Is a wedding legit without cream cheese mints?
by Rainbow Rowell, published Aug. 26, 2012 in the Omaha World-Herald
Sarah Harvey’s mother approached the topic cautiously. She didn’t want to seem like she was butting in…
“Well, do you want me to make mints for your wedding?” “Mom,” Sarah said, “am I getting married? Come on!”
Of course she wanted cream cheese wedding mints. Is a Nebraska wedding even legal without them? Cream cheese wedding mints are such a part of my nuptial understanding that I wrote them into my first novel, “Attachments” — the main character gets ditched at a wedding and eats 13 mints in one sitting. (Which is practically nothing, am I right?) I didn’t think that I needed to explain what the mints were, or that there would be people in England reading the book and thinking, “Cream cheese what? That sounds disgusting.”
But then someone from Illinois cornered me on Twitter to ask about the mints: “Good Lord,” she tweeted, “is that a THING?” Of course, it’s a THING. Isn’t it a thing everywhere? Doesn’t everyone, everywhere consecrate their unions with delicious globs of cream cheese and powdered sugar? Don’t the little kids crowd around the cake-and-coffee table, sneaking as many of the mints as they can smush in their hands? Don’t all the wedding guests walk around the reception with their tongues dyed the wedding colors? If you don’t have mints, what do you put next to the giant bowl of mixed nuts? What do your aunts do in the weeks before the wedding? (Aunts have to make the wedding mints; it’s required. If anyone else tries to make them, they spoil like day-old manna.)
Apparently, cream cheese wedding mints are a Nebraska thing. Or at least a regional thing. They seem to exist in other places — but not quite so dominantly. And people from other places who haven’t tasted them think they sound … gross. As someone from California put it: “So it’s basically mint-flavored, dried cream cheese frosting?” No!
I mean, yes. But you’re making it sound like a bad thing. Cream cheese wedding mints are delicious. Strangely delicious.
“They taste like the wings of angels,” rhapsodized Kirk Strauser, “held down and dewinged for our snacking pleasure.”
Strauser, a Missouri native, discovered the heavenly mints when he moved to Norfolk, Neb. Butter mints are more popular in Missouri, he said. (Butter? Gross.) Ryann Uden actually grew up in the Nebraska Panhandle, in Crawford, but never experienced cream cheese wedding mints until she met her husband, Stacy, an Omaha native. She was initially skeptical: “Cream cheese and powdered sugar? Seriously?” But in the Uden family, cream cheese mints are a wedding tradition. Everybody gets together a few weeks before the wedding to make them. It’s a social event.
Ryann is such a convert that she held a class in the Chicago library where she works just to share the cream cheese love with her coworkers. Tracking down molds for the class was almost impossible.
“I tried to find them out here (Chicago) and couldn’t find them anywhere. So I had to call Mangelsen’s…” Ah, Mangelsen’s. Where so many cream cheese dreams are born.
The indie craft megastore on 84th Street, just south of Center, has an entire aisle devoted to cream cheese mint molds. They specialize in the individual rubber molds. You can only make one mint at a time with the rubber molds, said longtime employee Linda Fontana, but they’re a lot easier to use than the plastic trays. Mangelsen’s sells about 40 different kinds of molds — “We sell tons,” Fontana said — but the traditional rosette and leaf wedding molds are still the most popular. “We keep a copy of the recipe in the aisle.”
Sarah Harvey did end up with a lovely tray of rosettes and leaves at her May wedding. (In her wedding colors of lavender and green.) But her fiancé, Kevin, balked at the idea of cream cheese at his wedding feast. Kevin doesn’t like cream cheese (Yet Sarah went ahead with the wedding…) Her mom revealed that she could make them with butter instead; her mom even prefers the mints with that way. So Sarah gave in. “You think you know a person…” she said.
Contact the writer: 402-444-1149, firstname.lastname@example.org twitter.com/rainbowrowell
Cream Cheese Mints
Recipe courtesy of Mangelsen’s cake department
Combine in bowl:
8 ounces cream cheese (at room temperature)
½ teaspoon LorAnn oil or flavoring —- 2 pounds powdered sugar
Desired food coloring
Mash cheese, add flavoring and color. Mix well. Add powdered sugar and knead with hands until it resembles pie dough. Add more powdered sugar as needed. Roll into marble-size balls. Place them on their sides in a small amount of granulated sugar. Press the sugar side into the mold. Unmold immediately.