looking back

Believe it or not, there is a special place in my kitchen for Pillsbury Pop n’ Fresh Biscuits. Normally I’m more of a “do it from scratch” sort of girl, but the Dough Boy has long held a spot in my heart. This most likely stems from early childhood, when I became very attached to the whole Pop n’ Fresh family.
This was in the 70’s – pre action figures. My Pop n’ Fresh toys are more like static rubber dolls, but the heads on all of the adults do spin. I have the whole Fresh clan. Grandpa Fresh, Grandma Fresh, Mrs. Fresh, Poppin and Poppie (the kids), BunBun (baby Fresh), Biscuit (the Fresh cat), Flapjack (the Fresh dog), and of course Pop n’ Fresh himself. I was especially taken with Biscuit. He went everywhere with me.
pop n fresh family
When I was about six my family took a trip to Sweden to trace my mother’s roots and visit long lost relatives. This was my first big trip and I packed carefully. I singled out Biscuit to keep me company on the long overseas flight. But after we were settled in our seats, I was dismayed to find my little cat was missing. Really the only thing I remember about my one and only trip to Sweden is the agony I felt over loosing my best companion. That and I got nipped in the stomach by a pony at some relative’s farm while trying to feed it an apple slice. It was a traumatic trip.
But my luck shifted upon arriving back to the States. It turned out that Biscuit had spent the entire trip to Sweden under the guest bed at my grandmother’s where I had slept the night before our flight out. And oh the relief to have the whole Fresh family reunited again! I think this incident is what really sealed my allegiance to Pillsbury.
That and my mom was good enough to fuel my love of being in the kitchen by supplying me with kid-friendly recipes. One of my signature dishes was weekend Sticky Buns – made with a tin of Pillsbury refrigerated biscuits. It was so thrilling to pop open the roll of biscuits. And the gooey warm buns that resulted were a treat to be sure. Gradually, I evolved in the kitchen and outgrew my Sticky Bun phase. But not without having made them often enough to commit the recipe to memory.
sticky buns
Several years ago, after what seemed like an arduous amount of time in the kitchen preparing fancy meals and copious holiday baking, I was racking my brain for something quick yet festive to ring in the new year with. Frankly the thought of my usual homemade cinnamon rolls for the first breakfast of the year felt like too much effort. And that’s when it hit me. Sticky Buns. Ten minutes to assemble, ten minutes to bake. Exactly what I was looking for. And they were even – a little to my astonishment – as good as I remembered.
For a slightly more grown up flare I switched from light corn syrup to honey and added a hint of vanilla. But beyond that, I’ve never looked back. A strong pot of coffee and a plate of Sticky Buns has become my New Year’s Day morning tradition. I look forward to it every year. Even though popping open the can of refrigerator biscuits still makes me jump.
When I was at my mom’s this Christmas, I asked if she remembered the binder of recipes she had assembled for me as a kid. Neither of us could recall what became of it, but she still had some of my favorites filed away. I felt like a ten year old all over again reading the stained, dog eared page. And I was surprised to realize that there are Sticky Bun variations. I’m a raisins only fan. But according to the recipe, Peter likes chocolate chips, Maggie likes raisins, and Katie prefers coconut and nuts mixed together. I don’t know who Peter, Maggie, and Katie are, but I am firmly in Maggie’s camp. And like the recipe says, they are “really good and really sticky!”
bun recipe
Sticky Buns

3 tablespoons butter
dark brown sugar
honey (or substitute light corn syrup)
raisins (and/or chopped nuts, toasted coconut, chocolate chips)
vanilla (optional)
1 can (8 ounces) refrigerated biscuits

Cut each square tablespoon of butter into quarters. Take two of the pieces and grease 10 cups in a standard muffin tin. Take the other 10 pieces and put 1 in each of the 10 muffin cups. Add 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and 1 teaspoon honey to each cup. For a little extra flavor you can also add 5 to 6 drops of pure vanilla in each cup.  Sprinkle a few raisins in each cup (or if you want to branch out like Peter and Katie, add any combination of coconut, chocolate chips, and nuts). Pop open the can of biscuits and put 1 on top of each cup. Bake the Sticky Buns in a 400ºF oven 8 to 10 minutes, until the biscuits are gently browned. Run a knife around each bun. Then put a cookie sheet or tray over the muffin pan and invert the whole shebang. Give the bottom of each cup a tap with the base of the knife, wait about 2 minutes and lift up the muffin pan. Gently pry out any stuck buns with the knife. Makes 10 buns.

11 Responses to “looking back”

  1. 1 Julie Buckles December 29, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Where does your Pillsbury family live? I’ll have to pass this onto Caroline. Happy New Year Ms. Garlic Pig.

    • 2 GarlicPig December 30, 2012 at 8:28 am

      Generally they live in a little green suitcase in the closet. I always thought I might be able to retire off of them someday, but I know I’d never be able to part with them. HNY!

  2. 3 Anne-Marie December 29, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Happy new year, Jill! Thanks to you I’ll be celebrating with sticky buns and hot coffee, too. Love that you have the whole Fresh family.

  3. 4 Maryanna Puckett-Swenson December 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Hello there Lil cousin… this is an awesome recipe… I tried all the variations, and although not much of a raisin eater.. they we sooooo good… thanks for sharing.

  4. 5 Mary December 30, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    I remember those Poppin people, they had such a strange smell. These sticky buns are going to be added to our Sunday breakfast rotation, thanks!!

  5. 6 Mom January 1, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Thanks for another special childhood memory Jill. In memory of Biscuit and your almost weekly sticky buns I also made some New Years morning. Guess I still need you to make them tho….as I turned them out I realized I had forgotten the raisins! I quickly stuck some on and it worked but it made me think maybe toasted pecans next time. I had to do some searching at the grocery store for the original small size biscuits – they’ve gone Grand size now, I settled for one called “Grands Jr…with golden layers” and highly recommend them. Love the honey/vanilla change also.

  6. 8 Reakes Mary January 15, 2013 at 9:27 am

    sweet ,the dough boy does have a cute little family,memories of philsbury products,yummy

  7. 9 Doris January 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I am also a Doughboy fan. I have the Doughboy and the Mrs. Where in the world did you find them? Mine came from an antique store, never seen the other family members. Hope to try the Sticky Buns soon, they sound delish.

    • 10 GarlicPig January 15, 2013 at 7:52 pm

      The buns are delish – and super easy – that’s the best part. I’ve had my whole Fresh family since childhood. I’m sure they don’t make them any more, but they are probably around, like you said at antique stores, etc. Maybe ebay?

  8. 11 LaNell Mueller April 5, 2020 at 6:13 am

    I also love the fresh family. I have Pop ‘n Fresh, Mrs Fresh, but I’m not fortunate enough to have anything else except for a cookie jar and also a Pop. When other people were collecting geese and Cetera for their kitchens I only wanted the fresh family or at least pop. I was in my 30s in the seventies and I’m now 78 and still have them

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