Food. And Gangs. But Mostly Food.

Wife and I grew up on the same street in Kearns, Utah.

 This is the house I grew up in. I just found it on the internet, because technology is amazing.

When our parents moved there, it was a neighborhood on the Utah Wasatch Front West Side (throws up a sign) where they built a bunch of starter homes that new families could buy on the cheap. By the the time ten years had passed, things had gone very, very downhill. Most of the young new families had moved on to greener, East-side pastures, leaving those of us who stayed to fend for ourselves. Let’s just say that the peaceful haven that was the neighborhood when I went to elementary school had shifted a great deal.  When I got to high school, our neighborhood was so riddled with gangs, or at least the rumor of gangs, that when I went to other schools for orchestra stuff and for other really cool reasons like that, I was often asked “so, do you guys have metal detectors at the entrance of your school?”

Yeah. Kearns is the fricking HOOD. As you can see I’m a nerdy, orchestral gang-banger. What, you thought there was a violin in this violin case? Ha, think again, sucker. I’m about to bust a cap. (Pulls out a semi-automatic weapon)

(It’s likely that I should never try to speak gang-banger again. That probably won’t stop me, though.)

Some examples of how crazy it got. 1. There was a lot of tagging with graffiti. Often, it happened on the fence of our front yard. 2. My next door neighbor was in his house minding his own business when he heard a weird pop, and something came through the drywall. It was a bullet. 3. The year after I moved, I was sitting in newspaper class with somebody who was researching gangs outside of California, and the article from the Oregonian we were looking at featured my high school, Kearns High.

Anyway, surprisingly, this post isn’t about gangs or how gangsta I am at heart because of my West Side upbringing. It’s about Wife and me, and our crazy food throwbacks from the days when sugared cereal was something that only happened on birthdays or Christmas, and chips didn’t come in individualized bags but had to be rationed out like soup at a soup kitchen, and candy bars were something we went to bed dreaming about in that distant “what if I were a king and lived in a castle, maybe I can become a rock star when I grow up, and maybe I’ll get a candy bar some day” kind of way.

“Mommy, Mommy, it’s Santa’s Workshop!!!”

Examples of weird post-Kearns poor-kid behavior:

1. The other night, Wife and I were at a church activity. For part of this activity, kids got to hit a piñata. (Whoa, go ME for remembering the code for the ñ.) The girls loved swinging at that thing. Eventually it burst, and littered its gut of candy everywhere, and there was an immediate frenzy where all the kids got in there to gather loot, just like it woulda been back in Kearns, but then, something unsettling happened. After all the good stuff was taken–the mini candy bars, and the suckers, and whatever else–all the kids just… left. And there on the floor was a pile of candy. Perfectly good candy. Like Smarties, and Tootsie rolls, and candy necklaces, and crystal meth. (That last one was a gratuitous lie to see if you were paying attention. Remember, this wasn’t Kearns.)

Anyway, Wife and I both looked at each other with a baffled expression, like “did that group of kids not NOTICE that there’s still a pile of candy right there? Why haven’t their greedy, poor-kid hands scooped it up in a frenzy reminiscent of fighting hyenas after a wildebeest kill?” Then we remembered: we’re not in Kearns. Up here, kids don’t give a crap about smarties. Kids feel insulted by smarties. Smarties are a sad, sad attempt at being sweet and delicious, and the kids here (including my own, tragically) walk away from a whole pile of them because they’re that bland. Anyway, that’s about the time Wife and I felt strangely compelled to swoop in like vultures and scoop it all up ourselves and start stuffing it all into our mouths so frantically we’d be taking actual bites out of the skin of our hands so we could make sure to get it in us before it disappeared, growling menacingly at anybody that got near us. It took all the strength we had to just walk away… (just walk away…walk away…*hyperventilates and growls like a rabid dog*)

Aw, look at all those tributes about to fight to the death in The Hunger Games kids waiting for their candy!

