Saturday, August 21, 2010

"Michigan Facts, Food & Fun!" - (Kellogg's) Corn Flake Bars

Date I made this recipe: August 16, 2010

Michigan Facts, Food & Fun! – Composed and Edited by Judith Bosley
Published by: Grand Books, Middleton, Michigan (Grand Books – P.O. Box 7, Middleton, MI 48856) – Price: $6.50
ISBN: 0-930809-18-1
Recipe: Corn Flake Bars – p. 11

Novelist Thomas Wolfe famously said “You can’t go home again” but I disagree. After a trip back to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a place I’ve always had mixed feelings about, I think you can.

My hometown of Munising, Michigan is home of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. These “painted” rocks used to be a well-kept secret. But times have changed and now people from all over the planet are coming in to hike, kayak or take one of the many commercial cruise boats to tour the spectacular shoreline. I almost fell out of my proverbial chair the day my dad, husband and I took a boat tour. Ever single, previously-deserted beach was filled with people. Tons and tons of people. Jet skis were everywhere, a beautiful kayak flotilla bobbed near the rocks and pontoons filled the beaches. Where on earth did everyone come from??

And then there was the cruise itself. Back in the day, my friends and I got to ride for free so we jumped onto the “Miss Munising,” and out we went. Back then, the captain sold tickets right on the boat (as well as film to capture those Kodak moments); today, there is a huge ticket sale/gift shop building occupying a place by the docks and everything is run with naval efficiency even if the navy isn’t involved. One must reserve a place on the boat and have tickets in hand before jumping on board. Gone are the on-board film sales; today you can buy a digital camera memory card if you need one (although they do sell disposable cameras in case of emergency).

And people—can we talk about the boat docks themselves? When I was growing up, there was one dock and one dock only. Now there’s a second dock of slips and a few of the boats moored there showed “Munising” as the city of (boat) residence. Say what? Nobody had any money to buy a boat when I was younger (something I always thought was hilarious: we all lived on a lake but couldn’t afford to “be” on it.)

Too bad the boat didn’t serve cocktails because I could have used one—for the shock, you understand.

Still, Munising retains its quaint little feel. Downtown is still downtown—one main street and a couple of side ones. To combat summer traffic, the city fathers put in a stop light at the busiest intersection. Naturally my dad almost ran it the first time around.

Many of the same businesses exist although sometimes in a different location. As I made the rounds of banks with my dad to take care of some things for him, I marveled that until we got to the last place, I didn’t know anyone. Most last names meant nothing to me and that was unheard of when I was living there. But time marches on.

Nearby Marquette, Michigan, also on Lake Superior, fared much better in the “remember this?” game. Marquette was just featured in my local paper, the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune since it, too, is absolutely gorgeous. Marquette looks a lot like Duluth, Minnesota, right down to the ore docks and the high, San Francisco-like hills.

My mother grew up in Marquette and I went to school there and I tell you what, the place still looks about the same. Many of the same businesses are where they were supposed to be and the campus of Northern Michigan University looks virtually unchanged since I left it 30 years ago. In what has to be a cosmic moment, I am currently working on a project in Minneapolis with a guy who graduated from Northern four years ahead of me. He’s from the Detroit area (“downstate”) but loved spending time up in the UP and since he’s also a nature photographer, this makes sense to me. You can’t get any closer to nature (or rumor has it, God) in that area!

While in Marquette tooling around town, I spied Donkers candy store. When my mom was growing up, Donkers was THE hangout as it had a soda fountain that served up luscious treats in addition to their famous candy. When I was teenager the soda fountain closed and my mom and her friends were devastated. So she’d be happy to know that the fountain has now reopened for business. It doesn’t quite look the same but it is there nonetheless. If we had more time, I would have opted for one of their Tin Roof Sundaes.

Across the street was a little gift shop called Michigan Fair and it is there that I bought today’s featured cookbook. But first, a word about an actual department store called The Fair Store that used to be the place to shop in the nearby town of Escanaba, Michigan. (In case you haven’t figured it out, the UP is rife with Indian names).

The best thing about the Fair Store was that when you purchased an item, the clerk put the sales slip (written in triplicate) and your money in a cylinder and sent it up through a pneumatic tube to the accounting department. My brother and I were fascinated by that contraption and used to wait with bated breath until the cylinder came back down with the receipt and mom’s change. Modern payment systems have nothing over this one!

But I digress…so Michigan Fair, not to be confused with The Fair (department) Store, had several cookbooks but the one I selected was Michigan Facts Food & Fun!. I am pleased to say it delivered all three.

Out of all the recipes listed, some were clearly out of bounds—anything containing “wild” animals like venison or bear, anything containing “foraged food” like morel mushrooms (not that they aren’t good) and pasties, the famous Cornish meat pie. And it’s not because I don’t like pasties, I do, but pasties seem like winter food and we were in the midst of summer.

And then…I spied with my little eye the blurb for Battle Creek Michigan-Cereal City and the recipe for Corn Flake Bars.

Battle Creek, Michigan is indeed “Cereal City” because of the presence of the mighty cereal maker – Kellogg’s. Those of my generation will remember ads for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes® (“They’re great!”) and Kellogg’s Rice Krispies® (“Snap, Crackle, Pop, Rice Krispies!”) but the company also made the ever-popular Kellogg’s Special K® and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes®. (And let’s not forget Pop Tarts, shall we?) And so when I saw the Corn Flake bar recipe, it was all over but the crying.

This was so easy to make it was just silly and the bars are tasty if not a bit messy. And so you see, you can go home again, even if it’s just taking your favorite cereal for a walk down memory lane.


Corn Flake Bars – makes an 8x8 pan of bars
3 T. butter
32 large marshmallows (because studies have shown that 33 is too many??)
4 C. cornflakes
½ C. chopped nuts
½ C. shredded coconut
4 ozs. Semisweet chocolate

Melt butter and marshmallows over low heat; stir in cereal, coconut and nuts. (We left out the nuts). Press mixture into a buttered 8x8-inch buttered pan. Melt chocolate and spread over mixture. Cut into bars.

Warning: For those who use the microwave to melt the chocolate, keep your eye on the prize! I was going along just fine until I smelled something burning and sure enough, it was my chocolate. I think a minute in the microwave is about enough to melt the chocolate. Anything more is asking for a visit from the fire department!

For more information on the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, go to:
For more information about the Pictured Rocks Boat Cruises go to:
For more information about Marquette, Michigan go to:
For more information about Michigan Fair go to:
For more information about Kellogg’s go to:

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