Sweet Memories and Enjoyment
Karen and Jay share thoughts on the many wonderful attributes of pancakes.
Who doesn’t like pancakes? Warm, tasty – maybe with a dose of maple syrup. Perhaps a little butter. Great taste. But as good as that taste is, the pancake breakfast ‘experience’ is what it’s all about. Often on a weekend morning. No time pressure. Family all around. Happy memories. Thinking of those times when your mother made pancakes for you. Maybe your grandmother. While at times there may be issues that divide us, let’s unite on one important note – there is a basic ‘goodness’ inherent in the pancake breakfast.
Just this past week I had the good fortune of having breakfast with a longtime friend and colleague, something I wish I did more often. As always, it’s quite a dilemma figuring out what to order from the menu. I’m sure you have been there as well. Do I choose something healthy or lite. Yogurt, fruit? Or, wow, that omelet looks great, maybe I should get that. While I was looking through the many and varied options, trying to get my mind and my appetite on the same page, a plate of pancakes passed by me, and the decision was made.
Pancakes were one of my favorite breakfast plates growing up as a kid, a love that most definitely has carried into adulthood. There are so many different ways to make and enjoy pancakes. Whether you like them fluffy or light, with blueberries or chocolate chips, doused in maple syrup or simply with a little bit of honey, short stack or a tall stack, there’s an option for everyone. Once my plate arrived, this incredible sense of joy overcame me. Here I was, enjoying breakfast with a close friend and colleague, having a great conversation, all the while eating one of my favorite breakfast meals.
Now you may be thinking, Jay, it’s just breakfast and they’re just pancakes. Yet as I enjoyed my pancakes, a flood of memories that I cherish came back to me, from early years as a kid to more recent times as a dad with family and kids all around the kitchen table. Or, moments like meeting and greeting folks at the local community fundraiser ‘pancake breakfast,’ or when my remembering how my grandmother made her special mini pancakes that she called ‘penny pancakes.’ Oftentimes, when we’re in these moments, we take them for granted, including the simple joys that come with them, like pancakes. However, with each bite, I couldn’t feel more grateful simply for being able to have a moment with a close friend to enjoy something so simple, but which truly made the rest of my day.
In fact, it dawned on me that pancakes in many ways are a metaphor for the simple joys we experience as we make our way through life – those little things that make life enjoyable and even more so worthwhile. And perhaps for you it’s not pancakes, but it’s something else. What’s important though is that we recognize these little moments of joy in the present as we live them. You’ll be surprised at how much more you’ll appreciate each and every day.
Enjoying Pancakes – New Hampshire
If you’re a fellow pancake lover and are ready to dive into the most glorious breakfast food of them all, then I have a few ‘must stop’ spots in the 603 for you to check out.
You see, pancakes play a major role in our state. Local firehouses host pancake breakfasts throughout the year to raise money for local charities and to support equipment needs. Families getting ready to head to the slopes enjoy a plentiful and hot breakfast before taking in a day of New Hampshire enjoyment. Pancakes even play a role in the electoral process. How bout that time that time Republican candidate for President Gary Bauer fell off the stage flipping a pancake during the Bisquick event in New Hampshire? Just for fun, thought you might enjoy taking a look – so, here’s the clip (Gary Bauer Flipping Pancakes, NH Primary 2000). You see, pancakes play a surprisingly prominent part in our breakfast adventures in the Granite State. With this in mind, I encourage you to visit some of the following spots as you travel around New Hampshire.
Up North, you absolutely need to stop in and try Polly’s Pancake Parlor (what a fabulous name!) in Sugar Hill. To get there, drive up 93, take the exit for Franconia, hook a left at the Iron Furnace onto route 117 and at the top of the hill sits the wonder that is Polly’s. For over 80 years, this one-of-a-kind establishment has been serving made-to-order pancakes as people take in amazing – truly breathtaking views. Think I might be exaggerating? They have a live camera on their website - check it out! Polly's View Camera
Two other North Country breakfast spots I enjoy popping into for pancakes are Flapjacks in Lincoln and Priscilla’s in North Conway. Look out for the huge portions and make sure to arrive super hungry!
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the amazing pancakes served up by the Common Man restaurant franchises. The Airport Diner in Manchester and Tilton Diner in (you guessed it, Tilton) serve us fun, creative pancakes for the entire family. Alex Ray and his team do such a great job and dedicate so much time not only in the perfection of their food but in giving back to the community.
Over here on the seacoast, where Karen and I live, you’ve got some super options. In Portsmouth, there are the huge plates and awesome atmosphere at the Friendly Toast along with the Roundabout Diner, and of course the Country View Restaurant in Greenland. And the Airfield Cafe in Hampton – with seating actually right out next to the tarmac. Too bad the directions to these places did not include a “Fork” in the road - ‘a little’ breakfast humor! (very little, actually…)
And as you head over to the western part of the state you gotta stop at the Intervale Farm Pancake House at the entrance to Pat’s Peak Ski Area. Or head into Peterborough and pop into the Peterborough Diner. This historic place allows you to take in the feel of yesterday and yet lets you order online using today’s latest technology! And one of my frequent campaign spots when I was running for Governor is Lindy’s Diner on Gilbo Avenue in Keene. It's a cool vibe with amazing food.
Now, I know I missed a few or let's just say it, a lot of pancake spots. So, I invite you to share your favorite pancake spots on my Facebook page.
