Where Have You Gone Joe DiMaggio?

Craving some edible nostalgia, I wandered and re-wandered the aisles of my local grocery store this weekend, wondering if they still make Shake n' Bake. That's right, Shake n' Bake chicken, a dish that in my memory I think we had at least once a week growing up. The tradition anchors Sn'B in my mind as a kiddie dish only, like alphabet soup or pancakes stamped with Hello Kitty. Reassuring and simple comfort food. However, if I was eating it every week, then my parents were consuming it too. Adults. So why not have it as an adult myself?

But where do they keep the Shake n' Bake these days? I could only find McCormick's "Bag n' Season" which seems to fancy itself as Sn'B's more sophisticated older brother. Not the same, especially since you can toss vegetables into the Bn'S bag and you actually put the chicken and vegetables in a plastic bag (sprinkling on the seasoning, not shaking), and put it in a pan, in the oven. I wonder who had the job testing the flammability of different proposed plastic bags.

It might have been easier to find dear old friend Sn'B through Peapod. A rite of passage for the snow-bound Chicago resident appears to be this home-delivery grocery service. Actual snow on the ground is not required, it could just be darn cold, like it has been for about a week. Through Peapod we can shop online and the groceries arrive the next day. Rather than aimless wandering --during which I incidentally encountered someone begging for change...our neighborhood's a sometimes uncomfortable mix of yuppie and needy-- I can type "Shake n Bake" into a search box and if Kraft still makes it, I'll have it carried up the three flights to my apartment door within 24 hours. Which seems to highlight in greater definition the contrast between yuppie and needy: Going to the food store for money, versus having the food store come to you, because you have money. Complex, troublesome dilemmas that never crossed my mind when I was eating Sn'B.

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