#928 Eating foods you loved when you were a kid

Grab a spoon and turn on Saved By The Bell

The flood of memories that come shooting back when you eat food you loved as a kid is a giant, neuron-splattering head rush.

You get transported back to the kitchen you grew up in and can practically see the avocado-green stove, three-hundred pound microwave, and plastic alphabet magnets covering the fridge.

So come on, let’s all go back together now:

Mac N’ Cheese N’ Chopped Up Hot Dogs. Call it Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, call it Kraft Dinner, call it whatever you want. But after you whip up a box of it, nothing’s better than chopping up some hot dogs to go in it. Optional here are the massive squirts of ketchup. Not optional is eating the whole box.

Thank goodness for canned pastaCanned pasta. Whether your fancy is Chef Boyardee’s Mini-Bites, Beef Ravioli, or the tangy ketchupy sweetness that comes from a soupy bowl of Spaghetti-Os, these piles of of sodium and meatpaste definitely tickle the memory bone.

Squished up balls of fresh bread. This one involves taking a piece of really soft, really fresh bread, ripping off all the crusts, and then rolling it into a tight, white ball of dense deliciousness. Feel free to hide a wedge of butter in the core there, too.

Tang. The beautiful thing about Tang is that as you get older, you can just water it down a bit if you can’t handle the sweetness anymore. Or you can do the opposite and have yourself a glass of Super Tang.

Melted Cheese. This is one that my sister and I used to love. We would put a piece of bread on a plate, slice up five thin slices of cheese, and then nuke it for 30 seconds. We had it down to an exact science. Once in a while things would get a little crazy and we’d put some tomato sauce on it, but mostly just Melted Cheese. A perfect name for a perfect after-school snack.

Liquid antibiotics. Okay, it’s not really a food, but how about that banana penicillin you used to get? You can apparently still ask for it as an adult, but you might need to take eight teaspoons three times a day.

Ritz can take the crackers, but don't mess with the cheese

Those Cheese Spread Cracker Kits with the Red Plastic Stick. Who else always ran out of cheese way before they ran out of cracker?

Your favorite sandwich. Maybe today you’re on a health kick, but remember when your favorite sandwich was bologna and Kraft singles cheese? Or salami and mayo? Or how about that weird-looking macaroni-and-cheese ham? Of course, you might have had your own personal favorite, like my friend Scott who used to eat Ketchup and Mustard sandwiches or my friend Mike who was a fan of the ol’ peanut butter and tomato. Not bad, not bad.

A tasty box of saltLunchables. If you could get past the portion control, you might remember building a decent cracker-cheese-ham pile with these things. Of course, there was the time when they suddenly released a pizza version and totally blew everyone’s mind.

Cooking up deliciousnessMom’s Spaghetti Sauce. Was your mom a Ragu in a pot kind of gal? Or a slow, all-day simmering type of lady? Did she leave the mushrooms chunky, chop them real fine, or leave them out completely? What was her position on onions, on melted cheese on top, on meatballs versus meat sauce? If you grew up with homemade spaghetti sauce, I’m willing to bet it’s still something that tastes amazing today.

Cold hot dogs straight from the fridge. Oh, don’t worry. The worms all died in the factory.

Barely won out over Family Circus cereal or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Cereal

Sugar Cereals. I ate Corn Pops every day for breakfast for nearly a decade and somehow I survived. These days, you can always ‘cut it’ with an adult cereal if it’s too sweet. Throw some plain Cheerios on those Honey Nut Cheerios or some Corn Flakes on those Frosted Flakes. Just don’t tell anybody, old man.

Now, let’s be honest, sometimes the foods you loved as a kid slowly drift away and disappear. Grandma passes on and her secret meatball recipe is buried with her, you move away from the sibling you used to bake your special squares with at Christmas, or the sugar in your sugary cereal suddenly turns into a more profitable high-fructose apartame syrup.

But that’s why it’s doubly important to treasure those adult glimpses into your childhood tastes. That’s why you gotta love those perfect little loves at first bite. That’s why the memory-jolts from the sugary treats and salty snacks are such amazing little highs. Because even though your stomach may not always thank you for it, your brain surely will.


