Copyright 2006 Mike Patrick Jr, MDPie mold. No, it's not the fuzzy stuff you find a week after Aunt Loretta sends you home with left-overs. Campers know what I'm talking about. Pie molds were all the rage in the Seventies--and they're still popular today. One of my favorite childhood memories is sitting around the campfire as a kid, feeling the warmth on my face, watching the flames dance, listening to the hiss and pop of burning wood, and smelling the acrid aroma that will linger in your clothes until their next washing. In this memory, I'm holding the wooden grips of a pie mold, keeping its cooking surface just above the hot coals on the fire's edge.The Pie Mold was our campfire cooker, and a slick one at that. On the business end, two metal plates came together, sandwiching a creation of bread and toppings. Stick it in the fire a minute or two, pull it out, open it up, and wah-lah: You had a golden-brown pie filled with pizza fixings or cherry sauce or bacon and eggs or whatever else got your stomach growling and your mouth watering. It may not have been the healthiest of meals, but remember this is camping we're talking about. Save your salads and yogurt for home. When you're out in the woods, you gotta live a little.There was a time I had forgotten this memory. High School and College have a tendency to erase some of your past, and for me the pie mold became a victim of that fate. I met a girl. We graduated from College, married, started a family--you know the drill. At some point in this process, I discovered something amazing: My wife's father makes pie molds. I'm not kidding. Talk about an uncanny way of reviving a childhood memory. Soon after I made this discovery, he told me the story.Back in 1962, pie molds were around, but they were made of cast iron. The iron took forever to reach cooking temperature and it distributed heat unevenly. So instead of a golden-brown pie, you ended up with burnt crust and a lukewarm center. He had the idea that heavy-duty aluminum would work better. It would heat quickly, it would heat evenly, and it was light weight to boot. Not being a man to sit on the sidelines while another takes action, he called a foundry, invested in a pattern, and the Minute Pie Mold Company was born. As it turns out, he was right about the aluminum. The Minute Pie Mold outperformed the old cast-iron model in every way, and sales climbed as campers started using them.
Upon hearing his story, I called my parents, eager to see if the pie mold of my memory was a Minute Pie Mold. How cool would that be?Well, I'm sorry to say my parents couldn't remember. It seems their divorce had put a damper on camping memories, and since a drop-down-drag-out custody battle over gear wasn't in the cards, that old pie mold was lost to the ages. But to this day, I firmly believe it was a Minute Pie Mold. Don't try to convince me otherwise.So what's my point? Well, I'm not after free advertising for the Minute Pie Mold Company (although I'm sure you'd put a smile on an old man's face if you surf over to www.minutepiemold.com and take a peek at what I'm talking about) and I'm not trying to convince you that providence led me from an old campfire cooker to its creator's daughter.What it does boil down to is this: Memories. If I hadn't married the daughter of a pie mold maker, I might have forgetten those campfire memories altogether. But I did marry the daughter of a pie mold maker. I do remember the campfire memories, and I did something about them. We have a campfire ring in the backyard and a whole set of Minute Pie Molds thanks to a generous family discount. Most important of all, the kids whoop and holler when we light a fire and break out the molds. They love pie mold nights. They're forming their own campfire memories, ones they will someday share with their children.What childhood memories have you forgotten? Don't answer now. You can't. Afterall, they're forgotten. But if you slow down and pay attention, something will come back to you. And when it does, don't ignore it. Let it come back. Hold on to it. Remember it. Then take the time to share it with your children.------Mike Patrick Jr, MD is an American pediatrician. He also authors Pediascribe, a weekly column exploring the issues most important to parents and their children. Read more at Pediascribe.comhttp://www.pediascribe.com