Frozen lima beans: The gift that keeps on gagging

eating,_chewing,_nut,_teeth,_mouth copy It will have been more than 80 years ago next month since Clarence Birdseye, inspired by ancient food preservation methods used by Arctic Eskimos, made history by introducing the very first frozen food option: “Savory Caribou on a Stick.”

Though his first selection was met with little enthusiasm, Birdseye persisted, and eventually created a line of frozen vegetables that many of us are still gagging on today.

I, for one, am still unable to walk past lima beans in the frozen food section without getting the dry heaves. This reaction stems from my childhood, and a spoonful of lima beans I’ve been trying to swallow since 1973.

Unless you’ve been hermetically sealed and stuck in a freezer, you already know March is “National Frozen Food Month.” Coincidentally, I should mention this happens to fall in the same month as “National Ear Muff Day,” “Extraterrestrial Abduction Day” and “National Pig Day,” meaning that, for anyone whose pig happened to be wearing ear muffs at the time it was flash frozen by alien abductors, this is a big month for you.

For the rest of us, March is when frozen food manufacturers remind us to consider foods we wouldn’t dish up without some type of extra incentive, such as giving it to a cell mate named “Big Red” in exchange for protection.

Which isn’t to say all frozen food experiences have to be terrible. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for Mom to pull my Libbyland “Sundown Supper” from the oven. That’s because the makers of Libbyland provided enough games, toys and other distractions that, for all I knew, I was eating breaded eel.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I remember seeing an actual eel on the cover of the Libbyland box. This should have sent my childhood gag reflex into high alert. And Libbylandit probably would have if not for the fact that this particular eel was wearing a cowboy hat and spurs. It didn’t matter that a sea creature leading a wagon train through the high plains made no sense whatsoever. Or that the cowboy cook was a prairie dog who appeared to be stirring a pot of buzzard beaks.

What mattered was that each dinner came with a packet of “Milk Magic” that turned my milk the color of gangrene and, even more importantly, grossed my mother out.

With those fond memories in mind, I went looking for the same kind of frozen dinner excitement for my own children. This led me to a collection of entrees that are either (a) the ultimate example of truth in advertising, or (b) menu items submitted by Hannibal Lecter.

The first thing I found was something called Jurassic Fried Chicken, which, for all I knew, meant really, really old fried chicken. I also grabbed Cheese Blaster Mac & Cheese, a Carnival Corn Dog meal, and, against my better judgement, Bug Hunt Fun Nuggets.

The idea was to cook all four meals and let the kids have a frozen dinner buffet. This plan began to fade once I actually started reading through the meal descriptions, beginning with the Carnival Corn Dog: “A batter-dipped Frank made with chicken, pork and beef on a stick.”

In this case, it wasn’t the combination of meats that concerned me; it was the fact that “Frank” was capitalized.

This made the whole Bug Hunt Fun Nuggets concept of “finding” processed nuggets in the shape of insects a little hard to swallow. And to be honest, I had my concerns about how anyone’s intestinal tract would react to a meal that included the term “Cheese Blaster.”

Of course, none of these concerns mattered to my kids; all that mattered to them was that Dad was grossed out.

Things probably would’ve ended there. But I felt obligated, as a concerned father, to show them my lima beans.

(You can write to Ned Hickson at, or Siuslaw News, P.O. Box 10, Florence, Ore., 97439)


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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

29 thoughts on “Frozen lima beans: The gift that keeps on gagging”

      1. Well, my keyboard is happier, anyway. You really outdid yourself with this one, you know. I probably would have shorted out everything on my desktop had I been drinking that tea.

        Oh, those wretched frozen lima beans! And the minions of Satan that kept our mothers filling up the freezer with them! GAH. This whole post brought back way too many memories, Ned, though it was an excellent piece of investigative jurnalism. Poor Frank. On a stick, no less. A grisly end, I must say.

        1. Hahaha! I’m just glad you weren’t eating lima beans when you read this. I would hate to think what might’ve happened. And yes, as another reader mentioned, He must’ve been mad at us about something when He created the Lima bean! Thank you, Marcia, for recognizing my sacrifice for this jurnalistic investigation 😉

    1. Alas, they don’t make them anymore. They were great. And I’m sorry, but microwaved TV dinners just don’t taste the same as oven-cooked. Then again, I suppose cooking cardboard in the oven or in a microwave doesn’t really make a difference 😉

  1. Love MOST veggies— Lima beans? GROOSSSSS!!!!
    By the way have your kids tried “Bug Juice” my 13 year old loves the blue flavored one… (Not really from bugs and probably not even a speck of juice but but glorified koolade!)
    He loved the juice until one day we were driving in a rather buggy time of year and area… I suddenly burst out in song “sometimes your the windshield… Sometimes your the bug…” Can’t remember the country singer… But kids were laughing and grossed out! 🙂

    1. You definitely hit parenting gold there! It’s always satisfying when you can gross the kids out and make them laugh 😉 My kids were into the Bug Juice for a while. Weird stuff. I kind of had a similar experience with my kids, telling them I could make them Bug Juice if they just let me drive up and down the I-5 corridor a few times then squeegee the windshield into a cup. I don’t think they looked at their juice the same way anymore 😉

  2. Could never figure out why God gave us lima beans. I think it was punishment for something. Luckily, only a few ever passed my lips and I intend to keep it that way.

    Funny, as usual, and I love starting the morning with chuckles. Thanks.

        1. When I lived in the South, okra was obviously a big deal there. I used to cook huge pans of it to put in Gumbo. The longer it cooked, the more the insides would break down and — seriously — it looked like snot. Even when fried, okra has no redeeming value except as a torture device by the CIA.

          1. Southern Gal, here, about to commit heresy. I agree with you 100%. I make my gumbo SANS okra, thankyouverymuch. No one complains. And personally, I’d rather eat fried cotton balls.

            Now I have to go away, before they revoke my membership in the “I’m Allowed to Say Y’all Even When I’m Only Talking To One Person” Club.

  3. Hahaha. Wonderful post, as usual. I never ate any frozen dinners growing up and thankfully no lima beans. I always hated the slimy fruit in syrup from restaurant-sized cans from Agway that we had regularly though.

    1. I imagine canned fruit cocktail would be about the same. Never liked that stuff, either. The pair chunks were always as hard as a rock, and the way the cherry pieces “bled” all over the other fruit always grossed me out. Fruit shouldn’t bleed, unless it’s being prepared for Hannibal Lecter.

  4. Can’t say I’ve bean there. I don’t know what a lima bean tastes like. I love broad beans, string beans, and then baked beans. But lima beans, I’ve seen them sitting on the shelf and I have never known what to do with them. Gagging on your meal, is not recommended. I’m going to have to be REALLY persuaded now, to buy any!

    Funny post, I enjoyed it (or your style, really) 🙂

  5. I just snorted my friggin’ way through this blog… I don’t mind limas, have eaten whale blubber, dried caribou, dried salmon as staples and I still found this hilarious… mostly b/c my teenage daughter’s white bread boyfriend’s two food groups were pizza and macNcheese… and we’re (now) vegan, but, oh, you still make me laugh, gut busting laughs!

    1. Many thanks for the kind words! After reading your list of previous menu choices, if you ever decide you want to get rid of your daughter’s boyfriend, you could always have him over for dinner 😉

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