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Childhood food envy?

  • m

When I was in elementary school, all of my friends were eating bags of Cheetos and Doritos and sandwiches made with Wonder Bread. None of those were kosher and so I was never allowed to eat them (still can't) and, weird though it may sound, I envied other kids for their carrot sticks. I know it sounds strange, but my mother just would NOT use a peeler to peel the carrots. She used a knofe to scrape them and I was sooo jealous of the other kids who had nice, smooth carrot sticks while mine were so :rough. These days I'm still envious of Kraft mac and cheese but there are kosher brands so I don't feel too left out. What did you envy as a kid? Or even now?

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  1. We were never allowed to have soda. I remember seeing my neighbor get bored of his, and pouring it down the gutter, which horrified me. How could he?!

    1 Reply
    1. re: kjonas

      I used to envy the soda thing (we called it pop or soda pop actually, I can't remember ever hearing it called just soda).

      Then I tasted some.

      BLEAH! Put an end to that particular envy!

    2. My mother was a health nazi to us kids, so I was horrendously jealous of those who got packets of chips and juice boxes in their lunch. Also, I was envious of their sandwiches, which were incidently made of some kind of vile pseudo-meat and some other product masquerading as white bread. Of course I wanted to trade my multi grain, leg ham off the bone sandwich for that!

      1. as a kid: anything homemade at lunchtime - my mom wasn't much of a cook so the best we got was usually a thermos of soup or a turkey or tuna sandwich.

        now: tofu & edamame since i can't eat soy anymore; and *real* (i.e. gluten-rich) pizza, bagels, bialys, bread...you get the idea ;)

        1 Reply
        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          My mom worked, so I always bought lunch. But I got to bring lunch on her 2 weeks of vacation. Those were the BEST 2 weeks ever. I got to pick whatever I wanted! I think I must have felt very deprived, because I always packed my daughter's lunch, thinking I was being a good mom. She used to beg to be able to buy her lunch. Go figure.

        2. I wasn't too deprived of any kind of food as a child so the closest thing to food envy I remember is that on certain days of the week, I wanted to bring a sack lunch to school or better yet, get a metal lunchbox (I really wanted one of those litter thermoses filled with hot chocolate for lunch). I say certain days of the week because there was about 30% of the hot lunch menu items that I absolutely loathed. Of course my mother wouldn't let me bring lunch because she didn't want to have to make it and she thought I should learn to eat whatever was put in front of me. In my grade school, each class only every had maybe 2 or 3 kids that didn't eat the hot lunch. We didn't think too much of it at the time, but I think I really didn't want to be one of those kids, they seemed a little dorky.

          1 Reply
          1. re: John E.

            oh yeah, I never got those little bags of chips, either. And my friends also got strips of jicama which my mom refused to buy for some reason.

          2. Sugary breakfast cereals. My brother and I both always sought them out when we slept over at a friend's house. I remember being 6 and my best friend's mom buying that brand new creation, Cookie Crisp cereal! Cookies for breakfast . . . genius to a 6 y.o. Even as teens, if my parents went out of town and left us behind we used the money the left us to go buy BooBerry.

            Of course, I'm a parent now and refuse to have any of that garbage in my house. No doubt my kids have the same food envy. :)

            4 Replies
            1. re: centralpadiner

              centralpadiner - I could have written your post. There was nothing, and I mean NOTHING, more wonderful then Cookie Crisp cereal.

              My mom only bought "healthy" cereal like Shredded Wheat (the big bricks), Grape Nuts, generic Cherrios, etc. But then she let me loss with the sugar bowl. Seriously, I needed 4 tablespoons of sugar to choke down Shredded Wheat.

              My mom was very frugal, which now I understand, so our food was basic and healthy. I don't remember any convenience food like Oreos or chips. Soda was a rare treat. (this changed by the time I was a teen when mom lost her mind and turned into a TV queen)

              My best friend's mom was the opposite. The Schwans truck never passed by her house without stopping to drop off half his load of processed wonders.

              She bought all sorts of goodies - tater tots, chicken nuggets, onion rings - and fried them for us all night long in her Fry Daddy. It was heaven. That woman was never too tired to whip us up a huge batch of fried goodnesss.

              To top it all off, she seemed to think it was every child's right to eat as much sugarly cereal as they could possibly consume. She kept a VARIETY (oh the luxury!) of the latest name brand sugar cereals on hand for the kids. At my house, there was never more than one box and the dust at the bottom was considered edible.

              Miri1 - at least your mom scraped your carrots. My mom simply washed mine off. I was force-fed so many carrots growing up it is a wonder I didn't turn orange.

