Tastes of Childhood, or I Want a Goddamn Soft Batch Cookie

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?

16 replies on “Tastes of Childhood, or I Want a Goddamn Soft Batch Cookie”

I dont remember the exact name of them, but I called them “broccoli tarts.” They were this wonderful pastry made by Pepperidge Farm. Inside a flaky pastry sheet was broccoli and cheese. There were 2 in a pack, and I always ate them both. You baked them in the oven, because they came frozen. You could get them at the local Kroger for 1.99. Well, I grew up and forgot about “broccoli tarts”, until about 8 years ago, when I suddenly got a craving for one. I searched all my local grocery stores, and found none. I even e mailed Pepperidge Farm, and was told they no longer made those wonderful pastries, because they were not “popular enough”. I was so sad, and blamed myself for not buying a million boxes to keep them making my favorite after school snack. Well, I was fortunate enough to find just the pastry sheet part, made by Pepperidge farm, a few years ago. YAY! I could make my own. And wouldn’t you know it, my local grocery store quit carrying the damn sheets. I guess I will have to look elsewhere for the sheets, so I can continue to make my own broccoli tarts, since the bastards at Pepperidge Farm quit making them.

Crispy M&Ms – if you Google my name, apparently it comes up that I signed a petition in 2004 to bring them back to the shelves.
Seriously, with all the varieties of M&Ms out now, they can’t redo Crispy (normal M&M shell and an inside of rice crispy treat – amazing)?
Also I thought Rice Crispies Treats Cereal was gone, but I can get it at a weird grocery store near my house.

Purplesaurus Rex Kool-aid.

It’s Grape + Lemonade. As early 20-year-olds, three of my friends and I stayed in a memorable apartment one summer and we used to make Kool-Aid pie in that flavor. It was the most wonderful ambrosia ever (until I stumbled across St. Germain liqueur almost 10 years later – mixed with champagne or white wine, served over ice = perfect on a hot summer day after mowing the lawn or BBQing).

Kola Yummies ,delish kola shaped cookies filed with various flavors -chocolate being the best, I hear tell that they are still sold at a grocery store I never go to but I can never remember which one it is or even what county its in. Also Surge soda it was Mt Dews fizzier better tasting cousin and my beverage of choice in middle school.

This is amazingly timely. I moved from Australia to the USA a few years ago, and was just skyping with my sister back there an hour ago. Right at the end of the conversation she said “I have a surprise for you” and holds up a bag. Even from the BAG I knew what it was and started squealing – there’s a particular brand of yellow sherbert (like what’s in pixie stix) that throughout my childhood could be found at fewer and fewer stores in Australia, and when I left could only be found in one – and she was there last weekend. She’s sending a bag-full over with my mum who’s visiting in a month. I AM SO EXCITED!

Tart N Tiny candies. I loved those things and I can never find then anywhere.

I also get random Soft Batch cravings. They are a good mixture of salt and sweet. Mist if the gas stations with convenience stores sell small packs of either 4 or 6 cookies, which is perfect because I can’t eat more than a few at a time. I also remember Bonkers. I loved them when I was younger, but I’m pretty sure I lost three or four fillings in their sticky sweet depths.

Dunkaroos. I’m pretty sure they’re no longer sold anywhere, but those were slammin’ snacks. My brother and I loved those things, and we would often split a package or two while playing games on our Sega Genesis. Chocolate frosting was preferred, but the vanilla with the sprinkles in it was a-okay too. I bet if I ate them today they’d taste awful to me and would not be remembered so fondly, so I’m cool with not being able to find them anywhere.

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