Forbidden Love and Leprehchauns


We always want what we cannot have... the age-old tale. And growing up, my mother's quest toward health and familial happiness involved a distinct separation of me from all that tantalized and teased the tastebuds.

Yes, for 360 days a year, it parted me from my one ultimate and blindingly-beautiful true love....

Lucky Charms cereal.

Lucky Charms... it was the Arnold Schwartzenegger of Cheerios. A crispy oaty shape, yes.... But on steroids-- pumped up with a mouth-wateringly sweet coating and paired with a rainbow of marshmallow magic that captivated the eyes as well as the salivary glands...

It was kiddie crack.

I suppose if I had never known its power, its magnetic lure... If it had never passed my lips in quiet, stolen moments, then I never would have felt the bittersweet longing for it in its absence.

But once a year on vacation to Cape May, I was allowed to partake of the joy that was artificial flavors and colors. I could pop open that box and inhale the sweet dextrose, honeyed methylcellulose and heart-jolting corn syrup... Feast my eyes on the playful Yellow #5, warm Red #40 and soothing Blue #1.

Nirvana in a bowl! How I did adore thee!

But then, time too soon slipped through the fingers, like quarters into that claw game nobody actually wins.

And as our Dodge Family Wagon would wend its way from campground trails and skee-ball paradise, back to the bustle and traffic of north Jersey strip-mall-land... I would see the pink hearts and blue diamonds, green clovers, yellow stars and purple horseshoes melt before my tear-stained eyes for yet another year. As if they never were.

Back to the dim, gray world of Wheaties and Grape Nuts... A return to the colder place of Kix, that tasteless impostor of kid cereals, made predominantly of styrofoam and recycled cardboard boxes.

It was like being ripped back from heavenly bliss to join the cruel Earthly plane once more.

Yes, Lucky and I were too-soon parted, with only wistful memories between us. This marshmallow heart I hold today is for you, my playful Irish imp. I will keep it close to my own heart and cherish it as long as the beauty of true passion survives.

Or at least until my shirt pocket gets sticky.


So-- let's hear it, gang: what item did you love growing up that you weren't allowed to have?

(This post was inspired by JD of I Do Things So You Don't Have To's recent discussion of Quisp. Thanks for the memories, JD!)

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21 comments:

Shieldmaiden96 said...

My parents weren't particularly strict about breakfast cereal so I was allowed to have my Count Chocula, but I did covet the Barbie Dream House. I was at the very edge of viability age wise; too old for a toy that cost close to $100. (But it came with furniture and dishes!) I had to settle for a secondhand Barbie townhouse, which had a rickety pink elevator and serious structural issues.

Daisy said...

The more colorful the cereal, the better it is. And nutritionists always tell us to eat real colorful foods.

Jenn Thorson said...

ShieldMaiden- Ah, the beloved Count. I salute you! Like you, my Barbie house came almost too late for me to enjoy it. Mine was a knock-off home, and I think I was so old when I finally received it, I was almost ready for a mortgage of my own. :) I laughed at your "structural integrity" comment because I know which townhouse you mean-- and that was so true!

Daisy- Oh, yes. Nutritionists are always saying that. :)

JD at I Do Things said...

Oh, Lucky Charms!

I found chocolate Lucky Charms recently. It's weird. Tastes a lot like Cocoa Puffs and has WAY fewer marshmallows.

My mom was pretty easygoing about letting us eat junk, but I always, always wanted to try Malt-o-Meal, and she wouldn't let me, saying she knew I wouldn't like it. I did try it as an adult, and she was right.

Also, I read this "a mouth-wateringly sweet coating" as "sweet cocaine." Not too far off.


(thanks for the shout-out!)

Jenn Thorson said...

JD- Ah, so mom really DID know best, in this case! Malt-o-Meal sounds kind of like an Ovaltine cereal.

And yes, indeedy-- not that I've had cocaine to compare, but those tasty, tasty Charms had to have been close to it!

Shieldmaiden96 said...

I forgot to mention that the only way to come close to the original authentic chocolaty goodness of this generation's Count Chocula is to sprinkle a bowl of it liberally with Hershey's Cocoa Powder. I don't know what they did to it, but I weep. The marshmallows are bigger but the cereal is a shadow of its former self. It used to be like Chocolate Cheerios. Now its like chocolate cheese curls. Just not cheesy. But sort of air poofed. Oh, you know what I mean.

Cocoa Pebbles are still good. They haven't screwed with those. Yet.

Jenn Thorson said...

Shieldmaiden- Ah, isn't that the way? All the beloved things of youth get unnecessarily fooled-around-with!

I recall occasionally opting for CocoCrispies, which I liked quite well. Strangely, my mother had less issues with them than Lucky Charms. I imagine it's all about equally healthy.

Skye said...

Hmmm processed breaky food, yuck on all counts! jk, actually I don't buy it nor eat it for health reasons, but I do make my own breakfast cereal, it's much the same as Quaker Harvest Crunch. As for wanting stuff that I just wasn't allowed, that would be just about everything.

itsmecissy said...

Captain Crunch (w/o crunch berries)! Dad always made us stewed fruit (plums, apricots & raisins) with the Irish cut oatmeal. We had this almost everyday in the winter time. Needless to say, we were very 'regular' children.

I also coveted Coco Krispies but Captain Crunch was my #1 fave.

