Cheese, Peas and Chocolate Pudding

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Original publication “Cheese, Peas and Chocolate Pudding”, by Betty Van Witsen, Humpty Dumpty’s Magazine, Copyright 1955, Bank Street College of Education. Subsequently published in Believe and Make-Believe (Sheldon Basic Reading Series)

When I was in second grade, the following story was in my school reader, (which I’ve since discovered was called “Believe and Make-Believe (Sheldon Basic Reading Series)“) and I remember sitting with my mom at home listening to her read it out loud before bedtime. It was one of my favorite stories, and I was happy to stumble across it again out there on the internets. The credit I found was to “Caroline Feller Bauer” but I’ve since discovered (see comments below) that it was written by Betty Van Witsen.

There was once a little boy who ate cheese, peas and chocolate pudding. Every day he ate the same thing: cheese, peas and chocolate pudding.

For breakfast, he would have some cheese, any kind: cream cheese, American cheese, Swiss cheese, Dutch cheese, Italian cheese, cottage cheese, bleu cheese, green cheese, yellow cheese, even leiderkrantz. Just cheese for breakfast.

For lunch, he ate peas: green or yellow peas, frozen peas, canned peas, dried peas, split peas, black-eyed peas. No potatoes, though; just peas for lunch.

And for supper he would have cheese and peas and chocolate pudding for dessert. Cheese, peas and chocolate pudding. Cheese, peas and chocolate pudding. Every day, the same old thing: cheese, peas and chocolate pudding.

Once, his mother bought him a lamb chop. She cooked it in a little frying pan on the stove, and she put some salt on it and gave it to him on a little blue dish. The little boy looked at it. He smelled it (it smelled delicious!). He even touched it. but — “Is this cheese?” he asked. “It’s a lamb chop darling,” said his mother. The boy shook his head. “Cheese,” he said. So his mother ate the lamb chop herself, and the boy had some cottage cheese.

One day, his big brother was chewing on a raw carrot. It sounded so good and crunchy, the little boy reached his hand out for a bite. “Sure!” his brother said, “Here!” He almost put the carrot into his mouth, but at the last minute he remembered and asked, “Is this peas?” “No, it’s a carrot,” said his brother, “Peas”, the little boy said firmly, handing the carrot back.

Once his daddy was eating a big dish of raspberry pudding, It looked so shiny red and cool, the little boy came over and held his mouth open. “Want a taste?” asked his daddy. The little boy looked and looked at the raspberry pudding. He almost looked it right off the dish. “But, is it chocolate pudding?” he asked. “No, it’s raspberry pudding,” said his daddy. So the little boy frowned and backed away. “Chocolate pudding!” he said.
His grandma bought him an ice cream cone. The little boy shook his head. His aunt and uncle invited him for a fried chicken dinner. Everybody ate fried chicken and fried chicken and fried chicken, except the little boy. And you know what he ate. Cheese, peas and chocolate pudding. Cheese, peas and chocolate pudding. Every day the same old thing: cheese, peas and chocolate pudding.

But one day — ah, one day a very funny thing happened. The little boy was pretending to be a puppy. He lay on the floor and growled and barked and rolled over. He crept to the table where his big brother was having lunch. “Arf, arf!” he barked. “Good Doggie!” said his brother, patting his head. The little boy lay down on his back and barked again. But at that moment, his big brother dropped a piece of something right into the little boy’s mouth. The little boy sat up in surprise because something was on his tongue. And that something was warm and juicy and delicious!

And it didn’t taste like cheese. And it didn’t taste like peas. And it didn’t taste a bit like chocolate pudding. The little boy chewed slowly. Each chew tasted better. He swallowed the something.

“That’s not cheese,” he said. “No, it’s not,” said his brother. “And it’s not peas,” he said. “No, not peas,” said his brother. “It couldn’t be chocolate pudding.” “No, it’s certainly not chocolate pudding,” said his brother, smiling, “It’s hamburger.”

So the little boy thought very hard. “I like hamburger!” he said.

So ever after that, the little boy ate cheese, peas, chocolate pudding and hamburger.
Until he was your age, of course. Then he ate everything!

This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. Jody

    The original story was by Betty Van Witsen — it was in a teacher’s read aloud book published in the early 1970’s. My Grandma was a first-grade teacher and had this book. She used to read it to us all the time growing up. She still has it, but it’s no longer published. This Caroline whoever has plagiarized the story and not very well. The original has Jell-O in it — not raspberry pudding not to mention other slight variations.

