As I bought my first box of cracker jacks in probably ten years, I suddenly found myself wishing for the prize that I always hoped for when I was little — a temporary tattoo. Something that disturbs me is that today, all my 1st grade daughter ever seems to receive as an incentive at her public school is a temporary tattoo. She even won a temporary tattoo for academics. She’s winning tattoos for doing well in school.
You know, it was significant when I would discover this hidden treasure in my caramel popcorn box, like finding a secret that I was meant to keep between my candy and my flesh. Often, I would sneak behind the house to put it on because my parents were kind of unsure about the whole thing. The potential for a Cracker Jack temporary tattoo, which averaged at about a one-in-ten chance, even unfairly weighed my purchasing decission for Cracker Jacks over much more delicious candy selections. I’m not trying to side with the whole California law suit against McDonald’s “Happy Meals” with that observation, I’m just telling it like it was.
Now, today my daughter is getting temporary tattoos distributed to her by her teachers in school as an academic or behavioral reward. Some of these same teachers are simultaneously trying to conceal their own permanent tramp stamps. How’s that for scholastic irony?
But today is National Caramel Popcorn Day, and today it became clear to me that there’s a reason we stop eating Cracker Jacks as we get older. It’s because they’re not great. They’re dry, synthetically sweet, and a little bit stale. But, today I also realized that Cracker Jacks are not all that bad when you put them up against home-made caramel popcorn because it turns out that this mess takes a little bit of knack to make at home!
What I learned, first and foremost today is, if there is a typo in the recipe you’re using that makes one of the steps completely confusing, don’t guess at the meaning, just find a different recipe.
It’s not a complete bust, though. I’m actually kind of impressed that I learned how to make caramel tonight. That in and of itself is worth its weight in margarine. Should you try this home-made caramel popcorn thing yourself, I recommend an oversized paper bag. I’m pretty sure I used one that was absolutely too small.
See you Saturday for National Coffee Cake Day!