I’m not in the mood to see how hard I railed on Lunchables back in my 2003 review, but if I said I hated them, I was lying. Sadly, Lunchables arrived just as I was on the cusp between it being okay to bring lunch to school and it not being okay to bring lunch to school. Junior High was hard knocks, and aside from a fast-learned lesson that lunchboxes were no longer acceptable, it seemed like only the cream of the socially retarded crop still brought lunch to school, even in plain brown bags. It’s not that I wasn’t a social retard too, but at least with this, I had a chance to hide the truth.
Knowing that, it would’ve been career suicide to bring something as cutesy as Lunchables to school, no matter how much I liked ’em deep down. I’d still make my mother buy them for me, but they were relegated to home-only eating. With their original formula consisting of a plastic tray with darling compartments for processed cheese, turkey frisbees and special treats, Lunchables have managed to become an edible dynasty, bigger today than ever before.
Through the many years I’ve spent watching Lunchables evolve from something simple to something not so simple, I’ve been at times delighted and at times appalled at the many ways Oscar Meyer saw fit to feed children. While there have been plenty of Lunchables varieties that seemed more absurd than palatable, nothing was quite as weird as the latest incarnation: “Mess With Your Mouth” Lunchables, with “Sour Tongue Teasing Fizz.” Read between the lines: They’re insinuating that you should put Pop Rocks on deli meat.
It sounded disgusting to me at first, but then I reminded myself that Lunchables are for kids, and kids’ ideas about what’s good and what’s gross differs greatly from non-kids, even if those non-kids try desperately to still act like kids. Truth is, we really aren’t born with any sense of what’s good and what’s gross — it’s all taught behavior, whether through family, friends, media or our own positive/negative experiences. Example: I can’t eat spaghetti because it reminds me of worms. I didn’t come out of the womb associating spaghetti with worms, but somewhere, along the way, I picked it up. I’m not entirely sure how to tie that to my argument that adding Pop Rocks to wet turkey slices isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn’t matter, because I am flip flopping. I tried one, and it was disgusting.
The “Mess With Your Mouth” collection only adds packets of “Sour Tongue Teasing Fizz” to existing varieties of Lunchables and redresses their boxes. For a minute I tried to convince myself that mostly all was mostly well, but that packet of Teasing Fizz was a real elephant in the room. Afraid to call something disgusting without knowing the whole truth, I prepared my cracker/turkey frisbee/cheese slice sandwich and opened up the ominous packet. On it went. Down it went. Weird face I made. Like cheetah who ate live duck that shit in its mouth mid-swallow. Bad thing this was.
I’m exaggerating a little, because Oscar Meyer at least had the good sense to tone down our idea of what Pop Rocks or candy sprinkles taste like: Sour Tongue Teasing Fizz is only mildly sour, and in fact, its overall flavor isn’t very strong at all. As far as the flavor goes, it’s not much different from a Lunchable sandwich sprinkled with plain sugar…except for the fizzing part. Yeah, that’s kind of hard to get over. Through the many centuries of turkey-eating people, I don’t think, “man, this would be better if it was fizzing” crossed anyone’s mind. Not ever. I could swallow it without gagging, and maybe I could swallow it with some comprehension of why kids might like it, but I will never, ever eat a fizzing turkey cracker sandwich again. Not ever.
Oh, and what about those early-grade tables at school lunchrooms? Could you imagine how disgusting it must be for some poor kid to get stuck next to the schmuck with a “Mess With Your Mouth” Lunchables pack? “Hey buddy, look at my tongue long and hard, and study the disgusting bits of saliva-drenched chewed turkey as they flop around the pockets of my cheeks by way of Sour Tongue Teasing Fizz.” Ugh. I haven’t had this much sympathy for someone I’ve never met since Dan called David a “lying little bastard” and kicked him straight out of the Conner house and into a bunch of terrible made-for-television movies about mothers coping with teenagers from the wrong side of the tracks.
I mean, jeez, a turkey frisbee is an acquired taste in of itself. We don’t need to fuel that fire.