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Sweatpants & Humor | The Overthinker on… pre-packaged dessert pastries

By Tony Moir

So in my last piece about overthinking, I wrote about a frivolous subject, but this time I think that I will tackle something deadly serious: popular pre-packaged dessert pastries.

If you ask me, the best mass-produced dessert pastry is the Suzi-Q. Just cake and cream, devoid of all the waxy chocolate that you would usually peel off the get to the aforementioned cake and cream. The thing is, you know it is not real cake, or maybe even real cream, but it is all you need in this type of dessert. Okay, let’s admit it, though, sometimes dessert is at 9 AM, because someone accidentally purchased a ten-pack of Suzi-Qs because they were famished while shopping. Doesn’t it seem like they should put all of the ramen and soups in cups, hostess products, frozen pizza, premade chocolate chip cookie dough, frozen taquitos, iced coffee, Cheetohs, Fritos, pork rinds, pop-tarts, and candy in one aisle and put up a sign saying, “Are you wasted? Or have you not eaten at all today? Here is your aisle…” at the store for those people to one-stop shop?

Bastards, making you look through the whole store for the salsa and chips. Or those Hawaiian rolls.

Anyhow….

When I was growing up, the Hostess-type products were not a frequent visitor to our house, so I would have to wait until I went to my grandmother’s house or bought them myself with recyclable bottle money, or traded lunch items with someone to get one. I sometimes traded my entire lunch for one, but I had my standards; it had to be at least a Ding-Dong. Possibly a Zinger, but it had to be one with that had the weirdly textured fondant frosting on them. I loved that stuff. It was like frosting gum. I would peel it off all in one piece and then try to let it dissolve in my mouth without chewing it. Of course I usually failed and ate the whole thing in a few seconds, but a guy can dream, can’t he?

So there are people who like Twinkies, and those who are Zinger partisans, Ding-Dongers, and those weirdos who like Ho-Ho’s best of all, but all of us have to admit that even though we realize that the item we chose does not constitute a nutritional dinner, they do fill a Hostess-sized hole in our soul. Also, did you know that the filling in Twinkies is supposedly slightly banana flavored? And what the hell do Twinkies have to do with cowboys? Their logo character is a Twinkie in a cowboy outfit. That seems odd to me.

So I wonder why they even had to advertise these products. Seriously, aren’t you thinking of going out right now and getting some? When I was a kid, during my regrettable Chocodile period, you could get a two-pack for fifty cents. Jealous? I bet you are. They weren’t even that good, but their slogan was “It takes a while to eat a Chocodile.” And, I, scientist that I was, had to test this hypothesis quite often. I was able to shove the entire thing into my mouth at once and then wash it down in about five seconds with a big gulp of Grape Crush. It is a wonder I did not die. When I think of all the sugar that I ingested between my birth in the early Pleistocene epoch and now, I imagine that if it was truly a toxin that is to be avoided at all costs like the self-appointed internet health experts tell us, then I must be a superhero, whose power is to eat an entire bag of apple fritters with a big glass of dark corn syrup without exploding. Like “NEVER FEAR, I will take care of the monstrous fritter invasion!” That fifth dentist who tells his patients to go ahead and chew the sugary gum, and wash it down with straight Hershey’s syrup right out of the bottle, (because FIGHT THE POWER!) would agree.

Actually, I read the study that forms the basis of that claim in the gum commercials, and it turns out that the fifth dentist said, “Don’t chew gum, sugarless or otherwise.” They don’t really highlight that part in the ad.

But I digress.

Also, what would you do if you were really, really hungry, and James Earl Jones, or Patrick Stewart, or maybe Morgan Freeman asked you for one of your last two Zingers? “EXCUSE ME,” this incredible voice would boom out over your shoulder, “MAY I HAVE ONE OF YOUR ZINGERS?” And I would give it to him, because James Earl Jones, but maybe not if it were my last one. “Can we split it?” I would ask, and he might say “I PREFER MY ZINGERS WHOLE.” So I would hand it over and feel very sad. But if your voice is as commanding as his, you probably get what you want quite often.

Anyhow, the one that has always puzzled me are the Sno-balls. Who eats those? What are they made of? They seem just so unappetizing. I am sure they are like 80% pure sugar, but even then, they are such an unnatural color that they seem like they just might be made of an unknown glowing substance that fell to earth, presumably from outer space. And the texture is also somewhat gnarly. Like a jellyfish, or a really old beanbag chair that may actually have mice living in it, but that you just don’t want to check. So of course if my wife ever sees them in the store, she takes a quick look around to see if the coast is clear, then she viciously squishes them in the package between her thumb and forefinger and walks away as if it was a tragic event that had happened sometime before she arrived. I am not sure what the source of her need to do this is, and it has not been relieved by giving her stress balls to use as a substitute. I mumble an apology to the storeowners under my breath, but I am comforted by the fact that I think very few people actually eat those, and the people who do surely die, so her wanton squishery is likely not their biggest problem.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Crumb Cakes. They were usually only available for a short time each year; the McRib of Hostess products. But when you found them, with their weird anemone-like topping, it was a moment of epiphany. For a moment, just one brief and shining moment, all things were in balance, the heavens gained their perfect orbits, and all things seemed possible and perfect. And then they would be gone, and darkness would descend once more, leaving us bereft of purpose and hope. I imagine that some folks would turn to religion to soothe themselves, others to drugs, and still others would say “What are crumb cakes?” or “I only eat things sweetened with acai berry extract.” And these latter folks we would pity and take care of as best we could, making sure that they had an ample supply of all the Kombucha with chia seeds that they needed to continue their bleak and pointless existence.

Maybe that is a little much, but I have to say that self-denial is just self-harm in many cases. I wept bitter tears for them. Couldn’t we pass a law to protect these people? THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

Sorry, I got a little caught up there.

Fruit pies, though, will at least convince you that they are somewhat healthy. I mean, there is at least two diced child-sized apple slices floating in sugary goo in each of those apple pies. So if you eat about four of them, and I wouldn’t put that past me because apple pies, then you have one serving of fruit. And don’t they say that we need four million servings of fruit a day now or something? So, hey, that would be at least one before your nap. Their space-aged cousins, the Pop-Tarts, are a totally different thing, though. I ate them, and still sometimes do, but it always weirds me out that their frosting looks like pottery glaze. As if you would bite a chunk off them and then turn around and realize you are in a Crate and Barrel and the salesperson is saying that those come in a set of four for forty-five dollars and they could wrap them up for you. But what actually happens is that you instead are rewarded with a weird sort of jam/cookie taste, and then suddenly they whole thing is gone. But jam is made of fruit, and we need to make those four million, so there you go, better put another in the toaster.

And of course, I know I am overthinking this, but then again, now so are you…

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