Building a sandwich with round bread, square cheese
As I get older, it’s tempting to continually ask the question, “What ever happened to ...?”
This is a topic that has interest to those of us who’ve been lucky enough to put a few miles on the human odometer. I don’t think you’ll find younger people too interested in examining what used to be. They’re more interested in the here-and-now.
I offer to you the case of sliced cheese, the mainstay of many a sandwich.
The Slice of Life
As a kid in the 1950s and ’60s, I remember building my version of Dagwood Bumstead sandwiches with cheese squares that were stuck together with a glue that could rival today’s epoxies and super-glue.
You could not detach a slice of pre-sliced cheese without destroying the food product. (Back then, it was real cheese we were after; today, who knows what the cheese is made of.)
I have discovered, however, there are variations of this unwrapped product that don’t destroy it. The jury is still out, but here’s hoping any technical issues can be worked out.
The Devil in a Box: TV
Back in the day, there were two main reasons people had children, and both reasons were related to the television — that “vast wasteland” that Philo T. Farnsworth invented to intensify the differences between the generations.
First, before the days of the remote control, all a parent had to do was ask “Junior” to change the channel. Who needed a remote control when you still had a Junior in the house?
Now, on the day when Junior went off to college, that’s when Mom and Dad had to look around and either have another kid, or buy one of those fancy remotes (if it were available).
The second reason to have children in the first days of television was to fix an all-too-common problem that now seems to have been eliminated with the building of all of those flat-screen, HD, 4K, etc.
Usually, at the worst time of all during a favorite show, the picture would start to “flip.” This phenomenon is hard to describe and even harder to explain where it came from.
At this inconvenient time, you’d send Junior (or his still-in-grade school/high school sibling) to the TV for an immediate fix. It would help if the designated flip child had at least a passing interest in science.
Somewhere down the line, I learned that the flipping problem had something to do with the set’s vertical hold and horizontal hold buttons. Something to do with a synchronization misalignment.
Growing up, our orange juice always started out in a can of frozen concentrate, whether it came in the large cans, which, I understood later in life, were often used by girls when preparing their hair for that big date (even the prom), or came out of the smaller cans.
I’m sure we could have purchased the liquid version in cartons or glass jars at the local A&P, but the frozen cans seemed to work out the best.
It was best prepared if left out on the kitchen counter (or in the refrigerator) so it would start to melt. But if we were in a hurry, then we’d just run hot water over one of the frozen cans.
It was that easy. But that might fall on deaf ears in today’s fast-paced, microwaved world.
NOT the ‘greatest thing’
I’m sure you’re familiar with the expression “the greatest thing since sliced bread.”
While I remember non-sliced bread, going back to my early childhood, I’m not truly sold on the concept of how great sliced bread really is. But for its day, I’m sure producing sliced bread was quite a technological break-through.
When I was a youngster growing up in western North Carolina, one of the regional bakeries tried to go one step beyond the sliced bread concept when it developed a new wrinkle in the dough wars.
In addition to slicing the loaves, one company made the bread round! Yes, round.
Each slice of bread was as round as a hamburger bun. Maybe that was the bakeries’ intent — give the bun division a run for its money.
However, it failed miserably. I don’t remember this “innovation” lasting more than a few months.
We found the circular slices to be cumbersome, especially when it came to making sandwiches with sliced cheese or square ham slices (but bologna or peanut butter sandwiches were just as easy to manufacture).
Okay, maybe everything from back in the day wasn’t superior to today’s living. Maybe there are some new things on the block that are better than what we had. I’m not convinced either way.
Let’s just wait and see what our children and grandchildren reminisce about.