  2. Steph Mineart

    Jody, thanks for the information! Do you have the name of the reader? I’d love to search for it on eBay.

    I love the story and would rather attribute it correctly. I wish I had the original, because I loved it as a kid, too.

  3. Jodi Bacon

    Loved this book as well as a small child. My kindergarden teacher read this to us and gave us samplinig of cheese, peas, and of course chocolate pudding. Wonderful memories. Would love to find a copy of this to share with my child

  4. Kelly Williams

    My aunt was a kindergarted teacher and I remember going with her to school on occasion before I was old enough to enroll. This was my favorite story. I have a photocopied copy of the book that my children love to hear but would love to know if anyone knows of anywhere I could get a real copy of the book. I have searched everywhere.

  5. Lisa Hames

    I am looking for the story as well. My mother used to read this to us at bedtime and my sisters and I have fond memories of it. She is turning 60 soon and we would love to present her with a copy. Any ideas? Lisa Hames

  6. Sandra C

    This was my favorite book which my father read to me all the time. I want to find it!!!

  7. Kaa

    lol, how cute my mum used 2 read this book to me.. it was in a short story book i am sure.. too bad i cant find it now.. very cute story brings back happy memories love it!! i still have the book somewhere.. good luck to the rest of you in finding it.. yeh my copy had jell-o in it aswell..

  8. mary

    I too am searching for this book! I have an old copy that my mom had as a kdg. teacher that I read to my 2nd graders It is always a favorite! If anyone finds a way to get a copy please let me know! Thanks

  9. Jacqueline

    My husband went to Palms Elementary School at Culver City, California. When he was on first or second grade (he doesn’t remember very well), the school put on stage this story and he played the little boy. The play was filmed and was broadcasted on PBS. Now, we live in New York, and I would like to get a copy from PBS. I’m been doing a little research with no luck yet. And Mary, try, someone was selling the book.

  10. MWS

    I was a Kindergarten Teacher for 32 years and read this story to my children every year. I would love a copy for my grandaughter. I have told her the story, but I know she’d love having the book. Any information where I could get a copy, would be most appreciated !

  11. juarez

    wow! this is one of the few stories i remember from elementary school. i think i was in 1st grade, back in 1981! to this day, whenever someone asks me what i would like to eat, i usually reply, “cheese, peas, and chocolate pudding” and nobody gets it. thanks for posting the story.

  12. Shirley Wheeler

    Steph, did you ever get the name of the reader from Jody? I would also like to find it.

  13. tony van witsen

    “Cheese, Peas and Chocolate Pudding” was indeed written by my late mother, Betty Van Witsen, but it was first published in the 1950s. The 1971 edition must be a reprint. I didn’t know it was made into a play or a TV program, though.
    –Tony Van Witsen

    1. Anne Pledger

      In 1971 the Scott Foresman Company published a read-aloud library that came with their reading series. Cheese, Peas, and Chocolate Pudding was one of the books in the Level 1 library. I have the copy that I read to students K-2 for decades and it was always one of their favorites and mine. I am so pleased to read so many comments by people who remember hearing this book when they were children. What a wonderful legacy for your mother and your family.

      I began checking to see if it was back in print, so that we could mention it in a cookbook I am working on that has a children’s section. You really ought to consider having it re-published.

      1. Jaime Dilnik

        I just found a copie at a garage sale and was trying to research the book didn’t find much other than amazing reviews! It is the original and in good shape! Already read it to my 4year old son! What a great book! Was wondering if anyone knew the value of it? 1971 publishing.

  14. Amy Stafford

    I too love this story, so I set out on a hunt for it. What I did find is a book called Let’s Hear A Story (30 Stories and Poems for Today’s Boys and Girls)by Sidonie Matsner Gruenberg (1961). This book has the story Cheese, Peas and Chocolate Pudding by Betty Van Witsen in the book, not to mention several other good stories. I just bought this book off of e-bay and I am so excited to have this story to read to my son!

  15. Amy Stafford

    Search for the book Let’s Hear A Story (30 Stories and Poems for Today’s Boys and Girls) 1961. This book has the story you are looking for in it, not to mention other good stories. I just bought this book off of e-Bay.

