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Long-handled tweezers pull down historic pudding

Joyce Walter writes about finding hidden treasures in the back of a cupboard
Reflective Moments by Joyce Walter

My $2 long-handled stick with a tweezer-style gripper on one end and a hand control on the other end has been a worthwhile addition to my list of household gadgets.

I am so enthralled with its usefulness that I have four of them strategically placed in various rooms in the house, rooms where I am likely to drop items that should not be picked up from a bending-over position. If I forced my legs into a bent position in order to save my back, I would of necessity, have to call 911 for assistance to get myself into an upright stance.

Thus, my tools have kept the pressure off my back, and I have improved my hand-to-eye co-ordination in placing the gripping end appropriately over the item to be retrieved, whether it be as small as a tiny pill or as cumbersome as a wet towel. There should be a competition for the best gripper operator as I continually surprise myself and others with my dexterity.

The grippers also come in handy for bringing boxes of kitchen supplies safely down from the highest shelf. Ok, I have bonked myself on the head a time or two when the box of something came down faster than I could get my hands into the catching position. But so far nothing has spilled or caused mentionable damage.

And sometimes, what comes tumbling down is a pleasant surprise.

Just the other day I was looking for a boxed cake mix that I know I had purchased sometime ago when I had the best of intentions to amaze the household with a “home-baked” cake. The package of cake mix was discovered, but by dislodging the cake mix, some smaller boxes of “something” were discovered at the very back of the cupboard. What could they be?

After some imprecise poking and prodding with my gripper, I caught a box of strawberry-raspberry water flavouring, still unopened and with no best-before-date visible. Also revealed was a box of tea bags, spiced to taste like cinnamon. Still unopened and way beyond the date of safe consumption. 

But wait, one more box was back there. Imagine my surprise when I saw it was a Shiriff Sauce ’n’ Cake sponge pudding mix, hot apple simulated flavour. You know the kind: the first package is mixed with egg and water in a baking dish. The envelope of flavouring is sprinkled over that and then boiling water is poured over those two layers. In the oven the miracle takes place: the water and sauce flavouring head to the bottom and the cake part moves to the top. 

I loved those puddings as a kid and not so long ago, my Sister and I searched most shopping locations in the city and came up empty-handed, implying to us these puddings were no longer manufactured.

Therefore, when I saw the pudding box in my hand, I was jubilant, thinking I could make the pudding and share it with Sister. But then I looked at the price tag: 79 cents from the Army & Navy Department Store. What? No way!

There was no date to tell me how old the pudding might be but the price and store told a historic tale. This pudding was OLD.

Still, believing in good luck, I decided to have a go at preparing it for dessert. Age was not kind to the contents. The water and flavouring stayed on top while the cake layer hardened like cement on the bottom of the dish.  

But determined to have my cake and pudding too, I found a similar product online, placed my order and now await delivery. Needless to say, the price has gone up close to five times.

There’s one more mystery box wedged in the back corner of the cupboard but it can wait awhile until I feel like brandishing my grippers to bring down another surprise — maybe from the Army & Navy!

Joyce Walter can be reached at

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  

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