Friday, June 10, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

DEBS: We all have them. (At least I think we all have them--maybe you will prove me wrong!) Our Friday chats have been trending a bit towards the confessional, so I just thought I'd ask. . .

Are you tempted by very expensive shoes?

A little flutter at the neighborhood poker game?

Eating Fritos in bed while reading very bad romance novels?

Sneaking off to a matinee when you're supposed to be working?

Chocolate sundaes?

Fess up, girls! And while we're at it, I suppose I have to admit mine--or at least the latest--slightly weird and embarrassing guilty pleasure.

I've never been much for ice cream (and that's slightly weird, too, I know, but I've been a foodie nut since I was a teenager, and don't have much of a sweet tooth.) There is, however, a Dairy Queen right down the street from my house. I used to take my daughter there for after-school treats when she was in middle school, but for years I'd driven by without a thought. Then, a few months ago, I had a vision of a small chocolate-dipped cone. I'd missed lunch, I was tired and cranky and worried about something, and that cone suddenly seemed like the antidote to all the world's ills.

So I drove up to the DQ window, payed my $1.98, then found a shady place to park, turned off my phone, rolled down the car windows, and ate the whole damned thing. Nothing left but the wrapper. It was twenty minutes of solitary bliss, and I did feel a whole lot better.

And I have to admit I've given into temptation a couple of times since, but I think it better not become a regular habit. I've just watched the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution episode where he talks about the ingredients in commercial ice creams-- things like shellac (made from bugs) and beaver anal glands. God knows what's in DQ soft serve!

So my guilty pleasure may be a bit lame (and certainly G-rated) but I'll bet none of you can top that for CHEAP!

HALLIE: Oh, Debs, we are so on the same page. For me it's a root beer float. We buy a liter bottle of A&W Root beer and a quart of good vanilla ice cream. The perfect amount for me is about a tablespoon of ice cream and 2" of root beer in a glass. That's all I need -- it's so perfectly sweet and tangy and creamy.

RHYS: I am waiting for the county fair to arrive because I adore cotton candy. What could be worse for you? But once a year I love pulling it apart and stuffing it into my mouth while I watch the fireworks. And a different kind of guilty pleasure (no, not that kind) is watching reruns of all the old British comedies on TV. I know them by heart and still laugh at the jokes.

HANK: Twizzlers. The red ones. What can I say. Also, certain movies: Bring It On, Working Girl, Desk Set--I guess they're sort of Ugly Duckling stories that always get to me. (And my very first job was at DQ, Debs, so if you need a curl on the top of a dip cone, I can totally make that for you. Also a dilly bar. No problem.)

Please don't ask about the shoes. But you should see the red ones I just got. Not feeling guilty, though. Nope nope nope.

Beaver anal glands? Honestly?

DEBS: Really, Hank. According to Jamie (I saw it on Letterman, too, so it must be true) beaver anal glands are used to make an additive called castoreum that's used in ice cream and other vanilla flavored products.

HALLIE: Such interesting choices, Hank: Working Girl & Desk Set. Smart girl triumphs. Add to that His Girl Friday. I confess my favorite junkie movie is The Fifth Element. With flaming DJ Ruby Rhod, studly Korbin Dallas (Bruce Willis as a cab driver from the future... being funny!), Mila Jovovich in a brilliant performance as a redheaded alien who had to be inspired by Pippi Longstocking. Just say the word "Multi-pass" and I crack up.

JAN: My guilty pleasure this time of year is baseball. When my husband leaves on a business trip, this is how I misbehave. I watch the entire Red Sox Yankee game AND (and this is the indulgent part) the entire NESN Extra Innings and FINAL post-game chit chat. It's clips of the same game I JUST WATCHED, interspersed with a little analysis and player interviews where they say THE SAME THING after every game. Also about a gazillion commercials -- which leads me to my next guilty pleasure -- I'm starting to develop a thing for the pirate in the Captain Morgan rum ads that play nonstop during the game. Have you guys seen him?? He's got a great body and he's so very 18th century.......

HANK: Yes! Baseball! Go sox.

DEBS: Jan, I can see I'm going to have to start watching baseball. Or drinking rum. . . Hallie, I love The Fifth Element, too. My favorite Bruce Willis movie. Although my guiltiest movie pleasure is probably Love Actually. I can recite the dialogue . . . How sad is that? And if I'm feeling really self-indulgent, The Holiday. And Hot Fuzz . . .

