No fancy macaroni for me | local news







We all have guilty pleasure foods. For me, they’re often things we rarely get to do as kids.

Growing up, I thought we were damned because almost everything we ate was made from scratch.

But every once in a while, my mom would break down and get some ready-made, canned, or frozen stuff from the grocery store.

I still remember trying Chef Boyardee Spaghetti and Meatballs. I was in heaven. Ditto with the Dente Mor Beef Stew.

Looking at them now, they’re both pretty bad, especially the sad-looking spaghetti and meatballs packed into the box.

Occasionally I still make macaroni with cheese. Not the gourmet stuff they make, but Kraft packaged macaroni and cheese with a bag of a dry, cheese-like substance. I still love those things.

When I was a kid, we occasionally got the canned Chun King Chow Mein chicken.

I remember feeling very gentle and universal eating it. Chinese food, Mexican food, Thai food, and Indian food were nothing in rural Minnesota in the ’60s and ’70s.

Chow Mein was three cans wrapped together as one, with meat in one, sauce in another and crunchy noodles in the third.

Heat the meat and put it in the sauce and heat some more, then pour over the crunchy pasta and you’re moved east.

There were a lot of commercials for her, trying to get Americans to try something very strange.

One of their songs went: “Try Chun King to get a nice body, Try Chun King to get a nice flair, try Chun King for a beautiful life…”

No matter how the gelatinous mixture looked like brown wallpaper paste and tasted worse, it’s still a great memory.

The occasional TV dinner was another luxury when I was a kid. Swanson came out with them in the mid-1950s, around the time microwaves were becoming popular. It has been a huge blow to many mums who are tired of cooking from scratch. Swanson sold 10 million television dinners the first year and 25 million the following year.

They weren’t very good. But the convenience and different foods in the small booths were a pleasure.

Everyone has their own menu of pleasures.

For some reason, Nutella is high on many people’s list. I don’t think most people have ever tried it. I have it and it is not on my list.

Others crave Sour Bears, Cheetos, Velveeta Shells and Cheese, Pizza Rolls, Slim Jims, Lunchables and other things they only tasted and enjoyed when they were kids.

Many kids today don’t get an abundance of made-from-scratch meals because they eat the whole array of junk food, frozen foods, packaged and canned foods that we’ve often been denied. When they grow up, I’m not sure what food would delight them with the guilt of their youth.

For me, a box of macaroni and cheese will always inspire contentment.

Tim Krohn can be contacted at [email protected] or 507-720-1300.

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