Opinion Columns & Blogs

From ‘Fry Daddy’ to microwave


My wife and I had been married several years before we discovered — or were introduced — to the wonders of the microwave oven. It was 1982 at Don Boomershine’s house in Birmingham, Alabama.

Don, the head of the Better Business Bureau, was into popcorn that year, the kind you could cook in a microwave oven. In fact, he invited my wife and me over to his house to do just that. “Watch this,” he said, eyes on fire as he placed a bag of popcorn seeds in this metal box under the TV and turned a knob. “You’re not going to believe what happens!”

After a few minutes of chit-chatting about the bureau, (what I knew about business could be written on a postage stamp) sipping wine and never taking our eyes off the box, we heard this popping sound coming from under the TV. A bell went off and sure enough, he presented us with a bag of cooked popcorn seeds. They were white, so we knew they were the real deal. Nothing pops and comes out white like popcorn. And of course it accepted the butter and salt just as “normal” popcorn would do, convincing my wife and me that it was, in fact, popped corn and not bloated grits.

The revelation hit us that, if the microwave oven could do that to popcorn it could cook just about anything worth eating. Don assured us that whatever went into the oven would come out cooked and edible unless it was non-edible like a bug or small rodent, in which case it would simply be cooked. Metal objects were a big no-no unless it was the Fourth of July.

My wife and I became excited because we were into the “fry daddy” at that time (being of the age when one believes in his heart that he/she is going to live forever, regardless of what goes into his/her stomach and makes its way to the heart) and a good healthy dose of microwave popcorn was just what the doctor ordered.

Sonny Harmon

The microwave was like the “fry daddy” on steroids minus the grease. Well, life happened and the microwaves got bigger and faster and we learned how to cook large birds, cow parts and — bacon. I think she even threw a quiche in there once, but I could be wrong. For sure we tried almost anything that would fit in the thing before rejecting stuff.

It was however, almost a sacrilege to cook some foods in the microwave, such as oatmeal, that had been lovingly prepared over a stove by grandparents. I suppose one could say it was similar to experimenting with sex as a young married. But I digress. Bacon became a favorite and the guilt of eating greasy bacon went away with a little tray in the microwave that took the grease away.

Using the microwave meant you had the potential of living forever or at least long enough for someone to come up with a way to put your brain in somebody else’s body. I learned how to “cook” using the microwave and could almost take care of myself at home. I learned how to eat stuff over and over by simply placing it in the microwave — and in that way —saved money, which the wife used to buy more shoes.

One of the most exciting days of our married life probably came the day we learned how to heat fudge in the microwave without it exploding. In only seconds, when properly covered, the fudge would come out hot enough to melt ice cream, which was, after all, only milk and prescribed by the doctor as something one needed in a diet. So we bought into this thing, this microwave wave thing, if you will.

The weight gain was steady but gradual as we used the thing for darn near 40 years until the cook decided Weight Watchers was going to run our lives. Today, as I sport a 38-inch waist, I can honestly say she could not put another pair of shoes in her closet.

Now, I have nothing against Weight Watchers, but when I got home tonight, (after a hard day’s “work” I might add), I had two things waiting on me. A bag of chips and a jar of salsa. Notice, please, that neither of these requires heating in a microwave oven, something “we” decided “we” could do without when the old one quit and the Weight Watchers program kicked in.

I suppose I’ll have to keep working because the philosophy around here seems to be when something quits working, “we can do without it.”

Sonny Harmon is a professor emeritus at Georgia Military College. Visit his blog at http://sharmon09.blogspot.com.