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Jeff Ryan cookies - or chocolate crinkles viki2win/Thinkstock
These are Jeff Ryan Cookies, which might be mistaken for Chocolate Crinkles, but for one teacher they'll always that special name.

And me without my gizzard

Some snack food road kill brings back an interesting childhood memory for farm blogger Jeff Ryan

Every once in a while, there's a break in the spring weather that allows me to catch up on items on my to-do list. I managed to get a couple of those done recently. The first one was a trip to pick up some parts for my utility vehicle. Nothing major, but just enough that I didn't want to wait any longer to get them. 

On a marginal-weather day when she couldn't be in her flowerbed, my mom decided to ride along with me. She likes little side trips like this. In fact, she really likes to ride along with me in the semi when I haul corn to the ethanol plant. Sitting up high in a semi gets her a better point of view that she doesn't get in a car. I think she likes to look at the flowerbed and landscape work of other people. 

We pulled up to the dealership and I went inside to get my parts while Mom waited outside. It didn't take long before we were back on the road again. Our next stop was about 15 minutes away at the locker to pick up some beef that was waiting for me. If everything went well, we'd be home in time for dinner. This being a farm, "dinner" is at noon. You can go a few minutes earlier than noon, but you sure don't want to crowd 12:10 very hard, or there will be issues with the former dairy types who do everything on a religious schedule. 

Traffic was no problem, so we were making good time. A small refrigerated delivery truck was ahead of us. The driver made a left turn to head toward yet another small town on a blacktop nearby. The driver was apparently looking to make up some time he felt he had lost earlier in the day. He took the corner at a pretty good clip. 

That's when the fun started. In his rush to make up time in his busy day, the driver failed to secure the side door on his delivery truck. The pavement in the other lane was now covered with pre-wrapped deli sandwiches, thanks to centrifugal force! Not just one or two, either. It looked like a pretty good-sized cardboard tray or two of them. 

This truck is similar to the one that dumped its load on the way to another convenience story. One of these side doors was open and plenty left the truck for the road. Guy No. 2 passed on the freebies.

The lay of the land didn't give me much of an opportunity to slow down, turn around and document the whole incident for you, my loyal readers. I was just far enough behind the delivery truck that I couldn't get his attention. He was making really good time on his route, though, and was already in hammer-down mode toward his next stop. He had no idea about the sandwich buffet he had laid out for the motoring public. 

I started doing some math in my head to figure out which town, and which convenience store, he was headed to next. By the time we got turned around and tried to catch up to him, he'd be almost at his next stop. 

In a way, it would have been fun to follow him, just to see the look on his face when he got out of his truck and found the swinging door on the side and all that extra space inside. 

Mom and I kept driving, partly because I knew we'd be pressed for time if we stopped. The idea of free sandwiches may not sit that well with The Chairman Emeritus when we got home and he bit into the first asphalt fragment. 

"Look, Dad. All of those free-range chickens you see in the countryside have to have some grit in their diet. This Road Rash Roast Beef will be good for your gizzard!"      

I know that from personal experience. When I was three years old, I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. That was long before the days of insulin pump therapy and blood glucose testing outside of a lab to manage my condition. The insulin I took back then was a long-acting variety. It would last for 24 hours and would peak in activity four to eight hours after being injected. The dairy-based time schedule we were on back then meant I always had my shots at a consistent time. That also meant my blood glucose would bottom around 10:30 in the morning and 2:30 in the afternoon. I would eat some kind of snack to counteract the low blood sugar when I was at school. 

Mom would meet with my teacher each year and make sure she knew that I need to eat something in the middle of the morning and afternoon. Mom would send some kind of snack with me in a small stationery box. It was usually cookies or bars she would make. If she was pressed for time, I'd get a lovely product from the good people at Hostess or Keebler. 

Besides Jeff Ryan Cookies, these handy Special K Bars were another treat to help keep blood sugar level during school.

The homemade stuff was very popular with my classmates who had to sit and watch me eat. One item went over quite well with the teachers, too. The staff at the bank in Ridgeway told me last December that a former teacher had mentioned she was baking Christmas cookies. The staff asked what kind she was making.

"I don't know what they're called. They're in my recipe book as 'Jeff Ryan Cookies.' He used to bring them school all the time and they looked so good!"   

All I knew back then was that I had to eat whatever Mom sent. "You'll get really sick if you don't eat it. Then you'll have to go to the hospital," Mom informed me, repeatedly. 

I was in kindergarten, so the memory of my stay at Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse, Wisconsin, a couple years before was still fairly fresh in my mind. Hospital stays weren't good, from what I could remember. My obligation was to eat the snack. Don't ask questions. Eat the cookies. Remind your classmates about the insulin shots when they think you're lucky for getting to eat all that stuff.

This was rural Iowa in the early 1970's. Almost every kid in my kindergarten class was a farm kid. When it got sloppy in the late-winter and early-spring each year, you knew the farm kids would have appropriate footwear. We'd get done with recess and then sit down on a bench where we hung up our coats as we switched from our boots to our "inside shoes" before going back to class. 

I got my box of carbs out and set it down next to me. This day, it was a Hostess Suzy-Q that would save me from hypoglycemia / certain death. I unwrapped it and set it back in the box on the bench next to me before gathering my stuff and heading back to my table to eat. 

Just then, fellow farm kid and classmate, Bill (not his real name), got changed back to inside mode and set his sloppy five-buckle boots right on top of my Suzy-Q without looking! 

Bill realized what happened and picked up his boots. They were covered with a combination of gravel and mud. We both had the same bug-eyed look on our faces. 

One thing kept running through my brain right then. It was my personal food mission statement from Mom: "You have to eat this, or you will get really sick."

Oh, man! Gravel snack cake or certain death. Those were my two options, as far as my brain was concerned. As nice as some of those nurses in La Crosse had been, there was one I hated with a passion. She came in to get a blood sample one time when Mom had left the room briefly. I was pretty sure she used a two-gauge needle that was eighteen inches long. 

If I didn't eat this Suzy-Q, I'd be seeing her again soon.   

No thanks. I switched to gizzard mode and had an extra-crunchy Suzy-Q at the back bench rather than at the table with my classmates and teacher watching. 

That's why I have done my best to avoid gravel-and-pavement-based food ever since. 

Guy No. 2 

The Suzy Q product was discontinued after Hostess went through its financial troubles. It came back in 2016, but is nowhere to be found on the company website. These show the product before 'crunch' is added.

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