#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.

AWESOME!

Served open-faced for presentation

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

33 Comments

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33 responses to “#928 Eating foods you loved when you were a kid

  1. TANG! Oh my God, I haven’t had Tang in years! Mostly because they don’t make it in Australian anymore. Oh, the humanity!

    I used to love Tomato Sauce sandwiches. Nothing but tomato sauce, dripping past the crust if you held the bread too tightly. Mmm-mmm… :)

    As for sugar cereals, nothing beats Froot Loops in my mind. Heck, I used to eat those little colourful circles without milk. Just eat handfuls out of the box like they were potato chips.

    Mmm… nostalgia.

    • I’ve actually never had Tang. I remember the commercials for it though!!
      I can no longer eat Froot Loops. (Gross alert!!) I used to love them, but when I was 9 months pregnant with my daughter, I ate it for breakfast and then got sick. I tried to make it to the bathroom, but I couldn’t and threw the Froot Loops up in my bedroom floor. Even thinking about cleaning it up made me want to throw up again, so I threw a towel over it and went to work and cleaned it up when I came back. It tasted the same. Gross, yes. I was young and living alone with a baby ready to pop out.

      • Oh no! A frooty loopy nightmare! :-\
        I’d like to imagine that it was at least a pretty, rainbow-coloured vomit. But I somehow doubt that was the case…

        As for Tang, it is wonderful stuff! Very sweet, but yummy if you dilute it just the right amount. Very sad the day I realised it had disappeared from our grocery shelves.

        • No, you’re right. It was very colorful. Almost 8 years ago and I can remember it like it was yesterday.
          I might have to go for a Tang online search to see if I can get my hands on any.

    • Emmy

      I love Coco-pops and my brother loves Froot Loops :P Chocolate wins every time for me. Annnd I’ve never heard of Tang before this! What was it exactly?
      Neil is right about Grandma’s secret recipes disappearing when she does- my Babci (Bup-chy) makes pierogi (pye-roh-gy) and pączky (ponch-ky) and chrusty (hrrrus-ty), all my favourite Polish food, and she makes them all without a recipe but I got her to dictate her process for pierogi so I can make them when she isn’t here to make them for me! They are my favourite food and I know when I make them for my kids some day I’ll think of her every time <3 They are like mince or veges or potato or even fruit parceled in dough then boiled and served with either fried bacon and onion, or fried breadcrumbs and cream (for the dessert ones). YUMMM! (Babci's look better than the ones here but whatever- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pierogi )
      Another food I lived off when I was little was polony. I remembered just then me and my brother had it every lunch at home, same meal, polony slices with tomato sauce and some lettuce and tomato on the side. But one day I was at Kebab Co. and I saw the beef spinning on the spit at the back and it looked like polony and it ended up turning me off polony…… not sure how THAT worked, but yeah it happened :/ But lucky it did coz polony is just the fatty ends of meat, ew!

  2. Holy Hell haha, 8 of those things i still eat and devoured in rightous amounts as a kid. I’m 18 so i grew up in the 90s scrafing that stuff down. It kinda makes me scared. This article was amazing ever considered writing parody articles like what The Onion does?

  3. Macaroni and ketchup was the first thing that popped in my head when I read this in my email. I just ate it the other day too! What else? I wasn’t a picky eater at all. I ate green beans straight out of the can and loved bologna, cheese and ketchup. My daughter likes cheetos and ranch dressing. I wonder if she’ll still like it 10 years from now….

  4. Sara Mc

    I haven’t thought about some of that stuff in years. With the exception of the homemade tomato sauce, none of the things you described sound good at all, but 30 years ago they would have made my mouth water. How did rolling-up pieces of bread become socially-acceptable? How do the majority of kids even think to do that? That’s the only way my sister and I ate it when we were kids. My favorite summer lunch was pizza with English muffins for the “crust”. So good! My go-to breakfast was Lucky Charms or maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal.
    Bekah, sorry to bring-up a painful memory, but I have to ask…was it rainbow colored? I’m fascinated by the idea.

