyone we know. We’re proud of him.” But then they thoughtlessly rub his noise in his failure by celebrating with chocolate ice cream, the instrument of his downfall. Talk about irony!
Watch Bobby try and fail in the video below. And remember, everyone’s a winner on National Chocolate Ice Cream Day!
- National Chocolate Ice Cream Day (punchbowl.com)