Tomato Soup Memories

Reading the newspaper isn’t one of my daily habits; I rarely even pick it up.  In fact, if I’m home alone, the papers stack up in the corner of our garage, still rolled and rubber-banded.  But today, when I saw that big can of

Umm Umm Good!

Campbell’s Tomato Soup looming on the front page, I have to admit, I had to pick it up.

Campbell’s Tomato Soup is part of my growing up, part of my history, part of my childhood – and has been a special part of my adulthood as well.  My mother made it for me when I was small and the memory of a warm, steamy bowl—complete with crumbled Ritz crackers makes my mouth water even now.  My mom always made ours with milk instead of water; it was so much creamier and good.  And then, we have one of my favorite meals ever – then and now – a bowl of Tomato Soup and grilled cheese or a grilled tuna sandwich.  How can you beat it?

I imagine that 100+ acre Campbell’s Soup plant with its processing equipment and 700 workers, some who’d been there over 25 years of the plant’s 65 year history, the influx of trucks—carrying loads and loads of tomatoes in to be transformed to my beloved Tomato Soup—closing its doors.

Hundreds of workers will disperse and find other jobs; it will be difficult for many.  I imagine all that machinery silent, no more rich red Tomato Soup funneling into cans that shuttle down the conveyor belt, and eventually end up in my kitchen pantry.  I think of all the cold snowy days back in Virginia when my mom would call me in from play and place a bowl of soup on my little TV tray, always with crackers, sometimes paired with grilled cheese.  I see that big cheery can of Campbell’s Tomato Soup on the front page of today’s news and I close my eyes and feel it warming me inside as the snow melts off my boots and mittens onto the kitchen floor.

Healthier meals and snacks have caused sales to slow they say; people just don’t eat soup for dinner much anymore they said.  It’s going by the wayside – but for those of us who grew up in an era where a can of Tomato Soup or Chicken Noodle Soup was not only a meal but a tradition, it brings a pang of nostalgia and longing for a past that is fading in the rear
view mirror.


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