The Wotsits Conundrum

Twenty five years back, my Old Man used to work in a cash and carry near Aldgate station. Occasionally I’d be taken there spending a few hours running around the store while he would work in the office out the back. It was a good place to spend your time playing hide and seek, but it never lasted more than a few moments, my father would halt our fun with a very effective neanderthal grunt. He didn’t need words to express his distaste, we knew what that grunt meant.

On one of these trips to Aldgate, I weaved my way through a few steel shelves and into the confectionery section. A kid in a candy store needs little tempting to start devouring boxes but I was always reticent to invade the jars of boiled sweets because of the consequences of my action. I could have lied and accused the mice, but I doubt these skilled-sweet-loving-nemeses would be able to negotiate the glass jars as i could. Having had said that, I wouldn’t be lying- on the technicality of being nicknamed Moynul the Mouse. Like I said, I didn’t do much than contemplate.

Some years later, I watched an episode of QED about the dietary-behavioural connection, it doesn’t sound like the most engrossing TV but I assure you it tantilised the brain cells. I’m not discussing that though, what I will mention is that they asserted that children are either given pocket money to satisfy their carnal desires to pig out on junk- or they are provided with junk by their parents. I’m partial to the latter but in my childhood, I always wanted the money to spend on shit food. I think I’m compensating on that lack of tuck-shop money by spending thriftily on kebabs- so declared the evolution of junk. Anyhow, we were stocked with junkfood straight from the cash and carry.

Getting back to my slalom run in the cash and carry, I noticed a big yellow box and beside it was an orange one. They were cornsnacks- crisps. The name of these crisps were: Thingimejigs and Somethingbobs or other. Now I know now, as I knew then that these were rip-offs of Wotsits but we weren’t well-off folk so dad opted to buy the cheaper version similarly and just as bizarrely named. The irony of it was that although they were cheaper, we used to consume much more- much, much more in fact. Clearly Wotsits were enough of a success to copy and rebrand into budget versions with budget tastes. Cheetos have tried and succeeded and thingimejigs have since been replaced by corn puffs/snacks etc.

But what on earth is a wotsit? Is it that enigmatic? Who cares!?

Every time I have a packet- and that’s still quite often, my fingers are covered in a cheesy orange residue that I’m obliged to lick off vampirically. And it’s not only that, I become accustomed to having 3, maybe 4 packs at a time. It’s more “once you pop you can’t stop” than a tube of Pringles. A trigger in your head summons your hand towards that metallic, glistening, taste-preserving pack like the archaic, matt orange packet never enticed you to. I hate the urge, but I’m always overwhelmed. What’s in a Wotsit that makes it so addictive, according to the anagram, it’s a Sow’s tit.

Yum, then. (?)

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