#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. Nestle Quik used to have a banana flavored powered mix. What I really loved was Smilk, and that came in orange and blue raspberry. It wasn’t a powder, but was already in the milk section sitting next to the chocolate and strawberry, acting innocent. It tasted awesome! Lots of odd flavor but no slurry at the bottom of a glass. Recently I have seen the blue raspberry and green apple syrups from Jolly Rancher that we would add to milk, but those disappeared off the shelves too. About a year ago they had four powders that were different labled under “Milk Magic”, and they disappeared as well. Does anyone else mix a bit of sugarfree kool-aid into their milk when bored?

  2. Animal crackers and those Golden Fruit or Fulla Fruit biscuits. Pure heaven.

    I also agree with the squished-up bread! I don’t know why it was so awesome. :P

  3. Two words: olive loaf.

    Not only could you eat it and it tasted weird and like nothing else, you could also play with it by punching out the olives.

    And deviled ham (aka “cat meat”), out of the can, eaten with a finger. I mean using a finger, not spread on a finger you ate. Or with lots of mayo, and a little relish, on super-soft fresh white bread.


    Pimento cheese, on a sandwich or in celery.

    Jeez, almost everything we ate was highly processed and with enough sodium to kill two horses.

  4. Banana penicillin was the best ever. And I find it awsome how everyone agrees. As for KD – I still have that and cut up hot dogs on nights where I don’t have time to cook anything else, or on nights when I’m just craving it.

    Not to mention things I can’t find anymore – like Froot-Roll-Ups or Fruit By The Foot. And then there are things like Dunkaroos – mmm~

    I have never heard of Tang though…

  5. The absolute best thing when I was a kid was toast with butter and brown sugar. You had to get to the toast as soon as it popped up so the butter would melt and then sprinkling the brown sugar on top so it would melt too. So good.
    My brother tried mixing the butter with the brown sugar once and keeping it in the fridge to use, but it just wasn’t as good.
    I still have it once in a while as a special treat.
    Or walking around with a stalk of rhubarb and a little cup of sugar to dip it in.
    Or homemade popsicles.
    Or picking tomatoes off the vine and eating them like an apple. I still do that.

  6. I had Tang with dinner last night. If you put that stuff in the microwave for 2 minutes, it’s the best thing you could ever do for a sore throat.


  7. I loved loved loved banana penicillin I got it for as long as I could till I was like 12. I wish they would give it to me as an adult. Banana pudding kind of tastes the same and it takes me back. Thank you for this one!

  8. Since I’m Jewish I’ve had my own version of some of these snacks. Instead of Cheese and Crackers with a plastic stick, we had Dunkaroos, same things except with graham cookies and a little tin of icing. When I was in kindergarden, I used to do the bread ball thing, but we Jews believe bread is holy so I used to get yelled at for doing it. I’ve never had Lunchables or canned noodles because they aren’t kosher. Among my classmates, sour belts, sour strings, anything with sour crystals on it were popular.

  9. You can’t forget Kool-Aid! Whenever I made it, I would have to take a deep inhale because it smells so darn good. After, I noticed my boogers where a weird shade of pink. Also, I took an antibiotic that was raspberry flavored. It would have to be refrigerated, so it tasted extra good cold!

  10. I just treated my wife to an old favorite of hers – porcupine meatballs. It’s basically regular meatballs with rice in them. What we didn’t know as kids, though, was that the rice was a strategy to get more meatballs when mom & dad were too poor to buy a lot of meat, as was similarly the case with my mom’s meatloaf. But that taste got burned into our memories and we just have to relive it every once in a while…. probably a bit healthier than having pure beef, too. Maybe I’ll convince myself to try a brown rice version, or even go fancy with wild rice….

  11. i used to love eating peanut butter sandwiches with cheese doritos crunched up in them…yum!

    how about rice crispy treats cereal? do they still make that anymore?

  12. Quisp cereal – anyone? anyone?… the one with the cute little spaceman/alien on the front of the box? totally awesome but a rare luxury if and when mom bought it.

    white bread sugar sandwiches. yep, plain old white bread with sugar sprinkled on one slice and then smash them together. eat, then bounce off the walls

    my Dad yanked out a permanent front tooth of mine whilst sharing a bite of space food stick.
    I think it was peanut butter. We didn’t have those anymore after that. They put my tooth back in. I still have it.

  13. This one hit me two ways….
    1. As a mom now, I’m surprised how much of this is still around – and stll pleases the kids. Why do they go so bonkers for it? Must be addictive additives….
    2. This blog usually gives me a pick-me-up. But this one made me a little sad for the things we lose by growing up.

