On the finer points of Mac and Cheese. Bologna. Processed desserts.

This is going to get a little ramble-y, but bear with me.

I like Hostess and Little Debbie snacks. I really have a soft spot for the Hostess Ding Dongs. I know full well they are full of the worst crap you can possibly eat, which is why I haven’t had a Ding Dong or Twinkie or Ho-Ho or the like in probably 5 years. I still like them, though.

Fried Bologna and American cheese slices. Don’t even start with American cheese not being real cheese. I agree with you, but still…

The best example is Macaroni and Cheese. Kraft Mac and Cheese, to be precise. It, too, is total crap and there’s probably more nutrition in the box it came in…but it holds a soft spot. Why? Well, that’s easy. Growning up, that was the *good stuff*. The REAL stuff. It was especially good when you had a little Velveeta left over from some healthy dinner like Nachos – a.k.a. store brand tortilla chips, a pound of hamburger and most of a block of Velveeta- to melt into the mix.

The first time I went somewhere and had some scratch made gourmet-type mac and cheese, I couldn’t say….but I know I hated it. It didn’t taste anything like what I knew of as “the Good Stuff”. I would have been better if it were “the cheap stuff”- the store brand noodles whose cheese sauce mix was essentially yellow dyed sand in skim milk- because at least that I was familiar with. As I got older, and was able to go to nicer restaurants, or more wealthy firends houses (which was exceptionally rare), I did start to learn the difference between qualities in things like cheese, meats, sauces, etc.  As a teenager, our world expanded a bit, and I was exposed to better and better food. When I started living on my own, and with the new wife shortly thereafter, I was able to start cooking…and put the effort into food and really see the difference and understand what the “good stuff” really was.

I mean, really, to each their own and all…but I grew up mostly poor.  Our scenario was not typical, of course, but nobody is ever really typical; I still suspect there were a lot of people in my school who had similar existences.  There were times where we didn’t have power or heat. There were times when the only food in the house came from the Food Bank, most of which was expired cans from Aldi’s (before Aldi’s was cool) and/or cans missing their labels. Some of that poverty was situational,  sometimes it was parental substance use… just depended. There were good times, though. That’s when the name brand food came out, and cheeseburgers and ribs and steaks! (My dad had worked at a steakhouse about the time I was born, and so learned how to “properly” cook a steak, I guess.) Those were the times we’d have Kraft Mac and Cheese instead of  ACME Cheese* and Mac’roni®.

Even through the bad times, my grandparents always kept Hostess and Little Debbie snack around for us. Those treats are some of the happiest childhood memories I have. *That’s* why I can’t hate the “processed crap”, and will gladly allow my kids to have it on occasion, too.

Anyway, about halfway through high school, my dad got a new job. One that catapulted us from hovering around the poverty line 4 months of the year, to being solidly upper middle class. I haven’t been dirt-poor since.

A few years ago, I read this article. I could completely relate. In my house it was Mayo sandwiches instead of Ketchup sandwiches. And Instead of Mayo it was Miracle Whip. (Unlike other crap foods, I now can’t stand Miracle Whip. Unlike the “processed crap” in ho-hos, Miracle Whip is actually disgusting. )

Rambling? Sure. But that’s what I got today.