Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Poor Lost Soul

A tender plea from the comments section from Jordana Adams:

I know this is sacrilege, but Mr. Terry, will you please explain the exact difference between Cheese Puffs and Cheese Curls? I've led a deprived life (I'm depraved on account of I'm deprived) and I don't know that I've actually had either one.

Well, you know, I thought I had heard it all.

BUT FRIENDS! Do not let the fact that some have not HEARD, and could not have KNOWN, the truth, lead you to deride and mock the poor untaught! This is not the time to belittle or scorn, but rather a time for gentle tutelage, and admonition, and correction.

FOR THE WORLD IS A CONFUSING PLACE, and many times we may see, but not understand the differences between the clean and the unclean, the good and the bad, the crunchy and the puffed.

FOR THIS REASON, let us sit together and learn one from another, and be better able to fight the evil that exists among us.

THE CHEESE CURL is a wonderful concoction produced by cooking enriched corn meal (corn meal, ferrous sulphate, niacin, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin and folic acid) in a subtle blend of one or more of the following vegetable oils: (partially hydrogenated corn, cottonseed, and/or soybean) and gently flavored with a wonderful variety of things such as salt, whey, dehydrated cheddar/blue cheeses (pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), maltodextrin, buttermilk, natural flavors, artificial colors (includes FD&C yellow #6 lake, yellow #6, yellow #5, and yellow #5 lake), disodium phosphate, lactic acid, and artificial flavors.

I urge you to study with great fervor the wonderful Golden Flake Snack Foods site, where you can see this whole miracle of birth unfold before your eyes. From that site, we learn that the uncooked corn material is gently forced by pressure through an extruding machine, called an “Extruding Machine,” into a small, densely compact curl shape. The baby cheese curls are a soft yellow color, and then they are quickly fried in wonderful vegetable oils until they are crisp, crunchy, and hard. Afterwards, the newborn curls are lavishly coated with a cheese mixture called a “slurry.”

After they have been packaged, they are sent to grateful persons all over the world, who understand the wonderful history and special nature of cheese curls.

Some of you may not realize it, but the cheese curl is as old as antiquity. They are mentioned as one of the foods of the gods in both Minoan and Babylonian mythology, and even before written history, cave drawings were made depicting the making and eating of cheese curls by various Neolithic tribes in Spain and France. One of the most exciting recent discoveries was that last year of a Saxon burial ground 55 km east of London in the village of Prittlewell. Among the various jugs, crosses and glass jars was a finely woven linen bag full of cheese curls. Scientist are still conducting test on the curls, but confirm they are still quite good, especially with a Coke.

The cheese curl, once the food of deity and kings, was brought to a grateful and humble humanity during the Industrial Revolution, when steam-powered mills began producing what had once been a labor intensive luxury food. Soon, all of Western Europe had become entranced by the noble and tasty snack, and demand grew to the point of outstripping the ability of even the most dutiful child laborers to produce them. The Great Cheese Curl Panic of 1793 ruined many a speculator, as they bid enormous sums for even a handful of the bright orange edibles.

America’s first cheese curl factory was begun in 1799 in Hoboken, New Jersey, by a Scottish engineer named Thomas Arbuthnott. Arbuthnott, trained at the Glasgow College of the Ironmongery and Machinery Arts, saw opportunity in his newly adopted land, and established what later was to become the largest snack food factory in the world. Arbuthnott developed many innovations in the production of the cheese curl, and helped vault America past her Old World rivals to become a world leader in fried, salted, cheese-flavored snacks.

America’s dominance in cheese curl production was to continue unabated, and to many the cheese curl came to symbolize the greatness of the new republic. It was strong, and individualistic--no two cheese curls are alike, you know--it was a snack food for rugged pioneers, men and women who broke the prairie and built log houses and smelled like smoke most of the time. It has character and spirit and toughness. Theodore Roosevelt often related to interested bystanders that the two things he could not have done without in Cuba were his Krag rifle and his waxed paper bag full of cheese curls.

NOW, you may ask, “What of the cheese puff? Is it not of similar ingredients, and similar hue, and therefore to be considered co-equal?” Truly, it is one of the saddest things in the world to hear when such things are uttered.

The horrifying cheese puff, indeed made of the same ingredients as the curl, was the result of work conducted by a group of Nazi and Soviet scientist in 1940 to develop a battlefield alternative to the Allied product, one that could be manufactured easily and cheaply with available materials and forced labor.

That’s right--the innocuous cheese puff was invented by the godless Nazis and Commies.

After the invasion of Russia, the joint work between the nations ceased, but each brought back the data required to produce the ersatz snack. The secret to the process was found out by British intelligence using the Enigma machine in 1943, which turned out to be baking, rather than frying, the extruded shape.

The puff, so called because of its lightweight construction, at least outwardly seemed to mimic the cheese curl, but was an utter failure due to its inherent flimsiness. Its taste was bland, and it had no redeeming qualities other than that sought by its skulking inventors--namely uniformity. Each puff is the exact same diameter, meant to satisfy each side’s totalitarian outlook toward individuality.

“But,” you ask, “how did such a horror appear on American shores, where millions now pretend to like them?”

As one of the most terrible aftermaths of the conflict, a group of German scientists were spirited out of Soviet occupied territory in 1945 by the U.S. Army in a program called Operation Windshield. The scientists were brought to the United States and teamed with a secret snack food industry group working to develop a cheaper version of the snack to feed livestock. After two years of trials and constant rejection of the feed by every barnyard animal it was ever fed to, the snack food industry sought to recoup its huge losses by repackaging the horrid material as a snack food. FOR HUMANS!

America, still reeling from years of privation and rationing and clamoring for novelty, overlooked the obvious inedibility of the puffs and instead were mesmerized by the whole science-fiction aspect of the stuff. The puffs were seen by many as the future of space food since they were so obviously lightweight and were the color of Tang. Some even suggested they had inherent antigravitational forces that could be used to propel a rocket ship into orbit.

But, we all know better.

Cheese puffs are nothing but a sham and a mockery of cheese snacks in general, and cheese curls in particular. Good, decent, honest, patriotic, hard-working American people don’t put such things in their mouths.

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