Tuesday, September 6, 2016

It's the Cheesiest

I love the new Little Debbie commercials where the lady's eight year old self comes up to her at the grocery store with a bag of powdered donuts and tries to convince her that she should get some by reminding her how much she once loved them.  And the truck driver's younger self suddenly appearing in his passenger seat with a box of Little Debbie Honey Buns trying to entice him with those little treasures he'd forgotten about in his adulthood. 
Well, a couple of weeks ago, I ran to our neighborhood Dollar General as we were getting low on dog food, milk, and aluminum foil and no one should ever risk running out of those three things.  I was pushing my buggy through the store and, on my way back to the register, I cut through one of the grocery aisles and that's when it happened.  My eye caught the blue box macaroni and I became entranced.  Sure, I see Kraft Macaroni and Cheese all the time at stores but this time was different.  It was like the cardboard box was calling out to me.  Or like, in the Little Debbie commercial, my younger self was standing there waving it in front of my face, reminding me of it's sharp cheese sauce derived from the glowing powdery substance and the way it would cling to the tiny macaroni noodles.  Mmmmmmm.  "Please, please, please, can we get some? Can we get some?" she pleaded. "Oh, all right," I said as I gave in and grabbed a box....even if it had skyrocketed from the once 4/$1 to $1.50 each now.  Highway robbery. 

Anyway, the blue box and I have a long history together.  It was one of my favorites growing up and I personally thought that it paired especially well with a hot dog.  A hot dog and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  Oldies but goodies. My favorite lunch.  I ate many a plate of that delicious combination as a child.  I consumed enough of the orange paste to paint most all of the Home Depots in the Southeast.

Well, on that particular day when I dropped that blue box into my buggy, I knew in the back of my mind that we happened to have some hot dogs in the frig which is a pretty rare occurrence because, well, cholesterol, nitrates, processed meats linked to cancer, blah, blah, blah.  While there are many hot dog snobs out there, I feel a good hot dog is one of life's tastiest treats..... no matter how many times my nutrition major daughter shows me the video of how they're made from a pink paste.  I tell you what....fire up the grill and throw on some beef dogs and top with homemade chili, sautéed onions, and cheese and that's some mighty fine pink paste in my opinion.  I don't care if there are chicken gizzards and toe nails in there.

Well, a few days later, I was home alone at lunch time.  I ripped open that blue box, boiled up those noodles, got out the butter, and made myself a batch of the neon pasta along with a hot dog and I don't know if it was just a sweet memory flood or what but even my more sophisticated taste buds had to admit that they enjoyed it an awful lot.  It was every bit as good as I remembered.     

You know those foods you used to like when you were a kid and sometimes nostalgia takes over and you think you want to try it again to see if it was everything you remembered.  Here are some other childhood favorites that I've gone back and tried over the last few years...

Peach Nehi- Peach Nehi was my all-time favorite!  My go-to drink at the convenience store.  It quenched thirst like nothing else in my book.  I still have to say that they're really, really, really good but just a little too sweet for my more mature palette at 49 grams of sugar.   

Now and Laters-  I loved these jewels.  And you got five pieces in a pack for only a nickel.  As soon as I wrote that, I realized I sounded like a great-grandma recounting how she could get a Coke, a hamburger and see a picture show for only a quarter.  Last time I tried a Now and Later for old time's sake, I got a small chip in one of my bottom teeth.  It's like chewing on Legos.  They're sweeter than I remembered, too.  I thought they were more sour back in the day but they're still mighty tasty. 

Charms Sour Pops-  Loved these so much that I shoplifted a red one from a convenience store at the ripe age of 4.  Yes, I knocked off a convenience store as a preschooler but I really think it was a turning point in my life as my mother made me return it and apologize.  She took me home and I was rehabilitated.  A few times when I've wanted to revisit the wilder side of my youth, I've looked for a Charms sucker but I can never find the sour ones....only the sweet pops.  Just not the same.  They're not worth stealing.    
Chef Boyardi RavioliRemember how your Mama would heat up a can for your lunch?  You ever tried that as an adult?  Tastes like pasta and rust.  I'm going to have to give this an adult thumbs down. 

Freezer Pops-  As an adult, those taste like frozen Robutussin, Dimetapp, and Benadryl....depending on which color you get.

Fish Sticks- I suppose they are the equivalent to hot dogs in the fish world.  Comprised of fish eyeballs, egg sacks, and goodness knows what else.  I was never a big fan of those when I was a kid especially if I bit into one of those dark spots you'd come across, every now and then.  I revisited them when my children were small and they were just as "eeeww" as I remembered. 

Tang-  I remember the cabinet where my Mama kept the Tang.  I can't say that I've tried it as a grown woman but, as I remember, it was the perfect blend of the orange zest of baby aspirin and the biting tartness of lighter fluid. 

Sugar Daddy-  These things are still as good as you remember but, unless you have a good dental plan, don't try one.  Your old teeth can't handle it.  They will pull your fillings out so fast, it will make your head spin.

Bugles- Yep, still good as I remember.  They just don't fit on your fingertips as well as they did when you want to pretend you're a witch and, well, that's a bummer. 

And we can't forget Little Debbie'sThey graced every lunch box on the continent back in my day.  My mother always bought the Oatmeal Crème Pies.  I suppose she thought she could read some health benefit into them since they contained oatmeal but I'd say that would've been a stretch.  Star Crunch and Nutty Buddies also showed up a lot in our lunches.  Personally, the Donut Sticks were my favorite and, even now, if you put them in the microwave for about 8 seconds, they're still mighty good eatin'. 

We've all gotten older and now we have to watch our triglycerides, cholesterol, sodium, blood sugar, weight gain, saturated fats, blood pressure, gluten, carbohydrates, additives, preservatives, chemicals, pesticides, dyes, growth hormones, antibiotics, and a bunch of other stuff we were blissfully ignorant of as children.  But, every now and then, it does the soul good to let the younger you throw a little something in the buggy for old time's sake.  Lick some Cheetos dust off your fingers.  Get a red Kool-Aid stache.  I mean, how could you resist that face?     

Y'all eat something today in honor of Way Back Wednesday and let me know how it goes. 


  1. I had to laugh out loud reading the name of the post! My daughter's favorite food ( sometimes with a cut up hot dog ) and still is. Comfort food! Well,for me it was spaghetti Os, Scooter pies, homemade fudge. A big deal was to pick out your own frozen dinner or go out to eat at the Sizzlers, a steak house and under a dollar a meal from Mickey Ds, the golden arches! My allowance ( the 60s ) was fifty cents and I was able to buy comic books and lots of candy ( sugar babies (a bit softer), Chunky, Look ), good times! Koolaid, Tang, and Nestles Quick to drink too.
    Love this post! Kathleen in Az

  2. Joni, one of the best things about being a grandmother is revisiting these pleasures of our childhood and introducing them to the grandchildren! We've progressed from the blue mac and cheese box to a more modern Kraft version called "Easy Mac" which the kids can do in the microwave with a little supervision. My oldest who is 12 requests this for every visit and has since he was tiny! We also have ice cream for breakfast! Gotta spoil 'em while we can!

  3. My mom almost never bought Little Debbie's and I loved them! I got off the bus at my grandmother's house and she always had them for me for a snack. My favorite were the Swiss Roll Cakes. Now she makes sure she has them for my kids because I never buy them.

  4. You have such a wonderful way of bringing the past to life - I love walking down memory lane with you!

  5. I still love the Little Debbie oatmeal pies. And while I don't remember having Nehi here in Baltimore (although we might have), I loved Frostee Root Beer when I was younger. I can't find it anymore though.