Ode to Hot Nuts

Hot Nuts

Today we're going to take a little break from the everyday craziness, crunch and groan of business to celebrate one of the true, pristine moments in the world of global commerce. It won't take very long, because it's a very small pleasure.

Here it is: You are sitting in Business Class of American Airlines (AMR). Possibly the seat is even more sweet because you have been upgraded to it. Let's say it's on a Friday afternoon, and the work week is done (except for the 200 emails and 15 distressed phone calls that will come over the weekend). You have kicked off your shoes and taken the fifteen minute nap that precedes the Captain's first unnecessary, blase announcement about altitude, flight time, and the fact that you're going to pass over Sioux City on your way west. Who cares? That's all right. No one can call you here. Your BlackBerry is off. And a cart is coming toward you down the aisle. A flight attendant has appeared at your elbow.

What would you like to drink? I believe I'll have a double Glenlivet, with a splash of soda. It will go very nicely with the little dish of that thing I've been waiting for. Anyone who has ever flown up where the seats have footrests knows what I'm talking about. It's the hot nuts. Sometimes they are very hot, and that's not quite right. They get over-nuked and weird. Sometimes they are not hot enough, and baby bear doesn't like that either. Too crispy and quotidian. But sometimes they are... just... right. And then, well, it's possible there is nothing more complete, more precisely what it is supposed to be. There are cashews and walnuts and even, I think, the odd hazel nut, too, with a rare, precious shelled pistachio thrown in just to make you feel like royalty.

A few years ago, in an effort to save money, they inserted these horrendous, insulting soy beans into the mix. The cries of woe were so great that they removed the offensive offal almost at once. Back came the cashews. World order was restored. There's clearly been a lot of corporate thinking behind this entire issue of in-flight snacking: Hot nuts! Sometimes I take them slow and savor them. Other times I wolf them down and ask for more. That's a mistake. One bowl is perfect. Two is decadent, and makes you feel like Rush Limbaugh at his fattest.

There are many things you think about before you fly. You think of the hours in the air. You think about how many things you'll miss while you are away from the world, returning to find innumerable emails that must be ameliorated. But me, most of all, in the hours before I rise up into the silent blue, there is generally one thing on my mind: That little unimpeachable portion of hot nuts, and how I will miss it when I leave this business life and go back into the land of turkey wraps, potato chips, and seats that recline a quarter of an inch.

13 Comments Add Comment

hey Stanley, were ya bored?

Good to see that Stanley has a firm grip on his hot nuts.

You got it right.
American's hot nuts are the only good thing left in business travel.
Even if the Stew is older than my grandmother and the plane is late I look forward to my hot nuts and a Heineken

Hot nuts, hot nuts...you get 'em from the peanut man!

(Doug Clark's lyrics were scandalous in his day, weren't they?)

actually, I wasn't bored. you have no idea how much these little things that make life easier mean to me. On the other hand, the idea of what a blogger writes about when he or she IS bored is very intriguing. I'm going to think about that for a while.

Hey Bing, please tell us what you think about when you are board... I'm sure it will be "interesting"

I think about being a writer who only has to write a few paragraphs a week and speak at conferences. Got any openings?

Vivid memories of such things will haunt me until I retire from the biz rate race. But then, once retired, we plan on enough travel that it may keep those memories alive, along with the obscene number of hours lost in transit. All for a handful of nuked nuts.

One technical error: the nuts are not nuked. Aircraft galleys do not have microwave ovens. They're heated in something much like a conventional toaster oven.

Who gets turkey wraps in coach class? You have to pay cash for that crap nowadays.

Tell me about it! I was a Flight Attendant for AA. Some Flight Atts. that been flying for AA since 1958 and still going. It's all about seniority! The longer you stay the bettter it gets: More money and less work. I was one the "young ones" Early 30's. It was a fun job and most passengers were very nice! It wasn't a every day thing to deal with rude people. Most people when treated with respect they responded well to that. Even when they had a bad day. Generally speaking passengers were very nice!

you were in business class?

Aha, those wonderful, warm AA nuts, gotta love them. Suspect nut dust is the only thing holding those MD-80s together. Keep 'em coming, American! (Also the upgrades...)

You know your nuts, Stan. You write about them a lot. I see the humor in paying $100 more for a seat that reclines more than a quarter inch and a bowl of hot nuts, heated to perfection. I'm the same way with wine. I like Barefoot chardonnay ($10 for a big bottle), served in a plastic cup, with a straw, and lots of ice. I know it sounds weird, but it tastes good that way. It also offends wine snobs and that's the way I roll. Cheers!