Today I was reminded of a certain food that I used to eat constantly that I haven't eaten in about 20 years. That food is canned fruit cocktail.
Yes, I used to eat a shit-ton of fruit cocktail when I was a kid and yes, it used to make me very happy. Mom would give me a little bowl of it as a snack or a little dessert after I'd finished my bowl of Chicken and Stars soup and I would get so excited about it. Why? I have no idea. How could I have gotten such a kick out of a humble little bowl of slightly mushy mixed canned fruit? Room temperature and soft, the assorted little bits of peaches, pears, and pineapple (along with the odd grape) in Lite Syrup used to delight me, even though the canning process had mostly removed their original individual flavors and textures. I think the reason why I loved it was hidden in The Cherries.
You see, in each can of fruit cocktail, no matter what brand, there are about two little halves of tiny red cherries. Again, just like the other fruits, the cherries had been rendered mostly flavorless except for the flavor of just plain Sweet. But you'd think the cherries were the free prize inside specially marked cereal boxes or an elusive shortpacked Princess Leia doll the way I eagerly picked through the bowl looking for them. "Aha! I found you, little red cherry! And I shall eat you up! Ha!" I also used to like fruit cocktail because for about a year or so I thought it was called Fruit Cottontail and I assumed bunnies were somehow involved.
But yeah, I haven't eaten that stuff in years and years. Just like Spam, which my mom used to fry in slices sometimes, or Spam's older cousin Corned Beef Hash.
For a long time, though, I refused to even try Corned Beef Hash because I'd seen Mom open the can of it and empty it into the frying pan. It came out looking like a cylinder of dog food with those awful can lid rings embossed on each end and I wouldn't have anything to do with it. Now, I don't want to make it look like my mother was a terrible cook that served nothing but yucky canned food to her family because this is not true. She was and is a great cook that would occasionally be looking for something really easy to make for dinner, and fast and easy options in the late 1970's/early 1980's featured a lot of questionable stuff.
For example: Hamburger Helper. Another food item I used to eat all the time that I haven't had since about 1986:
Yep, I'm familiar with a few flavors of Hamburger Helper. In my memory, it tasted all right and it had a great dorky mascot- namely, that little blobby talking glove man. But do I want to eat any of it right now? No.
Yes, many of you may be preparing to say "But Amy, what about Spaghetti-O's?!" I know. Boy have I eaten a lot of Spaghetti-o's. But I can't really include them in this list because I've eaten them relatively recently- I think I had some in 1995. With meatballs- always with meatballs.
I also haven't had a Manwich since around 1983. I used to love 'em, but I probably got turned off of them by the Sloppy Joes my middle school lunchroom used to serve. My school lunchroom experiences, though, are fodder for a whole 'nother blog story, so stay tuned, friends.