Served open-faced for presentation

Photos from: here, here, here, here, here, and here

179 thoughts on “#928 Eating foods you loved when you were a kid

  1. I sure wish they’d bring back TMNT Pudding Pies. That would REALLY be awesome.

    So much stuff in this entry ringing true with me. The Mac & Cheese, the Bread Balls, Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce (which mine still cooks for me!), the Canned Pasta (hell, my CVS job sells the convenient “Big Bowl” versions perfect for the microwave!), even the Cracker Cheese thing. If you ran out of cracker first, someone had to have stolen them.

    Also, I remember when they came out with Pizza Lunchables. And Lunchables itself.

  2. Cold hotdogs!!! On Saturday (what timing) I just confessed to a few people that I went through a phase of eating cold hot dogs as my after school snack. Here I thought I was the only one, but I’m glad to see that I wasn’t alone.

    About the tang – we had a tang pusher in elementary school. She’d serve up the powder on paper towels and pass it around the classroom. We’d then stick our index fingers into our personal-sized portions of the powder and pop the powder in our mouths over and over again as the teacher went on about fractions. No water necessary (except our saliva)!

    1. I always knew it was going to be a great day when I saw the Marshmellow fluff jar out on the counter in the morning in elementary school!

  3. Melted cheese! Better done in the toaster oven (remember those?). And you can even slice up a hot dog on top. If using “real” cheddar, wait until it’s nice and bubbly. For processed cheddar, the top layer will rise up and form one giant bubble. And if you wait too long, and it turns black, no big deal, you can just peel it off!

    My gross peanut butter sandwich was PB, honey and a cheese slice on top. If you use toast, then the PB and honey get all nice and melty together. This could get quite drippy. yum.

  4. I have mac and cheese with hot dogs at least once a week when I’m at home, and I’m 20 years old.

    My brother and I used to put string cheese on a piece of bread into the microwave, melt it, then roll the bread around the cheese. It was the worst mozzarella stick you have ever had.

    I think I’ll go have a peanut butter and fluff now.

  5. Banana penicillin is absolutely the best thing ever. I used to love getting sick just so i could ask to have it, half the time you don’t get it, you are sick, and pissed cause all you get is that nausea-inducing “grape” cough medicine.

    1. the grape cough medicine is the worst, it always made my throat itch so bad, the EXACT OPPOSITE of what it’s supposed to do.

  6. Koogle!

    I remember vividly sitting on the back porch of my parents house with a Wonder white bread sandwich slathered with Koogle peanut butter in one hand, and a sweating, anodized aluminum cup of grape Kool-Aid in the other. This was pure bliss!


  7. I hated the Banana medicine…yuck. When my kids have to take it I can’t even smell it.
    This brought back some cool memories though. My mom used to make me sugar sandwiches. Oh yeah….buttered bread with sprinkled sugar on top. But it had to be fresh white bread!
    I ate cold hotdogs too, and still eat Kraft dinner with hotdogs. My kids love it. Not to big on the Tang, but we loved Kool-aid. And kids would bring it to school in a little sandwich bag. Just the mix with sugar. It was the cool thing to do….I could go on forever…but I won’t!

  8. ok so everyone forgot pillsbury space food sticks. what tha? or KOOGLE? dang it has everyone forgotten the mix of pnut butter n jam with the “koo-koo-koogley eyes”? I am an aging programmer. but look out, kids! I have lightning bolts for fingernails!!!

    1. Yeah the pillsbury stuff. we would get hot dogs and a tube of pillsbury croissants, roll the dough around the hot dogs, bake it and call it pigs-in-a-blanket. also what about eating plain raw cookie dough.

  9. Ahhh sugar cereals. Does anyone else remember eating Smurf Cereal, Batman: The Movie Cereal, or Swedish Chef Cereal? I still get huge cravings to eat them and I haven’t had them in about twenty years.

    1. For a short time there was this mythically amazing cereal called OJs with a cowboy on the box. It was basically 28 oz. of exclusively orange Froot Loops….and it was legendary! Likely carcinogenic, but legendarily so. Loved those.