  14. KoolAid. Just the powder dumped in a plastic baggy w/ a bunch of sugar mixed in. Lick your finger, dip & repeat. Transactions went down like drug deals on the playground. :)

  15. The vet prescribed Amoxicillin for my cat recently… I was so jealous, but the cat didn’t seem to like it. I could smell the banana the whole time I was shoving it down his throat!

  16. Hell yeah, MONDO! I ran out of cheese with those crackers, too. Same with the breadstick/cracker things. Also, all the weird things that could go on scrambled eggs.

  17. I loved the amoxicilin suspension taste (I remember it being fruity, not banana. I guess it depends on the brand). I was more than disappointed when I began to get prescribed the capsules. Only time in my childhood I’ve regretted being tall.

  18. Animal Crackers were the best. When I was little they even had a small handle like a suit case. I packed a little bag and along with my animal crackers I ran away from home. By the time I hit the corner of a very busy and ENORMOUSLY BIG HUGE city block, I was out of the little cookies. Lowly-sad, I made my way home. I was 4, and everytime I eat them today I reflect… How might my life have been different if they’d packaged those animal cracker’s in a bigger suit case?!* Mighten’t I be not quite as animal crackers as I am?!* Then I just dip them in my chai tea, or eat them just like the cookie monster and say to myself…I am free and this is awesome!

  19. When I read this item I’d linked it immediately on myself. It may look silly but sometimes I prepare for myself some fruit pap. It’s so easy to make, you just need some betterfood – cookies, an apple, a pear, a banana and an orange, than you mix it and it’s ready to eat. It may look very dirty but I think it’s delicious. I also like to eat some carrot purée. It’s something that my grandmother made for me when I was little and I still like it! It’s a little bit sweet. Pasta with brown sugar is also a favorite of mine. All these things remind me of the time when I was a little child and when I’ve learned how you could enjoy food. These are simple things but sometimes the simplest course can taste very enjoyable. Even more, with all those pretty memories in mind the dinner can’t be bad!

  20. I am from the upper midwest so hot dish and rasberry jello are two of my favorite foods from childhood. I also love Mac and Cheese and hot dogs(but not mixed together).

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  23. whenever i ate the crackers-and-cheese-spread things, i always ran out of crackers way before i ran out cheese.

    and i always used to roll my bread into a sphere when i was done with my sandwich. i also did that with brownies.

  24. What I thought I was the only one that made melted cheese on bread in the microwave!!! with ketchup all the way!!! I still try to eat some of that junk when feeling nostalgic, or when my stomach can handle the crap they put in all that stuff nowadays! You definitely must have lived my life, this is getting a bit awkward now!

    1. Oh and I also admit that I was a bratty kid that drank my siblings antibiotics in the fridge, wasn’t mine- but tasted damn delish! Banana was the best!

  25. I give my mom credit for raising my sister and I with healthy eating habits but allowing us to indulge in Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese and Dunkaroos once in awhile too!

    Tang will always hold a special place in my heart. I met an amazing new friend last year, Crystal. She was so ecstatic to discover an “astronaut” cocktail in a Tang-rimmed glass at our happy hour destination of choice, that she licked all the Tang off and asked for an extra Tang-rimmed glass. After a second night of Astronaut consumption, I ordered her a whole case of Tang and presented it to her when we met for lunch. She opened it right at the restaurant and dove in. But the suggested mix recipe wasn’t good enough for that 27-year-old… she made it 4x strength! We both gagged, and laughed til we cried. Tragically, Crystal took her own life this January. It has been a difficult year, but as painful and confusing as that loss was, I will always retain that inspiration of her spontaneous, her contagious laugh, and being unapologetically true to herself… weird powdered-beverage obsessions and all. Rest in peace, friend.

  26. I cried when they took Carnation breakfast bars off the market…the good kind with crumbly middles covered in chocolate….My favorite was chocolate chip…Better than any candybar and I got to eat it for breakfast! lol

  27. Ohhh I get a bite of my childhood when someone manages to bring me some baked beans…I love them

  28. I believe you left out a very important one- Little Debbie and Hostess snack cake thingies and those fruit pie things. So good, but don’t read the ingredients- or the expiration date.

  29. A few days ago, Mom made macaroni and cheese. Last week, she surprised me with a cheeseburger and large fries from Burger King. All three foods were ones I loved as a kid and still do (I’m 26 years old now.) AWESOME!!! spiderweb1@sbcglobal.net

  30. Ooh!!! Dizzy Grizzlies and gummy bears!!! Dizzy Grizzlies were Teddy Grams which had sprinkles on one side and were plain on the other, and were frosted. And Gummy bears are self-explanatory. Oh, and Gummy Worms and the Dirt dessert!!! Awesome!!! spiderweb1@sbcglobal.net

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