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LET'S TALK: Talkmistress discovers convenience stores are a wonderland

by Helaine Williams | November 17, 2019 at 2:32 a.m.

If I accepted an invitation to Thanksgiving dinner and was later told, "Oh, by the way -- all the food for the dinner is coming from the convenience store," I fear I wouldn't have the good sense to recoil in disgust.

Not only would I be licking my chops, I'd be lauding my host for avoiding the even-crazier'n-usual holiday grocery-shopping crowd.

There have been laments a-plenty in this space about grocery-store shopping ... the un-joy of competing with hordes of fellow shoppers for access to food. I'd hate to be anywhere near a grocery store in case of apocalypse/the breakdown of societal order; it's tough enough just to find a parking place, find a basket and get one's fruits, veggies, milk, bread, meat and jug of wine.

Convenience store shopping is different. Such stores are usually brief pit stops for folks hurrying to get somewhere else, and prices are generally too high for any "I came in for one thing and ended up with 50" moments.

This means these places are wonderlands that, if you aren't rushing to get somewhere, can suck you in. With no dawdling fellow shoppers blocking your vision, you'll discover all these treats you don't find -- or at least, don't notice -- in regular grocery stores. While you're wondering how it escaped you thus far that Krispy Kreme not only has doughnuts but iced honey buns and cinnamon buns, you'll also wonder why you don't just steal a grocery cart or handbasket from one of the bigger stores and take it into the Quik Stop. Or the Big Red. Or the Doublebees. Or the Kum & Go (which, every time I pass its sign, makes me want to sing that old gospel hymn, "Come and Go to That Land.")

It was a convenience store that took me down the garden path to a snack called nacho rings. I hadn't seen them in the grocery store. Once I tasted them, I could have scarfed my weight in the doggone things.

Mind you, the convenience store has something for just about everyone. If you're eating ketogenic, you can pay a small king's ransom for various bags of snack nuts you won't see anywhere else. If you're on Phase I of Dr. Ian Smith's Fat Smash Diet, yah, there's a good chance some fresh fruit is stashed somewhere. But on your way to get it, you'll have to avert your eyes and nose from the prepared perishables ... the fried chicken, fish, deli sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs and pizza, the smell of which wages war on any hapless person who "just" came in to pay for gas and/or sneak a trip to the restroom.

Another thing convenience stores have, and unlike the solid nonperishable snacks, it's dirt-cheap: Prepared coffee. You can get a half-gallon jug of the stuff for like a buck and some change. Usually sitting nearby, and almost as cheap: A machine that dispenses several different flavors of sugary cappuccino, along with a warning to let up off the button when your cup is three-fourths of the way full lest it overflow.

But I recently discovered that all the aforementioned fatteners aren't the Most Dangerous Food at your friendly neighborhood/highway-side convenience store.

No. It's this dang-near-basketball-size, strawberry-cheese muffin.

I encountered this gustatory Public Enemy No. 1 recently when I got gas at a convenience store in southwest Little Rock, then decided to go inside. Just for coffee, mind you.

After pouring the coffee and being irritated because the flavored-creamer dispenser was yielding nothing, that deep, dark voice spoke. "Hey, why'nt you look around at the snacks?"

I don't need a snack out of here, I thought. Yes, my fitness trainer agreed that I could ease up just a bit on food-type restriction and do intermittent fasting instead -- eating only from noon to 8 p.m. But I should still watch what I eat.

"But you know your husband would want you to pick something up for him," insisted the voice.

Just when I'd talked myself out of paying nearly $2.40 for a mere sleeve of Nabisco cookies, I saw the muffins, which went for around the same price. I got two.

Dre ate his first, confirmed that they were as delicious as they sounded. As a last-ditch effort to save myself some calories, I gave him half of mine.

Ever since, I've wanted to stop by that particular convenience store again ... ahem, just to check to see if they refilled their French vanilla coffee-creamer dispenser.

To think that these establishments once offered us two options: self-service gas or full-service gas.

Come and go with me ...

Email -- leaded, unleaded or nacho-ring flavor:

Style on 11/17/2019

Print Headline: Convenience is not always a good thing


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