2. On Halloween, when our kids are exhausted and begging to go home, Wife and I are both like “WE WILL KEEP GOING UNTIL THERE IS NO FREE CANDY LEFT ON EARTH.”

3. At buffets, Wife and I have some weird impulses. First: Eat everything now or it will disappear and never come back again. Second: Is that free self-serve ice-cream!??? (Makes four bowls and devours them in succession without blinking or tasting and swallowing only four times). Third: Oh, I’ll just save this turkey leg/scoop of mashed potatoes and gravy/tray of stuffing for later (shoves it into Wife’s purse).

 When this food disappears, there will be no more food. Ever. (pours chicken broth into pocket)

4. We have a treat pantry. It is… unbelievable. It rivals Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Half of the friends we have are our friends only because they know when they come over they can raid it. But what you don’t understand is we have to have that stuff on hand, because what happens if you have a craving for a white chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter cup washed down with some Haagen Dazs dulce de leche ice cream and you don’t have any on hand????

The world literally ends in a flaming apocalypse. That’s what happens. You just don’t know it because Wife and I are smart and keep our cupboard overflowing to prevent your fiery death.

This orb hangs in the balance. The only thing keeping it safe from annihilation is a Heath Bar and some Cadbury chocolate eggs. Located in my pantry.

You’re welcome, planet Earth

(Wait, what? It’s not surprising to you that Wife and I both went through a fat phase? Fancy that…)

Photo attribution here and here


  1. Can't even begin to tell you how hard I laughed at that. When I'm a real adult and can afford more than beer and ramen in my kitchen, I am planning on following your footsteps with a Treat Pantry. But mine may have to be locked with a security code.


    Props to you for getting out of the HOOD in one piece.

  2. Oh my gosh Josh, this is hysterical. Sadly, I understand EVERY single thing you said and even as you were talking about leaving the extra candy behind I was thinking to myself "No, go back and pick it up!!!!" I only hope to one day rival your "treat cupboard" because as of now mine is only a small fraction of that. But one day…. =)

  3. I'm happy to discover where my hoarding tendencies come from. I feel the same way. At church parties I have to convince myself not to make a mad dash and get in the front of the food line or after an event I have to make sure I don't run to the dessert table. It will still be there. Kearns…you ruined us. 🙂

  4. I go through that same crisis at buffets. The problem is my stomach can't hold anything after the 3rd or 4th trip back to the food line, but I keep eating anyway.

    And then comes the sickness 😛

  5. I am a kindred spirit in that one of the best perks of being an adult is that I can buy cereal and eat the whole box if I want. I buy the generic brand of Sugar Smacks (or whatever pc name they've given it these days) and Cap'n Crunch at ALL TIMES. Life in the fast lane!

  6. How is it that you manage to have a treat cupboard that's kept full at all times?! Josh wouldn't let us buy Oreos at the grocery store last week because he and I both knew that we'd eat them ALL that night. Please, tell me your secrets.

  7. @The Tall One–Oh yeah, a security code would be awesome! I think I might have to try that…

    @Grawrock88–soon, you'll be able to get real Cadbury chocolate. So your future pantry already wins.

    @Kimmie–Yeah, exactly! It's quite an effort not to run to the front of the line.

    @Meredith–Why thank you!

    @Christine–Yeah, I'm with you. A stomach can only hold so much. That's why you's gotsta use other receptacles. Like pockets. And purses. And underwear.

    @momiss–Heck yeah! You know you're livin' large when you can pour a heaping bowl of Cap'n Crunch and then pour another one without being reprimanded by some adult figure.

    @Th–It's appalling. I don't know how I can stomach it either.

    @Sarah–Here's the secret. Buy so much candy that consuming it in a day or even a week is impossible. It actually lessens the impulse, believe it or not.

    @TILTE–Yeah. I pretty much do this for the express purpose of blowing people's minds. Just you wait–I have a Weed/Wife fat history post that will knock your socks of with new, fresh data. Plus pictures!


