A Glimpse Into The Time Before Morsels: A Recipe, A Realization, A Research Project

Maybe you know this already and I’m the last to know, but I’m going to tell you my story anyhow.

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I HAPPENED UPON A WRAPPER from a Nestlé Semi-Sweet chocolate product [see photo immediately above].

I found it among the recipes that my mother had saved, filed loosely in an old notebook. The recipes, ranging from the 1940s to the 1990s, are from her mother and newspapers clippings and friends and packaging. No rhyme or reason to them, just saved.

My best guess is the wrapper is from the early 1940s. It intrigued me.

After glancing at the front I looked on the back at the recipe. I skimmed the recipe and it initially looked about the same as any chocolate chip cookie recipe you’d see today.

The copy on the wrapper states that it’s THE ORIGINAL Toll House Chocolate Cookie recipe created by Ruth Wakefield of Whitman, MA. And it could be. However the current Nestlé website says that this recipe, a recipe that differs in one significant way, is the original Toll House Cookie Recipe.

You see, it wasn’t until I turned the package over again and looked closely at the front that I realized this WASN’T a package for Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate morsels [chips] that we have today. It WAS for a bar of chocolate that was to be cut into “pieces the size of a pea” by the person making the cookies.

As in if you want chips of chocolate in your cookies, do it yourself, darling [see photo immediately below].

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I HAD A DUH! MOMENT because I’d no idea that chocolate chips had not always existed, which is a rather lame thing to say. Obviously someone invented them. They don’t fall from the heavens above fully formed, now do they?

After a bit of research I discovered that chocolate chips were originally a kind of molasses chocolate-coated candy made popular in the early 1890s by Kauffmanns of Pittsburgh, PA. In 1897 a court case involving the use of the trademarked name “Trowbridge Chocolate Chips” also described chocolate chips as being molasses chocolate-coated candy.

However by the 1930s as Wakefield’s recipe grew in popularity the term *chocolate chip* morphed from being a kind of candy into being an ingredient in cookies, so much so that by the early 1940s Toll House cookies were often referred to as chocolate chip cookies.

Seeing an opportunity for increased sales, in 1940 Nestlé started making and selling manufactured chocolate chips that they called ‘morsels.’ This was in addition to the semi-sweet chocolate bars for which they were known.

So with that short history lesson on what I’d call the primary ingredient in Toll House Cookies, I’ll end this post by asking you:

Did you know there was a time when you created your own chocolate chips [aka morsels] to put in your cookies?

What do you call cookies that have chocolate chips [aka morsels] in them: Toll House Cookies or Chocolate Chip Cookies?

And more to the point, made any of them lately?

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SOURCES:

A Brief History of the Chocolate Chip via Mental Floss

Chocolate Chip Cookies Chip versus Morsel via New England Recipes

The First “Chocolate Chip” Was a Molasses Candy via Smithsonian Magazine

Who Baked the First Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie? via Chowhound

Let’s Connect: That Which Motivates + A List Of Who’s Doing What

{Image courtesy of geralt | Pixabay}

I’VE HEARD IT SAID THAT people use social media either for affirmation or for information. This is said as if the two motivations are mutually exclusive, but I don’t think they are. I’d suggest that there is a continuum with affirmation on one end and information on the other.

We each fall somewhere along the continuum, depending on the social media we’re using and our mood that day.

I suspect that people probably don’t stop to analyze what their motivations are when they check their FB account, or Linked In account, or Twitter account, or Instagram account. The whole process has become habitual rather than intentional.

Or at least most of the time.

I know that I mindlessly pop onto IG to see what’s up. I’m not looking for much of anything other than a way to pass a few minutes, pleasantly. While there I might experience 20% affirmation [someone liked my photo] and 80% information [photos of new decks, for instance].

I can tell you those percentages in retrospect, but I don’t plan my motivations and how my experience will unfold before I visit the website. Do you?

