Growing up, there wasn’t really much junk food in our house. The invention of SnackWell cookies and fat free potato chips made with olestra (oy on the tum-tum) in the mid-1990s changed that. My mom, an early adopter of any new weight loss fad, bought these items in bulk and they infiltrated our pantry.
You know what the problem is with these things (beyond the highly processed ingredients and lack of nutritional value)? Portion control. Apparently, I didn’t get the memo that consumption of an entire box of vanilla SnackWell sandwich cookies was bad. They were good for me, right?! Same with an entire bag of potato chips that were made with olestra. They tasted just the same! How could something that makes me poop my guts out be bad for me? It just comes straight out! (Yes, I just talked about my bowel movements. Get over it.)
Sometime in high school, I discovered low fat Pop-Tarts. The strawberry ones quickly became my favorite. I would bend off the edges of them, then try to slide apart the 2 sides to eat one artificial-jelly-covered side at a time. Not only were they tasty, I could get 2 entire Pop-Tarts per package! Do you know how many bites that is? A lot!
In my junior and senior year of high school, I had another Pop-Tart discovery: cinnamon and brown sugar. These ridiculously not-good-for-you things were sold in the school cafeteria, alongside another new favorite, the Lil’ Debbie Nutty Buddy Bars (which also came 2-to-a-package!). Being limited to purchasing these sugary delights during school hours held me and my Pop-Tart obsession at bay for a little while, but when I got to college and realized they sold them in the little campus convenience store right outside my dorm it was all over. I believe my freshman year of college should be dedicated to cinnamon brown sugar Pop-Tarts, Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey ice cream, and KFC potato wedges. No wonder I gained the freshman 50.
You know how certain scents bring back strong memories? Today, I smelled something in the air that I could have sworn was cinnamon brown sugar Pop-Tarts. Despite not being hungry, my mouth watered and I immediately wanted to find the source so I could procure some.
Why are some of us conditioned in this way? It’s like a crazy Pavlov’s dogs reaction. I don’t want those things in my body – I don’t eat sugar or flour – can you imagine how those would make me feel!?