In the store, as I passed a display of Slim Jims, I thought back to the idyllic days of childhood–days of running through fields, catching caterpillars, and days of eating an entire 5 pack of Slim Jims while watching TV. Of course, I saved this Slim Jim Binge for a special occassion–this was not just any TV–this was SNICK on Saturday nights.
SNICK was a block of programming on Nickelodeon that featured popular tween shows. Yeah, I just used the word “tween” and I feel dirty. They were bigger kid shows–Clarissa was like an older sister; Roundhouse was like Saturday Night Live, without the staying up late part; Ren & Stimpy was some fucked up shit; and Are You Afraid of the Dark was horror stories. I lived for these two hours.
Me and my sister and a friend got together to watch these shows, and a neighbor or parent would drive us up to the store to pick out snacks. But I didn’t stop at Slim Jims. I’d also get a bag of chips, a Push Pop, some Warheads Sour Candy, a pack of Hostess cakes, and maybe a Sprite to wash it all down with. And then I would eat all of it in the course of two hours. Incredibly, I was not 200 pounds, but remember, my generation started the childhood obesity epidemic.
If only everyday could have been Saturday. I imagined days without mean old Mom steering the grocery carts, days when I would be free to load it up with pizza rolls, root beer, and bags of mozzarella cheese, days that I’d live and eat like a king.
I stared at the Slim Jim display. I began to wonder why I don’t eat this kind of stuff anymore, besides sparing my kidneys. I wonder why I lost my taste for things like mechanically-separated meat-product, and apple-flavored high fructose corn syrup.
What is a Slim Jim anyway? And what does it taste like? In the back of my head, a voice began to whisper…snap into a Slim Jim… Wait. I know that voice. It sounds familiar. Of course it was Macho Man Randy Savage beckoning me. SNAP INTO A SLIM JIM. SNAP INTO A SLIM JIM!!!
So I bought one. And then in the spirit of SNICK Snacks, I bought a couple of other things that I haven’t eaten in years.
So here’s all your food groups: Meat Group, Fruit Group, Malic Acid Group…uh…Pink Group, and Sugar Group. Feel free to classify the items into which ever group you wish.
In the 90s, sour candy was popular, marketed as “extreme” candy. Pretty much everything was called extreme though–extreme pepperoni pizza, extreme bubble bath, extreme sports. How you knew if it was the real deal was if had the extra X’s, as in EXXXTREME. Candy like Warheads and Crybaby Gum were EXXXTREME.
So first up in my SNICK Snacks was this:
While I’m not sure if they still sell Warheads or Crybaby Gum, this is pretty much the same thing, in oversized pacifier form. Similar to the idea CryBaby Gum, this candy is so sour that you’re gonna cry like a baby when you put this in your mouth. I also found the pacifier to be a bit of a throwback to the 90s.
For whatever reason, pacifiers were a fad in the 90s–people started showing up at school with ’em in their mouths. Soon, trendy bauble stores and dollar stores started selling tricked out pacifiers to teens, and they even started sold plastic ones in the quarter machines. Of course, little did we know that they were actually popular among drug-users at raves to prevent teeth-grinding. Ravers contributed the worst of pop culture to the 90s–those stupid pants, stupid pacifiers, but above all, that fucking music.
Back to the lollypop at hand. Looking at it makes the back of your mouth hurt. That layer of “sour” on top is actually malic acid. And for your science lesson of the day, here’s its chemical compound: HO2CCH2CHOHCO2H.
I had a couple of licks. The first layer of acid was a watermelon doozy, but the sourness disappointingly licked off fast. I felt pretty stupid with a big pacifier in my mouth, so even though it was somewhat tasty, I had no desire to finish it. Added bonus of my entire gums and lips going numb from the malic acid.
Then I had another lollypop to try, a Juicy Drop Pop:
Right away, I was charmed by the name of it and intriguing packaging. I was always a fan of liquid and gel candy. When you’re a kid, you’re not drinking, inhaling nicotine, or drinking coffee; you only have access to one vice, sugar. So liquid and gel candies are always a novelty, because your getting your drug in its purest form.
So what was a Juicy Drop Pop? Well, you take a regular lollypop and supercharge it with a liquid drop. Actually, it was kinda weird:
The liquid was super sour and made my stomach hurt. The liquid burned going down, like a shot of liquor, sharply contrasting the sweetness of the lollypop. I have two words: blech and ick.
Next I tried my muse, the Slim Jim.
Even though I’m a veggiesaurus, I figured I could handle a small bite of beef jerky. The wrapper slicked right off, exposing a greasy piece of “meat”. My stomach said no.
It smells like it looks. Wet dog food and spice. I could see the aroma around it, wavering off the stick. Or maybe that was the after-effects of the Juicy Drops. Again, the stomach said no.
Slim Jims are famous in part due to their prominent ingredient of “mechanically-separated chicken”. What is that anyway? Like, so what, a chicken gets ripped apart by robots instead of human hands? Actually, it’s the “paste” created when edible flesh is separated from the bone by high pressure machines. The stomach really said no.
But the heart said yes.
I snapped off a bite. It was fleshy. And greasy. And chewy. And as I struggled to swallow, I promptly threw the remaining 10 yards of Slim Jim in the trashcan.
So much for my inspiration. So far, my former SNICK Snacks led to feeling of humiliation, pain, and revulsion. How do kids eat this junk? Couldn’t wait to see what the next one did to me…. Circus Peanuts!
OK, Circus Peanuts weren’t actually one my beloved childhood snacks. I just felt bad for them sitting there in the snack aisle, this one lonesome bag, sitting there unsold. Sure, it’s probably been hanging there since 2006, and they didn’t feel all that fresh. No one likes Circus Peanuts. They’re weird, they’re orange, they’re a bit like what taking a bite out of the leather sofa would taste like.
I ate a couple. I like them actually. Mmmm Sofa-y. But then I really wanted to know….what would happen if I microwaved them?
Like all marshmallows, after 30 seconds in the microwave, they turned in Giga-circus peanuts. Awesome. They began to smell too, the smell of radiating corn syrup.
After a minute, they began to change color. And then they exploded, exposing a cancerous inside.
This is what your brain looks like on Circus Peanuts. Any questions?
Finally, I brought out an old friend to help with the Hostess Sno Balls.
Hi Shoney’s Bear!
Pink. Marshallow. Chocolate. Coconut. It’s actually a perfect concoction. This was my favorite of all the snacks. Hostess Cakes don’t mess around. They invented Ding Dongs, Fruit Pies, Twinkies, and those cupcakes with the hard shell of icing. They’re mad scientists and their Sno Balls are engineered to be delicious.
BUT LET’S GET EXXXTREME PIZZA AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU MICROWAVE IT.
It transmogrified into a pile of goo, and then to my horror, began developing the form of a mouth. A hideous, gaping, chocolate mouth. I watched as it began to shiver and shake, almost as though it were becoming a life form of its own. I gotta get a new microwave.
Then, it began rising. I heard a noise and I looked to the cat, who jumped up and ran out of the kitchen. Then a growl. My eyes darted to the plate. The blob jumped off the plate and started at me. Reacting quickly, I grabbed the broom and THWAP. The pile hit the floor. I beat the shit out that bastard.
Really, that happened. Or it could have been the after effects of Juicy Drop Pop.