When we were in school, we hoped summer would come quickly. At school lunchtime, we just hoped for something edible. Many adults are still just a little traumatized by the smell, taste, and even SHAPE of their least favorite school lunches.
The Dreaded Scoop
So many lunch items came in a sticky ball that just looked gross. It didn’t stop at rice, mashed potatoes, or mac & cheese. No, there were scoops of odd casseroles that were maybe tuna or maybe chicken. Seems like most of them were grey. The lunch lady just didn’t have a flair for presentation.
The Rectangle Pizza
As adults, it seems people are pretty evenly split over the slab of rectangle pizza. Filling and topped with melty cheese, many people remember it fondly. Most, if not all of us agree that pizza became really yucky if you didn’t get to the lunch table before it cooled completely. The crust somehow turned both stale and soggy at the same time. And all the grease seemed to congeal on top, ruining our cheesy goodness.
Dr. Seuss Inspired Green Eggs & Ham
On or around March 2nd every year, school lunch ladies go wild, adding green food coloring to the eggs with a side of ham jerky (how DID they get it so dry?!) Dr Seuss is to be celebrated, powdered eggs reconstituted with water, and food dye should be outlawed.
It was served already mixed together with stale chips, wilted lettuce, and surprisingly hard shreds of cheese. The deal breaker, though, was the slightly muddy-looking scoop of refried beans on top. And once plopped on top could never be scraped from the ingredients below.
Warm White Milk
Of course, the chocolate milk went first. So plain milk got to sit out longer, just warming up for the next student in line. Bonus if the expiration date stamped on the carton was more than a year earlier.
When Good Vegetables Are Served Bad
Green beans have the worst rap for veggie sides. It wasn’t just that the green beans were not green but an odd brownish-grey that exists nowhere in nature. They had a burnt, metallic flavor. Definitely, no butter in the school lunch recipe.
Maybe if the lunchroom meal preparers just drained off the fluid from the big industrial-size aluminum can before heating up the beans? Future generations can only hope.
The first runner-up was the mismatched but frequently served carrot, corn, and lima bean combo. “Succotash”. Emphasis on the first syllable.
Stale Bread Sandwiches
Maybe the bread started out fresh. But either by sitting uncovered for long periods or a failed attempt to make the sandwich grilled or toasted, that white bread was awful. The addition of a leaf of lettuce that was limp by the time a kid put it on their tray did not help. At all.
There were some PB&Js and mystery meat sandwiches claiming to be cold cuts. The occasional lazy day, one piece of cheese between two slices of bread recipe. And the horrible burgers. (Do you think burgers are sandwiches?) Whatever they were, they were grey and kind of looked fuzzy.
This might land on a list of urban legends. But any kid who was served Flying Saucers in the lunchroom will tell you they were frighteningly real. Bologna, topped with mashed potatoes, topped with a couple of slices of bright, yellow cheese. Sometimes, the meat was a slightly ground ham patty that left the kids wishing for bologna.
Solid plan, poor execution. The watery green-grey vegetable soup inevitably had mostly celery, with a sad pea or slice of carrot floating in the mix.
The Gravy Fooled Noone
Gravy was the big red flag. Anything served in the school cafeteria topped with gravy meant you did NOT want to know the truth of what was underneath. Usually, it was something claiming to be steak, either Salusbury or chicken fried, but always awful. It was strange that even when topped with gravy, the mashed potato ball had the ability to stick to your lunch tray, even upside down.
The best days were when you could find someone who actually liked the fish sticks and would trade you for the chocolate chip cookie. Even though there was only one square chocolate chip baked onto the top of it.
This thread inspired this post
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