              1. re: cleobeach

                I had forgotten about those bales of straw that passed for shredded wheat. Do they still make those? We used to have all the big shredded wheat, corn flakes, cheerios, grape nuts, raisin bran and rice crispies. Once in a great while my mom would let us each pick out a box of cereal. I tried to hide mine because if I didn't, my older brothers would eat it before I ever got more than one bowl of it. I used to hide candy too.

                1. re: John E.

                  I don't know if the "straw bales" are still offered but if so, I would likely eat them today.

                  We had a picture hanging in our bathroom of an oldy-tymey Grape Nuts ad that I hated looking at. It was there for years until my parents sold that house and my mom offered it to me. My reply was less than polite about my hatred of Grape Nuts and that picture.

                  1. re: John E.

                    Just returned from the grocery store - Indeed, still for sale!

                    $3.49 for a box of 18 "biscuits"

              2. My next door neighbors got sandwiches made with liverwurst and those other weird Oscar Mayer lunch meats with the pimentos in them. My mother refused to buy that sort of thing, so I was very interested in trying it. Once I did, I realized I do not like liverwurst at all. So it was a short-lived envy.

                14 Replies
                1. re: small h

                  When I was about 20 I went deer hunting with my uncle and stayed at their house. He made sandwiches for us to take into the woods with us if we got hungry...olive/pimento loaf. I took one bite and I didn't like it, so I secretly made peanut butter sandwiches and ditched the pimento loaf sandwiches in the woods. Looking back, why didn't I just mention that I didn't particularly like pimento loaf?

                  1. re: John E.

                    but the deer loved your treat for them. :)

                    1. re: bbqboy

                      Oooh, meat eating deer! I hope you went hunting with BIG guns!

                    2. re: John E.

                      <Looking back, why didn't I just mention that I didn't particularly like pimento loaf?>

                      Because you were/are well-mannered and didn't want to seem ungrateful. Same reason I once spent the better part of an hour quietly eating around the meat in a bowl of spaghetti bolognese. If only I'd had some woods to ditch it in.

                      1. re: small h

                        Nah, you just needed a faithful hound to pass it off to!

                        1. re: ZenSojourner

                          If there's a way to hand my food off to someone else without insulting the person who served me the food, I'd love to know it. Of course, I could've just woman-ed up and said that I didn't eat meat, but I thought it would be rude.

                          1. re: small h

                            Of course you do it surreptitiously! Faithful hound under the table, curled up at your feet - little bit of sleight of hand with the napkin - quick slurp and everyone's happy!

                            We used to have a cat that performed this service for us. She would eat ANYTHING. With a single exception - the (awfulawfulawful) green beans that came in the Swanson meat loaf TV dinners.

                            So at the end of dinner one night, there we all were with clean plates (well clean foil trays) - and little piles of green beans in front of each and every child's chair around the table.

                            That was it for the mutually beneficial dinnertime arrangement between us and the cat!

                            1. re: ZenSojourner

                              Oh, you meant an actual hound. I thought you meant a Chowhound. There were dogs present for the spaghetti bolognese incident, but they were very large Dobermans. I did a quick risk assessment and decided that accidental meat ingestion was preferable to losing a limb.

                              1. re: small h

                                "Oh, you meant an actual hound. I thought you meant a Chowhound."

                                Actually, come to think of it, I bet there are some Chowhounds who would accommodate you!


                              2. re: ZenSojourner

                                The green bean story is hilarious!

                                Like some others here, I envied my classmates' school lunches -- we're Indian and I would have last night's vegetable curry soaking through two pieces of Wonder bread, while looking longingly at the neat PBJ of the kid next to me. (Also, I'd have a mealy Red Delicious apple and the kid next to me would have a little package of Oreos.)

                                1. re: Pia

                                  embarrassing sandwiches were the bane of my elementary school years. First off, the sourdough bread. Full of holes, nothing like wonder bread. Second, the filling. Always something unusual: sliced tongue, liverwurst, leftover meatloaf. How I longed for "normal" bread and regular supermarket lunch meat. Or Oscar Meyer bologna.

                                  I began tossing my lunch and going home with my friend whose mom worked so we were free to make grilled cheese on white bread with velveeta. I was in heaven.

                                  1. re: tcamp

                                    So funny, I loved when we had tongue for dinner as a youngster, because I knew I'd have a sandwich waiting of tongue with mustard on semolina bread (with holes). Loved it!

                                    1. re: jhopp217

                                      My dad would eat nearly anything, whether he liked it or not. With only three exceptions:

                                      Turnips and their ilk - called them Hoover Apples and apparently had quite enough of that during the depression
                                      Tongue - said he didn't like something that was tasting you back, LOL!

