April 9, 2008

The 'Adventures in Snacking' Factory Tour

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Believe it or not, I don’t just write down what comes to mind and e-mail it to my editor seconds before my column is due. I actually care about what I do, and sometimes I write stories that are funny, but don’t fit the overall theme of the column. Other times, I have an idea for a column, but the idea doesn’t have enough “oomph,” so I end up with half a column. For every column I write, at least one or two sentences get cut and pasted into a word document called “snack food etc.” To start it off, I’ve got a deleted anecdote about factory tours:
• Nobody wants to see how sausages get made. Or at least, that’s what people say. I personally would love to go on a factory tour of a sausage plant. Factory tours are the best.
•“Yogurt Archeologist” (Deleted from “Enter The Slurpables,” my second column):
When I eat yogurt, I prefer my fruit on the bottom. That way, I can reward myself with a fruit preserve treat at the end. See, I don’t mix the fruit in; I eat plain yogurt all the way down to the “flavor core.” Because the two mixtures have different densities, when you first puncture the fruit on the bottom layer it oozes up and overtakes the rest of the plain yogurt. I like to pretend I am a yogurt archeologist, carefully digging and searching on the bottom for fruit treasure in a wasteland of plain, boring yogurt.
• “The One Where I Cook and Eat Every Recipe on the Back of the Biquick Box”:
I got as far as cooking pancakes, hotcakes and crumb cakes before I realized that every single recipe tasted exactly like pancakes and that this was a waste of my time. I then tried to tie the column into a larger theme of “recipes on the back of the box,” but most of the boxes I looked at were crackers, and most of the recipes were “cook another meal, and then serve it next to or on crackers.” This idea was then abandoned.
Sometimes, I type very quickly to get all my ideas out. When I do this, I sometimes reveal things that are too bizarre, too gross or too self-serving to put in the newspaper. I present some of the more ridiculous things I thought I would never reveal:
• When I eat fruit, I eat like Jodi Foster in the movie Nell (Nell was a wild child raised in the back woods of North Carolina).
• I have thrown up from drinking too much iced tea too quickly. A venti iced tea from Starbucks was not meant to be consumed by a human being in less than 15 minutes. Trust me.
• In a perfect world, you would create a play list of snacks, and eat from the time you woke up until you passed out face-first in a bowlful of bar peanuts.
Some original ideas that never made it to print:
• Lobster Mail — I once ate a lobster that was delivered in the mail. A lobster. From the mailbox. I believe it was ordered from a catalogue. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful. I also ate it sitting on the floor. With my hands. (There may or may not be a picture of this event on Facebook.)
• Blood Drive Snacks — The best reasons to donate blood are the snacks you get at the end. It’s literally an all you can eat cookie and juice bar. If you pretend to pass out, not only do you get special treatment from volunteers, you get the special Gatorade they keep in the back. I consider myself an expert blood drive snack table conversationalist, so don’t pretend to read the newspaper. I got your number …
• (From the same unpublished column): … In high school, the first time we donated blood, they told us not to drink or do drugs after, because the effects would be magnified by our blood loss. Two people in front of me slapped hands and gave each other knowing looks after this information was relayed. They go to state schools now.
• The Finger Food Awards — I was going to present categories and then present awards, and then write first person acceptance speeches from the perspective of the foods. For example, the Best Finger Food acceptance speech would have looked like this:
“And the Winner for best overall finger food is … MINI HOTDOG!!!”
“Thank you! Thank you! I have so many people to thank. Oh my god where to begin. First of all, my parents, regular sized hot dog, and puff pastry, I could have never done it without you! Oh my god, I think I’m going to cry. I promised I wouldn’t cry. My agent, who got me into every cocktail hour in the world, oh oh, I’m so overwhelmed!”
That was obviously a very bad idea. Good thing it never made it to print.
Well, now that you’ve traveled deep into the darkest corner of my “My Documents” folder, I hope I haven’t ruined the magic of my column for you. Because this is a factory tour, you get a free sample at the end. The sample is a question from my (I PROMISE!) pending interview with Dr. David Levitsky, Professor of Nutrition at Cornell University. The question is: “How long could I live if I only ate pizza?”