Many minis mean many more munchies

Standby snack foods have been reinventing themselves as “minis” in hopes of appealing to a new generation of consumers. Hostess down-sized Ding Dongs, Doritos ran all the chips through the dryer and Trix dehydrated every last cereal ball.

Naturally, you ask, “Does a smaller-size product come with a smaller price?”

Don’t be ridiculous. It is the principle of “less for more.”

I added a few of the new minis on a grocery pickup to have a taste see. The usual lineup of food tasters eagerly assisted.

Dorito minis were immediately pronounced “adorable” by young tasters. Isn’t adorable the first thing you want in food?

“How would you like your steak? Rare, medium or adorable?”

Adorable! I’ll take adorable.

Doritos minis are adorable—tiny triangles about the size of a quarter, packaged in what appears to be a Pringles can plastered with a Doritos label. Many minis were broken. It’s like eating a can of crumbs. The good news is a serving of minis is 39 chips (or 178 crumbs).

Tell you what – send me your empty Pringles cans, I’ll recover them with appropriate labels, fill them with crumbs from our full-size Doritos bags, and charge three times what they do at the store.

“Honey! I think our ship has finally come in.”

Honey is not listening; he is contemplating the mini Hostess snacks. Downsized Ding Dongs are now Bouncers.

Hearing the name Bouncers, a 4-year-old grabs one and slams it on the countertop. It tumbles, falls over the edge and rolls a remarkable distance on the kitchen floor.

“It doesn’t bounce—it rolls!” she squeals.

Note to self: Call Hostess and tell them Bouncers should be called Rollers.

Mini is not new. Mini Nilla Wafers predate flip phones. Instead of eating smaller cookies and consuming less, what did cooks do? Used them as crusts for mini cheesecakes.


Mini chocolate chips have been on shelves for years as well. They are great in cookies and desserts but slip through your fingers if you eat them out of your hand. I’m not saying I do that; I’ve just heard others complain about it.

Truthfully, I fully embrace the mini concept. In order to “mini”mize my time in the kitchen, I’ve tried pulling off mini meals as full meals ever since the kids left home.

“Dinner’s on,” I tell my better half.

“The salad looks good,” he says, glancing around the kitchen. “Is there more?”

“Salad is the dinner,” I say cheerfully.

His face does not say adorable; his face says disappointment.

I’ve even applied the mini principle to baking cookies, using a small-size cookie scoop. I get mixed reviews on this one.

“I love these, Grandma,” a little voice says. “They’re perfect for a tea party with dolls.”

Someone else, wielding a cookie in each hand, asks if the Seven Dwarfs are coming for a visit.

“No, but if they do, I’ll be prepared.”

Size the food mini or maxi, the magic is always the same – now you see it; now you don’t.”

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Words you can never take back

Our son called the other day and said, “Do you remember what you always used to tell me when I was growing up?”

My mother’s heart nearly pounded out of my chest. This was unbelievable. He actually remembers something I used to say. This is a lifetime high in a mother’s life because when you are in the active stage of mothering you are pretty sure every single thing you say goes in one ear and other—like a wind tunnel.

My only hope was that the wind tunnel would occasionally fritz out and something would stick. I didn’t care what. Something. Anything.

Now here he is, 41, married, father of five, gainfully employed, making a FaceTime call that keeps breaking up to ask if I remember what I used to tell him all the time as a kid.

Tissue, please. Oh, just give me the whole box.

If only someone else was in the room to witness this.

What was it he remembers? What was it I used to tell him over and over?

I used to say, “Muddy boots stay in the garage.”

“When I say, take a shower, I mean take a shower, don’t just run the water and make me think you’re taking a shower!”

“No more live snakes from the creek in the aquarium.”

“Open a door for a woman, even if she smacks you.”

“Choose your friends wisely.”

“As you grow older, the less you answer to us and the more you answer to God.”

He was trying to show me something with the camera, but the call kept breaking up.

He hung up, called back and the signal finally held.

“What was it I used to tell you?” I asked.

“Remember? You used to say if I could catch it, I could keep it,” he replied.

It was ringing a bell. Actually, it was setting off alarms.

I did often say, “If you can catch it, you can keep it.”

Just as there are indoor dogs and outdoor dogs, there are indoor boys and outdoor boys. He was an outdoor boy. He chased rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, deer, wild turkeys and I cheered him on, “If you can catch it, you can keep it!” The boy stayed outdoors for hours at a time, sometimes even days, running his heart out, chasing wildlife.

He was exhilarated thinking he could bring home any animal he could catch, and I enjoyed knowing he had no chance of catching a wild animal with his bare hands.

“Well, it finally happened,” he says, panning the camera down to a tiny gray squirrel nestled in his gloved hand.

It was a little guy with big beady eyes and a fluffy gray tail, gnawing on a nut it held with its teeny tiny paws. It was adorable. It also had fleas which is why he said he had to hang up to give it a flea bath.

The baby had been abandoned and couldn’t have fallen into better hands.

The entire family took turns adoring Chip for an afternoon, then Chip was taken to a wildlife sanctuary the next day.  It was good they were able to part with him before they made a bed for him in the house and set a plate for him at the dinner table.

