Mack Williams column: Sentimental about snacks

  • Posted: Monday, May 19, 2014 12:40 a.m.

I recently thought about some of my childhood junk food, before labeling proved that it truly was that. These labels seem to have progressed in complexity in their listing of what's been “discovered” within. Most of the contents' names are polysyllabic, when probably only the one-syllable word “junk” would do.

When I read these, I picture great laboratories conducting experiments, not trying to create that stuff promised in the film “Metropolis” (or at least, “The Jetsons”), but instead, trying to figure out just what the Heck (I consistently spell “Hell” with a capital “H” too) it is we have been popping into our mouths with the same regularity as that of meals (some of which are also junk).


Having just used the word “regularity,” I won't return there (although junk food can affect that as well).

One of my favorite childhood junk food snacks was “malted milk balls.” At Appalachian, I liked Country Club Malt Liquor, but I doubt that it is the logical adult extension of my favorite childhood snack.

In the early 1960s, I would watch late-night monster movies while consuming malted milk balls with a glass of milk (making the malt even “milkier”). I sat on the floor in front of our old black-and-white TV with box and glass handy, watching the “Beast From 20,000 Fathoms” devour London after it had made an appetizer of the late actor Cecil Kellaway (whose “lateness” was due to natural causes, not from being an on-screen hors d'oeuvre).

While eating milk duds at the Capitol Theater, I saw the late actor Fernando Lamas similarly consumed in “The Lost World” (1960), his “lateness” also non-dinosaur related. (On one old Muppet Show episode there was a “Fernando Llama.”)

I viewed some of the most colorful junk food cereal on television ads back then, but only those boxes in color when my father took me to the A&P. He always purchased the healthier corn flakes. Sometimes, bright color doesn't mean “anti-oxidant,” but instead, like nature's warning: “stay away.”

Another favorite was “potato stix.” “Stix” is an English language corruption, but at least it wasn't “Styx” (correct English for that subject, but too creepy for snack advertising).

I discovered potato stix, not on TV, but at the little canteen at Granite Quarry School. (Since this canteen didn't involve Jimmy Kilgo, it was spelled with a “c.”)

That place was like a neat little “grotto” where snacks could be inexpensively bought. Its entrance was underneath and to the left of the steps going into the old cafeteria, but I think that space was swallowed up by later “revisions.”

The canteen's potato sticks came in a little can, which when shook, sounded like a percussion instrument. The present-day ones come in a foil pack, which when shaken doesn't sound like much of anything.

It's funny what lodges in the mind. One teacher had us give talks about our “favorite things” (pre-”Sound of Music” film). Favorite snacks were included. I still have the clearest mental image of Harriet Lyerly, standing in front of the blackboard, informing us that the “Brown Mule Ice Cream Bar” was her favorite (a memory probably helped by the fact that I considered Harriet to be one of the prettiest girls in the class).

Pringles Potato Chips made their advent while I was at East Rowan. They tasted okay, but I noticed that if one of them were held whole in the mouth for a minute, it dissolved in much the same manner as those not-so-tasty Holy Communion wafers administered at Saint Paul's Lutheran by Pastor Floyd W. Bost.

On that note, concerning Saint Paul's and Pastor Bost, it seems appropriate to end on the healthiest of all snacks, which I mostly enjoyed when baked in a pie: the apple.

The apple is a “good” snack, but has a “dark side” which only existed in one moment of Biblical past.

It is said “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but in that long passed, most crucial moment of time in that most perfect place, just one of them proved to be “one too many.”

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