Lunchtime was a favorite for many students. It was a time to put down the books and pick up something we were much better with, the spoon. The school lunches cost only about $2 and they were perfect. Unfortunately it would be a punishment on our stomachs to continue eating these foods into adulthood. Looking back fondly, these are the best foods served by the school cafeteria.
Tater Tots/Hash Browns
Instead of French fries my school went with the “healthier” option, greasy tater tots and hash browns. The best ones were not soggy but rather crispy and a little bit burnt. Ketchup frequently soaked them and only added to the poor health of whoever ate them. These two items try to make their way into our mouths any time we visit Dunkin Donuts for a coffee.
Few things on earth are greater than a chicken patty sandwich. The heart-stopping and artery clogging sandwich commonly served in schools is a cafeteria Hall of Famer. Eating these outside of a school lunch is rare, but does happen for some of the more daring people. The unauthentic orange coloration was probably the main ingredient that caused multiple stomach aches throughout the school year.
The person that decided to put Sloppy Joes in cafeterias was not thinking very clearly. Sloppy is in the name and children are some of the sloppiest. Tater tots should not be served on the side with Sloppy Joes; a shower should. Teachers always knew it was Sloppy Joe day whenever students would show up to class with red stains on their lips and fingers.
Canned Fruit in a Cup
One of the few options that may not lead to an early death is the canned fruit now placed into a poorly constructed cup. Sometimes it seemed as if there was more water in the cup than actual slices of pear. The only reason to ever eat this was to make the lunch ladies happy that their hard work opening the can did not go to waste.
Milk was the drink of choice for many schools and chocolate was the flavor 99% of the kids went with. The few that went with regular milk were often ridiculed for their less sugary choice. Now that we are adults and know a little more about healthy living those bullied students are more confident in their choice. They got the last laugh, mostly because the rest of us are too busy pricking our diabetes fingers to even remember how to smile.
A joke as old as the ingredients it was made from, all schools were known for their pizza made from mostly cardboard. These square slices with a rubbery taste were probably never sanctioned by any health organization to actually enter a human body. Still, Fridays were pizza day and we all lined up to get a taste; if only to satisfy our need to feel punished.