It was a short dream, but a dream come true. It may have been a dream come true for the squirrel, too. The sanctuary he went to is named “Utopia.”

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Fretting over waistbands is a stretch

The verdict is still out on whether this is good news or bad news, but many of the pants for women this season have wide elastic waistbands.

The part of me that loves big family dinners, Saturday morning donut runs and summer cookouts with barbecue and potato salad says, “Yeah baby! Let’s do this!”

Another part of me, the part that doesn’t just step over the bathroom scale but actually on top of it from time to time, says, “Whoa, Momma!”

For me, wide elastic waistbands say, “Go ahead, have seconds.”

Sometimes they say even crazier things like, “Have another dessert,” or “Ask for whipped cream.”

Clothes were meant to be a safeguard. And not just against overexposure. Pants with zippers, and waistbands with buttons and snaps, serve as a physical, and sometimes uncomfortable, reminder that the calories are mounting.

If my waistband doesn’t remind me, who will?

I’ve long owned pants with a wide elastic waistband—they’re workout pants. In theory, they are for bending, stretching, exercising, walking and running, something more vigorous than sitting at the kitchen table with a bowl of ice cream. Although, they work well for that, too.

But now we are encroaching on an era when comfy, stretchy workout-style pants become everyday pants—although by different names.

There are dress pants labeled “solid loose.” It sounds like an oxymoron, but you don’t have to define it, you just have to wear it.

Then there’s the “endless pant,” which is dubious no matter how you frame it. Or stretch it.

Then there are “air essentials.” I guess those would be pants that breathe in and out with you and require oxygen masks should your plane nosedive.

There is also a continuum ranging from “relaxed waistband” to “loose waistband.” Like the chicken or the egg, who knows which came first.

“Pull-on business casual” pants are also touted as the latest thing. Our youngest granddaughters wear pull-on pants. They’re very happy and easy-going. They are also 5. Maybe everyday pull-on pants would improve my mood.

The most puzzling is the “Spanx stretch twill.”

It almost sounds comfortable, which is ironic because in the early days Spanx was never comfortable. Spanx was painful. Spanx originated as ladies shapewear in the form of a small tube of industrial strength spandex strong enough to catapult a space shuttle to Mars. A woman squeezing herself into a Spanx was similar to a Polar bear squeezing itself through the PVC pipe beneath your kitchen sink.

I was the first to advocate that Spanx come with a caution from the Surgeon General: “Warning: Spanx may cause shortness of breath, lightheadedness, heartburn and the feeling that you are being sliced in two directly beneath the rib cage.”

Now even Spanx has gone comfortable stretch. I guess they loosened up over the years. Haven’t we all.

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Grace that sometimes seems too good to be true

There were three things our friend Dan loved (besides his wife): a good steak, a good beer and prison.

Dan was a big guy, East Coast with a booming voice, a doctorate in sociology and a law degree. He settled in the Pacific Northwest and lived two blocks from where we lived.

After we moved back to the Midwest, Dan would fly his small plane cross country to D.C. on business a couple times of year, stopping in flyover country to refuel and spend the night.

The small Oregon town he still lived in wasn’t big on red meat, so whenever Dan came to Indianapolis he insisted on taking us out to some of the best steakhouses.

We did not object.

We’d be seated at a fine restaurant, breaking into a warm loaf of bread or enjoying salads, when Dan would boom, “Did I tell you I’ve been to prison again?”

Inevitably, this got the attention of surrounding tables and all the servers. For the rest of the evening, we would have marvelous attentive service.

Dan used to joke that, as a lawyer, after he put men in prison, then he’d go share his faith with them. He did, and far more. He helped with legal matters, transitioning back into communities and securing employment.

The last time we saw Dan, he wanted to tell us about a prisoner with whom he’d been working.

“No,” I said. “I don’t want to know.”

The stories behind the prisoners were often grisly.

Perturbed, he pounded the table, raised his voice another decibel and said, “What? You think God can’t save a guy who did something unthinkable?”

In the ensuing silence, I realized our friend wasn’t just asking about a guy in prison, he was asking about himself, me, everyone in the entire world who has ever crossed a line big or small. It was a test of theology: Can the arms of God ever fall short?

He asked for the same reason I sometimes ask myself—because there are simply days when grace seems too good to be true.

I said, “No, Dan. God can save anybody. He can save a guy in prison; He can save me and He can save you.”

He relented on the details of the crime because I’d leveled the playing field.

The truth is, we were all once sealed behind a wall of wrongdoing. Then on a Good Friday, long ago, that wall was broken down when Jesus Christ died on the cross, was buried and three days later rose again.

This week, Christians around the world celebrate that empty tomb, the life that conquered death, shattered the wall of separation, and set all of us prisoners free.

Dan quit flying and stayed close to home as his wife battled cancer. She was a dear friend from my early mom years. She was a fighter, but the cancer won. One  month after she died, Dan died at home, suddenly and unexpectedly. They’ll be celebrating, too. Not in this world, but in the next, the one far beyond human reach and imagination.

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