Crumbs of Memory

OK, this is silly. This is ridiculous. Don’t read any further. No, I’m serious.

Still reading? Alright, but I warned you. This isn’t logical at all. Let me tell you about my friend Jackie since her story is like mine but it makes more sense and perhaps I can soften you up with her tale. Jackie just turned 60 years old and recently suffered the loss of her mother. After the funeral she and her sister took on the onerous task of going through her mother’s house. Many of you have done this and know the mixture of joy and sadness that those long days digging through closets and sorting drawers can bring. Jackie told me that they had worked their way to the attic of her mom’s small home and had planned on finishing up that afternoon when she came upon a plastic bag that seemed to be filled with rags. She said that her mother wasn’t a hoarder and that she only kept what was necessary so Jackie’s was curious as to why she’d kept something so meaningless. She said, “I picked up the sack and opened it…and…well, I cried.” Like many young girls, Jackie had a favorite doll and after wearing it threadbare her mother told her that she’d thrown it away. She said, “I was heartbroken at the time, but I got over it. Still…I missed that doll.” And there in her hands at the end of three long days of going through her mother’s memories was the doll. Her mother had kept it. Now it holds a prominent place on Jackie’s bedroom dresser.

I didn’t have a doll. OK, my brother and I shared a Howdy Doody puppet that met a dreadful bisection when I tugged on Howdy’s head and Keith pulled even more fiercely on the puppet’s feet, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I did once have a very worn brown blanket that Mom tossed out three times and I retrieved twice, but I’m talking about something even more precious in my memory.

We all have an attraction to the foods of our youth, and I’m sure that everyone has a recollection of Grandma’s gravy or Aunt Margaret’s cornballs that he or she holds dear in some olfactory part of the brain. I have many such food memories, but there’s one item that’s become an on and off obsession. My mother used to serve them for breakfast and it made getting up worth the effort, but sadly I haven’t been able to find Toast-r-cakes Corn Muffins anywhere. They had simply disappeared from the face of the earth and no Google search could locate anything but recipes on making corn muffins. However, that was not what I wanted. These little rascals were shaped rather like an English muffin but with the taste of corn and came in a pack of six. You could slather them with various syrups but I liked my simply buttered, not wanting to cover up any of the delicious corn taste. I do not exaggerate when I say that I’ve been searching for these tasty little rascals now and then for 50 years, and I assumed that they’d gone the way of the hand mixer and the hog scraper. More than once I’ve brought a conversation among Baby Boomers to a halt by inquiring if anyone knew where to find Toast-r-cakes Corn Muffins. People tend to politely excuse themselves if you ask that question too many times.

The old computers used to flash a message that said, “Please refine your search” back before the newer technologies became our brains. My mistake had been in using the wrong words. “Corn muffins” came up with only recipes. “Toaster Corn Muffins” took me to some lady’s website in a Seattle Farmer’s Market. I had given up on ever finding these delicious little rascals whose smell used to turn Mom’s morning kitchen into Wonderland. I was doing some research into a column on online grocery services when I stumbled upon Thomas Toast-r-cakes Corn Muffins! I quickly clicked on the tiny icon and there they were! Hurrah! Hosanna in the Highest! Whoop-te-doo and Tyler, Too! If it had been possible to crawl inside a computer monitor and start eating I’d have done it.

OK, they were way too expensive . . $25.52 for 12 of them… but after waiting 50 years my fingers were out of control. I clicked “Buy now.” The Amazon website says that they only have a shelf life of one week and it will be 10 days before they arrive, but no matter. I’ll grab them out of the UPS man’s hands, scrape off the mold, and dash to my toaster. Yes, I might be disappointed, and yes I will have paid too much to simply relive a silly childhood memory, but there are times in life when you simply grab for the gold, take a chance and go for it. It’s ridiculous, it’s unreasonable and it’s a bit bizarre, but by-golly I can say I finally found them.

I warned you not to read this.

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