jetsetgreen

Thursday, May 15, 2008

When is a Gallon of Milk Not a Gallon of Milk?

If you were part of a certain generation, your parents were concerned with squeezing the most out of a dollar and the pantry. They read pamphlets, they exchanged bargain ideas, and they rinsed out zip loc bags. You’re saying to yourself, what could possibly be so different now? Sure these days we budget, save, and prepare, but trust me, we are not going to the same lengths.

Are you a part of that certain generation?

* Your mom would buy a gallon of milk from the store and that gallon never ran dry.
At first, your heart leapt to see the gallon come out of the paper bag from the store. Then, under the cover of nightfall, mom would gradually mix in reconstituted powdered milk into the store-bought gallon. YOU AREN’T FOOLING US, mom!
Never-ending gallons do not exist, not even in Zion.
Eventually, mom would break down and buy another gallon of milk (to start it all over again.)

I mean, I guess it was better than the way they usually tried to get you to drink powdered milk: slightly warm, because the powder dissolves easier in warm water. The sickeningly sweet smell with just a hint of sour wafted out of the beige pitcher as the milk sloshed against the sides. Know what’s better than powdered milk?
A glass of water and eating your cereal dry.


* Peanut butter that you had to stir.
The great grease slick at the top of the jar that would make a thunk sound as you plunged in the spoon. The jars of Skippy at your friends' houses seemed so...glamorous.


* Your dad would give you a couple of tablespoons of wheat to chew.
Not wheat flour, actual wheat grains poured into your hand. You were supposed to chew these because they made gum. And the wheat did make gum, but guess what? WRIGLEY’S IS ONLY A DIME. Why did we have 50 pound bags of wheat hanging out in our basement? So you could grind wheat and make your own bread, of course. All four of us used to beg and plead for ‘store-bought’ bread. Oh, store-bought bread! It was so soft! The thick, crusty loaves my dad pulled out of the oven? NO, THANKS! Why couldn’t we just have Wonder Bread like everyone else?

My parents went the extra mile: making their own yogurt in a bowl they’d set above the hot water heater, toasting their own granola, and the time dad tried to make his own malt. There even were homemade Tootsie Rolls (because why buy Tootsie Rolls? Do you know how much money you can save by making your own Tootsie Rolls?) Believe me, that recipe was a hot ticket around Edgemont.

So tell me, were your parents reading the same pamphlets as mine? Did you can peaches and put up tomatoes? Spend an afternoon at the Welfare (charity) farm picking cherries? Or were you one of the lucky ones: Wonder Bread for your sandwich and pudding cups in your lunch—oh, and real gum?




-I was reminded about all of this in an IM convo that I had with Sue. You need to read her take on this subject. Warning, you'll learn about something called 'chocolate treat', are you prepared?

53 comments:

FoxyJ said...

My parents were pretty cheap, but I don't remember any of these tricks. I don't think my mom has ever bought wheat by itself, although she did make bread once upon a time. She grew up on a dairy farm and considers dry milk to be sacrilege.

Are my kids going to hate me because I make my own yogurt? I think it tastes better and I have a yogurt maker...

Azúcar said...

No, their yogurt was better and I found myself staring at dad's wheat grinder last weekend with a measure of envy. So really, the joke's on me.

Except for the powdered milk, that stuff is awful.

i i eee said...

I got the powdered milk! But my mom didn't try to make it "pass" for real milk or anything like that.

Oh the memories!

But never had to chew wheat gum, I'm afraid. I do recall my mom saying that Ziploc baggies were a complete luxury.

b. said...

You did bring back a slew of memories. But my mom never stored wheat, made yogurt, or homemade bread. We had Storehouse Bread with the big ol' grease pen marking on the top...all our groceries had the grease pen price tag on them.
I also wore the coat of many colors that my Grandma made for me. Made just for me.

Azúcar said...

Oh, Storehouse and the GREASE PEN! Write the price on your own groceries...it's a foolproof business plan!

Sue said...

DANG IT WOMAN. I was half-way through my own post but you beat me to it. Our conversation was too funny for me not to want to steal.

By the way, powdered milk mixed with REAL milk was for WUSSIES. We drank it STRAIGHT. Word to ya motha.

Sue said...

Ah, I posted about it anyway. I'm all lazy like that.

~j. said...

Ziplock Bags?? Were you rich?

(We had to go and live in a lake.)

Cafe Johnsonia said...

Oh, yeah. I remember those days...except without the dry milk. (Bleh.)

You know what? I find myself longing to be back in Utah so I can put up peaches, pears and tomatoes with my mom again. As much as I HATED it then, I look back with fondness...

