Thursday, November 23, 2006


She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were on our way to Savannah. About halfway through the voyage, our growling stomachs - and our car’s fuel indicator needle - told us that it was time to stop for a snack and a tank refill.

And a tank emptying, if you catch my drift. The human bladder can only tolerate so much abuse...

As we wandered the aisles of the Fuel Stop and Convenience Store looking for something to eat - how many kinds of beef jerky are there, anyway? - my horror-struck eye was drawn to the hot dog machine. You all have seen these machines, the ones that cook hot dogs on banks of slowly-turning rollers. The frankfurters have an evil, greasy sheen, looking only marginally more appetizing than the ones that sit in the hot water tanks of big-city vendors. But what caught my attention was a brace of particularly vile-looking sausages that were lazily revolving on those hot rollers, front and center in the machine. They were dark brown and knobbly-textured, reminding me like nothing so much as machine-produced turds.

What were these horrors?

Turns out they were Oscar Meyer cheeseburger-dogs: a cylindrical cheeseburger in the guise of a hot dog. Wotta concept, innit? I walked away from the machine, shaking my head. What the fuck will they think of next?

All this goggling at the latest product of American fast-food perversity ingenuity wasn’t getting me any closer to a snack, though. And so, within moments, I had gravitated to the Cheez ’n’ Crackers section.

Every convenience store and snack vending machine in America, seemingly, offers up some version of the Prepackaged Cheez ’n’ Cracker, that quintessential Truck-Stop Snack Food. I use the term Cheez ’n’ Cracker in the generic sense: whether or not any cheese molecules are present, the essential features are two crackers, between which is sandwiched a Mysterious Substance. These little sandwiches are then packed six to a package inside a stiff, transparent plastic packet that requires the use of bolt cutters to open.

We had several options from which to choose. There were the blobs of fluorescent orange cheezoid material (plain or Bacon! Flavor!) sandwiched between white saltines. There were the bright orange crackers, between which was jammed a brown substance purported to be peanut butter. And for those with Yuppie Snot aspirations (hint - stay away from truck stops), there were the Captain’s Crackers with a freeze-dried cream cheese - chive blend.

Any resemblance between any of these Snacky Items and the real cheese-on-a-cracker that they represented themselves as, is purely coincidental. But that is mere carping. My packet - I chose the bright orange cheezified saltines with the pee-bee-oid goop - lasted exactly twenty seconds after we pulled away from the Fuel Stop.

The Great Tactical Decision: do you just eat the whole damn thing? Or do you separate the layers, Oreo-style, and eat the filling first? Inquiring minds want to know...

Cheez ’n’ Crackers! Got all muddy!

No comments: