Doesn’t that taste like cardboard? (and other questions about food)

[Not a metaphor this time!] The following strange thing happened at Target on Saturday.

I was reaching for a box of energy bars next to a Target employee who was with his product cart. He was stocking the shelves and chatting with an older woman (customer) who was standing off to the side.

Me: *takes a box of energy bars off the shelf*

Employee: Don’t those things taste like cardboard?

Me: No, not to me.

Employee: But I bet they do to your husband.

Me: Actually, he likes them, too.

Employee: Really.

I ignored his sarcasm and turned to leave, but I stopped, because I couldn’t bite my tongue harder without severing it.

Me: There’s this misconception that healthy things taste like cardboard.

Employee: *pauses, then points at the price tag on the shelf* Well you sure PAY for them, though.

Me: *walks away, not looking at him* WORTH IT.

I used this exact rhythm and tone:



…because I thought walking off singing “worth it” in a Men On inspired delivery was taking the high road.

It so happened that the energy bars I got weren’t even expensive. A box of Lucky Charms costs more.

Also, mister Target employee man,


Ahem. My thoughts:

  • [Just curious: How did he know I was married? Callaghan wasn’t there, and I wasn’t wearing my ring.]
  • It’s the woman who’s buying and eating healthy things.
  • Since the woman is the harpy who buys the healthy things (aka “rabbit food”), her hapless boyfriend/husband is forced to eat them, too. Real men eat meat, so this is tantamount to castration.
  • All such energy bars are healthy, so they all taste like cardboard… because everything healthy tastes like cardboard, or is otherwise disgusting.
  • (Newsflash: there’s a difference between healthy and nutrient dense; not everything is both.)
  • “Healthy” foods are gross, and “unhealthy” foods are delicious.
  • “Healthy” foods are expensive.
  • Must broadcast ignorant opinions about products at the store where you work.
  • Must make a negative comment about a product a customer is buying.
  • Must try again with a second negative comment about the product when the customer contradicts the first one.
  • Must make a negative comment to a customer in the presence of another customer.
  • Must make a negative comment to a customer, regardless.
  • Rude.

To be clear, I wasn’t offended by his commentary. There was just a lot of stereotype, misconception, and unprofessional manner packed into that short exchange, and it surprised me.

So, yeah. In 2016, there are still folks who think that if ONE healthy food tastes, to them, like cardboard, then ALL healthy foods must be distasteful in one way or another. Never mind that there are plenty of “unhealthy” foods that are gross to a lot of people. Not to mention, most “healthy” food now is the bomb.

Dear Target Employee: The 1970s called. They want their Four Food Groups chart back. And their “party fare” Crusty Salmon Shortcakes. Party food can’t be healthy, ergo, it’s tasty!


It's a party in your mouth!

It’s a party in your mouth!


Because why pair your tower of sweet biscuit-cakes with strawberries, cream, and strawberry syrup with whipped cream on top when you can have SALMON! YAY!

In the war against this health craze (responsible for the proliferation of over-hyped, newfangled healthy food), gloppy salmon chunks dumped over cake with olives on top will prevail. At least this example of “party food” from the dark ages doesn’t involve crimes against Jell-O, as many of them did. I was there. I remember. NEVER FORGET.

Mom never foisted this particular monstrosity on us, but I remember foods like this glistening on other people’s tables at gatherings:


Nothing says "festive" like lime Jell-O mixed with vinegar, onion, cottage cheese, and mayo, with a pile of mystery seafood nested in the middle.

Nothing says “festive” like lime Jell-O mixed with vinegar, onion, cottage cheese, and mayo, with a pile of mystery seafood nested in the middle.


This is why we older Gen-X’ers are all in therapy now.

P.S. By the way, mister Target employee man, it might be a good strategy to encourage customers to buy things. Just a suggestion.

I’m off to fix a plate of cardboard for Callaghan. It’s what’s for breakfast.

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