In the great Venn diagram of foods, there’s a circle of foods we love, and a circle of foods that just don’t taste right—and then there’s the wonderful, sometimes surprising, always guilt-inducing delicious area where the two cross over. Yes, some foods just don’t taste like they’re supposed to. Let the choir sing “Hallelujah.”
10.Chef Boyardee Spaghettios
Syrupy tomato sauce plus low-grade meat multiplied by good marketing and the slightest flavor overtones of aluminum can? Childhood lunchtime bliss.
9. Banana Popsicles
These frozen confections are long and thin and clearly yellow. Beyond that, the resemblance to bananas is pretty weak. Science is able to replicate and thereby fake a huge number of culinary flavors, but apparently they hadn’t gotten around to banana when these were invented. Somehow, banana popsicles taste more like the color yellow than like banana. Yet somehow you mow down an entire box in the span of one Facts of Life rerun.
8. BBQ Potato Chips
BBQ can mean a range of things, from charred meats to hot sugary sauces. But the dusky vermillion powder on BBQ potato chips suggests neither of these, or anything close. As replications go, it's a total failure. Ah, but how majestically it fails, re-inventing itself as this standby flavor option for pretty much any chip product on the market.
Tang doesn’t taste like oranges, even though it’s obviously supposed to, according to the astronauts who for so long touted it as a space-age drink. But all this drink has taught us is a sincere mistrust of astronauts. It doesn’t taste like anything but itself. Drinking Tang is like dividing something by one.
6. Kraft Macaroni and Cheese
Little known fact: that orange cheese powder and Tang? Same thing.
5. Watermelon Jolly Ranchers
This might be some sort of local sin, given the long-time (and sorely missed) presence of the Jolly Rancher factory on the northwest side of town. But I know watermelon. Watermelon is a friend of mine. And this, sir, is not watermelon. Yummy, though. And not only does it taste good, but the way that dissolving sliver of candy goodness curls slightly on your tongue? Sublime.
4. Hot Dogs
Hot dogs are one of those things that started off as a cheap rip-off of something else, and sort of became its own thing. Sort of like bologna being a mild salami, or Bazi Kanani being a less smug Adele Arakawa. These are supposed to taste like sausage, but they don’t. Maybe they never have. Thank God they’re awesome with mustard and onions.
3. Hormel Canned Tamales
A tamale is a bit of spiced cheese or beef wrapped in corn masa and held in a corn husk. I’m not sure what these little tubes of grease are supposed to be, but they’re not tamales. Still, they’re pretty gut-bombingly good, especially if you’re on the eastern plains and “tacos” are just plain ground beef in a shell. Revolutionary!
2. Baby Aspirin
We don’t use the little orange tablets of baby aspirin anymore, for several important reasons. But one of them was that we all liked the taste too much. The decline of the availability of baby aspirin has a direct correlation to the rapid rise over the last two decades in sales of Orange Cream Soda.
1. Nacho Cheese
Nacho cheese is sort of the bastard cousin of Cheeze Whiz, which is the red-headed stepchild of American cheese, which is like the white-trash member of the cheese family. So that makes nacho cheese the red-haired bastard inbred cousin/stepchild of a white trash cheese…and we still love the crap spooned over salty corn chips. Ain’t that America.