Cooking With Gas Station Snack Food

“I’m not eating this.” This was the first thing my mother said when I sat a plate of cinnamon-sugar covered pork rinds in front of her. This soon became her mantra throughout the recent personal challenge I undertook: creating a series of sweet n’ savory hors d’oeuvres made entirely out of gas station food, then forcing my parents to be the judges of their quality. I have to give my boyfriend the credit for originally suggesting this idea, but I veered away from his suggestion to use the “nastiest and weirdest things I could find,” although I guess that is relative to your personal tastes. I tried to use mostly ingredients I would eat or at least try to eat. I brainstormed and Pinterested to find the inspiration for the four dishes and one cocktail I ultimately produced.

all the snacks

Although one aspect of this endeavor that sparked my interest initially was the prospect of my parents consuming 4LOKO, this dream died when the gas station I went to didn’t sell it. I did, however, purchase fan-favorite Bud Light Lime-A-Rita, which I once memorably spilled all over my porch and then tried to clean up by just dumping a bucket of water over it, but then bugs started living in said Lime-A-Rita lake (I cleaned it very soon after this instance).

In addition to the malt beverage, I knew I had to incorporate Hot Cheetos and snack cakes, and I had to get canned meat of some sort, because there needed to be at least some gross-out factor to this thing.

Sugar & Spice Crisp

cinnamon sugar pork rinds

Parent Reviews:

“I’m not eating this!” (Mother)

“I will eat this, but I will keep in mind the amount of fat and preservatives in this dish.” (Father)

Me: I love pork rinds so I don’t even CARE. My dad was WRONG. There are only two ingredients: fat and salt! If this won’t appease Michael Pollan’s Food Rules[1], I don’t know what will. In a shocking twist, this was the healthiest and least artificial of all the dishes I attempted to make. It was definitely tasty. Salt + Fat = Good, Salt + Fat + Sugar = Extra Good!

This recipe is simple, and inspired from something I found on all-recipes[2]: I melted a pat of butter and mixed in cinnamon and sugar. Tossed pork rinds in mixture and served.

European Sausage with Fruit Cup Reduction

fruit sauce in liquid (1)

Parent Review:

“I’m not eating this.” (Guess who)

“This has a slimy interior and no taste, but this sauce is quite good” (Father)

I didn’t truly eat this because it was made with the most daunting ingredient, Vienna Sausages (hence the “European Sausage” thing. Get it, Vienna is in Austira, which is in Europe!). I fried the sausages in a pan with some spice I found, along with salt and pepper. The sauce was made from a “Cherry Gel Mixed Fruit Cup,” which I plopped into a pan, let simmer with a little bit of vinegar. Ultimately very sweet.  Nothing more to say other than, don’t try this at home.

I tried one tiny little bite and it was indeed, slimy. It tasted like hot dog water. I once witnessed someone eating these raw in 6th grade and have never gotten that image out of my mind, which perhaps influences my own review.

Flamin’ Hot Chocolate Truffle

smashed cupcake (1)

This was the first item to be fully consumed, and probably the first one my mother actually tasted a bit. My dad was upset when he discovered I had thrown them away.

The process of both truffles (thoroughly documented): mush up chocolate cupcakes w/ traditional crème center in a bowl. Form into balls (the same way nasty kids would roll their ham sandwiches up into balls in elementary school). In another bowl, mix knock-off Twinkies (RIP) in the same manner.  Freeze for 20 min, melt Hershey’s chocolate and cookies and crème chocolate bar in separate bowls. Dip/smush /smother balls in chocolate. On Chocolate cupcakes sprinkle Hot Cheeto dust (Mexican Hot Chocolate inspired!). Dip crumbly fake-Twinkies into cookies and cream chocolate. Discover that Twinkies are too crumbly to dip into chocolate. Add a little bit too much milk to chocolate. Accidentally create watery sauce to spoon over the top of the truffles.

Cookies & Cream & Crème Truffle

naked cake truffles

These are unfortunately the best looking things and also the ONLY THING I DIDN’T PHOTOGRAPH IN THEIR COMPLETED STATE BECAUSE I WAS STRESSED OUT ABOUT BURNING THE FRUIT SAUCE. But here is a picture of them being prepared and the Hot Cheetos smashed in a bag.

hot cheetos about to meet their maker

Cocktail: Hot Cheeto Margarita-O

 Bud-Light-Limerita Ville

Parent Review:

“This is the only good thing you’ve made.”

The only thing my mother consumed, until she found out Bud Light was an ingredient, then she discovered it was only KIND OF Bud Light, and resumed drinking. This tasted like a true margarita, maybe because of the extra edition of the Mello Yello.

Take 3 parts Bud Light Lime-A-Rita, 1 Part Mello Yello and 1 drop orange juice to disguise neon-yellow color from artificial-phobic mother. Sprinkle Hot Cheeto crumbs into salt on plate, Hot Cheeto/Salt Rim. Serve on ice.

Overall Verdict of cooking with Snack Food:
This was very tiring and surprisingly, very messy. And then I cried because I forgot to take a picture of the truffles and tried to rescue them from the trash to no avail. I truly put my heart and soul into this endeavor.

[1] 2. “Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or any ingredient you can’t pronounce.”


Post and Photos by Lucy Morel.