Project Reveal: Childhood Redux

Perpetually nostalgic and spurred on by my horror at the thought of never eating again (see Thursday’s post), I’ve devised a new project: I’m going to re-try all of my best-loved childhood foods, recording my impressions as I go.

Sno Balls: my all-time favorite childhood "dessert."

The purpose of this project is twofold. Ostensibly, this endeavor is research-motivated. Reading Roger Ebert’s blog post about the author’s lost ability to eat (and speak) spawned my own fear of a similar fate, which in turn caused me to ruminate about all the foods I used to love, haven’t eaten in years, and might (hypothetically) never have the chance to eat again — unless I act now! It makes me sheepish to admit that I haven’t eaten certain of my “favorite” foods in a decade or more. (Orange push-ups, I’m looking at you.) Asked to describe the taste and texture of a Schwann’s frozen bean and cheese burrito, I’d be dumbfounded for a moment, then would provide a disappointingly-vague answer like, “Oily; obviously deep-fried and then frozen to preserve the crispness of the shell.” But could I detail the texture of the beans, the hue and taste of the cheese?

I could not.

Beyond reevaluating childhood faves from my older/wiser/questionably-more-sophisticated standpoint, this project will be fun: a boatload of fun. Many of the foods on my ever-growing list — Twizzlers Pull and Peel, Sno Balls, Cheez Balls — are a pleasure to eat. They invite one to pry them apart, squish them, sniff them. To lick one’s fingers clean of orange dust.

Subway's Italian BMT sandwich, one staple of my childhood diet. This was also Hook's best-loved sandwich.

As this experiment progresses, I’ll be noting my findings in a taste journal (and sharing them with you, of course). The journal will serve both to preserve my taste descriptions for posterity, but will also provide me a longitudinal record of how my palette evolves. Yeah!

Be assured that I’ll strive for accuracy in all aspects of my experiment. To the extent possible, I’ll purchase the exact products that I ate during my youth. I add this disclaimer because I have a feeling that certain specialties have been discontinued (i.e., Cap’n Crunch’s Ooops! All Berries cereal, which I’ve looked for and which has been taken off the market) or are sold only regionally (Schwann’s foods, perhaps?). I’ll also try not to let previous associations with these foods cloud my current judgment. I know this project contains a lot of inherent bias — after all, I’m only re-tasting my favorite childhood foods — but I won’t let my rose-tinted memories of Fruit by the Foot taint my contemporary appraisal of the product. In actuality, I’m expecting to have lower opinions of a lot of the foods I once loved, but I’ll strive to keep this bias out of the experiment, as well.

Stylized rendering of the Schwann's truck.

At happy hour yesterday, I revealed my plan to Sabina, who was stoked to hear about this project-in-process. In fact, she offered to take part in my first taste test, set for this Sunday at 11:00 AM. Can you guess what food we’ll be revisiting?

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2 responses to “Project Reveal: Childhood Redux

  1. Sounds fun! My fave snacky food of childhood was the regional Tastykake. I will always maintain their superiority over Hostess. My favorite variety of Tastykake is the CandyCake, chocolate covered spongy cake with yummy peanut butter on the top between cake and chocolate. Yermmmmm.

  2. CANDYCAKE???(!!!) OMG — that sounds awesome! I’ve never seen this Cake of Yore, but I’ll look around here. Perhaps it’s a regional specialty?

    Also, I’m not a huge Hostess fan, but I do love the Sno Balls 🙂

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