ANYHOW THAT’S WHAT’S FLOATING AROUND in my head this morning. Nothing controversial. Nothing profound. Nothing humorous. Just a few thoughts about social media, something we seem to take for granted now.

And when did that happen? I cannot remember a life without social media, can you?

All of which brings me to the following informational list of ongoing [mostly] blogging challenges & prompts. It’s not meant to be an exhaustive list of all that is out there on the WWW. Instead it features bloggers, who in addition to creating challenges & prompts, have connected with me via comments.

[Thank you]

For clarity I’ve stated the names of the bloggers alphabetically using first names, shared a link to their blogs, then added whatever details I could find about what they’re doing.

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A LIST OF WHO’S DOING WHAT

Amanda at the blog Something to Ponder About has Friendly Friday

Cee of the blog Cee’s Photo Challenges has Flower of the Day (FOTD) Challenge

Dan at the blog No Facilities has Thursday Doors

David at the blog Fiction Can Be Fun and Deb at the blog Debs Despatches have Insecure Writer’s Support Group [@TheIWSG and #IWSG on Twitter]

Deb at the blog The Widow Badass Blog and Donna at the blog Retirement Reflections are starting What’s On Your Plate [#whatsonyourplateblogchallenge on IG]

Isa-Lee Wolf at the blog A Bit To Read has Ten Word Photo Prompt [example of her prompt] [#TENWORD on Twitter]

John at the blog The Sound of One Hand Typing has Go stand in the corner! and is part of the A to Z Blogging Challenge [#AtoZChallenge on Twitter]

Junie-Jesh at the blog The Jesh Studio has All Seasons [example of her post]

Linda at the blog Linda G. Hill has One-Liner Wednesday [#1linerWeds] and Stream of Consciousness Saturday [#SoCS]

Marian at the blog Marian Allen, Author Lady has A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU [example of her prompt]

Mary at the blog Mary J Melange and Susan Scott at the blog Garden of Eden Blog are part of We Are The World Blogfest [#WATWB]

Melanie at the blog sparksfromacombustiblemind has Share Your World [example of her questions]

Natalie at the blog Natalie The Explorer has Weekend Coffee Share

Paula at the blog Light Motifs II had some fun prompts, but her blog is under construction at the moment so stay tuned

Su Leslie at the blog Zimmerbitch has Virtual Afternoon Tea [example of a post] [#virtualteaparty2021 on IG]

Terri at the blog Second Wind Leisure Perspectives has Sunday Stills Photography Challenge

Trent at the blog Trent’s World has The Weekly Smile [#WeeklySmile on Twitter]

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A Dilemma: To Cliché Or Not To Cliché, That Is The Question

I think that this resource, Cliché Finder, could be useful for writers. 

A cliché, as defined by the New Oxford American Dictionary, is: “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.” More information about clichés here: 50+ Examples of Cliches: Meaning and Origin & Definition and Examples of Cliches.

I’ve nothing against most clichés I suppose. I’m too easygoing to run around snarking about the use of them, BUT when writing something it’s good to learn/confirm that you’re using a cliché. And that is precisely what the free online Cliché Finder does for you.

For instance, even though I’m mellow yellow about most trite overused phrases I vehemently dislike one particular cliché: “thinking outside the box.” It’s so old I’m sure Moses used it. Adam probably used it before him just to annoy Eve. 

That’s how old it is. Quite rightly.

But thanks to Cliché Finder, I know for sure not to use my disliked cliché so that my writing is fresh and original, not stale and antiquated– because that would not do.

Anyhow, as a way of showing you how the Cliché Finder works, I wrote the following scintillating little flash fiction story, popped it into the Cliché Finder that told me I’d used SIX* overworked phrases.

Bad me. 😁

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

What’s your least favorite cliché? You know, the one that makes you stop listening to what someone is saying or to stop reading what is in front of you. We all have one, don’t we?

[Extra credit to anyone who gets the Donovan reference.]

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* The six clichés are: old as the hills, think outside the box, read between the lines, matter of time, busy as a bee, writing on the wall.

