Thursday, October 22, 2009

Keeping Tab on Some Old Brands

Many of the brands of my youth are gone, lost presumably to changing tastes and perhaps a better informed public.

I used to wash my hair with a shampoo called Body on Tap. It was made with actual beer, which was supposed to be good for your hair. I haven’t seen Body on Tap for years. If it were still around, you’d probably have to keep it locked up in a liquor cabinet. The FDA also might frown upon beer being promoted as a cure for a bad hair day.

Tab, the original diet soda, is still around, but not as popular as it once was. As it turns out, people apparently prefer diet sodas that don’t taste like cough syrup and include warnings about dying lab rats on the side. Imagine that.

I loved Fun Dip, which is basically what you get when you empty a jillion Pixie Sticks into a mountain of sugary dust and then shovel it in with a spoon, also made of sugar. To the best of my knowledge, the packaging wasn’t made of sugar, but it should have been.

We weren’t much for moderation in those days. Charles Chips used to arrive at my doorstep in the equivalent of an oil drum. Charles Chips might still be around somewhere, but I’m certain they don’t come in oil drums anymore.

The bottom line is we’ve probably gotten too smart for suspect additives, mountains of unrefined sugar, gargantuan sizes and alcohol-infused household products. Or maybe the lawyers just smartened up. Either way, these are positive developments.

Nevertheless, I can’t help but have an occasional yearning for one of the most heinous -- yet delicious -- salty snacks of my youth. It was called Bacums. As I recall, Bacums were basically bacon-flavored potato chips. Each chip looked like a miniature slice of bacon. If they were around today, you’d probably confuse Bacums for dog treats. But if Bacums are for dogs, then slap a collar on me and call me Spike. I loved Bacums. I ate them every day. At my high school, you couldn’t find a warm vegetable for a hundred miles, but you could always find a bag of Bacums.

I don’t remember ever giving up Bacums. Luckily, the changing snack food market saved me from myself. But I won’t lie. If I could find one last bag of Bacums, I’d eat them right now, washing them down with a Tab, of course, just for old-time’s sake.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Let’s Shake On It

It seems like an epidemic is breaking out. It’s not H1N1, although it may be closely related. It’s a condition I’ll call handshakeicitis.

There have always been a few suffers … those who turn to Purell at slightest possibility of an open palm. But their ranks are growing rapidly since the swine flu if my experiences are any indication. In the last few weeks alone, I’ve met two victims.

First, I approached my son’s teacher at a recent open house, extending a friendly hand. She ducked aside as if I had brandished a gun. “I can’t shake your hand,” she explained. “My allergies are acting up.”

A few days later, I ran into an acquaintance at a restaurant. My hand sprung into action like a GI Joe with karate action. Once again, handshakeinteruptus. Just like the teacher, he said he was under the weather and didn’t want to spread germs.

If that’s the case, I should be thankful. But I can’t help but wonder if these people are protecting themselves from me instead of me from them!

I’m not unsympathetic. After all, I’m a hypochondriac from way back. WebMD used to be among my favorite Web sites. I don’t even want to talk about the great diabetes scare of the 80s. Yet, when it comes to handshakes, I forge fearlessly ahead. The extravert prevails over the germaphobe, hands down, so to speak.

Whether it’s fair or not, I can’t help but feel rejected by those unrequited handshakes. It leaves me hollow, like a guy with a bad pickup line on Ladies Night.

Dr. Keith Ablow of Fox News says it OK to shake hands, even with the swine flu threat. He says we need human touch now more than ever. So follow my lead. Get a grip! Don’t be afraid of a hearty handshake.