Mrs. Dub said...

i think my own parents were victims of similar foods so i didn't suffer as a result. however, i now make my own daughter eat peanut butter that we have to stir. it's not a moral or economical issue - i just know that i will straight up eat the PB out of the jar unless it's the healthy/hardly tasty variety.

look for a similar post from her in 20 years.

Nathan said...

Yes, saving and reusing the bread bag from the rare store bought bread so mom could put in her homemade bread. I don't remember wheat gum (my parents missed that pamphlet). We had fruit trees in the backyard and we canned those backyard peaches and labeled them. And now I have mom's "'88 Peaches" in my cupboard. I was 6.

ClistyB said...

we grew up in CA and I can remember my girlfriends family with 7 kids doing that stuff. Suffice it to say she spent many days at my house. She married into a family of a bazillion more kids than she grew up with. Her MIL will take a dented jar with no label on it and write "might be pears" on it. they also make their own 2% milk by mixing whole with skim. I have seen it with my own eyes! THey don't do the powdered any more because they dont have to, they're GAZILLIONAIRES!!!!!! Musta saved a bundle all those wheat gum chewin' years!!

Heidi said...

Oh, wheat gum! I totally remember that.

Yeah, why did you have Ziplocs? My mom never bought those. We had the fold-over kind.

Rynell said...

OH yes! I second every.single.word.

And the funny thing is that I have made the wheat bread and canned fruit. But I am drawing the line at powdered milk and stirred peanut butter.

Azúcar said...

We didn't actually have Ziploc, those are a name brand and that did not happen. We had the generic but were not allowed to use a bag without permission (which was never.)

Thanks for the memory of the store-bought bread bags! Do you remember that the writing on the side would start to flake off over the years?

I remember when there were honest-to-goodness generics at the market: white labels, black writing. "CORN" would be the only descriptive thing on the label.

Amy said...

Oh wow. I married into this stuff. I had a total Father of the Bride moment while I was engaged:
Paul: "Honey, I bought you a perfect wedding gift."
Me:"Really, what is it?"
P:"A wheat grinder."
Me:"Huh?"
P:"So you can grind wheat into flour."
I imagined myself grinding wheat with a hand crank that produces one cup of flour an hour.
Me:"Paul, last time I checked you can buy flour at the store."
P: "But I thought you were a Utah-born Mormon girl."

We sorted through the issues and got married anyway, but to this day, any wheat-grinding that happens (which is a fair bit) is done by Paul.

Amy said...

I did grow up in a true "Western Family" home, though. I miss Western Family. Does that brand still exist?

Bek said...

That brought back some memories..especially the berry picking!!

I think that we all got a taste of this because OUR parents were raised by children of the depression.

My dad today still has a heart attack b/c I buy pre packaged things like chips and crackers and juice boxes. Really. He is all about filling the freezer with meat that just went past the due date...

When I came home from living in Russia I brought my dad a jar of real caviar, because that is something he told me he really enjoyed. He put it in the freezer for a "special occasion" SIXTEEN years ago. That is my dad. He also tells us that having a coffin is a waste of money and doesn't want flowers at his funeral, he loves cracked peppers, so he told us just to bring a pepper grinder and do that over his grave. I don't think he was kidding.

Azúcar said...

Western Family does exist, but now that they've updated their labels and the contents now look appealing, it's just not the same.

kristenlibrarian said...

My dad and grandpa would plant 3 gardens in the spring and harvest them in the fall. My mom and grandma would can and can and can. Tomatoes, beans, carrots, pickles (ooo...that pickle smell - delish!)...you name it they canned it. I remember when I was in 4th grade they canned over 100 jars of beans! And then they'd lay onions out to dry and have wheelbarrows FULL of potatoes waiting to be put in a bin in the dark basement. As a child I never realized you could buy potatoes at the store. I thought everyone grew their own! Good times.

I don't even really like regular milk, so I can't even imagine the dry stuff. *gag*

Mrs. Organic said...

I do a lot of those things (not the ziploc bag thingy), but powdered milk has come a long way since then (morning moo, anyone?). Actually we are now on a kick of drinking raw milk - my kids prefer the powdered or the soy milk over it.

But you know "The whiter the bread, the sooner you're dead."

The chore I hated most was making cleaning up after making tomato sauce or cutting the kernels off the corn to freeze -it all tasted good, but the work! Oy, the work!

Emily said...

Wow. Some or all of this might be in my own children's future now that my husband is employed at the same institute of higher learning as your parents: not known for the highest of salaries.

cabesh said...

Oh yes. We NEVER had ziploc bags--only the fold over plastic sandwich bags. But that was a step up from the wax paper wrapped sandwiches.

Salad dressing from powder mixes.

