Sep 30, 2023

October is National Pizza Month

Happy National Pizza Month friends. I love National Pizza month, and as a result, the blog may have a wee bit more pizza related content this month.

Honestly, I'll use any excuse to eat more pizza, and National Pizza Month is the perfect excuse to do so! I'll be posting a few reviews and will try to put a retro spin on the content whenever I can.

 Stay tuned, and Happy Holidays!

Important Pizza Holidays and Celebrations

Friends & family understand..
 THIS is why my social calendar is so full

Pizza Holidays and Celebrations:

National Pizza Week
Second week in January

National Pizza Day
February 9th

National Deep Dish Pizza Day
April 5th

National Pizza Party Day
May 17th

Pizza Margherita Day
June 11th

National Cheese Pizza Day
September 5th

National Pepperoni Pizza Day
September 20th

National Pizza Month

National Beer & Pizza Day
October 9th

National Sausage Pizza Day
October 11th

World Pizza Makers Day
October 25th

Did I miss any? If so let me know and I'll add it to the list.

Sep 25, 2023

1975 Jack in the Box Bendable Buddies Fast Food Toys

Jack in the Box LogoMy first memories of dining on fast food were at Jack in the Box. I remember my Dad and I visiting the drive through in his old Ford Falcon station wagon. I always used to giggle when he would talk into the big clown head to order our food.

One day we pulled up to the drive through window and something caught my eye. Just inside the window was a little poster featuring Jack in the Box action figures! Just as McDonald's had characters like Ronald, Hamburglar, Mayor McCheese, Big Mac, & Grimace, to market their product towards children, Jack in the Box also had their own cast of characters to help sell Jumbo Jacks.

I begged my dad to buy me one, and he shelled out twenty five cents of his hard earned money for an "Onion Ring Thing" figure. What a Dad! Back in those days, twenty five cents could buy you a half gallon of gasoline. He continued purchasing different figures for my brother and I every time we visited Jack in the Box. These were some of my favorite toys from my early childhood, and I got endless hours of enjoyment playing with them.

1975 Jack in the Box Bendable Buddies Action Figures

Tired of the hustle and bustle of California, my family moved to Colorado in 1977. Sadly, my set of figures were lost during that move. For decades I fondly reminisced about these toys and wondered what ever happened to them. As an adult I swore that if I ever came across any of these figures, I would snatch them up no matter what the cost.

For a span of about eight years, I scoured the web looking for these toys on auction and toy websites to no avail. Then, in the spring of 2007 I found an online antique store that had the entire set of toys I was seeking. Yes, I once again became the proud owner of a complete set of 1975 Jack in the Box Bendy Figures. So come along and meet the marketing that helped mold many a hamburger and fast food connoisseur of modern times.

70s Jack in the Box Advertising characters

The Fab Five's likenesses appeared on collectible cups, comics, storybook's, and a slew of kids meal prizes. The most memorable Jack in the Box fast food toys from my childhood are the Bendy action figures pictured below. These Jack in the Box Bendable Buddies roughly stand about four inches tall, and were made by Imperial toy company in 1975.

"Jack the Clown"
Jack the Clown Bendy figThe ringleader himself! Through the 70s, his face graced most everything connected with Jack in the Box from food packaging to advertisements. Surprisingly, he was the most sane and well adjusted character of this bunch.

"Onion Ring Thing"
Onion Ring Thing Bendy FigA Hyper little fellow that always seemed to be goofing around and shouting "Hoo Hoo!" He's the kind of guy that you'd like to sock in the stomach.. if he had one.

"Small Fry"
Small Fry Bendy FigSmall Fry was a kid that was always hanging around and asking Jack questions. The storybooks depicted him as being a little kid, but the bendy fig makes him look more like an awkward teenager that's always half asleep.

