From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Hot Cocoa Days

Memories of a mouth-scalding beverage


Hot Cocoa When I was a child in the Sandhills of northern Nebraska, most country folks still had a milkcow or two. Country kids grew up drinking fresh, unpasteurized milk, and lots of it. Most of our families had plenty of extra milk to make dairy-based treats occasionally -- such as hot cocoa.

In my memory, hot cocoa was served at every winter function where snacks were offered to the children. I can't think of 4-H meetings, for example, without remembering the community hall's kitchen steaming with hot cocoa and boiled hot dogs.

I'm quite sure that it was hot cocoa that we were drinking, not hot chocolate. I don't think any of our mothers bought bars of chocolate and melted them into hot milk or cream. No, I'm quite sure that frugal Sandhills ranch wives made cocoa for a crowd with cocoa powder.

I haven't drunk hot cocoa made from scratch for many years. I remember it well, though. I remember burning the inside of my mouth terribly, time and time again, with that beverage. Then, when the cocoa cooled a bit, it developed a scum that stuck to my lips when I tried to take a drink. And unless I stirred frequently, the bottom of the cup developed a brown, syrupy, cocoa sediment.

I am sentimental about many of the things I grew up with, but I honestly don't miss homemade hot cocoa. On the rare occasion (approximately once a decade) that I feel like drinking a hot chocolate beverage, instant cocoa is good enough for me.

2 comments:

RunAwayImagination said...

Hot cocoa brings back memories for me too. I used to make it from scratch when I was a kid, then let the pot sit on the hearth of the fireplace, where the heat from the fire would keep it warm.

Genevieve said...

Those sound like pleasant memories. :)

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