Childhood gave us favorite toys, unforgettable family vacations, and nostalgic foods that help us travel to the past with every bite. These are the foods that transport us back to the school lunch table or grandma's counter for a taste of our favorite memories.
The Classic Lunch - Sandwich, Chips, and a Pickle
Whether it was in your bagged lunch or the classic midday meal at your grandparents, most of us had this staple at least a few days a week. A sandwich, a pile of chips, and a pickle on the side is just as perfect today as it was then.
Whether your choice was the classic peanut butter sandwich or a simple ham and cheese combo, you probably can't eat a sammie today without craving some chips to smash between the layers.
If our parents were feeling generous, we might have enjoyed a Little Debbie or Hostess snack cake alongside this classic lunch.
Kids of the 80s and 90s had sloppy joes on the dinner rotation throughout childhood. We may have paired them with frozen fries or another serving of chips, but most of us had the kind from a can, no matter what was served on the side. When Mom made Manwich, we knew dinner would be equally messy and filling.
SpaghettiOs & Other Canned Pastas
Canned pasta like Campbell's SpaghettiOs and anything from Chef Boyardee made meal time a breeze for our parents. They had a complete meal in one can that was ready in minutes, and the best part was that we absolutely devoured a bowl full of the stuff. If we're being honest, some of us still have a few of these in the back of the pantry for a rainy day.
Tator Tot Casserole
Tator tots were an entire food group for childhood. Our parents served them with those sloppy joes we loved so much, and they even made their way into a few favorite casseroles. We have the recipe for the best tator tot casserole plus a few other nostalgic recipes your inner child might enjoy.
If tator tot casserole wasn't a regular in your home, you may have enjoyed tuna casserole or creamy chicken casserole.
The name rang true for these frozen meals. TV dinners were made for eating in front of the TV, and sometimes, that's eactly what we did. Though most of us only ate the meatloaf so we could get to the brownie, these meals were a staple for some and a treat for others.
Saturday Morning Breakfast
One thing from childhood still remains in adulthood: living for the weekend. There was nothing quite like sleeping in on a Saturday and enjoying cartoons with our favorite weekend breakfast. From stacks of Mom's pancakes to the sugary cereals we can't believe our parents let us have, breakfast in childhood was quite the experience.
Other Saturday morning breakfasts from childhood might have included Pop Tarts, Toaster Strudel, Eggo Waffles, and instant oatmeal. On special weekends we might have enjoyed a breakfast casserole or canned cinnamon rolls.
Soup & Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
The classic combo for lunch or dinner, we never turned down soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. The soup was always from a can, and the cheese was definitely a single slice wrapped in plastic, but it was magical. This is a warm and melty comfort food that we still crave today, but we might opt for a gourmet grilled cheese instead.
Corn Dogs & Corn Dog Bites
From county fairs to our own microwave, corn dogs were a childhood staple. Our parents loved how easily we could serve ourselves dinner, and we loved the fun of a meal on a stick.
The cornbread-coated hot dogs became so popular we even had a breakfast version featuring sausage and pancake batter. Those were great for a quick morning, but nothing compared to the sweet and savory fun of the bite-sized corn dogs that we often chose over our favorite frozen chicken nuggets.
All the Pizza Things
If it could be turned into pizza, we had it. Bagels, rolls, pockets, and personal pizzas filled our childhood, and you never heard us complain about it. We even had pizza-flavored chips and crackers.
If you didn't have access to a basement freezer full of popsicles each summer, you missed out on a rite of passage in childhood. We all had our favorite flavor, and they ranged from the richness of a fudge pop to the doubled fun of a banana popsicle. Our childhoods were full of frozen treats, and we're better people for it.
If we weren't sneaking off to the freezer for a popsicle, we were chasing down the ice cream truck for a frozen treat shaped like Bugs Bunny or a mutant turtle hero.
Cheese & Crackers
It's really no surprise that we love to eat meals made of snacks and have mastered the art of charcuterie. We lived on cheese and crackers as kids, and it definitely impacted our adult palates. From plates of homemade cheese and cracker stacks to the cheese product and cracker stick packets in our lunch boxes, we knew our way around this classic snack.
Just the smell of bologna frying sends us back to the kitchen table of our childhood home. This was the affordable dinner our parents couldn't believe we loved, and we're still shocked ourselves. Fried bologna upgraded our grilled cheese sandwiches and made the whole house smell like a salty, fatty heaven.
All the Sour Candy
Those of us still munching on Sour Patch Kids today knew a thing or two about sour candy once upon a time. We lived for the brightly colored, sugar-coated candies that commercials told us would make our heads explode. We braved the challenge of each new candy release back then and still find ourselves choosing something sour at the movie concession counter today.
We Can Almost Taste the Memories
Sometimes, the foods we choose have less to do with taste or nutrition and more to do with how they make us feel. The comforting nostalgia of childhood is often found in the foods we used to enjoy, and having a taste of our favorites just reminds us of all the good times we had. Pass the Dunkaroos, and let's take a trip down memory lane.