P.S. Today, as an adult, I feast on (you guessed it) oatmeal, raisins and (usually) blueberries every morning - THANKS DAD!!!

Chris@Maugeritaville said...

Oh, the Lucky Charms! I'm sure you remember my rant on the overkill of the marshmallows. They should've stuck with the original. I also was a big Quisp fan.

When I was a kid, my parents weren't big on letting us have soda. But Grandma always kept a good amount of CocaCola and Dr. Pepper in her fridge, so when we stayed at her place for a fun weekend, it was a caffeine and sugar jamboree.

Jenn Thorson said...

Skye- Well, Skye, as a chef, I would be totally disappointed if you said otherwise. :) When you have talent with foodly things, you need no other Lucky Charms.

Cissy- I can't help but notice though, you didn't include the stewed prunes in your current breakfast ritual. :) I have a friend who loves Captain Crunch as well, though as many Crunchberries as she could get, she'd been ready for. :)

Chris- Ah, yes-- that coveted Dr. Pepper! We didn't get that for some reason. The irony being is that Dr. Pepper was originally a laxative type drink MADE from prunes. You'd think parents would have been all over that, wouldn't you?

chyna said...

For maybe a year or so we got Honeycomb cereal. I so loved it and then my mom joined the healthy food brigade and it was Cheerios (which I hate with milk), GrapeNuts or those little bales of wheat that grownups try to pass off as yummy. I still hate all of them, well fruit flavored Cheerios are good. Oh we had Kix too, they are only good if you put sugar on them. Gee bet it would have better to have bought the Honeycomb, less sugar that way. LOL

I've tried Honeycomb lately and it just isn't the same. sigh, so much for my childhood memories. ;)

Jenn Thorson said...

Chyna- Kix and I never came to an accord. I tried sugar, but it just never worked for me. I didn't mind the "wheat bales" if they were frosted wheat bales. Grape Nuts needed a lot of sugar and to soak in milk for, oh, 45 minutes or so. It's been years since I've had Honeycomb.

I think I'm going to have to go out and get myself a box of Lucky Charms and see if they're as good as I remember.

Babs-beetle said...

Unfortunately when you are born in London, soon after WW2 you don't see a lot of foods in the shops, let alone in your home! 'Junk' food hadn't been invented yet and there was no TV telling you how much you needed to buy things. It was a case of never yearning for things that you didn't know existed. I'm sure I would have loved Lucky Charms though ;)

ettarose said...

I am not a real cereal eating person. We always had either oatmeal or cream of wheat, which I still love today. We rarely out at fast food places and I remember when Mac Donalds first came to where I lived and my best friend and her family had Big Macs every Friday night. Oh we would have died for a hamburger. I think I had perhaps four the whole time growing up.

Staci said...

Nerds, the candy, not the people. My mom didn't like to let us have them not because they had sugar or food dye in them, but because they'd get in the carpet and not come out too well.

The thing is now that I can have them, they don't taste nearly as good. As weird as it may sound, they always taste freezer burnt, although, to my knowledge, they've never been in the freezer.

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

Ahh, many's the young girl whose tender heart's been stolen by the Magically Delicious Leprehchaun! Including mine. Oh, wait, I'm only a girl on that other website that I don't talk about. Oh, darn the luck, this is embarrassing. How do I edit my post?

What I meant to say is that I loved Cap'n Crunch and Cocoa Krispies as a kid, and ate plenty of both, health be damned!

Jenn Thorson said...

Babs- Thanks for sharing that bit of history with us all. I can imagine how much things must seem to have changed. Honestly, I think I saw the Lucky Charms in the store more than the TV-- and to my pastel, rainbow-loving little girl eyes, I think I'd never seen such colorful beauty. Funny how colors affect us! :)

EttaRose- Did you know the Big Mac was actually born about 20 miles east of where I live? There's actually a McDonald's Big Mac museum on the spot it was invented. People do seem to pilgrimage there-- perhaps some others who, like your friend who had the Friday routine-- had fond memories of it first coming to town.

Mike- We know how to keep secrets here at Cabbages, we won't tell about your Other online presence. :)

jay said...

Hahaha! Well, we never had Lucky Charms over here. We did have Sugar Puffs though, and they were severely rationed. Just puffed corn, but stickily coated with honey flavoured goop. I can so identify with that bit about popping open the packet and inhaling the sugary aroma because that's what we did with Sugar Puffs.

I probably owe my teeth to the fact that Mum didn't buy those very often!

Melanie said...

Oh my, I can sooooooo relate. Only at our house is was Golden Grahams. Mom bought them once a year when we spent the week at the State Fair. The rest of the year we ate healthy cereal. Though I do recall a few times when we were younger and mom had more grocery money that we got the occassional box of Cocoa or Fruity Pebbles, and once..... Honeycombs!!! Man, that was a red letter day at our house!!!!!!

Jenn, I have a daughter who will not eat breakfast cereal unless it is Lucky Charms.

chyna said...

I should mention that when I spent time at my honorary great aunt and uncle's I would get to choose my sugary delight from those multipaks. Who's the lamebrain who decided to include the good-for-you cereal in with my treasures. I didn't like sugar pops or corn pops (reminded me too much of Kix) so they'd get left but Fruit Loops, cocopuffs. Be still my beating heart! I still love Honey Grahams. Must buy a box once this allergy elimination thing is over with. ;)