Perfect Junk


The afternoon lull hit with a vengeance. My mood had been gloomy for most of the day and now my body was adamant: she wanted a snack. I offered up a piece of fruit, some chocolate, maybe a cup of coffee? But no. She wanted something salty. Something crunchy. Something with absolutely no redeeming nutritional value.

I walked to the local Ralph’s to see what I could find. The chips aisle was an exercise in conflicting signals. There were low fat chips. Kettle chips. Artisan chips. Chips made out of beans. Chips made out of peas. Baked chips. Low crab chips. Chips in highbrow flavors like rosemary olive oil, and honey siracha. Or, my personal favorite: fancypants whight cheddah Cheetos that looked like they were dressed for a weekend on Cape Cod.

I wanted none of these.

I wandered the aisle for ten minutes searching for the legitimate junk food. Junk food in neon colors. Junk food with the texture of Styrofoam. Junk food made out of good honest starch as good honest grease and enough salt to raise my blood pressure.

And then, at the very end of the aisle, I found it: a small blue canister hid hidden among the Pringles and the Bugles and the odds and ends that didn’t merit prime shelf real estate.

Cheez balls.

Cheez with a z because there would be no real cheese involved. The snack you would get if you decided to dust packing peanuts in the orange powder from a box of Kraft mac ‘n cheese. Cheez Balls. My absolute favorite childhood treat.

Junk food never flew off the shelf so fast.

I waited until I got back to my desk to open the can with the appropriate due ceremony. I peeled back the freshness seal slowly revealing an orange glow of such nuclear intensity that I felt certain I was getting a tan from the radiation. Hello beautiful. The rest of the world became gray and drab by comparison. I selected a morsel. I put it in my mouth. It wasn’t so much a flavor as a TASTE SENSATION!!! Mostly of salt, but I didn’t care. A light, crispedy crunch, and then the whole thing melted against my gums into a sticky, cheesy, starchy paste that filled the crevices between my teeth like grout. There was no part of the experience that could be mistaken for healthy, nutritious, or high brow. This was pure, unadulterated junk, and it was exactly what I’d wanted.

Perfection.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on April 9, 2019.

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