Friday, February 03, 2012

Whither clam dip?

One aspect of preparing for the Superbowl I enjoy is lining up the special treats, snacks, and munchies for noshing during the game. It's funny, but we never have sour cream dips on hand except on Big Game Day. (Pro tip: I highly recommend Penzey's Chip & Dip Seasoning mix over the traditional French Onion soup powder.)

Part of the fun is allowing yourself to buy the "garbage" you forswear the other 51 weeks of the year. Potato chips? Two kinds! (Ruffled, and vinegar.) "Pigs in a blanket?"  "Two kinds!" Doritos? Two kinds! In one bag!  

As I was assembling the table for that big game, I had a sudden yen for a garbage food I had not bought in years:

Heluvagood New England Clam Dip

When I went shopping, though, I noticed there was no clam dip in the sour cream section. Hmph. I made a mental note to check for it at other stores. But as the shopping trips accumulated I discovered that I could not find a single container of slimy, artificial, prefabricated seafood goo in a tub at any place that passes for a supermarket.

Whatever happened to clam dip

Discontinued groceries are nothing new. Ben & Jerry's has a graveyard of discontinued flavors, and you are even invited to fill out a form to resurrect one. Trader Joe's is asked so often about discontinued products that they put it in their FAQ. 

It's a big country. Maybe it's a regional thing. Perhaps readers other regions of the country are up to their eyeballs in clam dip and it's only New England that has been embargoed. 

Maybe it is shipped off by the metric ton to some distant foreign culture that views clam dip as virility sauce and sold at an astonishing markup. Stupider things have happened.

Far more likely is that the problem is one of demographics. Clam dip is a "fashionable food" that exploded on the scene in the 1950s on the "Kraft Music Hall" show. You can still snag custom serving dishes on eBay that look, well, like your grandmother's platters. Clam dip is a taste that defined a generation -- The Greatest Generation, if you will -- and that generation is passing.

That lost tub of Breakstone clam dip is now a runny remnant of a more prosperous era, remembered only by the children of the sophisticates who took it into their home and made it their own. 

Back to you, Dave S.


J. said...

Will you be serving banana daiquiries with that clam dip?

[Clam dip?! Really?!]

Also, you boys will be pleased to know that when I Googled "clam dip" this blog post showed up on the first page, near the top.

Dave S. said...

Woo! For various reasons:

1) Google search results - woo!
2) Heluva Good is made in Sodus, NY, near where I grew up - woo!
3) Somebody else posted - woo! (I believe you have tied JCF for number of posts.)

I do not mourn the disappearance of clam dip, having acquired a truly spectacular allergy to clams in the late 1990s. I "explode on the scene" in a manner of speaking.

That was a strangely beautiful closing paragraph, and the vintage Rivera shot caps it perfectly, like dip on chips.

NickC said...

Please tell me they still make Bacon Horseradish! On clam dip, we must now make our own; which is not a bad thought. /ponders a clam dip version of a Caesar.

Dave S. said...

NickC, you're in luck.