Count Chocula

“The name is Alfred.”

Count Chocula lovers and Halloween chums: I have to make Halloween food illustrations, because I can’t help it. They won’t have big long stories, but I’ll throw in a few fun facts for your consideration… The first in our series is Count Chocula.

1) First of all, his name is Alfred. Count Alfred Chocula. So the next time someone asks you if you know any Alfreds, you can say yes! (Finally.)

2) The cereal is 33% sugar by weight, which is just about the same as me. 

3) The summer after my freshman year in college, I lived in someone’s closet, and my fondest memories are of sitting in there upon my air mattress reading books, listening to tunes, and eating Count Chocula by the fistful. (I lived near a corner store that sold delightfully out-of-date merchandise.)

I could go on and on, but these are supposed to be short, and I’d rather hear your thoughts on the Count. Chime in with some Chocula love if you dare. 🧛🍫

Corned Beef Hash

There’s nothing like leftovers for breakfast…

Corned beef hash does what the best recipes do. It stretches food for longer, serves more people, and wastes nothing. You know how some people like leftovers better than the original meal? Well, corned beef hash is leftovers. From a New England Boiled Dinner, of all things. See, hacher is French for “to chop,” and that’s how you make hash. You chop your leftovers. And fry ‘em.

The New England Boiled Dinner has Irish immigrant roots. But not in the “corned beef came from Ireland” way that you might expect. Corned beef WAS made in Ireland, as a cheap export of questionable quality. And as cheap as it was, most Irish could never afford to eat it. But after the Great Famine (caused by the potato blight in 1845) Irish immigrants came to the US, and made enough money to be able to afford corned beef occasionally.

And where did they get this corned beef? Well, in NYC, it came from Kosher butchers, of course! Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe were making high quality corned beef brisket, and Irish immigrants were buying it, boiling it with potatoes and cabbage, and making hash out of the leftovers.

The ideal hash ratio is 1 part potatoes to 1 part beef, but you have to assume that most hash consumed by the poor had a lot more tater and a lot less meat. But it was delicious. And it spread across the US. And today they sell it in a can. Don’t worry, it’s still leftovers, but of industrial food production instead of your home kitchen. Waste not, want not!

Quaker Oats

A canister of oats sits under a shining sun, flanked by oat stalks. The smiling quaker fellow denotes quality.

Some thoughts on oats…

If you say, “Oats are a boring thing to draw!” you should read on…

The man in quaker garb was chosen to denote quality. This was especially important at a time (late 1800’s) when there was no federal regulation on food purity. With adulteration de rigueur, few products were what they claimed to be. Quaker Oats were, like, oats. And they still are. Oats.

For a time, Quaker Oates used the slogan: “It’s the right thing to do.” Which seems more like a commandment than a breakfast option. Also, Quaker hired Wilford Brimley. The ultimate oat-pusher. A million memes were born.

The empty canister is, and always has been, for storing treasures.