My childhood lunch menu:
- In-season apple
- Olive loaf sandwich on soft white bread, with lavishly applied mayonnaise (The sandwich had to be cut on the diagonal, or I wouldn’t eat it.)
- Fresh Fritos in an individual bag serving
- Hostess Ding Dong or Sno Balls
- Sweet tea, chocolate milk, or Kool-Aid
There was little variation in this menu when my brother and I were little kids, and our mom saw little reason to change it. She, and countless other mothers at that time, felt this was a nutritious, filling lunch for 2 growing boys. On the positive side, the Fritos were made from corn, so it counted as a vegetable.
After lunch, Mom expected us to lie down and take a nap. We never went to sleep for some reason, but at least she got a few moments of peace and quiet.
OK, so this was probably not the most nutritious meal we could have eaten, but our supper was usually a well-balanced meal. However, dessert was a nightly occurrence, and a spectacular Jell-O salad often graced the table. Neither my brother nor I seem to have suffered any ill effects. At least not yet.
Remember, this was a time when candy cigarettes and bubble gum cigars were common treats for kids. Flavored sugar water in tiny wax bottles was a Halloween staple, for reasons that are still unclear to me now. SweeTARTS were an odd and unexplainable pleasure, and we ate them by the fistful.
In retrospect, my food preferences have certainly changed over the years. I refused anything with cheese in it, except for a grilled cheese sandwich. I guess in my head, the grilling made it acceptable. I wouldn’t eat a vegetable unless it was cooked to death. That is definitely not the case now. I needed all my seafood encased in a crispy, fried batter, and I remember hating beets. Wait, I still hate beets.
I think we all develop our palates over time and grow to have more complex taste preferences. Healthier eating seems a lot more attainable these days, at least if we make the choice.
But occasionally, I still grow nostalgic for the treats I enjoyed as a child. I recently bought some olive loaf and white bread so that I could recreate my childhood favorite.
It was disgusting.
Patrick Harness is a community liaison with a long history of experience in health insurance. If you ask him to pick a color, he always chooses orange, and he is known for his inability to parallel park.