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The Worst Foods of Childhood - My Top 10 Food Horrors

Updated on June 4, 2010


(all photos public domain)
(all photos public domain)

Brachs Circus Peanuts

At about age 6, I was given a circus peanut at home, told that it was like a marshmallow.

This is the absolutely worst-flavored candy I have ever met! It's flavor and aroma are that of baby aspirin, plastic, and chalk! It also smells like certain brands of spray paint.

They also tasted stale, like they'd been in a discount, mark-down display for two years. But that's their normal favor.

Take it from me, they are nothing like Brach's Maple Candy, which has always been delicious.


"It's like a cough drop"
"It's like a cough drop"
"Yes, it's a popsicle, muah-ha-ha-ha-ha..."
"Yes, it's a popsicle, muah-ha-ha-ha-ha..."

Vicks Vap-o-Rub and Wheatena

At age seven. I contracted German Measles or Rubella, was covered with spots for the usual two weeks, but never got better. My fever went up to 1061/2 degrees and I contracted bronchial pneumonia. This was most likely because my parents each smoked 5 paks of cigarettes daily and would not open the windows.

My father forced me to eat Vicks Vap-o-Rub, convinced that this would help. It did not help and tasted horrible. In addition, it was not to be taken internally. My fever did not reduce and my eyes were so dry that it hurt to even blink.

I was placed into a bathtub of cold water, ice cubes, and alcohol, causing my fever to reduce a half of a degree, but not enough. When I was hospitalized in the local children's ward, name tags were placed on the wrong beds the first day and a nurse attempted to administer the wrong medication to me. I spoke up, fearing poisoning, and saved myself -- With the correct meds, my fever finally came down the first evening. The next day, I was given cooked cereal for breakfast, but it was uncooked, with no milk to put on it anyway. It tasted horrible.

A little girl two beds down from me died on the third day. By the end of the 4th day, I was released to go home and spent another week in bed, but never had to eat Vicks again.

However, I was given orange sherbet for the first time, having been told it was a Popsicle, so it would cool my sore throat. The acid in the all-natural sherbet burned my mouth and throat instead. This was enough to turn me against marshmallows AND Popsicles (all orange) and maybe even oranges, but I realized that some people just don't know how to described things.

Calf Brains

Going back in time, at age 5, I went to a farm of a distant relative to an at-home funeral.

At the buffet lunch after the funeral, I was given a calf-brain sandwich and told to eat it without an explanation of what it might be. I took one bite and started yelling. It had the consistency and flavor of a sponge and I felt it was fake food or something for adults. Someone else ate it.

Gourmet Cat

Camellini Luca's cat loved Popeye brand canned spinach. She can have my portion.
Camellini Luca's cat loved Popeye brand canned spinach. She can have my portion.

Canned Spinach

Have you ever eaten limp, cooked rope floating in vinegar? I was given long-overcooked canned spinach (over processed from the start) in vinegar a couple of times -- I can taste and smell it as I type this. I just ddn;t like it.

Today I love fresh spinach and don't even purchase it frozen - fresh or nothing.

Fresh is Best to Me

Canned Peas

I cannot decribe the taste of canned peas. They are over processed in the can and any cooking makes them worse to my taste. Too mushy and a strange flavor. They're probably good in soup, though.

Today, I love frozen and fresh peas, but pass up the canned varieties.

Souse and Headcheese


I'm sorry, I can't eat this. My father enjoyed this product, because his family always made it on the farm. Their recipe was nice and tangy, with pickles, vinegar, pig parts and beef parts, and aspic (gelatin made right from the hoofs).

This one smelled good to me as a child, because of the pickles, but I couldn't get it into my mouth. I like beef tongue from the deli today, though.

Burned Meat

Unfortuantely, if it was beef or pork, my mother often burned the meat, especially if it was steak or liver. Prok chops and beef roast always came out great, but steak and liver were doomed in the pan for some reason.

The liver was bad. It was placed into a skillet on top of a pat of butter and fried hard on both sides. It literally tasted like dirt.

Today, I don't eat it often, but when I do, I use bacon for fat an soemtimes add a bottle of Faygo Diet Cherry Cola or an equivalent and the liver tastes entirely different.



Pig Snout and Pig's Feet

I also incurred pig snouts and pig's feet as a child and when I became acquainted with Asian friends and rice shops as adults. To date, I can't eat any of these things.