Pick your own/canned everything!

Lacey said...

My MIL, who was born during the great depression, is a ziploc rinser and reuser. It kinda grosses me out a little.

Azúcar said...

Yes, but does she wash and reuse FOIL? G-Ma pulls that one. She gets so frustrated when she can't get the cheese stuck on from the lasagna off.

April said...

Wow. Just...wow. If I had those childhood experiences, I'd probably be skinny as a rail now. All I remember is that when it was a while before the next paycheck and food was running low, Mom stepped up her hotdish skills. Tatertots, corn, cream of mushroom soup, onions, anything you could think of: all mixed into a steaming dish of something designed to make me vomit.

My grandparents still wash out and reuse Ziplock bags. Grosses me out.

Kalli Ko said...

yes, like I said over at Sue's... Morning Moos was the death of me and my relationship with milk for a long time. My mom would buy it in like 50 lb bags. Sick. I have to go throw up now.

martha corinna said...

So true.
I am trying to make my way back to my youth, but I refuse to take on the powdered milk.

Jill said...

Sorry, My mom bought us white bread, sugared cereal, and whole milk. My Aunt did not buy any of that for my cousins (who lived next door to us)
My cousins spent a lot of time at our house.
My aunt did not believe in chocolate either. They ate carob instead. Have you ever eaten that?
Nasty stuff.
I don't buy sugared cereals for my kids because we have carbohydrate issues at our house.
I don't grind wheat to make bread, because my time is valuable.
My mom washes out ziplock bags.
I did that for a while, but I got over it.

Brooke said...

wheat = gum! GUM?! who knew? definitely not me, a product of wonder bread, jif and oreos.


oh, and doritos.



(and people in zion wonder why i'm the way i am...)

Brooke said...

ps- isn't it funny how being healthy is now "all the rage" and convenience food is totally looked down upon?

Azúcar said...

BB- I can't help but think back to all the things we were 'subjected' to and come to the conclusion, my parents were right.

Then again, we never had to eat carob.

Laura said...

Growing up I heard about these kinds of strage eating practices taking place in households, but thankfully I never had to participate. Unfortunately maybe that's why my kids will eat nothing but the super soft white bread today.

La Yen said...

Here is how I win the Ziplock contest:

My mom had a paper route. So our baggies were the leftover newspaper plastic bags. The three-foot-long newspaper plastic bags. Because nothing says "We are poor and my mom has a paper route" like taking your stirred-peanut butter and honey sandwich on two heels of bread out of a three-foot-long plastic bag. I do not remember EVER having an actual plastic bag until I moved out.

We always had a ton of milk and cheese, though because my grandpa was a veteran and would get the bricks and gallons of government dairy. Then we would eat our healthy cereal with a crap load of honey, because another grandpa raised bees.

And canning salsa makes your entire house smell like BO for weeks. I remember that well.

Monica said...

My mom had a most of those tricks, but not the chewing wheat. She also was big into make a mix. She made her own pancake mix, brownie mix and whatever else she could.

My hubby grew up in edgemont. He lived in the condos at qual hollow.

The Bakers said...

All I gotta say is Deseret Peaches, Orange Powdered Drink Mix, Canned Beef Stew, Cracked Wheat, School lunch, Rice Puffs, and that old gray milk pitcher you speak of...

sue-donym said...

i was reading all these comments and thinking I had nothing to add, but then you brought up Carob. Oh My Gosh! The memories.

Emily said...

Thank you, La Yen, for the hearty laugh regarding your sandwich bags. You totally win. Beyond awesome.

gurrbonzo said...

Homemade tootsie rolls??? Wow. Wow. Wow.

a.men said...

I remember all of the too well! Yuck!

compulsive writer said...

I thought I was over it.

But I'm clearly not.

Do you know what's sad?

I remember powdered milk and we had our own milk cows! What's up with that?

(We slaughtered our own beef, too. But I still remember that soy stuff that looked like all-bran that they tried to pass it as hamburger.)

Mary said...

I grew up in the 50's and 60's. My kids grew up in the 80's and 90's. I could never stand powdered milk so I did not use it. I didn't even "make" my kids drink milk. They could choose milk or water. Growing up I was fed store bought white bread. As an adult I started buying Orowheat (or similar) breads and that's what I raised my kids on. I refused to feed my kids the pasty white stuff that sticks to the roof of your mouth - it's disgusting. The good bread is more expensive, but it's worth it. I used to hear other moms say their kids wouldn't eat brown bread and I would think to myself - who buys the bread? My kids ate it because it was all I ever bought. I'm a city girl so don't have experience with canning and some of those other things that have been mentioned. I do sometimes wash zip-lock bags. What's the difference between reusing a bag that's been washed with dishsoap and water and eating off a plate that's been washed with dishsoap and water? I don't own a dishwasher.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Y'all just wait to see what your kids say about you. Just wait...

mojo said...

