A Brief History
On March 28, 2018, we merrily celebrate yet another “National Day” with murky origins, but a day we embrace whole heartedly (as with most food related things!). The intent of putting something on a stick is to facilitate the eating of the stuff, or somehow enhance the eating experience. We do not refer to things on a stick such as signs, pin wheels, decorations and other non-edible items.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of food on a stick? Popsicles? Fudgesicles? Hot dogs? Shish-ke-bab? Let us share some of our favorites with you, and you in turn can tell us which foods on a stick you are most fond of.
For starters, all the various ice cream and frozen treats on a stick! Besides the obvious ones already mentioned, there are also frozen bananas dipped in chocolate, frozen yogurt, creamsicles, frozen fruit bars, push-ups, and ice cream bars. (My parents insist when they were kids back in the Great Depression “everyone” called ice cream bars “ice cream suckers.”) When I was a lad we had plastic molds with reusable plastic sticks to make frozen orange juice bars, which by the way were great. Frozen stuff on a stick = Good!
Speaking of suckers, those ultra-cheap little ones cheap-skates buy to give out on Halloween suck! (How appropriate for something called a sucker!) On the other hand, Tootsie Pops are pretty good, and the Brown Cow and Black Cow caramel-based sucker treats were among our childhood favorites. Gourmet and premium types of suckers are frequently encountered. Sometimes you can find molded chocolate seasonal items on a stick, including some pretty racy “adults only” types of treats. Other types of candy can be plopped on a stick as well.
Putting an apple on the end of a stick and then covering that apple with chocolate, caramel, or some variety of candy coating is a familiar treat. We like caramel apples best, how about you?
Getting serious now, putting “real” food on a stick is something we are particularly interested in. City Chicken made of lightly breaded pork and veal on little skewers is a favorite treat, especially if the meat is juicy and not overcooked. We prefer it without gravy, but you make it how you like it. Steak-on-a-stick found at Carnivals, amusement parks, and fairs is right up their with our favorite “fair foods.” Another good one is fried cheese, usually Swiss, Mozzarella, or curds (although curds are often not on a stick). Shish-ke-bab in its multitude of forms, using any sort of meat or fish alternated with vegetables such as onion, green or red pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes or whatever suits your taste buds is another wonderful treat. The “stick” can be wood, bamboo, or metal. Of course, skewers and spits can be used to cook large hunks of meat or entire fish or animals for a rotisserie or camping treat as well. (Just as long as cannibals don’t put YOU on a stick!) Speaking of camping, cooking your hot dog on an open fire at the end of a stick is a classic memory, as are toasted marshmallows. (Did you know the marshmallow is a real plant?)
Speaking of hot dogs, the corn dog found at your local fairgrounds is much easier eaten on stick than in your filthy “fair” hands! The corn dog concept has grown beyond merely frying a hotdog in batter to making different kinds of sausage inside and different kinds of batter on the outside. A common example of the evolution of the hot dog on a stick concept is the breakfast sausage covered in pancake batter, a convenient breakfast on the go treat. (Do not over-do the syrup, or you’ll have a mess!)
On the smaller end of the food on a stick scale, we have hors d’oeuvres, which could pretty much be any small snack on a stick, such as a meatball, cube of cheese, cube of meat, or whatever your imagination leads you to. Free samples in grocery stores are often on a stick, so eat up! Even drinks often have a garnish item such as a cherry, onion, or olive on a stick, or perhaps pineapple (pineapples are neither pines, nor apples, as they are berries) with or without other fruits.
Sometimes sticks are used to help keep a layered sandwich in proper alignment, especially a club sandwich or those little cocktail type mini-sandwiches. Sticks can also be used to keep sushi or other such treats together.
We hope you enjoy your National Something on a Stick Day, and please tell us your favorite somethings on a stick, especially if you have any good recipes or novel ideas. Enjoy!
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For more information, please see…
Armendariz, Matt. On a Stick!: 80 Party-Perfect Recipes. Quirk Books, 2011.
Riches and Baksh. The Rotisserie Grilling Cookbook: Surefire Recipes and Foolproof Techniques. Harvard Common Press, 2017.
Sampson, Sally. Kabobs: 52 Easy Recipes for Year-Round Grilling. Wiley, 2007.