Thursday, May 28, 2015

This 'n That Thursdays: Things This Baby Boomer Remembers from Childhood

From Baby Boomer

Recently I read an article called "14 Things Every Baby Boomer Will Remember from Childhood".  While I, as a baby boomer, did remember pretty much everything on this list, some of them were not especially integral to my childhood (Howdy Doody was a little passé by the time my siblings and I came along, and while I fondly recall my Etch A Sketch, I had never heard of the Sketch-O-Matic).  I decided it would be fun to put together my own personal list of baby boomer mental memorabilia, and I actually learned two things from this list.  First, we played with a lot of very creative, if rather low-tech, toys.  And second, we ate a lot of pretty unhealthy foods!  Here is my list:

From The Imaginary World

1) Pop-Tarts - introduced by the Kellogg Company in 1964, Pop-Tarts were the epitome of a very sugar-heavy breakfast trend during the baby boomer years.  Our family favorite was of course the brown sugar-cinnamon flavor, which did not even pretend to be healthy with a fruit-flavored filling like all the rest (a chocolate version was not available until much later).

From Suede and Chrome

2) Banana Bikes (aka Wheelie Bikes) - only my baby brother, the youngest in the family, had one of these as the fad came later in my childhood.  I don't think I ever rode his bike, but I do remember that it was sparkle purple with high rise handlebars that may even have had tassels, like the very patriotic one above.

From The Baby Boomer eMuseum

3) Carnation Instant Breakfast - another breakfast food loaded with sugar!  These drinks debuted in 1964 and were meant to be timesavers for busy families (and are still marketed as such today under the name of Carnatian Breakfast Drinks), but I never found them very satisfying.  I still prefer something solid rather than liquid for breakfast.

From eBay

4) Matchbox vehicles - long before Mattel came out with their flashy Hot Wheels cars, Matchbox vehicles were extremely popular.  Even I owned one, a tiny yellow front end loader similar to the one shown above.  I had a lot of fun with that little toy, and could conveniently carry it everywhere with me in my small purse (even to church, which my parents pointedly overlooked as it kept me from fidgeting in the pews).

From The Baby Boomer eMuseum

5) Pillsbury Funny Face Drink Mixes - what a surprise, another sugary drink!  To be fair, the mix itself did not contain any sugar.  Instead, copious amounts of the sweet stuff had to be added with water to make the colored powder drinkable.  This mix was introduced in 1964, and was Pillsbury's answer to the ubiquitous Kool-Aid.  The cute fruit cartoon characters quickly made the beverage very popular with kids (we were so easily swayed by smart advertising back then, and undoubtedly are still sadly susceptible now).

From Ruby Lane

6) Chatty Cathy doll (1959 to 1965) - I had one of these dolls, and I did not even like dolls (frankly, they creep me out)!  Chatty Cathy had a ring and string contraption on the back of her neck that, when pulled, caused her to randomly prattle off one of 11 different inane comments.  Talking dolls were still a novelty back then, so of course every little girl had to have one, and apparently this doll was second only to Barbie (more on her later) in popularity.

From West Side High School Class of 1959

7) Tang - oh yes, believe it or not yet another sugary beverage from my childhood!  First introduced in 1959, Tang sales did not really take off until John Glenn's space flight in 1962, where Tang was on the menu.  The powdered drink mix has been associated with the space program ever since, even though one astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, stated rather bluntly that "Tang sucks"!  Fortunately, my mother seemed to feel the same way, and we did not have this drink in our house for very long.

From Today

8) Easy-Bake Oven - this toy was quite the sensation when it first came on the market in 1963.  I received one of the earliest models (like the one above) for Christmas.  The oven came with some packaged cake and cookie mixes proportioned to fit in the included pans.  I was too young to really enjoy baking, however, and my mother was reluctant to spend the extra money on more of the mixes, so this toy did not get much use by me.  Even so, the Easy-Bake Oven is still in production and has undergone many transformations, including the replacement of incandescent light bulbs as the heat source.

From Peter Hirschberg

9) Space Food Sticks - these convenience snacks were created in the late 1960s based on a type of small food cube that was consumed by astronaut Scott Carpenter on one of his space flights.  They were touted as being a nutritious energy snack, and were probably one of the first energy bars ever made.  I remember them as tasting like slightly sweet cardboard and not being especially satisfying, so needless to say these "treats" did not become a staple in our house.


10) Silly Putty - Silly Putty has been around for a long time (it was first sold in toy form in 1949) and remains popular to this day.  I loved playing with this strange moldable substance when I was a child, and in particular I recall that you could transfer images from newsprint onto the putty simply by pressing it on the paper.  We would then pull the putty into all sorts of shapes to distort the image, which provided hours of fun (we were so easily amused back in the day)!

From Found in Mom's Basement

11) Banquet Frozen Pot Pies - most baby boomers grew up with frozen TV dinners, but my mother rarely served them.  Mom was not averse to buying frozen pot pies, however, especially when they were on sale at four for a dollar, so we frequently had these meals-in-a-crust for dinner on Saturday nights, when my dad worked late and did not eat at home.  The beef pot pie was not very good, but the chicken and turkey versions were decent.  Since my mother was not a baker, this was about the only time we got to eat pie crust, and we loved it!

Barbie (left) from Barbie, Fashion Icon of the 60's;
Tressy (right) from And Then We All Had Tea

12) Barbie (1959) and Tressy (1963) dolls - almost every female baby boomer had a Barbie doll, and I was no exception.  My Barbie had a very pale blonde bubble cut hairstyle, similar to the one above.  So many little girls my age were obsessed with their Barbie dolls, sometimes owning more than one, and of course there was a vast array of outfits available for these dolls, not to mention sewing patterns for those whose mothers were gifted with that skill.  Everyone had to have a carrying case for their doll(s), but when Barbie houses, cars, and other outlandish accessories came on the market, many parents began to balk at the excessive expense!

For some reason my parents decided that my sister should have a Tressy doll instead a Barbie.  Tressy's claim to fame was that you could push a button on her back and make her hair longer or shorter.  This hair could be styled in many different ways, which my sister enjoyed (her doll had very pretty auburn-colored hair).  While she claims it never bothered her having a Tressy instead of a Barbie doll, I do have to wonder if my sister wasn't at least a little bit scarred for life by this experience!


The list could go on and on, but I think it best that I stop with these 12 items from my childhood.  While it has been a lot of fun, I have been strolling down memory lane a little too much lately.  I promise to return to the present day soon, after just one more nostalgic post next week!

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