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KOB kids learn about foods of 1912

Students in the Kids on the Block program are getting a taste of 1912, quite literally.

As part of a new, week-long “McMinnville 100 Years Ago” curriculum, they get to taste Oreos, Lifesavers or other treats that children ate in 1912 and still eat today.

Connie Levi, KOB site leader at Newby, developed the “McMinnville 100 Years Ago” curriculum. She presented it at her own school this week, and it will be used at other KOB sites later in the school year.

“These Lifesavers are 100 years old,” Levi told a group of third-graders, holding up a box of the round, hard candies.

“What?!!” one girl yelped, mistaking the leader’s meaning. She thought those particular candies had been sitting around for a century.

Levi explained that the Lifesaver company had started production in 1912. She and other KOB leaders distributed candies in the original Pep-O-Mint flavor for the students to taste.

Dylan Ruiz said he’d never had a Lifesaver. “It looks like those things that float, that you throw in the water,” he said before popping the candy into his mouth.

Students also tasted Oreos, which were introduced in 1912 by the National Biscuit Company. They learned more about Goo-Goo Clusters, the first candy with a mixture of chocolate, marshmallows, peanuts and caramel; Ocean Spray cranberries, introduced by the Cape Cod Cranberry Co. in 1912; Sunmaid Raisins, which introduced its Sunbonnet Girl mascot in 1916; and Whitman’s Samplers, candies that come in a box topped by a picture of a sampler cross-stitched by the mother of the company manager.

When it came to Cracker Jack, Levi spread out a cache of prizes children would have found in boxes of the candy in 1912. “Cool!” third-graders marveled as they caressed tiny whistles, small sea creatures, diminutive dolls and other intriguing items.

Levi opened a modern box of Cracker Jack as well. The children peered at the prize, a printed paper that could be folded to reveal another image, then returned to playing with the old-fashioned trinkets.

In addition to examining vintage items and learning about the snacks available in 1912, Levi showed students a collection of items from 1912 and other parts of the first half of the 20th century. Many were from her personal collection — a semi-pro baseball uniform that belonged to her grandfather, for instance, and a baby picture of her grandmother, born in 1912.

KOB students also played games that children from that era would have played.

In “Drop the Handkerchief,” they sat in a circle while the person who was “it” walked behind them with a handkerchief. When he dropped it behind someone, that person had to chase him around the circle, trying to tag him before he reached the now-empty seat.

Newby third-graders loved it. “Can we do it one more time?” they begged Levi several times.

In another game, “Telephone,” they sat in a circle again. The first person whispered a word to the second, who whispered it to the third, and so on. The last person said the word aloud to see it had been communicated correctly all the way around the circle.

Students also played “Monopoly” and other board games popular in 1912. And they played with jacks and balls and other toys from the pre-plastic, pre-electronic age.

There was one thing they didn’t do during “McMinnville 100 Years Ago Week.” They didn’t visit the school’s computer lab.

Usually, the lab is open for KOB. But since computers were a distant dream in 1912, it was closed this week.

As a culminating activity, KOB students visited the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center to learn more about the lives of people who lived a century ago.
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KOB kids learn about foods of 1912

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