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Food and the Nostalgia Factor

I was meandering through Kroger a couple of weeks ago with a little time to kill and I just stopped next to the grapefruit.  It took me a few moments to realize that the sweet, tangy smell reminded me of my grandpa.  I smiled and put a couple in a bag and started rolling again.

A few minutes later I was reaching out for the cottage cheese and it struck me that the only reason I still eat this stuff is that my Mom and I used to eat it together on weekend mornings with fruit and toast.  I don’t even love the stuff, but I always seem to have some in the fridge.

This got me thinking.  How much food do I buy based on nostalgia alone?

  • Apple sauce and cinnamon bagles were my mother’s answer to my rampant sweet cravings – I still think they kick butt.
  • Bananas have been my personal crack ever since I started sports in elementary school – my mom encouraged it since I always seemed to need potassium.
  • Microwaveable Brownies, Coca-Cola, Edwards pecan pie slices, and Frosted Mini-Wheats were how my step-dad and I bonded in the beginning.  We both eat much healthier now, but those were good times, lol.
  • Oreos remind me of the first times I showed both my little sisters how to eat them “properly”.  🙂
  • Cinnamon and sugar graham crackers and canned mandarin oranges were the snacks of choice for me and grandma.
  • Raisin Bran was the only cereal me and grandpa could agree on.
  • Blueberries and blackberries are just full of memories – I must have picked gallons and gallons over the years with my mom, sisters, uncles, aunts, and grandparents.
  • Peaches remind me of the trip my mom took us on to pick our own, the treks we made in Argentina to get the freshest, tastiest ones possible, and the trip with my in-laws where we stopped on the way home for the best peaches in Texas.
  • Double-decker sandwiches make me smile since they were my mom’s way of making pre-teen me feel older even though everybody still treated me like a child.
  • Soda and shot glasses bring back memories of kid-friendly drinking games with me and my uncles.
  • Big Red gum and Twizzlers were the favorite treats of one of my favorite uncles and I still feel like a sneaky little kid when I grab them from the checkout counters at the last possible moment…

When I really think about it, very few foods have made it into my cart without some association with a loved one…even the main dishes are chosen based on what hubby and I love to eat together.  I would never had thought that my subconscious had so much control!

How many of your food purchases are dictated by nostalgia?  You may be surprised. In the meantime check out the best food delivery app review we put together. Makes it a whole heck of a lot easier than going to the store.

11 thoughts on “Food and the Nostalgia Factor”

  1. Jackie

    For me it’s eating out at certain places — luckily most of those places aren’t anywhere near where I live now! I do think though that much of our spending (and not just on food) is related to emotions.

  2. Nicole

    Macaroni and cheese with tuna and mixed veggies. That’s the only way I will eat canned tuna.

  3. Everyday Tips

    Cute story!

    I have a lot of my main recipes from growing up. Pea soup, salmon, tuna casserole, meatloaf and potatoes- they all bring back wonderful memories for me. Also, I don’t think anyone can grill chicken like my dad could…

  4. Sandy L

    Bread and Butter or Cheese were my main snack foods growing up and to this day those are my 2 favorite things in the world to eat.

    Berries, Peaches and Pears definitely make me think of my mom’s garden.

    I think you can O.D. on some things though. My mom put dill on everything and it took me a long time to get over not liking it.

  5. Squirrelers

    What a great topic!

    I could on and on, but the examples that stand out to me are all related to fun, nostalgic times. Some were from meals cooked at home by my mother, others from restaurants – either out with family as a kid, or from teenage/college years.

    This goes to show that it’s not just hunger that drives the food choices of many of us, but emotions as well.

  6. Khaleef @ KNS Financial

    For me it’s Fig Newtons. They remind me of watching old movies with my dad on Saturdays.

  7. Little House

    It’s funny, I would never of thought of this. Yet, there are a few foods I associate with family members, like granola. My step-dad used to purchase granola cereal and to this day I still really like it. My dad, on the other hand, used to purchase Hershey’s chocolate bars for me to snack on (he had terrible eating habits when he was younger!). Luckily, I stuck with the healthier habits and disregarded the less healthy ones!

  8. Money Reasons

    Cinnamon toast, rice and tapioca pudding all remind my of my grandmother. She’s gone now, but the memories still linger on in mysterious and edible ways 🙂

  9. BFS

    @Jackie, yeah, not being close to the food in question would be a helper with the whole weight control thing! 🙂

    @Nicole, I love mac and cheese (specifically boxed mac and cheese) and canned tuna!!! My husband thinks it’s sooooo icky, but it is my favorite comfort food! Cool beans to a fellow follower of the canned tuna addition!!!

    @Everyday Tips, I’m sorry for bringing up bitter-sweet memories. I’m glad your father made awesome chicken though! That’s a tough one to master according to Mr. BFS.

    @Sandy L, bread and butter was also a snack grandma and I enjoyed. I OD’d on hotdogs for a while, but I’ve gone back recently…

    @Squirrelers, I didn’t even realize it until last week…emotions are sneaky, lol.

    @Khaleef, Fig Newtons were one of the few junk foods my mom approved of once in a while. I still love the smell of a freshly opened package…yummy…

    @Little House, granola is awesome. I’m glad you don’t have the calorie issues I do from Twizzlers. 🙂

    @Money Reasons, “mysterious and edible ways” – I LOVE THAT! Very well said!

  10. Evan

    Considering every Thursday in college I would walk/stumble through the drive through of a fried chicken place with great friends…everytime I demean myself and eat KFC or Popeys I am brought back to college.

    On a much nicer note…brownies, chewy brownies always makes me think of my mom!

  11. BFS

    @Evan, hahaha to “everytime I demean myself and eat KFC or Popeys I am brought back to college”. 🙂 Hehehehe.

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