The World’s Best Snack Food, Extended

cheezit.jpgCheez-Its are the world’s best snack food. It’s been proven by science. You may have a different opinion about this, but your opinion is wrong.

Not those blasphemous alternate flavors, though, like ranch and barbecue. Please, don’t insult the Cheez-Its legacy by even mentioning those in the same breath with real, original Cheez-Its. Those “improvements” are like hanging a velvet clown painting in the Taj Mahal, or sticking truck nutz onto the back of a Lamborghini. Perfection needs no enhancements, and Cheez-Its are perfection.

Like most deeply held beliefs, this conviction was bequeathed to me by my forefathers. My grampa wasa Cheez-Its fanatic. He liked nothing better on a lazy Sunday than to sit in his recliner, eat Cheez-Its, and watch golf. He always had an ENORMOUS box of Cheez-Its that seemed like it was half my size.

Since he lived next door to me, I was provided ample opportunities to invite myself over and partake of this bounty. My mom didn’t really have snacks in the house (for either nutritional or economic reasons, I’m not sure), so Grampa’s house was like an island of snacking anarchy. All I had to do was ask once, and I had carte blanche to dip into his Cheez-Its supply any time I wanted.

And if there was a family party at his house, which there often was, forget it. The Cheez-Its would just be out there in huge Tupperware bowls. I didn’t even have to ask permission to gorge myself! It was an orgy of unnaturally orange indulgence.

I even dipped Cheez-Its in Coke once, just to see how they would taste. The verdict: slightly sweet and soggy. I could fill a book with the crimes against food I committed at these family get-togethers, once all the pretzels and chips and soda and dips were laid out. Don’t judge me. It was an experimental era, a time of tumultuous change…

You know how awesome Cheez-Its are? They barely advertise. Once in a blue moon, you will see a commercial for Cheez-Its, or a page in a magazine. Why? They don’t need to advertise. Why would you need to run a 30-second spot for HEAVEN ITSELF?!

That may be why the Cheez-It box has remained virtually unchanged all these years. The color scheme is the same, the font is the same, even the little Cheez-It mosaic in the background is the same. If ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and there’s nothing broken about Cheez-Its.

One item has been altered since I was a kid, however. The back of the box used to have several delightful suggestions about how you could spice up an ordinary meal with Cheez-Its. Drop them in your tomato soup! Place them lovingly next to a sandwich, or maybe even put them in your sandwich!

But the most intriguing suggestion called for using Cheez-Its to bread chicken cutlets. They even showed a picture of a chicken cutlet, radioactive orange, with jagged peaks of ex-crackers protruding from its surface.

This seemed like a no-brainer to me. I loved chicken cutlets and I loved Cheez-Its. Deductive reasoning dictates that I would double-plus love Cheez-Its-covered chicken cutlets. Unfortunately, my mother was not keen on the idea, and lacking any cooking ability of my own, the experiment went unconsummated.

Then, last week, The Wife texted me at work to say we were having chicken cutlets for dinner. This is a common item in the Meal Rotation (mainly because we can cut them up and tell The Baby they’re chicken nuggets), but for whatever reason, the mention of “cutlets” brought back Proustian memories of the back of the Cheez-Its box.

ME: OOOH! Can you make chicken cutlets with Cheez-Its, like you used to see on the back of the box?

WIFE: ….Why?

ME: Because I always wanted to try it.

WIFE: If you can find me a recipe, sure.

This inspired a wild google chase, trying to find said recipe. But the internets gave me nothing. Nothing! A lot of people apparently make fried chicken with Cheez-Its, but that’s not what I was looking for. Fried chicken?! You people must be mad! Your quest is crazy and mine is not for many complicated reasons I can’t get into just now!

So I emailed The Wife and told her to just forget this crazy scheme, but when I got home, she had actually done it! She’d made chicken cutlets with Cheez-Its breading, and there they sat, glowing on the kitchen countertop, finally ready to be eaten. It was a moment that, subconsciously, I’d been waiting for my entire life.

But when I took that first bite, I realized that this was a dream that was best left unfulfilled. The food wasn’t bad, just weird. The Cheez-Its and the chicken did not mix. They were not united as one meal, but remained two separate food items. I tasted the Cheez-Its and the meat separately, as if they were two opposite charged magnets that could not touch one another.

And the Cheez-Its half of the equation didn’t come through the cooking process too well. Some of the crust was soggy, other parts slightly charred. It reminded me of The Simpsons where Lisa attempts to make fish sticks. (“They’re burnt on the outside, but still frozen on the inside, so it evens out!”) Since my wife is normally an amazing cook, I knew the blame lay squarely on the ingredients. This was a union that was never meant to be.

I thanked The Wife for giving it a shot and promised I would never make her cook this again. She in turn thanked me for promising that.

The lesson here is that pursuing things you really wanted as a kid is kinda stupid and will inevitably lead to disappointment. Except for that palace of Cheez-Its I plan on building, because that will totally happen and make me happy forever and ever.