Tepid mess

Malk now with Vitamin RAs a schoolboy, I occasionally got to carry a proper metal lunchbox, though my dominant Oaf gene made it inadvisable to carry a Thermos bottle with it. (I fragged at least two, maybe more. So much of that era is a blur.) When I was old enough to earn the right to travel off campus, I walked the seven or eight blocks to Woolworth’s and blew 25 cents on a couple of chicken wings, which I ate on the return trip. (Just one of the slightly-wonderful aspects of going to school downtown, if you ask me.) At my previous school, I spent most lunch periods playing gin rummy, which is of course perfectly acceptable. So I don’t have much personal experience with Ghastly Cafeteria Food, but apparently it’s for real, and you don’t have to ask Principal Skinner for verification:

“The bagel dog (a hot dog encased in soggy dough) came in a plastic package with the words “Barkin’ Bagel” written across the front. Tough on the outside and mushy on the inside, it was like no bagel I had ever tasted. The hot dog was bland, not juicy. The wimpy tater tots (which counted as that day’s federally mandated vegetable) were pale and wilted in my mouth. Instead of a piece of fruit, like the crunchy apple I would have packed if I’d had time that day, I was given a few cubes of pear suspended in bright red jello.”

This called for action:

It wasn’t anything she herself would feed her child, and certainly nothing she’d want to eat. But the number of children eating free and reduced-price lunches in Mrs. Q’s school was “well over 90%” that year. For many, the Barkin’ Bagel and the soggy tots might be the most complete meal they ate all day. The outraged Mrs. Q became a secret activist. She bought her school lunch every day, took a picture, and, in the tradition of Morgan Spurlock, actually ate it. And she blogged about it.

And now it’s a book. You might not want to read it at dinnertime.

(Via Joanne Jacobs.)


  1. Laura »

    14 October 2011 · 5:27 am

    I went to Catholic school which had probably the worst food ever! Even the spaghetti on Friday was vile. I mean, how can you ruin spaghetti? Well, they had that recipe.

  2. fillyjonk »

    14 October 2011 · 7:38 am

    Yeah, I “carried” my lunch from age 6 until I started high school. (The high school I attended, we were required to eat in the “dining hall,” and we were required to eat what they prepared. Pizza day was good, hot turkey sandwich day was good, but on chili day or hamburger day, the little bowls of peanut butter they set out (ostensibly for the vegetarians) were a hot commodity).

    One of the things about adulthood that will depress me slightly if I let it is that I STILL carry a lunch (only now I make it, rather than having someone fix it for me). The good restaurants are too crowded over lunch hour and I’m already too worried about my waistline to consider going for fast food.

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