I have always been a junk food junkie. Sweet or savory, I honestly don’t have a preference. Just give me all the snacks.
I thought my tastes would evolve and refine as I got older, but if they have, I have yet to notice. And now, as my kid gets older (he’s almost 4), he’s beginning to join in on the snacking, too, so we’re pretty much living in a junk food den.
But before you start freaking out about my kid’s diet, let me tell you that two of his favorite snacks are apple slices and Persian cucumbers. It’s just that he might want to cleanse his palate with a bowl full of Mini M&M’s afterward. And I generally don’t discourage him unless he just woke up (he wakes up asking for ice cream sandwiches at least two days a week) or it’s close to dinner. We both eat healthy home-cooked meals, but we also graze on a decent supply of tasty snacks. And by tasty, I mean definitely not Whole30 approved.
If you open the main cabinet of my kitchen, you may get hit in the head with a bag of crunchy Cheetos. It may also be a bag of sour cream and cheddar Ruffles. God, those chips are so fucking good. On that same shelf, there is also a bag of regular Ruffles (because Ruffles have ridges and you need something sturdy to hold that French onion dip), a bag of pretzel sticks (those are my kid’s), and probably a bag of Smartfood white cheddar popcorn (I’ve been gorging on that stuff since college, and then I got my kid hooked too).
There may also be a bag of Trader Joe’s tortilla chips up there too. My kid saw them on a shelf in the store and decided that he needed them even though he’d never had them before. To me, they’re merely a way to transport TJ’s peach salsa to my mouth in a more civilized way than drinking it out of one of the three jars I bought this week. (Yes, three jars.)
Having the junk food house isn’t a new thing for me at all. Growing up, I always had chips and cookies and ice cream and cake at my disposal. All the kids in my neighborhood used to like playing at my house because my mom would put out a spread. Soon my kid will be bringing his friends over to our house for the same thing. I hope his friends think he’s cool, in a small part, because his mom buys all the best snacks that their moms don’t let them have because they have sugar and Red 40 (unless they have food allergies, of course).
In high school, when I began baking, kids I didn’t even know would come to me to bake for their club’s bake sale. I know my way around a chocolate chip cookie (raw cookie dough is delicious, salmonella be damned) and can whip up a Pinterest-worthy cake in no time. Junk food has always brought me comfort, either eating it or baking it.
In college, I would binge on bags of Ruffles and Slim Jims during midterms and finals. I would sit and shovel Lucky Charms into my mouth at top speed as the word count rose on my term papers. When I lived off-campus in my own apartment, I baked. I would bring cupcakes to French class just because. I brought a different baked good to play rehearsal every week. It got to the point where I didn’t even need to read the instructions on a box of Duncan Hines brownie mix — I had that shit memorized. And people appreciated it.
Yes, my turning to junk food for comfort could be an indicator of something bigger, but it could also be that I just really fucking love junk food. I think people are ashamed to admit that they love junk food, especially now that everyone is on the keto diet. Obviously health and nutrition are important, but honestly? Junk food isn’t bad if you’re aware of how much you’re consuming. Sure, I go way over the suggested serving size of Cheetos. Who doesn’t? But then I balance that with a healthy dinner and regular exercise.
Like, if I eat four brownie bites while standing over my kitchen sink, then I will take my kid on a walk around the neighborhood.
Did I eat an entire box of Milk Duds in one sitting? You bet your ass I did. I’ll make sure to go extra hard during my cardio that day and eat plenty of leafy greens.
When you see me at the checkout with a cart full of ice cream, the sandwiches and watermelon fruit bars are for my kid, but the Neapolitan ice cream and the Bunny Tracks, and the two different types of individual pies? Those are all mine.
You can give me a dirty look if you want to — I don’t give a shit. I’m not going to be thinking about your side-eye and evaluation of my figure while I’m shoveling in that tasty goodness.
I’m the queen of the junk food house, and no one can take my candy crown.
This article was originally published on