Day 173 – National Granola Bar Day

I started  to write this post while I was on the bus on our way home from the Women’s March on Washington.  Maybe that will be my new thing from now on: blogging on buses.  The truth of the matter is that it had been a pretty long two days and we were exhausted.  It was dark on the bus, mostly everyone was sleeping and I was having a tough time focusing on the small text on my phone and trying to type with my thumbs as the phone jostled back and forth with every bump the bus would hit.  It just wasn’t going smoothly and I eventually gave in knowing that I could finish it at home.  That was probably a wise decision.

The last 30 hours or so have been a bit of a whirlwind. By all reports, Lola and I weren’t alone out there in our rallying.  Over half a million of us out in the streets of D.C. (real numbers, not Trump/Spicer hogwash) and millions of others taking to the streets worldwide.  It’s not a moment, it’s the movement. A cheers to all those who were part of it all, both the marchers and those who were with us in spirit.  We all did some good today.  We raised our voices.  To celebrate this, I made everyone granola bars.

Well, not everyone.  I had planned ahead on this one and I thought it was fortuitous that of all the things to celebrate today, granola bars were the thing.  They are perfect for traveling whether hiking a lonesome trail, marching through the urban jungle or even just sitting on dark buses in a cloud of old lady farts.  It’s the perfect grab and go snack.

The history of granola dates back to the 19th century and it gets a bit complicated.  It starts with the graham cracker which was created by an outspoken vegetarian named Dr. Sylvester Graham who created a new whole grain wheat flour as a new type of health food.  In 1863, Dr. James C. Jackson of Dansville, NY took the Graham flour and formed into sheets, baked it until it dried, and broke it up into small pieces then rebaked it.  He called this new creation “Granula.” In 1876, Dr. John H. Kellogg, who ran a sanitarium in Battle Creek, MI that advocated a vegetarian diet with a whole grain emphasis, created a similar invention by baking and rebaking the Graham flour.  He also called it granula.  When he was promptly sued by Dr. Jackson, he renamed his cereal “Granola.” Kellogg would later go on to invent Corn Flakes which would start the Kellogg cereal empire.  In 1898, one of Kellogg’s patients at the sanitarium, Charles W. Post, went on to open his own health retreat where he used Dr. Jackson’s basic recipe for Granula to develop Grape Nuts which would become one of the stalwarts of his new company, the Post Cereal Company.  Then, when the 1960s brought us the hippies, there was a resurgence back the idea of eating all natural, healthy foods, so granola was revived by this new health food movement.  The hippies also changed granola from the Grape Nuts version to one featuring whole grains, seeds, nuts and dried fruit, like raisins.  They upped the whole granola world to new levels – thanks Hippies!  (Info here from Yippie Hippie Granola.)

Although there is some dispute, the invention of the granola bar is generally attributed to the inventor Stanley Mason.  Granola was always packed loosely, and it was Mason who realized that you could press the granola down forming it into bar shapes to make it easier for taking on the go.  That was a pretty good idea and it launched a whole new industry as consumers enjoyed the convenience of bars on the go.  Stanley Mason was a pretty interesting guy who not only invented the granola bar, but also the squeezable ketchup bottle, disposable diapers and floss dispensers to name a few.  We owe a lot to this guy.

I made my granola bars on Friday as part of my trip preparation. I decided to use a recipe from a blogger I like, AverieCooks.com, and the recipe was for Peanut Butter Oatmeal Granola Bars. She always makes some good recipes so I trust her, plus she gives nice, easy instructions.  They came together in no time and with no baking either.  You combine some butter, milk and sugar and cook it on the stovetop and have it boil for a minute.  After that, you add in some peanut butter and vanilla which both melt into the syrupy concoction.  When it’s smooth, you add in the oats and some Rice Krispies and mix it up well. You pack that tightly into a pan and put it aside to firm up. After some time, you melt some chocolate and drizzle it on top.  After that, you cut your bars into appropriate size pieces and you are good to go.  I packed mine inside some Tupperware and added it to my bag of goodies to take on the bus.  When 6 am rolled around and hunger started to kick in, I grabbed a piece for both of us and we ate it rolling towards the March somewhere in the early morning darkness of Delaware.

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This was pretty good.  It was full of peanut butter taste with the right amount of crunch thanks to the oats and krispies. To be honest, it was reminiscent of my Peanut Butter Balls, although more of a peanut butter taste.  The only knock against them was that they were crumbly which can be a problem when you are squeezed into a seat on a bus.  But still good and a nice energy boost too.  We were ready to get our march on!

I think we arrived at RFK Stadium in DC around 10.  That’s where they were parking the buses that were coming in from all over.  There were a lot of buses.  The parking lot was full and bustling with activity.  We got out of our bus, stretched, and geared up for the day.  We knew there’d be a lot of walking ahead of us.  We had clear back packs, something they recommended for security reasons, and our poster boards on which to make our message.  Everyone was walking towards the Metro system and you started to get your first glimpse of the scale of this thing.  People everywhere.  As we walked, the folks at Kind Bars were giving away free samples to anyone walking in their path, so I grabbed one.  I thought it an odd coincidence that the one product I saw anyone giving away all day was a granola bar on National Granola Bar Day.  That had to be a sign.

It was truly an amazing and inspiring day.  There were people everywhere and even though  it was cramped, there was a sense of kindness and community wherever you turned.  Sure, there were moments of frustration.  People bumping into you, standing in your line of vision, people oblivious to personal space fields – the usual big crowd stuff.  But I was amazed at the positive feeling that was in abundance.  Oh don’t get me wrong. People were mad.  They had a message for the new administration about what’s happening.  There is outrage.  But collectively, as a group, the feeling that presided over the crowd was togetherness and hope.  That’s it – it was hope.  We have our work to do, but being there alongside everyone else made you feel like our voice was getting louder.  Peace and love, not carnage.

I could go on about the March but I’m starting to fall apart from exhaustion and losing focus.  Besides, there are people telling the story of the Women’s March on Washington with better words than I have.  Read their stuff.  Read about what happened and why it was so inspiring and what we need to do now. Join the movement.  I just came here to tell you about the granola bar that I ate on a bus.  It was good.  Was the Pop Tart that we had stashed for the ride home better?  Yes, much better.  But for me, that granola bar will always be part of a journey I took alongside 40 strangers to go walk around our nation’s capitol to let my voice be heard.  I hope it worked, because I don’t want to have to go back.

But I will, and I’ll bring more granola bars.

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We were there.

Next Up: National Blonde Brownie Day

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