Satire | Top 10 grocery items for serotonin production

By Alex Dolinger, Staff Columnist

As you know, I’m losing my mind. One thing that’s been keeping me grounded, however, is my weekly Instacart grocery orders from Target. Even in my darkest hour — which is definitely right now — I can always be cheered up by some Double-Stuf Oreos.

I’m sure all of our eating habits have changed during quarantine, but mine have gotten a little bizarre. I practice intuitive eating and my intuition is telling me to seek comfort in a very haphazard group of grocery items. I am listening. Here are my top 10 Target picks this fall:

  1. Instant mashed potatoes

This may be the greatest adult discovery that I have ever made. Yes, even better than Zoom backgrounds. Basically, it’s just a bag of powdered potato and whatever else that you stir into boiling water to get mashed potatoes. I’m typically skeptical of anything claiming to be “instant,” as I think that good things come to those who wait. But I have seen the light — although it is fluorescent and full of bugs, metaphorically speaking — and now I make sure to always have one of these bags of pure joy on hand. Do I eat an entire bag by myself in one sitting? Yes. Next question.

  1. Seasonal Oreos

The pandemic has made me start constantly yearning for childhood, and Oreos really take me right back to middle school. When I would go to dances and insist on wearing high heels even though I was a child, I always looked forward to sitting at a cafeteria table with a pack of Oreos and a mini can of Sprite, all purchased for two dollars. Anyway, Oreos often come out with seasonal flavors because they know they are serving depressed vegans all year round. I recently purchased the coconut caramel flavor, and they are excellent to snack on during Zoom lectures. I keep my camera on because I am not a coward. 

  1. Cheeseball tub

Getting a ginormous tub of Utz cheeseballs delivered to my front porch is the most unbridled joy I have experienced since the school year began. One tub contains 35 ounces of crisp little cheese balls. They don’t taste like anything found in nature, and that’s kind of hot, you know? Keeping with the theme of childhood nostalgia, my family used to buy one of these tubs every Halloween. Now that I’m an adult and life is meaningless, I can buy one of these no matter what day it is, and that’s praxis.

  1. Oat milk

I’m sure my super hip readers are gonna think I’m super late to the game — feel free to bully me at the email provided below — and they would be right. I have been a coconut milk enthusiast since my first year of high school for no good reason except for my nonsensical loyalty to various inanimate objects — such as my devotion to Hydroflasks and acetaminophen. However, I decided to give oat milk a try in an attempt to spice up my life, and I am oat-verwhelmed with how incredible it is. Not only is it sustainable, but it enhances my morning cup of tea like coconut milk never has. I have seen the oat-ther side, and I’m not going back.

  1. Burt’s Bees lip balm

“But Alex,” you say, “lip balm is not a snack.” I know this. Mind your business. Or should I say beeswax? No, I shouldn’t.

  1. Nasty granola bars

I don’t enjoy nasty granola bars, but I won’t stop buying them. Let me explain. There are so many granola bars on the market, and they all advertise tasting like something super delicious. However, they are all just full of dates. I like dates, but when you tell me I’m getting a granola bar that tastes like peanut butter pie and the first ingredient is dates, it’s simply not going to taste like peanut butter pie. I recently purchased a pack of apple pie granola bars and they were full of dates and also egg whites. Unfortunately, my brain is the size of a walnut and it just rattles around inside my empty skull, so I keep purchasing these date vessels. I am a fool.

  1. Sleepytime tea

I try harder every day to emulate the Sleepytime tea bear, so naturally I drink this pretty average tea every night before I go to bed. I of course mix it with honey and oat milk and curl up next to my Kacey Musgraves candle for a long night of using Photoshop and writing silly columns. I am curious about what makes it different from all the other caffeine-free tea that I own, but I’m going to insist that it is the reason I fall asleep every single night. Sip sip.

  1. Cold brew

When it’s not morning or evening, you can typically find me with a large cup of iced coffee — before you ask, yes I put oat milk in it, I am in-porridge-able. Target is full of several giant jugs of cold brew that cost as much as my Starbucks order, so I can partake in gay culture while safe in my home for a low price. This is how I fuel my walnut brain so I can participate in lectures and say something intelligible. Sip sip.

  1. Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are the best things that grow from the ground and you may quote me on that. This isn’t a new item on my grocery list, but it will always be a staple. They are excellent to bake with salt and olive oil, and I like to add butter and cinnamon once they come out of the oven. I am unable to use the oven in my apartment without the smoke alarm going off, so I just keep buying them while I try to figure out how to proceed. Now I have a pantry full of sweet potatoes and eyes full of tears.

  1. One single banana

As I’m sure you can tell by every single thing I write, my walnut brain is having some trouble. Aren’t we all? It’s difficult for me to buy produce in bulk because I usually let it go bad, which isn’t fun for anyone. The very simple solution to this issue is to only buy the produce I can handle. Thus, once a week, I get the beautiful chat message from my instacart shopper that reads, “are you sure you only want one banana?” I smile. A single joyous tear runs down my face. “Yes, I do,” I reply. 

Alex is a senior theatre arts major with a creative writing minor. They primarily write satire about how the world is ending. You can reach them at [email protected].