I couldn’t believe it when I saw them in the racks beside the coffee.
I usually took a long wistful look at the prepackaged foods as I grab a mug of morning motivation. I remind myself that while sweet and tempting, I will regret it later. It may have only been a knock off of the greatest dessert food ever made but a wave of nostalgia ran through me and I grabbed one off the rack and put it on the counter. There was no way I was going to resist even an imitation of a Hostess Fruit Pie. I hadn’t seen anything even close to it in years and as I ripped open the package standing there at the counter. I was transported back to a world of twenty-five cent comic books and Spokey-Dokes destroying the rims of my bicycle tires.
In our organic, gluten-free, farm to table world I believe we have lost an ability we once had to enjoy the perfect moment of pleasure brought on by something as simple as the foods of our youth. There was no thought as to whether the things we were stuffing into ourselves were good for us. I don’t even know if there was ever any thought as to whether the flavors sometimes worked together but the late seventies through the early nineties were a magical time in the chemically diverse world of food.
Some of the greatest concepts were the simplest ones. Like multi colored ketchup.
Ketchup is one of those foods that you either love or hate but who could resist the chance to buy a tomato flavored gloop that was green or blue or that God awfully sick purple that looked like someone had vomited grape Kool-Aid all over a perfectly unassuming pile of greasy French Fries.
Drinks werent exempt from chemical gastronomy of the time either resulting in the disaster that was Orbitz.
Another simple concept that could have been magical. A liquid of one flavor with floating balls of a contrasting taste. The result was a nightmarish concoction that couldn’t be sipped but had to be gulped down to muscle past the gag reflex. It was like trying to swallow a live gold-fish on a dare at some party when you were too drunk to care but everyone else was sober enough to remember and tell you all about it the next day. I also think it taught an entire generation of cheerleaders to swallow without thinking so it is a loss that high school will never recover from.
Sometimes the greatest foods were the ones that exist now only in legend. Whispered about in hushed reverence like the Mc D.L.T or Crystal Pepsi. The greatest of all had to be the P.B. Max.
The P.B. Max was the bastard child of the Cadbury family trying to destroy Reese peanut butter cups. It was a whole grain cookie draped in creamy peanut butter topped with crunchy rolled oats and them cocooned in Cadbury milk chocolate. It was a virtuoso creation of flavors that had money in your hand to buy another one before the taste had left your mouth. Washed down with a Dr Pepper, it was a bubbling tingly symphony of brain melting pleasure. Eating a Reese peanut butter cup was like give oral to a homeless guy that had sat out in forty degree heat all day by comparison. They were discontinued in the early nineties because the Cadbury family simply didn’t like peanut butter.
My love for Hostess fruit pies was likely rooted in those twenty-five cent comic books. The advertising was beyond brilliant back then. What kid could resist wanting one after being sold a story where Spider-man foils a bank robbery powered by a cherry pie than made some ridiculous pun about the villains getting there “just desserts”. It was like subliminal messaging designed specifically to destroy my impressionable brain.
A bit of research has led to me finding out they still produce the original Hostess fruit pies in a factory in Kansas. They also make a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle one with green pie crust and vanilla pudding filling. I sure hope my mom kept my old BMX bike cause its gonna be a long ride down memory lane to get there. Hopefully I can find some New Coke and Jell-O pudding pops along the way to keep me going.