Are Cupcakes a Gateway Drug?

Forget alcohol -- these snacks can trigger a crazy binge that will make you do bad, bad things

You know the old ad for Lay’s Potato Chips -- Betcha can’t eat just one? Turns out, it’s not just a catchy slogan. Scientists have discovered that certain foods -- kale not being one of them -- can trigger major pigging-out tendencies. You don’t say.

An article on Today Health calls them gateway foods -- foods that “make you do bad things.” You take one bite and suddenly all discipline has gone out the window. In a chocolate-covered nutshell, you lose your effing mind.

Just looking at or even thinking about a bin of Ho-Hos sets off a chemical reaction that lights up the reward area of your brain like a boardwalk arcade. Blame evolution. We’re programmed to devour all fatty and sugary snacks in sight, because in our ancestors’ time these foods were hard to come by, and eating them increased our chances of surviving the next famine.

Now burger joints and 7-Elevens are like crack dealers on every corner, and our brain has no clue that a famine is pretty much out of the question. (For the first time ever, obese people outnumber the starving people of the world. So much for cleaning your plate to help kids in Africa). The only solution, according to the piece, is to head off a binge before it starts.

If only I had known that a few weeks ago. Mad Men was on, I had my period (which is as good an excuse as any), and it seemed like the perfect time to allow myself a treat. So I decided to pick up a Chuao Firecracker chocolate bar: Dark chocolate, Pop Rocks, chipotle chiles and salt -- all of the flavors and textures I could possibly want in a single bite. Except that I didn’t stop at a bite. I ate the entire 3-oz bar.

By the time the episode was over, I had made my way through a bag of Smart Food and half a box of Carr’s Ginger Lemon Crème cookies. Oh, and I washed it all down with a bottle of Coke. I felt utterly nauseated, but I couldn’t stop. That is, until that last scene in Mad Men where a fat Betty Francis guiltily polished off her daughter’s sundae. Ouch. It was like staring into a mirror.

I have since cleaned out my cupboards and banned junk food from the house -- which I’m sure will last until my next PMS craving.

Note to health experts: Please scratch dark chocolate from your list of junk food that is safe to eat. I am proof that dark chocolate is, in fact, a trigger. Also, I think we can add Fat Betty to the possible cures of gateway snacking.

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