Tuesday, June 17, 2008

bringing back memories

You never know what's going to spark a memory.

I found this new Dunkin' Donuts ground coffee for sale at Target yesterday. I bought it because it was considerably cheaper (50%, to be exact) than the Starbucks I normally buy. And I used to like Dunkin' Donuts coffee way back when......

I wanted it to taste right, so in a move totally out of character, I actually followed the directions printed on the bag. It said to use a heaping tablespoon for 6 ounces of water. I measured the 6 ounces of water. I was a bit uncertain about the "heaping' part- summoning my very best judgment, I "heaped", creating a very reasonable-looking mountain of ground coffee on top of the tablespoon. (Being reasonable is not my area of expertise.)

As soon as the 6 ounces of water began to boil, I rushed it off the stove and poured it over the heaping tablespoon of grounds, where it drained slowly through the coffee filter. Then I allowed it to cool slightly.

I wasn't expecting much, so you can imagine my surprise when my first sip of this freshly-brewed coffee summoned long lost images of my mother. She had been a coffee drinker- not to the point of excess, mind you (she was a reasonable woman) but I'd say she used to drink a couple of percolated cups every morning. And on very special occasions she'd have coffee with desert.

I remember the mornings when she'd let me dunk graham cracker sandwiches into her coffee cup. I was preschool aged, and the sandwiches were just 2 stacked crackers with butter in between. I can still picture that long-ago breakfast table, with just the two of us sitting there, sometimes with the morning newspaper spread out, sometimes with her scurrying off to get dressed, leaving me to indulge in her coffee and crackers. It seemed like such a sinful treat.

That coffee wasn't Dunkin' Donuts, however- it was A&P brand. Back then, Dunkin' Donuts coffee had to be purchased at a Dunkin' Donuts store, and there was one within walking distance of the house in which I grew up. It was a big deal for us to go there for coffee and one of their vast assortment of donuts and pastries.

Looking back, I suppose that was my mother's version of decadence- having coffee and a donut at Dunkin' Donuts. (How she spawned a child like me I'll never know.) I was her willing partner in caloric crime, sometimes ingesting multiple fried pastries in one sitting at Dunkin' Donuts' counter. (They were always busy, 24 hours a day, so a booth was unthinkable. We nearly always sat at the counter.) I even had coffee, with lots of rich cream. I enjoyed observing the characters who were fellow customers as well, and the whirling waitresses. Everybody seemed upbeat from their caffeine and sugar highs. My own big sister was a waitress there for a year or so. (She seemed annoyed when my mother and I showed up during her shift, as if we cramped her style.)

Every time I go back for a visit, I have to stop at Dunkin' Donuts on my way out of town, although it does bother me to be there without my mother.

Today's Dunkin' Donuts coffee tasted exactly like it did back then, even though I now drink it black, no donuts. If I try hard enough, maybe I can summon the spirit of my mother, asking me if I have any Half & Half in the fridge, or at least some butter for those graham crackers.......


Priyamvada_K said...

"If I try hard enough, maybe I can summon the spirit of my mother, asking me if I have any Half & Half in the fridge, or at least some butter for those graham crackers......."

Dear Betty,
How we wish and wish for our loved ones. Only place we can look for some traits is in our children.

My father had the amusing habit of asking for a glass of water just before he went to bed. Often, he would go to bed and then remember the water. He would ask one of us kids (usually me) for water, and having had his fill, go to sleep.

Now my daughter does this....wanting water just before going to bed. Sometimes she too calls from her bed, and I take some water to her. Seems to have inherited this from her grandpa.


Betty said...

Dear Priya,

My son has a constant craving for cream, including my mother's favorite Half & Half....I never made the connection before, since he never met her. Now I'm going to look for other reminders...

Thanks for visiting!!!


Loving Annie said...


Laurie said...

