Growing up we never had pop tarts in the house. If it wasn't on sale, we didn't have it. And more than that, if it was sugar for breakfast- we didn't have it.
I remember when I was in grade 1 or 2 I was at my friend Jamie's house and her mom gave us pop tarts as a snack. It was pretty much what my entire life at that point had led up to. Getting to taste a pop tart was basically what my dreams were made of. Well, that and being allowed to eat Ramen noodles dry out of the bag. At Jamie's house we each got one of the pop tarts in the package. I think the only choice was strawberry. I remember the moments leading up to my first bite as if they were in slow motion. Excitement overwhelmed me. And in a moment all of my dreams & emotions fell off of a cliff as a chewed and realized I hated what I was tasting. I could hardly even finish this bite.
Now, this was the worst case scenario for two reasons. Firstly, because it meant I didn't like pop tarts. What a let down. Secondly because it meant I was in the ultimate catch-22. Mothers orders/teachings taught me to always eat everything put in front of you wether you like it or not. But Julie's orders/teachings was don't eat gross things because you might throw up if it's seriously this bad tasting. That was a legitimate fear in that moment. I sat there for what felt like a half hour deciding what to do. I think Jamie had run off and continued to play whatever game these horrid snacks interrupted us from. Finally I just decided I had to go against moms teachings this time- I simply couldn't eat it. Looking around the room I made sure no one was watching me and I gently wrapped the carcass of my once bitten pop tart in the napkin given to me prior to the realization. I thought if I covered the food in a napkin, no one would know I didn't finish it. They would probably just assume it was a napkin, and throw it out. The perfect alibi! I left the pile on the table we had been snacking at and quickly ran back to Jamie in the playroom. I was safe for now. Eventually it was time to leave, though, and knew I had to pass the table with the secret pop tart napkin on it. I walked fast - but not too fast - and straight passed it and up the stairs to my waiting mother-- not making eye contact with even the table.
I knew this had to be my secret. I couldn't tell my mom I went against her rules, and I couldn't tell Jamie or her mom that I wasted their food. In my 6 year old brain I had (successfully) committed a crime.
I waited the next day at school for Jamie to bring up the pop tart and the fact that they found it and didn't eat it, but that never came. I must have gotten away with it (I thought, at the time).
It's funny, looking back how huge a deal this incident was. It consumed me at the time. So much so that I still can recall the details today. A story probably Jamie & her family won't ever remember, but means so much to my childhood for some reason.
As for pop tarts, well, I tried them again several times in my life. I wanted to badly to love them. Every time I got better at finishing them, but I never enjoyed it-- until last year.
With my new job I wanted a breakfast option I could keep in my drawer for easy snacking access. I bought two boxes of pop tarts last year. Loved my first bite.. but by the end of the second box, I was back to Jamie's basement, slowly chewing with a rather sour face.
So, formally, pop tarts- I'd like to apologize. I can't love you. I just can't.