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
DAMN I want mac & cheese now!
Where are the Ding Dongs?
sadly, I fed my children mac and cheese last night for dinner while i ate triscuts and sharp cheddar cheese.
Your debauchery knows no bounds, does it woman?!
And thank God for that!!!
Being the step-mother to an 11 yo, I have developed an intimacy with Kraft Mac 'n Cheese that I never imagined. As a kid I refused the stuff, believe it or not. It tasted like orange metal to me.
So to be a regular preparer of it now... well, let's just say that I have an aversion to foods of colors that do not occur in nature.
I have made the only mac and cheese that I like (made with good cheddar and fine noodles) and it has been rejected.
Maybe you can come by here and help design some pre-teen/teen menus for us.
I have the feeling the kid will love the Easy Cheese.
That is definitely the most revolting meal I have seen in a very long time. AWESOME.
My favorite childhood meal is fish sticks and macaroni and cheese. I let myself have it when I'm feeling blue, or really hungry, or it's Tuesday. I eat the macaroni out of the pan. It tastes better that way.
The Twinkie pic made me guffaw. Nice work.
Sounds like a grand old time...minus the tater tots and twinkies, that is.
My in-laws, who are the most health conscious people I know, always bring a can of easy cheese and a box of triscuts (reduced fat, of course) whenever they come to visit. And I always end up eating way more than I should. Its just so easy!
Also, I can only eat mac and cheese when I'm hiking- and then I can eat it every night of the week. Its best with tuna and red pepper flakes.
MMMM. I always preferred the store brand mac n cheese to the Kraft. It was extra dusty tasting. Hope your stomach is feeling okay today! You're one brave lady!
Chardonnay? If you were being true to your youthful self, shouldn't your wine have been Purple Passion or Boone's Farm? At the very least Mad Dog 20/20.
I guess the 29-year-old has to have some refinement in her meal.
I've been on a vegetable kick lately. I feel like a million. But young Red was always eating Granny Smith apples (with a side of Ritz, actually, and cinnamon and sugar; I thought of it as raw apple pie) and grown up Red still does.
I also liked celery with peanut butter. I rarely put peanut butter on it these days, but celery gives you a great energy kick. You could try dipping it in easy cheese.
I can hear your poor heart screaming from here!
Despite the fact I've eaten all kinds of creamy, fancy-pants mac & cheese with Guiness and breadcrumbs and three kinds of cheese, I will always be a sucker for the powder-cheese stuff.
Man, Oatmeal Creme Pies, DOUBLED. Mmmm.
I still sometimes get a craving for Easy Cheese. I will only eat it on Triscuits, though. No substitutions.
Three things: (1) I met the former winemaker for Iron Horse in Alaska on a mountain climbing trip a couple years ago ... nice, gracious guy. And good wine. (2) One bite of Kraft Mac & Cheese, and I'm instantly queasy. (3) Fancy tots are the way to go; I'm done with Ore Ida.
I was just reminiscing about my childhood lunches last night. I loved it as a kids, but the thought of eating a bologna sandwich on white bread makes me want to vomit now. You're a brave one.
What I wouldn't give to eat an oatmeal creme pie again and not spend days feeling guilty about it. My god, I used to love those things.
You're quite mad, you know.
My best friend from high school, with whom I'm still friends, used to always serve the Easy Cheese appetizer when we studied at her house. And it was with Triscuits, and no other. Blech to the Wheat Thins. As for Little Debbies? Blech to them, too...we had TASTYKAKES where I grew up, and once you've had a Tastykake, you will have no stomach for Hostess or Little Debbie.
My sister and I often talk about how and what and in what quantities we ate as skinny teenagers, with total impunity. Aging does suck.
freaking DELICIOUS! Those are my exact same snacks.
In my part of the Twin Cities, I refer to a meal like that as a "White Trash Buffet". And I've only seen one other person actually eat Easy Cheese, I just assumed most buying it used it for stick sex play.
Too hilarious! My mom hated white bread, processed cheese and packaged meat, so that sandwich was definitely not a part of my repetoire. She also refused to buy any sort of packaged cake product. I have no idea why she was so forward-thinking on those two items. We definitely ate our weight in Kraft Mac and tater tots!
Tammie Von Partypants suddenly looks clean and sober. So much so that I'd like to bite the other half of that cheese cracker (the one in her teeth) and just, you know. See what happens.
Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew. Ew!
And yes, I did take pictures of my dinner last night, which I will shortly post on my blog in case you're interested.
Nutty Bars! They remind me of smoking pot and watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Raphael was the best. Don't you dare think of disagreeing with me about that.
I've never had easy cheese and have to say your pics have not inspired me to try it. You're a brave woman, WM!
