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Monday Muse: Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, Shared Underpants and the Place Where Business and Justice Meet

Monday is the day I use to ease into the week. I hit the ground running on Tuesday. It is not like my Shabbat (sabbath) practice that starts on Friday evening at sunset until Saturday evening at sunset. I like to bring my body and mind fully to a week and let my thoughts and actions flow freely. I like to allow my brain to relax and remember (which is healthy for us in a world where we are losing that brain capacity by taking too many photos and viewing the world through a camera lens and not our eyes). That brings me this week to Philadelphia, South Jersey, Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews and the sharing of underpants.

Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews

Goldenberg's Peanut Chews

I found a package of these delicious treats this weekend in the bottom of a suitcase I had apparently not completely unpacked. It was one I had with me while staying with my elder cousin Waetina in Baltimore last year. Heartbreakingly, she is now dead. One of my father’s first cousins, I knew her only a short time but we were soulmates from the moment we met. Besides a passion for Celine Dion and her support for my children’s book writing, we shared a taste for Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews. When I was an expatriate in Denmark for many years, I would get other American’s traveling back from the East Coast to bring me some of these.

Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews were a treat of mine when we lived at one of the family beachhouses we owned in Atlantic City, NJ. My grandfather, a banker in Philadelphia, would come down to the shore and we would go fishing together on his boat in the Atlantic Ocean. I would pack a bag of treats, including salt water taffy, a sandwich, Tasty Kake chocolate cupcakes, and Goldenberg Peanut Chews.

Between my family and the neighborhood in which I grew up and my friends, my life was filled with a cross section of Sunday morning fried fish breakfasts with my grandfather, while listening to his World War II stories, fried chicken, potato latkes with sour cream, macaroni and cheese, apple sauce, matzo ball soup, collard greens, bagels with lox and Philadelphia brand cream cheese and cottage cheese. When you grow up in and around Philadelphia, your life is filled with certain foods and experiences. Mine was. TastyKake chocolate cupcakes, hoagies (my favorite came from White House Sub Shop in Atlantic City), Goldberg’s Peanut Chews, our New Jersey family farm (yup, a real farm with chickens, rows of corn and a tractor), The Phillies (hockey) and The Eagles (football), The Mummers Parade on New Year’s Day (although that has a conflicted history), WaWa (convenience store), hot summer days working on the Atlantic City boardwalk, the Cherry Hill Mall and summers where the beaches and highways were packed with “shoobies” (tourists from South/North Jersey and Philadelphia who come to the shore in hoards, clog up the roads and pack all the restaurants. Historically these tourists brought their lunches in shoeboxes). When I was growing up they had stopped bringing lunch in shoeboxes but the overcrowding, loud talking and women wearing full make-up while walking in high heels on the sand was in play. And you knew places with names like Bryn Mawr. All of this is part of very fond memories.

So, when someone returning to Denmark after a visit home would bring me Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, I would be very careful to make them last a long time. Occasionally someone visiting me would see them and ask if they could have a piece.

“No”. I said without hesitation and in all seriousness.

This would always bring surprised looks and sometimes and incredulous outburst of “What?” or “Why?”. My family, friends and acquaintances know me to normally be a very generous person with anything I have, from material things to time and space. My door is always open to the stranger. But with this candy, I would explain that I only had a few and they had to last me until I could replenish my supply. Eating them was home remedy I did alone in the quiet of a day when I was feeling especially homesick (and homesickness is a VERY REAL thing) and needed a touch of something culturally familiar…a touch of home.

If you want to finish this journey, you can read the full article here.

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