One of the many benefits to having kids is that I’m exposed to this crap more than I was pre-kids and, well, I eat it up...literally.
I must start this post with the disclaimer that I do not feed my kids the things on the list below very often. In fact, I’m rarely the one offering it to them (apart from the first one—guilty there a few times a month). My kids have a varied and very healthy diet, we all eat lots of whole foods, real food, organic fruits and veggies, meats raised without antibiotics, etc. I have read Michael Pollen, I belong to a food coop, I have a big organic veggie garden in my backyard and yet…I dig me some processed kid food. As I established in my last post, I am far from perfect and I break my own rules and I’m OK with that. Especially when the five foods below are involved. Because, well, yum:
Macaroni and cheese—only from the box, obviously. To me, Kraft is the pinnacle (I once interviewed Top Chef winner Stephanie Izard who said she’s obsessed with the blue box and has gotten caught by fans buying the stuff at her local deli—whoops!), but I buy my kids Annie’s Organic. We try to do the whole wheat shells with white cheddar (my kids love it but, um, so not the same as Kraft) but this time we got some of the regular cheese elbows (in a giant variety pack from Costco) and, well, they’re irresistible, too. We made some for the kids last night (with organic chicken sausage, my brother-in-law’s homemade veggie empanadas and roasted asparagus—see, not so bad when you look at the whole meal) and when I was serving the kids (and helping myself to bites) Nick actually said, “Go easy on that, dude.” D’oh! I’m pretty sure I’m not alone here, right? Last summer at a BBQ where real Kraft mac and cheese was being served to the kids, a mom friend and I were making our kids’ plates and locked eyes from across the table just as we were putting huge forkfuls into our mouths. And we laughed and laughed and laughed. The stuff is damn good, no?
Goldfish—cheddar or original, not pretzel. And I’d bet I’d like parmesan but haven’t tried it in years. Again, I don’t regularly buy or serve my kids goldfish (yes, we’ve done Annie’s cheddar bunnies, yes I realize that organic crap is still crap), but every once in a while these make their way into my life and, soon after, into my mouth. Confession: I bought the giant box at Costco a few weeks back for myself since my kids don’t really eat them. Maybe it’s the nostalgia factor, maybe it’s the crunch, maybe it’s that each little cracker has the perfect amount of salt, maybe it’s that I’ve been needing more carby snack food in my life lately, but whatever the reason, I’m hooked. No pun intended.
Tater Tots—I honestly can’t even remember the last time I had these but I think it was at my sister’s house and I think I ate more than the kids. I also recall burning my mouth because these suckers come out hot and I couldn’t wait. Man, do I love these. My mom used to make them for us and I remember tater tot night so fondly (just as I remember lima bean night the opposite of fondly). In my opinion, these are far better than French fries and taste best when they’re about a minute from being overcooked. And dipped in ketchup, naturally. Apparently they serve a grown-up version of tater tots at one of the fancier restaurants in my town and they rock. I know what I’m doing this weekend!
Carvel ice cream cake—I am not a huge sweets person at all and can easily pass up cake and cupcakes and candy at parties and such. Unless it’s Carvel cake. In that case, I find my way to my kids’ plate to “help” them. To me there is nothing better in the world than chocholate crunchies. I actually hate sprinkles but chocolate crunchies? Surrounded by rock-hard chocolate and vanilla ice cream? Holy cow, it doesn’t get any better. Oh man, I’m gonna have to go to Carvel today. Oh wait, it’s my dad’s birthday! I’ll bring a Carvel cake to dinner! How perfect is that?!
S’mores—two graham crackers, two little bars of Hershey’s chocolate, one big marshmallow, that, to me, is the perfect ratio. And here’s the worst part: While I do love the authentic campout s’more and my kids and I will definitely be assembling some in our backyard this summer, I am not opposed to making them in the microwave. In fact, when I was in college, I kept the fixins in my apartment and regularly had an après-dinner s’more. Note: Watching a marshmallow expand to five times its size is really fun.
OK, those are my top five. There are plenty more, of course, and I’m sure as soon as I post this new ideas will come flooding in. Like PB&J sandwiches, ice cream sandwiches, potato chips with French onion dip (not homemade, the powdered crap you mix into sour cream), Eggo waffles, funfetti cupcakes with rainbow chip icing, Honey Nut Cheerios, chicken fingers (from a restaurant, not fast food), French fries (from anywhere), lemonade, pigs-in-a-blanket, Pirate's Booty, raw cookie dough, Reese’s peanut butter cups, Cheetohs, Doritos, Cool Ranch Doritos and really any other orange salty snack food you can think of.