By now I’ve been lucky to host nearly 40 Tell Simmer interviews, and in all but two of them* I’ve asked a guest – be they blogger, chef, writer or teen – to reveal their “secret snack of shame.” Their answers, delightful and curious, confirm my theory: you may be confident, you may be sure and you may even be comfortable letting your freak snack fly – but somewhere in your kitchen lies the sweet, and forbidden. What is it?
We’ve read so many great descriptions of these much-needed nibbles that I felt a compilation was in order, a sort of snacking index of shame. I again thank my guests for generously sharing secrets – and now it’s your turn. For every comment revealing a secret snack of shame, we will happily donate a can of food to our local food bank. Sweet, savory, or an odd couple combination – spill! Let’s help out and let’s hear what you’ve just got to have.
* In Josie Grills Mom, my daughter did not ask for my secret snack of shame, presumably because she views them openly every day. And I forgot to ask Chocolate & Zucchini’s Clotilde Dusoulier for hers, presumably because she lives in Paris, where shameful food is scarce.
A veritable candyland where Gummis and Tootsie Rolls rule. Also, crunchy goods in colorful packages.
Todd and Diane, White on Rice Couple: Todd: Tootsie Rolls. I’ll eat the whole bag. Diane: Banana Twinkies. I’ll eat half the box and hide the rest so that Todd can’t find them. Yes, they’re all mine. He’ll eat all his tootsie rolls and my Twinkies too!
Molly Wizenberg, Orangette: Gummy candies! I LOVE GUMMY CANDIES! Especially the “gummy fruit salad” in the bulk bin at my usual grocery store.
Diana McMillen, Midwest Living: Eating more warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies than I should. I guess I could say eating warm-from-the-oven any kind of cookies is my secret shame. They’re too irresistible.
Jenni Sampson, Thirteen11: Keebler Fudge Sticks. But I never buy them, because I can eat the entire package in a day.
Josie Naron: I have many snacks of shame, unfortunately most of them are not so secret. Jelly beans on bagels with cream cheese, any type of sour gummies, and Tootsie Rolls with raw cranberries are just a few. There are many.
Peabody Rudd, Culinary Concoctions by Peabody: Frozen Twinkies. Honey Buns slightly heated. Strawberry Frosted Pop Tarts.
Julia Knispel, Hooked on Houses: Cocoa Puffs. It’s simply impossible for me to stop at only one bowl. This is my idea of a late-night snack when the kids are in bed and nobody can see me refilling the bowl again…and again…and again… That’s right. I admitted it. I’m cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs!
Diana Kuan, Appetite for China: I eat way more gummy bears than a woman my age should. I also love instant ramen in any shape or form.
Sally Jacobs, The Practical Archivist: Oh, dear. Can I preface this by saying I’m not proud of my secret snack of shame? It’s those horrible mini “chocolate” donuts. There is no explaining it…I mean the waxy fake chocolate is awful. And yet? Once a year I have to have them.
Mike Trendel, The Greasy Skillet: Pillsbury Cookie Dough. I’ve also been known to eat pie and cake for breakfast.
Erin Nichols, Erin Cooks: If by shame you mean immense feelings of guilt, then I’ll confess to the fact that I have been known to make a batch of cookie dough just to eat the dough. I never feel good about that decision afterwards and neither do my jeans.
Jane from Beach House: As a child I used to eat Bird’s Custard Powder out of the tin mixed with a little cold milk. Cornstarch, sugar and food colouring, the perfect after-school snack. Now that my tastes are so much more sophisticated it’s a pinch of shredded Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheese, straight out of the bag.
Caroline Lubbers, Whipped: Donuts, donuts and more donuts
Jeannie Olson, House in Progress: Girl Scout cookies by the box. Preferably those Samoa things with coconut.
April Phillips, Coal Creek Farm: This is embarrassing, but when I’m premenstrual I turn into The Woman That Buys Cheap Disgusting Snacks From Wal-Mart. All of the sudden the cheapest bagged crap look like the most delicious cookie ever made and who can resist an Oatmeal Cream Pie, Star Crunch or Zebra Cake? Something in me says, “Go buy a box of corn syrup mixed with wax and pour it down your throat, you will feel better.” You know what? It does make me feel better. Oh, and one time I ate a 5-lb bag of Hot Tamales that I bought at Sam’s in the span of five days. I smelled like a Yankee candle.
Melanie from BeanPaste: Frosting. Final answer.
featuring odd combos, pantry staples and a generous dose of salty-cheesy
Tara Austen Weaver, Tea & Cookies: Kraft Mac & Cheese, with the fluorescent orange “cheese” packet.
Julie Van Rosendaal, Dinner With Julie: OK you guys, I’ve never told anyone this, but I love raisins and cheese. Wait, it gets worse. As a kid I loved the combo so much – and of course melty cheese is always better than the cold stuff – that I would melt cheese in a mug in the microwave, then stir in a handful of raisins and eat it with a spoon. And – sometimes I still do.
