Aside from being marked by my grandmother's pot roast, mashed potatoes, and jell-o with carrot shavings, I don't have particularly rich childhood food memories. But there are always those triggers that bring back a flood of sensations and emotions. Proust's madeleine is the perfect "fer-instance". When Steve posted in yesterday's Good Morning News that Archway cookies had gone bankrupt, the significance didn't immediately hit me, until I was reminded that Archway produced Mother's Cookies. One specific Mother's product was integral to my development: Mother's Circus Animal Cookies
These pink and white sprinkled marvels were the snack-time item of choice during my parched, southwestern, tow-headed kidhood. I remember, after long afternoons of clambering over the lightning hot playground equipment, coming inside with dirt on my face and chowing on circus animal cookies—washed down with lukewarm milk, of course. There was something delightfully malicious about viciously biting the head off of a blush colored bear. Or drowning a vaguely lion shaped cookie beneath the froth of my milk until it softened to mush between thumb and forefinger. I don't think I have a single memory of eating these things in a polite or dignified manner. All I remember are crumbs, and trying to scrape off the frosting and sprinkles with whatever baby teeth I still had hinging around in my head.
These cookies were the fuel for playground shenanigans. They are inextricably linked to memories of a broken collarbone, a first kiss in the tree hut, and being thrown into the brambles from a madly spinning merry-go-round. Lord knows they were not healthy. I doubt that any modern pre or elementary school would dare to serve them now, for fear of some overprotective, mad-eyed mother, swooping down with foaming maw agape: "You served my child WHAT!? Don't you know he's lactoceliacautisticalifragilistic!?"
I believe mine to be the last generation to grow up with parents who took a lackadaisical attitude to our daytime welfare. There was no safety bark. Everything we played on had sharp edges, was heavy, moved freely (sometimes in a variety of directions) and could get hot enough to blister sensitive skin. Our parents were not concerned with sexual predators. We would stay out until dark throwing dirt clods at one another's heads. Where I grew up, we were dirty little hardscrabble desert creatures, and when things got to rough—when there were tears, or blood, or bruises—there would be a Mothers Circus Animal Cookie waiting for us in the cool interior of our homes.
I haven't had one of these cookies in many many years. I may never have one again. But I feel that, in their passing, something has been taken away from the kids of this world. Call me over dramatic, but I'll miss these little edible emblems of my childhood years.
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