Saturday, December 15, 2012

Traditional Chex Mix

The gang's all here for "Traditional Chex Mix."
My husband’s best friend Brad has many talents, not the least of which is making really killer Chex Mix. Brad insists, as do I, on the “original” recipe that is baked to perfection in a slow oven. So, like me, Brad would probably be stunned to see this recipe for Chex Mix, which is a far cry from the Mix I’ve been making and munching on for the last decade. The recipe itself looks like it was folded up in one of those teeny plastic bags and stuffed inside the cereal box itself, and is accompanied by some variations that I’m sure were cutting-edge at the time: Cajun, Peanut and my personal fave, Harvest (which features curry powder, chow mein noodles and raisins).

Melted butter awaiting more ingredients.
A quick glance at the Chex website,, and you’ll realize how quaint (and bland) the ‘80s really were. Today’s Chex Mix variations feature caramel, chocolate “blasts,” malted milk powder, BBQ sauce and powdered ranch dressing mix (but not all together – not yet). It seems that just adding pretzel sticks is not variation enough for our millennium. If flavor is not literally exploding around you while you’re parked on the couch watching the game, say the good people at Chex, why even bother snacking? The amount of time that has been spent creating modern Chex Mix variations – about half of which make me salivate and half of which activate my gag reflex – is astonishing. But kudos to the Chex cereal folks for turning a rather drab breakfast option into a snack that has endured for 60-plus years.

The 1980s "Traditional"
Whatever the ingredients, the basic concept of Chex Mix has stayed reassuringly the same: Melt some butter and seasonings in a large cookie sheet, stir in cereal and nuts, and bake, tossing every 15 minutes, until coated and crispy.  But this 1980s version is boring, even if it does feature more butter. I prefer a 21st century version featuring pretzels, a few more seasonings (less butter – sigh) and bagel chips. Though not technically from the Time Capsule, I’ve included it here. I think you'll be pleased.

Traditional Chex Party Mix
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1-1/4 teaspoons seasoned salt
4-1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2-2/3 cups Corn Chex cereal
2-2/3 cups Rice Chex cereal
2-2/3 cups Wheat Chex cereal
1 cup salted mixed nuts

Preheated 350-degree oven. In 15x10x2-inch baking pan melt butter in oven. Remove. Stir in seasoned salt and Worcestershire. Gradually add cereal and nuts, stirring until all pieces are evenly coated. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Spread on absorbent paper to cool. Store in air tight container.

"Please, sir, could I have a pretzel?" says 1980s Chex Mix
My Traditional Chex Mix
3 cups Corn Chex cereal
3 cups Wheat Chex cereal
3 cups Rice Chex cereal
1 cup mixed nuts
1 cup bite-sized pretzels
1 cup bite-sized bagel chips, or regular-sized bagel chips, broken into 1" pieces
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon onion salt

1. Heat oven to 250-degrees.
2. In ungreased large roasting pan, melt butter in oven. Stir in Worcestershire, seasoned salt and garlic and onion powders. Gradually stir in remaining ingredients until evenly coated.
3. Bake uncoverd 1 hour, stirring every 15 mintues. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes. Store in airtight container.
Deliciously salty and crisp: My Traditional Chex Mix variation
·      Chex would have you believe you can get identical results using your microwave. This is a lie. What you may gain in time, you lose in soul-sucking, limp Mix. Take an hour, lazy-bones, and make it the old-fashioned way.
·      Chex would also have you believe that their pre-made Mix (now available in the snack aisle at your local grocery) is identical to a batch of the homemade stuff. This is another lie. Take an hour and make it the old-fashioned way, without any shelf-stabilizers or guar gum.
·      I use Johnny’s Seasoning Salt and real butter.

Why Don’t You …
·      Gift some Mix? Traditional Chex Mix, or a salty variation thereof, is a great gift this time of year, when some people (I’ve heard tell) can get burnt out on the abundance of sweets.  I’ve found it keeps well in an air-tight container. Of course, it only sticks around for about 36 hours at my house, so I can’t vouch for its freshness after, say, a week.
·      Look at all the ways the word “air tight” is featured in this story! I prefer air-tight, the 1980s want it air tight, and the new millennium goes with airtight. We may not agree on syntax, but we can all agree: Chex Mix is delicious!

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