Teddy Allen: Goodbye to the best of the worst

Got a box of Moon Pies for Christmas. Nothing says peace on earth or goodwill to your colon quite like a pair of graham crackers divided by corn syrup and vegetable shortening disguised as marshmallows and dipped in chocolate. 

Hand me an RC Cola and sing me back home. 

Can’t eat an original big-boy-sized Moon Pie anymore, but I do love the occasional Mini-Moon pie, mainly for nostalgic reasons. Well, solely for nostalgic reasons. Definitely not for dietary ones. 

It hurts me to type this but … I have to. Others might be in the same culinary boat, feeling guilty like me.  

Sad to report that, through no fault of its own, Moon Pies have moved into a Food Group I invented in my maturing years. It’s not one that makes me happy. 

It’s “Boy Food That Didn’t Grow Up While I Did.” I wish these foods had aged along with me, but instead, they remained young while I started getting mail from AARP and going to the bathroom three times a night. 

I want to like them. Want to look forward to them like I did when I was a kid and my taste buds and digestive tract didn’t know what was good for it. 

But in these more mature years, nostalgia and boyhood memory is easily trumped by things like handlebar fat and our old unwanted, rarely mentioned friend, constipation, or its bastard cousin, the-opposite-of-constipation. 

In our Boy Food That Didn’t Grow Up While I Did list, Moon Pies don’t bat leadoff, but they’re in the lineup. 

So is Vienna Sausage. A can or two and a sleeve of Saltines while on break from your summer job digging sewerage ditches was a welcome banquet. Shade. Water. Vienna Sausage. Welcoming and easy and filling but not too filling. Good times. 

I couldn’t even look at a Vienna Sausage now. 

They are in the same phylum as potted meat. The wrapper was white and the labeling was “Deviled Ham,” and a red devil with a pitchfork was the brand and packaging. Might still be; I haven’t looked for it since I signed on with a job that offered group insurance. 

Keep in mind that its street name was/is “potted meat.” Well … it’s potted. Does not have the same marketing vibe as the playful “melts in your mouth, not in your hands.”  

The most recent addition to the list is the youthful Sloppy Joe. There was a time when I could eat four and want more. That time died in the early 1980s. About once every five years I will try to eat one, get all excited, and then take the first bite. That first bite always reminds me that life is a struggle and that if we don’t learn from our mistakes, we are bound to repeat them. 

Do you know what was really good in the 1970s? A frozen chicken pot pie cooked for an hour on the stove. Always eat them with a peanut butter foldover. Did that two years ago and started crying when I had a moment of clarity and realized that my dietary life had come to that. Sordid.  

You make a homemade chicken pot pie and I’m the first in line, but my days with the little aluminum bake-at-450-for-60-minutes pie tin are over.  

Spoiled? or wiser? Or maybe less hungry. Who knows?  

All we know is that we’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’, you know that lovin’ feelin’ … It’s gone, gone, gone, baby, it’s gone. 

One food remains on the fence: SPAM. Once every fall, during an NFL game on television, I fry SPAM and eat it on white bread. It’s once a year, has to be during an NFL game, has to be white bread, and that’s it. I must have seen a tremendous Cowboys-Redskins game on a perfect Sunday afternoon in 1972 while eating SPAM, and my subconscious won’t let me forget it. No other explanation. 

Besides, SPAM helped win World War II for us; Eisenhower said so himself. Maybe that’s why my stomach tips a cap to it once a year. 

Contact Teddy at teddy@latech.edu or Twitter @MamaLuvsManning 


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