Thursday, January 27, 2011

Before Starbucks | Sanka Decaffeinated Coffee

I was lucky to grow up having two doting grandmas. Although they differed in their child-rearing ways, they loved me. However, my maternal grandma had no problem serving me a delicious cup of milky, watered-down Sanka. My paternal grandma didn't believe small children should be drinking coffee. She sternly told me so during a visit when she asked what I'd like to drink and my reply was, "Coffee with milk and sugar please."

When I was five, we lived with my maternal grandparents while my folks looked for a house in the town my mother grew up in. I felt so grown up sipping my coffee and watching the morning news with my grandparents while my folks were running errands or getting ready for work. Sometimes I even prepared my coffee all by myself. I'd take the small orange Sanka packet and carefully tear it and watch the dark crystals collect at the bottom of my cup. Grandma would pour the hot water. I'd watch as the water magically turn a deep, dark brown. We added lots of milk and a spoonful of white sugar (before the days of Equal, Splenda, Sugar in the Raw and Stevia).

Today, I still enjoy a hot cup of coffee, but thanks to my husband's obsession with the bolder the better, I can only drink dark and bold blends of coffee. However, a part of me longs for that little orange packet. Sanka was weak and today is no longer part of my morning routine. Though strong are the memories of the old house on Corona that stay with me always.   

Five Facts About Sanka Coffee

1. Sanka was 97% caffeine free.
2. Sanka was first marketed in the US in 1923.
3. Sanka was first served exclusively in two Sanka brand coffee houses in New York.
4. Sanka was a sponsor of I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show in the fifties and sixties. 
5. Coffee pots with orange handles can be found in diners all over America. Orange continues to symbolize "Decaf" because of our association with Sanka's orange packaging.

Sanka is still available and sold under the Maxwell House brand. Find it here at Walmart.

View old Sanka commercials here:
Check out a very young Facts of Life Charlotte Rae in the above commercial.

*The above blog post does not reflect a connection with the Sanka brand or advertising in any way.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Grandma, Bob Ross & Happy Trees

Bob Ross painting
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you may recall stories of my childhood. My parents both worked full-time. After school, my younger brother and I would stay with Grandma until our parents came home. Grandma would prepare dinner for Grandpa and fix us our usual snack of tea and toast

With my tea and buttered toast-filled belly, I'd sprawl out on her couch in the basement and drift off to sleep watching Bob Ross and The Joy of Painting. Grandma loved to paint. Much like, Bob, she'd paint beautiful happy trees (Bob Ross coined that term) and landscapes. Today, Grandma suffers from Alzheimer's and has since forgotten how to paint. When I found that out, it was one of the saddest days. 

I remember back in the 1980s and '90s, Grandma loved watching Bob Ross. I recently asked her about him  and just as I suspected, she has forgotten about him. I, of course, haven't. Bob Ross had the most soothing voice. Watching him on YouTube as I write this is making me want to shut my eyes and put my head down on the keyboard. 

I swear, although Bob Ross was a fabulous oil painter, he could have had an amazing career as a hypnotist. Between his relaxing tone and the sound of the paintbrush against the canvas, one could easily pass out in a manner of seconds. I kid you not!

Who is Bob Ross? 

Five Things About Bob Ross

1. Robert Norman Ross was born on October 29, 1942 and passed away on July 4, 1995.
2. Bob was the creator and host of the PBS show The Joy of Painting, which aired between 1983-1994.
3. Bob Ross was a native of Orlando Florida and spent ten years as a records clerk for the US Air Force.
4. Bob Ross died of lymphoma in 1995, sadly he was only 52.
5. He is survived by his brother Jim, his son Steven and his ex-wife, Lydia. 

Bob Ross Painting Happy Trees

Bob Ross Makes Me Sleepy

Monday, January 10, 2011

Parker Lewis Can't Lose | Corin "Corky" Nemec

Corin Nemec as Parker Lewis

A true child of the 1980s/1990s will remember watching the Fox primetime television show, Parker Lewis Can't Lose. This thirty minute show was must-see TV for tweens, teens and college kids. Although I myself was a college freshman, I made sure never to miss an episode.

Strongly influenced by the popularity of 1980s film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Parker Lewis Can't Lose,  aired between September 2, 1990 (1990-09-02) – June 13, 1993 and focused on an extremely lovable, and easy-to-relate to, cast of characters. You either wanted to be one of 'em or date one of 'em. Each week, the sitcom's storyline dealt with the high school kids' trials and tribulations in a hilarious way of course.

Parker Lewis Can't Lose was almost like a cooler, flashier, more mature 1990s version of The Wonder Years. You know me and my crushes, each episode, I couldn't decide which guy I liked more ... cute and slick Parker (Corin "Corky" Nemec) or rocker hottie Michael Patrick 'Mikey' Randall (played by Billy Jayne credited as  Billy Jacoby in Just One of the Guys)

Remember this show? If not, here's a Parker Lewis Can't Lose YouTube clip to rouse your memory.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Mara Hobel in Mommie Dearest | 1981's Scariest Film

1981 was the year of many horror movies. American Werewolf in London, Friday the 13th Part 2, Halloween 2 and more. One horror movie, however, as a little girl one movie really freaked me out that year. Obviously,  Mommie Dearest wasn't meant to be an actual horror movie, but at nine, it was one freakin' scary-ass movie!

Based upon the biographical book written by legendary actress Joan Crawford's adopted daughter, Christina, Mommie Dearest portrays Joan as a raging alcoholic, abusive monster. She straps her adopted son Christopher to the bed every night so he can't escape, makes Christina scrub the floors at 3AM and beats her senselessly with wire hangers because $300 dresses do NOT belong on wire hangers from the dry cleaners.

