It's been said over and over: elementary school lunches may be the closest you can get to prison food without actually ending up behind bars. Soggy peas and carrots, mystery meat, you know. Limp tater tots that had no better use than ammo in the rare but hugely satisfying food fight. But I also remember some lunches thoughtfully packed by my mom long before she started her career as a chef. She would include notes to the tune of “I love you, don’t let the bullies take your spirit (or milk money)” and knew I would only finish my lunch if she catered to the cheese addiction I developed basically as soon as I grew teeth.

This Throwback Thursday, I analyze the friends I sat with at lunch (and actually liked).

Babybels 
I can’t truthfully say I know what kind of cheese Babybel is supposed to be, and I’m not sure they do either, as the description on the Laughing Cow website reads: “Original semisoft cheese: mild, but not weak, strong but not overbearing. The perfect blend of confidence." Confidence? Confidence aaaand what? Regardless, this vague and unhelpful information doesn't discourage me from remembering the delight in peeling back the red wax shell to reveal the miniature wheel of goodness within. For all those Babybel connoisseurs out there: they now offer cheddar, mozzarella and gouda flavors. Note: flavors, not actual variations. We’re talking gouda-flavored confidence.

String cheese
To this day, I find it highly offensive when I see someone take a bite out of a string cheese. If you are one of these people, go home. It's called string cheese for a reason: it is required by cheese law that you pull it apart into lustrous strands with silky hanging cheese-capillaries, then carefully lower the shreds into your gullet. It is a ritual and from a purely scientific point of view, introduces more surface area to oxygen, which helps develop its milky, slightly tangy flavor.

Annie’s mac & cheese
I know what you’re thinking, but there is a time and a place for the Kraft vs. Annie’s debate and it is not now. They are both delicious. Okay? Okay. While this isn’t the most ideal lunchbox food, I proudly ate that neon-orange macaroni and cheese out of a thermos for lunch, because that is how you keep it warm and delicious. 

Gnosh pack
Remember those plastic-sealed variety packs with celery and baby carrots, ranch dressing and cubes of mild cheddar cheese that were supposed to be a healthy alternative snack more fun than a herd of Dunkaroos? Vegans all over Brooklyn who relished those as kids are now writing slam poetry about how detrimental those variety packs are for your health *scratches beard*  “Well, I guess the celery is okay.” Regardless, those waxy orange cubes had a special place in my heart. The carrots, whatever. They kinda look like cheese, but they're not.

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