If it's true that kids let you rediscover your own childhood, the weirdest part of the return trip is finding out that macaroni and cheese tastes exactly the same. I used to make it for myself before basketball games in high school, and after my last season, I don't think I touched it again throughout college and my 20s.
Until I had kids. I had forgotten about kid food. I hadn't had things like american cheese in years, maybe decades. Same for hot dogs, popsicles, chicken strips, popcorn, and animal cookies. There are a lot of things I'd never put in my own grocery cart before. Not that I'm really healthy, but the yogurt tubes didn't catch my eye. I didn't know they made chocolate yogurt or yogurt covered in pieces of candy. I'd never had Pirate's Booty. I don't remember when or how cheese sticks entered the house, but they did. Probably when my daughter turned 2 and she forgot how to sit down for more than a few seconds. The toddler, so lusty in every way for fun, giggles, and trouble, displays a remarkable inability to eat. I think it's the bother of eating — the flat, immobile plate, a parent telling you over and over what to do with the food — when the sensory world is much more fun. Somehow, you resign yourself to chasing them, hoping to stuff a bite or two in their mouth when they pause to catch their breath. Cheese sticks are handy for that.
Here's my list of foods I only eat because of kids, and alas, I've grown to like a few of them.
Let's just admit that Pirate's Booty is a Cheeto for the millennial set. I refuse to buy Cheetos for my kids, and yet, we do buy Pirate's Booty. My daughter asks for it if she sees it at the store. (She loves Cheetos too.) The main problem with Pirate's Booty is I find myself eating the rest of the bag after I've served the kids. It disappears in like, seconds. When they go looking for the bag the next afternoon, I have to make up some ridiculous story.
This is one of the first baby foods I made, and for some reason, if you have kids, it is mandatory every Fall that you take them apple picking. My kids love apples. But my toddler spits about half of every bite out, leaving a trail of dried apple wherever she goes. So we make sauce, and we make sauce. It's really good. The pouches are very handy for lunches, and of all the kid foods, applesauce is undeniably healthy.
I think I'll keep these around after my kids grow out of them. I prefer them to the waxy rounds that you have to unwrap and then unwax. I hate the part-skim ones and the cheddar ones, but I love their salty mozzarella taste and their portability. I often find them hiding in my various handbags, diaper bags, and backpacks, and I have no qualms about eating them warm.
Adults can be pretty snobby about hot dogs. We eat brats, sausage, or wurst. But really, what's a hot dog but a style of wurst? In Germany, every link has its origin name, and the Frankfurter is a smoked pork sausage. Wiener is simply the name for a Viennese sausage. What I didn't realize, until I started buying hot dogs, was the amazing variety New York produces. I've basically tried them all, and aside from our local butcher shop, my two favorite hot dogs are Hofmann of Syracuse and the Piggery of Ithaca. Seriously, unforgettably good.
After a virus gave her lactose intolerance, my daughter declared she hated milk. We tried to find an alternative, because children MUST have milk. I bought soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk, and finally rice milk. She declared them all disgusting. And I agreed. Most of them taste artificially sweet. They're not milks, not from the breast of a mammal. They're processed beverages. Why do they get to be called milk? At some point, my fridge was entirely full of milk that no one was drinking. I began wondering why we didn't just eat soy, almonds, or rice. Whole milk, if you aren't intolerant, tastes so much better. End result: we settled for being a family who doesn't rely on milk. We buy whole milk only and a lot more yogurt.