As winter moves in and the days get shorter and colder, our attention turns to plaid shirts and comfort food. Understand, this is not two subjects, this is one.

In Minnesota the plaid shirt has been around since the days of Paul Bunyan, but it was introduced as political fashion by Rudy Boschwitz who was elected U.S. senator in 1978 and served until 1991. Boschwitz campaigned and had his picture taken every time wearing a plaid shirt. Why? He was the millionaire owner of Plywood Minnesota.

But nobody could be elected to office bragging about being a millionaire, so to show that he was a man of the people, Boschwitz featured plaid shirts. Plaid shirts, usually made of cotton flannel suggest warmth and comfort. A picture of a guy in a plaid flannel shirt suggests a friendly, hard-working guy – a guy you would like, the guy next door, a guy you can trust, a guy who would shovel your driveway after a big snow, not a button-down stuffed shirt. No cuff links or neckties on this guy.

In our home, Eartha is solid and down to earth, but she is no fan of plaid shirts, except for lumberjacks. She never voted for Boschwitz and when I put on my favorite red and black plaid, she doesn’t say much, but she gets that “not Boschwitz again” look on her face. Not that she prefers the button-down, cuff link, necktie look, just something in between.

So, our life together all these years has been the elusive search for something not all warm and comfortable, but something in between.

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I would describe the flannel shirt as the "comfort food" shirt for men.

As to comfort food, it all starts with the folk legend of a grandma who has a half-dozen sick grandchildren, so she puts a fat stewing hen in the pot followed by carrots, celery, parsley, some noodles and a mixture of her secret ingredients and boils it all for hours and feeds the kids with her loaded chicken soup, puts them to bed early and in the morning they’re all up, fit and frisky.

Yes, the legend is that grandma’s chicken soup can cure anything. Her chicken soup is warm, comfortable, flannel plaid soup for any kid.

When you think of comfort food, beyond grandma’s chicken soup, you’re thinking about tater tot hotdish, baked broccoli with mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, Spanish rice, beef stew, turkey dumpling soup, over-the-rainbow minestrone, tomato soup with grilled cheese croutons, spaghetti and meatballs, shepherd’s pie, sauerkraut and pork and all church suppers –- all varieties that add up to warm, comfortable and delicious food.

So, you can see that flannel plaid shirts and comfort food are all a single subject in life’s Happy, Healthy, Warm and Content Categories.