My Crunchy Romance

I confess, I’m a recovering food stuffer. Damn the torpedoes and jam that gyro in. Praise the Lord and pass the salted peanuts. BUT – now that I’m a mindful eater I’ve made a wonderful, eye-opening discovery; most foods available to us have a lot of flavor!

My girlfriend, revealed as a tramp

My girlfriend, revealed as a tramp

The retraining of the North American palate didn’t fall out of the sky, it was developed slowly. The “more is better” mantra took over not just in the amount of food we ate at any given meal, but how it was flavored. I don’t suppose that any iteration of mankind ever added seasonings to bland food and grimaced. Flavor changes the food we eat from fuel to inspiration. I haven’t done any research but I’m guessing that a field deer’s perspectives on food and appetite are mostly utilitarian. Hunger and food availability, THAT’S what’s on the minds and menus of most mammals on spaceship Earth. We lucky, sentient homo sapiens have the upper hand. We can manipulate our diet in any way we choose to suit our needs and desires (assuming the food stuffs are available).

For a long time (based on one lifetime) preserving food was an absolute necessity until refrigeration came along, and it just so happens that the methods of preserving foods by keeping air out of the mix also added a lot of flavor. Salt and vinegar. I’ll leave it to you to research food preservation through the years if you’re so inclined, it really is interesting if you’re a cook. And now we find ourselves in the 21st century.

Years ago I was trolling the snack aisle, that corn-packed preservation science lab of food. As my poor eating habits over the years evolved I finally fessed up; I was addicted to junk food. Now, the easy way to rationalize any addiction in our minds is to do some quick comparisons to the rest of the folks around us. It’s easy to drop the Cheetos into the cart knowing that basically everyone else does it too. And the FDA would simply not allow the companies to sell us something detrimental to our well being… right?

So I would check out and load the groceries into the car, grab the Cheetos and place them on the passenger seat. Ah, my good friend and traveling companion, the Cheeto; now that’s how you put a tiger in MY tank. Start the car, crack the bag and begin our crunchy, cheesy journey home. Snarf snarf snarf. 7 miles and half-a-bag later I’m unloading the groceries wishing I had bought TWO bags of Cheetos, this one was almost gone.

What caught my eye that day in the snack aisle (and planted the seed of doubt in my mind) was a new product on the shelf. It was an old favorite drinking-buddy/gal of mine, the Pepperidge Farm Goldfish. Yes, many a football game on the boob tube passed by as she and I snuggled into the comfy chair and recklessly made out like two feral teenagers over a six pack. Nutrition chart be damned! We were immortal! And she made me happy. Such is the way of addiction.

Yet it was not this vision that turned my stomach. It was the new packaging. Emblazoned on the face of the package (still adorned with her wily, smiling effigy) were the words Flavor Blasted. Yes, I could now purchase FLAVOR BLASTED Goldfish.

I felt betrayed. I always made it clear to her that I adored her for who she was. Now here she was, tarting herself up to lure OTHER unsuspecting sports fans to the couch. I could think of no other reason for this betrayal. Oh sure, she still offered herself to me in the plain dress she wore when we first met (one shelf down), but how could I possibly resist her in this new and sexy outfit? More painfully, it became obvious that she really didn’t need ME any more, she had new, younger suitors. I was crushed like her sisters at the bottom of the bag.

That term stayed with me, rattled in mind – Flavor Blasted. Seriously? The original crackers didn’t contain enough fat, salt, preservatives and MSG to satisfy you? And then the light of clear perspective came slowly upon me… I’m being manipulated. She only wants me for my money. It’s all she ever wanted.

I’m not attempting to be lofty here, I fully appreciated the cavalier attitude I carried when it came to food. Heck, it was developed and refined scrupulously by the manufacturers throughout my formative years, back when I actually HAD a metabolism. And we did have some good times, didn’t we? Well played, Pepperidge Farmer, well played.

I guess what I objected to most was the dodgy way they used the word flavor. I felt like all the subtlety in our romance had been torn away, the veil lifted. I was horrified by what I saw. It’s not that she didn’t care; it’s that she NEVER cared.

So now I find my achy, obese body laying in the street as her flavor-blasted boyfriend drives by with his arm around MY girl, splashing me with gutter water. I don’t shout, I don’t cry. I nod. I think with all good sincerity “Good luck to you my friend. Enjoy her while you can. I know I did.” ~TH

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