You Might Just Be A "Picnik"...
by Eva Pasco
If the evolution-revolution of an anticonformist
underground movement in American culture sprung the word "Beatnik," it makes perfect sense to coin the
word Picnik in
reference to those who sprawl over the ground or sit at a bench to feast on takeout from home. The earliest
picnics originated in England as medieval hunting feasts of social importance for the wealthy. The picnic
attained prominence as a traditional American pastime where dining outdoors in a casual atmosphere afforded one
an opportunity to leave behind the crumbs of a formal menu in favor of leftovers and convenient portable
Meanwhile, home on the cooking range, cookouts prevail with state of the art
grills standing sentinel on two-tier decks. Dime-a-dozen fast food restaurants lure family travelers off of our
interstates to chew and shoo. The Sixties were a time when Picniks held their ground. Design often a
function dictated by technology or lack thereof, Picniks navigated coolers made of US steel
over hilly and rocky terrain as they searched for green pasture to spread out a blanket. These vintage coolers
rose to the occasion with a bottle opener mounted on the side along with a drain spout. Some had a detachable
tray at the bottom for keeping items dry from the melting ice chunks or cubes.
it in the Sixties without the amenities of freeze packs, zip lock bags, or flip top cans.
As certain as death and taxes, "all foods must perish," influencing
Picniks to feast
within the nick of time while keeping a lid on things to shield provisions from sunlight and ants. Cains and
Hellman's were the Emily Post of mayonnaise--the silent killer if air temperature exceeded 90 degrees F within
an hour and your sandwiches or potato salad had been indecently exposed. Fat free mayo hadn't spread itself
thin just yet.
Though my family had Lincoln Woods State Park available for outdoor foraging, we
were the type of Picniks who searched for an oasis of a picnic ground during our summer road trips throughout
New England and Canada. As if locating our destination wasn't challenging enough, my parents kept their eyes
open for a favorable spot to have lunch. Our picnics resembled medieval banquets as my father cooked steaks on
our Coleman stove, served up with a tossed salad, baked potato, and bread 'n butter. Dad may have done the
honors, but Mom had packed everything with precision the morning of. Rain never deterred us
Picniks, as we'd simply
open the rear gate of the station wagon for cooking and polish off our meal inside the dining car.
Wicker picnic baskets and retro coolers have joined the ranks of nostalgic
items from bygone eras. Picnic grounds still abound, though the art of casually dining outdoors seems to
have ground swelled to the proclivity of camping. Picniks know there's nothing like a spur
of the moment whim to pack it all in the confines of a cooler.
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