Rhys, State Fair, yes, cotton candy, no. Corn dogs for me. Fletcher's, famous at the Texas State Fair.

And Hank, I may take you up on that curl:-)

ROBERTA: Oh Hallie, I love root beer floats too. That's what I get when we go to the ice cream store. Also home made cookies--one or two at a time from the freezer each night. And light fiction--don't give me Jonathan Franzen or Michael Chabon, give me Barbara O'Neal and Kristin Higgins...any combination of food and romance. As for movies, SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, YOU'VE GOT MAIL, WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING. John refuses to watch these one more time...

JULIA: My food guilty pleasure? Those boxes of Junior Mints, eaten in the well air-conditioned movie theater (because being indoors in the dark on a beautiful summer day is a guilty pleasure in and of itself) while watching some junky action-adventure flick (preferably with hunky guys ripping their shirts off.)

My lazing around guilty pleasure is following various miniseries/cult TV shows with my oldest daughter. We recently polished off the first season of THE WALKING DEAD, staying up until waaay too late to see which of our heroes was going to get bitten by zombies in this episode. Next up? GAME OF THRONES. I'm hoping Sean Bean will rip his mail shirt off.

DEBS: Julia, my daughter and I watched every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer together. More than once. And then (she must at least have been in college . . .) every episode of Sex and the City. Girl bonding, even if not G-rated.

Jungle Reds, we must be the root beer girls. It's the only soda that ever tempts me, usually reserved for things like road trips, so it's a really special treat. And root beer floats? Oh, my. Haven't had one in years. But now I may have to rethink that giving-up-vanilla-ice cream thing . . .

What about you, readers? Share your guilty pleasure.

(Oh, and by the way, I want those red shoes . . .)


  1. I will confess to enjoying blockbuster movies where lots of things blow up. Entire cities. Alien invaders. I have no excuse.

    Dinosaurs are good too.

  2. Bug anal glands? Eeeeuuw! I'm going to read labels much more carefully from now on!

    My guilty pleasure (among many) is Eskimo Pies -- especially after the ice cream filling is gone and I get to lick the chocolate cake part off my fingers.

  3. OMG. I LOVE The Fifth Element! I would have bet green money that none of you had ever even seen it. As long as we're confessing...I can watch Sliding Doors, Legally Blonde and Miss Congeniality at the drop of a hat. "Hey, I'm glidin' here!" And Love, Actually has become an annual holiday event. Will watch The Sopranos and I,Claudius anytime. I find them similar and not just because both montrous mothers are named Livia.

    Tag and estate sales - must stop. Diet Red Bull, must drink. May never eat ice cream again.

  4. Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth as Darcy...but also Love Actually and The Bourne Trilogy...can watch those any time :o) I LOVE Twizzlers, but my downfall is chocolate covered almonds.....M&M's, Godiva, doesn't matter. And bread pudding...specifically the Pascal Manale bread pudding when I can get to New Orleans. PM and Irene's tie for the best down in the Crescent City.
    But my biggest guilty pleasure? Musical theater. Les Miz, Cats, Oklahoma, How to Succeed? I'll go...local group or national tour? I'm there if I can get tickets. Favorites of the moment, The Fully Monty, Aida, and Les Miserables! I have a friend who loves the stage as much as I do. Next up is a local production of West Side Story. Not a member of the cast is over 18 years old...I can't wait.

  5. Oh...and now that I know what castorum REALLY is? I'm reading those labels!

  6. My guilty pleasure is old movies with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. I like to remember when my wife still looked at me like that -- and then whistled.

  7. Chocolate and a romance novel, stretched out on the couch in the middle of a weekend day. That's my guilty pleasure. Also watching car racing, but I get to call that "research."

    I knew about the polymer beads in soft serve, which just pass through you. But ... ick.

    Another guilty pleasure: I'm a huge fan of old musicals, and one of my favorites is High Society, with Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, and Louis Armstrong. I mean, Singing in the Rain is the best musical ever, and High Society isn't even that good. But I never fail to crack up at Bing and Frank singing "Well, Did You Evah." Gets me every time!

