THERE IS NO DENYING THE POOL OF GREASE THAT SPILLED OFF MY CHEESE ON A STICK – IT’S RIGHT THERE SOAKED THROUGH THE CONTAINER.
Maybe sometimes it’s not such a great idea to try to relive moments from your childhood.
Case in point: Fried cheese on a stick.
A few weeks ago, my friend Christopher Smith and I were reminiscing about food we had growing up.
OK honestly, we talk about stuff like this a lot. The hour-long ride to work and then home again is a perfect time to discuss delicacies we can’t find in the Midwest, him being from Oklahoma and me from Mississippi. It was also nice to discover another Ro-Tel purist. (It’s just a can of the tomatoes and a block of Velveeta cheese people.) And yes, when you are both vegetarians, cheese is bound to come up – a lot.
Anyway … during one of our many adventures home, we again got on the subject of cheese. Grilled cheese to be exact. Determining we both liked this delectable treat with mustard, we immediately traced the roots of this shared phenomenon: FRIED CHEESE ON A STICK.
Growing up in Columbus, Miss., anyone who was anyone spent countless hours at Leigh Mall. Unlike most mega shopping complexes, there was no real food court, just various restaurants spread throughout the mall. And right in the middle lay a mecca of guilt: Corn Dog-7.
Ah, Corn Dog-7. Corn dogs – regular or foot-long – were hand-dipped and fried up daily for the masses. French fries, lemonade and – if memory serves – funnel cakes were also on the menu. As was the cheese on a stick. I was reminded this morning by my friend Carrie via Facebook of how slow they actually were at Corn Dog-7. Because everything was made “fresh to order,” you could wait forever for your artery-clogging meal.
Christopher, on the other hand, grew up eating at Hot Dog on a Stick – the much cooler version of Corn Dog-7. Where the employees at the latter spent their days in mustard-hued uniforms, Hot Dog on a Stick became just as famous for the skimpy red, blue and yellow outfits workers wore as it did for its corn dogs.
For weeks now, we have been discussing how great we remembered the fried cheese to be. The crispiness of the coating, the molten cheese that exploded in your mouth on first bite, dipping it in mustard … Ah, heaven. After countless searches in Chicago, we discovered yesterday that the mall in Merrillville, Ind., – about an hour from the city – had a Hot Dog on a Stick in its food court.
So at lunch today we came. We ate. It conquered.
The coating was not as crisp, the cheese no longer molten. Thankfully I stopped at one of the grease-soaked treats; Christopher went full-force and had both the original and then later a pepper-jack one. Needless to say, there was a lot of moaning over the next hour or so.
Five hours later, I still feel cheese lodged in my esophagus. So while the trip down memory lane provided the end to a search for cheese on a stick, it also taught both of us a very valuable lesson. Christopher said it best: What our bodies could process at age 11 is not what we can handle in our 20s and 30s.
Thankfully, there was something about not only filling our bellies but our need for nostalgia that made it worthwhile.
But only for a moment.
THE PRE-MEAL EXCITEMENT CHRISTOPHER FEELS HERE WILL SOON WEAR OFF. LEFT IN ITS PLACE? A GUILTY, GREASY PIT IN OUR STOMACHS.