I Never Knew I Cared: A Reverie on Ding-Dongs and Thanksgiving

Amidst the news of more war between Palestine and Israel, another power-dude sex scandal, and an impending fiscal cliff, this morning, on the treadmill, luxuriating in my TV fix, I heard that Hostess is going out of business. Now, as the commentators on Soledad OBrien’s show, (Am I alone in LOVING her?) pointed out, this is an iconic brand, which will most certainly be picked up by some other company. And yet, and yet….

The year was 1970-something. The car was a red Caprice Classic, it was me, my two bothers, and my mom smoking Terrytons on our way to….


Here (and please note we are talking about the Hostess THRIFT store!) we would buy 10 loafs of white wonder bread (my middle brother subsisted exclusively on the stuff, slathered with jiff and grape jelly) and an assortment of Ding Dongs, Twinkies and fruit pies. I never really liked these things, but I had some sense that I was lucky to get to eat them when they ended up in my lunch with a mustard and bologna sammy (yummy) and a bag of Fritos. I kind of liked the cardboard apple flavor of the apple pies, and the clear gooey stuff inside, but I especially liked the green crinkly wax paper they came in. And I loved scrunching the paper down and eating it that way.

As I prepare for Thanksgiving, I am, yet again, moved and astonished by the power that food and food bustle has in my life. Scurrying around finding little cordial glasses at Goodwill, two beautiful floral sky blue plates at the local thriftstore, that will go im-perfectly with my grandmother’s Buttercup Spode set, writing and re-writing my list for the big shop tomorrow at Hannaford. The wine store. Fantasizing about setting the table (geek!!!), recalling the best meal T and I have ever¬† had….the one in Italy that lasted 4 hours, not including the time we spent afterward, in the courtyard, bumming smokes off some French dudes. The patience a meal like that requires and creates.

Not quite the same as popping a Twinkie into your cake hole, but there is something about sensory repetition that always ends up filling that sweet melancholic corner. Food, preparing food, eating and thinking about it, especially now that there is my Little Miss in the picture, it’s mysteriously compelling. Way more than the little spongy cake and even more than a plate full of turkey, gravy, mashers, and cranberry. If you can imagine that.