This is a complete departure from my normal fare. Today, I just want to remember something from my youth. When I was growing up, one the best days of the week was the day the Charlie Chip man came to our house. And, yes, I know it says “Charles Chips” on the can. In my neck of the woods, however, nobody ever called it that; it was “Charlie Chips”. Besides the Charlie Chip man other people used to deliver stuff to your door back then. Most notable was the milk man. The way that worked, you had a standing order and you could also call the dairy and request certain things, like ice cream and butter. With the Charlie Chip man, you didn’t have to call in, he would just add to your order on the spot. That made him much cooler than the milk man, because of the infinite possibilities he brought. My brother and I would beg our mother to order chocolate milk from the milk man, but she never did. When we got chocolate milk, it was always regular milk and Nestle’s Quik (the powder kind, we didn’t have syrup back then) added to it, which was cheaper. Truth be told, there’s probably not a dime’s worth of difference between the two, but to this day, chocolate milk in the bottle tastes way better than the mixing my own. We would also beg for ice cream and other treats, but that just didn’t happen. All of which, along with the fact the milk man came at the crack of dawn, conspired to make his visit anti-climatic. The Charlie Chip man, now, that was a different story. He would show up in the early afternoon and ring the door bell. When my mom answered the door, he would take her order, get it from the truck and make the sale right then and there. If you’re familiar with the Charles Chip company, you know that they had other things besides chips. There were also chocolate chip cookies and pretzels and they were good. Now, I don’t know this because my mother bought them; our pleas fell on the same deaf ears that dealt with the milk man. I know this because my aunt Mildred would buy these things for my cousins. I love her to death, but my aunt was always a pushover for Debbie and Judy. Back then, I was sure they got all the store-bought chocolate milk they could drink.
But, even though my mother never gave in to our pitiful attempts at begging, we remained ever hopeful. I think hope is what made a visit from the Charlie Chip man so great. Don’t get me wrong, they were good potato chips, but hardly the transcendent experience I remember. I miss that ridiculous hopefulness of childhood. I miss getting up on a summer morning and thinking anything and everything wonderful was possible and all I had to do was be there for it to happen. I hate how life crushes that hope as you get older and, eventually, you become cynical and hard-hearted. I’m working on changing that; I want to get in the morning and believe that wonderful things are going to happen to me. I want to hear the door bell ring and, when I answer it, see that familiar gold and brown van sitting in front of my house. I want to be greeted by a man in a crisp white shirt holding a can of the most delicious potato chips ever made. And, I damn sure want to buy some cookies and some pretzels. Because, if you want hope to continue, it’s got to be fulfilled once in a while.
The good news is I might not be hoping in vain. Early last year, the Scardino family bought the brand and are currently making 3 types of potato chips (original, barbecue and waffle) and pretzels using the old recipes. The best part is they’ve also brought back the cans. They may not be doing home delivery like they used to, but you can buy them online and they’ll ship them to you. I can live with that.