I think maybe when we were growing up we didn’t have a lot of money. I say “I think” because I don’t remember really thinking about money very much. We got a small allowance, and when I was old enough, I babysat. I remember hoarding my earnings–in fives and singles in those days with maybe the odd ten dollar bill thrown in–in a small music box/treasure chest I had on my dresser. It was a small alpine cottage with log walls. Resin flowers of red and yellow in window boxes. The heavily shingled roof opened, revealing a compartment lined in faux burgundy velvet. I cannot remember what song that music box played. High on a hill lived a lonely goatherd, maybe.
I found a photo of the exact music box on ebay! Oh my goodness, this takes me back. This one is just like the one I used to have! I forgot about the mill wheel–you cranked that to make it play. (You can click on the photo to go to the listing.)
I would carefully fold my earnings so they’d fit, and whenever I added to the stash, I’d unfold all the bills, add the new ones, keeping the ones in front followed by the fives and tens, and then fold the whole stack back up. Jenni Warbucks with her stash of cash in the alpine music box. Looking back, I doubt Daddy Warbucks kept his cash in a music box, but as a kid, I felt wealthy. And I guess if you feel it, you are it. Given that, is it stretching the truth very much to say that as a kid, I had a house full of money?
In a way, maybe it was a good thing that our family wasn’t rolling in cash. I didn’t grow up on a bunch of processed foods the way many children of the 60s and 7os did. No TV dinners, only the very occasional Pop-Tart. We ate Casserole Supreme and vats of homemade spaghetti sauce, baked macaroni and cheese and pot roast. Mom did get us the Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Sandwich cookies for our lunches, but otherwise, she made us sour cream coffee cake, peanut butter cookies and oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies and raisin bars for snacks. Good, wholesome food Mom made us because she could and because they couldn’t afford boxes and bags of manufactured foods.
One of our favorite treats, and one we only had occasionally, was bread, butter and sugar sandwiches. This is not to be confused with cinnamon toast. We also enjoyed that for breakfast on a fairly regular basis. We even had a container with premixed sugar and cinnamon so we could make some whenever the urge struck. To make a perfect bread, butter and sugar sandwich, the bread had to be soft white bread. Our preferred brand was Sunbeam. A swipe of butter and a thorough dusting of sugar, and the sandwich was almost ready for eating. The trick was keeping the sugar from sifting out between the pieces of bread and raining down on the floor or the table before you could get the sandwich to your mouth. Swipes of butter on both sides of the bread and a pretty serious schmoosh before picking it up helped to cement most of the sugar in place. If any managed to find its way to the counter after all of that prep, it just meant that you used enough sugar.
This humble snack was a textural dream. Soft, squishy bread; smooth, cool butter; the crystalline bite of the sugar. A little sweet from the sugar (not as much as you might think, though), a little savory from the salted butter. It really didn’t get much better than that, and eating those sandwiches is still a treasured memory.
UPDATE: No longer just a treasured memory, though still that, it is now a current snack. I went to the store especially to buy Sunbeam bread (success!) and have now enjoyed more of these little guys than is strictly prudent. Salted butter is a must for these. Let it soften, scrape just enough on two slices of bread and sprinkle on the sugar. I promise these aren’t as sweet as they sound. And if you are in need of comfort, a good old bread, butter and sugar sandwich certainly fits the bill.
I’m going to be playing with an updated version of the bread, butter and sugar sandwich, but for now, the original is more than enough for me on this crisp Throwback (Food) Thursday.
Thank you for spending some time with me today. Have you ever had a bread, butter and sugar sandwich? What are some of your treasured childhood snacks? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.
Have a lovely day.