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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Stouffer's Cookies

 Stouffers Logo Until the 21st Century

I could no longer put it off; I had to take my mother shopping.

I had been able to get along since summer by going by myself to the store and buying what she needed, but no longer. She wanted to go to the grocery store and to the drugstore and to the bank. Fortunately, there is a convenient corner with a grocery store and drugstore on one corner, a bank on another corner, another drugstore on another corner, and then on the 4th corner was a Shell gas station and an empty wine store for lease.
I looked forward to a wonderful couple of hours.
At least we were not going to Sam's Club. A foray to Sam's Club, round trip, takes just over 2 hours; 30 minutes driving, parking, and schlepping to the doors - round trip, and 1 1/2 hours wandering about in a daze inside that retail mausoleum.

I believe I have already told the tale of hunting for the exactly right Kit-Kat candy bar in Sam's Club. My mother wandered with her rollator up and down the candy aisle for twenty-plus minutes looking for individually wrapped Kit-Kats. A double Kit-Kat would not do. According to her, they did not taste as good.
The Kit-Kat minis were out, and the much larger sheets of these rather tasty wafer-like chocolaty confections were out.

Of course, Sam's Club did not have the individually wrapped Kit-Kats.
I slouched at one end of the aisle, standing vigil for nothing at all: no one was going to kidnap her, for heaven's sake! She's 94, and a kidnapping would be a bigger disaster than The Ransom of Red Chief ! And if somebody tried to snatch her purse, it is so stuffed that it would probably explode rubber bands and scraps of paper.
There was a lady who was shopping in that aisle, and she had a rather large cast on her leg from a skiing accident, and it was not easy for her to get around.
I asked if she needed any help. She thanked me, and said her own menfolk should be there to help her, blast their eyes!
I eventually told her my story of Kit-Kat woe, and we both looked far down the aisle at my mother holding a candy package in her grip, eyes darting back and forth, up and down the stacks of candy, tossing packages back into the stacks, pushing her rollator across the aisle to a better fishing spot.

The lady with the cast said sometimes it doesn't get any better, but you will miss them when they're gone.
I said, "Hmmmmm........." and let it drift off.

Well, this day there was a sale on Stouffer's cookies.
Stouffers had been around for years. We used to go to their restaurants in Detroit when I was a kid, and we still buy frozen foods from them.

When we got into the drugstore, we wandered around for a bit while my mother acclimatized herself.
"Who buys these things?"
"Why does oatmeal help your skin?"
"Do you think they have any Halloween candy left?"

Since this was about a month after Halloween, I went to the clearance table and found a minute bag of candy corn and other sugar grub. It was candy corn she craved.
"You know, if we had bought this just before Halloween, we probably could have gotten quite a bit for you."

She said nothing. Last Christmas she said she could not find Russell Stover's marshmallow chocolate eggs anywhere.
"Stores don't sell 'em any more!" she said.

I asked how many, she said all I could get, but "they" don't carry 'em anymore!

I bought her 18 dozen. She has 7 dozen still in the freezer. Her taste for things changes rapidly, so this year I won't buy as many.

So, back to Rite-Aid and the cookies.
At first we went to the food section and found cookies. She looked at them for a while. I did not see anything Christmassy, so went in search of a Holiday section of the store. I found the cookies, and went back to get her at the food section, where she stood analyzing the situation.
"I have come to the conclusion these are your standard, run-of-the-mill cookies... Christmas cookies should be elsewhere."

"Indeed, they are," I said, and steered her to the holiday cookie section and away from the run-of-the-mill section.

There we found the cookies were not Stouffer's, but rather Stauffer's.

I pointed this out to her.

"No," she said. "That's right. That's the way you spell it."

I goggled. "It's pronounced Stowww-fers, not Stō-fers. The "au" in German is "owww", not "ō"."

"Who says it's German," she responded. "German, Shmerman."
"Shmerman?!" I said to myself.

So I did this whole long spiel about going to Stouffer's with my parents, and all the Stouffer's things we had done in my youth. I asked her if she remembered my parents... you know, like her and my dad... going to the restaurant.... going to Stouffer's with the name spelled out twenty feet high.

"That's how I always spelled it all my life," she said. "S-t-a-u..."

I offered to bet her a thousand dollars, but she did not want to take my money from me.
So I took out the list of groceries she had written for our trip. There in a good-sized, clear hand was written "Stouffer's cookies".
It was "S-t-o". Just look at the two logos here; the cursive "o" connects from the top, the "a" from the bottom. Her "o" was connected on the top.

I waved the list. She said that her hand shakes when she writes.

When we went to check out, she asked the man at the counter about it.
"These cookies, are they Stouffer's?"
"No, ma'am," he said. "They're Stauffers", pronouncing it St-ow-ferz.

"Is that the same Stouffer's as the restaurant people?" She pronounced it Stō-fers
"No, ma'am. They're different"
She thought for a split second.
"Do you think that Stouffer's could have been recently purchased and this a new spelling?"
"No, ma'am. I doubt it."

She said no more about it.
Later I told her that I admired the way she just makes this stuff up on the spot. Instead of admitting she was wrong, she will attempt to create a seamless alternate history to make things consonant with her take of things. She will even tell outrageous falsehoods, like saying she spelled the word "Stau..." all of her life, when it is obviously "Stou", and this was back in the day when we all knew how to read cursive. It isn't even close to an "a".

I told her she was still as smart as a whip if she could create such tall-tales on the spot.

She smiled and said no more.


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