Thursday, February 14, 2008

Jelly Baby Archaeology




In the Summer of 1985, I was studying at Oxford, and by chance was wearing a dark grey polyester suit jacket I had bought earlier that year in a thrift shop for a buck. (The kind of dumpster-dive thrift shops that no longer exist.) I think I wore that jacket that entire year, and it collected various extraneous objects - a tuft of wool from a sheep, a little bell from a Scottish woman I adored, a star-shaped pin of Baby Lenin. All these are still in the pockets. Along with the remnants of an orange Jelly Baby, put in the left hand pocket one afternoon in Oxford. It was half eaten. A girl named Jane bit off the lower extremities, pronounced it revolting and put it in my pocket, where it has remained for the past 23 years. Recovering it from my closet was a kind of archaeological experiment - how long can such food last? Not that I would consider eating it, but if you look closely, you can see Jelly Baby is still smiling.






8 comments:

The Old Foodie said...

Didn't someone do a study once that found that women who had children were most likely to bite the heads off jelly babies? Sounds like it would be likely, dont you think?

Ken Albala said...

Hmm? Can there possibly be some logic to which end you bite off? What would that have to do with having children? I shutter to think.

Funny thing about this is Americans have no idea what Jelly Babies are. The only place I know that sells them is World Market which carries exotic goods from around the world which have fallen off the back of a truck.

Ellie Barczak said...

I've had such similar experience! for those of us nibblers, I think it occurs more than we would like to admit!

I loved your bit on Splendid Table recently. I'm very intrigued by the sociology of food and culinary traditions. What other foods have you researched besides the lovely legume?

Miss Vegetable of Stockton said...

Well well, Mr. Albala, you write just like you talk...I love that. Too much about meat...I mean, come on! You tempted me once, but never again. I know, never say never...

Ken Albala said...

Miss Vegetable, Have I tempted you with meat? When was this?? Ken

Rachel said...

Hi Ken,

Occurs to me that until recently (well a few hundred years ago), people would have thought the everlasting jelly baby was wonderful, up there with ever lasting gold, sugar, ghee, spices. A hint of eternity.
Rachel

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