GUEST COMMENTARY: Going mad for mincemeat pie

Monday, January 3, 2011 | 12:54 p.m. CST

It all started the day after Christmas. At first the symptoms were mild — insomnia that night followed by slight body tremors in the morning combined with lethargy and restlessness. I had difficulty thinking clearly and a decreased attention span. I was irritable and nervous.

I told my wife about my symptoms, but she said she had not noticed anything out of the norm for me. "Thanks for the insight, dear." How is it we've remained married 46 years? Next, I noticed the heart palpitations.


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I looked up my symptoms on a medical Internet site and found they were similar to a malady called the DTs. The DTs, or delirium tremens, are suffered by alcoholics who, after a long period of heavy alcohol consumption, suddenly quit drinking. That ruled me out since I had not quit drinking.

"Hey, guess what I found in the cupboard?" my wife asked. "Another mincemeat pie," she answered before I could fire back a wisecrack disguised as a guess. I could not believe there was a whole mincemeat pie I missed – I thought I ate the last of the mincemeat pie with whipped cream (we ran out of ice cream) just before we went to bed.

Thinking back on it, about all I had to eat the whole day on Christmas was mincemeat pie. I had mince pie with coffee and ice cream for breakfast, mince pie with milk and ice cream for lunch and mince pie with eggnog and ice cream for dinner.

It would be an exaggeration to suggest mince pie was all I had to eat on Christmas Day, of course. There are certain things I eat every Christmas, and I ate them between my mincemeat meals. There was the box of chocolate covered cherries, the box of peanut brittle and something else – oh, yeah, the fruitcake.

It could have been worse, but my kids are no longer at home so I could not raid their Christmas stockings for candy canes and Cracker Jacks. Wait, Cracker Jacks – I ate that Christmas Day too from a big can loaded with three kinds of popcorn. I left the cheddar and butter-flavored thirds for my wife. Hey, that's just the kind of guy I am, I'm not inconsiderate – but I ate the third sweetened with caramel.

My wife brought me a piece of the mincemeat pie she discovered and I ate it faster than our dog can swallow a meatball that bounced from my plate to the dining room floor. That's when I noticed my body tremors, irritability, nervousness and other symptoms of the DTs were gone.

It did not take a doctor to determine the diagnosis — I was suffering from a sudden lack of sugar. Yes, I was in full mincemeat pie withdrawal, and it wasn't pretty. I realized I was hooked and started to panic. The stores would not be stocking mincemeat pies on their shelves again until the next holiday season.

There was no way I could make the remainder of the final pie last 11 months, so I ate the rest of it and headed to the car. I had to get to all the grocery stores and buy the last of the mincemeat pies before their shelves were emptied. I also needed to stop by the appliance store – we were going to need a bigger freezer.

That works out nicely since I had yet to get my wife her Christmas present.

Denny Banister of Jefferson City is the assistant director of public affairs for the Missouri Farm Bureau, the state's largest farm organization.

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