It seems like my luck with food is roughly the same as my luck with television. On the one hand, I pride myself on having simple, but good, taste; on the other, any time I find myself starting to like something, it gets yanked or cancelled. And for every “Andy Richter Controls the Universe,” or “Boomtown” that’s out there, there’s a corresponding food that I’ve enjoyed–some prepackaged, some not–that you can’t find any more to save your life. So here’s my top five:
- Snapple sodas: It used to be you could get something fizzy made “from the best stuff on earth.” Creative flavors, too. In addition to having a credible root beer (ie. good, but not as good as Stewart’s), they had flavors like Peach Melba, Cherry Lime Rickey, and Chocolate soda. Now that I think of it, any chocolate soda I’ve liked, from the Snapple to the inferior one put out by Arizona for a short time, has vanished from the shelves.
- Doritos flavors: It’s bad enough that they changed the formula for Doritos, so much so that they now taste closer to every other nacho chip out there. What’s worse is some of the past types that they don’t make any more. Some varieties’ passing–eg. pizza–I can’t say that I minded so much. But others, like Jumpin’ Jack flavor (much better than the current Pepper Jack) I really miss. The other old favorite, referenced in song* and story, is Taco flavored Doritos. They come and go like an old flame. They’re there for a bit, just long enough to get your hopes up, and then they vanish again, leaving you feeling cheated and just a little pissed.
- Peanut Butter Boppers: I’m not sure quite how to describe these. Think of… uh… well, it looked like a turd festooned with cookie crumbs. Maybe somebody was raiding the Keebler Elves’ outhouse or something. But still, they were tasty, and for a couple of years, I went through them like I now go through cigarettes… probably the reason that I am the fine, strapping specimen that I am now.
- Chicken Gyro, circa 1996: I’m not saying that you can’t walk into practically any place owned/run by Greeks or anyone else from the vicinity of the Mediterranean and get a chicken gyro. I’m saying that this chicken gyro would have made God Himself salivate uncontrollably. This, you see, wasn’t just a bunch of mechanically separated chicken,** formed into a cone and sliced onto a pita with some wilted lettuce, sad onions, and tomatoes stiffer than this morning’s erection. Oh, no. This was marinated chicken chunks, fresh greens, hummus, tabouleh, and tahini, expertly piled onto the pita by some Algerian guy in a little place in East Rutherford that became substandard Sushi takeout soon after. This was the sandwich-as-religious-experience.
- Dinner at Grandma’s: Whether it was fish dinner on Fridays (what do you want from a family of Irish Catholics?), her rice pudding, or a spaghetti that I have tried to duplicate but couldn’t (and this even using the same ingredients, as far as I can remember), I think that this is the one I miss the most. This isn’t to say that my grandmother was Julia Child; but I’ll miss those potato pancakes long after the taste of all the supposed “fine dining” has faded.
*Song, at least: “Fish On” by Primus.
**Like they use in Slim Jims. I shit you not; read the ingredients.