One of my favorite parts of winter is sitting in front of my fireplace and watching the flames dance and play.  We haven’t had much of a winter, and believe me, I’m not complaining; but at this stage of my life, I prefer a nice even temperature of somewhere between 60-70 degrees. Winter is a fact of life in this part of the country and when it’s cold, I love a fire.

Such was a day right after Christmas last year.  We have an enormous stack of wood on the side of our driveway and Ken loves making a big production of filling the wood carrier and setting up a pile of wood beside the fireplace before beginning to build the fire.  

But that didn’t seem to be enough for Ken on that particular day.

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“Why don’t we have hot dogs and beans so we can eat and still be in front of the fire?” Ken suggested.  Of course I knew we could have eaten in front of the fire no matter what I made, so I guessed he really wanted franks and beans.

“That sounds good,” I said.  “I’ll run to the store and pick up hot dogs, beans and buns.”  That would be my contribution to our cozy night in.

Since we don’t eat many hot dogs, it had been a while since I purchased them.  I remembered that Ball Park Franks used to have fat free franks, but soon found out that they no longer exist.  Everything was full fat along with the usual tons of nitrates.  No problem, I thought.  Ken rarely requests special foods, so why not indulge him.  I picked up the package of Ball Park Franks and a package of hot dog buns and was off to the pork and beans aisle.  

As I walked toward the pork and beans shelves, my eyes searched for the familiar red and white cans of Campbell’s Pork & Beans, just as I had remembered them from my childhood.  Do they not make Campbell’s Pork & Beans any longer? I thought to myself.  There were unfamiliar cans on the shelf.  

One by one I began reading the labels on the cans of Bush’s Baked Beans: Country Style, Homestyle, Maple and Cured Bacon, Southern Pit BBQ, Honey Chipotle, Vegetarian, Boston’s Best, Brown Sugar Hickory, Bacon and Onion, Bourbon and Brown Sugar, Steakhouse Recipe, Smokehouse Tradition, 25% less sugar and sodium Brown Sugar, Organic Original and finally, Baked Original.

In my head I began screaming, where are the Campbell’s Pork & Beans?  I just wanted a simple can of pork and beans, the kind I had as a child, the kind everyone had as a child.  What happened to regular pork and beans, the one with the little piece of fat floating in it which was supposed to be a piece of bacon?

I began getting a flashback of when I tried to buy just one small jar of Hellman’s Mayonnaise and also found at least a dozen varieties from which to choose.  No, I can’t start thinking of that or I’ll really lose my mind.  I’ll just concentrate on finding the pork and beans, I reasoned.  

As I finished reading all the different varieties of the Bush’s Baked Beans, I realized that they took up three full shelves. My eyes dropped to the very last shelf closest to the floor and there in all their glory were the cans of Campbell’s Pork and Beans.  How could they possibly have gotten relegated to the very last shelf?  Over the years I have watched many commercials for Bush’s Baked Beans and I loved them mainly because of the adorable Golden Retriever who talks to his master about baked beans and how he won’t divulge the secret recipe.  Had those commercials catapulted Bush’s Baked Beans to the number one spot in America?  Ah, I should have known that it’s all in the marketing.

Since there was a log-jam forming beside and behind me to get to the baked beans, I realized I should just pick up the small can of Campbell’s Pork and Beans and be on my way.  I expected to be inundated with many different varieties once again, but the only two varieties I saw were Campbell’s Pork & Beans and Campbell’s Pork & Beans Picnic Style (new and improved).  Okay, I can live with that, and it was only 56 cents compared to $1.99 for Bush’s.  

I was completed exhausted and grateful that when I got home all I would have to do is boil a few hot dogs and heat the can of beans.  I was really looking forward to a cozy fire and hunkering down on a cold winter night with a plate of hot dogs and beans.  
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