    @Daniel–Not surprising. Not surprising at all.

  8. My mom, sister and I used to split a candy bar 3 ways, that is if mom could afford one on grocery day. Now I could eat 3 candy bars in one sitting and still want more. What's up with that? OK Mr. Psychologist, gimme some tips to quit these obsessive behaviors.

  9. You are a funny, funny man, Mr. Weed. I enjoyed this post. I laughed out loud (the real way….the one that actually produces an audible sound) on more than one occasion. And I kind of want some candy now. Thanks.

  10. Wait, so Smarties are WHITE TRASH?!?! They are very nearly my all-time favorite candy. EVER. Only next to Reese's. I can't believe you walked away from a free pile of Smarties. I'm not sure we can be friends anymore.

  11. how was i at your house the other night and i FORGOT about the Treat Pantry! (darn that Jenni's Challenge!! I know that is what did it!)

    In honor of food that MIGHT run out, or the fear that your brother might see the last chicken wing and grab it before you can reach, or in honor of those of us WILLING to eat a Tootsie Rolls because it IS candy, right? Let's go to Buffett– VEGAS?!!

  12. Treat pantry? You have a treat pantry???

    I see what "friendship level" I am on…hmmpphh! I'll be crying myself to sleep tonight, but don't worry about it…I'll be fine…sniff, sniff!

  13. Oh. My. Goodness.
    All these years I have never known why I have such a weird compulsion to hoard all my treats and goodies. Until now.
    I also grew up in the ghetto, and I, too have my own treat pantry. Thank you for getting to the bottom of this!

  14. Dude, smarties and tootsie rolls are the BEST CANDY.

    Also, off topic, but I was reading your archives (new reader) and I want to say that I'm glad I found someone else who drinks sweetened condensed milk from a can. That stuff is awesome.

  15. I never really had a problem with rushing to get the food until I go married. My husbands family (9 kids with spouses and a gazillion grand kids) + a buffet = you snooze you loose! If you are at the end of the line when they all say "amen" you are out of luck. By the time you get to where the food should be there is just a desert (or dessert) waist land of what once was…if you're lucky, some of the veggies are left.

  16. Many thoughts from this post. Mainly, I'm mourning for those poor candies left behind. I would have saved them and put them in a jar on my counter and slowly consumed them over months… oh wait, that actually happened. Except it wasn't pinata candy it was parade candy and we humiliated ourselves by gathering it all hauling our infant child in our hand as our ticket to the sugary high of nasty parade sweets.

  17. But as a preschool teacher, I take a small personal joy in offering a bowl of smarties and a bowl of dum-dums and seeing which kid picks which (they're almost all dum-dum lovers, btw).

  18. I live in England, and what made this post even funnier for me is that here, a 'gang-bang' is an orgy. Just thought you should know.

  19. Thanks, Weed, you have now triggered every food related craving I have ever had. I do not have Reese's Peanut Butter Cups or ice cream in the house because it would not survive. One sucky day and, bam, all that candy is snarfed up and I go from feeling awful on the inside to feeling awful on the outside. Those with food issues and emotional eating issue cannot buy and bulk. Individually wrapped snacks were designed for us. For me if I have a craving for something decadent, I have to commit to getting in my car, driving to the store and justify in the aisles picking up an impulse food that took 30 minutes to get. This usually works. Hmm.. I think I feel a blog post coming on.

    BTW, Smarties are a perfectly good candy.

  20. Where have you been all of my life? (And, I mean that in the MOST non-stalkable way). This post made me less irritated that it is snowing. Again.

    I agree with the pinata (maybe you can share the n trick?) theory, and have seen kids see a penny and NOT pick it up. Like it isn't real money. OR good luck! Also, ignoring nickels and dimes as if they don't add up to MONEY. MON-AYYYY.