MMMMMMMM!! I haven't had a
Dunkin Donut in years! I remember
the comercials for it way back.
I love coffee and could drink it
24/7 I like it black. But, if I
have to have instant I put some
sort of creamer in it.

I loved to smell my grandma when
she had her coffee. She would get
up brush her teeth then get a cup
of coffee. She smelled like mints
and coffee.......I'm going to see
her on a week and a half.

You should try RAVENS BREW. It is
kinda expensive but it is really


Monogram Queen said...

Memories are bittersweet aren't they? Do you remember donuts on a stick with frosting? Maybe that was Mister Donut. We had that and Dunkin' Donuts in PA. Down south it's Krispy Kreme all the way baby.
I love how you remember that special ritual with your Mother.
When we were at the beach one afternoon I was rocking Madison and my sister, her daughter and two grand-daughters were out there also. Madison wanted me to sing to her so my sis and I were going through all of the songs of our childhood we could remember. When she brought up our maternal grandmother "Gram" and how we would all try to crowd on the organ bench with her while she played the organ and how I being the baby would pipe up and sing the loudest.... well we had a cassette tape of her playing and me singing "The Happy Wanderer" and when we tried to sing it I just broke down and sobbed. It is so hard to lose loved ones. I can't imagine losing my Mother. My heart goes out to you Betty.

Jodi said...

What a great story.

Lynilu said...

If only I had a Target to shop at!!

I worked for a short time at DD when my daughter was just a baby, so 38 years ago, and I still remember how good that coffee was! And I wasn't even much of a coffee drinker.

Nice memories! :)

Betty said...

Dear Annie,

It's nice that some things never change, isn't it?


Betty said...

Dear Laurie,

You know, I'm confused about coffee breath. A few weeks ago at work, back when work still existed, somebody told me that a co-worker's bad breath was caused by coffee. "Coffee breath", he called it. I was shocked.

Sounds like "coffee breath" is positive from your perspective.

I will look for Ravens Brew. Then I'll drink it and ask someone to smell my breath.


Betty said...

Dear Patti,

Donuts on a stick with frosting? That tales decadence to a whole new level! I've never encountered such a treat. At least you wouldn't have to worry about your fingers getting sticky!

My maternal grandmother was also "Gram" and I've never heard of anyone else having a "Gram"! What a sweet memory of your long ago loud singing! I can just hear it...



Betty said...

Dear Lynilu,

You know, the funny thing is that while I was typing the word "Target" I actually wondered whether you had one where you live! And sure enough, you don't. Mine is less than a mile from home and The Child would go there twice a day if I'd take him. I imagine that before long he'll be running away from home and I'll be getting phone calls from Target...

Betty said...

Dear Jodi.

Thank you, and thanks also for stopping by!


Big Dave T said...

Dunkin' Donuts was THE original coffee shop, wasn't it? Before Starbucks and all the others.

My mother and father always drank Maxwell House and never instant that I recall. They were (and are) not really big fans of Dunkin' Donuts, preferring the Polish bakeries in town. They don't have those in Ann Arbor though.

Lynilu said...

Betty, there are Targets out here, just none close to me. The nearest one is about 60 miles. Trust me, when I'm in a town that has one, I go nutz!!

Betty said...

Dear Big Dave,

I think maybe you're right, come to think of it, about DD being the original coffee shop. When I picture those long ago days at Dunkin' Donuts, I remember it being all about the people. Now, in Starbucks, it's all about laptops and Blackberries.


Betty said...

Dear Lynilu,

Guess what! I just returned from Target! And from my perspective, it was a highly victorious shopping event! Why? Because I didn't buy anything, even with The cCild in tow! (I love not spending money, but The Child is the opposite.)


Daisy said...

I LOVE Dunkin Donuts coffee. I think it's the best! Far superior to Star Bucks or any of those other foo-foo coffees.

Betty said...

Dear Daisy,

Yep, the flavor of DD coffee is outstanding, in my book!


Anonymous said...