Welfare Cookies

by kfrego

This post is primarily about food, but a little history comes with the boxes and cans. During the 1950’s and 1960’s the elected officials in our country at all levels of government were very careful to protect their public images. Sales of influence, lobbyist transactions, and corporate money exchanges always took place out of the public’s view. The voters and the populace in general would never condone such actions. Our food was effected by these practices because of these back room dealings. The congress received lots of money and donations from the farm and dairy lobby. The congress couldn’t return government money directly to them, but they could buy huge amounts of their products at inflated prices with government money. The politicians called it a food bank. The food banks bought horrendous amounts of food to pay political debts. Some of  this food eventually got distributed to the military, schools, and for federal welfare programs. As crooked as the deal was, some of the food was excellent.

Many people in the areas around Lyon Mountain and Merrill, NY received welfare and/or food assistance each month. The families who didn’t get food assistance would often trade goods or foods with those who did. The brick welfare cheese came in a plain box. The processed cheese was a blend of popular cheeses. Everybody liked this cheese. It made great grilled cheese sandwiches and baked cheese dishes. You couldn’t buy this cheese in a grocery store. It was an upscale Velveeta.

The welfare peanut butter came in a large tin can. It would sometimes separate during shipment with the oil on top and the solids on the bottom. A vigorous stirring would restore its consistency. This peanut butter had a coarse texture compared to store bought processed peanut butters. The flavor of this peanut butter was in a class of it’s own. A warm piece of homemade bread with real butter and welfare peanut butter was one of my all time favorite foods. The peanut butter cans had a cookie recipe printed on them. The “welfare peanut butter cookies” were a staple in everybody’s house. Many people bake them regularly today. I doubt they are the exact same cookie without the welfare peanut butter, but still good. My senses can smell those cookies in a warm kitchen while I’m writing.

Other welfare foods included beef or pork canned in natural juices, instant non-fat milk, butter, and other foods. The meats weren’t bad. The butter was excellent.

I liked the beef and pork too……………never did get thirsty enough to drink the dry non-fat milk.