I was a Bugles kid. The crunchy corn snack in the shape of a stalactite or stalagmite (depending on which way you’re holding it) was the snack for me. In my professional, 8-year old opinion, there was no snack that could match the beauty, the flavor, the relentless ecstasy that was the Bugle corn chip.
The corn. The salt. The Crunch! Oh, my!
Sure, you could try to sway me from my Bugles, but your efforts would be in vain. Goldfish lacked the dangerous flair by both shape and taste. Potato chips—how pedestrian. And what about Fritos? They’re made from corn, you might be saying. Well, you know what I’d say to that? Fuck off, with your frivolous Fritos talk. Give me nothing but the Bugles, baby!
Me and Bugles were tight. We were like this. I had a box of Bugles with me wherever I went and that says a lot because I had a My Buddy doll, and my Bugles saw more of the world than that doll could ever dream. If I didn’t have a box of Bugles on me, rest assured that my breath would tell you I had just consumed a box.
I don’t remember precisely the first time I discovered Bugles because I didn’t feel as though life had any purpose before I had my first Bugle. The first eight years of my life, I was just meandering, living without meaning or drive. But then I discovered Bugles and suddenly everything made sense. I knew why the sun shone.
However, a dark, sinister force was resting just beneath the beautifully lit world and it surfaced in the winter of 1990. My Saturday started off typically with a mid-morning snack of a box of Bugles. There was nothing strange about that. But what I did find strange was that by the early afternoon, I heard the call of the Bugle again and thought nothing of it as I went to the cabinet to get a box of Bugles.
You know how people say they know they are addicted to something like cigarettes is when they light one up without even consciously doing it? It becomes more of a reflex than anything else? Well, I was doing the same thing, except with a box of Bugles. I got halfway through the box before I slowly began to think, “Hey, is this my second box of Bugles today?”
I kept eating as I thought about it. My stomach began to feel like an overstuffed vacuum bag as it slowly dawned on me that I was about ¾ of the way through my second box in nary a couple hours. Upon realizing this, it became a point of pride to finish the box, if only to brag that I had eaten two whole boxes of Bugles.
I could just imagine two girls standing by their pink bicycles and remarking to themselves as I walk past:
“Say, who’s that strutting down the street?”
“Oh, that’s Mike Jenkins. He once ate two whole box of Bugles in 4 hours. Isn’t he a dream?”
“Hi there, Ladies.” (wink and a gun)
Now, allow me to drop some quick math on you. As I finished the last Bugle of box #2, my 8-year-old tummy was harboring over 14 servings (18.2 cups) of enriched cornmeal goodness, as well as 560% the daily recommended dose of saturated fat for an average adult human.
I did not hold these stats for long, however, as I very quickly became a liquid Bugle dispensary. The force of my body’s rejection of the Bugles was quite violent, as the slightly digested General Mills treat blasted itself out my nostrils while I cried in fear. My taste for Bugles had literally been purged.
It’s been 25 years since my first scrape with overindulgence and much like anyone’s first love, it was the strongest. Maybe you think Bugles and I could resolve our differences if I just took the time to sit down with a box and talk it out. But let me tell you, if you lock me in a room with a box of Bugles, some interesting things are going to happen.
First, I am going to shriek like a girl; that’s pretty standard. The shriek will be so high that you will feel nothing but shame and embarrassment for me and you will distance yourself from me and claim that you don’t know who I am and that I am probably, “autistic or something.”
Second, if the box is opened, I am most definitely going to try to claw my way through the door like a goddamn Tom and Jerry cartoon. By the time I am done with it, the door will look more like Buffalo Bill’s well in Silence of the Lambs, whole nails embedded in the structure and all.
Last, I will do anything in my power not to smell a single Bugle for the rest of my life. If you locked me in a room with an opened box, I will take off my shoes and socks and breathe in the sweaty, wet odor of my foot before smelling a Bugle. If I do smell a Bugle I will vomit mercilessly and I will try to kill myself. If I am not able to kill myself, then surely I will asphyxiate on the odor of all of the stomach acid on the floor. Either way, I’m dead, I’m fucking dead. But if I do somehow escape the locked room, I will find you. And I will kill you. This is a promise.
And I am not lying when I tell you that when I was looking for photos of the box of Bugles, I wasn’t really feeling too sick. But then I came across a picture of what a box of Bugles looked like from 1990, and I was like the kid from Ransom when he heard Gary Sinise’s voice. Except I didn’t pee my pants. I dry heaved.
Funnily enough, booze has made me sicker than Bugles has ever made me in my life (on numerous occasions), yet I always go back to it. But hey, that’s the charm of alcoholism for ya.