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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Happy Associations

Do you find yourself using certain brands for the pleasant associations you have with them?  It's not a matter of cost or, necessarily, quality, it's just what you've always done.

Last night, as I was making a batch of chocolate chip cookies, I took a look at all of the ingredients laid out before me...  C & H Sugar, brown (in the box, not the bag) and white (in that jolly pink and blue bag), Gold Medal All-Purpose Unbleached Flour, Morton Salt, Schilling/McCormick Vanilla and, finally, Nestle Chocolate Chips.  I realized that these were the very same brands I've always used and also the same products my mom always had. 

C & H, for example, was the only real sugar, not that awful beet sugar.  Using brown sugar meant getting a little spoonful all to myself.  It could also be mixed with awful tasting medicine to make it more palatable. Those peppy commercials set in Hawaii with all the happy islanders singing about sugar really sealed the deal...  I can't imagine using anything else, now.

My favorite cookie cookbook, Betty Crocker's 1963 Cooky Book, always specified Gold Medal All Purpose Flour.  Nothing in that book could possibly be wrong.  I spent a lot of time looking through that spiral bound tome as a child (I still do, from time to time, as do my own kids), so there was ample opportunity for me to be indoctrinated in the importance of that gold medal (although I still don't know where this medal came from, or why flour of all things, would win one...  is there a grain Olympics going on somewhere?). 

I also recall being allowed to smell the vanilla bottle each time it was opened, a real thrill when you're four or five.  Of course, it never tasted at all like it smelled, and it was hard to reconcile that sweet aroma with the bitter, burning liquid in the brown bottle.  Even today, I still smell vanilla each time I use it.

Finally, and most importantly - the chocolate chips.  Unlike my daughter, who sometimes needs chocolate - any chocolate, I don't ever feel the need to snack on chocolate chips.  In fact, on their own, I don't even really like them.  But!  Each time I tear open that familiar yellow bag and smell that chocolatey smell, I have to snag a couple.  No other bag of chocolate chips smells or tastes as good.

There are so many things that I find myself using today because of their happy associations and because I know exactly what I am going to get each time I use it.  I'd take a Hershey Bar or See's Candy over any other eating chocolate, and for baking there's only Baker's Unsweetened Chocolate in my book.  I am sure there are equally good or, maybe, even better choices, but I'll probably never know.

So, what's the point of all this, and how does it relate to being Dapper and Dreamy?  Well, I think it's Dapper and Dreamy to carry on the old, and often best, tried and true way of doing things.  Nostalgia and a healthy appreciation for the past and the good memories we have of it are definitely Dapper and Dreamy qualities.  It's also interesting to stop for a moment and look at what we are doing and ask why we do it a certain way.  Perhaps your mom or dad or grandmother taught you how to do something and, to this day, you do it the very same way.  If you give it a little thought, each time you perform some basic act, it's like a little nod to that special person and what they meant to you.  Pass those traditions on so that, one day, those people that think you are special can have little, daily appreciations of you.

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