Do you ever remember something from your childhood and think, did I really do that? Was I really like that? Could that even be true?
Whether it’s something you wore, I’m sure we all have horror stories of our kindergarten outfits (turtlenecks galore in my case) or something we did at recess, like convincing everyone to pick up glass on the playground to save the environment (true story) it can feel more like something that happened to a friend or a little cousin than something we actually did.
The stories make us laugh, cry and question our parents for letting us out of the house, but we rarely get the chance to relive them. They are strictly things of the past.
Childhood foods though…that’s a different story. You may not eat them on a regular basis (had a Lunchable or Yo-Crunch recently anyone?), but they still exist and you CAN try them again!
Growing up nobody would have pegged me as a dietitian-in-the-making. My parents begged me to eat something other than toaster waffles, plain white rice or pasta which together comprised about 75% of my diet. Offering me stickers for trying vegetables, fruit or anything that seemed like it could provide at least a few more nutrients than my very bland, starch diet was providing. They capitalized on whatever food that I was willing to eat and ran with it.
I had the ham on potato bread rolls phase. The green pepper slices phase. The cream cheese phase. The very gently steamed broccoli phase. The peanut butter with NO jelly phase. The corn cut off the cob phase. The baby carrot phase. The raisin phase…the list goes on and on.
Despite my dislike of most foods I loved to go grocery shopping. I’m not sure if I actually liked spending upwards of 90 minutes perusing each isle and selecting nearly two carts full of food to feed the ravenous brothers at home, or if I just liked the store because it had yellow tiles that I imagined were my very own yellow brick road, but I do know that if I went, my dad would let me select a “special treat.” This didn’t have to be on the healthy food list, it didn’t have to earn me a sticker. This food could be absolutely anything in the whole store, and the best part about it was, that it was all mine. In a house full of boys this was key.
For years my weekly selection was the same. A singular half gallon of 2% chocolate milk.
And then, one week, it changed. I have no recollection of my “special treat” after that (maybe dark chocolate candy bars with raspberry filling) or if it just stopped being a thing because I was over the age of 10, but from that time on I hardly ever sipped my old favorite. Maybe once at a friends house or at somebody’s birthday, but I honestly forgot about it. I forgot it was a thing you could buy, and I even forgot I liked it.
But when I started running, it began to resurface again. I’d hear people talking about the “powers” of chocolate milk. I heard about its perfect combination of sugar and protein post run. I heard about it being better than gatorade or protein shakes or any other crazy weird drink marketing professionals could think of. I even wrote an article about it! And yet (in part to my unfortunate lactose intolerant nature) had yet to try it again.
This past marathon training season though, in a new store (sadly no yellow tiles) I spotted chocolate soy milk nestled right next to the plain variety I was about to buy.
I paused. Chocolate milk…
I thought about it. I looked at it. I opened and closed the glass door at least 3 times as my indecision mounted. Should I do it? Would I like it? Does it have too many calories.
Shutting that last question down, I reached in and grabbed it. And suddenly I remembered. A much smaller hand (but still mine) making this same motion well over a decade ago. Little me would do this, I thought.
It hasn’t become my weekly special treat (although I’ve bought 3 half gallons since I moved here and I’m sipping a cup right now), but that first, refreshing glass not only tasted good, but brought back a wave of memories. Chocolate milk with waffles, chocolate milk with rice, chocolate milk with pasta…you know, the good old days.
I can attest it is still delicious and, hey, now I’m reaping the rewards all those runners are always talking about.
So what’s your favorite childhood food? Maybe go find it and give it a try, it may gross you out (I don’t think I’ll return to eating those bright orange peanut butter crackers anytime soon) but it may also be delicious and either way, bring a smile to your face.