A March Mélange: Googly Eyes, Passing Grades, and Snazzy Socks

I bugged out of blogging last week.

I didn’t mean to neglect you, my gentle readers, but it was a spontaneous decision on Monday morning. I wanted to finish my online self-directed college class and decided to just do it, get all the reading, research, and writing over with. It took me a few hours every day causing my eyes to blur and spin in my head, but I finished the class a few weeks early, earning a passing grade of 93%.

And that, as they say, is that.

It was fascinating to see lectures, read assignments, do homework, and write a research paper again. It took me outside of my usual thinking patterns, so the mental challenge was a good one. For winter. During a pandemic.

Was it worth it? Will I do it again? That is, take another online university class with homework?

Welp, I’m going to say probably NO.

I didn’t hate being a student, but I didn’t love it either. Fortunately I understood the subject matter [history learned through the interconnections among antique objects and academic disciplines in a museum] but I vehemently disliked the computer user interface for this online course. It was clunky and awkward, visually cluttered– and there were typos and inconsistencies that bothered me, a writer.

The mediocre system made every assignment a struggle and as such sucked the fun out of this whole adventure in higher education. No matter really. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

In fact, continuing on with the idea of something gained, much to my delight while in the process of researching my final paper I stumbled on the word SNAZZY used in an advertisement in the current Vermont Country Store catalogue. Don’t ask how I ended up there, but I did and it was worth it.

Yes siree kids, it’s my all-time favorite word spotted in the wild.

In this case the best word ever is used to describe mild-compression support socks. Granted the topic of socks had nothing to do with the project I was working on and I don’t think I need these particular ones, but I am getting older so maybe I do and just don’t know it yet.

Anyhoo, that’s where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing. And you? Whatcha been doing?

Spill the beans in the comments below. Missed ‘ya. Mean it.

Applying A Business Framework To This Personal Blog To Tell A Tale

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Above is the Rudolph Framework. It’s from marketing guru + author Ann Handley’s newsletter called Total Annarchy. The framework is a lighthearted take on the Christmas song and children’s book, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

The Rudolph Framework “helps you understand the actual problem you and your business solve for your customers– not the one you *think* you solve.” Click HERE to be taken to her fun explanation of this framework.

While the Rudolph Framework is meant to help a business clarify its purpose, it’s applicable to personal blogs. It’s easy to conceptualize a personal blog as a business. As such the blog provides customers [that’d be you] with a product [my blog posts] that solve a problem for you.

I know that I’m getting abstract here, but I have a tale to tell and I feel the need to explain how I came by it, lest you think I’m nuts. Which I probably am, but let’s not dwell on that, shall we?

Just go with it.

Thus using the Rudolph Framework I give you the following story created by moi by filling in the blanks, occasionally adjusting a few words so that it makes more sense. See what you think.

In fact, should you like to fly your freak flag, you could get jiggy and try applying the Rudolph Framework to your own blog, even. I’d love to see what you come up with. ‘Cuz, you know, I’m nosy curious.

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THE TALE OF THE SPECTACLED BEAN AND THE COMMUNITY IT HAS CREATED

Once upon a time, there was a delightful personal blog called The Spectacled Bean.

It had the capacity to be a catalyst for conversation based on the tales, thoughts, and tribulations of a free spirit in suburbia.

Some people doubted it because it was not all about the benjamins.

But one day, the woman who writes the blog realized she was perfectly happy doing what she was doing in the way she was doing it.

Which meant that the blog could be as varied and wonderfully idiosyncratic as the cool kids who read and comment on it.

To help them have sense of belonging online where they are understood and accepted, as long they’re polite and not spammers and not stealing my content.

And that matters because the cool kids are the heroes of this blog and what make The Spectacled Bean fun and engaging.

Thus in the process, this blog has helped coalesce a community of articulate + good-natured lurkers, readers, and cool kids who have the savvy to know a good thing when they read it.

Everyone gets a kiss. And a big ‘ole thank you.

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