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Bullwinkle Wiener Roast explained

Posted on Thursday, September 29, 2011 in family

For some reason, some people find the concept of the Bullwinkle Wiener Roast–or maybe just the words themselves–to be funny. So I thought I’d better explain.

The Bullwinkle clan has gathered for an annual reunion since before my time, even though there are very few people who still bear the name. A less well-attended wiener roast was later in the fall. The is still August and usually held in a church basement, but it used to be held at our house.

I remember Daddy getting the ponies out for rides or hitched up to a wagon or cart for additional rides. I remember the year we planned to have the reunion at a park unless it rained. It didn’t rain at our house so we went to the park and found it empty. Everyone else had seen rain and when we got home tables were set up in the yard. I also remember my mom saying “You don’t clean before you Bullwinkle reunion, you clean after.”

Less well attended, and perhaps not even regularly scheduled, was the Bullwinkle Wiener Roast. It was held on someone’s farm. Grandma B always held court near a heat source such as a stove. I don’t really remember her being anywhere near the fire. The cousins my age all called her Grandma Great which made me intensely jealous. As the very last of the 23 grandchildren I had to call her Grandma B.

The cousins would all play together and occasionally ask important questions like “Who do you belong to?” The correct way to answer was to name one of the Bullwinkle siblings. I got to answer with my father’s name while others had to name a grandparent. Or maybe they were one of Tom and Jean’s foster kids. Or a cousin’s friend who was instructed to give Tom and Jean as an answer.

I remember playing around the old threshing machines my uncle kept. There was a bee’s nest in one and I got stung. I ran towards the house crying. I had to get past all the men who were sitting outside and who responded to my cries by arguing about bees and telling bee stories. Luckily I made it into the kitchen where some aunt or cousin took care of me. In case of injury, always run to the kitchen.

We would typically play hide and seek in the dark. It’s terrifying to be outside after dark trying to hide in a yard you don’t know. This year my great-nephews and great-niece tried playing in their own yard after we had eaten and it was dark. They are very brave children.

My sister and I have done our best to recreate this annual event from our childhoods. Essential to the wiener roast are hot dogs, a big fire, popcorn balls, caramel apples, and exaggerated story-telling. This year I skipped the popcorn balls, and made Daddy’s donuts. Beverly skipped the carmael apples, but I did bring some Sweetangos. Larry and Beverly probably took care of most of the stories.

The Bullwinkle Wiener Roast has become a very small event. I don’t think it occurs any longer in Illinois. We now hold it in Minnesota with Mom and I being the only actual Bullwinkles.

This year we didn’t have Mom but we did have my brother and his wife. The year before we had a bigger event with my oldest sister, her grand-daughter and her husband and kids. It’s more fun when there are lots of kids around. And it’s sad not to have an elder Bullwinkle on hand. (I am not yet an elder Bullwinkle!)

I wish I had photos from the 1970s but all I have are these more recent ones. We’re building our own traditions now. Enjoy.


  1. Actually you got a few things wrong. The reunion was every summer and usually at our house but not always. The wiener roast was every year the end of Sept. or sometimes the first of October. It was sometimes at our house and sometimes at Aunt Doris’ or Tom and Jeans. I remember one year at Aunt Margaret’s. They had a pond! And a cat that would swim!!
    The caramel apples usually called “Taffy” apples were only served at the wiener roast. Each child got one and you had to return the stick. I don’t know what would happen if you didn’t return it.

  2. We hosted the wiener roast? I was probably 11 at the last one I attended in Illinois so I’m not surprised that I got something wrong.

    I bet the stick thing harkens back to our older cousins who probably used them as weapons. Or maybe they got used every year. Not very sanitary but it wouldn’t surprise me.

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