Photo Credit: PhotoAlto/Laurence Mouton
On Sunday, my regularly scheduled enjoyment of garbage reality TV was temporarily disrupted by a Pop-Tarts commercial-induced insulin attack. As frosted toaster pastries danced across the screen, colliding mid-air with scoops of ice cream, the voiceover urged moms at home to treat their kids to a delicious new concoction: The Pop-Tarts Ice Cream Sammie. To assemble: Take one Frosted Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Pop-Tart. Top it with a giant scoop of slightly softened cookie dough ice cream. Layer with whipped topping and an extra sprinkling of chocolate morsels. Top with another toaster pastry to make a sandwich and watch as your child enjoys his snack/hikes his risk of Type 2 Diabetes.
This struck me as quite possibly the worst snack ever. Well, maybe it’s #2, behind the new KFC Double Down Sandwich, in which two fried chicken filets serve as a “bun,” holding in two pieces of bacon, two melted slices of Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese and the Colonel's Sauce. Where are these gastronomic monstrosities coming from?
Then I realized cramming nutritional warfare down our throats isn’t anything new: Our childhoods were filled with nutritional abominations. I’ll give props to my mom – we always had freshly cut fruit in the fridge, a giant plate of kid-friendly veggies like red pepper strips and sugar snaps at dinner. But there were some doozies mixed in. My brother and I used to clamor for a dish she made called, quite simply, Beef and Rice. It was basically white rice that had been cooked in full-strength beef stock and teriyaki sauce, dotted with chunks of red meat. It was comfort food at its best – my brother continued to request it when he’d come home from college – but today, that kind of dish might land you in jail and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor’s arteries.
So I decided to ask other women about their favorite childhood food disasters. The answers I received were insanely disgusting and yet, in some way, incredibly comforting. Popular themes include sandwiches – basically, pick two fattening spreads and cram them between bread; meat products somehow injected and/or wrapped in another meat or dairy product, and anything smeared with butter and sprinkled with sugar or salt.
Among the childhood cuisine memories:
"My mom always served macaroni and cheese with a side of a bologna slice. Being an early culinary genius, I used to roll up the bologna so it looked like a soft taco shell. Then, I carefully scooped heaping spoonfuls of macaroni into the ‘shell.’ Et, voila! Macaroni tacos!" - Amanda S.
"’Pooh sandwiches’ -- chocolate frosting from a can spread on graham crackers." Kate M.
"A regular 4-H menu consisted of open-face Wonder Bread sandwiches, cheez spread and crushed potato chips sprinkled on top. Orange drink to wash it down.” - Alison S.
"My mom used to regularly feed us butter AND sugar sandwiches." - Catharine H.
"This may only be found in New England, but, peanut butter and Marshmallow Fluff sandwiches are amazing! (Also known as "fluffernutters"). Also, peanut butter and maple butter spread on toast-- my mother actually allowed me to have this for breakfast (but NEVER a 'sugary' cereal such as Fruit Loops!). -Julie D.
"White bread with Miracle Whip - open face. Oh and I'm pretty sure my dad used to put little cans of mini hot dogs in my lunch." - Sarah G.
"Fried bologna. I know- so gross.... and now I'm a vegetarian! And, I totally did the french fries in a Wendy's frosty, too!" -Lisa L.
"Growing up, my mom would make fried banana, peanut butter sandwiches with chili sauce on them. Sounds kind of Elvis-ish, doesn't it?"- Anne K.
"Cheez wiz melted on Doritos...and Spaghettios"-Lisa H.
"My fellow campers and I used to request that our parents send us care packages that included spray cheese, Ritz crackers and cans of chocolate frosting. We would eat the frosting with spoons. I also ate an abundance of homemade ice cream sundaes - daily if I could. The fact that I didn't weigh 300 pounds is nothing short of a miracle!" -Gine B.
"Cream cheese and jelly sandwiches on buttered bread! Gross."-Lisa D.
"My mom used to make us hot butterios. Ingredients: Honey Nut Cheerios & melted butter. i shouldn't talk since I'm eating Oreos as i type this, but... ugh."-Stephanie B.
"My mom used to make us hot dogs, she'd cut a slice down the middle and put cheddar cheese in it, then she'd wrap it all in bacon. I want to crawl in a hole now for telling you that... "-Shaun C.
"Pizza burgers and cheese dogs. Basically anything Oscar Mayer manufactured in the 80s. "-Michelle A.
"Fudge rounds! Double stuff Oreos! And the most disgusting? Marshmallow fluff and chocolate chip sandwiches made in the sandwich grill! No wonder I am a sugar addict, lol!"-Lisa A.
"I used to eat spray cheese straight out of the can... "processed cheese food". Cheese food. What exactly, one wonders, is cheese food? It's what cheese eats?"-K. H.
"Those Little Debbie oatmeal cream pies. I can't think of one thing about them that was nutritionally redeeming but they were oh-so-tasty."-Maris C.
"Bacon any mayo sandwich on toast with no veggies"-Jocelyn S.
"Nutella Sanwiches! It's still a secret snack." -Amanda L.
"Spam everyday after school. My poor heart."- Noelle K.
"I need to tell you about my teenage years vending at the ballpark. On the way home from Wrigley to my job at our church rectory, I'd stop at the convenience store at the Bryn Mawr el stop to purchase my, ahem, dinner: a Suzy Q, bag of Doritos and a Fresca. Did i mention i was in the best shape i've ever been in my life... from being 17 and vending, of course!" - Maria M.
-Check out our picks for the Unhealthiest Fast Food Meals.
Can you top these bad boys? Tell us about the horror-filled concoctions you used to eat with glee! Chime in below. We promise not to judge.