Growing up, everyone had drastic opinions about food — maybe all things, if we’re being honest here. As kids, we’d take one bite of a meal and declare it to be the only food worth eating ever again, or we’d sniff something on our plate and knew it to be non-edible slop that had been served to us for reasons beyond our understanding. We weren’t exactly known for our nuanced palates.
But it’s not like kids agreed on what those foods were. We didn’t have nationwide or global meetings deciding which pizza toppings were good or bad. Weirdest of all were the foods that offered no middle ground whatsoever. They were the foods that no one was simply “meh” about. Throughout our childhood, these were foods that we either super absolutely loved or very much absolutely hated. Let’s look at those top contenders of what drove us wild, whether good or bad. Let’s celebrate that divide!
A meal that could arguably drum up suspicion from the get-go, casserole has a history of being a thick, creamy jungle of who knows what. However, sometimes it could just be a savory cascade of all your favorite goodies inside a deliciously layered festival of flavor.
Well, well, well… look what food’s become the big ticket item in hip gastropubs these days, the food that was steamy, bland nonsense back in the day. This is a food that sincerely, wholly depends on who’s at the kitchen’s helm. It could either be crispy Heaven or boiled Hell.
A loaf of meat? Incredible. A loaf of meat? Gross. Yes, this truly drove a wedge between families, as some would consider it a mysterious piece of meat combo that could get you insanely sick or a wonderful combination of all things savory.
A relic leftover from the era when suburbia exploded, this recipe features a crazy amount of cream (just as a lot of things did back then). Not everyone was into that as youths. In fact, some kids hate biting into such floofy nonsense, only to get a bite of a Nilla Wafer, which wasn’t exactly Oreo. But then there were those who adored banana pudding. It was unique! It was carefree sugary mania! It tasted like a season that didn’t exist! In short, it was paradise found.
This one definitely carries over into adulthood, with some of the kids who hated mushrooms turning into fungi lovers. Growing up, this could make or break pizza. They could be tolerated or savored in soups. It was sibling against sibling, spouse against spouse; rare was it for an entire household to agree if mushrooms were good.
When it comes to tang, goat cheese would basically slap around your tastebuds. You were just trying to enjoy your pizza, sandwich, or what have you, and in came this flavor that was super tangy aggressive and entirely without chill. But for others, it was such a weird, unique flavor you couldn’t help but love it. Goat cheese took otherwise predictable meals and gave them a tangy, cheesy twist. It was always just the right amount too, so it never got to be too wild.
To you, this was either a lie posing as candy or a very unique sweet treat that not enough folk appreciated. Some argued it was for old people; some argued that most people’s mouths are just broken. It was either a pungent funk or a pleasant surprise. No one will ever agree and we’ll fight about black licorice until we’re all dead.
These remain insanely divisive, but everything was magnified when we were kids. For the most part, these were too weird to add to anything and even stranger to add little fish to the most sacred of all kid’s meals — pizza. But to those craving salty meat, what delivered like anchovies? Plus, they always came in a bunch, so it felt like a relentlessly giving snack.
These always seemed like adult cookies, like the kind of sweets people who never lived enjoyed. They’d eat these for some reason, even though ice cream sundaes and every kind of candy bar existed. But, on the other hand, these were still cookies and cookies are chill and can always be dunked in milk and make your day right.
Ah yes, the coconut wars of our youth, where it could ruin Halloween or save a birthday cake. If you were anti, you’d take a bite of something and a slow realization would sweep over you as you spit out everything in your mouth. It wasn’t ever sudden. If you were pro, then you licked your lips and would accidentally eat, like, five helpings of anything with coconut. That was like consuming summer and feeling the sunshine course through you.
Sure, the idea of eating moldy cheese outright sounded unappetizing for some (insane even), but for others, blue cheese brought with it a pure, scrumptious, wild tang. There was no taming it and no one who loved it would’ve want to anyway. But the naysayers wouldn’t come near it.
Not everyone loved the jiggly sensation of whatever alien life form Jell-O counted as. Some found it unnerving at best and just a waste of time and energy otherwise. And yet, the other half of youngins were crazy all about it. Any flavor ruled; all of it was good. Somehow it felt like a health food you could play with?
Cream of Literally Anything Soup
You’re born with the cream-of-soup gene or you aren’t. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. What may feel like eating soapy sewage to one individual may seem like devouring a warm sweater for your stomach on a cold day. And so on and so on.
This one can be blamed on simple science. According to SciShow, for an estimated 4-14% of the population, cilantro can taste like soap, due to a group of olfactory-receptor genes called OR6A2. It picks up on aldehyde chemicals, which are found in both cilantro and soap. However, to everyone else, cilantro is an amazing addition to anything from tacos to soups to pastas and it should be celebrated accordingly.
With strange foods, polarizing opinions seemed inevitable. But a raging debate over bananas never made sense to me, and yet I saw it happen time and time again in my youth. I would watch someone bite into the long, yellow fruit like a monster and laugh about how good it was and then I’d behold a livid other person wanting to watch a world of banana-lovers burn to the ground. One day, there will be a war. Which side will you be on?