October 13, 2006

Enter the Slurpables

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Wisdom teeth. In a body that seemed perfectly evolved for snacking, these four extraneous slow-growing teeth were slowly making my mouth look like a fourth grade science project gone wrong. So my oral surgeon removed them over fall break. Why would a column on snack food start with a sob story about vestigial molars? Because, when you find yourself lying on a couch with no viable way to open your mouth, eating, let alone snacking becomes near impossible. When you can’t chew, or even think about chewing without a sharp pain shooting all over your body, some of the best foods become off-limits. You are forced to say goodbye to crunching and to the adjective “crisp.”
Chips, crackers, nuts, cookies, pies, pastries, pizzas, steak, all these things require chewing, and all would be off limits to me for a full week.
Not to mention that if I ate any acidic food, it would feel like pouring poison into an open wound. Say goodbye to sauce, fruit, fruit juice and
“flavor.” Now add on top of all this the nail in the coffin, a note from the dentist saying, “No hot foods.” As the hours dragged on and I become desperate for sustenance, I slowly opened my mouth a little bit, and a dark world of snacks became available. Enter the slurpables. If it’s not a solid, and it’s not a liquid and you don’t need to chew it, it’s a slurpable. (You might be thinking that I’m ripping off a Wendy’s
Frostee commercial here but let me inform you . . . I’m not. When I name a new category of snack, it’s because snacking is my life, not my two-month-long pre-summer marketing campaign.) I’ve been living off these
slurps for a week, and let me tell you, it’s not all bad. The first 72 hours post-surgery are what I like to call my “pudding period.” I tried them all folks. I’m happy to report that while the low-cal, no-fat, triple-chocolate, high calcium, almost healthy Jell-o pudding snacks were tasty, nothing beats good old-fashioned Kozy Shak pudding. It tastes like a combination of semi-melted chicken skin and vanilla ice cream, it’s seven to eight times thicker than “healthy pudding” and it fills you up in three bites. Speaking of ice cream, this is a true fact: while a milkshake may
be too cold for someone just off the operating table, a melted milkshake is not, and you can drink them much faster.
Another popular slurpable is yogurt. Clearly less delicious then pudding, yogurt also comes with the onus of being made from bacteria. In my quest to try new things and to explore the boundaries of the snack world, I tried something new for the first time this week. I tried Go-Gurt. For the uninitiated, Go-Gurt is Yoplait’s attempt at making yogurt cool for the next generation of kids. You know, the kids that grew up with no game shows on Nickelodeon. (Full disclosure: I did not have cable television as a child and this is a reference I have no right to make). Go-Gurt is the special-needs string cheese. Basically, the dairy industry hit the jackpot with making low-quality cheese a “must have” kid snack, and they just went one step too far. Frankly, I don’t know what I was expecting Berry Bubblegum Bash-flavored yogurt to taste like, but I certainly didn’t expect a shotgun blast of blue candy out of a phallic plastic tube right down my throat. Unless you are a hyperactive eight year-old with a calcium deficiency, I wouldn’t recommend the portable treat. My favorite slurpable is somewhat chunky, and wouldn’t be considered slurpable at all by many. I love instant mashed potatoes. Due to low-carb mania, many people stopped eating mashed potatoes. And because of their “I’m too lazy to mash potatoes” image, many people have never even tried the sweetness that is instant mash. Once you get past the flakey freeze dried potatoes and the built in flavor crystals, instant mashed potatoes are an excellent snack. “But wait!” you scream out loud as you read the newspaper, “I thought you weren’t allowed to eat hot foods.” Aha, careful reader, it appears you have caught me in a web of lies. But I am one snack-step ahead of you, as this week in my debilitated state I ate my mashed potatoes cold. What did I learn this week? I learned that even if my jaw was wired shut, I could and would snack through the wire. Throw me a curveball; I’ll hit it out of the park! I’ll always find a way to eat like an uninhibited 9 year-old with no parents and an unlimited budget anyway.