Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Kids, Don't Try This At Home...Ever.

At the school I work at, snack time is an important part of the day.

Like second-breakfast for hobbits, it is necessary for the kids to have their daily after-lunch-but-before-snack-at-home bit of goodness.

Usually we make offerings of fruit gummies, Goldfish crackers (the snack that smiles back), animal crackers (the taste says "cookie" to me, but that's beside the point), fruit, etc...

These offerings are usually met with acceptance, and a promise to not tear around the room and destroy things for the amount of time it takes to consume said snack. It is a formula that has worked since time immemorial (or at least the beginning of the school year).

Til we (the grown-ups) messed with the formula.

Last Friday, we decided to do something just a bit different: we decided to have a "snack-time cooking adventure".

We discovered that the kids in our class don't take well to adventure.

We had our recipe for Cracker Jacks, a tasty treat that all kids love, right?


We have ten kids in our class, and thought it would be fun if they could all participate in the snack-making process, so everyone got to put in a separate ingredient, stir the syrupy mixture that resulted (this is the point where I started getting nervous, but I kept my fears to myself), and they all seemed to enjoy that part of it.

Then came the cooking part.

I placed the bowl containing the goopy, pre-Cracker Jacks...stuff...into the microwave and set it for the time given in the recipe.

So far, so good.

We discovered that we had put the baking soda in one step too early, but that part worked out, 'cause it foamed up really cool, and we got several "ooh's" and "aahhh's" from the still-excited kids.

Then, we poured amounts of the sticky-and-quickly-hardening "candy" into paper sacks of popcorn. After letting the kids shake up their bags, I placed one back into the microwave, because the directions said at this point to "cook again in microwave for one minute". I followed the directions.

That was my mistake.

What came out of the microwave after only twenty-five seconds was a bag of fear that emitted a noxious, gassy smoke, prompting one girl in the class to remind us that she doesn't like fire alarms.

We promptly opened all of the windows, which also gave me a place to dump the horrible first results of our experiment (there was some concern that it would kill any animals which might happen upon it, but I argued that no animal would be stupid enough to eat what we had just wrought).

There was terror in the room now; terror that smelled of charred brown sugar and death.

We forged ahead.

There was enough of the tarry concoction left that we tried a different tack; we put popcorn onto paper plates, heated the candy-stuff just enough to keep it viscous (I love that word), poured it over the popcorn and mixed it up.

The first table to receive the benefits of our wisdom seated four children. As soon as the re-heated Cracker Jack "soup" hit the popcorn at the center of the table, all four chairs scooted away, scattering to the four points of the compass.

"No snack! No snack!" said one child, while another simply proclaimed, "Eeew...". The other two children were apparently terrified beyond the capacity for sound.

Seeing the gossamer strings that formed as the stuff stretched and cooled brought a comment of "I won't eat that! There's hair in it!" at another table.

We did eventually convince the children to try it, by trying it ourselves. I was a bit apprehensive about this, but I had to think of the kids.

We all discovered that, despite its horrid appearance and evil stench, it did, in fact, taste like Cracker Jacks.

Which I don't like very much, but again: beside the point.

Once they tried it, all fear was gone, and the kids descended upon the hapless homemade horror, reducing it to crumbs and little crunchy bits of whatever that Cracker Jack stuff really is.

For the rest of the day, kids from other classes were wondering why they smelled "burnt pancakes", and teachers from all over the school were stopping me to ask "Was...was there something on fire in your room?"

The kids got their snack (we felt bad about terrifying them earlier, so the little hobbits got "second-snack" a bit later), I got a lifetime of memories (once the fear was over, I laughed longer and harder than I have in a long time, and that's saying something, 'cause I laugh a lot), and the school got a new aroma that still haunts the hallway (I suspect that forty years from now, someone will be standing in our classroom saying "Something horrible once happened here...").

We even learned a valuable lesson:

We need to keep a lot more fruit snacks on hand.

Thanks for reading my ranting,



  1. I dare you to set up a hot plate and make that on the spot to hand out to Trick or Treaters. I bet that'd go over great. (Stupid spell check thinks neither Treaters nor that'd are real words (right-click "Add to Dictionary" and now it does)).

    Are you gonna try it again at home so your personal Hobbits can have a crack at it?

    My Mom broke a tooth one time on homemade caramel corn so have a care with that.

  2. Okay, I was already laughing so hard I'm sure I pulled something. Then I read this:

    "the school got a new aroma that still haunts the hallway (I suspect that forty years from now, someone will be standing in our classroom saying "Something horrible once happened here...")."

    And now I seriously need to call an ambulance. Death by laughter... I suppose there are worse ways to go.

  3. Rob, I'll be out Trick-or-Treating with the kids, so I won't be able to try that, but man, oh man, making those horrible popcorn-ball things with this recipe would truly be the stuff of Halloween legend.
    Lydia, there are worse ways to go: eating this stuff.

  4. You'd probably have kids out on the lawn hurling sticky smelly popcorn balls at each other long into the night. Their screams would echo around your neighborhood for hours. Kids would come home crying with sticky popcorn balls stuck in their hair. Next day all the kids in your neighborhood would show up at their various schools with horrible new haircuts because their families would have had to cut the horror off their heads.

    Not only legendary but long lasting. It would take months for the kids in your neighborhood to recover. Months. If they ever do.

    I bet the parents would hunt you down like Freddy. You would become the stuff of morality style bedtime stories. Kids would come to fear your name like Pennywise. The legacy you would leave behind...

    But tasty. Nom.

  5. Ahahaha! Too funny! I've never even heard of this recipe, but now I know to not go anywhere near it. :D

  6. I actually like Cracker Jacks, but I think I shall avoid any home version. Hahahahaha!

    Those poor kids.

  7. I love it! Did this really happen?  You really have a talent for writing.