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Top 10 At 10 Tuesday: Grade School Lunch Items

Gather round, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.....it's time for the first edition of Top 10 at 10 Tuesday, a series in which I release a topic the night before, rank my Top 10 of that topic the following day, and then interact with the crowd that wants to debate. I think it sounds like a fun way to spend the meat and potatoes chunk of the hands down worst day of the work week, no? 

And before I begin today's written episode, let me address two concerns that the vocal minority continued to voice late into the night on Twitter yesterday. The first is that this Blog Series is too similar to the Barstool Chicago's Snake Drafts. My response to that is the same thing I'd say to my girlfriend when she asks what she can do to make up for burning dinner: Blow Me. If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred thousand times.....I'm trying to make the blog great again. And if Eddie and Co. want to turn their videos into the written word, I'll stand down. I like the guy (fraternity brother, as well), and he knows where I sit.....but until he waddles over and tells me to cease and desist on these blogs because he.....invented rankings....then could you all kindly shut the fuck up?

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Additionally, the second complaint I continue to hear is that I'm overexerting myself with these "series" that I'm running. Jesus Christ, y'all voted for Bernie didn't you? Pushing that 32 hour work week and incentivizing people to work less but take more. Nope, not me....I'm fine with burning the candle at both ends to try and find something that passes the longevity test. My mindset in these first six months is to continue to throw things at the wall and see what sticks, and then I'll run with what I learn from there. Because while one off pieces are great from time to time, it's the consistent, sustainable content that is more valuable. So yes, I think I can manage going to dinner with a coworker every once in a while for a 50 First Tate, Grading The Blog on Fridays, and releasing Top 10 Rankings on Tuesdays. Or I could just go back to blogging about the Browns every move.....? Did you see we signed a new 3rd string quarterback yesterday? Riveting. Blog incoming soon in which I power rank the best 3rd string quarterbacks in the AFC North. Oh wait, I'm not allowed to do rankings either. 

Alright, that's my rant. That's not the point of this blog. The point of this blog is to discuss one of the ultimate debates in our country's rich history, one that EVERYONE has an opinion on (unless you were one of those weird homeschooled kids). That's right folks, we're kicked off with a banger:

I felt this was the proper place to start for a multitude of reasons. One, obviously, is that I went to school as a child. No repeated years to gain more experience in the lunch room, but I did complete my full 13 years in the public education system. Plenty of lunches eaten. But reason two is that I never left school, immediately finishing college and going right back into the middle school lunch room for the last decade of my life. When you think about it, from the time I started Kindergarten at the ripe age of 5, I've been eating school lunches ever since. 25 years of experience...and still do to this day!

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So yeah, I feel qualified to be on the committee. Now let's cut the small talk and get into the rankings. We're going Descending Order, meaning 10 to 1 (defined for those of you that came here to talk Elementary School lunches but still have the Elementary School vocabulary, too).

10. Zebra Cakes

I'm not trying to give away too many spoilers in the description of my first selection, but the more you'll read, the more you'll realize that I elected the Zebra Cake to be the sole representative of the cake / cupcake region in my rankings. I think there is a lot of talent in that area of the country, including the Hostess Cupcake, the Cosmic Brownie, and the Ho Ho.....but one thing the Zebra Cake brought to the table, for me, was the two cake per package ratio. It allowed you to have options when going to the negotiating table. You could keep both and enjoy two moist yellow cakes, covered in white icing and a chocolate drizzle, filled with just the right amount of cream. You could split the package, shipping one off for a different item at the lunch table, but still keeping one for yourself. Or, if you wanted to get crazy, you could piece together a three way trade. Send one cake to your right, one to your left, and bring an absolute HAUL back in return. The possibilities were endless with the Zebra Cake back in 3rd grade, and honestly, they still slap today.

9. Dunk-A-Roos

Let me say this: I think Dunk-A-Roos are very good, and if I'd have had more of them in my childhood, they'd probably be higher on this list today. People fucking rant and rave about Dunk-A-Roos like they are the single greatest invention since Louis Réard unveiled the two-piece bikini swimsuit back in 1946. But if we're being honest with each other, they didn't make it into my lunch very often. Were they expensive? I don't know. Could be an East Coast Elitist food that didn't venture into the Midwest too much, but for whatever the reason is, they come in at #9 on my list because of the combination of being both very good, yet unfortunately, very rare in my lunches. Regardless, the freedom to load up on the amount of frosting you wanted per cookie made these special, in my eyes. Did I want to go overboard on the first few and then just eat the remaining cookies without icing? Or did I want to put away my train set and then meticulously divide the available frosting perfectly equal to split amongst the cookies? The choice was all mine.

