Classic Oven Baked Chex Party MixWe were talking on Facebook the other day about the many varieties of Chex Mix there are these days - seems a lot of us make multiple batches of it over the holidays because it's a nice snack to have around to keep the hungrys down and everybody out from under your feet in the kitchen. I confess to being pretty old school with my version, and it isn't that I don't love the add-ins that everybody has put in over the years, I do! It's just that for some reason I find a version pretty close to what I call the "Authentic Original Original 1952 Chex Party Mix" to be the version that is still my own personal favorite.
I know it sounds funny to say authentic original original but there is a reason for that, you see, because there are actually many different versions of Chex Party Mix out there that lay claim to being the original. Best I can tell, this one that appeared in an ad in Life magazine in June 1952, just two years after the launch of Rice Chex cereal, appears to be the true, authentic, original, original Chex Party Mix recipe.
It's funny that for many of us, we only relate Chex cereals to the party mix, but I actually love the cereal itself and Rice Chex is my favorite of the three, followed by corn and then wheat. Chex cereals have actually been around a much longer time than I realized with the first version being Wheat Chex, launched in 1937 by the Ralston Purina Company, followed by Rice Chex in 1950. The Ralston cereal division was acquired by General Mills in 1997. Just a little Chexistory for you there.
While even on the Chex website, General Mills now lays claim to a totally different "original" recipe, that recipe is not the one I remember, so I set out to try to find it, and in my research found the ad. Best I can tell, the first then unofficially named party mix using the two cereals, appeared in that ad in Life magazine on June 16, 1952. As you can see, while the popularity of the cereal party mix has grown to such heights that it now even has its own website at http://chexpartymix.com, it actually started with very humble beginnings.
The version that I remember making from the 70s, might have been referred to as "Traditional Chex Party Mix," but I find that there are even multiple variations of the "traditional" version! My favorite is pretty old school, and fairly close to the original, with a slight increase in some of the ingredients - namely more cereal, more butter, more peanuts, and the addition of thin pretzel sticks, plus lowering the baking temp a bit. I find 300 degrees too high, and some folks actually take it down to 200 degrees for a longer period of time. You can check out the Chex website for all the different variations and dozens of recipes from sweet to savory, but I wanted a place to plant the one that is most fond in my memory, right here, and it's a nice reminder that it'll make a great munchie for any holiday party.
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The Authentic Original Original 1952 Chex Party Mix
Wonderful nibblingIt would take me pages and pages to go through all of the variations that this original recipe has transitioned through, but I can say what some of the most common changes seem to be. Some like to use bacon drippings in place of the butter - I've tried both and prefer the butter over the bacon fat. I know. Hard to believe, huh? The microwave seems to have become a favorite tool over the oven, but I still prefer slow oven toasting (imagine that!) myself.
Try this new PARTY MIX
Add 1/2 c. butter in shallow baking pan. Stir in 1 T. Worcestershire sauce. Add 2 c. Wheat Chex, 2 c. Rice Chex, and 1/2 c. nuts. Sprinkle with 1/4 t. salt and 1/8 t. garlic salt; mix well. Heat 30 mins in 300 degree oven, stirring every 10 minutes. Cool.
Seasoned salt (like Lawry's) seems to have taken over for the old salt and garlic salt combination, but I prefer using my favorite Cajun seasoning there myself. It adds just a bit of punch but not too much. Others add cayenne pepper and hot sauce to the butter and Worcestershire sauce blend, and Cheez-It or goldfish crackers, bagel chips, often garlic flavored, and substituting mixed nuts for the peanuts are also common changes these days. Back in the 70s, a lot of folks used Cheerios in the mix along with the pretzel sticks and it earned the name "Nuts and Bolts." Of course, that's only to name a very few of the wide range of variations to Chex Mix there are now. I still lean toward a more classic version myself.
How do you like to mix up your party mix? Here's how I make mine.
Recipe: Chex Mix Old School My Way©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 30 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 6 cups Wheat, Rice or Corn Chex (2 cups each or any combination)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), optional
- 2 cups dry roasted peanuts
- 2 cups of thin pretzel sticks, optional
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Melt the butter in a shallow baking pan. Stir the Worcestershire sauce, salt, garlic salt and Cajun seasoning into the butter. Add the cereal, nuts and pretzel sticks; mix well. Bake at 275 degrees F for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Let cool and store in an airtight container.
Cook's Note: May substitute seasoning salt and/or onion or garlic powder for the salts and Cajun seasoning if you prefer.
Add-ins: Cayenne pepper and hot sauce may be added to the butter and Worcestershire sauce blend, and cheese crackers, Cheez-It or goldfish crackers, bagel chips and mixed nuts may be substituted for part of the cereals.
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