  8. I'm right there with you, Deb with the British movies. Hot Fuzz is hilarious! When I first saw Love Actually, it was on a plane. I had no idea it was edited until I rented it at home one day. Shocked! Shocked I was! Honestly, I'm a sucker for any male actor with a English accent.

  9. Reading in the hammock once the sun has moved to leave it in the shade.

    Ice cream. The State o' Maine best is at John's on Route 3 in the Waldo County town of Liberty. Homemade flavors like chocolate orange peel and fresh peach. It's so good I find excuses to go to Belfast.

    And Jan, I'm with you. Nine innings of Red Sox baseball (such a wonderful sweep of the Yankees this week!) and the Extra Innings show with Tom and Eck.


  10. Bridges of Madison County. Cry straight through it.

    Reading a mystery on the couch on a Saturday even when the chore list is a mile long.

    The deepest darkest chocolate ice cream. No root beer needed!


  11. Maryann,
    Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth in not a GUILTY pleasure. It's just a pleasure.

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    I have a take on the root beer float that's probably going to offend Hallie, but I use diet Root Beer and vanilla frozen yoghurt or that slow-churned stuff -- and it's about a hundred calories. I'm not usually much for diet things -- I otherwise don't drink diet soda and eat real ice cream -- but it kind of works for a float --- AND it moves it from the category of Guilty pleasure. To just Pleasure.

    Roberta, all three of those movies are on my list. I can watch them over and over....

  12. Okay, I will admit to spending an entire summer going to the local ice cream store and having chocolate sundaes with coffee ice cream. I was a bit, how shall I say, out of sorts and it sure cheered me up, also my waistline enjoyed the ample entertainment. Other than that, Masterpiece theater on my Ipad, preferably romantic and if not a strong single female lead flouting convention.

  13. Okay, now I'm hungry. Guilty pleasures? Gummy bears and Milk Duds. And really silly romantic comedies.

    My dad used to make us root beer floats--I haven't had one in ages! But now I want one...

  14. I'm Little Miss Organic/healthy/hkigh quality, but save all my guilt calories for alcohol. Right now I'm drinking my way through The Netherlands. I must say that in the 45 years I've been coming here, I know every bar from Amsterdam to Maastricht. I suppose that's something to feel guilty about. All of my little cousin's Rite of Passage is to have me take them to Amsterdam. Oh boy!!

  15. A&W root beer floats--the best. And two of my best high school friends worked there as carhops, so the memories are pretty great.

    My favorite indulgence is old musicals, to which I love to sing along, possibly not as well as the actors sing.

    May I suggest that you all look for the incredible Graeter's ice cream? Now appearing at grocery store freezers near you, in 41 states. It's quite possibly the best ice cream in the world, and they've just gone national. More here:

    They also ship, and you should try their signature flavor, black raspberry chip, with enormous dark chocolate "chips", made from their own chocolate that they use in their candy line. A-mazing.

  16. Okay folks, if you really want the skinny:

    "Castoreum is classified and is approved as a food additive in the U.S. by the FDA. It is considered a natural food flavoring.

    So exactly what is castoreum? Well, it is natural as it is the bitter, orange-brown, odoriferous, oily secretion, found in two sacs between the anus and the external genitals of beavers. It is said that it enhances the flavor of vanilla and raspberry ice cream. Can you say yummy?

    Beavers are trapped for their fur and castoreum. The castoreum is obtained by removing the 2 sacks, drying them, then selling to the perfume and food industries."

    (I looked up "castoreum" and today's JR blog was on the first Google page, btw.)

    And DQ soft serve contains "vanilla flavoring" which is food industry speak for above.

    But all is not lost. If you want yummy ice cream with real ingredients, try Haagen Dazs Five. There are only five ingredients in each flavor (it comes in Caramel, Strawberry, Lemon, Mint, Coffee, and Milk Chocolate) and you'll know exactly what the ingredients are. And the vanilla comes from vanilla beans.

  17. Or, of course, you can make your own ice cream:-)

    And here's a rundown from Huff Post on "natural root beers."

    I think I'm buying some 365 Root Beer and a pint of Haagen Dazs Five Vanilla.

