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Random Thoughts from a Random Memory

By Edward Master

I was watching the movie “A Few Good Men” when Tom Cruise remarked to his co-lawyers (actors Kevin Pollak and Demi Moore) in the film that he had only ‘Yoo-Hoo’ to drink and CoCo Puffs to eat. I have to admit that I too have imbibed in that chocolate nectar. However, nectar maybe a stretch for the ‘chocolate-flavored’ drink as I do not considered this chocolate milk by a long shot. I think I was living in Grove City when I last purchased a ‘bulk buy’ of Yoo-Hoo. I probably bought two eight-packs at the County Market.

Yoo-Hoo and I go back a spell, to early childhood. I was at least old enough to walk to the store and buy a bottle of Yoo-Hoo. It would have cost a dime. I know I enjoyed a cold bottle of Yoo-Hoo and probably had to shake it a bit to disrupt any settling at the bottom of the bottle. I’m guessing it was called Yo- Hoo but maybe not.

I don’t remember my wife drinking any of the 8-pack of Yoo-Hoo. She probably made a face if I asked her if she wanted any. I must agree that the contents of the bottle fit the description appropriately, a chocolate-flavored drink.

For some reason I also recall that Pete Rose, the pro baseball player, was a Yoo-Hoo drinker. I think he actually promoted the drink.

I was also partial as a youth to RC Cola. It’s lo-cal counterpart was Diet-Rite Cola in a 16-ounce bottle. RC was originally ‘Royal Crown’ and there may have been some sort of a crown on the bottle’s label. There was an older fellow (retired) named Jum Gardner who would come to the local store to “loaf.” Invariably, Jum would pick out a bottle of Diet Rite cola and then ask for a slice of longhorn cheese. Why Jum requested the cheese for that combo is something beyond my scope, but Jum was diabetic and had lost part of a leg at the knee so I do understand the low-sugar drink.

A drink unique to this part of the universe was Squirt, a grapefruit-flavored (lemon-lime) mixer. The local Squirt imitation was Half-n-Half. Those ‘big’ bottles (a quart bottle) brought a nickel on redemption. There was no such drink called Squirt out east. There was plenty of Fresca until it was discontinued. Local bottlers supplied mixers much of the time when living around Philly and then Jersey. As Fresca disappeared so did Tab, another diet drink.

Most everything out East was Coke and Pepsi. Dr. Pepper was around, along with something called Mr. Pibb, a Dr. Pepper imitation. There were no Mission beverages. My Kittanning grandparents always had a Mission orange or root beer in their fridge. I’m not sure where NeHi originated. I think Canada Dry and 7-Up were everywhere.

Those were the drinks then, but I’m hooked on iced tea now, with the standard morning coffee. We do get the occasional chicken Philly or steak Philly here at PPC (and other local dining fare) but they aren’t as good as the real thing, the original. My first so-called ‘original’ cheese steak was at Mark’s sandwich shop in Kutztown, PA, where I began teaching in 1972. There was one big difference than those delicacies native to Philly however—NO cheese whiz! I usually requested provolone cheese. My wife, who went to college at Kutztown U, often raved about Mark’s; she was pro provolone, too.

Another fave food from out east that re-appeared in Indiana, PA, was the Tasty Kake brand of bakery treats, especially Tastypies. The local BiLow had them trucked in and I renewed my snack treat interest. The lemon Tastypies always sold out at RCA Moorestown vending machines.

Unfortunately, one dish I have never seen (or tasted as a duplicate) was a Pennsylvania Dutch dish called potato filling. I ate it first-time and only that once in a restaurant outside of Allentown in Trexlertown. It consisted of mashed potatoes with seasoning herbs. It was delicious!

Other than the potato filling and ‘real’ cheese steaks, I’ve never had cravings for Eastern foods. I didn’t care for shoo-fly pie and most anything else with the base thing. I did pick up a fancy for creamed chipped beef on potatoes at a local diner (Angelo’s) in Glassboro. From what I’ve been told, those guys who were former USN sailors had a quite derogatory name for that dish served in the Navy mess.

I also developed another breakfast habit that I first saw my grandpa eat when I was a child—scrapple. I never was much of a scrapple eater until I lived in Glassboro, NJ, and ate at Angelo’s Diner. Sliced thin and browned on each side, it went great with eggs or pancakes. My wife wasn’t much of a scrapple eater. The rumor was scrapple came from the scraps off the butcger’s floor. I liked it when cooked correctly.0

Speaking of sports

What’s going on in the Burg? Pickett is gone! Rudolph is history. Wilson and Fields are now under center! Hopefully, they’ll have someone who can snap them the ball. I guess Jerome Bettis’ son is committed to be a wide receiver at Notre Dame.

Speaking of politics

I wish I wouldn’t speak of politics at all and so I won’t this time.

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