"Secret Sauce Agent"
Secret Sauce AgentI'm not quite sure what Secret Sauce Agent contributed to Jack's Clique. Maybe his job was to guard the secret sauce from Ronald and the Burger King? He always had a big grin on his face, and was constantly peeking around corners and lurking about. He'd pop out once and awhile to say a word or two, and then he'd go and hide again. Secret Sauce Agent's skin was flesh color in the story books and on the toys, but Imperial for some strange reason opted not to paint his face. It made him look kind of sinister, so I designated him as the villain when I played with these toys.

HAMBURGERMEISTERBeing a Hamburgermeister isn't necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I've been called Hamburgermeister on many an occasion. This little guy hails from Germany and was always clad in lederhosen. He was known for cracking incredibly bad jokes and had a thick German accent. Sadly, the coolest thing about this cat is his name. 

There was a nice run of Jack in the Box items made throughout the 70s. I own a few more vintage Jack in the Box items and will make sure to showcase them very soon, so stay tuned. If you too were a fan of the old Jack in the Box characters, or had an affinity for other fast food icons of the era, let me hear about them in the comment section below.

Sep 22, 2023

Spooky Season Snacks and Treats

I tried to stay strong this week with my eating habits, but have waivered a bit. You see, this is traditionally the start of my eating season. Oktoberfest is near, fall and pumpkin beers are being released left and right, October is National Pizza Month, and Spooky Season brings with it a host of deliciousness. Here's the stuff that reeled me in and got me to open my wallet this week..

Cheetos Bag of Bones
Cheetos Bag of Bones

Cheetos Bag of Bones

I've always loved these little white cheddar flavored puffs. I haven't eaten any in well over two years, so I thought it was time to get a little taste. I had a small bowl one afternoon and enjoyed them immensely. So much so, that I gave the bag to my Son and told him to finish them off, so I wouldn't be able to. 

Hot chocolate bombs usually aren't my jam, and is more of a thing my bride really digs. However, this is the first time I've ever seen a Frankenstein themed Hot Chocolate Bomb. This was an insta-buy for sure! It now resides in my refrigerator until a cold enough evening hits Florida for me to enjoy it properly.

Junior Mints

Junior Mints.. these can be very refreshing. Especially with those spooky orange and black centers. I always get a kick out of seeing these hit the shelves every year around this time.

Blue Point Pumpkin Beer
Mother Pumpkin Ale
by Blue Point Brewing

I love a good pumpkin beer, and this one by Blue Point is incredible. A very nice pumpkin ale that is mild and not overdone or heavy handed with the spices. A great beer to get you in the mood for the season.

So that's it for now. Believe me when I say there were probably another dozen items that I thought about buying, but held strong for now. Don't be surprised if a few more seasonal delicacies end up being showcased here very soon. 

Sep 20, 2023

National Pepperoni Pizza Day - September 20th


National Pepperoni Pizza Day

That's right, it's once again National Pepperoni Pizza Day! I personally celebrated at lunch with a huge Sicilian Slice. 

Pepperoni Pizza Slice

I dined on this monster slice at Pizza Ponte, located at Disney Springs. The slice was perfect as always, and of course hit the spot. Did you get a chance to celebrate National Pepperoni Pizza Day this year? 

You still have time, or you can always celebrate later. In my book, it's always Pepperoni Pizza Day somewhere.

Sep 17, 2023

Oktoberfest Pizza

It's nearing that time of year again friends.. Oktoberfest! Want to incorporate some pizza into your Oktoberfest celebrations this year? It's easy to make German themed pizza, and you're only limited by your imagination. 

Check out this little Oktoberfest inspired pizza I threw together. I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but was quite surprised with the results.

Basically it's homemade dough with a 50/50 olive oil & stone ground mustard sauce for a base, mozzarella cheese, authentic beer bratwurst & knockwurst I found at ALDI. Finally, I added some Sauerkraut for the last two minutes of the bake. 