                                  2. re: Pia

                                    Curried Wonderbread! The least she could have done was send some naan, puri, or chapati with you!


                      2. My parents believed that soda was the work of the devil, as well as dentists who made fortunes filling the teeth of malefactors.

                        1. This is so funny. I don't think I ever had wonder bread until I was an adult. I don't think there was any envy, but I definitely got sme strange looks in the cafeteria. My friends would have these tiny white bread sandwiches of whatever cold cuts or PBJ and I would have these enormous sandiwches on semolina (from Camarari's - the bakery from Moonstruck). I remember all the kids commenting on my bread. My mother always put either some fruit or veggies in my lunch. I might have been envious of the potato chips back then, but I've made up for that in my older years.

                          1. I always wanted "white bread" sandwiches, but my parents always got challah bread, and I got lots of questions from the other kids about that... Also, when kids would bring in birthday treats, I envied the munchkins. I remember my mom making low fat pudding as my birthday snack, and we put sprinkles on it to try to make it festive.

                            1. Sugar, basically. We didn't get much. I used to trade apples for lollipops. I couldn't imagine why the other kids would ever make the trade, but they did.

                              1. Whole milk. My mother had a perverse preference for reconstituted powdered skim milk - the thin, slightly bluish stuff. She bought whole milk for my father but wanted me to have what she considered to be the better stuff, no matter how much I protested. On rare occasions I'd get to have real milk. I was a teenager before I discovered that half-whole, half-skim tasted almost as good and she finally agreed to a compromise. Eating at friends' houses was always a treat because even if the food was awful 50's fare, there was real milk. Also, their moms made frosted layer cakes, often from mixes, and chocolaty things. Mine made fruit tarts from scratch. A kid's palate wants the frosted, chocolate stuff but as an adult I prefer the fruited baked goods.

                                The woman next door was second-generation Armenian and made lamejuns a few times a year. This was the most special of treats for me, but I can't say I was envious because the kids were my friends and I was always invited over when she made them.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: greygarious

                                  Oh god, my mother went on a frugality binge for awhile where she insisted on feeding us powdered milk. It was horrible! There are a lot of things I use powdered milk for now, but for sure, drinking it isn't one of them!

                                  1. re: greygarious

                                    I had the opposite experience with milk: I hated the taste of whole milk but my mom insisted I drink it because the doctor said it was better for me. The reason he said it was better was because I wasn't drinking a lot of milk and the reason I wasn't drinking a lot of milk is because I didn't like the taste of the whole milk. Round and round we went. I liked the 2% we had at the restaurant just fine—not skim or powdered, ick!— and would drink glasses of it there but no one clued in until I was a teenager. Now I'm a milkaholic—1%, still can't stand whole (notable exception for evap).

                                  2. TV dinners and tuna noodle casserole. Anything Hostess or Drakes, and soda and candy, none of which were to be found at home. Pizza or Chinese food were rarities in our lives, hamburger and fry joints never happened. I envied other kids who were being fed all the crap I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole now. :-)

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: mcf

                                      Funny you mentioned TV dinners. I had never tried one until I was 15. I was at a friends house and his mother was going out so she told us to grab a TV dinner. I was so excited. It was turkey with gravy and mashed potatoes with a peach cobbler for dessert. I think it took a week for me to get the salt taste out of my mouth and I never ate one again.

                                      1. re: jhopp217

                                        Ooh, the Swanson's? Had VERY salty stuffing under the single nice looking slice of turkey with all the shreds under it. The sectioned foil dishes seemed so cool to me. And we only ate really wholesome food at my house, which had no appeal to me at the time.

                                    2. My mother was a working gal (mid 60's) so meals were practical when made at home; a bit jazzy when we could afford to go out but I envied the family that had food delivered..like pizza or chinese. Crazy huh! You had to live pretty close by the restaurant to even get delivery then.

                                      Mom felt that if we could afford a meal out, why have it delivered only to do the dishes afterwards. The first time I had a pizza delivered home, it was at my own apartment with friends over and little did they know how much I loved calling in the order!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        Oh, I know what you mean.

                                        I lived in an area so rural, take out and delivery was something I only knew about through watching tv.

                                        I was in college the first time I ordered a pizza for delivery. I didn't have Chinese take out until I met my now husband, in 1993.

