So a few nights ago the Mr. and I were sitting around and discussing our teenage/kid eating habits, for whatever reason. I was wistfully recalling how I liked dipping chicken in melted butter and how I would eat 6 chocolate-chip cookies in one sitting, and he reminisced about Arthur Treacher's, now long-gone from Duluth.
It got me to thinking- if I loved these foods so very, very much in my youth, how would now-29 year-old me feel about them? Would I still roll my eyes in joy at the first bite of the tasty morsels and eat every last bite? Or, would my gag reflex kick in and my body bloat to beached whale proportions from the salt content alone?
Well, you know I had to find out.
So, as I was dining alone tonight (the Mr. was otherwise occupied at a Star Wars impersonators convention), I decided to make an entire meal- appetizer, main course and dessert- of my old favorites. You know- the stuff you needed to exist on in your 12-16 year-old days. The foods that were unnaturally colored, freakishly high in fat and salt, and that came in whimsical packaging. These were the foods that I ate at least weekly, if not daily as a spry youth. I should remind you that I was as tall as I am now (5'8"), and I weighed about 17 pounds even though I consumed roughly 15,937 calories a day when I was 12-16.
I hate getting old.
I stopped at my local WT market and made a few purchases, as I normally don't keep cheese in a can around the house (I bet you think I'm kidding, don't you?)
Once home, I started the evening right and smooshed noses with this guy:
Poured myself a big glass of this:
Then I set about making "appetizers". Back in the day (much as it is now), appetizers meant one thing - cheese and crackers. Fancy goat cheese, brie and imported European crackers, you ask?
Cheese and crackers back then meant only one thing- Easy cheese (I prefer cheddar/bacon flavor, but the store tonight only had plain ol' cheddar) and some sort of Nabisco brand snack cracker. In this case, Wheat Thins. Also acceptable: Triscuits, Ritz, or Chicken in a Biscuit (which my sister & family LOVED with this dip. Gross.)
It was pretty much what I remembered: cheese-like, fluffy and oddly creamy. Not bad, actually, if you enjoy that sort of thing. And I forgot that I totally hate Wheat Thins, but whatever.
My fondest memory of Easy Cheese (and yes, I have several) is when me & my BFF Tallgirl would lounge around her giant TV room on the weekends (totally unsupervised) watching Canada's answer to MTV, "Much Music" piped in via the GIANT satellite dish in her yard. We also watched tacky 70's porn on the "High Life" channel occasionally while shrieking "gross!" and "eeeewwwww!" staring at the gigantic bushes and jerry-rigged "apartment" sets.
We ate more Easy cheese sitting in front of her TV than any human should consume in an entire lifetime. We would lay on the floor and just shoot it into our mouths, the cheese moving in that slow-motion way it does.
For the main course, I chose a meat (summer sausage), a vegetable (potatoes), and a starch (Pasta) in the form of my three favorite things to eat as a pre-teen/teen.
First up: A delightful summer sausage and american cheese sandwich on the finest grocery-store brand white bread, paired with Ore-Ida's finest Tots de Tator.
To say I loved this sandwich combination growing up is not doing my adoration justice. There were points in my life where I would have (and maybe did) eat this for breakfast, lunch, early dinner and dinner. No mayo (hated it, still do), no mustard (didn't like it then, do now), no greenery, no butter. Zip. Nada. Just smooshy white bread, greasy meat and the kind of cheese that sticks to the roof of your mouth every time you eat it.
My favorite tots were the kind with bacon bits in them (even then my love of pork knew no bounds), but the store didn't have those so I settled for plain with Heinz Catsup.
The pasta was not so much "al dente" as it was "al Krafte". No fancy mac and cheese here- just good ol' Kraft Mac & cheez with the adding the butter and the milk with the dusty cheese packet.
I remember LOVING this stuff.
The sandwich? I give it an A+ for living up to the nostalgia. Seriously, the combo sounds gross but is oddly satisfying. I ate most of it, may have another tomorrow.
The tots were gross. Starchy, dry and tasteless. Then I remembered that the only way I like them is deep-fried, dusted with fennel and served with tarragon aioli, like they do here. Once you've had fancy-pants tots, the regular baked ones taste like horseshit.
The mac & cheez was good, but a bit bland in an oddly pleasant way. I remember it having more, I don't know...flavor?
I think the "nutritionally void food" overload was starting to get to me here, but I hung in like a real trooper.
For real, what was left on my plate. Not a "clean plate club" member, but to actually have done so would have surely made me barf.
Plus, I still had dessert! Yay!
My all-time, most favoritest in the history of favoritest mass-produced sweet snacks has to be the Little Debbie Nutty Bar. Crispy, waxy, fake chocolatey & peanut-buttery...
In a close second and third are Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies and Hostess Twinkies. A true connoisseur of Le Twinkies can tell when one is "fresh" vs. "not so fresh". Tonight? Not so fresh.
The oatmeal pie was good. I see that Ms. Debbie has upped the ante a bit and made the oatmeal pie "double decker", meaning an extra cookie and layer of greasy/creamy, fluffy white stuff.
These are always nice and chewy, and because it's oatmeal I feel like it helps clean my arteries as it clogs them. Plus the 18 grams of fat help grease the wheels, if you catch my drift.
The Twinkie sucked donkey balls. Stale, tasteless and bland with an odd overtone that could best be described as "lemon Pledge-like". I don't ever need to eat one of these sponge nuggets ever again.
The Nutty Bar didn't disappoint, though it seemed a bit "waxier" and "slipperier" than I remembered. It's still fun to pull the wafers off in layers to eat them. I guess for TWENTY EIGHT grams of fat, it better be fun to eat.
Overall, I had mixed feelings about my dinner.
I re-acquainted myself with a delicious sandwich, yet I endured crappy tots, bland macaroni and dry Twinkies. I consumed approximately 5,873 calories in one sitting, yet I feel like I might need nachos later.
And I also ended the meal feeling like I will need one or both of these before the night is done:
Do I miss the food of my youth, you ask? Well, that's a stupid question.
That's like asking an old Seaman if he misses the roar of the ocean or the hot gay sex below deck.
Of course I do, but the disease and queasiness makes our love impossible, silly.
Eat carefully, my dears. Eat carefully.
Other than a few alien-like rumblings from my belly region this morning, and the possibility that I gained 5 pounds in one sitting, I seem fine. Bloated, but fine.
"Iron gut WM" : 1
WT dinner : 0