Food Week - Childhood Favorites & Birthday Cake Memories

I ate plenty of healthy foods when I was child, but of course the most memorable things were the unhealthy & sugary things. I loved Raisinettes and always had some Gushers or Fruit by the Foot in my lunchbox. Strawberry Sour Straws. Pudding Pops. Those Disney popsicles shaped like Donald & the such. Mint Chip Ice Cream. Fresh strawberries dipped in brown sugar. Toast with cinnamon and sugar. Cinnamon Toaster Strudels. After school I'd eat these Lean Cuisine ravioli meals - not because I was trying to lose weight, but because they were actually pretty good and super-easy to prepare. I'd also boil up some noodles and melt butter and shredded cheese on top and call it the "Mallory Special". I thought it was fancy. I ate a pepper turkey sandwich almost every day of elementary school and middle school, and a great portion of high school. Blue raspberry Slush Puppies. Okay, I'll stop.

As far as cakes go, for the first part of my childhood my mom made me elaborate themed cakes - castles and little cottages surrounded by "coconut grass" dyed green. They were awesome to behold. When I got a little older (around middle school), I realized that cheesecake was the most delicious thing ever, so my mom started preparing one (with chocolate chips) every year instead of a more traditional cake. I was psyched - I've never really liked frosting, so for the first time I actually started to enjoy the cake eating process.

(each image linked to its source)

Sara (Brown Paper Bag) - Nutter Butter cookies! I could eat nearly one package in a sitting. My favorite birthday cake (at least the only one I can remember) was a Hello Kitty/Keroppi topped cake when I was in the 7th grade. Pretty standard tasting, as far as birthday cakes go, but the addition of the Sanrio characters made it that much better.

Sara (Matchbox Kitchen) - My favorite childhood snack is called Fairy Bread, which is mostly popular in Australia and New Zealand. It's the unhealthy combination of white bread slathered in butter and then covered in sprinkles (they have to be hundreds and thousands!). My favorite birthday cakes were all the ones my mom made me. They were always so impressive and matched my birthday party theme.

Melanie (you are my fave) - My mom never really bought unhealthy kid snacks so whenever I went over to a friend's house I was all over their pantry filled with Fruit by the Foot, Handi Snacks, Cheetos, Starburst - just unhealthy junk. When I got older I realized that the real treats were my mom's homemade bread and cookies that the freezer was always stocked with.

M. Fay (Amateur Couture) - Oreo cookies dunked in milk. I was big on finding chunks of cookie at the bottom of my glass. That last gulp - pure delight!

Emily (Short Story Design) - Cookie cake! mmmmm.

Diana (Miss Moss) - I used to make cookie dough / cake batter when I was a kid with no intention of actually baking it (still do that sometimes). But my favorite snack of all time would have to be toast, buttered with Bovril.

Gemma Correll - I went through a lot of food phases as a child. Actually, I still do. One memorable fad was an obsession with cold rice pudding. I ate it every day, to the extent that I can't even look at a Müller Rice carton any more. I had a birthday cake that was shaped like Postman Pat's Van, with a little marzipan Jess the cat. That was pretty cool.

Mariah (size too small) - My favorite childhood snack... fruit. I'm still a fruit girl. And my favorite birthday cake would probably be yellow cake with chocolate frosting.

Anabela (fieldguided) - I used to sit in our cherry tree in the back yard and binge on cherries every day in the summer, but I also used to go berserk for a McDonald's hamburger Happy Meal. My favorite birthday cake was the one I had at my 30th birthday party, a simple slab cake with buttercream icing and my name on it. My birthday is 2 days after Christmas so there wasn't much cake in my childhood.

Not gonna lie: I was a Hot Pocket fiend, eating two daily after school for years (the consequence of having two working parents and an older sister who cooked crappy food). Then I OD'ed on the Pocket in junior high and haven't touched one since.

The same goes for my childhood birthday cake. I hate cake, so my mother would buy me ice cream cake, either of the Carvel variety or from the DQ. But since that tradition has continued into my twenties - and there are six people in my immediate family, with each of our birthdays being marked by an ice cream cake - I've OD'ed on Fudgie the Whale and his friends as well.

You can probably tell that my family doesn't have a very sophisticated palatte, though we do know how to cook a mean potato.