    Pinatas give me the creepy-geepies. The idea of merrily beating an animal until it's innards fall out to peals of joyous laughter makes me shudder. When it was the lame striped horse/donkey/whatever it wasn't so bad, but watching a group of 6 year old girls gang-jumping The Little Mermaid until she cracked open gave me the shakes.

    Come visit me at

    My following of my mom and her bridge club don't make for good comments.

    The Onion

  21. Hey Josh, I surfed into your blog after my friend sent me a link to a post by "The Bloggess." Her one-liner sidebar summary of your blog was irresistible, being that I'm Mormon too and we love to read about ourselves being normal. Anyway, I've been chuckling it up for the better part of the day, reading all through your delicious blog, when I came to this post and I just had to give a shout out because I WENT TO KEARNS HIGH TOO! Other similarities that have brought me the enjoyment of relating: my hubby and I lived in Seattle for four years whilst he was a Microserf, and I am a runner also and know the pain of the unrelieved bowel movement. And yet it was the remembrance of sugar-filled fantasies that finally brought me to comment. I just wanted to say, your childhood home looks like it was from my neighborhood! I lived below 5600 and north of 4500. Yes? Also, I graduated KHS in 1994. I think you may be several years younger than me so maybe we were not in high school at the same time. But I wanted to say hey anyway and throw you that super secret gang signal all us Kearnsians obviously know. Stock some Chicken-in-a-Biscuit for me!

  22. @they call me mommy–I'm so glad you ended up posting. I'm always happy to run into a fellow Kearns High School Gangsta. (Throws up KHS sign in bad-a solidarity.) I only went there one year, 1996 so it looks like we missed each other. But I'm pretty sure I felt your legacy there… and, not kidding, I recognize your face. Any younger sibs? Also, your house WAS really close to ours. We were on West Slope Drive and were in the Kearns 6th ward. Fun fact: Wife was student body president of Jefferson Junior High (not sure if you went there.) Oh, and don't worry, we've got you covered on the Chicken-in-a-Biscuit front! Thanks a ton for commenting!

  23. @they call me mommy–Wife said I should clarify, we were on 5600 west and 5400 S.

    Also, how funny that you guys lived in Seattle!

    Also, I went to Kearns in '96, but graduated in '98, but wife graduated in '97, so I think that means that if you went to Jefferson you were in 9th when she was in 7th. (I should be a freakin' mathematician! Unless my math is wrong, in which case I should probably stick to words. Wait. I just did it on my hands. My math is wrong. Oh well, I'm leaving this for your entertainment.)

    Also, I seriously do feel the Kearns bond right now! If you were here, I'd fist-bump you and then we'd eat some lick-a-maid and maybe ride some scooters or something. Go K-town!

    1. So, you will probably never see this comment since it is now 2012, but I couldn't resist. Lick-a-maid? Does your wife know about this? I'm sure we don't have anything like THAT in Provo.

      Also, I kind of hate you because I have spent most of the last 3 days reading your blog and laughing. It was bad enough when I was just reading the blog, but then I started reading the comments too. BIG MISTAKE! But hey, who ever said I have to get off the computer and make supper?

  24. I think this might be a Utah thing my whole family lives like this it took me several years and a few ulcers to teach my brain you dont have to fight for food they make more. I still have a wicked food storage issue though. Im really digging your blog I realize this is an old post but i had to comment

  25. I know this is an old post, but I was looking up information on gangs in Kearns for my 20 year high school reunion and I found this. WEST SIDE PRIDE (throwing up a gangsta sign that looks more like I have arthritis)! I have to read more of your blog because YOU ARE HILARIOUS. I totally identified with everything you said about Kearns and especially KHS. I seriously think people thought I was going to knife them at any moment when I was out of "the hood". And I was a drama geek. Look out while I thespian you to death! Here's to hoping we can have a family friendly 5K run this summer without anyone getting knifed – or arrested because they think we are some weird A gang.

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