Modern Vintage: Holiday Chex Mix

Casey Barber

by Casey Barber on December 10, 2012

Something snapped inside my brain when it came to holiday decorating this year. I grew up in a household where traditional white lights ruled the roost, where Colonial-style candles lit every window, and no rainbow of colors dare come near our Christmas tree. That was how I knew you were supposed to decorate; anything else would be considered tacky, right? But deep inside my nostalgia-obsessed heart has always beat a desire for humongous old-school bulbs, fluffy white artificial trees, and garishly bright colors glowing throughout the house.

Thank Target once again for pushing me over the edge. Its $8 miniature white tinsel tree proved irresistibly priced and enough to unleash my retro impulses with a bang: strung with a set of neon-pink lights, it liberated me to deck the halls in a style that would fit right at home in Edward Scissorhands’ neighborhood. Now there are bright orange candles in my windows, a tiny leg lamp (a Minor Award?) on our console, and Chex Mix in my vintage bowls. Come on, what’s more retro than Chex Mix?

sweet and salty chex mix
Even though savory Chex Mix drenched in buttery Worcestershire sauce has been making the rounds at holiday cocktail parties since bubble lights and tinsel trees were new and innovative, I felt the holidays called for a blend of sweet and salty. Replacing the Worcestershire with maple and vanilla, and garlic and onion with the traditional warming spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, seemed appropriately festive for this time of year. (The plastic lawn flamingos I picked up at the garden center while looking for old-school plastic light-up snowmen might not be seasonally appropriate, but they sure are festive too. Dan wouldn’t let me get a single sheep, though I thought it would be hilariously random.)

I don’t like to mess around with lots of different nuts and add-ons in my Chex Mix: for me, it’s about one thing and one thing only, and that’s buttery, toasty cereal bits. (Yes, I am the kind of person who eats cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Why do you ask?) That’s why my holiday version is mean, lean, and streamlined with only cereal and pretzels. Heck, even the pretzels are pushing it, but their saltiness really does blend so well with the sweetness of maple.

sweet and salty chex mix
If you feel like a nut, go right ahead and add a cup or two of coarsely chopped pecans, peanuts, almonds, cashews, or whatever you like into the mix. Just make sure that your nuts are raw and not already roasted, since the heat of the oven will take care of that for you—because who wants burned nuts in their Chex Mix? Party violation!

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