Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Yummy Centennial

Much of my writing this season has been occupied with centennials.  The first half of 2012 is also the second half of the Centennial Season of the San Francisco Symphony, which gave its first performance on December 8, 1911.  However, a celebration closer to my personal interests is that 2012 is the centennial year of the birth of John Cage on September 5, 1912.

In this austere context it may seem a bit frivolous to celebrate the centennial of a cookie, but 1912 is also the year in which the first Oreo cookies were baked by Nabisco in their Chelsea factory in New York City.  (The Wikipedia entry does not give a specific date.)  It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Oreo is no more an ordinary cookie than to call Cage an ordinary composer.  When my wife and I moved to Singapore in 1991, expatriates were still telling stories about the enormous line that formed outside Jason’s when this goodie first went on sale there.  It is therefore no surprise that BBC News has reported celebrations of the Oreo Centennial not only by flash mobs in the United States but also by (presumably more subdued) celebrations in China, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela.  Considering the current global tensions, one would think that the Oreo should be seriously investigated as a vehicle for world peace.  That would probably bring a beatific smile to Cage’s face, were he to be informed of how his anniversary was being shared.

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