We don't eat a lot of Shake n Bake in this household, but a few nights ago, I used the last pouch in this four-pouch package. I was about to drop the empty box into the trash when something stopped me a sense that I was throwing out something of value. I paused, confused, and beheld the package, as wheels began to turn and memories unfolded. I remembered the day I bought it, and the odd shape of it, because it wouldn't fit snugly beside the other Shake n Bake boxes on the shelf.
And then I recalled why we had bought it.
Our youngest son has always been an extremely picky eater. He will not eat fruit or vegetables, or any kind of unprocessed meat. He likes pizza, hot dogs, eggs, milk, fruit juice, pasta, bread and cereal. Chicken nuggets, with their many varieties and shapes, are an entire food group.
(And don't give me any of that "If he was MY kid" crap. He revealed these dislikes to us at 18 months, when there was no reasoning with him, and they've been an uninvited guest at our dinner table ever since.)
Years ago, we were successful for a time in transitioning him from nuggets to real chicken, by slicing breast meat into little circles (and strips, for variety), and cooking them lightly in Shake n Bake. Thrilled at this breakthrough, we bought the bulk package of Shake n Bake, and used a bit at a time, taping the pouch shut to keep it fresh. Which is why the contents lasted so long.
But he eventually lost interest in our homemade chicken nuggets, and refused to eat them. The grainy texture of real meat just turns him off (I would happily pronounce him vegetarian, except that would require eating vegetables, which he doesn't). The box of Shake n Bake was pushed to the back of the shelf, and slowly buried beneath the brown rice, stale crackers and other pantry deposits.
That boy is now 14,' I thought, turning the box in my hand. He's a young man now. How frickin' old is this box anyhow?'
It took a while, but I found the date of manufacture under one of the flaps the second month of 2003. It's almost six years old. Boy was eight years old when this was new.
Since then, we built a new house, taking shelter in the motor home for a month because the house wasn't ready in time. I worked at another PR agency in 2003, and have since started two new business ventures of my own. Both boys have grown from scrapping siblings to strapping young men, and there are too many memories to recount here.
The old Shake n Bake was there for it all.
Strange, but that box touched me somehow, in the split second before I threw it away, its packet of memories begging to be downloaded before being cast aside.
But cast it aside I did, after snapping a picture and writing this little piece. I have a tendency to keep pretty much anything that triggers a memory remind me to show you my basement some day but I draw the line at conserving household waste.
And, yes, we did eat the last pouch of Shake n Bake that day. It tasted great, and no sign of food poisoning.
NOTE: This is a departure for Meeker on Media blog content. I won't generate items like this very often, of course. The question is, do they have a place here at all? (Perhaps on a weekend?) I wrote this initially as a facebook item, but it turned into something different. Blogs, by their nature, are more personal in form and content, but the theme I've established here is quite narrow. Do you like an occasional departure like this, or do you prefer hard-core media stuff all the time? Comments are welcome.