My friend and I are having coffee in his kitchen. We are casually discussing life with his bird, since his bird was sitting on my head at the time. His daughter entered and instantly monopolized the discussion:
"I used to eat the bird food!"
"I used to grab a scoop of seeds and eat 'em with juice."
"Not very good. Too crunchy! And they were pretty much blah."
(Blah means bland. I know this because I teach school.)
Later that day, I pick up my daughter at UCLA, banter about sports, Calculus, AP tests. I mention my friend's daughter and how she ate bird seed. My daughter's voice changed and in a cross between a slightly snarky Detective Columbo and Groucho, she asked me:
"Say? Did I ever tell you how (insert her twin sister's name here) and I used to eat Sammy's food?"
It turns out that she and her sister ate my dog's kibble, tried his biscuits, sampled his treats, more than once. This was before the gourmet dog food craze of this century. This was before dog food was styled and wild and even explored by some chef's child.
"How long did this go on?"
"Well, for at least a year. Probably more than a year."
The more incredulous I became, the funnier it seemed to her. This only made her remember it better.
Suddenly, I remembered my own connection to dog food. I was a kibble nibbler, too. In fact, I ate my dog's biscuits so much that my Mom surrendered and put them on the snack tray beside Oreo cookies, crackers, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
My friends raved about our dog biscuits dipped in peanut butter.
Soon all the kids on the block were not only reaching sneak plunges into their dogs' biscuit boxes—moms were serving biscuits on snack trays throughout our neighborhood, a neighborhood known for good taste and usually refined snack trays.
(Julia Child, my famous foodie neighbor, was reportedly appalled by this dog biscuit mania and was a biscuit basher.)
At the height of my dog biscuit trend-setting success, I remember going to Mark and Nate's house. It was a lovely New England home, mahogany railings winding around spiral stairs, stained glass windows, oriental carpets.
My friends' mom was head of Classics at Connecticut College. Their dad was head of Slavic Languages at Harvard. Across the street was John Kenneth Galbraith, where the Kennedys often visited art collections from India (Galbraith was embassador to India as well as famous economist and Harvard professor).
We were served snack trays by Rose, an Irish maid, complete with a thick brogue.
We were seated in a formal dining room. Our drinks came first, another Don Helverson original, a half glass of milk mixed with a half glass of Ginger Ale. Rose winced as she served our drinks, and she was downright hesitant delivering our snack trays with liver patée, cookes, crackers, peanut butter in a butter serving dish with a little serving knife—and dog biscuits.
Since then, repeating dog biscuit and kibble stories to others, I have heard a tsunami of dog food tales, including someone's grandmother accidentally mistaking wet dog food for cold, meat patée.
Stories abound. Not everybody started a trend, like I did in my neighborhood; nor did everyone get to have Julia Child scorn them. But most of us, who had dogs, sampled a biscuit or a nibble of kibble.
Even Jennifer Anniston and Owen Wilson ate dog biscuits on live television to promote Marley and Me. Be not afraid to join me and them and many children across America. Share your tasty tales with us.
Get some local dog food at (click on names for the Business Directory listing and address as well as other information):
* Centinela Feed & Pet Supplies
* Pride N’ Joy