I’m still sick, so I hope you’ll forgive me for another brief blog post. I feel like wet concrete has been poured into my sinuses.
When I was a kid, my cousin would often come visit from Italy during the summer. He and his parents (and later, when they existed, his siblings, too) would stay with my grandparents in their tiny little bungalow (translation: non-air-conditioned house) not far from Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Soon after their arrival, I would drag a suitcase full of clothing over to my grandparent’s and spend much of the summer there. On sunny days, my cousin and I ate junk food and went to the beach. When it rained, we’d eat junk food and play Monopoly.
He now owns a gelato shop and I eat or write about cake on an almost daily basis. I’m not saying that those two things are necessarily related to the amount of sugar we consumed as kids, but … well, it’s interesting, isn’t it?
We’d trade stories about the junk food of our native countries, each one seeing the grass as being greener on the other’s continent. Sure, American bubble gum and cereals cost a fortune in Italy, but they had KinderEggs! And basically every dessert at the grocery store had Nutella in it. Every single one.
Marco would shrug, and insist that we had better sweets here in the U.S., and I’d watch as his eyes would glaze over every time we walked into 7-11. We’d consume our weight in candy and Slurpees, and would later wonder why we had trouble sleeping at night.
This went on all summer, and would be repeated every July for many, many years. Honestly, it’s a miracle we have any teeth left.
As an adult, I still hold true those beliefs I held as a kid: that candy in Europe is somehow more glamorous than the stuff we have here in the states. That junk food is, well, less junky across the pond. In France in particular, the sweets were unspeakably elegant and lovely.
So you can imagine my shock when Rand and I were walking through an upscale grocery store in Paris and saw this:
I mean … POP-TARTS? Seriously? AND THEY’RE SEVEN EUROS A BOX? WTF, France? Please, explain to me who is buying these. Is there actually some American ex-pat who is so homesick that they’d forgo a freshly-made pain au chocolat and decide to spend 7 Euros on a mediocre toaster pastry instead? (My apologies to Pop-Tart connoisseurs out there, but let’s be honest with ourselves: they don’t taste all that great and they leave a weird waxy coating on the inside of your mouth. Also, sometimes you feel like your heart might explode after eating one. But that might just be me.) Is there actually a market for this?
And then there’s this:
A nine euro box of Apple Jacks, which utterly blows my mind, because I can’t think of a single person I know who buys these in America. I mean, this is a product who had an entire ad campaign centered around the idea that IT DOESN’T ACTUALLY TASTE LIKE APPLES. I cannot understand why these have been packed up and exported to France (HOME OF THE FRIGGIN ECLAIR, PEOPLE) instead of a far superior cereal like, say, Lucky Charms or Cookie Crisp.
Of course, to someone, these products might taste like childhood. There’s probably an American currently living in France who has had their fill of delicious cakes and candies and desserts. All they really want is some good, old-fashioned corn syrup and red #40.
After all, when you’re far from home, 7 or 8 euros for a bit of nostalgia is a pretty good bargain.