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Shoutout to you crazy motherfuckers that used all the icing on one cookie. You all are probably out West rock climbing and doing Iron Man competitions now, just looking for the next adventure in life.

8. Chips (In A Plastic Bag Packed By Mom)

I know I got a little specific with this one, but it's because I feel very strongly about it. Everyone and their sister knows how bullshit the bag of chips industry has gotten over the years. In my opinion, we should stop calling them bags of chips and start calling them bags of air, because there's certainly more empty space in those bags than there are chips nowadays. But one thing Mom always did back in the 90s was she took the Family Sized bags and divvied them up into little plastic sandwich bags, sometimes all the way up to the brim! Could barely thumb that bag shut with how many Doritos my mother was putting into those bags, God bless her. And they always stayed close to my hip, rarely traded. Chips were a staple of the brown bag with a sandwich lunch, and you could rotate in the hits to make sure the taste never got too stale: Doritos, Potato Chips, Salt and Vinegar, Sour Cream and Onion......maybe we need to do Chips Rankings next, but as for today, I'm taking ALL CHIPS, packed by Mom, in a sandwich bag, at #8.

7. Fruit By The Foot

Fuck the Fruit Rollup, it's Fruit By The Foot Gang or Die in my mind. And I think my favorite thing about the Fruit By The Foot is that it was essentially a social awareness Judge disguised as a child's snack. What I mean that that is that the way you eat a fruit rollup directly reflected on what type of kid you were. Example A: if you took little bite by little bite, you were a pussy. Example B: if you unwrapped the entire thing, made it all into one big ball, and then ate it all at once.....you were a fucking psycho. Jeffry Dahmer 100% ate Fruit By The Foots all in one sitting, no doubt in my mind. But as for me, I'd dangle that bitch every day like I was Michael Jackson holding a baby out over the balcony. Give a little leeway, eat. Release some more of the tape, eat. It was the proper way to eat these.

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One thing I'm wondering is did anyone ever roll it out and measure the substance? Was it exactly one foot? Can't believe I never did that as a child, but then again, once I got 4 inches unwrapped, it was time to eat. 

6. Peanut Butter Crackers

Bring on the hate, if you choose to do so, but Peanut Butter crackers are on here for one reason and one reason only: my Mother allowed me to count them as something "healthy" in my lunch. I'm not saying they're a Big Mac, but the fact that she threw the H word label on them was an absolute gamechanger in my childhood. If I took a sandwich and some peanut butter crackers, neither of which were that good for you, I could then load up on the rest of the cookies, cakes, and candies that I actually wanted. It was a balanced meal! So when it comes down to passing my approval check of that Food Group Poster that hung in all elementary school Health classrooms across the country from 1985 through 2004, right next to the smoking causes cancer one with the black lungs, I'll gladly take peanut butter crackers (the orange ones, sometimes substituted out for the cheese filled) over the Apple, the Cheesestick, and the Apple Sauce for my healthy option.

5. Gushers

Newsflash: I don't even really like Gushers, not a big fruity flavor guy. You'll see that with my absence of things like juices and jello on here. But this selection of Gushers (which I had to think long and hard about whether I wanted Gushers or Gogurt here) isn't me pandering to the crowd whatsoever. It was selected for one reason and one reason only: it was the ultimate trade bait. People fucking loooooove Gushers, and my Mom probably thinks I'm one of them with how often I begged for them. They were a staple of my lunches from 1st through 5th grade, making me the Brad Stevens of Valley View Elementary School. Stock piling draft capital to trade it away when someone rolled in with something of true value. Remember when your Mom, maybe once a year, would drop off fast food for lunch? That's when I'd break out the gusher collection from my locker. Hey Andrew, how many packs of gushers to take that KFC mashed potatoes off your hands.....?

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4. PB&J

mphillips007. Getty Images.

Old Faithful. We can debate all of these auxiliary items til we're blue in the face, but if you didn't have a PB&J in your lunch 95% of the time, then I fucking hate you, you rich, spoiled piece of shit. The Peanut Butter and Jelly was a staple of everyone's childhood, and while the chips and cakes came and went, the sandwich never left us. A little mushy, kinda wet on the top from the jelly soaking through the bread, you always knew you had a sandwich in that brown paper bag on the table. So while I'm sure there are shinier and flashier items out them, leaving the PB&J off this list would be like ranking inventions and not mentioning electricity. Yeah, the iPhone feature that automatically inputs the security code that your bank texts you is cool, but nothing is possible if Benny Franklin didn't fly a kite back in the 1750s.

