Some Products Are Too Bad to Stamp Out

In the BAD old days before my mom discovered nutrition I remember a number of items frequently found in our larder that in retrospect must have been absolutely horrible for us. I’ve been trying to dredge up the memories to horrify my readers or, possibly, to frighten children with.

Among those noxious, allegedly food items two stand tall above the others: Cheez Whiz and Marshmallow Fluff. I recall my mom heating up a jar of Cheez Whiz in a saucepan of hot water (remember: these were the days when microwaves were limited to commercial use; they’d only been invented in 1947) to make a quick cheese sauce to pour over vegetables or for a quick Welsh rarebit.

Marshmallow Fluff was mostly used to make fudge or an easy cake frosting. Since Marshmallow Fluff’s famous fudge recipe wasn’t produced until 1956, that hones in on the timeframe pretty well.

Both Cheez Whiz and Marshmallow Fluff continue to be made

We also ate Spam, canned Vienna Sausages, and Underwood Deviled Ham. I haven’t let any of those things cross my lips in, perhaps, a half century and I sometimes wonder about them. Would I be able to stomach them now? I also have a vague recollection of tinned tuna sausages.

The other awful things that I recall were mostly kid things, e.g. Fizzies and Flavor Straws. Fizzies were tablets put into water to make a disgusting colored, flavored, and sweetened drink. Sort of like carbonated Kool-Aid but worse in flavor. Fizzies were dealt a deathblow by the federal government when some of the substances used to make them were banned. I understand they’ve made a resurgence with a new formulation.

I note that Flavor Straws, too, have made a come back. I would have thought that a stake would have been driven through their heart long ago but apparently not. Sometimes I’m surprised that we survived to reach adulthood.

9 comments… add one
  • steve Link

    Just for fun, we bought some Spam about a year ago and cooked some for my son, who had never had any. It wasnt quite as bad as I remembered.


  • Spam was a product banned from my in-laws’ household not for health reasons but because my father-in-law had served in the South Pacific during WWII and couldn’t stand even the look of it, let alone the smell, taste, or texture.

    For my Hawaiian friends on the other hand it remains a staple. Spam and eggs. Spam and pineapple shish-ka-bobs. Spam quiche. And so on.

  • PD Shaw Link

    As a part of conveying their rich cultural herritage, I had my grade school kids watch the Monty Python “Spam” skit earlier this year. They didn’t really get it (unlike some of the other greats like Ministry of Silly Walks), and I’ve been mulling over buying a can of Spam to bring the point home. I only recall eating it fried on a few Boy Scout campouts, though largely as a novelty.

    [Also, noted several years ago a new, or renovated, SPAM museum in Minnesota to stop by some Fall]

  • My mom was a health-food nut, so of that list the only thing I ever had growing up were Vienna sausages and then only on camping trips.

  • sam Link

    I bought a can of Vienna Sausages a few years ago just for old times sake. Couldn’t get them down. SPAM is, for me, quite good when fried. Haven’t had any Underwood Deviled Ham in about 60+ years, but I suspect that it mixed with Thousand Island wouldn’t be bad.

    When I was a child, you could buy rabbit in the market (horse meat, too, I think). Anyone ever have rabbit? My recollection is of a pure white, flaky meat. Not bad as I recall.

  • Let me see if I can come up with some modern equivalents. If they could, I think my kids could happily survive on four “food groups:” Hot Dogs, Mac & Cheese, Chicken nuggets, Pizza.

  • I remember eating all of those things, and like you have not let them pass my lips in years. Marshmallow fluff, flavor straws — pure sugar and that is what made them so good to kids.

    My hubby was stationed on Midway Island with the Navy back in 1982. He didn’t want to take time to walk to the mess, he was too busy working every amateur (ham) radio operator in the world wanting a contact with Midway Island — so he bought up a bag full spam and hominy in cans, and ate that for his supper every night for 2 weeks. I don’t think he has eaten Spam since.

  • Sadie Link

    Missing something from your childhood, like Mapo? Gotta an urge from the 1950’s, 1960’s … this is the go to place.

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