  5. wendy

    Recently my daughter concocted her very own recipe for spaghetti sauce and via oldfactory and taste-buds, it was not only my brain transported way, way back to early child-hood memories, but my heart, spirit and soul as well, to my mom’s home-made-simmer-cooked-all-day spaghetti and a place we lived flooded in like headwaters of Lynn Canyon. It was amazing!
    Early this summer I had Trix and they were not the same but given your point made about the sugars I see why. And after Bekah’s story I’m not sure I can exchange for Froot Loops now!
    I never grew up with much pre-packaged stuff and in my time was told Tang was just for Astronauts!
    We did have Wagon Wheels sometimes. And I wonder why this delicious fun food did not make the list! I wonder how many ways there are to eat a Wagon Wheel. And I wonder how long I could make it take because it was such a treat in those days to get a Wagon Wheel, I wanted it to last and last and last!

    • wendy

      Singing the food-fitting songs such as from, “Paint you wagon!”~ “I was born under a wandering star,” in Lee Marvin key/tone; imagining a pioneering life and Little House on the Prarie! Yep, them, there wagon wheels are SO much fun!

    • Bekah’s story was horrific indeed — but if someone offered me a bowl of Froot Loops right now, I would have trouble resisting! :P

      Screw you, waistline, I’m going in…

      • wendy

        What I think you have is a start-up line for an awesome “Foods-you- love-song- here! Hit it ltbg!

        • I’m glad you finally got your Trix, but I’m sorry they aren’t as yummy as you remember. Too bad we can’t have 2 set of taste buds. One set that grows with you and gives you the taste for more adult foods, and another set that still enjoys the foods from childhood. And I’m sorry I ruined Froot Loops for you. hahaha

  6. I had the Chef today :) It was good. I have it with a slice of bread with butter on it. This way you can dip it in the sauce :)

    I still get the liquid antibotics, I’m afraid to swallow pills.

  7. I don’t think I could have survived childhood without Tang and Chef Boyardee Ravioli. Haven’t eaten either in 25+ years. Great post. Very awesome!

    • I was actually craving some Chef Boyardee Ravioli the other day. I hadn’t had it in forever so I went for it. I wasn’t a big fan of it anymore and it gave me heartburn. :(

    • klalota

      Both of these were the stuff of most of my summer lunches as a kid. Then, as a young adult, I still remember the Chef after an evening’s imbibing…didn’t taste as good coming up again later, though. LOL!

  8. Max

    Oh, macaroni and cheese with little hot dog slices on top are my favourite. I’ve only had it a few times though. But every time they were delicious. I’ve never had Tang, and I have no idea what it is. Is it like a drink mix or something? Anyway, this is one of my favourite posts. I just love the nostalgia stuff. And food. I love nostalgia and food, and this post combines the two.

    • Yea, Tang is an orange powder that you mix with water. I’ve never had it either, so don’t feel bad. I’ve never had macaroni with hot dogs, but I make it for my kids all the time. I’ve had tuna and macaroni, but I’m sure that’s not the same. Maybe I can try a bowl next time I make it.

    • klalota

      It’s basically orange Kool Aid. Yummy and sugary, as I recall. Mac-n-cheese with sliced hotdogs and ketchup is still a comfort food for me. Mmmmmmm!

  9. opg210

    In my school lunch my day was made if I saw bologna and mustard, that was enough for me! Tang was an after school treat.
    My dad was a farmer and if he had to make a flying trip to town and we were lucky enough to go along, lunch for him was stopping at the convenience store, buying a loaf of white bread, a pack of salami or balogna, and cokes. Then eat on the fly. Not gourmet but that combo still takes me back…

  10. Holy nostalgia! Sodalicious was my go to snack when I was a kid. It’s been years since I’ve had them, but I still remember the taste of those wonderfully chewy sugar coated bottles. (I think my favourite was lime.)

  11. Pingback: Tagarini | familyrecipebooks

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