Column: New combinations of foods won’t include these suggestions

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 23, 2002

&uot;Put de lime in de coconut, drink ’em bot’ togeder, put de lime in de coconut, den you feel better.&uot; &045; Harry Nilsson, &uot;Coconut,&uot; 1971

It’s funny how recipes work. You take a bunch of ingredients in varying amounts, mix them together and hope it turns into something edible. This has to be a trial-and-error system. Inevitably, some combinations are not going to succeed.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups serve as a good example of a product that does work. Some time ago, the company had a series of television commercials featuring two people, one eating a candy bar and the other eating a jar of peanut butter. They, or at least their respective snacks, would collide and they would bicker over which one of them had desecrated the other’s snack. In the middle of their debate, they would pause to taste their snacks anyway, and always found them tasty.

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This wouldn’t work with just any two products. What if they had been eating beef jerky and honey? Would they call the end product Beef Honey? It could be even worse. A banana and a jar of mayonnaise would probably result in Mayonnana. For some reason, I picture both of those products collecting dust in the clearance cart.

Combinations like this pop up in luncheon meat, too. You can buy sliced ham dotted with things like cheese or olives. You can even buy whatever that patchwork gelled meat thing is that looks like the salami equivalent of plywood. All of those products continue to sell, so somebody must be eating them. Luncheon meat embedded with fried eggs might be a hard sell, though. I can’t see mothers sending the kids off to school with a Ham and Egg Loaf sandwich.

Speaking of sandwiches, for years it has been possible to buy peanut butter and jelly in the same jar. Although I have never tried it, I see the logic behind the product. Buying one product saves time, space and money. It kind of makes me wonder if they’ll try the same thing with other products. Salt and pepper in the same shaker wouldn’t be a bad idea. Who knows? Perhaps they’ll put ketchup and mustard in the same bottle and call it Must Up.

Strangely enough, the produce aisle of the grocery store features some odd food combinations. It used to be the one place in the supermarket where you could safely assume all the products were natural, aside from pesticides and growth-accelerating chemicals. Now we have selections that didn’t even exist a few years ago.

God stocked the earth with all the fruits and vegetables He thought we’d ever need, but apparently, Old MacDonald became bored with our selection and decided to introduce a few genetic mutations of his own.

One of those is the tangelo, a tasty, easy-to-peel cross between a tangerine and an orange, I think. However, the hybrid that made me scratch my head was broccoflower, which is exactly what it sounds like &045; a cross between broccoli and cauliflower. I can’t figure out the logic on this one. I suppose somebody wanted to come up with yet another vegetable for kids to refuse to eat. As long as we’re crossbreeding produce, why not concoct some plumatoes, carrobeets or asparagrapes?

On the subject of produce, have you ever noticed how well some fruits go with gelatin? Mandarin orange slices go well with orange gelatin. Fruit cocktail goes well with cherry gelatin if you want to make a fruit salad. I’ve even seen people eat lime gelatin with thin strips of celery and carrots in it. But, like everything else, there are some combinations that just wouldn’t work. There’s probably a very good reason why nobody has a recipe for grape gelatin filled with cream style corn.

And according to the suggestions I’ve made in my column this week, there’s also probably a very good reason why I don’t have a career in product development.

Dustin Petersen is an Albert Lea resident. His column appears Mondays.