I’ve had it with Nabisco. They’ve officially gone too far. Now they’ve ruined my childhood memories.
To me, junk food is inherently tied to nostalgia. I don’t eat a lot of it, so when I do, it’s usually because:
- it’s something I ate as a kid;
- it’s something I wanted as a kid;
- it’s just incredibly cool.
The upcoming Double Down sandwich from KFC will fall into the final category. Hopefully my heart won’t go on strike when I bite into the bunless wonder, but I feel it’s my patriotic duty to try at least one. I’ll be sure to report back, assuming I’m still with us after eating it.
But creations like the Double Down are (thankfully) rare. Most of the time when I have a bit of junk, it’s associated with a memory from childhood.
With the exception of M+Ms, candy was not something that we had in the house. I didn’t even know to ask for it — it just wasn’t around. When we moved to Florida in 2nd grade, one of my earliest memories was the school bus stopping at the Tom Thumb convenience store. The kids on the bus loaded up on something called Garbage Pail Candy. I still don’t know what the stuff tastes like, but I was astounded that they just got what they wanted. Thankfully, I didn’t turn into a raving candy freak on that day.
But one thing we did have around the house as a kid were Oreos.
I can still hear the jingle from the 80s: “Ice cold milk / and an Oreo cookie…”
Heck, even in the ’80s Nabisco was playing off the nostalgia factor in their marketing. They knew we wanted it because we had it when we were kids:
And it’s probably because my parents had Oreos around that we had them in the house.
One of the strangest things about moving to Florida was that we couldn’t get Oreos. We could get Hydrox cookies. I grew to appreciate them — and as a cookie, they may have even been a better product than the Oreo. But I missed my Oreos. I wanted them back. And eventually, the marketing and distribution behemoth that was Nabisco moved them into South Florida. We had to keep them in the refrigerator because of the humidity. This imparted a strange sensation that, to this day, a cold Oreo will immediately take me back to the kitchen in the house on Harbor Island Drive.
But Nabisco couldn’t leave well enough alone. Oh no.
In the 80s, they introduced the Double Stuff. This should have been the first warning sign to all of us. I tried them, and remember not liking them. But I was tolerant of their right to exist. I just didn’t want them.
I really should have been concerned with the development of alternate varieties of the Oreo. Golden Oreos. Oreo Cakesters. Fudge Covered Oreos. But I didn’t notice.
And now I’m looking at a round chocolate cookie with a 39 on it. A 4. A 14.
It’s the NASCAR Oreo.
The package says “Same Great Taste!” on it. I disagree. Taste is as much a product of perception and environment as it is food components. And the NASCAR Oreos do not taste the same.
I guess the NASCAR Oreo is appropriate for a nation that seems obsessed with speed, newness, and raw emotion. And I know they’ve done some sponsoring of cars, so it makes sense for them to make a NASCAR-themed cookie.
But even NASCAR fans ought to appreciate nostalgia and history. The Car of Tomorrow may be better for the sport, but it was characters like Junior Johnson who gave it its start.
And I want my plain, regular Oreos, thank you very much.