Pig snout is often fond hanging in reice shops in Chinatown, red with seasonings after cooking. It is sliced and eaten over rice or other foods. It smells good, but I can't get it into my mouth. 


Hot Black Tea

Every time I drank hot tea as a child, it came straight back up. My stomach did not like it for some sort of reason. Then again, perhaps a young child should not be given strong black tea?

Many kinds of tea are delicious to me now, but I still prefer iced tea to hot tea.

Uni Served as Sashimi

Considered a delicacy.
Considered a delicacy.

Sea Urchin

This is a bonus item on my list of childish horrors.

I'd heard of sushi as a child, but never had the opportunity to try it until I was an adult. Several types of sushi tasted good immediately. However, uni (Japanese sea urchin ovaries) are not to my liking. I have not yet figured out how to describe their flavor, beside being bad to me. Many people like them; I'm just not one of them.

Comments & Experiences

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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      6 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Pet rabbit? That's harsh to do to kids.

    • Misty Manes profile image

      Misty Manes 

      6 years ago from Missouri

      I had cod liver oil as a child.. that was my parents "remedy" thing. Strangely I actually like it. Rabbit I cannot even THINK about eating. One summer we went to visit my grandma's farm, and as soon as we got there were called in for supper. I was given stew, no description and made to finish the whole bowl. Turns out it was pet rabbit stew. :(

    • twogroce profile image


      8 years ago

      Hmmm... Very, very interesting hub. Hugs to you!

      My son actually really likes those cirus peanuts.

      My sisters and I grew up on either burnt, over cooked meat or boxed frozen entrees. It took a long time once I was grown to realize its okay to cook meats until brown not black. Perhaps my mother did that in an attempt to kill off anything in the meat. I can imagine putting any of the other stuff into my mouth knowing what it is. And I am going to really try hard to remember uni and not order it. I thank you for the information I the hub.

      God bless!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      A WHOLE brain? - even a small one = AGHHHHH, why not just serve a dish sponge? I hear brains in an omlette or scrambled are OK, but not appetizing to me.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 

      9 years ago from France

      iagh!! Last year I was in a French hospital for a week and the first meal they served me for dinner was BRAIN I was horrified, I couldn't even touch it. My mom used to cook them in omellettes which I never ate, but here they served them whole with parsley and garlic... needless to say I went hungry that night!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      My cousin and I used to sneak into my granndparent's bedroom, each eat two tums, and snatch their Vick's. We would take it to the basement and sit and smell it and talk until my grandma would come looking for us! To this day, it is one of my favorite scents. Sometime last year they came out with Vick's kleenex...I thought I had died and gone to heaven! One of the first times my long-distance boyfriend picked me up at the airport, he put a little Vick's on his neck so I would smell my favorite scent when I hugged him. I wonder if Vick's needs a spokeperson?!

    • broussardleslie profile image

      Leslie Broussard 

      9 years ago

      What a wonderful hub! Thank you so much sharing.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      @MikeNV - There were certainly days that I wanted to go to bed without dinner. I don't know why people were eating Vicks, but it didn't do any good.

      @ralwus - You like Circus Peanuts? It's fun you Parrot likes them, too. My tastebuds just can't recognize them as food and the ones I first had were probably stale, because they were real hard and dry. I never had shingles, but I knew kids that had chicken pox twice and mumps twice - once on each side. Lots of kids didn't even get all their vaccines, except polio, until the 1970s and then some slipped by. Thanks for posting!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Hi Patty, read this yesterday but I wasn't signed in so here I am today. I like the Circus peanuts, so does my Parrot. I am in Ohio and yes, we have lots of farmers here, I grew up on the farm. Don't do brains, yuck, love liver done properly with bacon and now Vidalias. I also had to eat Vicks and wear it, hate that stuff to this day. Had the measles, mumps, Shingles and all of those old childhood ills. I have many of the same hates you do it would seem. Gee, thanks for the yucky memories I had forgotten about. LOL

    • magdielqr profile image


      9 years ago

      Good post this is.

    • Godslittlechild profile image


      9 years ago

      It all sounds very familiar......Thanks for the memories!

    • MikeNV profile image


      9 years ago from Henderson, NV

      I read your hub and all I could think of was what kind of person makes their child eat Vaporub? Seriously there is a clear warning on the label about that.

