Deck the halls with Chex Party Mix
By CHRISTINE GARDNERfood@tylerpaper.com
I just ate my first handful of Chex Party Mix. Something I have been waiting for all year.
Usually I start craving it around Halloween. And typically the first batch is made the day before Thanksgiving so the family has something to munch on while waiting for the turkey.
This year it was not made in time, so we found ourselves eating plain Corn Chex straight from the box, Just pretending it was baked to crisp perfection in melted butter and Worcestershire sauce.
I must admit the batch I made today was a little disappointing. I didn't add enough Worcestershire sauce. I had tripled the recipe and went easy on the Worcestershire so it wouldn't be overwhelming and instead I got the opposite - underwhelming Worcestershire, but still delicious. After several handfuls my Chex Party Mix craving is satisfied. Now I can commence my Christmas revelry.
Wheat Chex was the first of the Chex cereals to be released by the Ralston-Purina Company in 1937. In 1950 it was followed by Rice and Corn Chex. Well-known for their dog food, in the early 20th century Purina was also a leader in the cereal and grain industry.
The recipe for Chex Party Mix was created in 1952 but it took a few years to receive its acclaimed status. It became a hit in 1955 after one of the company's executives had his wife serve it at a company Christmas party. Next thing you know an American Christmas classic was born.
In 1987, Chex introduced packaged Chex Mix so it could be enjoyed year-round without the hassle of baking. Later they started giving microwave directions on the cereal boxes so the mix could be enjoyed within 15 minutes.
For me, neither option comes close to matching the flavor of the original baked Chex Party Mix. Typically, I don't like the packaged version and the one time I made it in the microwave it was a bit soggy.
Pulling out the baking pans and putting yourself through the hour long baking process is truly the best way to enjoy it. If you're like me and have been waiting all year to eat it, you can wait one more hour.
But wait; when it comes out of the oven you still can't eat it. It doesn't get really good until it has cooled completely and the flavors have soaked in for at least 30 minutes.
Speaking of flavors I can't keep up with all the different recipes they put on the box. I bought a box of Corn Chex and Rice Chex and each one had four different recipes on the back - Chex Muddie Buddies, Chex Peanut Butter and Chocolate Blast, Chex Caramel Chocolate Drizzles, Chex Chocolate Malt-Cherry Mix, Holday Caramel Chex Mix, and Gingerbread Chex Mix.
Then if you go to www.chexpartymix.com
you will find around 30 savory and over 50 sweet versions, along with recipes for dessert bars, pies, ice cream sandwiches, cheesecakes, meatballs, casseroles and chicken nuggets - all using Chex cereal or Chex Party Mix as an ingredient.
Who knew Chex cereal was so versatile?
When it comes to add-ins I like pretzel sticks, Cheerios and extra nuts. The nuts are my family's favorite part, but if you get caught picking out the nuts or eating all the cashews, you will be banished from the bowl.
I have included the recipe for the original Chex Party Mix which varies slightly from the so-called orginal recipe you find on the modern Chex cereal boxes. This recipe is from an early 1960's box. The early boxes also included the Chex Press. A newspaper that was written on the boxes and updated regularly.
The Chex Press described itself by saying, "The back panels of most packages of Wheat Chex, Rice Chex and Corn Chex carry the Chex Press, a nifty newspaper that combines cheerful reading with cheerful eating.
Remember the Chex Press pulls no punches. It is the only newspaper in the world which has the daring to print nothing but good news. Look for this novel approach to journalism on the back of Wheat Chex, Rice Chex and Corn Chex packages."
On this particular box the Chex Press was abbreviated because of artwork and a cut out recipe card for the Chex Party Mix. The editor had this to say about the Chex Press being trumped by advertising for the party mix.
"People give a lot of parties this time of year, the guys in the advertising department hollered over the partition. I could see what was coming. People like a cheerful morning newspaper all year long, I hollered back. More people ought to know about Party Mix, world's greatest snack, they said. Put an ad in a magazine, I said. We did, they said. Oh, I said, and now look what happened. They snuck a Party Mix ad onto the back of this package instead of the Chex Press. Me, I'm not going to any parties. Too mad. But I do expect to cheer up in time for the next edition. And it'll be on the very next Chex box you buy, I promise."
The writer for the Chex Press was Ron Goulart and he went on to become a successful comedy and science fiction television writer who is still active in the entertainment industry.
So get to the store; buy your boxes of Chex, nuts, pretzels, butter and Worcestershire; pull out the baking sheets and make a big batch of Chex Party Mix. Even if you're not having a party it's a fun Christmas treat that brings back fun memories for all.
Original Chex Party Mix
6 tablespoons butter
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon season salt or 3/8 teaspoon garlic powder & 3/8 teaspoon salt
6 cups Chex (Mix Wheat, Corn and Rice equally or any way you like!)
3/4 cup salted nuts
Heat oven to 250 degrees. Slowly melt butter in shallow pan. Stir in Worcestershire sauce and salt. Add Chex and nuts. Mix until all pieces are coated. Heat in oven 45 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes. Spread on absorbent paper to cool.
Recipe from an early 1960s Wheat Chex box
Updated Wednesday, December 19, 2012, at 9:23 a.m. CDT