As many/most/some of you know, I have a love-hate relationship with most foods. That is, I love the ones that won’t kill me, and I’m not a HUGE fan of the ones that will. (Notable exception: I hate mushrooms. They won’t kill me, but I hate them.) Yes, I’ve been blessed with food allergies.
When I was a kid, it was a novelty. When I was in elementary school I can only remember one other kid with food allergies to ANYTHING (I think hers was milk). These days, food allergies are everywhere! My daughter can’t bring peanut ANYTHING to school (which is fine by me), and the entire school is a nut-free zone. OMG, how I would’ve loved that when I was a kid. A safe, non-nut-filled environment in which to spend my days! I know there are those who are all, “Oh, you’ve got to learn to live with it, kiddo! In the REAL WORLD, no one will protect you, snowflake. You’ve got to learn to man up and deal with those peanuts in a strong, proactive and non-reactive way.”
To them, I say this: “Dude. There’s lots of time for kids to learn to deal with fatal allergies when they are in the world outside of school. But school should be safe. And sorry if Brayleigh/Aydan/Jaylan/Kaidyn can’t have their PBJ at lunch, but you can always feed them whatever the heck you want after school/on the weekends. And BT dubs, if YOUR kid had a fatal radish allergy or something, you’d be insisting on banning radishes, like, forevs.”
When I was a kid, I had several food-based scares. And it’s all the scarier to look back on NOW, because I didn’t have an Epi-pen until I was in university. I depended on crushed Benedryl and a crap-ton of water to ward off any food reactions. (Why didn’t I have an Epi-pen? GREAT question. Mostly because my doctor at the time was a crackpot and just told me that I should “avoid nut-products and any kind of all-you-can-eat-buffet situations.” Thank you, Dr. McRisk-Taker.)
Ahem. Anyway, I’m not here to reflect upon the many times peanuts/their evil cohorts tried to hunt me down and thwart my attempts to live,* but instead I’m here to discuss that time I opened a milkshake restaurant.
Oh, yes. Hold on tight, kiddies. My milkshake brings ALL the boys to the yard. Wait…what?**
Now, to be fair, this wasn’t my first foray into food service. No. Not by a long shot.
“Today, I baked a cake for Uncle Phil. I THINK I might have put a few too many chocolate chips on it.” (Jess, circa 1989)
I recall this very clearly. It was one of those little mix cakes I used to get for Christmas. It did have far too many chocolate chips on it. I kind of went nuts. And…well…it was maybe a bit inedible (sorry, Uncle Phil).
“I gave my dad a bowl of chips…plastic ones! He thought they were real! Ha ha!” (Jess, circa 1986)
He probably would’ve eaten them anyway. He likely just arrived home from gawdknowswhere and was really jet-lagged. So…sorry, Dad. Hope you enjoyed that dental work!
“I baked a LOT of sugar cookies today. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that one of the pans had just come out of the oven. I grabbed it with my BARE hand, and I now have a HUGE burn on it. I couldn’t remember if you were supposed to put butter or ice on it, so I put both.” (Jess, circa 1992)
Um, no. Just ice. But good try.
Anyway, those were all nifty little jaunts into baking/making stuff for people. But my REAL love, when I was under 10, was milkshake creation. And so, without further ado, I present:
“Jessica’s Menu of Milkshake Delights.” (Circa 1990)
Now, sometimes in your life you find something that basically suggests you were predestined to do the job you ended up doing. My job in Webkinz World initially involved writing copy for plush pets, their tasty foods and various items you could purchase for your pet. I found a type-written (as in, on a typewriter) menu that was basically a precursor to the work I’d eventually be paid for. And this trip down memory lane will prove that I was always meant to do that job:
“Visit Jessica’s restaurant and enjoy one (or many!) of these tasty delights!”
Hawaii Cooler – This drink comes in a frosty cold glass. It is flavoured with coconut and even comes with a cluster of coconut and a cherry on top. It quenches your thirst and satisfies the traveler in you! One of our best sellers! (Oh, God. Little Jess, no one has even visited your restaurant at the time of this menu printing. If by ‘best-seller’ you mean ‘one that I like drinking the most,’ then fine. You’re right.)
Peppermint Twist – Now here’s a shake with pizzazz! The amazing peppermint taste is one thing, but the candy cane at Christmas is another! So get off your chair and shake it! (OK, two notes: 1. You’ve never ‘shaken it’ in your life, darling. Unless ‘shake it’ refers to the inhaler you used to carry around. 2. Pizzazz? How old are you…10 or 70?)
