Let’s stop being Ding Dongs

By Nancy Black

A chicken loaf sandwich on white Mrs. Baird’s bread with Miracle Whip. That is what I ate as a child. That or McDonald’s hamburgers, cooked well-done with ketchup only, French fries and a Dr Pepper. (These were the days WAY before Happy Meals!) 

Ooo! And I loved (still do) those little pot pies with the tin foil pan, which I can still to this day perfectly pop out intact, without breaking the crust. And who can forget those wonderful TV dinners? Oh, that was a good night in our house! We would pop those foil trays into the oven and only have to wait 45 minutes for our meals to be ready. 

In the meantime, my brother and I would get the living room ready for watching. 

TV trays? 


TV Guide? 


Once that oven timer went off, we were ready to eat our perfectly portioned meals while enjoying whatever show happened to be on one of the four channels we had.

My mother wasn’t a bad mother. She was a single mom who worked two jobs and had four children. And our family wasn’t the only one who embraced this “new” way of eating. Everyone loved TV dinners and McDonald’s and every other new food fad that came our way. Anybody else out there remember Tang? Even the astronauts were drinking it!

This is going to blow the minds of all my friends at the local markets but, I never even tried broccoli until I was in my twenties! Yes, I know, I know. I was food deprived in my childhood. But it is what it is. I cannot hide in shame from my past. But I can do something about what I eat in the future.

My children have helped expand my food repertoire immensely, though I do admit to occasionally feeding them 21st century versions of TV dinners. Fortunately, they are a little bit healthier than the sodium infused Salisbury steaks of my day, but they are still not as good as “real” food. 

A dear friend of mine who is a doctor of oriental medicine recently posted on his social media page a picture of a beach scene from the 50s. There was not one overweight person in sight! I’m not saying heavy people didn’t exist back then. They did. My grandfather was one of them. 

He drank Coca Cola nonstop and ate butter and sugar sandwiches. But in this panoramic view of the ocean circa 1955 not one morbidly obese person can be seen.

After all these years, Americans are trained now to eat processed food. That fabulous Mrs. Baird’s bread? It used to get moldy within days. These days, my teenager and I can keep a loaf of bread on our kitchen counter for more than a month and it will not show any signs of aging. And this is the healthier choice type of bread, too.

It is so easy to eat real, locally grown food these days. So why don’t I? I’m a lazy American, that’s why. And I love Ding Dongs! My children still help greatly in my endeavor to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and reduce my Dr Pepper use. But poor eating habits are hard to break. At least I can proudly write that I have gone from eating an American “Prepared Cheese Product” wrapped in individual plastic slices to eating real American cheese slices. Progress not perfection. Go, U.S.A.!