In our spare time, we teach -- nothing too crazy, just six periods a day, most days a week. Our students -- 9th graders -- are caught in that weird, fuzzy maelstrom of very early adulthood, a liminal period to be sure. They are full of bravado. They recount heavily embellished sexual exploits to classmates and bray at rivals. They write graffiti, probably drink, perhaps smoke, curse, and bury their heads in their hoodies. They're also still kids. They clutch stuffed animals and cover their binders with colorful stickers. They are short, skinny, squeaky, and sweet. While we love and respect our students, their eating habits disgust us. To cope with our revulsion -- and to help banish the rage we feel every time we must lean over to scoop up a wrapper or peel -- we've compiled a list of the Top 5 Snacks Most Commonly Enjoyed By 9th Graders. Enjoy.
5. Pacifier Ring Suckers: Nothing beats trying to explain something important about women in The Odyssey and picking up, just on the periphery of your hearing, the unmistakeable slurping sound associated with the consumption of one of these vile suckers. Simultaneously infantile and potentially -- if a particularly mature classmate elects to giggle -- quite vulgar, they have no place in the classroom. Unfortunately, they're about as popular as cell phones.
4. Powerade: WHile their glands are doing plenty of flips, 9th graders don't run marathons at school. All the same, a shocking number feel compelled to start the day with a 32 oz. jug of Jolly Rancher-red sugar-water. When the final bell sounds, many re-up at the corner store for the walk home.
3. Peanut Butter-and-Cheese Cracker Snack Packs: These layered stacks -- bricks of flaky pumpkin-colored cracker cemented together firmly with a dull brown peanut butter spread -- take two great tastes and ruin them. They also do for breath what 100-degree heat does for a jar of mayonnaise.
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2. Red Bull: Why kids who pogo off the walls require a can of this revolting, drinkable 'cane-light to keep up their energy is beyond us. Sure enough though, at the end of each day, crumpled up silver, blue, and red cylinders dot the courtyard like little plastic baggies on a skid row.
1. Flamin' Hot Cheetos: Yeah, NPR brought them to the world's attention, but we've seen the destruction on the ground. The real problem isn't their lack of nutritional value or one-dimensional flavor, but the mess they create. In the wake of a Flamin' Cheeto cyclone, a sifting of red dust blankets the room, the particles clinging brightly to any surface they touch. Students also injure themselves. Last week, a girl was noshing in the hallway and plowed through a bag so aggressively that she actually sent powder floating up into her eyes. The stuff freckled her cheeks and eyelids and she wailed as her eyes burned and burned.