One of the most memorable scenes in Jean Shepherd’s “A Christmas Story” occurs when Ralph Parker uses his Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring to unscramble Annie’s message to her loyal fans.Ralph anxiously prints each letter until the message is revealed: “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.” He tosses the decoder down in disgust and mutters, “A crummy commercial.”Except for Depression-era consumers, who were raised to believe they should never throw anything away, no one uses a secret ...

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