Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I’d Like to Buy the World a Chokewood Fool

When I was a kid my father had a cabin in northern Wisconsin.  This part of the state is mostly forest land.  When at the cabin, we would occasionally go for a drive to the “spring”.  After traveling many dirt roads we would come to a non-nondescript spot in the woods.  A short walk would bring you to a natural spring.  Clear and cold water bubbled-up into a small rock formation.  Someone had left an old rusty “dipper”, which was just an old sauce pan.  Back at the cabin we had well water, which you pumped by hand into a pail for drinking and washing.  But this spring water was even better, not only did it taste better but you didn’t need to manually pump it up from the ground.   And that’s what passed for entertainment in northern Wisconsin – driving to the spring to get a dipper of spring water!

In the November 11, 1943 episode of V&S titled, “Stingyberry Jam“, Uncle Fletcher relates a story of a man, Sam E. Honker,  who hated well water “worse than a snake!”  But he “cultivated a taste for well water” and would holler “bring me a dipper of well water”.  Uncle Fletcher goes on to say that Sam E.Honker liked well water more than warm lemonade, choke wood fool, or a muskmelon cordial.   It got me to wonder, what’s a Choke wood fool?  What’s a muskmelon cordial?  Warm lemonade?

What’s a Chokewood Fool?
Let’s start with the “chokewood” first.  I suspect this refers to chokeberries.  Sometime these are erroneously called Chokecherries.  Chokeberries, formally called Aronia3, are small round berries which resemble blueberries (although they can also be red, black, or purple in color).  They can be eaten and are often baked in breads or turned into juice.  So, I think chokewood actually refers to chokeberries.  

Now consider the "Fool" part.  From Wikipedia1:
“A fool is an English dessert. Traditionally, fruit fool is made by folding pureed stewed fruit (classically gooseberries) into sweet custard. Modern fool recipes often skip the traditional custard and use whipped cream. Additionally, a flavouring agent like rose water may be added.

Foole is first mentioned as a dessert in 1598 (together with trifle), although the origins of gooseberry fool may date back to the 15th century. The earliest recipe for fruit fool dates to the mid 17th century.” 

So a chokewood fool is probably a dessert-like drink made from chokeberries. 
So what’s a Muskmelon Cordial?
A non-alcoholic cordial is sometimes called a squash.  From Wikipedia2:

“Squash (also called cordial or dilute) is a non-alcoholic concentrated syrup used in beverage making.

Traditional squashes may be flavoured with elderflowers, lemon, pomegranate, apple, strawberry, chokeberry (often with spices such as cinnamon or cloves added), orange, pear, or raspberry.  Modern squashes usually have simpler flavours, such as orange, apple, summer fruit (mixed berries), blackcurrant, apple and blackcurrant, peach, pineapple, mango, lime, or lemon.”

It’s not hard to imagine a squash (cordial) made from a muskmelon (also called a honeydew melon).

Warm Lemonade?
From Wikipedia4:

“Generally served cold, cloudy lemonade may also be served hot as a remedy for congestion and sore throats, frozen, or used as a mixer.”


That almost sounds good to me, warm lemonade on a cold Wisconsin night!  Although I’m sure that Vic would disagree.  In the October 20th, 1942 episode titled “Fred's Concrete Floor” Fred Stembottom tries to lure Vic over to help with his concrete garage floor project using warm lemonade, which Vic vehemently insists he hates!

So these drinks may sound a little strange to us, but they aren’t fictitious, there really is a Chokewood Fool, a Muskmelon Cordial, and Warm Lemonade.  Cheers!

-- Dave from Wisconsin


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