Camping made me quit Nutter Butter sandwich cookies. When I was a boy, my family, along with several other families, often camped in North Georgia at a place called Big Creek. For me and the other kids it was just camping but now I realize there was much more to it. Big Creek was our recreational getaway, where we spent weekends and sometimes weeks during the summer. All the families had campers and these were parked at Big Creek for most of the year serving as our dachas. What was seen as camping then has been transformed into golden memories by the alchemy of time.
Many years before the television show “Survivor”, there were about ten of us setting up camp on top of a Mountain in North Georgia. We had decided to camp on top of a mountain leaving the base camp (of parents) far below. We spent the day hauling sleeping bags, food, drinks, and a 10’ x 10’ tent up the mountain on foot, clearing the camp site, erecting the tent, collecting firewood, and starting our fire.
We were a group of pre-teens and teens assembled, and without supervision, on top of the mountain. If the parents were concerned for our safety they didn’t show it. I don’t recall any concerns, restrictions, or warnings. I imagine the parents expected us back at the base camp as soon we ate all the snacks or when the evening replaced the novelty of independence and adventure with a numbing cool dampness, oppressive darkness, and sinister silence.
We passed the time playing with the fire, telling ghost stories, and eating snacks. On this night we were eating Nabisco Nutter Butter peanut butter sandwich cookies and drinking various flavors of Shasta soft drinks. We were being kids, laughing and cutting up. I was doing my share and one quip I made sent a girl into a fit of laughter she would only recover from after vomiting Nutter Butters and orange-flavored Shasta all over the sleeping bags and the interior of the tent.
This scene was as disgusting as it sounds. We had no water and no way to clean up the mess and salvage the evening. Instead we abandoned the camp and hiked down the mountain. This was a long, cold, damp, and spooky descent through the almost impenetrable darkness and silence of a night in the mountains. Our imaginations playing tricks on us with each step. We found the base camp dark, eerily quiet, and uninviting despite the fact our parents were sleeping inside the campers. Each of us was quietly and quickly reunited, without fanfare, and the camp rolled over went back to sleep.
I could not eat Nutter Butter cookies for years but eventually I was forced to when Fig Newtons were nudged off the blood drive menu by the Nutter Butter. Today the sight of a package of Nutter Butter cookies transports me to Big Creek, to that cold, dark night, but always in the warm embrace of friendship and fond memories.