03 May 2008

Why I'm So Clever

One of my most influential childhood moments involves my earliest memory of shopping with my Mum.

I was quite young, perhaps four or five, and I was asking if I could have something I'd found down a child's-eye-level. It was a plastic kangaroo filled with blue flavoured liquid that was meant to be frozen and then slurped ... or something. Anyway, there was a problem.

It was blue, and I learned on that sunny day that our family does not tend to consume blue foods.

This was the early eighties when we were beginning to learn the negative effects of artificial colours, flavours and preservatives in our foods. Most Mums were a little neurotic about it and I think that is quite understandable. I wouldn't want Sonny Ma-Jiminy or Smoochy Girl to be ingesting frozen blue kangaroo liquid. So I'm thankful to my Mum for teaching me to steer clear of garishly coloured foods, especially the blue ones.

The funny thing is that she used the following completely unsubstantiated justification for our non-consumption of blue foods, and this is a mantra I've never forgotten:

Blue food colouring kills your brain cells.

Many times over the years this 'fact' has come back to spook me when I've seen blue ice-blocks, cakes, icing on cakes, marshmallows, ANYTHING. In fact, this is my idea of finishing a packet of jelly beans:

And M&Ms:
I suspect that this is why I'm so clever. Or why I'm a smart-alec. One or the other. Either way, I tell myself I'm not contributing to the death of my own brain cells. (Perhaps this is a suggestion that a bit of the prefrontal cortex has already disappeared in a puff of Blue 123, 132 & 133, taking its executive function with it.)

So of course one day at church when we were served cake for a kid's birthday iced in all the colours of the rainbow and I was offered a BLUE piece by a sweet little 5 year old boy, I politely declined. When he tried to persuade me to reconsider, I said [stupidly] "Oh, it's just that blue food colouring kills your brain cells."

It just slipped out. It's imprinted on my brain so permanently.

It's a sad possibility that in my very old age I might forget the names and faces of those closest to me but still be doddering around a nursing home somewhere muttering, "Blue food colouring ... kills your brain cells ..." It's hard-wired in there now. Thanks Mum.

I didn't think any more about it until ten minutes later when the father of the sweet little 5 year old boy came up to me. He smiled quizzically and ventured, "Sooo.... blue food colouring kills your brain cells, hey?"

I explained my hangup.

He explained that it was his wife who made the cake.

Now I go to a different church. I like to think it's for different reasons.


Anonymous said...

I have the EXACT same hangup, which is not surprising since we have the EXACT same Mum.

I, however, remember her explanation as the "fact" that blue colour doesn't appear anywhere in the food of nature, so you can't get any more artificial than blue colouring.

Whenever I come across blueberry pie, I always take a moment to think, "That disproves Mum's theory," yet I still can't help avoiding blue jelly beans.

Which is lucky, since it's the first colour jelly bean my boy wants to eat as it looks similar to the tablet Underdog took to gain his superpowers.

So there Mum, the new generation of our family is growing up believing that blue jelly beans make you fly.

CynthiaK said...

LOL! I now see the blue food connection from your comment on my post about the "hot chocolate". That is hilarious!!

I actually convinced Suvi not to drink it because it contained something resembling food colouring (or acid from the moon) and you're imbibing chemicals that damage your body. She thought that made sense. I didn't have to venture further and explain that it actually kills brain cells. ;)

As a child, I unfortunately consumed a number of blue sugary treats and hence have lost most of my ability to scrub toilets and wash floors. I blame the blue stuff entirely.