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The Green Cake Effect: The Taste of Nostalgia

( a picture of me eating a cupcake at 9 or 10, *not an Entenmann's Valentine's Day cupcake)

My favorite childhood dessert is the Entenmann's Golden Valentine Day Cupcakes. This confectionery masterpiece begins with a yellow cupcake matter. After the yellow cake, Entenmann surprises its customers with a layer of semi-sweet chocolate. To top it all off, pink vanilla frosting, cherry jelly beans, and red heart sprinkles. I have not had this cupcake since I was twelve. Yet, every February, I continue to scour grocery stores, searching for the holy grail of Valentine's Day dessert.

(Image of Entenmann's Golden Cupcake courtesy of )

My Entemann's Valentine's Day cupcake story is not unique. My mom experiences a similar euphoric feeling when she eats a slice of Heinemann's Bakery Chocolate Pistachio Cake. In my family, we call food nostalgia the Green Cake Effect. Every time my family and I go to Chicago, we must stop at a Jewel-Osco supermarket to pick up a cake from the freezer department. The devil food cake pairs excellent with the silky pistachio buttercream. Top with a Maraschino cherry, this cake transports my family to a relaxing summer day in the suburbs of Chicago.

This phenomenon is not unique to my family. Researchers have discovered the following:

Psychologist and neuroscientist of the Huffington Post Hadley Bergstrom explains that “taste memories tend to be the strongest associative memories that you can make” and that this is partially because of a survival mechanism called conditioned taste aversion (McElwain).

Comfort food seems to be something people associate very significantly with close relationships,” says Jordan Troisi, assistant professor of psychology at The University of The South (Sifferlin)

So the next time I am in the Chicago-Land area, I will be in a Jewel Osco store within 24 hours of my arrival. I will sprint to the bakery's frozen aisle and pick up a Green Cake. Every bite takes me back to walks with my parents, feeding swans at the lake, or running in the basement (I use to think that the basement was the best part of any house outside of Florida). I will continue to search for the food that allows me to time travel.


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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