For most of grade seven, lunch was thick hand-sliced fresh white bread, strawberry jam, and newly introduced KRAFT sliced processed cheese.


Empress Jam Tins

Empress Jam Tins



Empress brand strawberry jam had two ingredients listed on the can: strawberries, and sugar.  Jam in a can–you don’t see that much any more.  It was one of those cans that came with a clear plastic lid.  Once you twisted the tin lid off with a hand crank can opener, you put the plastic lid back on before you put the jam in the cupboard.  Jam didn’t need to be refrigerated back then, I guess.

It has been years since seeing the Empress brand on the shelf.  Empress brand had chunks of whole strawberries throughout thick deep red jam.  It was my favorite jam by a wide margin.  Before writing this I checked the Internet to see what I might find regarding Empress jams.  An empty labeled Empress jam can just sold for $29.40, and a pack of four assorted, start auction at $140, anticipated to run up to $300.  This pack was made up of strawberry and raspberry jam, peanut butter and orange marmalade; all Empress brand with the gold label.  There were a couple of notes in cyberspace lamenting the disappearance of this particular jam.  

The bakery at Safeway’s sold fresh unsliced white bread.  It was ten cents a loaf if I recall correctly, on special 10 for a dollar.  Bread cut two fingers thick with a bread knife the size of a swede bucksaw was how we did it.  Thick bread cut first thing in the morning, slathered with sweet fresh butter, and empress jam was the basis of my school lunch the year I was in grade seven. 

Kraft process cheese packs were so new in the stores they were still a novelty and considered a sensible time saver; and, economical.   I can personally attest to time saved compared to messing with Velveeta slices to separate them.   The new plastic wrappers prevented the individual slices from drying out. Progress, a helpful invention.

White bread, Kraft cheese slices, and Empress brand real strawberry jam made my lunch for the better part of a year back then.

Funny thing is, I never really got tired of it, and sometimes I do just that.  Only now it’s Smuckers or KRAFT pure jam, and a slice of real old cheddar, on thick slices of hand cut fresh artisan bread from our local bakery.  It transports me back.

What was your favorite lunch when you were a kid?


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