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Chewing on life's gristle can be hard to swallow

When I read that the gubmint is rolling back restrictions on the types of foods that can be served to the growing minds and bodies of the nation’s schoolchildren, I remembered a recipe from my youth:


2 slices processed white bread

Peanut butter

One-half cup of tap water



1. Using a standard butter knife, remove the “crust,” then spread a think layer of peanut butter (smooth or chunky, to preference) on one side of each slice of white bread.

2. Place slices together so that sides with peanut butter adhere to each other.

3. Using palm of dominant hand, flatten the now-joined slices.

4. Lightly apply tap water to surface of flattened white bread to increase pliability.

5. Moosh flatten slices together into a ball-like shape — manipulating white bread in same manner as you would Play-Doh.


Throw ball of congealed bread at nearest cement surface (or sibling). If white bread peanut butter ball sticks to cement (or sibling), thrower scores one point.

If you are of a certain age, you well might be an expert at the wonders of processed white bread — which means that you are aware that, despite its questionable nutritional value, the spongy slabs of starch have unique properties:

If you tongue-trowel it to the roof of your mouth, it might never peel off;

If toasted properly, processed white bread could shatter when hit with a hammer;

And yet, to prove white bread’s a bit of a curate’s egg, in a pinch it can be used to polish furniture and/or wax a car. Polish and/or wax sold separately.

Those advocating for the lessening of school-lunch regulations say that the whole grain products required previously were a) more costly (it rounds out to about 20 cents a plate), b) more difficult to cook (those newfangled noodles), and c) more likely to wind up in trash barrels (your results may vary).

Waivers were allowed to school districts while the transition to whole grains took place — which, according to a story by The Associated Press, led Arkansas’s Magnet Cove School District to request a waiver for processed biscuits and rolls.


“They’re tastier, softer and fluffier,” said district Superintendent Danny Thomas.

And you don’t have to ask your Uncle Tonoose whether school kids would rather have tastier, softer and fluffier foods as an option; consider other foods approved for waivers across the nation — beignets, cinnamon rolls, corn dogs, sugar cookies and Pop Tarts.

The Orwellian “School Nutrition Association,” which represents suppliers such as Kellogg and Domino’s, said it is more important that kids who rely on school lunches eat something (corn dogs and Pop Tarts will raise those test scores!) than be stuck with trays filled with whole grains and vegetables.

It should come as no surprise that our gubmint would be in favor of returning white bread preferences to our schools.

After all, it’s the same gubmint that hosts championship teams of physically toned bodies (at least, the ones who would accept the invitation) to the White House — then serves them meals from fast food restaurant chains.

Nothing says building strong bodies 12 ways more than making sure we ensure that we give our athletes (and our kids) their daily dose of the essential food groups — salt, sugar, grease fat and the artificial ing-twins (coloring and flavoring).

This move toward dietary choice would be greeted warmly in the household of my childhood ... which, clearly, might explain a few things.

All our bread was white — except for the holiday brown bread, which thwopped out of a can. Cans also supplied nearly all our vegetables (with the exceptions of tomatoes and lettuce ... which would appear with a couple of pieces of bacon between slices of white bread, and then quietly be dumped in the trash as we ate the bacon and rolled the bread into artillery shells.)

Breakfast a couple days a week would be what we called “Quick & Quisp” — the recipe for which would be putting artificially flavored and colored strawberry powder into a glass of milk, stirring, then pouring the contents over a bowl of Quisp cereal.

(That scream you just heard was caused by the stinging pain Sarah Lemon just felt in her teeth.)

After school, we would head straight to the cookie jar, but were pleasantly reminded that Oreos could not be consumed unless we first had a spoonful of peanut butter and a few pickle slices. Today, I suppose, we’d be subjected to a pickle, peanut butter and Oreo smoothie.

Later, of course, we were informed by those who had more refined (and less processed) tastes that products dominated by white flour and white bread “tasted like cardboard” ... although I wondered how they knew that, since it was doubtful their families ever had served them cardboard in order to certify such a comparison.

Perhaps the School Nutrition Association and others in favor of the loosening of these school guidelines have a point. If tastier, softer and fluffier offerings were good enough back in our day ... well, dang it, look how well-rounded we turned out.

Maybe that’s why the gubmint has put its considerable weight behind this push. We know obesity when we see it.

Mail Tribune copy desk chief Robert Galvin is going snackless at rgalvin@rosebudmedia.com.