Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Sun, 16 Jan 2005 08:52:33 -0500

Fun Foods

RUNNING COMMENTARY 554

(rerun from January 1997 RW)

My childhood was long past before I gave up childish things. They aren't completely gone yet, but most of them are far enough in my past that I've consigned them to a Hall of Fame.

Athletic Halls of Fame require retirement for at least five years for eligibility. This is how it is with the baseball and track Halls, and so too with my Junk Food Hall of Fame.

Yes, I admit it; I've always been a junkie. This started young.

The greatest treat that Grandma Henderson could feed us was sugar sandwiches. This nutritional nightmare started with white bread, continued with a quarter-inch of butter (or, on special occasions, whipping cream so thick it spread like butter) and ended with a half-inch of white sugar.

My dad's variation was a jelly sandwich on white bread. He used so much of the sweet stuff that we asked him, "Do you want a little more bread on your jelly?"

During college I lived two blocks from a Dairy Queen. Heaven!

A day without ice cream became like one without a sunrise. Or SUNSET, because most of my days ended with this treat.

Weather didn't matter. A zero night was no different from a 90-degree evening. After track practice, I'd trudge to DQ for my dessert -- usually a cherry and butterscotch shake.

On my first job after college, I worked nights. I'd get home about two A.M. and sleep until 10 or 11, then wake up to a run.

This meant eating my first meal at noon. I now lived near a McDonald's, where my standard "breakfast" of two double-cheeseburgers, a double order of fries and a large root beer. (Never could stand the Mac's shakes, which were poor imitations of Dairy Queen's.)

Some of my happiest running years came in the mid-1970s. On Saturdays, I went long with a group.

After running two hours or more, we sometimes got together for breakfast. (At McDonald's, where else?) More often, I indulged my appetites alone.

My preferred treats: Fritos corn chips dipped in sour cream, washed down by Dr Pepper. I could follow the week's longest run with a whole bag of the chips, an entire tub of the cream and a liter of the DP.

Sometimes I'd substitute Doritos for Fritos, salsa for sour cream, Pepsi for Dr Pepper. Same effect. I loaded up on sugar, salt and fat -- the Big Three dietary no-no's.

My childhood was long past before I gave up childish foods. Long-term exposure to better eaters and their writings, along with a few nutrition-related health scares, creeping weight gain and the late discovery of certain food allergies, combined to clean up my dietary act somewhat.

All the items named above have retired to my Junk Food Hall of Fame. But I still honor them for the roles they played in my extended childhood and still crave them sometimes -- along with Hostess fruit turnovers, buttermilk bars or any other breakfast pastry, cherry jam with heavily buttered white bread on it, nachos in any combination as long as meat and cheese dominated, ham and pineapple pizza, and many others.

My eating is healthier now. But it isn't as much fun as it used to be.

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