The cheese actually toned down the sauerkraut a wee bit, softening some of its punch. It truly was an enjoyable pizza to eat. You get all of the flavors from eating grilled Brats w/sauerkraut, presented atop a nice light pizza crust.

Something else I may try in the future, is to add an egg wash to the crust for browning, and sprinkle some course salt to mimic a pretzel. 

I also might try using a beer cheese for the sauce base. With a cheese base, I may even try using some sautéed shredded cabbage rather than Sauerkraut. Some strips of schnitzel may work nicely with the cheese sauce base as well.

It was fun making this pizza and I look forward to tweaking the recipe in the future. When I do, I'll make sure to share the results here. 

Sep 15, 2023

Racoon and Possum running through my mind

As you may have gathered, my thoughts often revolve around the recent and not so recent past. That being said, I've been finding myself intently reminiscing about my grandparents lately. When I was a young boy living in California, many an afternoon was spent at their house in Ontario, which was located on a busy street named Mission Boulevard. Back then, there was nothing I loved more than relaxing on the porch with my grandfather. We would while away the hours, sipping on soda and watching the trains in the distance roll by. During those afternoons, Grandpa would share stories about his youth, as well as an infinite array of life experiences.

Sometimes when there was a lull in the conversation, he would entertain me by yodeling, whistling, and singing old songs. Many of those songs are permanently burned into my brain, and often manifest themselves when I think of dear old granddad. However, there's one song in particular that I often whistle and hum to this very day.

Throw them 'simmons down
A "simmon" aka persimmon, is a wonderful fruit that somewhat resembles a tomato in color and shape.  The varieties I remember eating, kind of mimicked a plum in flavor.  My Grandfather used to sing a song about them that I used to love, and it went like this..

Possum in the 'simmon tree, Racoon on the ground..

Racoon shouts to the possum, throw them 'simmons down.

Throw them Simmons down.. throw them 'simmons down..

Racoon shouts to the possum, throw them 'simmons down.  

That's all there was to it.. a catchy little tune that always made me giggle and laugh. Every last detail about the way my Grandfather used to sing it, is permanently housed in my data banks. I can still vividly recall the way we held his pitch, tone, and even the speed he sang it.

I never thought much about the origin of this song, but always assumed he picked it up somewhere in the south. I decided to do a little research on the song, as well as persimmon trees, and was amused at the info I came across online. It's apparently well documented that possums love persimmon trees and their ripened persimmon fruit, as do racoons. I was elated to find the title and full lyrics to the song my Grandfather used to sing to me. Here's the skinny..

Raccoon's Got a Bushy Tail

Raccoon's got a bushy tail,

Possum's tail goes bare,

Rabbit's got no tail at all

Just a little old bunch of hair.

Raccoon is a mighty man,

He rambles through the dark,

You ought to see him hunt his den

When he hears Old Ranger bark.

Possum up persimmon tree,

Raccoon on the ground,

Raccoon says to possum,

"Won't you shake them 'simmons down."

Rabbit up in the gum stump,

'Coon in the holler,

Possum in the 'tater patch,

Fat as he can waller.

Raccoon's got a bushy tail,

Possum's tail goes bare,

Rabbit's got no tail at all

Just a little old bunch of hair.

I was surprised to learn that it was a five verse folk song that was originally sung by

It doesn't surprise me that Grandpa's version of the song is so different from the official version above. Grandpa most likely sung the song as he remembered it, or wanted to remember it. He got a real kick out of singing it, so maybe it was his favorite verse. That's how old folk songs and stories are sometimes. Liberties are taken with them, and the changes end up sticking over the years. I'm just happy the verse Grandpa used to sing, was in tact enough for me to dig up some history on this song.

In the end I'm more partial to Grandpa's version, but it was very satisfying to learn the history behind the song that we both loved so much.

By the way.. I'd be remiss if I didn't thank Smithsonian Folkways  for providing me with some back history, and links to buy "Racoon's got a bushy tail" and many other great folk songs written by Pete Seeger.