Cooking Catastrophe Stories: Halloween Horror Brought Laughter

A personal account of a cooking catastrophe.


Halloween Horror Brought Laughter


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My most memorable cooking catastrophe took place October 31, 1963, when my husband, Jerry, and I were living in Alameda, California, and had been married less than three months.

Jerry and I had become friends with another young couple from our church, and I thought it would be nice to have them over for a company dinner.

Excited to entertain

On the evening of the dinner party, I was excited for the opportunity to impress and entertain our friends. Our little kitchen table was set with my lovely new linens and place settings.

Our finances were minimal, to say the least, but I had managed to prepare a hearty stew, coleslaw and dinner rolls.

When Jerry came into the kitchen, just moments before our guests were due to arrive, I proudly offered him a taste of the stew. He took a bite, and then his bright smile suddenly turned to a look of shock as he spit the stew out.

I tasted it, and figured out what had happened. Apparently when I went to thicken the stew, instead of grabbing the cornstarch, I picked up the baking soda by mistake. It tasted horrible.

Panicking and crying, I shrieked, “What are we going to do?”

We didn’t have enough cash to go to the store and buy something else, and I didn’t have anything else on hand to fix.

“We’ll serve it, but there’s no way I’m saying the blessing over this!” Jerry said. “I’ll ask him to. Then we’ll let them take a bite and wait for their reaction.”

Mistake became prank

Seconds later, our guests arrived and came inside.

“Oh, something sure smells delicious!” they said.

We sat down at the table, and Jerry solemnly said, “Brother, would you like to say the blessing?”

Jerry and I squirmed as the meal was blessed, and then I said, “Help yourself.”

They each took a bite, and instantly a look of shock came across their faces. They tried to mask it, as Jerry and I burst out laughing.

When we shared the story of what had happened, they got a big laugh out of it. We ate the coleslaw and dinner rolls while anticipating dessert.

We had scraped up enough cash to take our friends to the creamery, which made the best sundaes. Just knowing we were going to go there helped get us through the situation in a laughing manner.

However, as we drove up the creamery, we noticed a sign that read “Closed due to Halloween.” And it was then that I burst out into new-bride tears.

Luckily, we remained good friends with this couple long after the horrible evening when we served them horrible stew.

Antioch, California