  18. In the summer, soft ice cream -- van/choc twist with CHERRY dip :)..or sometimes choc. sprinkles. As a kid my friend and I used to ride our bikes about 5 miles to the Dairy Queen!
    Julia -- Junior Mints, definitely!!
    And I do have an obsessive compulsion with office supplies....depending on my mood, ball point pens, gel pens, mechanical get the idea. There, I said it.

  19. Ladies,

    Ice cream and musicals? Seriously? That's as guilty as we all get? At least Jan admits to having pirate fantasies. No lusting after some improbable teen star? Zac Efron, anyone? (Not me--my tastes run more to Robert Downey, Jr. or Daniel Craig.) No gambling, not even a flutter on the Belmont Stakes? I think we show serious signs of feeling guilty about what should be legitimate pleasures! (I'm in the same boat: I feel guilty about a glass of my new favorite wine varietal--Torrontes--and a few minutes spent with the latest Alex Berenson spy novel before dinner. But I did not feel guilty about seeing a rep performance of "1776" this weekend.

  20. Reality shows like Running Russell Simmons and Run's House. I have no idea why.

    Chocolate egg creams, the drink.

    Cheetos. I only eat them about once a year, and I have absolutely no control.

  21. Susannah, me too on the Cheetos. Only about once a year, and again, a road trip splurge. And once I start, I can't stop until I've eaten the entire bag.

  22. Okay, my guilty pleasure is Louis L'Amour western novels. And Sam Elliott. And funnel cakes at the fair, though I hate to go to the fair. Chili cheese dogs with lots of mustard and onions or a good bratwurst with sauerkraut and mustard. Those are my ballpark foods! We watch a lot of baseball here (Go Cardinals!) so that's a shared activity.

    Budweiser commercials, Captain Morgan, and the Old Spice guy always make me sit up and notice.

    On TV/movies:

    Julia, I love GAME OF THRONES. It's amazing! I don't feel guilty about it at all. But...then there's America's Next Top Model (though I swear to my husband it's research because I want to write a murder mystery based on it.) And the other TV guilt comes from A&E's Swamp People. It's about Cajun alligator hunters in the Louisiana bayous. I actually have a romantic suspense set in the bayous so it *DID* start as research. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

  23. Oooh, I forgot about Cheetohs! It's the orange fingertips I crave.

    It must take a very small amount of beaver juice - I mean where do they GET all those beavers?

  24. Yes, Tammy! High Society! ANd the Philadelphia Story. But hey, I don't feel guilty about that.

    Yeah, Laura, true, our guilties aren't that guilty.

    Um, Project Runway?

  25. I made my own vanilla ice cream all one summer, no beaver glands, just 8 egg yolks, a pint of heavy cream, and a teaspoon of real vanilla from the Giant Food. I didn't think it was a guilty pleasure. Certainly a pleasure, but did I care whether I got fat? Naah. Then I had a physical in September and the doc said my cholesterol was 308. Oops.
    Now it's just Bogie and Bacall movies.

  26. OMG I used to carhop at A&W but I prefer a Coke float, thank you.

    I don’t want you all to get jealous but I just finished off Hubby’s latest homemade ice cream creation. It was strawberry, this time. Last time it was chocolate and before that vanilla made from real vanilla beans.

    My favorite guilty pleasure is watching NCIS and all the rerun episodes. Mark Harmon hasn’t taken his shirt off, but I’m waiting to meet his second wife, Diane, the one that married FBI Agent Fornell. Will McGee write and publish a third book? Who is Director Vance really?

    I watch Miss Congeniality every time it is shown on TV, but gave up my passion for shoes due to arthritis.

    But the real guilty pleasure is reading romance and mystery with the occasional thriller tossed in.

    Oh, and Silver, definitely Sam Elliott. He’s the voice of Smokey the Bear these days.

  27. "Chicken GOOD!" We LOVE "The Fifth Element" in this house. "Muultipass." Ruby Rhod - squeal!

    "Game of Thrones" is no guilty pleasure, IMO. Solid, smart, strong. I'm a little disturbed, though, that I've found myself thinking the Imp is hot. But he always IS the smartest guy in the room. Brains? Nice hair? Creative thinker? What's not to like?

    I'm a sucker for the gelato in the food court at Grand Central Terminal. Chocolate or Green Tea.

  28. Beaver glands?
    I may never eat ice cream again.