      Parents need to let their kids select the foods they like from a lot of different sources. If they don't like peas or spinach then find alternatives. Even as an adult there are many vegetables - Kale comes to mind, that I don't like. I still eat vegetables I just substitute vegetables I do like.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Jessica - Not everyone can eat every food, that is certain.

      Empress - Deep fried SPAM? That's a lot of calories and fat!

    • Jessica Horn profile image

      Jessica Horn 

      9 years ago

      Mine weren't all that bad. The worst I could think of were black eyed peas. I once was forced to eat them at a friend's house, and I literally threw up right on my plate (couldn't even sprint to the bathroom fast enough.)

      haven't been able to eat them since.

    • EmpressFelicity profile image


      9 years ago from Kent, England, UK

      My worst childhood food memories are school dinners. The only thing they did well was puddings; some of the main courses were horrible! Presumably you've heard of Spam. Well, my school deep fried it in batter. The batter was rancid and tasted of hair oil. I've never gone near Spam since.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Yes, mith_moral - When our elementary schools sent home our unit on good nutrition and asked us to write down our meals for a week, my parents threw a fit of anger.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      As far as food goes, it seems you've had a rough childhood! I'm especially sorry you had to eat Vicks. Of all the undesirable things you listed here, that one is definitely not even close to being edible. UGH!

      Nonetheless, this was an enjoyable read! Thank you.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      I was only in the hospital a comple times. The second was age 14 when I was put in a semi-private room was used for storage, for 3 days. The other bed was piled high with stuff. After an IV on the first morning, they forgot to feed me and did not empty bed pans. They incurred a lot of trouble over poor treatment.

    • dusanotes profile image


      9 years ago from Windermere, FL

      Patty Inglish, thanks for the Hub. It's not a very appetizing

      story, but it wsn't meant to be, was it? I've eaten pigs feet and, frankly, they weren't too good. I've also gone through that Vicks thing, and to eat it is insane. Hospitals, I've found, are some of the most unhealthy places in the world. Thank goodness, I've only been to two hopitals for operations, a tonsillectomy in Salt Lake City when I was age 32 and an appendectomy in a Finnish hospital at age 22. Don White

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      Memories for us all, huh?

      I think the actual aggs can be extracted form the uni an deaten as well. Still to salty for me. lol

      @Caitlyn - yes, that rather like the taste of it for me: very dirty ocean water and sweaty body parts - that's the taste and smell of it to me. But I know people like it.

      @KCC Big Country - Well,I guess the food was not lastingly traumatic. I yelled so much I was not forced often to eat these things - though people were trying to trick me with fake food.

      @VioletSun - your raw eggs are worse than my stuff, imo.

      @Jerilee - snakes are ok by me, but the particular frogs leggs I had once tasted like a garden hose.

      @Zsuzsy - I live the very idea of your fresh garden.

      @Janetta - Poor cat indeed! Was Vicks a disinfectant or lubricant for the catbox maybe? Ewww.

      @Lyrics - Canned hamm is ok once in a while, but not all the time, so I agree wiht you.

      @emievil - ok, if I ever see them I will try just one and see how I fare.

    • Triplet Mom profile image

      Triplet Mom 

      9 years ago from West Coast

      I will never be the same after reading this hub and half of this stuff I have never heard of. YUCK!!!

    • emievil profile image


      9 years ago from Philippines

      I don't like charred meat also. Would prefer them raw or medium-rare (although a lot of my countrymen will really be shocked with my choice). =)

      Ugh, eating vicks? Can't imagine that. We here eat lots of er, unique food (for lack of a better term =)). Calf brain, pig's snout and pig's legs among them. =) Not going to force you but you should try deep-fried pig's legs (or crispy pata as we call them). It's really delicious, promise.

      Hmmm, uni sashimi huh? I personally love it but it can play havoc on one's blood pressure, so I eat it like once or twice a year only. Heard it's an aphrodisiac though (don't know if this is true). But I know a lot of my friends do not like this type of sashimi.

      Nice hub by the way Patty Inglish. Your experiences are not nice but this hub is =). Thanks for the hub.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      9 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Great knowledgeable hub, thanks for sharing . creativeone59

    • magdielqr profile image


      9 years ago

      I learned very with this article. Congratulations!

    • Catlyn profile image


      9 years ago from Somewhere in the OC

      Great Hub, Patty! I actually like Uni - reminds me of inhaling and swallowing ocean water, but I never knew about it being ovaries!

