No YOU Shut Up And Drive
Janis Hirsch illustration

Eating in the Car: Food always tastes better on wheels

Opening the ‘tines is only half the battle. There are four stay-fresh sleeves inside each of which I’m supposed to gently pull the corners of to open but hello? I’m driving. This is when I use my new and improved version of the “10 and 2” steering wheel position. I will share it with now. No need to thank me.

Hold the sleeve of ‘tines over your steering column – you can steer with your forearms just fine: I do! – so you can use both hands to yank on the sleeve. Rather than gently come apart, the package usually explodes but then you eat less, and who among us isn’t watching her weight?

And while I’m loathe to say anything negative about my beloved Prius, there is one teensy design flaw that I need to point out. (Are you listening, Mr. Toyota?). The steering column is angled such that when you’re holding things midway between the steering wheel and the dashboard, it creates a perfect chute whisking whatever I’ve dropped directly and quickly into God knows where, which is exactly why I’m terrified of dark roller coasters and the Holland Tunnel. If I can’t see the end of the ride, I don’t get on it. I drop trash down an apartment incinerator, I hear it land. I deposit one of those envelopes into the ATM, I get a receipt. I drop something behind my steering wheel, it instantly disappears. What Houdini could’ve done in my Prius boggles the mind.

In addition to losing crackers in there, I’ve also dropped change, a nail polish wand, plastic dental picks (maintaining good oral hygiene is a perfect car activity, way better than the License Plate Game), an eye liner brush, numerous in-store rewards cards, that earring that fell down my bra, paper clips and a stick of Winterfresh gum. If you have thin wrists (I hate to brag) and don’t mind scraped knuckles, you can fish a lot out by going up and under the steering wheel. What I can’t reach I figure will be a happy surprise for the mechanic. And by the way, if the mechanic asks, I will deny everything and blame my husband.

Oh, a quick word about non-finger food. Always keep a few plastic forks in your glove box. Chopsticks are helpful too, even when it’s not Asian-in-the-car cuisine. They make excellent knives when you’re cutting the papaya you couldn’t resist at Costco.

For coffee drinkers who tend to dribble as I do, I’ve come up with a foolproof although fashion-backward clothes protector. Get an apron (I use the one my son’s kindergarten class made that I way-overpaid for at a school auction) and tie it tightly around your neck. My son has refused to drive with me when I’m so adorned but it’s a helluva lot easier than always carrying a spare blouse. And a tip I learned the hard way: take it off before going into a meeting.

For those times you need more coverage than an apron provides, I once unzipped the lining of my raincoat and wore that while eating an amazing turkey and veggie sub from Bay Cities Deli in Santa Monica on the 10 Freeway. Slow lane, of course.

But no matter what you’re eating, the goal is to finish before you get home. Sometimes, you’ll need to be extra polite and let every car in sight make the left before you do. Sometimes, you’ll need to stop in front of a particularly interesting tree to study it. But by all means, finish before you get home.

And if possible, once you do get home, try to brush all the crumbs off your chest-shelf before anyone sees you. If they do, if you get a “Mom, are those chocolate Cheerios? Aren’t you still on Weight Watchers?” you just say: “They’re allowed” and then quickly change the subject to your recent conversation with your sister, which will bore them into retreat.

Happy driving and bon appétit.

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7 Responses to “Eating in the Car: Food always tastes better on wheels”

  1. ilona saari says:

    LOL – for me it’s Reduced Fat Cheez-Its! I think opening the box, then the slippery wax papery bag they’re in while driving your car should be an Olympic event. I’m sure I’d get the gold.

  2. Maris Clement says:

    That Janis is one funny woman. She’s bringing a long hidden truth into daylight. C’mon, who among us hasn’t indulged in a little car eating. IT would be difficult to count the number of Twix bar wrappers at the bottom of my purse. All f them eaten gleefully while driving, they’re very neat.

  3. marta gardner says:

    I totally needed Janis’ apron/rain slicker trick when I succumbed to a Haagen Dazs ice cream bar driving down the 5 through the Central Valley in August.

  4. gemma corfield says:

    I was crying with laughter. In my Ford Hybrid Escape I get the food stuck down the sides of the seat and the central console on a little ledge that must have been designed as the crumb catcher …. a month later you spot a wizened edamame pod (“hmm wonder if that’s still good”). In my previous car, a Lincoln Aviator, I would constantly loose cds, pens, usb drives, hair scrunchies, money etc down that rubber opening by the gear stick, never to be found again. I would always wonder when one lost item would cause an electrical short and zap me in the seat! And what about the times when the lid of your homemade smoothie or coffee cup comes off and
    liquid pours all over you, down that bottomless hole and down between the legs, puddling on the seat … and you don’t have any wipes! You verbalized so perfectly what we all go through … and that part about dusting off the crumbs on arrival – chances are, if you remember your chest, you’ll forget the ones in your hair and on your face! I think my most challenging car feast was a baked potato with broccoli and melted cheese that I ate with my fingers, while driving (of this I’m not proud).
    Priceless, well done Janice!

  5. Janis,
    Keep the humor coming. Hilarious article and fun website. I see myself in many descriptions-especially the coffee dribbler. I wonder how the woman eating tuna with a bic pen got the can open in her car. Clever girl.

  6. D.G.Fulford says:

    Ms. Hirsch,
    Have you ever tasted the chocolate chip scones from Trader Joe’s? They come three to a pack ( a stack ) in a plastic bag . An adhesive white band clamps the bag closed. Removing this band should only be done in a surgical setting, as it has been taught by generations of adhesive white bands hold on tight and nevah, nevah , nevah let go. I operate anyway, in a hospital white PT Cruiser, and generally get to the scones ( trapped miners) by the time I hit the main road home. ALLLL gonnnne. A driving / eating tip? Buy three bags. You’ll have the best weekend of your life.

    I enjoy your blog muchly and can’t wait to see more…

  7. Laurie Armstrong says:

    Back in my wilder days, I managed to pour Diet Coke from the jug into my Big Gulp cup while smoking a cigarette (not ‘ny more) and driving my Pinto down Highway 99. Ah, good times.

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