She Said, Z Said: Old Food Doesn’t Pass Contemporary Taste Test
The sweet tooth of our youth gives way to ... eew, what IS this stuff?
She: When did food from our childhood stop tasting like the food from our childhood?
Z: At the same time that the sound of one hand clapping got too loud. What?
She: Have you had SpaghettiOs lately? They’re awful. There’s so much sugar in those Os, they’re like round noodles with tomato frosting.
Z: I didn’t get SpaghettiOs when I was a child. There were four kids in my family, so we could only afford actual pasta, which we called spaghetti back in those days.
She: Have you tried a Ding Dong lately? Ding Dongs taste nothing like the memory of the taste of Ding Dongs. I remember my mouth being filled with chocolatey goodness. Now they taste like sponges. The cheap kind.
Z: We could afford the occasional Ding Dong, and the slightly rarer Twinkie. But mostly we had chocolate-covered sponges, so I can’t really tell you how they’ve changed.
She: I get it, you walked 17 miles to school in the snow and your childhood was painfully junk food-deprived. What I don’t get it is why my favorite childhood foods don’t taste as good as they used to?
Z: I’m guessing it’s two things. First, you had awful taste when you were younger.
She: I married you.
Z: But not when you were 5. And really, I think most 5-year-olds have awful taste. I still regret hiring little Tiffany to redecorate my office. Turns out there is such a thing as too many pink unicorns.
She: It’s true that many of my tastes have changed since I was 5. Although, I’d still be perfectly happy to be Mrs. David Cassidy.
Z: Speaking of changing tastes, have you watched an episode of The Partridge Family lately? It’s not as brilliant as we remember.
Z: Second, I think that your taste — literally, your taste buds — is very different when you’re young. I think it gets more sophisticated, and you start to lose your sweet tooth.
She: Hello, I’m Leslie. Have we met?
Z: Normal people, as they age, start to lose their sweet tooth. I think the two big changes come when you leave childhood, and around the age of 50.
She: Which I wouldn’t know anything about, because that’s still years away. I just left childhood, which is why the fact that Ding Dongs aren’t as good as they used to be is still shocking.
Z: I’m guessing that rum and Coke wouldn’t do it for you either.
Z: I’m more curious about some of the foods that have completely disappeared from our 1970s childhood. How do you feel about JELL-O molds?
She: Pretty to look at, and fun to poke. Never my cup of Hawaiian Punch, though.
She: Wasn’t that a dance move?
She: I love fondue. I would fondue every day if I could. We even got a fondue set for our wedding, so clearly that hasn’t gone out of style.
Z: Yes, but have we ever used it?
She: This whole column is making me crave a Monte Cristo sandwich.
Z: And really, most important, do you have any idea where I can get a good Beef Olé?
She: That’s exactly why I married you instead of David Cassidy sometime after I turned 5. The fact that both of our mothers made Beef Olé was a real connection.
Z: Nothing says love like Fritos covered in ground beef simmered in packaged taco flavoring.
She: Wash it all down with a can of Tab, and I’d marry you all over again.
Z: Yes, dear.