In every cowshed, next to every tipping milking stool and leather horse harness sits a barrel filled with molasses coated grains. Grain barrels were conveniently located next to dairy milking stations. Throughout time, a tightly closed lid was an optional feature.
As kids, we snuck crunchy snacks while scooping up coffee cans of sticky oats and corn to bribe cows into their stanchions. Or to entice ponies to take a bridle and saddle.
On the phone, my mom’s laughter drives me to near tears as she describes a scene for her own childhood munching molasses morsels. The open barrels contain all food fears of today. A list too long, but starts with e-coli and ends with hantavirus.
Candy was not a luxury grandpa and grandma could afford in the 1930s. My dad had seen what decades of sugar cubes did to horses’ teeth, so candy did not play a part of our diets. So the blackstrap mix had to serve as a substitute.
Granola bars weren’t invented by the hippie generations. They were an afterthought to days spent in barns, listening to the sounds of milk foaming in a pail, watching a line of cats at the ready for a squirt of thick cream shot their way. We didn’t give second thought to cleanliness of the surroundings nor the layers of “dirt” piled around the shed.
These things weren’t worried over any more than Native or pioneer leaning over to toss a buffalo chip into an oven in the midst of kneading bread dough. Nary a hand washing station to be seen.
I still crave the fist- sized hard clumps of molasses tightly gripping wheat, corn, oats, and rye flakes. A perfect handful pick me up, snitched while whistling for horses or calling low in age-old cattle lingo, “Comebossy, sucalfe, suuuuuuboss.”
Plastic wrappers are just recent upgrade, minus the fun of stealing sweets in an old rustic barn. And minus a few ‘extras’.