The Sweetness of Childhood/The Bitterness of Adulthood

I recently passed my forty-first year upon this planet, a milestone which only further fits me in the category of middle-age. I long ago have given up on caring about being “cool”, dressing fashionably, or having to see movies on opening night. These are all things which I graciously have given up in order to have a more comfortable life.

Other things I have given up without realizing it. There is a quote out there, not mine, that goes “You know you’re a grown-up when you can afford to buy hundreds of dollars of candy, and you don’t.” When did that happen? When did the culinary joys of childhood disappear?

My guess is that it happened once my body said “Y’know, this chocolate covered marshmallow, while mind-blowingly good, is not quite as awesome as the subtle nuttiness of this slice of gouda. At some point my palate developed the ability to discern nuance, and my days of downing a bottle of Faygo and consuming a Nestle’s Crunch, and calling that a snack, were over. The thick oozing colored corn syrup found in the wax bottles, once a treat, were and are now an obscenity. The joy of being able to have enough allowance to afford a Hostess Fruit Pie has now turned to a revulsion of this brand. The day when I stopped wanting to have Pixie Stix is the day my childhood ended.

I’m not the only one who realizes this. Joe Posnanski puts it a little more directly in his post Pixifoods:

Pink Snowballs
As a child tastes like: Coconut cream filled pink cakes.
As an adult tastes like: Triple bypass surgery.
Tidbits: I remember working with an older guy in Augusta who loved Pink Snowballs. He would get one out of the vending machine every single day. I was 24 then, and already the concept seemed entirely disgusting. I think that Pink Snowballs were my first pixiefood, the first food that I devoured as a child that I thought, “OK, I’ve outgrown that.”

When his post made it to Metafilter yesterday, it immediately had an impact, with people equal parts lamenting their own lost foods, claiming something on Joe’s list shouldn’t be there, or saying that every food of childhood remains quite awesome.

I would like to think that I represent the last group. But I know better. As much as I loved them, breakfast cereals are a novelty now, when, thirty years ago, they were a staple. It’s been years since I’ve stopped at a Dairy Queen, once home to all things nirvana. And most disturbingly, I find myself loathing both the chocolate and the company that goes by the name Hershey. This would have been unthinkable in my youth.

However, I now have a favorite wine, can pick out a decent whiskey, know where to find great oysters, can make a decent steak, and have had Italian meals that would make Mario Batali weep like an evangelical being told they were destined to the promised land.

In my mind, that’s a fair trade off.