Column: Let them eat…pretzels?


Photo credit: Lola Lamberg

Pretzels are always a go-to snack at parties when you want to avoid cake at all costs.

I have never lived by the famous Marie Antionette phrase “Let them eat cake!” The “cake” part has always been substituted with some other food. Imagine 6-year-old me at my best friend’s birthday party. This is a typically momentous event for a little kid, especially when the frosting-filled cake makes its way out onto the table. Only, for me, this part has always looked different. While my friends all clamored over each other for the slice with the most chocolate frosting or the biggest corner piece, I always went up to the hostess and asked very nicely, just as my lovely mother Amy Wernick taught me, for my food of choice:

“Um, excuse me? I don’t really like chocolate. Or cake. Or anything sweet. Do you have pretzels?”

Yes, I admit: I have always been a salt queen, rather than a sweets kind of girl. Not that I’m complaining — I have always just found sweets to be a little too rich. And no, this is not a full circle story where I finally, after a lot of convincing, learned to eat all of the “normal” birthday party foods. Even though today I don’t always ask for pretzels, I still usually don’t partake in the cake part of the event.

My parents never complained, might I add. It was almost their dream. I was missing my sweet tooth. I am used to the strange looks and the questions from the various people at every party I attend. I get asked everything from “Are you allergic or something?” to even “Are you feeling ok?” But after 15 years of being a picky eater and accepting that I am not going to suddenly change anytime soon, I have my routine down.

Most of the time, I just answer with the usual: “It is a choice not to eat the normal sweets. It’s not medical, and it’s not by coercion — I just don’t have the typical human sweet tooth.” I will also add in that I do not need nor am asking for special treatment — I am honestly just opting out of a piece of cake. Judging by the way that some of the people I told look at me, you would think I am telling them some really concerning news. A kid who doesn’t like cake or sweets? Call an ambulance; something must be wrong with her! At first, this did affect me and I truly wondered whether something was wrong with me for my picky preferences. But then, I realized that it truly was just a choice and that their opinions of me and my picky eating do not matter one bit.

This mentality towards my picky eating can also apply to my everyday life (I know, you probably weren’t expecting to hear that sentence any time soon). Since I can remember, when I have had to explain my preferences to yet another quizzical adult or truly curious peer, I have not really cared about the reaction I get. I have learned to accept that this limited palate is part of who I am, and nothing that they say or offer me (yes, even if it is a corner piece with a huge amount of frosting) is going to make me change my mind on who I am and who I want to be.