Friday, February 4, 2011

Mo' Better Foods

Bacon. French fries. Ding Dongs. Mountain Dew.

What is ... Val Kilmer's favorite breakfast? I'll take "From Iceman to Fatman" for $600, Alex.

Bad form. I love Val Kilmer. To be fair, add a chocolate long john, and the list above is my favorite breakfast.

In the throes of intense monthly food cravings (is it bad when the neighborhood Chinese restaurant staff knows your menstrual cycle?), I have been pondering food products that are always good, but are better under certain conditions. Lots better. Mo' better, if you will.

For instance, I was chowing down on pudding in a cup the other night, and sure, the pudding was decent. Layers of chocolate and vanilla pudding were swirled in a little plastic could anything chocolate and vanilla be bad? Eb-ony and i-vory / live together in perfect harmony / side by side in my pudding cup so sweet / Oh, Lord, why don't we? Damn, I love it when pudding brings people together, but I digress.

Today, most snack-size puddings are in those little plastic cups with coated, thick foil lids that are darn-near impossible to pull off without the foil splitting into a gazillion pieces. Seriously. You spend about 25 minutes attempting to pull the lid off a snack that will take about 2.5 seconds to eat. Perhaps it only tastes good at that point because you've worked up a heck of an appetite opening it.

But do you remember when you could buy single-size puddings in the little aluminum cans? Mmmmm. Something about those little cans with the pull-top lids made the pudding taste better. Lots better. Mo' better.

At least I assume the little cans of pudding were better. I can't be certain, since my mother rarely allowed me to have any of those delectable canned puddings because they were saved for my incredibly picky little brother's home-packed lunches, while I was forced to endure school lunches (rectangular pizza served with corn. Amazing that combination never caught on in the pizza industry).

I'm not bitter. On the few occasions I was allowed to have (read: sneak into the bathroom with) a treasured can of pudding, I would pull back the top, lick the chocolate pudding off the metal lid, be rushed to the emergency room for my cut tongue, return home and savor the best pudding in the world.

Sadly, pudding snacks aren't the same now. You blame nostalgia. I blame plastic containers. Pudding in little cans was better. Period. (Now I want Chinese food).

But puddings aren't alone. I have a whole list of foods that are good, but are much tastier if certain conditions are met.

For example, french fries are mo better when dug from the bottom of the fast-food bag while driving. I don't know why this is true, but we all know it is.

And bacon [chorus of angels] is always delicious, what with its delicate marbled, crispy, salted, smoked fatness. But for some reason, it tastes the very best when stolen from the plate as soon as it is removed from the frying pan. Try it. You'll see. Stolen bacon snatched from the bacon plate is fantastic! And if the person frying it swats at your hand and yells, "Hey! Keep your greasy, grubby fingers the hell out of my bacon!" it tastes even mo better.

It isn't just food. Beverages are tastier within certain parameters, too. I love to "Do the Dew" as much as the next dentally-impaired Kentuckian, but I must have my Mountain Dew served ice-cold in the can (though I sometimes drink it in the kitchen, too. Ba-dum-DUM!). On the other hand, I would never, ever drink Ale-8-One, Kentucky's premiere supa-caffeinated soft drink, out of the can. Blech! Blasphemy! Ale-8s must be served ice-cold ... in the bottle. Why? 'Cause it's mo better that way, yo!

But the mo better food I yearn for the most is the Hostess Ding Dong from my childhood. Back in the day, kids, Ding Dongs were wrapped in a delicate, thin, crinkly foil. And no, this is not the beginning of a safe-sex lecture. Once you gleefully peeled back the shiny wrapper, you discovered the most incredible, moist, chocolate, cream-filled goodness ever (still not a sex talk). Ding Dongs were so yummy in those foil wrappers that I once ate one even though it appeared to have a bite taken out of it when I unwrapped it. True story (but not a sex one).

Sadly, when Hostess switched the Ding Dongs to the current plastic wrappers (booooo!), the snack cakes lost something. And then Hostess took the Chocodiles away. Why does Hostess hate me? WHY? But the point is, Ding Dongs aren't the same.

Neither are Taco Doritos, which tasted mo better eaten right from the orange bag I hid from my siblings on my parents' carport roof in 1978. I'd tell you more about my affinity for 1970s Taco Doritos, but I'm jonesing for some cheap, greasy Chinese food, which everyone knows is mo better in cardboard containers with red Chinese lettering.

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