Saturday, March 28, 2009

Back in the Day Segment: 52 Green

Cool Ranch Doritos.

At the age of 18 I graduated high school and immediately struck out on my own. I started working at a cafe 5 days a week, 8 hours a day and soon moved into my first apartment with some pretty cool people. We lived at a place called 52 Green and, for me, this began the era of Cool Ranch Doritos.

I had been eating Doritos for a handful of years before this, but mainly the Nacho Cheese Doritos. I had never been a big chips guy, and Nacho Cheese Doritos were the "safe" brand for me. I really never even ate potato chips up until a couple of years ago. But slowly, in my late teens I made the transition from Nacho Cheese to Cool Ranch. This process was no huge. monumental shift at the time, and I really did not eat a large amount of Cool Ranch Doritos. But somewhere at the end of senior year of high school and the summer afterwards, Cool Ranch Doritos became The Staple.

Please don't get this confused with any ordinary preference or obsession. Cool Ranch Doritos became entire meals for me. Probably because I earned so little and because of an unexplainable finicky phase that I was going through, a large bag of Doritos was often times the only thing I wanted and could really afford to eat regularly. Now, eating snacks as a meal is a ridiculously stupid thing to do, and even I knew that as an untiring 18 year old. Clearly, the majority of snacks just do not possess the materials for your stomach to send the necessary signals to your brain indicating satiation or contentment. But Doritos kind of sneak in the in between. While their flavorings are certainly fattening with no nutritional value, the corn chip itself was enough of a compromise to my 18 year old self to make me believe that if I ate enough of them, I could actually consume enough corn to substitute for an entire healthy meal. I imagined it was like substituting 5 quesadillas, just without the cheese. Surely 5 quesadillas is a big and nutritious enough meal for me! So instead of taking home the incredible sandwiches that got thrown out every night at the cafe I worked at (sandwiches that I would LOVE to have now), I would down a half to a full bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and call it a night (the large bags). The danger would only come when occasionally I would want desert and I would go up the street for something like a 2-pack of Hostess Cup Cakes. Throwing those on top of a stomach full of Cool Ranch Doritos produced a queasiness strong enough to cut through the lies I would tell myself about the harmlessness of a meal of Doritos.

Cool Ranch Doritos stuck with me long after that era, which amazes me because I ate enough for anyone to be sick of them for life. I often accredit that to the complexity of the flavoring mixture that is used. Trying to describe the mixture, I actually find myself at a loss for words. Fifteen years after I first started eating them, they are still a regular part of my weekly diet, and the experience of eating them has dulled only so slightly. They are still the rule by which I judge any other chip or breaded light snack.

Planters Cheez Balls:

I can't talk about snacks at 52 Green without mentioning the ever-present round tin can of Planters Cheez Balls. While I certainly never tried to make this a meal, these were consumed almost as frequently as Cool Ranch Doritos. The craving for these hit me around the time I first moved into 52 Green, as I found myself needing a more potent munchie. I had always eaten Cheez Doodles, but shied away from the Cheez Balls because they had a bit of an extra cheese kick to them and were much saltier. Those inhibitions faded. I remember buying these at the CVS up the street from me in the largest container I could find. They were also a hit with the guests, so much so that I had to horde and defend them. We would go through a canister ever other day. At a certain point the empty canisters became trash cans, lying around on the floor of my bedroom. This soon became a problem when they also started to double as ash trays and the dried up "trash" inside would start to smolder and almost catch on fire.
To me, Cheez Balls were decadent. They represented a leap I had made in expanding my horizons. The packaging was incredibly unique and unforgettable. Unfortunately, I haven't seen them in a long time and I hear that they are now also discontinued.

Older packaging, this style of packaging was the one right before I jumped aboard. The basic colors and layout remained the same but some formatting and font changes occurred.

No comments:

Post a Comment