A couple of pointers, should you decide to prepare Part Deux of the WT dinner:
1. Get the Crispy Crowns instead of Tater Tots - they are 1/2 of a tot and get incredibly crispy much like deep fried (I discovered this after forgetting about them in the over half-way through my bottle of vino).
2. Must use Extra Sharp Easy Cheese.
3. Ritz are great with the EC.
4. Use less milk with the Kraft mac-n-cheese.
5. Top the M&C with the Extra Sharp Easy Cheese for extra flavor and texture.
And for the record, I never had any of this food until I went to college(I was raised on homemade yogurt and sprouts) and it has been downhill ever since!
18 grams of fat in one oatmeal cream pie? EIGHTEEN grams? that is one public service announcement everyone should see.
interesting pairing: iron horse chardonnay with mac n cheese. yum.
Darling, I love you. But this meal sounds like my personal hell.
You are a brave, brave woman!
Okay, McGone covered my issue with the wine. I was thinking Franzia - you know, wine-in-a-box, but Boone's would have sufficed.
I'm totally PMS-ing right now, so all that stuff looks good.
Damn that mac and cheese looks good. And the oatmeal pies. I used to freeze mine. I also dug the cheese and crackers, but I was a bit classier. I snubbed the canned cheese and went for actual slices (of velveeta).
And to wash it down, Kool-Aid sweetened to near saturation point.
You know I agree on the Mac N Cheese. I make it often for the kids - They love it, but when I tried it last with them I was SHOCKED that it tasted so *blah* I remember it being sharper, cheesier, something.
They do make "Bistro"-style Mac n Cheese now that actually is pretty tasty though...my hubby works at the Mills of General so we get odd boxes of stuff in the house all the time.
I love this idea. I was thinking about eating cookie dough for every meal until I am tired of it...but worried that I won't actually get tired of it and instead will gain 100 pounds.
I recently had Kraft Mac & Cheese and thought the exact same thing. What happen to the taste. It use to be the cheesiest! The sandwich looks great, but I need some mayo.
You absolutely HAVE TO eat the Nutty Bars one layer at a time! Good girl. That was always my personal mission; to get the whole layer off in one piece.
The face you're making in that Maalox picture is so streetwise, I felt like I got mugged just looking at it.
Hmm... the food of my youth would include moose burger, caribou steak and salmon loaf. Although they were less processed they were equally disgusting!
Looking at all that food makes my stomach hurt- but it did remind me of gourmet bacon and brie tater tots I had at a fancy restaurant a few months back. Yum! I need to try to recreate those at home.
Oh, the only thing I like better than cheese in a can is chocolate syrup right from the bottle. I'm classy like that...burp
was that mac and cheese and ketchup?
you so crack me up
damn! Arthur Treacher's?!? i used to love that place when i was a kid.
WM....do you have a care in the world? Life seems so at ease to you.
I had a heart attack just looking at all that fat. Your teen age diet was not much different than mine, mmmm Little Debbie.
I just had a Little Debbie Nutty Bar for breakfast. Wonder where THAT idea came from? ;)
I still like box mac'n cheese but no the powder kind. And twinkies but not anymore so much. I notice a weird flavor to them too.
I can't even count all the LD nutty bars I ate in high school. I remember thinking how it was a much healthier choice since it had Peanut Butter.
I am so incredibly impressed at your resolve to do this. I honestly don't know if I could pull it off. Should I try? My thighs beg me not to.
Fyi, new blog address for the ol' Kickass (NEW new address):
That is awesome!! I still love the Kraft Mac & Cheese though - can't give it up.
We grew up on Little Debbie's on our house - never a "real" ho-ho (Swiss Cake Roll) or Twinkies but oh we loved the Nutty Bars, Star Crunches & Oatmeal Cream Pies were at every angsty dorky teen party that my clique had. Ah memories....
hmmmm...... you might be onto something! Jolene Sugarbaker
How about triscuit crackers with Provel cheese melted on them under the broiler.
then strawberries over angel food cake.
Love that mac and cheez!!!
I was hungry until I saw the photos.
oops I meant "there".
Ha, I love that this topic garnered 50 comments!
Oh your Mr. I get the feeling I'd really dig him (in a platonic kind of way of course). I heart Arthur Treachers.
Actually it reminds me of my Dad. He used to take us their and we'd get a huge thing of popcorn shrimp to share.
Aah mammaries ;)
Hmm. Soo, I'm guessing this means you don't want my recipe for tater tot casserole, huh?
I was never much for Nutty Bars, but I always did love Hostess Cupcakes. I suspect I probably still do.
I also used to love Subway meatball subs. Haven't had one in years, but your little experiment is making me want to revisit that...
i'll up your meal with a bag of jalepeno kruncher potato chips, a two liter of full strength regular coke, and some kfc chicken wings . . . what i lived on between 91 and 93.
i too weighed in at twelve pounds.
I need to take more self portraits - these are AWESOME!
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