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Oddchester: Food that takes you back, in six words or less

January 23, 2019

Every month, on Rochester Magazine’s Facebook page, we ask readers to sound off on some topic in Six Words (Or Less).

Although the four women in the office will occasionally chime in, the question itself, out of apathy, usually falls to me.

I’ve given up trying to guess which ones will garner big response. Best Summer Memory? (Insert cricket noise here.) Put Your Six Favorite Holidays In Order? (Insert sound of wind blowing tumbleweeds here.) Most Interesting Thing On Your Desk? (Insert sound of crickets on tumbleweeds here.)

But Most Memorable Dog Story? Why, that generated hundreds of six-word classics (Saved earthworm from killer preschoolers. Ate glitter, yard sparkled all winter. Let cat give birth on him.)

As did Most Embarrassing Thing Your Dad Ever Did (White sweats, dress shoes, college visit). And Your Marriage Proposal Story (Napoleon Dynamite DVD release day).

When that happens — when one of my questions gets great response--I strut around the office telling the women how I just knew it would. I just knew it! And how I was so certain I was really going to tap into the pulse of the people. I was so certain!

They don’t say anything or even acknowledge that I’m speaking, but I’m sure they appreciate my ability to effectively assess any situation after the fact.

And talk about tapping into the pulse of the people! This month’s Six Words Or Less — Food That Takes You Back To Childhood — has already generated 150 comments! I was so certain!

Although about 40 of those comments have come from me, because, well: Pizza Quick, bologna, raw hot dogs! Marathon bars, King Vitamin cereal, Tang! Cornmeal mush, baseball card gum!

“Brain scans have revealed that olfactory memory cues — those associated with smell — activate the hippocampus and the amygdala,” according to Alyn Williams, a renowned chef and food nostalgia expert. “These areas of the brain are linked with memory and emotional reactions. Childhood memories triggered by our sense of smell usually stem from our first 10 years of life.”

And all my examples were from my first 10 years of life!

Food, it turns out, can be a time machine for a lot of people.

Because — I just refreshed Facebook! — my question has now generated 152 comments!

And people certainly remember the sandwiches: Tomato, bologna, and cheese sandwiches. Egg sandwiches on Sunday nights. Grilled peanut butter/jelly sandwiches.

Fried bologna sandwiches. Fried egg sandwich with mayonnaise. Peanut butter and dill pickle sandwiches. Peanut butter, mayonnaise, and lettuce sandwiches.

Oh, and Spam: Fried Spam on white bread. Spam/egg salad sandwiches on cocktail buns. Chopped Spam in hash.

And weird stuff on toast: Toast with peas, tuna white sauce. Creamed mushrooms and ham on toast. (Swear word) on a shingle.

Scalloped potatoes and ham. Sauerkraut and ham puff. Ham steak and instant mashed potatoes.

Hamburger goulash with corn added. Cold Chef Boyardee ravioli from the can! SpaghettiOs.

Saltine crackers in milk with sugar. Graham crackers with frosting. Chicken in a Biskit crackers.

Cap’n Crunch, Fruit Stripe gum, Kool-Aid. Banana popsicles on a sweltering day. Grape- grapefruit-, and orange-flavored Tang.

Fresh-caught perch with bread/butter/sugar. Fresh walleye with homemade tartar. Fish sticks.

Space food sticks, Pic-a-Pop. Koala Yummies, Dunkaroos, and Ecto Cooler. Fun Dip, Pixy Stix, candy cigs.

And, maybe most importantly: Mom’s homemade bread, homemade apple butter. Dad’s Sunday Special Chili. Grandmother’s fried chicken, homemade apple pie.

Grandma’s molasses cake. Grandma’s homemade potato salad. Grandma’s creamed chicken on buns!

“This took me back to all the meals my mom always made when I was a kid,” wrote one reader. “So I called her to thank her for all of those.”

Mom’s homemade cornbread. Mom’s homemade chicken noodle soup. Mom’s ice cream we made together.

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