"The book dishes up a generous serving
of nostalgia for classic TV fans."
- Nick Thomas, nationally syndicated columnist
Growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s was a pretty swell time for
most Baby Boomers. Television was still a new and wondrous delight broadcasting
shows in black and white with orange tubes glowing in the back and funny
“rabbit ears” on top that had to be adjusted just right. During
the Golden Age of Television, just three channels ruled the airwaves.
That meant, in 1960, when 90% of American homes had TVs, about 55 million
people watched each show every week for years! With all the channels that
exist today, that is a phenomenon unique to one generation and will never
And long before streaming, or DVRs or even VCRs, family members came running
from all corners at the appointed time to gather in front of often the
only TV set in the home to enjoy their favorite programs together. For
many, watching them became a family tradition.
Today, a plethora of nostalgic networks allow Boomers to enjoy their favorite
shows again with their children and grandchildren. Families continue to
bond watching Classic TV series and the kids who starred in them. These
icons and the characters they played are firmly embedded in our popular
culture, cherished by millions of loyal fans who continue to celebrate
them. We didn’t just watch those kids grow up, we grew up with them.
They are an indelible part of the fabric of our lives.
To this very day, the shared experience of watching these kid stars continues
to connect us with family, with friends, and even with complete strangers.
If someone shouts “Danger, Will Robinson!” we freeze in our
tracks. When a Boomer says, “He’s a real Eddie Haskell,”
we know EXACTLY what that means! We were all part of the “peanut
gallery.” We all sent in soup labels and cereal box tops for secret
decoder rings and other treasures. Everyone knew how to spell Mickey Mouse.
The kids on television were thought of as best friends and blood brothers.
Their photos hung in bedrooms and school lockers across the nation.
At a time before society was so connected, these kids were the connection
for millions of 7 people. The Mouseketeers got it right when they sang
their closing theme: “Now it’s time to say goodbye to all
our family…” We were family. That’s how we felt.
And as our extended family, having dinner with our TV best friends just
seemed natural. Swanson even developed a packaged meal to eat while watching
them called a TV dinner. It fit nicely on a folding table called a TV
tray which was the perfect height for dining while sitting on the couch.
That’s what many of us did, but what did the kids we were watching
do? What did they eat back then…and where? For that matter, what
do they eat today? I asked 40 of them to share their favorite dishes from
then and now—some passed down through their families, others from
restaurants now extinct, but all served with a side of delicious memories
that provides glimpses into their lives both as child stars and as adults.
Hope you brought your appetite!
Santa Rosa, CA