I like to tell people how my mother used to hide Ding Dongs around the house when my sister Kelli and I were growing up. Then, because the real reason she did it isn’t very exciting, I’ll make up more fantastic explanations, such as “My mother had ‘Night Eater’s Syndrome!’ If there weren’t Ding Dongs in every room of the house, she’d swallow the nearest thing she bumped into. We lost so many cats!” Or, “She really likes the shiny paper wrapped around Ding Dongs. She makes fancy jewelry and takes it back to the state hospital after her weekend visits with us.” I’m convinced these stories are at the top of the list of reasons I’m so popular now, and why I’ve had so many calls from producers at Dr. Phil.
The truth of the matter is that my mother was more or less forced to hide Ding Dongs around the house when we were little because my sister Kelli and I were a couple of ravenous child sugar bandits who could suck down all the sugar Willy Wonka’s Oompa Loompas could churn out in a single shift. If the two of us had ever found an entire box of Ding Dongs just lying around in the kitchen, we would have immediately whisked it outside to the back of the house and gnawed our way through it with our faces like two raccoons who’d had their hands chewed off by an owl. Then Kelli would re-fill the empty box with socks or paper towels, close the top and slip it back in the cupboard. Eventually my mother would discover it, and when she confronted us with the evidence, Kelli would claim consumer fraud and demand my parents call Ralph Nader.
Kelli and I orchestrated a variety of schemes to maximize our daily sugar intake in ways that would leave my parents and our two older siblings completely dumbfounded. Maple syrup bottles would be drained and re-filled with Evergreen tea when no one was looking. Seemingly unopened boxes of Lucky Charms would ultimately reveal themselves totally lacking all colored marshmallow bits. While the rest of my family sat at the breakfast table, eating charm-less bowls of toasted oats and wondering why their pancakes tasted like Christmas trees, Kelli and I would giggle knowingly and high-five, or whatever 1970s kids did to celebrate their superiority… I can’t really remember… Hustle Bumps? Farrah Fawcett Head Flips?
Kelli was the one who discovered that when the Green household was out of Hershey’s Syrup for pouring out over ice cream, powdered Ovaltine could be used as a substitute. So we would shovel six or seven spoonfuls out of the jar and dump it over the tops of our vanilla scoops, then churn it feverishly for several minutes, taking a minimum of two breaks to switch hands or shake out our wrists. The resulting concoction resembled used motor oil mixed with cream of mushroom soup, and had a consistency strikingly similar to volcanic ash. We gobbled it up with the treasured, single, extra long “ice cream” spoon we’d share 60-40 (in Kelli’s favor, of course), then we’d go in search of some baker’s chocolate or bottles of corn syrup we might have missed in the back of the pantry. And if Kelli ever ran out of ways for us to ferret out new sugar sources around the house, we might switch to melting Barbie heads on the stove or bursting open glass thermometers and sliding the mercury around on paper plates
As for the ongoing troubles she had successfully hiding desserts in our home, my mother ultimately gave up the quest to outsmart her two youngest kids and handed over “Cloak and Dagger Ding Dong Duty” to my dad. He immediately started slipping the boxes into the bottoms of the dirty clothes hampers in our bedroom, and we never found them again.
Homemade Fudge Sauce From Smitten Kitchen
For 2 1/2 cups
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
- 3 tablespoons butter, unsalted
- 2/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons corn syrup
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon rum (Or other flavoring. I used 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract)
Melt the chocolate and butter very slowly in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring frequently until combined. Meanwhile, heat the water to boiling in the small, heavy saucepan. When the butter and chocolate have melted, stir the mixture into the boiling water. Add the sugar, corn syrup and salt and mix until smooth. Turn the heat up and stir until mixture starts to boil; adjust heat so that sauce is just maintained at the boiling point, stirring occasionally. Allow sauce to boil for nine minutes.
Remove from heat and cool for 15 minutes. Stir in the rum or the flavoring of your choice. Then serve while still warm, over ice cream.