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In The Zone . .Emotional Chaos . ..Number 9. . .September 11


Emotional Chaos
Weekly Column by Brian Codagnone


Every week, usually on Thursday (or, to the Mailman, "don't mess with me today or I'll shred you like the forests that died to make these stupid brochures" day), we get a thick packet of store flyers, discount coupons, promos for vinyl siding, cellular phones, pre-arranged funerals, etc. To avoid the hernia, I flip through the pile to get the brochure from my local supermarket, a Stop and Shop that's close, convenient, clean, open 24 hours and hasn't been raided by the FDA, INS, INTERPOL or "60 Minutes". Recently, I was downstairs looking for next week's specials when I spied a flyer for a "discount food store" (name withheld, but possible slogan: "We can't send it to the Third World, so we pass the savings along to you!"). It's located in a building abandoned (Sorry, I mean vacated) by Stop and Shop, in a largely abandoned shopping center that would make a fine setting for a Stephen King book. I've never been in this fine establishment, but I'm tempted to run right down after reading their flyer. What struck me right away was the lack of recognizable brand names on their merchandise. No generics or even Sun Glory here. Here are some of the brand names:

Wylwood canned vegetables
J. Huggs potato chips
Ginger Evans brownie mix
Portmann's salad dressing
Hargis House chili with beans
Crisp orange juice
Kaskey's soup
Panner peanut butter
Fairgrounds lunch meat
Fairgrounds meat hot dogs
Home Churned soft spread (some kind of margarine product)
Country Crossings American singles (some kind of cheese food)
Cagles party wings (some sort of bird product)
and (I swear I'm not making this up) Bubba cola

What are these, southern brands that even Food Lion ("As seen on all the major TV news magazines!") couldn't sell? Keep in mind, the Fairgrounds meat hot dogs sell for 49 cents for a 12 oz. package. If my math serves me, that works out to 65 cents a pound. I shudder to think what kind of "meat" they contain for that price. But in these economic times, when you thought feeding a family on $20.00 a week was a distant dream, I can just see the scene around the dinner table:

Husband: "MMM, honey! This "meat" is delicious! And best of all, the dog stopped begging at the table! He just cringes in the corner!"

Wife: "Thanks, dear! And at 65 cents a pound, we can eat like Lorenzo de Medici EVERY day!"
One of 2.3 children: "Can I have some Ginger Evans brownies with J. Huggs potato chips, Mom?"

Wife: "Finish your soft spread and party wings first, Timmy!"

"Which is which?"

Husband: "Damned if I know, Timmy, damned if I know!"

Everyone (except the dog, who's still cringing) "Ha ha ha ha ha!!!"

Ah, good, wholesome family times! And, with the money you save, Spam won't be only for Christmas! And speaking of Spam (and it's competitor, Treet) how many of us remember the days when Mom could feed the family Spam Loaf an' Mexicorn (They'll think you slaved for hours! But all you did was put an unnaturally large lump of Spam in a casserole and spread some adulterated corn on it! Those martinis at the bridge club went down easy that afternoon, knowing your family would eat hearty!), TV Dinners (in pre-microwave metal trays), instant potatoes or rennet custard (if you don't know what "rennet" is, you're better off, trust me) without fear of a visit from Social Services? In those days, if it didn't shimmer, glow, have an "O" in it or come in a convenient package, it just wasn't "hep". America was WAY too busy to cook! Dad was climbing the gray flannel ladder, Junior and Sis were studying day and night to stay ahead of the Russkies and Mom, well, okay, Mom was still hanging around the house, but she just didn't want to waste time cooking the old fashioned way! Fast, convenient, artificial and misspelled, THAT was the modern way!

Husband: "MMM, honey! This Spam Loaf an' Mexicorn is delicious! I'll bet you slaved all day!"

Wife: "Thanks, dear! It only LOOKS complicated! I was able to make dinner, do the laundry, make Junior a new Scout uniform, knit the dog a new bed, help Sis with her Home Ec project and STILL have time to dry clean all your pipe cleaners!"

Junior: "Can I have some Treet, Neek, Faab and Bliiz, Mom?"

Wife: "Finish your Bleet and Sack O' Sacchrine first, Junior!"

"Junior: "Which is which?"

Husband: "Damned if I know, Junior, damned if I know!"

Everyone: "Ha ha ha ha ha!!!"

Sis: "How come I don't have any lines?"

"Hell's Chili" would be a good title for the Stephen King book. I reserve first dibs on the screenplay.






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©2003 Brian Codagnone
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Surf Our Site

Home ... Misfits . Rafferty .. . S1019 .. . Star Crossed....
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Ginger & Shadow. ..Writer's Block.. ..Cool Links . ..More Cool Links .
Oddities ..Link To Us... Guest Comics . Online Store..
In The Zone. ..Number 9. . .September 11