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Baseball, Hotdogs, Apple Pie, and PBS Passport!

Welcome to today’s installment of “Handpicked by Heather”! It’s time for the 4th of July, which, in addition to filling me with patriotic sentiments, also fills me with nostalgia. Growing up in Hagerstown, Indiana (population 2000 Happy People, according to the welcome sign greeting travelers approaching town from the east), I remember decking my dog out in red, white, and blue to compete in the 4th of July pet parade, followed by a family cookout, and, of course, the excitement of watching fireworks from the back of my dad’s Chevy pickup truck. These memories were running through my mind recently when I  found myself humming the bouncy jingle from a 1970s era TV commercial, the catchy chorus of which goes, “Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet.”  (If you’re too young to remember, you can check out a grainy version of the ad on YouTube). Inspired by those four all-American symbols, here are six suggestions to celebrate these United States with your WTIU PBS Passport member benefit!

Ken Burns' Baseball

Baseball: a film by Ken Burns

It’s called the Great American Pastime. We play it in backyards, on vacant lots, at local parks, and giant stadiums. What is it about the game of baseball that draws us in? The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, the smell of the dirt and grass and peanuts and perspiration…it’s all part of what Walt Whitman might have been feeling when he wrote that “the game of ball is glorious.” The history of baseball reflects our history as a nation, and no one tells its story better than Ken Burns in this 9-part documentary. Grab a box of Cracker Jack and sit back for a leisurely look at America’s favorite game with your WTIU PBS Passport member benefit!


Sonoran Hot Dog

La Frontera with Pati Jinich

Here’s a fun fact— according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, more than 150 million hot dogs are consumed on the 4th of July alone. Presumably, the amounts of mustard and relish consumed on the 4th spike as well. Considering those stats, it’s no wonder that we think of hot dogs as an all-American food. But hot dogs are not confined to the United States. Meet the Sonoran Hot Dog—an overloaded creation from south of the border that features Anaheim chiles, bacon, and Oaxaca cheese. Learn more about the agriculture, people, and food of the American borderlands with host Pati Jinich and your WTIU PBS Passport member benefit!


Apple pie

Cook's Country

Serving up apple pie on the 4th may be a cliché that’s “as American as apple pie,” but apple pie actually has its roots in Europe, while cinnamon and nutmeg come to us from countries like Sri Lanka and Indonesia. In fact, apples aren’t even native to America. And, as we learn from this episode  of Cook’s Country, the beloved Pennsylvania Dutch (or, more accurately, “Deutsch”) Apple Pie comes from German immigrants who settled in the Quaker State in the 18th and 19th centuries. And since nothing goes better with apple pie than vanilla ice cream, host Bridget Lancaster and test cook Bryan Roof also reveal which brand came out on top of their taste tests. Yum!



 Antiques Roadshow

Chevrolet was the most popular automobile brand in the U.S. in 1974, the same year it rolled out its beloved “Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie, and Chevrolet” ad campaign—and the year I turned six! Young as I was, I can recall that iconic jingle as if I heard it just yesterday. Even more iconic in the Chevy universe is the Corvette Sting Ray, perhaps the “most American” of all American cars ever made. I remember cruising in my cousin’s 1965 Sting Ray as a teenager and feeling beyond cool. I don’t know what ever happened to that beautiful car, but I do know what happened to a cherry red 1970 Sting Ray signed by another icon, Paul Newman. You can find out, too, when you watch this episode of Antiques Roadshow with your WTIU PBS Passport member benefit!


Great American Muslim Road Trip

The Great American Muslim Road Trip

All this talk of the Corvettes puts me in mind of the old TV show “Route 66,” featuring the characters Tod and Buz and their 1963 Corvette Sting Ray. Viewers would follow the boys on their adventures, seeing the country via the legendary Route 66; with your PBS Passport benefit, you can revisit the iconic highway, this time with rapper and chaplain (yes, you read that correctly) Mona Haydar and her husband Sebastian as they travel the 3000-mile-long Mother Road from Chicago to LA. Join them as they introduce us to authors, entrepreneurs, performers, and others to learn the colorful story of what it means to be a Muslim in America today.


Lidia Celebrates America

Lidia Celebrates America

While there may not be much focus on baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, or cars in this 3-part special series hosted by chef and immigrant Lidia Bastianich, viewers will nonetheless be inspired as they meet individual Americans from all walks of life, each of whom are a part of what makes our country wonderfully unique. Join Lidia as she meets first, second, and third-generation Americans who are shaping the shifting definition of what it means to be an American; travels to big cities and rural pockets of America to talk with folks who have overcome extraordinary odds; and visits with first responders working quietly in the shadows to make a difference in their communities and country.