  16. Peggy Snow

    I was talking with a fellow teacher about this book and decided to “google” the title, so here I am. I taught 1st and 2nd grade in 1973-74 and this story was a part of the read-aloud series in the Scott Foresman Reading System. It must have been the original because I’m pretty sure it was the jello version. My students loved it and several years ago I looked for it for my “picky eater” nephew. I contacted the Scott Foresman company a few times and never received a response from them. What a delight to finally have hope of finding a copy of a book (any book) with this story in it! Thanks everyone.

  17. Steph

    I was able to buy the “Let’s Hear a Story” book with the story by Betty Van Witsen in it. But now that you mention the Scott Foresman Reading system – that must have been the school reader I had. I would have been in first grade in 1973 at Northeast Elementary in Ankeny, Iowa.
    Interestingly enough — I work for the publishing company that Scott Foresman is a part of now. They’re another division; I don’t know how to contact anyone there to find out about the books.

  18. Ashley

    I too remember this book. I was in Kindergarten in 1976, and I remember my teacher reading this to us. One of my best memories of Kindergarten.
    I would love to find a copy of this somewhere. I have 3 boys and they all love to read.

  19. Bonnie Jones

    I am a retired Special Education teacher and I used a Scot Forseman Reading Series in my classroom. I would love to find a copy of “Cheese, Peas, and Chocolate Pudding”. Can you help?

    Bless your mother for her exceptional creativity!

    Bonnie Jones

  20. Bonnie Jones

    I am a retired Special Education teacher and I used a Scot Forseman Reading Series in my classroom. I would love to find a copy of “Cheese, Peas, and Chocolate Pudding”. Can you help?
    Bless your mother for her exceptional creativity!
    Bonnie Jones

  21. Anne Land

    Where, oh, where is Cheese, Peas and Chocolate Pudding? I would LOVE to purchase a copy and Amazon says, “Unavailable”. Cheese, Peas and Chocolate Pudding is one of my all time favorites in the Scott Foresman reading series which I taught in the early 70’s. When my own children were little you didn’t say just cheese or peas or chocolate pudding, whenever one was mentioned the other 2 followed…and it continues today with my grandchild. I would LOVE to be able to pass this book along to another generation of readers.
    Anne Land

  22. Therese Mattil

    My sister and I were talking about this story today and so I googled it and ended up here. We were both in elementary school in the 50s and remember this as our favorite story. But what I remember (and lord knows how faulty memory is!) is that it was in “Humpty Dumpty” magazine, one of those kids periodicals that you could subscribe to. Does anyone else have that memory?

    My sister, when asked by her granddaughter what she wanted for Christmas dinner, replied, “Peas, cheese and chocolate pudding!” Her granddaughter stated, “Nina, those are SIDES!” Kids these days!

  23. Shawn DeChane

    Awsome story, love it as a child & would love to secure a copyfory kids. Been telling some of my costumers bout going home to look it up on the net for over a month now ! Just rembered when one of them asked if I ever gound it & my wife saying bout looking something up on the net too.

  24. Keith

    I too am looking for a copy of this book from 1971 (as a stand alone book vs as part of a collection of stories). If anyone has one they are willing to part with, please contact me…

  25. Dawn Novitski

    I love this story and remember it from school. I believe I heard it in kindergarten!! I would love to have a copy of it for myself and my grandkids. Many people that I have talked to seem to have never heard of it! I, too, occasionally say that I would like cheese, peas and chocolate pudding when asked what I want to eat. A great easy read!!

  26. Ken Stoller

    This was my favorite story that I begged my parents and siblings to read me as a 3 year old boy in the 60’s. It was published in a book called Believe and Make-Believe, I have it since my mother saved it all these years. She was a teacher, having trained at the Bank Street College of Education in NYC. Her professors authored and edited the stories.
    This book was published in 1956 by E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc (New York) and copyrighted by the Bank Street College of Education. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 56-8316. The Forward indicates that the stories in this 190 page reader were written by the school’s Writers’ Laboratory.
    The copyright page indicates that the original publication of “Cheese, Peas and Chocolate Pudding”, by Betty Van Witsen, was in Humpty Dumpty’s Magazine, Copyright 1955, Bank Street College of Education. I think that would be the absolute original.

  27. Virginia McVarish

    I’m sure what the author’s son said above would be correct. I was sure the original was not 1971 as I was born in 1953 and heard it as a small child. (We did read Humpty Dumpty back then.) The person who mentioned Bank Street gives the complete cite correctly, I believe.

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