  10. Food sticks – totally. My mom said they were developed for real astronauts. That silvery lining & the way it peeled back. And especially the orange ones

  11. Tang! There’s a huge surplus of Tampico Orange Juice in my fridge since my family loves it, but I miss the powdery-goodness of Tang.

    And canned spaghetti – Beefaroni never gets old with me :)

  12. Fried Spam slices. Fried bologna. Fried wild mushrooms. Cheese dogs (made in the hot dogger). Tender Chunk sandwiches (the tuna version of ham). My grandparents always had Tang and instant tea around. I don’t consume any of these things anymore. But breakfast cereals, I still grab the same Life, Capt Crunch (with berries) and Cocoa Pebbles I loved when I was 5. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  13. I’m 27 and work in marketing for a very successful, multi-million dollar company — and our staff kitchen always has a full supply of handi-snacks :) I’m not going to lie … it’s pretty great! They are still so good!

  14. Oh thank God you people remember Space Food! My husband (4 years younger than me) thinks my sister and I are crazy. I don’t remember the orange ones but that may be because we were chocolate and peanut butter gals….I remember Smurf Cereal and Count Chocula and Boo Berrry….still eat Captain Crunch too….

  15. Am I the only one that dine on bologna sliced into small pieces and then dipped in miracle whip?

    We would also enjoy plates with cut up fruit, cheese, and crackers. Those were the days!

  16. Baby aspirin–mmm, like candy. Spoonfuls of Nestle Quik powder, just moistened with milk. And my favourite: white bread, mayo, ruffles chips, Kraft slice, iceberg lettuce. Can barely stomach it now.

  17. Dunno about you all, but it makes me sad to see how much these kid-favorites lack in nutrition.
    Oh but they are sure convenient for super-busy parents…

  18. Found a candy store selling chocolate marshmallow cups that I LOVED as a kid. They were SOOO not the same! Either I’ve changed a lot or “they don’t make ’em like they used to.”

  19. I didn’t know anyone else knew about the bread balls.

    Also, if I were to add something to this list it would be the bologna and cheese sandwich with a handful of ruffles potato chips in the middle.

  20. I still love Spaghetti-o’s and mini ravioli.

    And don’t forget Lucky Charms cereal. I still remember eating all the marshmallows and leaving all the cereal.

  21. Fizzies, especially rootbeer and cola flavor. You were supposed to put them in water and it turned it into soda, but no one I knew ever did that. We just touched out tongues to them until they disolved. I just found them this summer in a candy store on a trip to Pier 39 in San Francisco, but my kids ate them before I got one. Next time.

    1. I’ve often told my friends in Holland where I now live about Fizzies, especially how we would break off a piece, put it in our mouth and then take a gulp of water and let it explode ! I’ve looked for them in the past years when I’ve visited the U.S. but was told they were taken off the market because of accidents with kids – where or at what stores are they soled now ? I’d love to get some !

  22. We also used to put peanut butter in a bowl and mix in maple syrup. That’s a gagging thought now. Also like vanilla ice cream with potato chips crunched in.

  23. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches, or peanut butter, lettuce, and Miracle Whip sandwiches.

    Mom’s homemade hamburger pie with biscuit crust.

    A quarter would buy a bottle of Grapette soda, a Walnut Crush candy bar, and a comic book.

    Thanks for the memories…

  24. Oh man. The first two made me laugh, because I still eat Mac & Cheese and SpaghettiOs all the time.

    I also loved apple slices with peanut butter as a kid. And instead of spaghetti sauce, it was my mom’s lumpia that I miss. Mmm…

    1. Hahahaha! OMG! I was just thinking of that one! I remember in high school we used to do that at McDonald’s with fries in a sundae!

  25. Dunkaroos. I totally thought these were discontinued until I saw a 32-pack at Costco once, obviously I snatched them without a second thought….

    Also, Mondo drinks which came in these bizarre soft plastic containers that were shaped like glass soda bottles but had one tiny hole at the top that you sucked it through.

    My sisters and I used to also just eat spoonfulls of peanut butter. I’ve talked to others and apparently this was common.

    Don’t forget Gushers.

    And yeah, the dire lack of nutritional value is kind of startling.

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