What’s your junk food?


You still have time to get prepared for a special day that’s coming up this week. National Junk Food Day is celebrated on Thursday. Of course, for some folks it won’t take much preparation because every day is junk food day, sad to say.

Junk foods are usually, by definition, high in sugar, fats, calories, and salt. All bad for us, right? So why does it have to be so delicious and hard to resist?

Maybe that’s why someone decided we should commemorate this one day when it’s okay to indulge in your favorite junk food, any kind you want in any amount. Then the next day it’s back to a healthy diet. One theory is that’s why this day was created: so health-conscious individuals wanting to eat junk food could do it without guilt on just one day of the year before they went back to healthy eating.

Of course, the whole thing could back fire, too, if you let that one day of freedom become a new way of life.

The nice feature about this day is that we each get to decide what our junk food is. Candy? Chips? Soda? Pizza? Ice cream? Here in Iowa, maybe it’s bacon that’s your favorite junk food. It’s all okay, as long as the day is about indulging your favorites.

When I did a little reading on the topic, I found that the first junk food is considered to be Cracker Jack, which was introduced by two street vendors for the World’s Fair way back in 1893. By 1896 the recipe was perfected, and the brothers called it Cracker Jack.

I wonder if Cracker Jack was called junk food back then, or if the brothers who developed it even considered it to be quite unhealthy. Since then, a plethora of junk food has become a big part of our way of life. Many of the full grocery carts ready to check out contain junk food of one type or another. Some, sadly, have way more than their share.

I found that the average American consumes 25 pounds of candy each year. And for pizza, the average consumption in a year is about 45 slices.

We can’t forget fast food here, because it’s considered junk food, too. In the fast-paced, over-scheduled lives that are too often the norm now, it can be hard to squeeze in a healthy meal and very easy to just swing by the drive-up window of our favorite fast food restaurant to pick up a fast food meal.

Maybe junk food wouldn’t be considered that if it wasn’t just so-o-o easy to indulge in it. And now for one day we have permission to do that.