Where have the peach pickles gone? Some things you can’t get these days


As I browsed the aisles of my local grocery store the other day, it occurred to me that there are some random things we just can’t get anymore. The store ran out of sausages one day. No Jimmy Dean, no Holifield Farms, no Bob Evans or Johnsonville. The sausage was no longer there. Are the pigs on vacation or lying down because the government is paying them not to get killed? What’s up without a sausage?

For two weeks, there have been no more small Co-Colas. I’m talking now about what was once a 6½ ounce Coca Cola in the iconic Mae West bottle. I think they hold 8 ounces now. Thinner glass. But they haven’t been in my store for a few weeks. No soda crackers either. These are saltines, I guess, for the younger generation.

As I was doing tsk-tsk and shaking my head about these shortages, my mind has wondered over the years about the things we used to have as staples that somewhere along of the line, seemed to be out of fashion.

Pickles with sun peaches. Mom used to put a jar on the table every night at supper and I had one with everything we had. For the first 25 years of our marriage, my lovely wife Lisa kept this tradition alive – at my insistence, I might add. These disappeared from grocery store shelves several years ago, replaced for a time by spicy peaches, which just weren’t the same product. I remember asking a store clerk about the absence when it first happened.

“It’s a seasonal product,” was the response. The problem was, when I asked, “Which season?” the clerk had no idea.

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Speaking of soda crackers, does anyone remember when they were kept cool in large tins? I don’t think anyone cooks with lard anymore either. Once upon a time, I was working on a cookbook with the owners of the iconic Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle. I was there almost every day and my waistline was showing it at the end of summer.

I was sitting with Louis Van Dyke, the esteemed owner, one afternoon and a lady came out and started bragging to Louis about her fried chicken, which was, indeed, tasty. The lady asked Louis for his secret to producing such an amazing fried bird and he revealed that he had “cooked it in lard”.

The lady frowned, raised her nose and said, “Why, that’s not healthy, is it? “

Louis, who weighed north of 400 pounds, smiled at him and said, “I eat it every day.”

But there is no lard in my house. I don’t even think we have Crisco and I can’t tell you the last time Lisa fried chicken for supper.

There are also candies that seemed to have disappeared from existence. I loved the big oatmeal cookies that came in the bright orange bag. It was the only orange I had ever allowed in my house. I haven’t seen any for a while. I haven’t seen any chocolate coated graham crackers either, come to think of it.

I wonder how a company decides they’re just going to stop producing a well-loved product. Guess it has to do with finances, but I can’t imagine everyone stopping eating peach pickles or oatmeal cookies at the same time. I know the health police have taken aim at lard, which is good because people are way too busy to take the time to fry a real chicken, anyway.

Did you know they no longer make Jello Pudding Pops? I don’t know if Bill Cosby took the recipe with him to jail or what, but he’s out now so maybe they could bring them back.

I think the last time someone cooked liver and onions at home was in 1978. I’m not complaining. I wouldn’t eat it if someone served it to me and the smell fouled the whole kitchen, but it was a staple once a month when I was little.

And when was the last time someone served you gelatin salad with a fruit cocktail? You can have the liver and onions, but I could still enjoy a good frozen salad.

Guess we just didn’t know how good we had it before. I wonder what foods today’s young generation will be nostalgic for 20 years from now. Pizza stuffed in slices?

Sigh. What I wouldn’t give for a Swanson dinner on TV.

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