Oh man we were so poor. I can tell you what we did over eat, but was not tilled by my parents. Peanut butter sandwiches and spaghetti. I couldn't eat either for about six years. I lost my appetite for both and then, because of the deficit I found myself coming around to the idea of stomaching the poor man's diet. Now that I live in Chicago, where gas prices are the highest, I find myself trying different variations of pasta dishes. Peanut butter sandwiches aren't included, but I believe soon I'll have to succomb.

P.S. We drank powdered milk for years and yes, it's the devil's milk.

reva said...

Good golly, I am e.mailing this to all of my mom's family! Azucar, you never cease to make me stort whatever I'm eating out of my nose.

I had a great aunt that would recycle paper plates - meaning she'd wash them off and hang them on a clothesline in the basement. Food always tasted strange there.

I'd tell you what my grandparents recycled, but my mom would kill me. Suffice to say, my father was quite the surprise to his parents.


think about it...


Yep, they recycled THOSE.

planetnomad said...

ROFL! Yes.
And then, you forgot the bit about how you produce grandchildren and your mother buys them an entire GALLON of chocolate milk and all the sugar cereals they could possibly rot their teeth on.
Also, remember how some people got Ding-Dongs and Twinkies? I had to eat home made cookies.

Marie said...

We had the milk thing. I didn't mind it on cereal, but it was unfit to drink straight.

To make the ground beef go further my mom would decrease the amount called for and substitute cracked wheat from our food storage. It was even harder to bear when we had to keep nutrition logs in jr high and night after night I had to write down "1 cup of meat-wheat casserole" and then explain to my baffled teacher what I meant by that.

I mean, dear teacher, that I come from a family of dorks.

My mom also made her own yogurt and she still makes her own granola. But the only bread she makes is white and it is super fantastically delicious. Even as a kid I knew it was better than Wonder Bread.

Marie said...

Oh yes -- and my mom had this thing about letting ripe fruit fall off the trees. She'd wail about how it was like this poor pregnant tree had suffered through the hot summer and then she offered us her babies and we said, "No, I'd rather just let them rot." She'd even get teary-eyed when she said this. This is why we harvested our seed-filled grapes for grapejuice and grapeleather, made applesauce from mediocre apples, and canned peaches even though we had years and years of older canned fruit that we'd never gotten around to eating.

Here, sad mama apple tree with a voice suspiciously like my mother's -- we'll embalm your crispy little babies in sugar (and then in a few years we'll throw them away anyway).

Zina said...

Oh. My. Word. Reva, that's the funniest thing I've heard in, well, at least a month.

The newspaper bags is classic, too.

We ate bananas dipped in wheat germ and we liked it. We also did the wheat gum, but just for fun, and my mom did tell us it wasn't very good for our teeth to chew the wheat.

People are washing out their Ziploc bags nowadays to be "green." (I never will. I love clean new Ziploc bags and use them wantonly.)

I bought Twinkies for the first time the other day because I'd promised them to my son as a reward for babysitting. After I picked them up off the shelf, I realized that in doing so, I'd literally shuddered. I did tell my kids that Twinkies are completely inert, and so lacking in actual foodstuffs that they can last for years in the wild, (I wish I could find the experiment someone did that proved this, because it was funny,) but that didn't dissuade them from loving Twinkies.

Zina said...

This isn't the one I was thinking of, but it makes a similar point. (Click here for Twinkie Experiment Results.)

Morgan said...

This post is so funny. I grew up on wheat bread and natural peanut butter. All I wanted was wonderbread and processed deli ham like the neighbor girls. Don't even get me started on carob.

Camilla said...

I still can not stand powdered milk.. too much as a child. I do however still only buy whole wheat bread and my kids have to eat cream of wheat or cherrios and not sugar cereals. I had karob.. i actually liked it! in fact I was so used to it that even pushing my 30's chocolate is just starting to appeal to me! I always wanted the neighbors white bread and processed cheese slices with chips and soda. Of course now as an adult I would never buy that kind of cheese, yuck! as a child i thought we were just so poor we couldnt have the junk food.. come to find out that the junk was actually cheaper than all the health food my mom was buying us. I am glad to haveWIC so my children never had to beg for milk to drink.

Tierra Wakefield said...

Alright, here I am stalking again...really, I just work at a computer on the phone and I grasp at anything to take up the 8 hours. Um, I was raised on powdered milk as well. No pudding snacks and definitely no sugar cereals or kool-aid.