And then one day I was reading some completely non-food related article and there it was. A single word:
And after 4 decades, all of a sudden I wanted one.
When I was very small, my brother and sister and I acted like all young children did and woke up at some ungodly early hour on Saturdays. While waiting between cartoons, my brother and I would wreak havoc around the house and my sister, the eldest and the wisest, would try to keep us calm by providing us with breakfast. A breakfast of fluffernutters on hamburger buns. With enough filling to be bigger than our hands could easily hold.
|via Parade Magazine|
I suppose the gooeyness of the peanut butter and marshmallow creme kept our mouths too full to scream, although all that sugar in our systems was probably the cause of much household damage.
But my health conscious, Julia Child-emulating parents soon stopped buying the stuff so my fluffernutter days were very short lived. And, as I got older, I sort of moved away from any marshmallow sort of snack. Not a big fan of Mallowmars. And never one to go crazy over s'mores. I don't like marshmallows.
So why did this word just trigger a craving for something I haven't eaten in years?
We can say that fluffernutters are an embedded pop artifact of the Northeast. There was even a call (somewhat not seriously) to make it the official sandwich of Massachusetts. It certainly has it's supporters. Could it be something that reminded me of those simpler, more sugar laden times?
I don't think that's it. My childhood does not hold those Proustian memories. It doesn't take me back as much as say stuffed cabbage or an egg cream.
No, I think it's more likely some craving for sweet reward in my body. I think my brain is trying to get things I don't want my body to have. A recent study showed how obese and overweight men given a high glycemic-index meal (or milkshake thing, really) showed marked decrease in plasma glucose and a greater increases in hunger more often than those fed the lower GI meal. I think we all knew high GI foods wreak havoc with us, but this study was interesting because it showed which parts of the brain it affects. It works on those areas that control reward and cravings. All that sweet stuff causes us to feel good and then makes us want more.
And now that I'm rounding into 2 full years of maintaining this Streamlined Ska Librarian body, I'm seeing it still hasn't gotten easier. There are still moments when it feels like fighting an addiction. And like addictions, it's not necessarily the specific product that you want, but rather the effect that type of product will cause in your body and psyche. And like addictions, I know that even attempting something sweet in moderation often leads me to fall down a slippery slope.
In the back of my head, I'm still fighting these issues. And seeing that word...that word that represents some gooey childhood treat...doesn't call to me for youngster memories, but rather because my body knows what eating one will do. It knows what reward my brain will feel.
So, I'm sorry, fluffernutter. I don't really want you. You don't make me feel like a happy kid. You're just the bad kid on the corner giving out freebies, so I get sucked into being a regular customer.
I'm gonna have to just say no.
Lennerz, B. S., Alsop, D. C., Holsen, L. M., Stern, E., Rojas, R., Ebbeling, C. B., … Ludwig, D. S. (2013). Effects of dietary glycemic index on brain regions related to reward and craving in men. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.064113
liesener, katie. (2009). Marshmallow Fluff. Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, 9(2), 51–56. doi:10.1525/gfc.2009.9.2.51