Stuffed shells. I used to see that on a pink hot lunch order form in elementary school. I would get it every time it was on there. Love will do that to you when you’re a kid. Later my fifth grade teacher informed us that we order from the leftovers from the high school/middle school hot lunches. I was very grateful there were still stuffed shells available by the time the pink form got down to us. I think stuffed shells were also my first dive into the Italian pool. That’s all it took and I’ve been swimming in that pool ever since.
Instant noodles. I guess I’m thinking more specifically of instant ramen. And even more specifically, the Kang Shi Fu brand. That one was mom-approved until instant noodles weren’t in general when she found out they are “bad” for you. By the time I was 12 I had finally learned how to make some on my own and I would happily make some for myself right after school. Hey, I was a growing kid and after a long day in school I would be so hungry I needed a snack before dinner. But even though I know now it’s the not a healthy snack, every once in a while I get a craving and I just have to have some.
Hot dogs. Processed meat. My grandma was watching me once when I was seven and she let me have three in a row because she saw how much I loved eating them. Mom wasn’t too happy about that, but I ate them all. Later on she did tell me to stop eating them and I did pretty good on that for the most part until every once in a while when it’s in front of me at a potluck or a chili bowl event. Once while living in Columbia I wanted to make myself a quick dinner before heading to a Zumba class with some girl friends so I picked hot dogs.
Donut holes. Seven in Chicago and my teachers up to that point were known for bringing us Dunkin’ Donuts every once in a while to treat us. The easiest thing to bring in for a whole class of second graders was the holes. Later on when I tried a donut for the first time I realized I will always like the holes better than the donuts. Now when I look at a donut hole I remember the excitement of positive reinforcement.
Conclusion: We may know what is healthy to eat and what is not once we grow up, but it’s the food and snacks we discovered in our childhoods that still taste so good so many years later no matter how simple or the nutritional value or lack thereof.