Recently Kish and I stopped at a Bob Evans for a cup of coffee. As we waited at the to-go counter, we stood by the glass display case that offered all kinds of tantalizing coffee cakes, crumb cakes, and gigantic cookies. It was a classic example of conscious retail design to encourage impulse buying: as long as you’re here, picking up your order, why not go for one of these delectable items, too?
The coffee cakes looked awfully good, but we resisted the temptation and stuck with our lone cup of coffee.
It reminded me of a kind of rite of passage during my early teenage years. Mom used to buy Sara Lee pecan coffee cake that I found irresistible. It was dense and moist and sweet and cinnamony, with swirls of icing and crunchy pecans. Although it was sold in kind of aluminum dish so it could be heated and served hot, I always took my Sara Lee coffee cake cold, with a tall glass of cold milk as accompaniment. And on some days, I’d have a second piece, too. And maybe a third.
But after a while I realized that I wasn’t exactly maintaining fighting trim, and if I wanted to actually get a date with a girl I needed to do something about it. It wasn’t just the Sara Lee, of course, there was the lure of Frosted Flakes, and Coke and all kinds of snack foods, and a lifestyle that involved too much TV watching and not enough exercising. And, at bottom, the inability to enjoy things like that Sara Lee pecan coffee cake in moderation, rather than in gluttonous excess. But I swore off the Sara Lee, and I don’t think I’ve had any since.
Could I enjoy a sliver of Sara Lee and a glass of milk, without promptly ravishing the entire cake? I’d like to think so, but I’m not going to test that hypothesis. Sometimes it’s more prudent to just avoid temptation altogether.