How long has the Hershey's bar occupied grocery shelves? It's just a sheath of inferior chocolate, but you can pick one up just about anywhere. Meanwhile, far more interesting treats disappear from the shelves.
The way we eat and our taste in foods is subject to whims, nudged by marketing campaigns, altered by factors such as availability and health standards. When fast food restaurants began popping up, for example, the drive-in fell out of favor.
Some of this is easy to explain, of course. Chop suey houses faded from the American landscape when more authentic dishes became readily available. Sometimes, however, the disappearance of an item makes no sense at all.
Either way, there are times when we all stop, look back, and think "I used to love those things."
So here are the 10 we miss the most:
10. Kellogg's Danish Go-Rounds
Like Pop-Tarts, these were boxed toaster pastries with fruit filling. But somehow they were so much better. Why? The shape was different--a kind of serpentine, lower intestines-ish swirl. The sugary glaze carried more sweetness your taste buds. And they just seemed more sophisticated. So naturally the company ditched these in favor of the more plebeian tart.
9. Home delivery of milk
Some places still offer the service. For the most part, however, home delivery is a thing of the past. We're not really sure if grocery shopping is more or less convenient than having someone drop off a gallon or two on a regular basis. Guess if you need something right away, the store is better. But there was something comfortable in the idea of a milkman, wasn't there? Or maybe that's just nostalgia talking.
8. Cigarette gum
Remember these? A pack of gum sticks rolled into paper wrappers that resembled cigarettes? They were dusted with powdered sugar, so one puff would cause a realistic cloud of "smoke." If you wanted to step up, there were bubble gum cigars. More of a redneck? They sold shredded gum in pouches under the name Big League Chew. The anti-tobacco crowd should have left these things alone.
7. Carnation Breakfast Bars
Yeah, OK--they were kinda nasty, though in a good way: peanut butter-ish flavor, a thin coating of chocolate, chewy and crumbly at the same time. There was a certain familiarity to them, with nuts and grain and indecipherable tastes. And they packed a good chunk of the vitamins and protein you needed for a day. The downside? Well, if any it was that kids couldn't stop after two or three.
6. Chop suey
Once in awhile you find a restaurant that still serves this classic Chinese-style American dish. But from the early 1900s through the swingin' 60s, chop suey was everywhere. Meat, vegetables, that thick, starchy sauce, crunchy noodles--there was no authenticity or logic to it, but chop suey had everything in one bowl. Then Americans became interested in worldly things, real ethnic cooking. And chop suey faded from the scene.
5. Nabisco HeyDay bars
Oh, these were good: wafers covered in caramel, chocolate and peanuts. In combination, they became crunchy and chewy, sweet and bitter, mellow and rich. Amazing...and long gone from America's shelves.
4. Root beer stands
Essentially hot dog or burger joints serving (usually) good root beer, these stands were everywhere in the 60s--and a few still exist today, although the number is dwindling. For the most part these were drive-in style venues with names like Dog n Suds or Stewart's. Brands such as A&W build more substantial restaurants. They are sadly missed.
3. Keebler Magic Middles
What seemed like a pound of shortbread cookie filled with sweet, oozing chocolate...OK, so they were of normal grocery store brand size. But Magic Middles seemed much bigger, in part because of the dense, rich flow of butter and chocolate. Obviously they never sold well enough to please corporate bosses.
2. Biscuits (and other things) made with lard
Simply put, fat lends flavor. Biscuits made with lard are fluffy and delicate. They need nothing--no butter or jam--to bring them to life.
1. McDonald's fries
Once upon a time, McDonald's hand cut their fries and cooked them in oil that included a goodly amount of beef fat. As the chain expanded, hand cutting became unwieldy and expensive. During the 70s, they began shipping pre-cut frozen batches to the stores. By the 80s, consumer (and government) concerns over cholesterol forced them to switch to vegetable oil. The company quietly blended beef essence into the oil, which angered vegetarians and hardly made up the flavor deficit.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.