Exhibit A was to be the Keebler cheese & peanut butter cracker. Although my mother espoused the dietary principles of a back-to-the-land hippie, she was strangely convinced that garish cheese-peanut butter crackers made an excellent and nutritious snack. Something to do with protein. I actually don't know what her rationale was and suspect she was wrong, but I developed a taste for these things early on. There was a period a few years back when I used to eat a packet of cheese-peanut butter crackers every afternoon, one of many crackpot diet stratagems -- three crackers at 1 p.m., three at 4 p.m. -- and they really were satisfying.
By now you all have heard the sorry news, that cheese-peanut butter crackers have been recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. Wouldn't it have been hilarious if I'd already written a little paean to the cheese-peanut butter cracker a day or two ago and then had to take it all back?
The idea that there could be salmonella in a package makes my skin crawl. I had assumed that food hermetically sealed in plastic was dead and sterile and therefore safe. (Yeah, that last sentence reflects a cockeyed attitude towards food but you know what I mean.) This is somehow worse than salmonella in a chicken, where you expect to encounter slime and pathogens and proceed accordingly. I handle raw poultry like a Grey's Anatomy character departing the O.R., using elbows to open doors and turn on faucets, then scrubbing my hands for seven minutes under scalding water and refusing to pick up the phone. All those precautions for a chicken and there's salmonella in mass market peanut butter. Wow.
Maybe in a few weeks my urge to write affectionate tributes to junk food will revive. By then cheese-peanut butter crackers will be fine again. Or as fine as anything that color ever really was to begin with.