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Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Our October Cookies Making Me Happy

Earlier this week, one daughter baked the cut-out sugar cookies
and made orange frosting for us to decorate our pumpkin face cookies.

I bought this pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter from a Hallmark display in the grocery store in 1982. There's even a date on the back of the cutter that indicates it was made in 1982.

There's also a price on the back of the cutter. I paid 75 cents at that time. To give you an idea of what 75 cents could have bought in 1982, a first class US stamp was 20 cents, so I could have sent not quite 3 letters or cards for the cost of the cutter. A first class stamp is currently 60 cents, FYI. What else could I have bought for the cost of this cutter? About 2 pounds of apples, or a little more than a loaf of bread (59 cents on average), or about a dozen eggs.

I remember that fall season the year I bought this. I remember shopping in the local grocery store buying cuts of banana squash for 17 cents per pound. Banana squash are very large, and stores used to cut these large squash into 1 to 2 pound portions and wrap in plastic film to sell alongside the other produce. I haven't seen cuts of squash sold in a grocery store in a couple of decades. But this was something done back then and made for a very inexpensive vegetable. I also remember that generic canned products were relatively new then. The cans were labeled in plain white with bold black lettering, "green beans," "dog food," "luncheon loaf" (spam), and there was even "beer." I was on a tight budget, so I actually tried and regularly bought the generic green beans (not the beer, though). The manufacturers of generic canned goods saved costs on advertising and marketing and passed those savings on to consumers. Their quality was inconsistent. Sometimes the product was pretty close to name brand, sometimes it was rather poor. I often found twigs and blemished beans in the cans. But this I overlooked for the savings. 

The year I bought this cookie cutter I also bought my first, very own Jack o' lantern pumpkin as an adult. I carved the pumpkin on October 31, then cooked and pureed it on November 1 to use in a pumpkin sheet cake for a birthday party for a friend's one-year-old later that week.

Shaped cookie cutters are a great value for seasonal celebrations. The same cutter can be used to make special holiday cookies every year for many decades. My pumpkin cookie cutter has seen 40 autumns. At this point, that works out to under 2 cents per year to own and use this cutter. I have my mother's heart-shaped cookie cutter, which she bought in 1958. That's over 60 years ago. I use it every year to make her favorite Valentine cookies. Someday, I'll pass my pumpkin cutter on to one of my kids and they can make our family's October cookies and get that same happy feeling I get making these each fall.


  1. You are bringing back some memories for me. I remember an aisle in the grocery store with those black and white packaged foods. I actually thought they tasted pretty good and my favorite was the granola. Those black and white packaged foods were similar to government food distribution sites that would hand out good quality food also in plain packaging. The man who distributed often had leftover and stopped by my dad's business to offer him leftovers items since he knew dad had a houseful of children. The cheese was so good. Those black and white packaged food did not last very long and I can't even remember what the name was for that.

    I'm not big on halloween stuff but the sugar cookies look good but I'll wait for Christmas to make them because my kids still like Christmas cutout cookies.


    1. Hi Alice,
      I don't remember the generic granola, but I do recall the boxes of cornflakes. I bought those a few times then, and they were perfectly fine. Yes, I remember it was a whole section of an aisle dedicated to the black/white generic packaged foods, not scattered in with like food items. That was a long, long time ago.

  2. I hadn't thought about the plain packaged generic food for a long time. We used it, but as you said the quality was in consistent. I have a few of my mother's cookie cutters, but my favorite things are the pots that I grew up with. My sister has one of them but I have the rest of a set that is long past its 50 year warranty (I have the paper) and going strong. I use them every day. At this rate, they should pass onto my kids, too.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      What a wonderful thing to have from your mother's kitchen, her pots and pans. I say wonderful because you get to see them (and be reminded of times with her) every day. I hope those stay in your family for generations more.

  3. This must be a nostalgic post for all of us! I have several of my mom's cookie cutters. One of my favorites is a cowboy--she used it to make gingerbread men at Christmas (you could hardly tell it was a cowboy when the cookies got baked)--and it's huge! My kids love that one because it means getting a bigger cookie.

