Most likely because my older brother was a diabetic, we had a dearth of things to snack on growing up. Consequently, I had to make due with strange stuff on which to nosh. Tuna fish with Italian dressing, cheese & crackers, and soup seemed to sustain us between meals. And Olive Condite. Progresso Olive Condite.
I can still remember Sundays at Osage Drive. I was the altar boy at 10:45 mass, Dad was the lector, and Mom was in the choir. Afterward, we’d go to the Ossining Bakery for hard rolls. At home Mom would make hard boiled eggs and we’d have brunch of sorts while we watched Abbott and Costello or the Bowery Boys on Channel 11. These were the pre cable days, so if it was football season and the Giants were the early game we’d have good reception on Channel 2. The Jets were on Channel 4, which wasn’t as good. The Yankees were on Channel 11 also, and that reception bad, but it was the Yankees, so someone fiddled with the rabbit ears until the picture was clear.
Now, at some point, you’d get a little peckish for a nibble. The choices were sparse: hard boiled eggs, a buttered roll, and maybe a pickle. Even after Paul went away to Cornell my folks had drunk the health craze kool-aid, so no Doritos or Twinkies were to be had. Sometimes, in a far corner of the fridge, I’d spy that short bottle with the blue label: Progesso Olive Condite. Olives, vinegar, salt. A tasebud orgy. Lord knows, it didn’t fill you up. But was it tasty.
We don’t have much Progresso on the shelves around here for some reason. Grand Union is now C-Town, and there is a whole aisle of Goya. Yet just like that old refrigerator, in a corner of the store there is that olive condite. It’s made by a different company, but it still tastes great. That’s the bonus-when I was young, it just tasted good. Now, it tastes good, and it takes me back.