The following is an open letter to Brooke Johnson at Food Network in response to an unfortunate incident that happened over the weekend… The incident involved 4 hours of Food Network programming and me without duct tape to prevent my head from exploding, decided writing a letter would be better than climbing a clock tower or running through a store naked with a rescue flare up my butt. Here is what I wrote her…
If you were from Northern New England you will know that some people don’t use the word dinner except when referring to a fancy restaurant or perhaps at a night wedding at anyplace that isn’t the town recreation center or VFW. Instead we prefer the term supper, and if further you are from Maine which is to say a Maine-iack, you will have no furtha use for the R at the end of the word and simply say Suppa. The same thing that makes us Northern New Englanders endearing is the same reason Stephen King makes so damned much money on his books…we’re a little on the touched side.
We like to think we are from God’s country, and this would be true is God came from a land of maple syrup swilling, squirrel worshiping circus freaks. Although we do come in handy when you get your H2 Hummer and BMW X5 SUV’s stuck on your way to the ski slopes…Isn’t that right flatlander?! Here’s a place that’s also handy to know next time you’re passing through Portland Maine. After you’ve had to pay a kings ransom in tolls past the combination Six Flags and Mall of America of Liquor Stores on the ten mile highway through hell in New Hampshire, and driving through the gauntlet of unmarked police speed traps they lovingly call the Maine Turnpike.
|BBQ Shrimp and Creamy Grits|
|Fried Oysters with Baby Spinach and
Bleu Cheese Vinaigrette
|Fried Chicken with Collards and hand cut fries|
|Fried Green Tomatoes with Chilled Smoked Bay
Scallops and Rémoulade .
Ah Haaaaa! You thought this was about a bar didn’t you?! What ever would make you think I’d hang out at a bar?! Anywhoway, this is about one of those old school candy bars…the Sky Bar. You know the one, it’s got four distinct flavors in one candy bar, fudge, caramel, peanut and vanilla nougat. Yeah, that one! Well I was checking out of the grocery store yesterday and I saw one. I thought…what was my brother always going on about?!
Back in what seems like the 1700’s, my brother and I would ride our bikes to the lake and spend the day swimming and eating whatever we had brought for a bag lunch. My parents would give us each a dollar so we could get a soda and perhaps an Ice Cream, or candy at the snack bar at the beach side shop. Yes, I know people… today my parents would be locked up in a Siberian gulag, and be part of the twenty four hour news cycle on TV for child abuse, for actually giving us money for the purpose of buying candy or soda.
But remember dear PC people, this was the 70’s and 80’s, before candy was evil. This was also a time when kids did stuff like…play outside, used their imaginations, climbed trees, rode bikes without helmets, had and used cap guns without being arrested….. They weren’t sitting in front of an XBox game console while texting the friend who was sitting right next to them! Mine and my brothers cell phone came in the form of a dime, tucked into that awful little cheese cloth pocket inside of our swim trunks that only seemed good for holding on to copius amounts of sand. So please cut mom and dad a bit of slack.
I was no dummy when it came to candy bars. I wanted the biggest bang for my buck and almost without fail, would make a grab for a strawberry Charleston Chew which they kept in a fridge so you could crack them on the table and eat them in pieces. My other go to was the Zero, and the reason I liked that one was because it’s super dense and no chocolate…I reasoned it to be packed with goodness and because there was no chocolate, HEALTHY! I was looking at it as a 70’s version of the Powerbar.
My brother was a little more discerning in his selection. He would reason that he wanted a variety of different flavors to savor, so he almost always got the Sky Bar. We would sit on the back steps of the snack shack and I would tear into my candy bar with reckless abandon as I knew with a Charleston Chew, if you didn’t start strong, your jaw would seize up like the tin woodsman in “The Wizard of Oz” and you’d be left with a melted mess. This was a candy bar only those with a bionic jaw could finish in one fail swoop.
Meanwhile there were only four measly pieces for my brother to eat. I’d be working my candy bar like a man on a mission watching as he’d put a piece of his into his mouth and just sit back and let it melt to the center where he could first enjoy the chocolate, then the center at different times. More times than not I’d be done with my candy bar and be waiting for him to finish his. Sensing an opportunity to have not only my candy bar but a piece of his was too much. I would always ask for some, but alas, he never relented. I had to sit for what must have seemed like forever for an eleven or twelve year old, to watch in silence while he finished his Sky Bar…Until today…
Sky Bar is manufactured by the New England Confectionery Company out of Revere, MA. It was introduced in a revolutionary skywriting campaign in 1938. To this day it is the only candy bar that has four distinct separate flavors. The first flavor I go for is the fudge…
Uh, fudge…Ok, I guess that’s a fudgey flavor, but to be honest I’ve always thought chocolate when I think fudge so ok, it’s fudge…after that first piece I still get that sort of sour chocolate flavor you get after you eat a Hershey bar…it just sort of hangs there in the back of your throat. Can’t say I’m a fan, but I move on to the vanilla…
The vanilla is fine, I’m not sure why they don’t call it marshmallow, but hey…it’s not my candy company so vanilla it is. It does have a distinct vanilla flavor but it is somewhat overpowered by the chocolate flavor that’s hanging around in the back of my throat….. maybe I’d better have some water to “cleanse the palate.”
I go with the peanut next. It starts out as chocolate and slowly but surely the peanut starts to appear, and intensifies just a bit before again being outshined by the sourish chocolate… I can’t believe my brother found this taste that appealing. But I guess as kids of the seventies and eighties, after eating our share of Jumbo Pixie Stix, Sweet Tarts and Tootsie Rolls, this was probably high end chocolate to our well muted sugar coated tongues….anyways on to the caramel…..
The caramel was last as I always eat things in order of least to most favorite. This is why the vegetables go first, then the starch followed slowly by the protein….mmmm….GO MEAT! So the caramel, was fine if not good but the overlying problem with this candy bar was the chocolate. I suppose if I had eaten it a lot when I was a kid, it would have provoked memories of the warm sand and cool water of Swanzey Lake… but instead it made me wish I had a Zero bar and the balogna and American cheese sandwich with mustard mom would have packed, just to get the taste of that chocolate out of my mouth!
What kind of soda did I get you ask? I didn’t… there was a water bubbler out back of the Snack Shack, I usually just doubled up on candy bars or bought a pack of Topps baseball cards and flipped through them while chewing that cardboard flavored gum. This would have been done after lunch while waiting the excruciatingly painful thirty minutes you had to wait before going back into the water so you wouldn’t get cramps and die…or was that ten minutes? Sorry mom…