The think-tank located here toward the mid-section of the Bulletin office has become fascinated lately with the term “trimmings.”
It seems a lot of meals served as fund-raising endeavors for worthy charitable causes frequently include these tantalizing, though mysterious, delicacies. And if you’ve lived in these parts for longer than three months, you probably already understand that it’s not just mere trimmings that are promoted at such events; invariably, it’s “all the trimmings.”
My Webster’s New World College Dictionary, the official reference of the Associated Press, defines such usage of the word as simply “the side dishes of a meal.” That is about as broad a definition as you can get, so I construe it to include a vast array of options.
Consider that when I was in elementary school, one of my classmates bemoaned the fact that peanut butter was not available on the days hot dogs were served. Mustard, relish and… peanut butter? This classmate also liked ketchup on his rice pudding, and I must say, given the quality and consistency of the rice pudding provided each Monday at our school cafeteria, that serving suggestion looked no less edible. It couldn’t have hurt it any, that’s for sure.
Perhaps you know someone whose palate is like that. Perhaps you married someone whose palate is like that.
So, whenever I read that a benefit supper has been scheduled, I occasionally wonder if my childhood friend Avery might show up and demand a jar of peanut butter to slather on his hot dog. After all, he might reason, they advertised “all the trimmings.” Obviously, one person’s idea of “all” may not be universally shared.
It seems that “trimmings” can be almost anything you want them to be. And they are completely different depending on the choice of main course. The “trimmings” — even “all the trimmings” — that are served with turkey, for example, are not the same items that are served with hamburgers. At least, they are different for everyone except for people like Avery. You don’t see lettuce and tomatoes too often on the Thanksgiving Day menu, and neither do you see cornbread stuffing and cranberry sauce at a Fourth of July cookout. It’s just not American.
One of the think-tank regulars here suggested I consider opening a “trimmings delicatessen,” where the full scope of the trimmings phenomenon could be explored. After all, we have countless numbers of places where you can pick up a good hamburger. Even the doughnut shop near my house will serve you one. That market niche is certainly well covered already. But with more people choosing to eat a bit lighter these days, a “trimmings delicatessen” could cater to them by serving only the “trimmings.” You could even call the place “Only the Trimmings.”
But is there really a market for cole slaw and potato salad without the brisket? For sliced onion and chips without the burger? For sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie without the turkey? People really do show up at charitable affairs all the time, lured only by the promise of a main course accompanied by nondescript “trimmings” — and they clamor for more. And judging by the importance the planners of these events place on their “trimmings,” they must be a real drawing card. But is that enough to carry a specialty diner?
I was beginning to think this idea wouldn’t go over very well until someone reminded me that bacon could be considered a “trimming.” Maybe there’s hope for the concept yet.
I can envision a franchise of small shops stretching across the nation. We would sell trimmings wraps, trimmings burritos and trimmings subs, with (all together now) “all the trimmings.” Those certainly would include sliced turkey breasts, frankfurters or ground beef patties — all optional, of course. We would play 1950s and ’60s oldies tunes in the dining area, and train our staff to understand that tomatoes are really not vegetables.
But it’s the kids’ meals where I see the true opportunity. With the right mix of targeted media brainwashing — I mean, promotions — children will be throwing tantrums to eat out at a place where french fries are served without the pork chop, and hush puppies are featured without the fish.
If this pans out, there’s opportunity for expansion with a spin-off, “All the Fixin’s.”
Whether it’s a good idea or not, I’ve concluded one thing: I’ve been watching too much Donny Deutsch.
Gene Deason is managing editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Friday. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.