Mara Hobel as the baby-faced Christina Crawford

Back then, I was captivated by little Christina (actress Mara Hobel) who appeared to be about my age. I feared for her. I cried for her. I wanted to reach into the film, grab her hand and run away with her. I wanted to take her up the safe haven of my bedroom and let her play with my Smurfs and Strawberry Shortcake dolls. I'd bring her a Whatchamacallit candy bar, some Trident, a bologna sandwich and a Hi-C juice box. I'd make it better.

As an adult, I've heard conflicting stories of the Mommie Dearest tales. Some say Christina greatly exaggerated and that Joan was a kind, caring woman who would do anything for her adopted children. We'll never know the truth. However, the movie images still haunt me and remind me of how afraid I was watching a little girl my age getting beaten up.

Where's Mara Hobel Today?
For you 80s trivia fans - Mara Hobel went on to play Charlotte Tilden, an awkward and naive girl on Roseanne.  Researching for this blog post, I learned that, like me, Mara Hobel has gained quite a bit of weight since 1981. She starred as Cynthia, a sassy New York City BBW, in the gay romantic comedy, Broadway Damage. As a chubster, I wanted to high-five her for still doin' her acting thing and I love this line: "Yeah, Dad, I lost a ton of weight, I look like f**cking Kate Moss!" I can't wait to rent the indie film from Netflix. How the heck did this little gem escape my keen indie-movie eye?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Ed McMahon's Star Search - Before American Idol

In the early to mid 1980s I wanted to be a star. I didn't care if that meant I was a singer, dancer or actor. My real dream, however was to be on a sitcom like Silver Spoons so I could hang with Jason Bateman or Growing Pains so I could become Kirk Cameron's girlfriend.

To make that dream come true in the 1980s, you needed to get yourself on Star Search with Ed McMahon. The show had different categories such as comedy, singing and dancing. Judges would give the performers stars. Winner would be brought back for another round and would compete for prize money and basically a chance at stardom - getting their name out there, etc.

Sadly, I never reached the point of knowing exactly how to get myself on Star Search, so no, I was never a contestant. But I did enjoy watching! Star Search first aired in 1983 and ran until 1995 with Ed as the host. The show was resurrected in 2003 with Arsenio Hall introducing the acts. Sadly, the show didn't last very long and only ran for about a year.

In case you're unfamiliar with Star Search, check out the YouTube clips below featuring before-they were famous stars Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. Many celebs got their start on the popular prime time talent show --  Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Countess Vaugh (Moesha) and Alisan Porter (Curly Sue) also appeared on Star Search in addition to many hopefuls who didn't make it big.

Watching Star Search was exciting as a kid. As a celebrity wannabe, I preferred watching the younger performers. The older amateurs bored me.  I wasn't a big fan of Sam Harris who seemed to appear on the show like every week. After each performance, I'd anxiously await hearing Ed McMahon call out the amount of stars each contestant received, "2Cute4U three and a quarter stars."

Do you remember Star Search?

Britney Spears on Star Search

Justin Timberlake on Star Search

Saturday, January 1, 2011

10 Reasons Why 1982 Was The Best Year Ever

Today is the first day of 2011.

For the last 24-hours, I've been bombarded with Facebook updates and Tweets proclaiming 2011 is gonna be the best year ever. Sorry all you silly, hungover hopefuls, this year is probably gonna suck just like 2010, 2009, 2008, etc. If it were up to me ... if I had full control ... we'd be ringing in 1982. 1982 was my year. 1982 was one of the best years ever. Even though it wasn't the year I met my husband, or the year I met Micky Dolenz, or the year I graduated high school or college, it was an amazing year.

1. I was 10! Who wouldn't want to be 10 back in the 80s? Old enough to have fun, but not worry about pimples, boys, weight, makeup, a part-time job, SATs, college, etc.

2. E.T.!  E.T. was the best movie EVER. Remember, I saw it 14 times that year!

3. The best music! The Motels, Hall & Oates, Rick Springfield, etc. Looking over the list of Top 40 songs from 1982, almost every song is awesome. 

4. Politics Shmolitics! I didn't care that Ronald Reagan was president. I was 10, it didn't really affect me.

5. Baby aspirin was still magical! Yes, I know in October, 1982 there was that whole Tylenol scare issue going on, but my mom still let me chew St. Joseph's baby aspirin. Although I cared, I was 10, the Tylenol thing didn't really affect me.

One Day At A Time, awesome show!

6. TV was terrific! Love Boat, One Day At A Time, Alice, Joanie Loves Chachi, Dukes of Hazard, etc. I loved prime time network television. Some of the best TV ever!

7. California Girl! I went to California for the very first time for free! It was my favorite trip ever! My parents had given up our four seats while heading home to New York from Florida one day. We were asked to accommodate a family of four who needed to get on that particular flight. In exchange for giving up our seats, the airline bought us all dinner while we waited for the next flight home. They also gave my parents four free plane tickets to anywhere in the continental US. We went to Universal Studios and Disneyland. We traveled to San Fransisco and LA and even stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

8. Atari! I loved playing what would become timeless classics such as Donkey Kong and Pac-man! Best video games ever!

9. Soooo stylin'! Tiny Jordache bags, ribbon barrettes, feathered clips, hearts, rainbows and 3/4-length jersey shirts with iron-on images were all the rage and I loved it all! Best fashions ever!

10. Recession-proof! In 1982 there was a recession and the unemployment rate reached like 10%. My parents were teachers and their jobs were safe. I was 10, it didn't really affect me. Today, in 2011, I'm no longer 10  and the recession really affects me.


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