Saturday, April 03, 2010

Tasting memories

People often talk about memories associated with sounds or smells, but they don’t talk as much about memory and taste. Maybe it’s too personal, too sensual. Yet we all have memories, good or bad, associated with tastes.

The sense of taste matters for childhood memories, maybe because all sensations were relatively new. I made some of my purchases the other day precisely because of those sense memories. How did those memories align with the products I bought? Here are a few results from things I’ve tried so far:

Pop Tarts: I haven’t had them in 20 years, probably more, so I bought what was my favourite when I was a kid: Strawberry. I had a couple yesterday morning and they were exactly as I remembered. The sweetness made my teeth hurt a bit, but not as bad as ones that were far worse, even when I was a kid: The chocolate ones with chocolate filling and chocolate frosting. I saw them on Thursday and instantly remembered—and could actually feel—how they made me uncomfortable as a kid. I didn’t buy any.

Bugles and Fritos: They’re exactly as I remembered them. I probably haven’t had Bugles in more than 20 years, but I bought a bag of Fritos when I was in Chicago in late 2007. Okay, that’s not specific enough: I bought a bag my first day in the US, within hours of getting up, and made it last for a few days.

Lawry’s Seasoned Salt: As a kid, I used to sprinkle it on steak and on raw celery. We had steak Friday night, so I tried a little bit and it tasted exactly as I remembered it, though I think it may have had MSG in those days (it doesn’t now).

Chips Ahoy Soft & Chewy cookies: This was a bit odd, because I don’t know that I ever had them when I lived in the US; I bought the dry and crunchy ones (I used to buy “Matt’s” soft chocolate chip cookies). So these were, um, interesting: Too sweet, not enough chocolate chip taste—I doubt I’ll buy them again.

A&W Root Beer: Exactly as I remember it. While this wasn’t my brand in the US, the point was that it’s root beer, which isn’t available here. It makes me feel happy to have it, because I loved root beer when I was a kid.

Cherry Coke: This was Nigel’s choice. I found it tasted like cough syrup, far more so than Dr. Pepper (which is sometimes available in NZ).

That’s it so far, fortunately. Moderation is one thing that didn’t exist in my life when these tastes were still new. My waist is grateful it’s there now.


doyle and mollie said...

hey jake just wanted to wish you a furry happy barkday!! i know you will be having a great one with your dads - loves and licks your bro doyle

amerinz's sis said...

I remember when you ate Bugles. When I was a kid I didn't really like eating them, but I'd joke around and put them on my fingers and pretend they were long finger nails.

I still use Lawry's Seasoned Salt and yes, they no longer put MSG in it. Thank goodness!!

A&W Root Beer - Was that what they served at the drive-in diner in town? They served some kind there and put it on trays that hooked over the car window. I used to like to get root beer there. It was cold, frothy, and was served in a heavy glass mug.

At home, I'd put vanilla ice cream in a tall glass and pour the root beer over it. A nice treat!!

Vera Charles said...

A life without Fritos is a life not worth living.


Arthur Schenck said...

doyle and mollie: Jake says thanks—and you sure are fast!

Sis: Yeah, A&W was often sold in drive-in diners. Nowadays it's owned by the same company that makes 7up.

However, A&W—like all the other name-brand soft drinks—is made with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). The American brands that are made here in NZ (Coke, 7up, etc) do NOT have HFCS in them—they have sugar!

Funny thing about Bugles: When I had them week before last, I couldn't remember if I put them on my fingers or my tongue. Hm, I think it's probably more like 35 years or more since I last had them…

Vera: RIGHT?! Fortunately, I know have a supplier. Jeez, that sounded a bit like I found a pusher—come to think of it, in a way I have… Flex Day!