Sometimes I think back on the food I ate as a kid and wonder how the heck I was able to go back outside and continue playing with surely fewer nutrients than the human body needs to work with. Pop a quick Little Debbie Fudge Round or inhale a bowl of Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese and go. I don’t know how I did it, but I know that today I definitely value food existing as an experience all on its own. With this list, I give you memory-making foods that will either flash you back to a simpler time, or feel like a true upgrade from the fast-meal nature you used to adore but sadly outgrew. Stay gold!
Boozy Milkshakes| HADLEY’S BAR + KITCHEN | 260 S FOURTH ST.
The shortcut to turning any kid treat into an adult favorite is simple: add booze. And at Hadley’s, they are all too familiar with this formula. The menu here features sophisticated flavors like Oreo Bonanza with Smirno Vanilla, Key Lime Pie with Absolut Lime, and a Bacon Bourbon Maple with Bulleit Bourbon. Of course, we all have a vegan friend who avoids dairy, and Hadley’s made sure they were covered with a vegan Coco Coffee Shake with Watershed Vodka. Usually, I’d say grab a few straws and share with your friends, but these are best enjoyed separately.
The Octodog | DIRTY FRANK’S | 248 S FOURTH ST.
Some of those disgusting combinations you crafted as a child have potential in the eyes of the chefs over at Dirty Frank’s. Forget cut-up hot dogs mixed into mac ‘n’ cheese, you completely neglected to consider the presentation of the dish. (Classic kid move.) Order The Octodog, an octopus-shaped hot dog sitting happily on top of a pile of mac ‘n’ cheese from Dirty Frank’s. This could also be seen as the adult-equivalent to dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets. Since when was the last time you ate something shaped like an animal? Probably before junior high. Feel young again by stuffing your face with creamy mac ‘n’ cheese and an octopus hot dog cooked to adult standards, but visually appealing to the five-year-old at heart.
Ramen Noodles | FUKURYU | 1600 W LANE AVE.
Here we transition into adulthood and arguably the first meal you ever learned how to cook: ramen noodles. Your standards have surely upgraded since the last time you made a $0.98 meal from home, so prove it at Fukuryu, where you can eat actual, authentic Japanese ramen. This quick-and-easy, Costco-style dinner has been given a bad rep for far too long, because one trip to Fukuryu will show you how ramen is supposed to taste. Piled with chicken, pork belly, soft shell crab, or tofu, and a mountain of toppings you pick like sweet corn, chili pork, naruto, leeks, chili oil, toasted garlic oil, and more, their flavors are more expansive than your under-developed child taste buds could probably take. Now, they’re right up your alley. Get slurpin’.
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Edible Cookie Dough | COOKIE DOUGH CREAMERY | 7227 N HIGH ST.
Butter, flour, sugar, and a secret ingredient…don’t worry, it’s not eggs. No one’s getting hit with a spoon for eating raw cookie dough around here, they’re just getting tips at Cookie Dough Creamery. Fill a cup with one of six cookie dough flavors and pile it high with ice cream and toppings the way you always over-did as a kid. They have five main flavors of cookie dough: chocolate chip, sugar cookie, Oreo, peanut butter, and brownie batter. Plus, every few months they offer one to three seasonal flavors to try. (This summer it’s lemon!) As far as making your own cookie dough at home goes, quit the risk and trust whisk at Cookie Dough Creamery. I can tell you from experience it’s just like Mom’s, minus the lecture for eating it.
Gourmet Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches | KREMA NUT COMPANY | 1000 GOODALE BLVD.
The picky eater in all of us died at age 12 when we quickly became aware of how good food combinations foreign to us actually taste. In other words, we aren’t as stuck to only strawberry or grape jelly as we used to be. We’re not as hard on our friends who were scared to try peanut butter and fluff as a kid. Today, we go gourmet. Krema’s has a wide variety of PB&Js, all with an unconventional twist. Strawberry preserves are used instead of strawberry jelly, and fresh slices of strawberries sit in the sandwich with it. Other combos include The Kicker, or peanut butter and spicy raspberry preserves for the kid who made sure everyone knew it was his rock, not the neighborhood rock. Plus other game-changers like PB Apple Cheesecake, and almond or cashew butter instead of peanut butter are up for grabs at this one-of-a-kind nut company serving classic American favorites with a twist.
Cotton Candy Cocktail | FORNO | 721 N HIGH ST.
The days of begging your parents for overpriced u at baseball games are over, but the days of making our everyday cocktails more Instagrammable are coming quickly. As a result, Forno is now serving a new cotton candy cocktail served in two glasses: one for the drink, and the other to hold a cloud of pink cotton candy, set aside for you to dissolve when your iPhone ash is ready. Sip one and you’ll start acting like those sugar-high cartoon characters who were actually acting drunk to get a laugh from the parent viewers helicoptering over their kid’s TV shows. Grow up and spike your cotton candy this summer!
Cover photo by Brian Kaiser.