One of the many tragedies of getting older is that things from your youth that you assumed would be around forever start disappearing: friendships, people, lipstick shades, The Mr. Toad Ride at Disney World”¦ and food. In most cases, your childhood favorite foods don’t exist anymore because they were horrible for you and should never have existed in the first place.
Like Bonkers! Does anyone remember Bonkers? It was a weird square fruity chewy”¦ candy, I guess? It apparently had only a brief life during the 1980s but it was embraced by my entire family. In fact, it became a tradition that we would eat them when we were at the beach, because their excessive sweetness was the only thing that would wash the taste of seawater out of our mouths.
Anyway, this post is inspired by the fact that last week I was suddenly struck with an intense, insatiable craving for Soft Batch cookies. It was a very specific craving; Chewy Chips Ahoy were not going to do the trick. I’ve never had any other mass-produced cookie that tastes so much like a homemade cookie, especially when microwaved for the perfect amount of time. I realized, with mounting horror, that I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d seen or eaten a Soft Batch cookie. Were they still around? Where could I find them?!
It bears mentioning that I live in an outer borough of New York City; a strange place that’s largely devoid of major chains and relies instead on an incomplete network of small, single-purpose shops. It’s like my neighborhood is trapped in time. I can go buy my meat at the butcher and my fish at the fish market, and for produce I can choose any one of several produce stands (including an organic one!) all within walking distance of my apartment. While this sounds quaint and adorable, and it is, sometimes it makes it hard to find modern brand-name items when you really want/need them.
There were no Soft Batch cookies to be found at any of the bodegas near my apartment, so I headed up to the one crappy local-chain grocery store with low expectations. I found none. I scurried home and began Googling, hoping against hope that I wouldn’t see they were discontinued. Guilt began to burn in my heart as I considered the fact that if they had been discontinued, it would have been my fault for neglecting for them for so long.
Because that’s how it is, isn’t it? There’s always that news story about the shop or restaurant run by a cute elderly person that’s been open for 50 years and is, tragically, closing. But why did people suddenly care? It closed because no one cared enough about it to go there while it was still open. It’s an interesting form of audacity to assume that things should just continue to exist so that if you happen to want them once in a while, they’re there.
So, the stunning conclusion of the Soft Batch Saga of 2011 is that I have two options: venturing into Manhattan, where the big-box grocery chain presence is much stronger, or ordering a case of them from Amazon. Which is weirder or more desperate? No one knows. But I’m going to make my decision today, and soon enough I’ll be enjoying one of the few tastes of my childhood that’s still around.
Does anyone else have any stories about childhood foods that disappeared? Or, better yet, you thought had disappeared but hadn’t?