My handbag is basically a pic-a-nic basket (whenever you can be more like Yogi Bear, I strenuously recommend it—start by adding an extra syllable to pic-a-nic basket). At any given point in time, there is an apple, an orange, three bars, candy, nuts, apple chips and likely half of a sandwich. When I fly, I tend to bring the same arsenal—apple, orange, three bars, butterscotch candy, pretzels, cut up veggies, and a box of animal crackers. I don’t know what it is about animal crackers, but I. Can’t. Help. Myself. Can’t.
While I ate them yesterday over Atlanta, I got to thinking, “what is it about Animal Crackers that I like so much?” I mean, let’s be honest. They don’t taste very good. And I’m notoriously picky. I’m a “Drive to three stores, two farmers markets and a dairy to grocery shop for ingredients every week” kind of picky. Why do I insist on consuming these bland stale teething biscuits during air travel (Not on a road trip. Don’t be a monster. Everyone knows that during a road trip, you eat Cheeto’s Puffcorn and David’s sunflower seeds you crazy person)? So here’s what I’ve come up with:
First, they are AMINAL SHAPED. Yes, I spelled aminal correctly. Because when you are an adult eating food shaped like zoo inhabitants and you lovingly pull out each cookie and consider the form that has been gifted to you then have a little conversation in your head, “Hellooooo Gorilla! I’m so sorry that I’ll be eating you today! ZEBRA! I can’t believe it! I never get a zebra!!” You call them aminals. And who doesn’t love food in childlike imagination inducing forms?
Second, they come in a PURSE. I know that some dastardly manufacturers are attempting to quash the joy of childhood by selling animal cookies in other containers—buckets, for example, but those nefarious buzzkills should be put on notice—animal crackers live in a box shaped like a Circus Train Car. With a handle for convenient carrying. Period. End of story. The insane amount of satisfaction that I garner from opening the box, mentally dividing the pasty flavorless forms into the number of servings that I anticipate having legs of flights, and taking the little handled lunchbox out of my purse like a small child every time that I reach cruising altitude is unquantifiable. Really. Glee.
Finally, every one of these tiny cookies is packed with whimsical nostalgia. I used to watch Shirley Temple movies with my grandmother and loved her ringlet covered tap dancing little soul. Every time I buy a box of animal cookies, I sing, “Animal crackers in my soup!” In my head and I silently wonder whether animal crackers used to be savory because it would be strange to have cookies in your chicken noodle. I always vow to give it a Google, but I always forget. And it doesn’t matter, really, because these cookies taste like kindergarten and a time when friendships were easy, and politics, war and the worries of the world weren’t even a twinkle in the universe’s eye for me yet. And when I’m eating them, I allow myself to be that child again, apologizing to the hippopotamus for chomping his rump and giggling at his polite response—hippopotamuses speak in a lovely South African accent, you know, and are very formal.