3. Being A "Buyer"

 Bitch and moan if you want here with this selection, but I make the rules because it's my blog. And since it's my blog, I'm using an all-encompassing "Being A Buyer" selection to acknowledge how fucking import that rectangle pizza, those bosco sticks, the chicken patties, and the chips and cheese / nacho supreme were to all of our lives. I know there's some of you out there that were Buyers every single day, and I envy you, but I do subscribe to the belief that you don't learn to appreciate something that's available whenever you want it. My parents used to let us map out the week, looking at the lunch menu the school printed out and sent home with us, selecting which of the 5 days that week I wanted to Buy.....ONCE. Four days of packing, one day of buying. And man, on that one day each week, I walked around 2 feet taller. A little pep in my step, because while I still had a ziplock sandwich bag in my locker, it wasn't filled with a Peanut Butter and Jelly today.....it was filled with two dollars and twenty five cents to purchase the lunch I'd been dreaming about all week....the rectangle pizza.

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2. Chocolate Milk

A staple of the elementary school lunch room and the ultimate measuring stick between the Cools and the Lames, Chocolate Milk really holds a special place in my heart. First of all, fuck all White Milk drinkers, those fucking weirdos. I'm not sure there was one person at my lunch table from grade Kindergarten through Grade 5 that drank any dairy other than a cardboard box cartoon of chocolate milk. Sure you had your Capri Suns and your Sunny Ds, but the quickest way to get bullied on the playground was not to ball up your fists and run with your hands swinging backward.....and it wasn't to draw horses on the back of your notebook....it was to have white milk when the lunch helpers walked around and passed out the drinks.

The reason chocolate milk is so high on my list today is for two reasons. The first being that it was always there for me. No matter what the other items were in my lunch that day, I always snagged a chocolate milk. And then the second reason is that it has withheld the test of time. Chocolate milk remains fucking excellent to this very day, and up until last month when I was still working in a school, I was continuing to have chocolate milk on the regular. I don't know if there will ever come a day where I'll outgrow my childhood love for chocolate milk, but after 30 years, it hasn't happened yet.

1. Pizza Lunchable

Ahhh, the holy grail of all grade school lunch items, and anyone that says differently needs to be checked into a mental hospital. Forget the stackable Ham and Cheddars pack. Forget the Nacho Chips and Cheese / Salsa pack. Forget the Tacos (don't even tell me what that meat actually was) pack. And definitely forget the Mini Hot Dogs edition. Everyone with a fucking brain knows that when you think of the almighty Lunchable, you think of spreading Italy's finest pizza sauce out of that clear bag onto the what should be looked back on as the original flatbread crust. And then when there was only a little sauce left in the pouch, you turn that sucker around and blast it right into your mouth. I've never given a blowjob but I'm pretty sure I'd be good at it from my years sucking that plastic pouch til it was dry. From there, you try your damnest to put all of that fresh, shredded mozzarella cheese onto your pie, but even the mentally toughest of 3rd graders still succumb to eating some of it directly. And then, like putting a stamp on top of your envelope to Santa, you stick those pepperonis right on top and complete perfection. Man, this takes me back.

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I don't care if you offered a package deal of items ranked #2 - #9, you weren't touching my Pizza Lunchable. Five nickels don't always make a quarter, if you know what I'm saying. And for me personally, Pizza Lunchables were a novelty item, not an every day thing. Even if my mom bought four or five at the store, my brother and I would get one per week. I think that's how I'll parent my kids one day, too. Scarcity improves enjoyment, and it creates respect and responsibility to earn what you want. You can just tell that this current generation of kids grew up on less daily PB&Js and more abundant rare treats....

...but I bet they never had these.

A pizza and treatza. What a fucking throwback. What a fucking combination.


Alright, there's my Top 10. And now I have a question for everyone, in which I'll welcome feedback for future blogs in this series: do I now address the Honorable Mentions? Acknowledge the Bubble Teams that were the First Four Out? Because I'm well aware that there were good items left off the list today, and people will be clamoring for Snack Packs, Capri Suns, Oatmeal Creme Pies / Fudge Rounds, the Cosmic Brownie, and the Cheese Stick. I know I missed some heavy hitters today, but I also know if I subbed anything out of my list, I'd have left out a deserving and qualified candidate. Point being, my rankings are my rankings, and I stand by them. Because listen, heavy lies the crown, and sometimes you have to make the tough decisions when you're the leader. I have turned in my official list, and I look forward to interacting on Twitter, TikTok, and in the comment section below with your critiques and/or your own lists. 

* DM me with your ideas for next week's topic.

* Bloggers Note: I'm co-hosting Mostly Sports right at 10:00 ET/ 9:00 CT, so hopefully this all goes off smoothly while I'm away from my phone. I'll be back in the mix right after the show ends to embrace debate with the boys.