I’ve been thinking about doing this on radblog for a long time. I’m slowly chiseling away at a book about being a kid in the 80’s. 11,000 words so far, only 39,000 to go. No publisher. No contract. No problem. I just want to get it done. So — here is a very short excerpt from what I’ve got so far. The chapter is on food:
Thus the food motto of the 80’s: gross sells. This is why, as a child of the 80’s, I had a strong desire to have gummy boogers. I don’t refer to any kind of medical condition (my Aunt had a terrible case of gummy boogers) but rather the food. I say “food” with a bit of a smirk, because we children of the 80’s spent more than a few moments of our young lives digesting food that was a petroleum-based plastic mixed with the kind of sugar that could stand up to the hottest flame and the greatest pressure, the almost supernatural ability to smoosh and recover to their original shape, earning the name “gummy”. It was like gum, yes, but it most certainly wasn’t gum. It was a temporary version of chewing gum, in that you could swallow it after only 5 or 6 chews. I suppose you could do that with chewing gum (as I did), but we were all told that the gum would remain in your digestive tract for 24 years, which would have made the Hubba-Bubba I chewed on a summer day unavailable until I was 32 years old, and by then, who would want it, anyway?
The “gummy” family had its regulars. Bears were the most common form of gummy. There were others, like gummy boogers, which made their way into my life in the most magical of ways. And by magical, I mean disgusting. People were terrified, and rightly so, of a food item that looked, felt and even tasted (I bet) like the actual thing. For a child of the 80’s, a hot dog tasted like a hot dog, pizza tasted like pizza, and gummy bears tasted like gummy boogers, because they came from the same gummy plant, probably in a rural outskirt of Omaha. I really have no idea, I just know that the technology to make a food item that counted as both nutritional and fire retardant must come from someplace exotic. That’s right. Omaha, Nebraska.
As a child of the 80’s, we saw the strange matrimony of cartoons and food. Hi-C, the delightful juice-in-a-box with bonus straw went from having flavors like “Really Boring Orange” to “ECTO COOLER”, complete with a picture of Slimer from “The Real Ghostbusters” right on the box. Like gummy boogers, parents found the idea of consuming Slimer’s orange leavings absolutely revolting, which is part of the reason that we liked it so very much. Food was a great way to be dual-conformists, in that we were gaining nutrition as our parents requested, yet the format was downright offensive to grownups. Looking back, it was just orange drink that was heavily marketed to my demographic by a cartoon ghost that looked remarkably like a gummy booger. As a consumer, I was doing the best I could for an 8 year old. At the time, I was 100% sure that this Hi-C tasted different than regular orange drink, and by partaking of ECTO COOLER, I was somehow associating myself with the Ghostbusters, drinking what the guys drank as they hung out in their renovated firehouse. To my knowledge, there is no such thing as gummy Slimers, but if there were, I would go that route, too. I wouldn’t of cared what part of the animal the gummy material came from, because as a child of the 80’s, there was no end to my devotion to two-dimensional characters and the food they heartily endorsed.