Forgotten Foods

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

4 thoughts on “Forgotten Foods”

  1. First, I want to remark on how festooned is a great comedy word. It just is.

    Second, I concur with much of that, in slightly different ways. Well, you know I couldn’t get enough Jumpin’ Jack Cheese Doritos, I’d eat them ’til my tongue hurt, literally. And I dug the Boppers; I guess Kudos are our closest remaining treat.

    While I did have a great chicken gyro place that I left in Pasadena, it’s the Philly Cheesesteak off a truck that I remember most fondly. It was when I worked at the nuclear power plant, and I don’t know if it was the radioactive beef or the fact that I had to walk a 1/4 mile each way in the NJ summer heat to get the damn thing, but I’ve yet to find a better cheesesteak.

    The thing I miss most about my grandmother’s cooking was bacala, or fried codfish fritters. I can get most of the other food from other family members or the rare Puerto Rican restaurant (and sometimes Cuban); maybe not as good, but passable. But I’ve yet to find that bacala anywhere.

  2. You’re preaching to the choir, brother. I thought I was the only one who got “robbed” once I found something I liked.

    2005: How n’ Spicy Check Mix. I called the customer service line and they assured me they are still making it. They are waiting for the “seasonal” flavors to finish their run.

    2000: MUG made root-beer-float ice cream in a convenient squeeze container. They still make it, but only in a cup.

    1996: Pizzarias was a snack made by Keebler that tasted exactly like pizza. You could eat these and be full like a real meal. Three flavors; Regular, pepperoni, and supreme.

    1990: Pringles corn chips. They tasted (and looked) like Frito’s but with the pringles shape. Three flavors; Regular, ranch, and cheese. All awesome. All gone.

    1985: Choco Bliss was this snack cake that had layers of chocolate sponge separated by soft chocolate filling and a deep chocolate icing on top. It could kill you if you had a weak heart.

    There were two more snacks I liked that required CPR and thankfully made a comeback. Willy Wonka’s Bottlecaps and Herr’s Hot Cheese Curls.

  3. Wow, Z, I’m kinda surprised to see some hot/spicy foods on your list.
    You’re a changed man.

    That ice cream sounds great, although I’m not above simply making the float myself. Galco’s Soda Pop Stop is in the process of bringing back Hires (or Hi-Res as we geeks called it) root beer. And RC draft cola, which was really great.

    Your Choco Bliss triggered a memory of those Good Humor Chocolate Eclairs, which I haven’t had in ages. Wonder if they’re in any local supermarkets…

    Then there’s stuff that’s just not in SoCal supermarkets, like Sabrett hot dogs and Taylor “Ham”. At least Philly’s Best makes Taylor Ham and cheese on a hard roll; I’ll have to get that next time I go. Probably all for the best that I can’t get that stuff easily.

  4. About 7 years ago, my tastes changed almost overnight. All I eat is hot stuff now. I’m kind of known for it. When people see foods labeled “fire” or “extreme” they bring it to me.
    I actually keep a bottle of hot sauce on me in my cooler or car, just in case I find myself in need of a quick fix and I work with Mexicans who are always ready to bring in sauces they get at special markets.

    Yes, my colon looks like the inside of a fireplace and I rarely poop solids.
    I know you were wondering.

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