Our favorite convenience foods are like friendly co-workers holed up in the next cubicle over. We meet them, like them, grow accustomed to their presence in our lives, and then, just as soon as we realize we can't quite imagine life without them, they disappear, frequently for reasons we're never permitted to know -- even when they're prime-time pals like Steve Carell. We're left whimpering in the aisles of Whole Foods, chasing phantom flavors. Where have they gone? Why, we wonder, were they yanked? Poor sales? Dwindling markets? Safety concerns? So we took a quick poll of a few Squid Ink writers...
When asked to name their most treasured discontinued edibles, a number of the respondants mentioned beverages. Jim Thurman misses Pepsi Lime and Diet Cherry Chocolate Dr. Pepper. Noah Galuten bemoans the disappearance of Knudsen's Hibiscus Cooler. At least, he hasn't had encountered one in a while and fears the worst. That's always the thing with discontinued products. You're not always sure if they're gone forever, imagining that perhaps they still live on in some tertiary market, still holding down a slim bit of real estate on the shelf of a market both time and customers have forgotten.
Elina Shatkin wishes she could still snap into a Mars Bar, doubting that the "ersatz British version" can ever stack up. Emma Courtland remembers her own personal breakfast of champions: Kellogg's late "wonderfully robust" Pop Tarts Crunch cereal. She blames "poor advertising" for the product's untimely demise.
Our tastes lean savory, of course, and in the direction of that big house of short-timer products: Trader Joe's. Just as it was with those friendly co-workers back in our office days, it seems like every time we start to dig something at Trader Joe's (first the herbal shampoo in the blue bottle, then the frozen cheese pierogies) it evaporates. For instance, Ali Trachta wishes she could still enjoy the spinach and goat cheese quesadillas. As for us, there's much we've bought, enjoyed, and then had to learn to live without, but nothing, nothing at all, approaches the wonton chips.
When we lived in San Francisco, we bought them every week and seldom made it home without barreling our way through half a bag, no mean feat when steering the wheel of a borrowed ride or swaying in the center of a crowded bus. Those wonton chips--pale crisp squares, salty, slightly curled at the edges--were fantastic. We ate them without dips. They made beer better. They were there and then, maybe four years ago, we stopped seeing the bright red bags in the snack aisle. We haven't spotted them in Los Angeles either. A friend tells us they thrive on in Hawaii but we're not going that far to get them.
Anything you miss, dear reader?