                                      2. Great topic! One of my very first memories of Kindergarten is envying the little girl who always had the little bags of prepackaged bbq potato chips in her lunch. She was nice enough to share them with me from time to time. Oh how I loved those bbq chips! Funny thing is, I never even thought to ask my mom to buy them - I'm sure she would have. As I got a little older I envied the kids who brought soup or chili to school in those short stubby Thermos containers. That was the ultimate in cool as far as I was concerned. Again, I probably could have asked for one but never did. I also envied the kids who had "chipped beef" sandwiches. It wasn't till I was much older and actually doing grocery shopping myself that I realized that was the "Buddig" style of meats. I loved that too. Fortunately, we were all good sharers of our lunches so at least I got to taste the things I was envious of. :-D

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: schmoopy

                                          My mother never put chips in my lunch and now, at 40, if I have one true vice it's potato chips.

                                        2. Anything advertised on US television and not yet available in Canada (we had cable US channels from the early '60's onward). Chunky bars, unusual cereals, Fritos, whatnot. Then to pester my mom to get them when we went to the States.

                                          1. I was actually trying to think of things that I envied and I remembered frozen pizza bagels. Obviously this wasn't something people brought to school. They were such awful bagels and such awful sauce and cheese, but my mother refused to buy them, so I looked forward to having them at friend's houses.

                                            1. Only thing I can even remotely think of was being a bit envious of the kids who got bussed in and therefore got to buy / eat their lunch at school. Most of the high school offerings at the time included french fries, which I rarely got at lunch time.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: im_nomad

                                                I envied the kids who had homemade cookies and cucakes in their lunches. If my mom ever baked, it was usually from a mix. I learned to bake for myself really early on! i also envied other kids for pizze because there was no kosher pizza wehre we lived. My mom tried to make up for that by making :Englsh Muffin Pizzas" but they weren't the same as REAL pizza!

                                              2. Popsicles. And we only had soda on holidays.

                                                1. As a kid, I envied anyone who got their lunch sandwiches on white bread, and as far as the individual-sized bags of chips, they'd put me over the edge. I cracked up when I saw Miri's reference to the carrots; my mom was the same way. We got little cuckoo-bunny carrot strips, and as close as we got to chips were roasted salted soybeans. I also envied anyone whose peanut butter didn't require stirring before eating, and if your jam came in a jar with a brand name instead of home-canned, I was jealous of that too. Pressed lunchmeat fascinated me: i had no frame of reference, but was sure it must be the most delicious food ever invented, since we weren't allowed to have it. Years later, I tasted it and it was just horrifying: mealy, soft, salty and weird.
                                                  As an adult, my envy gears towards those whose metabolism will allow them to eat red meat and something with cheese sauce every night.

                                                  13 Replies
                                                    1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                      They looked like she peeled and cut them with her toes, while they were frostbitten, when she was drunk. That's how cuckoo-bunny those carrots were.

                                                    2. re: mamachef

                                                      The individual packages of chips etc (and those individual cereal boxes you could cut open and eat out of, at home of course) were the height of chic when I was a kid. Only had them on signal occasions because they were "expensive".

                                                      1. re: buttertart

                                                        I remember those little boxes of cereal. I'm sure if they are still around they aren't the same, nothing ever is. We never had them at home but my grandmother apparently found out we liked tham and had them on hand for our overnight visits.

                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                          Fun in a silly way, right? cutting the little door into them.

                                                          1. re: buttertart

                                                            You had to take a knife and cut along the dotted lines in the side of the box and through the waxed paper bag inside. It was pretty cool for a grade-school aged kid. Eating cereal out of the plastic cups they have now is really nothing special.

                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                              Yes, that's what I mean by cutting the little door into them. It was fun.

                                                          2. re: John E.

                                                            I think the only time I ever saw those as a child was when I was in hospital. I think they still make cereal to go like that, but they are in little plastic cups with a peel away top.

                                                            1. re: im_nomad

                                                              I had mini-wheats like that this am...

                                                              1. re: im_nomad

                                                                Your phrase 'in hostpital' is one way to identify you as Canadian. Nothing wrong with it of course, just an interesting difference in speech between Canada and the United States.

                                                              2. re: John E.

                                                                Oh my what a food memories those little boxes of cereal are! Both my mother and grandmother kept a convenient supply. Mom would pack them as snacks for a drive in movie night (no milk mind you) and Grandmother would keep them in our room with milk resting in the cold window sill as a fun snack before bed. My association to those little boxes is completely child like. Of course, I bought them for my kids and have been known to take them on planes. If they ever stop selling these little boxes of happiness, I'll be very bummed. Sugar pops, def. fav.

                                                              3. re: buttertart

                                                                Had those little boxes of cereal at girl scout camp. Loved them.

