Building Blocks (vintage regional snacks)

A food choice is an iatrical part of both the character’s personality and the story environment. As writers, we need to use both regional and international foods to paint the picture. However, we must always keep in mind the regional and historical applicability of the item. For example, a person desiring a coddie would most likely indicate that Baltimore, Maryland figures into the character’s present or past environment. What are some vintage snacks that fit your story line?

Coddie: A snack food particularly popular in Baltimore, Maryland, since becoming available commercially there in1910. They used to be sold everywhere, from drugstores to bowling alleys, and they were very cheap; “the poor man’s crab cake”. A 5 ¢ coddie on a saltine cracker with mustard was a real treat. This Baltimore tradition can get sideways looks from people who ask if you mean cod cakes; nope, cod cakes are a different animal entirely.

Moon Pie: The snack is often associated with the cuisine of the American South. Since 1917 Moon Pies have been made by the Chattanooga Bakery, Inc. in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They are traditionally accompanied by an RC Cola.

RC Cola: Royal Crown Cola, is a cola-flavored soft drink developed in 1905 by Claud A. Hatcher, a pharmacist in Columbus, Georgia, and is known as the ‘campaign of the South’. In the 1950s, Royal Crown Cola and Moon Pies were a popular “working man’s lunch” in the American South.

S-shaped Soft Pretzel: The S-shaped soft pretzel, often served with brown mustard, became iconic in Philadelphia. It was established as a part of Philadelphia’s cuisine for snacking at school, work, or home, and considered by most to be a quick meal. In the late 18th century, southern German and Swiss German immigrants settling in Pennsylvania introduced the pretzel to North America. Many handmade pretzel bakeries populated the central Pennsylvania countryside, speeding the pretzel’s popularity.

Fried Cheese Curds: Cheese curds, a uniquely Wisconsin delicacy, are formed as a by-product of the cheese-making process.

Poutine: Quebec, Canada, has their own popular way of eating cheese curds called Poutine; a French-Canadian recipe in which French fries are topped with cheese curds and gravy.

Beignets: Beignets are commonly known in New Orleans as a breakfast served with powdered sugar on top. They were brought to New Orleans in the 18th century by French colonists, and were declared the official state doughnut of Louisiana in 1986.

Think about your ‘building blocks’; we can not write without them.

Building Blocks (premise)

This poem helps define the premise behind Building Blocks: Time molds vivid memories from one’s past into the building blocks of one’s writing. The poem was influenced by my frequent visits to Fredericksburg, Virginia art galleries, and came to mind this past Friday when I was thinking about all the monthly First Friday gallery open houses I have missed since I moved.

Life is not a single canvas
across which the palette of existence plays out
the days, years, the joys, the tears
Life is but a wall
like the art gallery hall
upon which are hung the transient images of our breath

Each panel a journey
a story unto itself blessed by its very completion
related, segmented, belated, translated
Stories awaiting readers
like a song yet song
notes rising and falling between birth and death

Life is not a single canvas
but the wall upon which our memories are hung

(Life is not a single canvas, © Steven S. Walsky 2009.)