Almond Joy – Sure, you’ve seen the candy bar, but here’s real joy in this milkshake! This combines the amazingly pure taste of vanilla with that unique and wild taste of almond (comes with almond on top if requested and available). (Um, unique and wild? Almond? Girl, what? Also, why you playing with your life like that? You’re technically NOT allergic to almonds (only safe nut!), but why tempt fate? Cross-contamination is totally a thing, although they don’t really have a word for it in your world yet.)
Nutty Crunch – A smooth creamy taste of vanilla blended with chopped nuts – a nut lover’s dream! Perfect for the nut in your life! (Nut types and flavours may vary. If you require specific nuts, please inform your server). (GIRL, WHY?! Y’all are going to DIE. Y’all need to wear gloves and a face mask when making this horrendous creation. NOT WORTH IT, GIRL!)
Very Cherry – Wow! A real burst of fruit! A cherry-flavoured milkshake with REAL chopped cherries.* Yum! (*Maraschino cherries.)
Snowstorm – A plain vanilla milkshake with sprinkles on top (may remove sprinkles if desired). Most children love this old-timer! (What kind of monster removes sprinkles from a milkshake?)
Chocolate Chip- Our customers love this vanilla milkshake (also comes in chocolate). It’s a dream, mixed with fine, fresh chocolate! When they leave, they are often still singing “Chip, chip hooray!” (No one does this except you. This is why we can’t have nice things.)
Shamrock Delight – With this mint green milkshake, you’re sure to have the luck of the Irish! Comes with pretend clover. If you are a lucky winner and receive a clover with four leaves, you’ll automatically win a prize (see your server for details). (Thankfully NO ONE ever ordered this, so I never had to come up with a prize. It likely would’ve been a gumball.)
Christmas Carol – A red milkshake – comes with a candy cane or a cherry on top – not flavoured as anything in particular. Also, this comes with the words to one of your many favourite songs. (I’m guessing I meant “Christmas-related songs/carols,” but it wasn’t really clear. Also, how can something not be flavoured as anything? Perhaps there was a lot of water and…red food colouring?)
Have a Heart – Yes, we’re also here for Valentine’s Day! Here’s something to get for the light of your life on that special day! A red coloured vanilla milkshake AND a coupon for your next milkshake – on us! (No one wants another milkshake, chica.)
Chocolate Lover’s Dream AKA Easter Bunny – Yum! For all of you chocolate fans, this is for you! A creamy blend of chocolate eggs and chocolate chip swirl. This is truly the one for Easter. (Sounds yummy, not gonna lie.)
Chocolate – Well, this is one of our oldest but sometimes the best seller of the month! (Welp, someone is never, ever gonna be a marketing expert. Like, for realsies. “Try this. It’s something that has been on the menu for a long time. It’s…you know, OK. Like, some months people like it a lot.”)
The Terrorizer – The true freak of Halloween! This yellow milkshake will spoil anyone’s appetite after your server tells you what it’s made of! (Um…what? What the holy hell did you put in this milkshake, young Jess? Oh, just yellow food colouring? Just that? Welp. Good marketing, I guess. Forget what I said earlier.)
The Secret Garden – This vanilla milkshake is covered in flowers! Oh no! What happened to the cook’s recipe book? (Er, how were you gonna pull this one off, J-Skillz? Like, paper flowers? Cookies? Um…real flowers? We didn’t have a TON of edible flowers nearby. I guess the dandelions on the hill behind the house? I think they spray those, though. Maybe not those.)
You can ALSO order EXTRAS!
* Chocolate Sauce
* Chocolate Chips
(Um…they can be that colour? Or…the colours are…on the side? Er?)
Happy Drinking! (I’m sure many an alcoholic drink was consumed after visiting the Restaurant of Milkshake Delights)
* Every time I visited Ottawa, I had an allergic reaction. Two super-scary ones (one while my parents and Benedryl were away) and several minor ones. One at leadership camp. Many at home (including a very scary one that I honestly thought would be curtains for Jess). And THREE from effing Blizzards. Eff you, Dairy Queen! Clean your mixer better between Blizzards, dammit. Oh, also honey on “Honey Day” in first grade. Why honey day? I have no idea. But yes, you can be very allergic to honey. Like, REALLY allergic.
** I taught an all-boy grade five class in my final year of teacher’s college. Kelis'”Milkshake” was very popular at that point, and the boys would absentmindedly sing the song during recess. One day, one of the boys came up to me while I was on yard duty and said “Why does her milkshake bring all the boys to the yard? It must be a pretty tasty milkshake if that many boys like it.” I kind of paused and then another one of the kids said, “Wait, it’s not really about milkshakes, is it?” I pretended to see a fight breaking out between a couple of first-graders and ran for the hills.