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  • jane anderson

Saved by Crisps

Updated: Jul 6, 2020

Or how junk food got me through the lockdown.

This title is misleading. It's not only been junk food but cake, bacon sarnies, cheap biscuits and quite a lot of wine. But crisps have been my secret comfort.

If I sound unhealthy I'm actually not a dough ball. I often say I was raised on brown rice and compost, my parents being concerned foodies and early-adopter organic gardeners. Crisps and candy never featured on our shopping list. If, as kids, we wanted those things we had to buy them out of our own invariably paltry pocket money and walk miles to the nearest corner shop to select from their limited stock of three flavours.

In the days when crisp-speak was plain spoken, these would have been Salt'n' Vinegar (my crisp of choice, always), Cheese'n'Onion (the strangest cheese I've every tasted and I don't think things have changed since crisps began, you can still taste it three days later), and - always a disappointment - Chicken.

Tomato flavour was hard to find and not worth the bother and bacon/sausage/ham was frankly beyond the pale. No one cool ever ate them and I still shy away from anything orange and porky. Whatever, they were all vegan I'm sure, despite their purported ingredients, or at least not animal and all came with a gloriously high grease content.

One of my happiest childhood memories is of visiting our local supermarket and splashing out on a bag of superior potato chips (crisps - we were living in Canada at the time). I bought them while my mother was doing the family shopping, and opened them and to my absolute joy discovered a minute voucher inside for another FREE bag! I immediately returned to the crisp counter and traded in my voucher for the next bag, opened it and, Lo! - didn't I find another.

This went on and on and on as my mother blithely went about her business complaining to the store manager about the quality of the liver (It's meant for dogs, Ma'am) until I bloatedly sensed enough was enough. The crisp assistant, initially pleased for my good fortune and happy to hand over, had become increasing resentful at my endlessly returning crispy face and I was too embarrassed to push my luck any further. I also felt rather nauseous.

Still, the ensuing stomach ache and grilling from my mother neither put me off crisps nor tarnished what was one the best experiences of my life. Getting my doctorate might have eclipsed it but there were no crisps around on the day, sadly.

Back in the UK and still being withheld decent pocket money, I had the usual trek to the far away newsagent if I wanted a crisp-fix. Once I'd got them, I crushed them into micro-crisplettes so I could dip my little finger into them to make the whole thing go further and last longer. This was always a bit messy but saved me having to offer them around (greedy, moi?) as no one ever fancied the germy debacle inside my bag.

Anyway over the last few weeks I've balanced my empty calorie intake with edifying, nutritious and boring - sorry - balanced meals suitably calculated to counteract the undermining effects of carbs and sugar or worst/best of all, sugar-carbs (although I have to admit, Ovamaltine spread on croissant still helps me through a difficult day).

So I'm off for an #ownworking lunch; crisps and cherry bakewell anyone?

How have you managed? What's got you through these strange times?

Jane Anderson PhD specialises in Sociospacial Reciprocity and Place Therapy. She's been working in wellbeing for nigh on 30 years and is especially interested in the people-place relationship and how it underpins all other aspects of staff engagement and wellbeing. Her Staff Wellbeing Framework Model is now charter-marked for quality assurance. / 07742942651

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Wonderful illustration by Sarah J Jones Check out her blog at

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