I was born on the early side of the mid-nineteen fifties. My older brothers (6 and 7 years my senior) often threw it up to me that they didn’t have TV when they were little. But I did and I loved it. I loved Captain Kangaroo, Josie Carey, Palladin, Opie, The Guiding Light, Lucy (I cried when Lucy and Desi got divorced), Ozzie and Harriet, and Beaver. Later, the Jetsons explained the space age in terms I understood.
I grew up thinking that fruit came in cans. Fruit cocktail was my favorite fruit. My mother made a concoction of creme cheese, fruit cocktail and sugar. It was heavenly. If food did not come in a can, it came in a box. Usually the box contained a waxy bag of powder that when reconstituted with some water made a luscious meal or dessert. JELLO was haute cuisine in middle America in the 50’s and 60’s. JELLO could become Perfection, Sunshine or Ambrosia. That’s just how heavenly it was and regarded by every church auxilliary in town.
We all had freezers full of white paper wrapped slabs of freezer burned meat. Some lucky folks had TV dinners in theirs and got to watch TV while they ate from their pre-formed foil trays. They even had special sets of little metal folding tables for this purpose. We weren’t so progressive. Dinner was at 6 and you had to sit at the table or not food for you!
My mother liked to drink coffee. She had a percolator that she had purchased with S&H green stamps but it was only used when company came from far away. Her everyday coffee was powdered and known as instant coffee. Hot water, a heaping spoonful of the powder and a few stirs yielded a watery semblance of coffee. Adding milk must have made it palatable.
Somewhere in the sixties, Lipton Soup unveiled a freeze dried Chickenless Chicken Noodle Soup stocked with a week’s supply of sodium. It was so good. When I reached college age, I became a special fan because when it is paired with a Sprite and some saltines any hangover was guaranteed history. A Nobel Prize in medicine should go to Mr Lipton and his soup.
In those days, I preferred TANG as my drink of choice. The astronauts drank TANG so it was good enough for me. Sometimes I tried to sit upside down and drink it like they were doing as they orbited the earth. Thank God the chair was Naugahide (artificial leather)and could be easily wiped off with a paper towel as the sippy cup had not yet been invented. Not sure why that took so long.
Our junk food was mostly some fake form. Candy came powdered too. Pixie stix were straws filled with artificially flavored powdered sugar. In the sixties, Pringles and Pop Tarts were hi-tech culinary inventions that allowed you to “safely” toast a pastry in the toaster and eat potato chips from a can. Even today, I have a preference to the fake flavor of strawberry and banana over the “real” taste. Our food world was farm-chem lab-to table.
Our larger lives were filled with a faker form of real. Andy Warhol and other Pop Artists were busy created a new visual world reflective not of reality but a weird representation of their imaginations. Those teen years brought us aluminum Christmas trees illuminated with a tri-colored rotating spot light. Some genius engineered the padded bra , paper dresses and platform shoes and a brilliant chemist formulated All Set in such a strong long-lasting hold that your flip lasted all day (may be all week).
All of this early artificialness, prepared the boomers for the onslaught of technology that affronted us in the 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s. Our intelligence is as much artificially fueled that IBM’s Watson seems more like a brother than a robot. I’d like to give Watson a fizzie.