Elise (Pennyweight) - I have to admit, I absolutely loved Fruit Roll-Ups when I was a kid (and maybe into my teen years, too...). The ones that had the tongue "tattoos" were especially awesome - my friends and I entertained ourselves for hours with them. My favorite birthday cake was an awesome Barbie-shaped cake all dolled up in a gorgeous gown. My brother and I have the same birthday (he's exactly 3 years older), so this was the first time I remember having my own special party and girly cake. I was in heaven

Jen (Honey Kennedy) - Kid faves: Swedish Fish and Rainier cherries and my aunt's extra ginger gingersnaps. Actually, she mails them to me on special occasions - they are still the best cookie. Fave birthday cake: My mom tried to make cakes a few times, but she is really a pretty terrible baker. We got most of our family cakes at an Italian bakery in Seattle, Borracchini's, but my favorite cake was always the carrot cake with cream cheese frosting that my aunt would make for me post-kiddo party.

Maggie (Folkloric) - My mom used to make these enormous Rice Krispie bars, only she folded almost a whole jar of peanut butter into the batter as she made it so the result was extra gooey and moist with a salty tang that balanced out the sweetness. Basically it was amazing. Neither she nor I make them anymore because we both realized that our self-control breaks down completely around them.

Liza (Length x Wit) - Oh good, more cake talk! One of my favorite birthday cakes from childhood was bedecked with bright pink roses. I think it was the first time I'd seen roses on a cake (I was used to sprinkles), so it was one of the prettiest things I'd ever seen. After getting my slice, I ate away the cake part and left a shell of icing. I was sure the rose was going to be the most delicious part of the cake and I wanted to prolong that (what a weird, patient child I was!). Of course, by that time, I was so full I couldn't bring myself to eat it. Fortunately, my mom wrapped it up for me and I had it after dinner. It was awesome. I still eat cake that way, actually.

Allira (So on and so forth) - Eating burger rings and choc wedges at the same time (sounds disgusting, but they have been officially dubbed the perfect combo [by yours truly]). Perfect after swimming lessons - chlorine makes you crave salty and sweet!

Jena (Modish) - When I was little, my favorite treat was Baskin Robbins chocolate chip ice cream on a cake cone. I still love ice cream on little cake cones, only now the ice cream is mocha flavored and organic!

Erin (Butter and Brass) - I have this photo from when I was about 10 with my sister and our friend Katy, pudding pops in hand, with chocolate-painted faces, bed hair, slight sunburns, and crazy smiles. I honestly can't remember eating anything else in the summer, well, except for maybe kraft singles. My only birthday cake request was that it match my shirt for the day. Sesame Street, pink unicorns, a circus theme - my mom did not disappoint. I did go through a pretty long run with lemon poppyseed, but I've since moved that to the breakfast muffin category.

Dabito (Old Brand New) - Does the ice cream truck count? The strawberry shortcakes or Pink Panther with bubble gum eyes! Yum!

Hannah (banana meet-cute) - Birthday cakes when I was growing up were so amazing, I'm sure it was all thanks to The Woman's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake Book, which every mum in New Zealand seemed to own. I was fascinated by this book, but I think my memories of the pictures of the cakes have gotten a bit mixed up with what cakes I actually had in real life. I know I've seen photographic evidence of the Humpty Dumpty cake, which had Humpty sitting atop a chocolate cake brick wall - so my Mum must have whipped that one up. The book also featured the jelly pool cake, with an outer fence made from chocolate finger biscuits, a train cake, a piano cake, and a duck cake featuring both icing and salty potato chips fashioned into a beak. I know I never had that particular one - I would definitely remember consuming that flavor combination.

Kate (Lovelorn Unicorn) - I've always been big on cereal. Coco pops were a treat I'd enjoy at every possible opportunity (and still do). And sliced luncheon sausage with tomato sauce smiley faces - EW.

Jen (hellojenuine) - I can't really think of a particular childhood snack that was my favorite, but I'll tell you one that'll never be the same as when I was little: Smarties! I loved their bright colors and always ate them in a certain order, starting with brown and ending with orange. Best of all, the old packaging was a cardboard tube with a small plastic lid, and my sister and I used to pop the lids off at each other. Now (although I understand the need to take out the bad stuff) they're really dull and wishy-washy in color and the hexagonal card tubes (though better for the environment) are bo-ring.

Katie (thank you, ok) - As a child I had a major sweet tooth - it didn't hurt that my mother was (and still is) a fantastic baker. Around the holidays I would eat the gingerbread cookies she made directly off the Christmas tree (much to her dismay). As for birthday cake, I made the chocolate peanut butter cake from Smitten Kitchen a few years ago for my boyfriend, Carlos. It was very well received.

Kate (For Me, For You) - I was the most unhealthy kid ever (thanks, Mom!) and had an obsession with sugary cereal and a classic suburban 80s/90s love for confetti cake. Even that frosting with the nasty nibs of sugar in it - I'd still secretly spoon that stuff into my mouth today. My dad worked for a cake decorator before I was born, so he always crafted my brother and I the BEST cakes.