    The black and white cans! So funny! I felt conspicuous going through the checkout line with those in my cart--yup, I'm on a budget--but hey, they worked out fine, for the most part.

    1. Hi Kris,
      I had to laugh at your comment on why your kids especially loved that cookie cutter, the bigger cookie. That is just how I would have felt.
      The black and white generic products didn't last very long. Within a couple of years, they were phased out. But they helped me feed myself when I was a young adult.

  4. What a lovely post! Mom didn't like to cut out cookies but was a pie baker. Dad loved pies!! So, I inherited her rolling pin. Grateful! But, I love cut out cookies and this post made my day! You live on your family so lavishly.
    I do remember those generic white and blavpck canned goods...even packages. The quality was very inconsistent. Nice trip down Memory Lane. Thank you!

    1. Hi Linda,
      Oh how special, her rolling pin! It must give you not only memories of your mother making the pies, but also how much your father enjoyed them. That's a treasure.
      I'm glad you enjoyed this post. Thank you for saying so.

  5. You love your family lavishly...not live. Boo for autocorrect!

  6. This was a sweet post for me as well. I remember before when you posted about the heart shaped cookie cutter as I have my mother's set identical to yours. When my parents celebrated their 60th anniversary (the Diamond one), I found great joy in making diamond shaped sugar cookies from that set (heart, diamond, club, spade) to add to the other finger foods for their celebration.

    When my children were young, we used some of the Christmas cutters, dipped in washable paint, to make our own homemade wrapping paper.

    I have a bit of a collection of cookie cutters and enjoy using them every time. As you noted, you can use them year in and year out. I even splurged (at a half-priced sale) on the tiny canape cutters and the press out ones you can use with pie crusts like a tiny acorn, leaf and pumpkin. Whenever I make cookies with any of these cutouts, it always brings a smile to my face. Thanks for sharing. Lynn

    1. Hi Lynn,
      Yes, I remember you mentioning the cookies that you made for your parents' 60th anniversary. That was very clever. And I love the idea of making your own Christmas gift wrap using cookie cutters and paint. Brilliant!
      I don't know if your mother ever did this, but my mother would sometimes use her cookie cutters to cut tea sandwiches. She used the heart/spade/club/diamond set to make finger sandwiches for her bridge group when they'd get together. I think that was a "thing" back in the 60s and maybe 50s. It seems to me there's a page of similar sandwiches in my mother's first cookbook, c. 1957.
      I'm glad you enjoyed this post. It's nice to sometimes slip into the past through our memories for a bit.

  7. Cut out sugar cookies are a labor of love. They are a bit time intensive, but my husband loves them, so I'll make them for holidays. My sister gave me a dozen cookie cutters years ago for a gift and since she is gone now, I cherish those and think of her whenever I use them. She was the diva of sugar cookies - she always had requests for her darling shaped and frosted cookies.
    Actually, I have to tell you how much I love this blog. Because of your post about frosted cookies, I just went through all of my sister Kay's texts to me. She passed away in 2019 - and I haven't read through them until now. What a gift that was - Thank you for this blog post today!

    1. Hi Ruthie,
      I'm so sorry for the loss of your sister. I am so glad you have her texts and the cookie cutters she gave to you to help prompt lovely memories.
      You're right about the time intensive aspect. I have to be in just the right frame of mind to slow down and take my time making them.
      Have a wonderful rest of your day, Ruthie!

  8. I remember the black and white labels too. It was about the time a sack of groceries (filled half full by the bag boy) costed about $5, and my grocery store budget was $20 per week for roughly 4 sacks. I didn't have to bargain shop the way I do now, buying sales and clearances in quantity and shop from my pantry and freezer.
    I don't have the confidence or experience baking desserts. It's a more exact science than cooking meals.

    Have a nice rest of your day,

    1. Hi Laura,
      Oh yes, I remember grocery shopping on a budget being more straightforward, too. And that's exactly what I used to tell my husband a sack of groceries cost at the time -- $5. By just buying basics, produce, grains, meat, dairy (no convenience food), I could easily keep to $5/bag on average. I do have to work a lot harder now to keep our grocery spending down, but at least I can do these things. I'm grateful for that.

      Have a great Friday, Laura!


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