Sara Reddy Coyne, Culinerapy: my all-time favorite snack is not all that scandalous: toasted sourdough bread topped with avocado, salt and pepper. I grew up on three acres of avocado trees, so avocado has a recurring role in my snack fantasies.
Alicia Paulson, Posie Gets Cozy: Elbow macaroni with butter.
Liz Upton, Gastronomy Domine: There is a cupboard in our kitchen called Liz’s Disgusting Things Cupboard. It’s full of the things I like that my fastidious husband wouldn’t touch – dried Malaysian fish spackled with a sweet satay seasoning, tinned sardines (there are lots of those – sardines on toast is a favourite lunch), peanut butter and grape jelly, XO-flavoured ramen – you know, there’s lots to be said for a lunch that costs 30p.
Lydia Walshin, The Perfect Pantry: Egg salad made with Miracle Whip, on Wheat Thins.
Jeannette Ordas, Everybody Likes Sandwiches: When I was little it was yellow mustard spread thinly over buttered toast or margarine mixed with brown sugar to make “frosting” since my parents didn’t keep treats in the house. Now that I’m all grown up, it’s sneaking sips of pickle juice from the jar – actually I did that when I was a kid too!
Francie Baker, Frantic Home Cook: A pickle, mustard and onion “sundae” – mounds of dill pickles, drizzled with mustard and sprinkled with chopped onion. And no, I’m not pregnant.
KianLam Kho, Red Cook: Spam. Maybe growing up in Asia and eating lots of Spam with rice in my lunch box as a child has made me crave for it. I buy six-packs of them from Costco.
Rachel Rappaport, Coconut & Lime: Hmm. Hot dogs?
SWEET and SALTY
as in Nutella and Saltines (oh yes, it’s good) sweet and salty won’t be kept apart.
Jean, Renovation Therapy: Oh man, this could take a while. On the way home last week I bought a Diet Coke and a small bag of Doritos and proclaimed myself “16 again.” When I am stressed out to the MAX…I hit Hostess Cupcakes. Bad. Bad. Bad.
Joanne Asala, The Box House: Nachos with cheese and jalapenos. I can’t enjoy a movie out without them. At home? Chocolate. In cookies. In cakes. Chocolate ice cream. Chocolate bars. Bottles of Hershey’s Syrup flipped open and chugged like a soft drink. Ugh. No wonder it’s been a while since I’ve seen a Size 2. Oh! And cream cheese on Saltines. I blame my mother for introducing me to that one.
Rechelle Malin, My Sister’s Farmhouse: I am a junk food junkie. But the problem is I keep trying to hide my stash from my kids and THEY ALWAYS FIND IT!!!
Monica Bhide, A Life of Spice: I just LOVE chili BBQ chips, and Haagen-Dazs Dulce de Leche ice cream.
if you love something, set its snacking powers free.
Sara Reddy Coyne, Culinerapy: Oh, honey, I have no shame. You’re talking to a grown woman who openly admits that one of her favorite meals is chili cheese fries. I regularly eat ice cream in the middle of the day straight from the carton, and I dip my pizza crust in bottled ranch dressing.
Francis Lam, food writer: Screw that. You like something, own up to it.
Tara Austen Weaver, Tea & Cookies: I’m also a sucker for Jelly Belly jelly beans, but I’m not ashamed of that. I try to find the packet with the largest number of black beans, which are my favorite. I also have a fondness for sour gummy things, licorice chalk, and onion rings. I also eat an indecent amount of pickles. I’m not ashamed of that either.
Grace Mannon, A Southern Grace:I refuse to be ashamed by my snacking. That said, I hide my candy corn and circus peanuts like they’re illegal. Truth be told, they probably should be.
Cookbook author Carole Walter: Brownies
CHOOSY SNACKERS CHOOSE PB
Peanut butter figures largely into secret snacking. My sister often unscrewed a jar of Skippy, stirred in M & M’s, chocolate chips and mini Rold Gold pretzels, then spooned.
Sandy, Foodhoe: I like fat with my fat and when I’m alone in the house, I’ll park at the table with a jar of Adam’s crunchy peanut butter and scoop piles of it onto any kind of chocolate
Gwen Ashley Walters, Pen & Fork: Peanut butter — on a spoon, straight from the jar.
THE BIG DIPPER
Eddie Ross: Ruffles dipped in Temp-Tee cream cheese.
THE GROSS BUT YOU KNOW WANT IT
Julie Van Rosendaal, Dinner With Julie: Slightly less disgusting: my mom used to make us cheese sandwiches on raisin bread, and now I make grilled cheese sandwiches on raisin bread. You should try it – especially with old white cheddar or Gouda. Yum.