                                                            2. Can remember being entirely envious of my parents and their 'adult' beverages like coffee and wine. Coffee in the morning smelled like pure heaven and wine just looked so damned sophisticated. Cocktails looked pretty smooth too but the alcohol odor was too much when I was 6-8.

                                                              Years later, wine and coffee are still two of my favorite things.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Pedr0

                                                                So funny, I was talking about this last night with someone and they pointed out that today, neighbors would call child protective services. I was allowed to have a glass (about 2oz) of wine with dinner every night. And on the weekends I was allowed to have "coffee milk" - just enough to taste the coffee and make the milk a slight brown. This started when I was about six.

                                                              2. Is it impossible to make your own macaroni and cheese that's kosher? Are only certain cheeses kosher? (I'm mostly wondering about parmigiano-reggiano.)

                                                                1. Isn't it funny how so many things are linked to school lunches?

                                                                  My mom always made everything from scratch with the exception of Kraft macaroni and cheese. Looking back now it seems ludicrous but oh! how i envied the kids with pre-fab foods.
                                                                  Things in cans that were heated slowly on the stove-top, boxes of powdery things you mixed with milk or water. The ever elusive tv dinner.

                                                                  Now that i am a mom of 3, i let them have some of that stuff on rare occasions. They are so willing to try new, healthy things that i won't begrudge a few exceptions like that.

                                                                  1. What a fun thread! My mom was a dental assistant so we were a "no sugar" family. Although, I remember my mom sunbathing (yes, using baby oil) and drinking Diet Shasta Soda in fruit flavors like cherry and grape- Ewww!

                                                                    I recall wanting desperately to try "Wrapples"-- a flat disc of caramel that you could wrap around an apple to create an instant caramel apple. They even came with sticks... My mom said NO WAY!

                                                                    I am a total sugar addict to this day. With my own daughter, I let her have access to as much sugar as she wants and she is fairly disinterested-- curious, no?

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: kellylee

                                                                      I definately remember Wrapples and another quick kit that only appeared in the market this time of year for candied apples.

                                                                      1. re: kellylee

                                                                        I had forgotten about Wrapples. I can see why they just didn't catch on. There really wasn't anything too special about them. I prefer a sliced apple dipped into soft caramel myself. Regular caramel apples are a little messy to eat. I remember my old sister's idea of a caramel apple. She would take a bite out of an apple and then pop a Kraft caramel into her mouth and eat them at the same time. I was probably about 8 at the time and she was 20 so I guess that impressed me.

                                                                        1. re: kellylee

                                                                          Curious, but totally normal. As kids, we weren't allowed to have pop, so of course it became the Holy Grail to me, and as an adult who can now choose freely, I choose to drink a few cans of some type of sugary,caffeinated soft drink daily. On the other hand, my kids, who I didn't hold back from trying everything, couldn't be less interested in pop.

                                                                        2. I don't really remember being envious of what was in other people's lunches as I was pretty happy with what I ate. My mom always included something she baked from scratch, and she never packed anything I actively disliked. I do remember wishing that I *liked* some of the items that the other kids brought, like fruit roll-ups, or oranges. They could do fun things like make shapes out of the roll ups and put orange peel sections in their teeth, then smile.

                                                                          1. Chips, for me, too. And gummy fruit snacks.

                                                                            1. Soda - other than root beer (Virgil's) I'm ok with not having it now.
                                                                              Candy Bars - I realized the stuff my mother gave me - granola-type bars - is much better for me and most candy is too sweet to me now.
                                                                              Ice Cream - I make my own and love the variety I can make at the sugar level I can enjoy.
                                                                              Sliced White Bread - I *never* had a sandwich with white bread, always whole wheat. When older, I tried it and experienced the smushed, stuck white bread experience. I'd never willingly eat this stuff again.
                                                                              White Rice - Always brown rice at my home unless we were eating sushi. Today I can't stand eating brown rice.
                                                                              Sugar Breakfast Cereals - Finally got to binge in college and realized I had been missing out on nothing except an ultra lacerated mouth.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: amokscience

                                                                                ah, yes, Amok, I remember those days fondly. Me, the midnight oil, and a box of the Cap'n. Tasted so good going down, but I do remember waking up feeling like I'd been scrubbing the inside of my mouth with a wire brush and turpentine.

                                                                                1. re: amokscience

                                                                                  BBQ requires White Bread for the true experience.

                                                                                  It is only a carrier for the Meat, Pickles, and Sauce.

                                                                                  1. re: bbqboy

                                                                                    I've had the full experience several times and for me, just the meat please. Pickles are for keeping your fingers moist enough to lick off. If I have to have the sauce then, well, they better try better next time.