I lived at the beach as a kid. Every Sunday, my mother would pack the station wagon with towels and blankets and a large picnic basket filled with cellophane-wrapped snacks. I don’t know what I was more excited about — the ocean or the oversized bag of potato chips nestled in the basket. I loved the beach, but I didn’t love the itchy seaweed or the swimsuit that was as snug as a sausage casing around my body.
I’ve been avoiding tight clothing ever since but recently realized that I could only hide my extra pounds beneath a Hawaiian muumuu the size of a paint tarp for so long. I was tired of wearing plus-size clothing fit for a funeral service or a Walmart shower curtain design, so I decided it was time to trade in my Doritos and ranch dip for a healthy alternative.
I’d never set foot inside a Whole Foods Market, but my skinny friends who lived on celery juice and styrofoam pellets disguised as cheese puffs shopped there, so I figured the store must be a mecca of diet foods that promised to get a cookie dough body like mine ready for the beach.
After passing rows of organic wines, gluten-free breads, and some sketchy looking hummus made from cage-free chickpeas, I found the snack aisle. Who knew there were so many different brands of faux turkey jerky made from wheat gluten and yeast? When I spotted a variety of snack cakes and cookies on the next shelf, I heard Pavlov’s bell. My salivary anticipation quickly dissolved though when I noticed that each package was labeled “heart-smart,” “healthy eats,” or “mini treat,” which translated, meant tiny serving sizes of cookies made from chopped twigs, lawn clippings, and organic cud from grass-fed cows. Despite all the health hype on the label, the cookies were still high in calorie unless you actually stuck with the recommended serving amount. Two thimble-size cookies per day were an insult to a woman with Ursula’s appetite like me.
I was ready to bolt when a siren in flashy fish-scaled Lululemon’s cornered me in the snack aisle to peddle her Whole Foods version of expensive seaweed. I looked at the white privilege mermaid wearing a seashell bra over her perky boobs and wondered what sort of hallucinogenics had been brewed into the low-fat mocha latte I was sipping. Her name was Arrial (the second R silent, of course) and she insisted I try the gimMe Organic Seaweed Thins. What I really wanted was some fried hush puppies, but Arrial had me at “thins,” so I chose chips from gimMe’s newest line—-the Sriracha Almond flavor, described on the bag as “savory and sweet crispy wafers.” Six grams of protein, six grams of fiber, 100 calories per serving, and non-GMO. Perfect for Keto, low carb diets or fasting. What’s not to love? It had to be better than a rabbit diet of romaine lettuce leaves sprinkled with lemon juice.
As soon as I returned home from the Whole Foods Maritime Aisle, my husband tore into the skimpy bag of seaweed chips with the zeal of a seven-year-old opening a box of Goldfish crackers. He took one whiff and handed it back. “It smells like something you shouldn’t eat.”
“What do you mean? Arriel said they were delicious and she was SKINNY.” The pungent odor from a chum bucket left too long in the sun assaulted my olfactory senses when I opened the bag and saw dark chips inside that were as thin as flecks of charred fish skin scraped from the bottom of a barbeque grill. The wafers also looked a lot like the stuff the city guys used last week to patch up the potholes on our street.
Salty and spicy, the green barnacle shavings left a burning aftertaste on my tongue, but I couldn’t tell if the flavors came from the crushed almond and sriracha seasoning used to disguise the fishy undertones or from remnants of Captain Ahab’s body found in the belly of Moby Dick. I closed my eyes and tried to envision a 540 calorie Big Mac dripping in secret sauce, but my gag reflex went into overdrive as I fought to swallow the organic, gluten-free Nori seaweed that could only be palatable to patrons of The Krusty Krab. Plankton was more than welcome to steal my seaweed wafers for The Chum Bucket.
My vegan daughter raved about the iodine-laden snack, and after a little hesitation, even my pug ate several wafers, but that’s not saying much since he likes to eat his own poop. The Bettas in my fish tank were also pretty excited about the seaweed snack, but once they started pooping uncontrollably, that’s when I knew I was holding a bag of the ocean’s organic Olestra. No wonder people got thin from eating the stuff. I wanted to lose weight, but there wasn’t enough weed in the world to make me crave those chips.
No thanks, gimMe Organic Seaweed Thins Sriracha Almond, I don’t want to shave hours off my life by spending an excessive amount of time in the bathroom. Your faux chips are NOT “savory and sweet crispy wafers.” They taste the way I imagine the human wafers in Soylent Green tasted. Chicken of the Sea may have gotten away with selling tuna as ocean poultry, but you need to come clean and market your chips for what they really are: Soylent Black Seaweed from Neptune’s Dung.
I’m heading to the beach in my new Costco skirted bathing suit. I hear they’re selling organic, seaweed ice cream bars dipped in chocolate. I’m still tempted by the siren song of a diet snack, but that doesn’t mean there will be any gimMe Organic Seaweed Thins Sriracha Almond in my beach bag. That spot is reserved for my celery juice and some Whole Foods styrofoam cheese pellets. It turns out those pellets aren’t as bad as they sound. I’ve already lost five pounds.