A Brief History Of: Uh Oh Spaghetti Os!

It's always nice when the food you eat inspires poetry:
Oh, dear humble SpaghettiO,
Your round delight, the straight-line's foe,
Your sauce, your cheese, your hearty glow,
The truth--it's true!--I love you so.*

Yes, the SpaghettiO, because who said spaghetti had to come in a straight line? I am usually wary of food that comes in a can, but I happily make an exception for SpaghettiOs, which are the reason I learned how to use the electric can opener when still in the second grade. Little round circles of pasta (three sizes!), suspended in a cheesy tomato sauce, always emerged hot and delicious from the microwave. I probably loved SpaghettiOs a little too early for a little too long (I don't have any in my pantry right now, but that's because the grocery was only selling Spiderman-shaped SpaghettiOs...), but for good reason! They are simple, delicious, and--years of Franco-American brainwashing tells me--healthy!

No, but really, let's take a walk down memory lane.

SpaghettiOs' origins, like those of all Great American Heros, are shrouded in mystery. Were they the 1884 creation of an Italian-American family named Kirby (suspicious: Kirby does not sound Italian) or a product of the 1960s, when Franco-American decided to release the ringed pasta? I don't know, and Google is presenting differing histories... (what are they trying to cover up???)

Here's what we do know: SpaghettiOs were first made under the auspices of Franco-American, bought by Campbell's in 1915. The little Os are a mixture of different pastas, anelli, anellini, and occhi di pernice if you believe Wikipedia, or, according to the Franco-American Kidz Fun Facts website, ditali, ditalini, tubetti, and tubetini. SpaghettiOs come in 4 different varieties: plain, meatballs, franks, and extra calcium (whatever that means), although--Fun Fact!--the meatball version actually has no meat in it, as anyone who has ever eaten the meatball version could tell you.

When they were released in 1965, they were branded as the solution to the perenial problem of cheerful babies dumping bowls of spaghetti on their heads. Franco-American said the little Os were easier and less messy to eat, and sold their point by advertising on napkins. But they really shot to popularity when teed idol Jimmie Rodgers (not this Jimmy Rodgers) recorded the now-famous "Uh Oh SpaghettiOs!" song. Dear reader, the lyrics:
The neat round spaghetti you eat with a spoon,
Uh Oh, spaghetti os.

Starting in 1980, SpaghettiOs teamed up with animation studios to feature cartoon-shaped pasta, including Garfield (who probably would have preferred being turned into lasagna), Gargoyles (who remembers them?), and Waldo (rebranded as WaldO, natch). Since then, I've seen just about every kiddie cartoon get the SpaghettiO treatment, something I'm not too happy about. Not only is it distressingly hard to discern the difference between Dora the Explorer and Ren & Stimpy SpaghettiOs, but there was always something off about the cross-hatched taste of those weird little shapes.

This is the part of the post where I usually write about a personal recipe I use incorporating the briefly-historicized food, but the only recipe I generally follow when making SpaghettiOs is open can, dump into bowl, add heat, enjoy. Luckily, thanks to the magic of the Internets, I discovered an article by Trent Sandusky called "X-TREME Spaghetti-Os: Enhance Your Canned Pasta (and Your Life!)". Trent, who writes "I started out small: green peppers, diced onions, chocolate chips. The chocolate chips were a bad idea, but progress never comes without a price," seems to be a chef/blogger after my own heart. Branding himself an Expert-O!, he presents 5 SpaghettiO-centered recipes with the kind of cheerful abandon for clashing tastes and affronted sensibilities that I strive for in my own recipes. I like the SpaghettiO pizza (although Trent appears to like it too much) and adapted the recipe for actual human consumption.

SPAGHETTIO PIZZA
INGREDIENTS
1 pizza crust, either fresh or frozen (be sure to defrost)
1 can plain or meatball SpaghettiOs
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzerella

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Spread unheated SpaghettiOs onto pizza crust
Sprinkle evenly with mozzerella
Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until mozzerella is completely melted

*Shocking that I don't get paid to write this blog, eh?

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