Monday, April 01, 2013

“WondeRoast”




c. 2013 Rod Ice
All rights reserved
(3-13)



Newspaper columns can be inspired by all sorts of happenings. News developments, accidental encounters, or the most plain everyday event.
For this writer, a recent creative odyssey came from the purchase of a rotisserie chicken at my local grocer.
While taking the packaged bird from their warm case, I observed to the clerk on duty that my favorite roasted fowl was one seen in yonder days at Convenient Food Mart. It was spicy and red, prepared on-site and offered in a colorful foil bag. They called it ‘WondeRoast.’
“Not sure of the ingredients,” I confessed. “They used a dry rub of some kind, I think. I would guess with paprika, maybe even some cayenne pepper.”
My meal-time memory was from the 1980’s, before the clerk had been born. So she smiled with a polite apology.
“Really? Never heard of those,” she said.
“In those days, you would not find rotisserie birds at a local supermarket,” I explained. “They were a specialty item. I found them at the location on Cherry Street, in Chardon. If I happened to visit during the cooking cycle, an aroma of fresh chicken filled the store. It was difficult not to purchase at least two during every visit. Sometimes three!”
She looked at me with a sort of kind amusement normally reserved for senior citizens. “Have a nice day!”
In the checkout lane, I searched for a WondeRoast iPhone app. But it didn’t exist.
Typically, such episodes had ended with information and a creative burst of prose for my newspaper. But I had a sinking feeling that the WondeRoast story would be more complicated to uncover.
At home, I got on the office computer. Details began to emerge from the company profile, on their website:

“WondeRoast Incorporated is located at 11401 County Road 3, Hopkins, Minnesota, 55343.”

Reading their history helped to explain the unique heritage of this iconic food producer:
opkins, Minnesota,


 “WondeRoast was originally started as part of Hopkins Food Equipment, which was founded by Donald G. Larson in 1954, and which added the Electromatic Chef line in 1960. Later, that line became Ranch Roasted Products, then WondeRoast, which was then incorporated in 1975.”

The site offered details about their line of rotisserie ovens and warmer boxes. Plus, instructions and videos that explained how to prepare chickens and other products for sale. Not included were any details about the WondeRoast seasoning, or birds.
I stared at the screen with disbelief.
Another search for the roasting recipe took me to links, links and more links on the Internet. Yet without finding any useful information.
I felt stymied by the search for my long-lost lunch.
Further investigation yielded a variety of rotisserie rub recipes. I read through each one, hoping to find a suitable recreation of the long-lost WondeRoast chicken:

1) McCormick Perfect Pinch Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning – Salt, onion, paprika and garlic.

2) Roast Sticky Chicken Rotisserie Style – Salt, paprika, onion powder, thyme, white pepper, cayenne pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, onions.

3) Rotisserie Chicken Rub – Kosher salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, brown sugar, thyme, dry mustard, cayenne pepper, black pepper.

4) Sweet and Spicy Dry Rub – Brown sugar, thyme, kosher salt, paprika, granulated garlic, black pepper, cayenne pepper.

5) Peruvian Roasted Chicken – White vinegar, white wine, canola oil, garlic powder, paprika, cumin, black pepper, salt, lemon juice.

6) Touch of Dutch Natural Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning – Sea salt, cane sugar, paprika, onion powder, annatto, garlic, cayenne pepper, canola oil, natural hickory flavor, celery seed, chili powder, black pepper.

7) Lemon & Rosemary Marinade – Lemons, fresh rosemary, olive oil, garlic cloves.

8) French’s Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning Blend – Salt, dehydrated onion, chili pepper, dehydrated garlic, soy sauce, sugar, paprika.

9) Lawry’s Rotisserie Seasoned Chicken – Seasoned salt, seasoned pepper, olive oil.

10) Bumble Bee’s Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning – Smoked paprika, granulated garlic, celery salt, citric acid, red chili powder, sea salt, dark chili powder, marjoram, thyme, black pepper.

Finally, an ad for Reider’s on Fredle Drive in Concord appeared in a page of search results. It boasted about having the delicious WondeRoast chickens for 4.44, limit 5 birds.
I had to read the document twice.
My voice boomed in the empty house. “THAT’S THE CHICKEN!”
I retrieved my iPhone from the kitchen, and texted a friend who shops the store regularly, two or three times a month. She promised to check on the availability of this unique fowl.
Meanwhile, I began to write about the experience for my newspaper.
It was an open-ended piece, because I had not yet netted one of the elusive birds for my dinner table. I wouldn’t have a day off to visit the store for at least another week. But promise made me prolific.
I took an oath while still sitting at the desk. “WondeRoast, you will be mine!”

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3 Comments:

Blogger Susan said...

Did you end up finding the WondeRoast chickens? We used to make and sell them at our Convenient Food Mart. I had to buy them myself, they smelled so good! They were the best chicken I have ever had. Someone online had a recipe for Chef Paul Prudhomme's Roasted Chicken. I use that now, but used Smoked Paprika for half of the paprika. I think that gives it the WondeRoast flavor.

1:58 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Did you end up finding the WondeRoast chickens? We used to make and sell them at our Convenient Food Mart. I had to buy them myself, they smelled so good! They were the best chicken I have ever had. Someone online had a recipe for Chef Paul Prudhomme's Roasted Chicken. I use that now, but used Smoked Paprika for half of the paprika. I think that gives it the WondeRoast flavor.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Donna Lang said...

For years I have tried to find that recipe. Years ago I too tried to track it down even calling a name that someone gave me of an oldtimer who owned a store. Unfortunately he didn't have a recipe. Seemed they got it packaged that way. So,did you get to eat one and was it the same? My office was in the same complex on Cherry Street and all day long I would smell that wonderful aroma. We had that chicken at least once a week for many, many years. If you find that recipe...please send it to me. Donna Lang donnamitey@aol.com



12:33 AM  

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