Dear Smart Puffs,

Today my autistic son emerged from his room and said, “Want some cheese puffs?” He means you, Smart Puffs. You are one of only two things he will eat, and he will eat no other brand of cheese puff. Don’t get a big head. This won’t be a love letter, Smart Puffs. It’s not that much of a compliment. You see the other thing my son eats is a very particular type of cookie made by a very particular brand as well. He doesn’t think you taste better than the other brands. He just won’t eat any other brand because they aren’t as familiar to him as you are. He just doesn’t want any surprises.

Anyway, today when he asked for you, Smart Puffs, I went into the cupboard where we usually keep about ten bags of you, along with about ten boxes of those cookies, and you weren’t there. Outrageous, right? With only these two things in his repertoire, you’d think I’d be more careful to not run out. But the deal is that he has become even more picky lately and won’t eat you when the bag isn’t newly opened, or if when I open the bag it rips, which is infuriating, because, well, is he not picky enough? As a result, he’s been moving rather quickly through your bags and I can’t keep up.

I told him, “We have to go to the store.”

“Go to store to get cheese puffs,” he said.

“Let’s go.”

I got his clothes back on since he took them off soon after we came home today, then his shoes. We drove to the store that usually has them, but of course they were out of stock.

“Want cheese puffs?” Ezra said.

“I know,” I said, annoyed. “We have to go to another store.”

“Go to store to get cheese puffs,” he said.

A pediatrician I will never go back to once said to me, “Who let him have the cheese puffs in the first place?” I hated her at the time—such a cruel thing to say to me—but right now I agree. His rigidity around your fucking brand is exasperating. I didn’t want him eating cheese puffs in the first place, but today in the store when I saw the fourteen other types of cheese puffs available—that’s right, Smart Puffs; regardless of how my son feels about you, you aren’t so god damned special—I wished my son would eat them all.

In the next store, they had you: your purple and cream bag, that hopeful picture of the professor in glasses (so stereotypical—not very smart for Smart Puffs), as though your cheese puffs—cheese puffs!—could actually make a person smarter! You must think we’re all a bunch of idiots.

Oh, Smart Puffs, but I am an idiot. I am! Because I could spot you from three aisles away. That’s how lost I’ve become. You are like an ex-lover, both despised and desired. I have never loved nor hated a food item more than you. My son drops your fucking cheese puff dust all over my car, all over his clothes, the house. Sometimes my son’s father will reach for an already opened bag of you on the counter and proceed to eat them while I stare, horrified.

“How could you eat those fucking things?” I yell.

But, anyway, I filled up our cart today like a motherfucker with the likes of you—not the likes of you, of course. God forbid. With you. Only with you. With terrible, beautiful, heart wrenching you.

This is what I really want to say to you, Smart Puffs. My feelings for you are just so entirely intense and complicated, so laden with desperation and sorrow and ecstasy, and I need all of it to end. I need you to discontinue. I need you out of my life for good. This isn’t healthy. It can’t be good for me—this rollercoaster of emotion, the stress. Your preservatives certainly aren’t good for my son. I don’t know what will happen, how my son will fare, how we’ll get by at first. It will be rough, sure. You are that terrible relationship a girl goes back to again and again, no matter the ripping pain every time she does. But I can’t take it any more. You have to go away. Disappear. You are a soul sucking, cheesy, processed, crunchy, dust-dropping motherfucker, and I am done!

I am asking nicely here, trying to get you to understand. But I need you to know that if you don’t oblige I may move on to other tactics. I may call the health department, let on that I found a cockroach or, I don’t know, cyanide. I might just burn your fucking factory to the ground.

When that time comes, when you are bankrupt, I hope you will remember me and send any unsold overstock to us. We deserve it. We’ve surely accounted for 75% of your sales.

Kerry Cohen