Taste Test: The Weirdest Foods We Ate as Kids

We asked the Complex Magazine staff to taste and review the bizarre food combinations they once loved as children—including applesauce-topped eggs, whole sticks of butter, and Pepsi-soaked peanuts.

  • Click through the gallery to see some truly bizarre snacks...
  • Kids food #1: "A banana covered in chunky peanut butter with two slices of American cheese wrapped around it."
  • Who ate it?: Brendan Frederick (
  • Verdict: "The good ol' 'Banana In A Blanket' was a DIY childhood favorite, and it still holds up today. Anyone who eats peanut butter and banana sandwiches knows about this magical combination of salty and sweet. From a functional perspective, the cheese allows you to pick up the banana without getting sticky peanut butter all over your fingers, and from a taste perspective, it throws a wild card into the mix. I'm a firm believer that cheese makes everything better, as is the case here. However, tasting it with American cheese now makes me think that maybe I used slices of white cheddar cheese as a kid instead, which gave it less of a slick texture and a more substantial taste."
  • Kids food #2: "Mac and cheese with Spam—fuck a hot dog."
  • Who ate it?: Russ Bengtson (Sneaker editor
  • Verdict: "Back when my sister and I were little, our parents took us on fairly frequent camping trips. These weren't backpacking excursions—those came later—but to places where we could set up our pop-up camper and enjoy the scaled-down comforts of home. And while we would have been more than content with traditional cookout fare, our mom had to be more adventurous (or budget-minded). Thus "Glop" was born, food that was numbered, not named, which could be served in a bowl and more often than not contained Spam. Most contained all four food groups, but at its core they were all essentially mac and cheese with Spam. And honestly, 30-odd years later, I have no problem with this. Mac and cheese with ham is a perfectly normal thing, and the Spam just adds a kick of spice and that finely lab-honed taste. Pro tip: It's better if you cube and fry the Spam first."
  • Kids food #3: "Applesauce on top of my scrambled eggs"Who ate it?: Tony Markovich (Rides editor
  • Verdict: "Cinnamon applesauce used to be one of my favorite parts of breakfast, and eggs were one of my least favorite. So, how could I make the eggs better? By putting applesauce on them, obviously. I knew eggs were good for me, so I was happy to eat the apple-slathered scrambled cheese eggs, with the sweetness mostly eliminating the flavor I didn't like. Trying the concoction now was pretty much the same experience. The worst part was looking at the disgusting plate of oddly-colored scramble that sat before me. The weirdest part is that this isn't even the most disgusting thing I ever tried to get rid of something I hated. I once tried putting orange juice (my favorite drink) in my milk (have always hated the stuff)."
  • Kids food #4: "Buttered roll with french fries"Who ate it?: Shanté Cosme (City Guide editor
  • Verdict: "Getting through the first four periods of high school was made bearable by the proposition of a buttered roll, a simple pleasure made gluttonous by the addition of greasy french fries. Eating this at 2pm as an adult was less appealing, as it only inspired nausea. I was barely able to choke down a single bite. Some things are better left to adolescents: French-fry sandwiches, gym class, and Jello shots are among those things."
  • Kids food #5: "Spanish peanuts soaked in Pepsi"Who ate it?: Larry Hester (Video Games editor
  • Verdict: "As a kid, I'd always watch my father eat the weirdest things. Everything from banana and mayonnaise sandwiches to a disgusting looking pimento and cheese mixture that would make me gag. The one thing that really befuddled me was a snack where he'd soak peanuts in Pepsi and then eat them. Mind you, it couldn't be any cola, it absolutely had to be Pepsi. Dad made me try it one day and it was delicious, so for years he and I would watch TV while throwing back Pepsi peanuts.  Now as an adult, I decided to try it again and it was nowhere near the treat I enjoyed as a youngin'. The taste was nutty with a tinge of sweet sheet metal. Although I didn't gag, it's not something I'd make a habit of. Well, maybe if there was a cash prize involved."
  • Kids food #6: "True story, I ate full sticks of butter when I was 5 years old like they were candy bars."Who ate it?: Brendan Frederick, Complex VP of Content Operations
  • Verdict: "I can sort of see how this appealed to me as a toddler—who doesn't love butter? It's salty and creamy and it melts in your mouth. But tasting it now in its uncut state is a reminder that there can be too much of a good thing. As a kid, I used to pick up an entire stick and chomp on it like a candy bar, but now I can barely tolerate a spoonful. The main problem seems to be the way that the butter greases up the inside of your mouth with a coat of slick stickiness. It took several glasses of water to return things to normal. Please pass the bread."
  • Kids food #7: "Put a pile of marshmallows on a plate and put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. Specifically microwaved Peeps."Who ate it?: Shanté Cosme, Complex
  • Verdict: "'The marshmallow plate' began when I was in elementary school. My best friend and I used to stick a plate of peeps in the microwave for 25-30 seconds and scrape the marshmallowy magma off the plate. It was a disgusting ritual. Ten years later, this still holds up as the delicacy it clearly is. There's something strangely delicious about eating something that tastes vaguely like stale, sweetened styrofoam. It's practically plastered to the plate, so it's challenging to eat, but the sugared-out bliss that follows is worth the #struggle."
  • Kids food #8: "A balled up fistful of salami."Who ate it?: James Harris (Style editor
  • Verdict: "What made this so good as a child was probably the rarity of salami and how it was a weekly or even monthly treat. When I was fortunate enough for my mom to cop salami, I only got like one or two slices in every sandwich. So when she wasn't looking I'd sneak in and grab a fistful and shove it down my gullet-hole like a feverishly starved carnivorous squirrel.

These days, I'm lucky enough to be in a position where unhealthy cold cuts aren't as rare as they once were. Maybe that's what took the joy out of today's 48 layers that formed a solid three-inch thick slab of smoked pork product. The stringy pockets of fat immediately made the acne I had as a 13-year-old return, and invalidated the last few years of exercise. My fingers will forever be greasy, and I'm having extreme difficulty simply typing these words. I've never craved raw greens as badly as I do right now."

Taste is such a bizarre thing—in one sense, kids are extremely picky about food and have to “acquire” a taste for exotic fare like oysters and offal before they feel comfortable eating it. On the other hand, children are usually down to consume things that adults would find “challenging”—like apple sauce and eggs, Pepsi-soaked peanuts, and cheese-wrapped bananas—because the combos are just so weird. These days, though, this evolution is becoming hazier than ever as chefs draw on nostalgia to inspire oddball menu items like Justin Warner’s Cocoa Puffs spaghetti carbonara at Do or Dine in Brooklyn, or Roy Choi’s “CHU-DON’T-KNOW-MANG” (pound cake churros served with malted chocolate milk and vanilla ice cream) at A-Frame in Los Angeles.

We were curious to see if we at the Complex office still appreciated the foods we once loved as kids. So, we asked the Complex staff to divulge the strangest snacks they ate growing up, and then made them taste-test them again as adults to see if they hold up. Apparently, our officemates were into some bizarre stuff as youngsters, like cubed spam mixed into mac and cheese, and plates of microwaved marshmallow Peeps—though, to be fair, some of these dishes just sound like trendy menu items at a restaurant in Williamsburg. We can’t help to think: Are the weird foods we craved as kids influencing the dining scene more than we realize?

Click through the gallery to see Complex staff members taste and review the foods they once loved as children.


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