Friday, February 11, 2011

Ten ways I managed to ingest sugar as a child, over parental objections

1. Breakfast Cereal

When I was a girl, when we went to the supermarket my mother would come up with an arbitrary number, I think it was around five or six, and say that we could only have cereal that had a lower sugar count per serving than this number. Upon reflection, I suppose it wasn't arbitrary, because it managed to eliminate anything tasty from our breakfast options, including that fence-sitter Honey Nut Cheerios. We were left with a sad array of possibilities: plain Cheerios, plain Rice Krispies, Corn Flakes, and Fiber One. This stopped me from getting the much need morning buzz and was probably the reason I turned to coffee at the tender age of fourteen.

The world seems a lot bleaker at seven in the morning without sugar or caffeine, and this was the state of my life when a babysitter suggested to me, around the age of eight, that I could just dump sugar on my cereal and it would taste better. Oh, Mother, if you only knew how those babysitters corrupted us! Anyway, after that, I would spoon at least three or four tablespoons of sugar onto every bowl of cereal that I ate whenever no one was looking, and by the time my parents actually caved in and started buying decent cereal and snacks I had grown indifferent, realizing that I was master of my own destiny.

2. Cinnamon Toast

Another creative way to eat sugar. Make toast, blob some butter on it, and sprinkle liberally with sugar and cinnamon. Resent children whose mothers bought them Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal.

3. Chocolate Chips

Despite being raised in the house of the child of a health food nut, I am also my father's daughter. Luckily for me and my brother, my father was unwilling to cave to many of my mother's culinary demands. It is because of him that we often had chocolate chips in the house for various baking projects. (I know that my mother is going to jump in here and insist that she was the one who made the chocolate chip cookies, and yes, Mom, I love you for it.) We would raid the chocolate chips in handfuls on a daily basis until they were gone. This was the easiest sugar injection in our lives, and one we had to keep secret from the parents. They at least, to their credit, pretended to not notice our sticky hands and chocolatey faces as we bounced off the walls.

4. Baking Chocolate

Baking chocolate was sort of the child's equivalent of "ghost-busting," where crackheads pick up any bit of dust or gib of dirt off the ground and smoke it "just in case." As I remember it, baking chocolate was unsweetened, but still smelled enough like chocolate that I would attempt it occasionally.

5. Ovaltine

According to the family legends, Ovaltine was the one sweet food my mother was allowed as a child, because my grandmother -- or Ole Wheat Germ, as we call her -- had been convinced of the health benefits of all of those vitamins. As such, we were also allowed Ovaltine as children. Malted Ovaltine actually tastes healthy and is not good. Chocolate Ovaltine, though, tastes like real chocolate milk to a child who has been sugar-deprived. If you added twice as much Ovaltine as recommended, it only gets chocolatey-er.

6. Anna and Jeannette's House

Anna and Jeannette were the twins that lived up the road. They had an elderly aunt to watch them every afternoon who was notorious lax with the cupboard monitoring. Additionally, their mother apparently did not have great refusal skills, as she purchased any snack food that her five daughters may have possibly wanted (and she had five daughters, so resistance was futile). When I went to Anna and Jeanette's, I could have as many fruit roll-ups as I could eat, Oreos, gummy candy, ice cream and any number of treats that would inevitably spoil my dinner.

7. Egg Nog

Another mom-allowed after-school snack born of desperation. Consists of milk, egg, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, thrown in the blender and add some food coloring to make it seem processed. My mother now denies that she ever made this for me. Then she says that raw eggs weren't considered a health risk back then and kids need a lot of protein so even if she did make it there's nothing wrong with that.

Further investigation has concluded that my mother was once fed this as a child on a doctor's advice (she had her jaw wired shut at the time) and as such, was convinced it was good for us.

8. Sugar Cubes

Yes, I'll admit it. I ate sugar cubes. After about three, it would set my teeth on edge and my cavities would start crying for mercy.

9. Old German Christmas Cookies

My father, ever the optimist, would often make Christmas cookies for at least a hundred people, despite the fact that we only knew thirty. This would often leave us with a store of hard, German cookies for months after Christmas. They were generally hidden behind the vinegar, because he didn't want my mother pointing out that he had made too many, just like she had told him he was going to. Luckily for him, I would raid these every so often. They were hard as rocks; you'd have to suck on them for a while before even a little bit would begin to crumble. These cookies were a great way to kill time and get a sugar fix.

10. Baking

In the end, I had to learn how to bake. God was not going to bring the cake to me, so I had to learn to make the cake. I think I started baking at around age ten or eleven, in the desperate grip of post-school sugar withdrawal. I started with the Joy of Cooking One Egg Cake which has only eight ingredients and can be made in under forty minutes. I've never looked back.


  1. My mother used to refuse to buy nice biscuits because "you'll only eat them". So, instead, she'd buy horrible biscuits that no one ate and therefore she never had to replace them.

    It occurs to me that you could apply the same rule to all foodstuffs and would continue to save you money but would also miss the point.

  2. I can't quite believe how we grew up with so much sugar.

    I think I put three tablespoons of sugar on breakfast cereal without even thinking it was weird until I was about 30.

    My Granny used to give us biscuits which we dipped in Nestle's condensed milk.

  3. and despite all this...we were thinner then.

  4. It's horrifying to think back on, isn't it?

  5. this is my fave post from you yet!

  6. Finally a new entry! Does this mean you're getting nostalgic for the junk foods of yesteryear, and by implication, the United Snakes?
    I remember digging into an open box iof Alpha bits in the store and feeling like I"d gone to Heaven. Therafter life was a series of maneuvers to get money from the parents for candies from the drugstore. So pathetic. By the age of 14 my mouth was loaded with toxic mercury fillings. It was then I decided this had to stop so I gave up most sugars and behold, the cavities stopped coming.
    I discovered unsweetened cacao will give you a nice caffeine buzz with no tooth decay.

  7. Ha! I love number 6. I thought that's how all kids grew up!! I am surprised Jeanette and I didn't grow up to be 300 pound adults.

  8. I thought you were the luckiest kids on the face of the earth!

  9. I love this post, I love this post, I love this post. Thanks for a whole slew of warm memories and some great laughs at the same time.