As the late Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia said "In a big family the first child is kind of like the first pancake. If it's not perfect, that's okay, there are a lot more coming along.” Enjoy!
Here’s to a fun family breakfast or casual outing enjoying that amazing ‘wonder-food’ - Pancakes!!
Pancake Related Disaster – The Great Boston Molasses Flood
When I was growing up in New England, there was a choice to make when eating pancakes. Maple syrup or molasses on your pancakes? Over time, clearly maple syrup has won that battle. But not so many years ago, molasses had a pretty decent following as a breakfast sweetener.
So when growing up, I came to think of molasses as a relatively positive option. Fairly innocuous, but on balance, a good thing.
With this as background, you can imagine my surprise many years later when I learned about the Great Boston Molasses Flood – truly a disaster caused by, of course, molasses. If you’re not familiar with it, here’s the basic story. On January 15th, 1919, the world was once again at peace as World War I had ended just two short months before. In Boston, it was a lovely, mildly warm January day until an odd liquid mishap left 21 dead and 150 people injured. That liquid? Molasses! Now really, how deadly are molasses?
As you now, molasses are typically thought of as a sweetener for breakfast foods, a staple for ginger desserts, and an alternative to straight sugar. But when the amount of three and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools (approximately 2.3 million gallons) is filled into a 50-foot tall, steel tank that is poorly made, with changing winter temperatures, disaster is inevitable. It turns out that in the early 1900’s, molasses were not primarily used for consumption but for ammunition. During World War I, there was a high demand for industrial alcohol. Molasses, when fermented, can create an ethanol gas - a key element in alcohol and ammunition. Because of the rush for alcohol during wartime, the Purity Distilling Company of Boston (a company owned by the United States Industrial Alcohol Company) assembled the tank to meet the demand but did not do any inspections or follow safety requirements.
Around 12:30 in the afternoon on that fateful day, many Bostonians heard a thunderclap bang as the tank exploded after being filled with a new batch of molasses from the ships in port.
After being mixed in with the colder molasses that had been stored a few days earlier, the pressure of the gas inside the tank increased dramatically and caused it to explode. The molasses erupted creating a tidal wave that flattened the buildings surrounding the tank. At one point, it was estimated that the tidal wave was 25 feet high and moving at an amazing 35 miles per hour.
Unlike water, molasses have a much higher density, and they are far more sticky, so rescuing people in the flood zone was intensely treacherous. The force of the flood caused many people to be swept away in the sticky mess. Thankfully, the explosion happened near the Coast Guard Station, and 116 cadets from the USS Nantucket were the first ones on the scene to pull out survivors.
After the disaster, many looked for answers, and it was rumored the United States Industrial Alcohol Company had accelerated production of the alcohol in order to outrun the inevitable adoption of the 18th Amendment, which enacted the prohibition of “the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” Passage did put the United States Industrial Alcohol Company out of business. Ironically, the Constitutional amendment was ratified the very next day after the disaster.
The cleanup went on for weeks and much of Boston Harbor was brown because of the runoff from the molasses. For years afterward, on hot summer Boston days, the smell of molasses was still present. So, the next time you add molasses to your meal, just take a moment to reflect on this strange chapter in the history of this pleasant sweetener.
Positive Profile of the Week: Hale and Erica Cole-Tucker
This week we are delighted to highlight a very special couple – Hale and Erica Cole-Tucker. The Cole-Tuckers are the purveyors of “Tuckers,” a New England style diner – now with six wonderful locations across the Granite State.
The motto “Good Food, Great People” encapsulates what has been the secret to their success. There is a positive energy, or vibe, that you can feel whenever you enter any one of their restaurants. Be it in Hookset, New London, Dover, Merrimack, Concord – or even their newest restaurant located in Bedford, New Hampshire – there is an immediate feeling of joy and positivity the moment you walk through the door. To get a sense for this great spirit, here’s a video link that captures it beautifully. Please take a quick look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaH4_WoD1l0
This positive approach also translates into the culture that Hale and Erica have created and continue to nurture. The Cole-Tuckers treat their employees as valued team members, as part of an extended family and importantly, truly as business partners. With profit sharing built into their pay, employees are motivated to not just do a good job, but a great one. Not surprisingly this has led to team great satisfaction, enjoyment and loyalty. And, of course from a customer perspective, such a winning approach ensures an outstanding customer experience.
Although Karen and I have enjoyed eating at their restaurants over the years, we first met Hale and Erica back in 2019 when The Sunshine Initiative participated in an awards dinner in Manchester where the Cole-Tuckers were the guests of honor. Their success was being recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration which named them the Small Business of the Year in New Hampshire in 2019.
With an expanding business and the wind clearly at their backs, we hope the 7th “Tuckers” is not too far away. Most importantly, we thank the Cole-Tuckers for their positive energy, their entrepreneurial spirit, and for their wonderful contribution to the quality of life in our Granite State. Thank you, Hale and Erica!
Quotes of the Week: Pancakes
“Give me soft, fluffy pancakes and I can get over anything.”
“I love waking up to Sunday morning pancakes. The whole process of making them, just out in the kitchen together making pancakes on a Sunday morning; that's an experience every girl should have.”
“Pancakes are always good.”
P. J. Tucker
“In a big family the first child is kind of like the first pancake. If it's not perfect, that's OK,” he said. “There are a lot more coming along.”
“The laziest man I ever met put popcorn in his pancakes so they would turn over by themselves.”
W. C. Fields