RIP Crappy School Lunches, or: Six Legendary Cafeteria Menu Items

Categories: Five Great...
schoolcafeteriamourn.jpg
Flickr user john.murden
A farewell to childhood.

It's the end of an era. 

The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Trustees has banned flavored milk in school cafeterias, and corn dogs and chicken nuggets are also off the menus. Who knows what's next? No word on whether OC schools are next to dump these kiddie lunch standards, but you can only bet a similar move is on its way.    
 
It's a positive decision--the stuff plopped onto those Styrofoam trays (which may also be dunzo) is stomach-churning, but we ate all that crap as kids and I, for one, have fond memories of at least some of it. 

For the sake of nostalgia, here are some foods that made up my childhood lunch hour, ranked from grossest to least gross totally awesome. Join in the mourning by adding your own school cafeteria memories in the comments. 

1. Chalupa 
cafeteriachalupa.jpg
I Miss Chalupa Day in the School Cafeteria

Oh, the chalupa. The only redeeming thing about Chalupa Day was saying the word "chalupa." The one I remember looks a lot like the photo--a scary slab of dry-as-dirt refried beans, crumbly mystery meat, some rubbery cheese, all plastered on a massive amorphous tortilla chip. At least 20 people disagree with me on this one, according to the I Miss Chalupa Day In The School Cafeteria Facebook Page, but I still believe that the thing had more value as a Frisbee.  

2. Chicken Patty
cafeteriachickenpatty.jpg
Team Taco Boat or Team Chicken Patty Facebook Page
Chicken Patty Day was always met with an in-unison groan. There was nothing exciting about a dry patty atop an even drier bun. However, this dish helped me learn the value of the ketchup packet. 

3. Rectangular Pizza
square_cafeteria_pizza.jpg
Right-angled pizza and cafeteria trays just make good geometric sense. As for the pizza itself--well, you know what they say about pizza. When it's good, it's really good. And when it's bad? Hey, it's still pretty good! 

4. Spaghetti
cafeteriaspaghetti.jpg
Foul, Nasty School Lunch
School cafeteria spaghetti is not the spaghetti we know, the kind made with al dente pasta and meat sauce. At my school, spaghetti meant getting a dollop of mushy worms, topped with a slice of American cheese, if we were lucky. I rather liked it.   ​

5. Taco Boat 
cafeteriatacoboat.jpg
Team Taco Boat or Team Chicken Patty Facebook Page

I loved taco boats. It was pretty much a tostada with meat, cheese, lettuce and taco sauce, but it was called a boat. Boats are cool. 

6. Frito Chili Pie
fritochilipie.jpg
Flickr user tofutti break

A rare occurrence on the cafeteria menu, any day when the Frito chili pie was served was pretty much the best day ever. Chili over Fritos topped with a Cheez Whiz-like substance (not the pretty stuff like in this photo). Yum. In fact, I sort of wanna make myself one right now. 

Ah, so this is why we're fat.

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Annie Nguyen-Habermann
Annie Nguyen-Habermann

My favorite school lunch in the GGUSD was this weird mashed-potato-gravy-turkey-chunks mixture.  It was like Thanksgiving on a tray-- once a month.  It looked like vomit, but tasted like good ol' comfort food.  I'm pretty sure all of my other classmates hated it.

Aa
Aa

how could you forget tater tots!!! Now THOSE were the best food days!

Michelle Woo
Michelle Woo

At my school, tater tots were usually served for breakfast, and my mom rarely got me there that early. But yes, yum!   

youcancallmeray
youcancallmeray

I loved that school spaghetti..My favorite in elementary school was the sloppy joe then chicken chunks in gravy with mashed potatoes. I also was one of the few kids that like the school spinach. In high school we we had a salad bar where we could stack up salad top it with nuts smother it in ranch dress and put a small roll on top. This all for $1.00 back in 1983 to 1987. The good old days!

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

When I taught in the Midwest, the Fritos were replaced with tortilla chips and it was called Mexican Straw Hats.

DanGarion
DanGarion

We had the best cheese rolls, sausage breakfast burritos, and peanut butter squares when I was in high school.

Janjann
Janjann

WOW, we sure ate some disgusting food in elementary school.

AND..now I'm hungry

MayhemInTheHood
MayhemInTheHood

Is the chalupa a relatively new one? It for sure wasn't around in my days, and I asked friends on Facebook and nobody could say they ever saw a chalupa on the school lunch menu(I'm 30...most responders were my age or a couple  years older).

TecK
TecK

im 28 and chalupas were on the menu in Santa Ana unified in first grade...

Michelle Woo
Michelle Woo

Think it's been around for a while. I'm around the same age. 

MayhemInTheHood
MayhemInTheHood

hmmm. Well, to be honest I only had school lunches til jr high, at which time I went to a private school that was BYOL. I did go to a public high school school after that, but I can honestly say I never stepped foot in the cafeteria during lunch time(because I wasn't a loser), so I have no idea what they served. I do remember the Taco Snack from those years, though, bought at the Snack Shack. Those things were horrible, yet awesome.

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