      Most of the foods that were the worst to me during childhood, I now love though!!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Cool memories- mine would be canned ham. Thanks for reminding me of my childhood Yuckies!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I think most people would agree with you about, well about it all! I can't imagine eating half of that stuff!! I still hate peas and Vicks?!?! I'm surprised you didn't get sicker!! My great grandma used to put Vicks on her cat's butt. Don't ask me why, but that poor, poor

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 

      9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Yup along with squash in all its shape or sizes and I'm with you Patty. brains, kidneys, sweetbreads, canned spinach yuk (only fresh grown in my garden)snouts eeeeeek are all off my to eat list that's for sure.

      bad memories great hub

      hope you're well

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Jerilee Wei profile image

      Jerilee Wei 

      9 years ago from United States

      My husband still raves and wants souse, headcheese, scrapple, and "puddin" (which is made from pork fat). Whenever he buys pigs feet and snout I just have to go outside and do some gardening until it's all consumed. I can relate to many of them and agree it's a "farm family" thing (especially in the north east). Of course, my Cajun relatives had their own pecularities when it comes to eating. Basically if it has four legs and moves it was fair game for the cookpot. Even snakes and lizards sometimes made the menu. Although I am fond of frog legs.

      Calf brains still sold in the local groceries here in the south, along with much of Bill's favorites.

    • elisabethkcmo profile image


      9 years ago from Just East of Oz

      wow, don't blame you for having bad memories of these!!

    • VioletSun profile image


      9 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      My goodness, not fun for a little girl to exprience eating Vick's or a sherbet that burned your mouth and throat. My mother used to have us swallow raw egg yolks in grape juice and drink a full glass of Milk of Magnesia. We also ate liver, can't stand it. Eeew. LOL!

    • KCC Big Country profile image


      9 years ago from Central Texas

      Ah, the orange candy peanuts. They always remind me of my grandmother. She was diabetic and kept a bag of those in her purse for emergencies.

      My mom loved pickled pigs feet and canned spinach. I thought both were disgusting.

      It's a wonder your survived it all, Patty!

    • profile image

      Colin T Mercer 

      9 years ago

      Very Interesting reaD

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      O no, you had all this, too, sabreblade! So it must be cultural and related to farming communities? For certain, nearly everyone ate their meat charred for a couple of decades.

      Thanks for letting me know I'm not the only one. I didn't like rabbit, though, and it tasted like freezer burned pork to me. lol

    • sabrebIade profile image


      9 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Maybe not that curious.

      My grandmother (not me) took a teaspoon of Vicks Vap-o-Rub every night by mouth.

      My dad ate souse meat and brains and eggs and used to tease me with pigs feet and snouts.(I wouldn't touch it)

      Oh, and add squirrel and rabbit meat to my list, though I did eat that.

      Tastes like chicken.

      He also only ate meat one way...charred.

      He cooked sausage once and I bounced a patty off the wall like a ball.

      Patty...I can relate.

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      9 years ago from USA. Member of Asgardia, the first space nation, since October 2016

      @fishinfreak - How RUDE are you? Not all the vaccines worked on me. In 2009, calf brains are sold in several local small markets in Ohio and still eaten on farms quite a lot. I also had 3-day measles 7 times before I was immune to them. It's just my immune system. Whooping Cough vaccine did not work on me - had it twice, etc. etc. Now I never get sick.

      @Georgiakevin - I always thought it worked best in the vaporizer, lol.

      @bayareagreatthing - Yes, please write about liver. It should be fun.

      @Aekateryna - Well, my father was old enough to be my grandfather - maybe even my great grandfather - and he used farm remedies. They didn't always work.

    • Aekateryna profile image


      9 years ago

      your parents had curious treatment methods.

    • bayareagreatthing profile image


      9 years ago from Bay Area California

      wow! That is some crazy childhood memories! My favorite food to hate was liver. We always had it because my mom thought is was good for you. I am inspired to write my favorite liver story now :) GREAT Hub - very entertaining!

    • Georgiakevin profile image


      9 years ago from Central Georgia

      All of this sounds nasty! I had Vicks vapor rub administered to me on a regular basis but it was put on my chest with a t shirt over it. As a victim of frequent bronchitis it did indeed help me breathe better. Great hub!

    • fishskinfreak2008 profile image


      9 years ago from Fremont CA

      Calf brains? German measles? HOW OLD ARE YOU? SERIOUSLY?


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