It is 3 a.m. on a Saturday night. The cool air-conditioned winds of my residence hall hit my exposed arms and legs as I walk around in my pajamas. My lack of warmth is eclipsed by my rumbling stomach, which craves food more ravenously than a junior seeking a freshman’s DUC meal swipe. Guided by this irrational marionette of ghrelin hormones, I pounce onto the nearest vending machine and furiously shake out all the quarters I can out of my wallet. Drooling like one of Pavlov’s dogs, I make one of the most important decisions of my life: what do I choose to gorge on in this midnight feast? In a spur of sudden conscious thought, breaking free from the shackles of my appetite, I weigh my options.
Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies
My eyes instantly shift to the ostentatiously beige packet of Famous Amos. I am reminded of the delicate tao this snack possesses, like that of a yogi meditating on the peaks of the Himalayas. The overt sweetness of the chocolate is balanced with a slightly bitter cocoa taste, and further polished with a subtle saltiness in the cookie base. Tie this with a crunchy exterior and you have culinary euphoria.
In my consumption, I start to sob uncontrollably as I am reminded of my mother baking me cookies back when I was a child. I cry as I am reminded of how innocent life was during those days, how my naivety blinded me from the terrors of independence, from studying for midterms to doing my own laundry. And, as I lick the bottom of the packet savoring every crumb, my tears continue to gush out like the water from a toilet on 1462 Clifton Road.
No, this cookie won’t do for a snack. It reeks too much of homesickness. Next.
With the deliciousness of chocolate chip cookies out of the question, I turn my attention to the mini pretzels so coyly hiding away in the top right corner. In my moment of delirious hunger, the three holes of a pretzel formed a face that so kindly smiled at me, as if it were an elderly neighbor inviting me over to his house (unlike President Sterk on Halloween). This is a hard deal to pass up, for the sharp saltiness of a pretzel, blended with the bitterness of the biscuit itself, forms a robust flavor combination that can satiate even the most gluttonous of college students.
Each bite of a pretzel is motivation to persevere no matter how difficult college life gets. To a high schooler, the life we live may seem unappealing. Tough classes, immense social and academic pressure and the imminent thought of applying for jobs? A pretzel represents how we endure all of that; we punch through the hurdles of a tertiary education that provide us with a pleasant satisfaction, just as the seemingly unappealing saltiness and bitterness blend so wonderfully into a single coherent flavor.
But alas, I cannot spent my quarters on this for there exists one more treat in this machine that resonates far more soundly with my values.
Varying in presence and flavor, the elusive frosted strawberry Pop-Tart catches my eye in the Longstreet-Means vending machine. The sapphire cover reflects the light like a moonlit lake. My hands, trembling in excitement, attempt to place my quarters in the machine reflexively, yet like a poor farmer waiting for his crops to grow, I dread the 15 seconds I will have to wait for the Pop-Tarts to heat up in the microwave.
The crispy frosting exterior of the tart (if you are not getting frosted Pop-Tarts, I wouldn’t call you a moron but I imagine many others would) so artfully juxtaposes the molten, slightly tart strawberry center, creating a cocktail party in your mouth. In this respect, the humble Pop-Tart houses the most important qualities of college life: diversity. Although my openly publishing my love for this snack will almost certainly get me an F in my Health class, I am willing to bear the academic constraint (and the gout) if it means entering the sweet world of Kellogg’s snack food zenith, just like Charlie Bucket entering Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory (minus the domestic violence).
I proudly take my prey back to my room, where I devour it in seconds and, with crumbs scattered all over my face, shamelessly consider buying another one.