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How to Channel Your Inner Child (If You Can't Get Into Next)

By Molly Durham in Food on Oct 11, 2011 3:00PM

2011_10_10_poptart.jpeg What is better than comfort food? It could be a home-cooked meal just like mom used to make or a specific brand of food from your past. Even Chicago chefs are taking note of how much throwback food can please: Grant Achatz' upcoming "Childhood" menu at Next, rumored to emerge in mid October, and the childhood menu at pop-up Gypsy prove this point. If you don't have the golden ticket to visit Next during those childhood-themed months or can't make it to the pop-up, a reversion to childhood that's totally acceptable can happen at home too: by bringing back the old snacks you attacked when getting home from school. Here are a few ways you can celebrate your younger years:

Mac n' cheese - Make it with gourmet cheese like smoked gouda or gruyere, throw some bacon in it or simply head to The Southern Mac Truck or their new storefront dedicated solely to the stuff.

Tater tots - Skip the bagged Ore Ida version and head to Rocking Horse in Logan Square to taste their gargantuan platters of tots in poutine, chili cheese or chimichurri varieties. The best hangover cure in the world, in our opinion.

Pop tarts - Make your own! Here's a recipe we like. Or get some from Truffle Truffle, which sells grown-up pop tarts at Dose Market. Fill them with sweet or savory ingredients, make a graham cracker or whole wheat crust... they're so easily customizable you'll never buy the boxed stuff again.

Marshmallow fluff - Let's see if your mouth can stand the stickiness of fluffer nutters once again. The Sweet Ride truck has been known to whip up some fluffer nutter whoopie pies, and if you cant get your hands on those, make your own with this recipe. Sure it doesn't seem like this stuff with alien-like consistency can be made with any naturally occurring ingredients, but all it takes is some corn syrup and a few other ingredients and you can make a grown-up fluffernutter.

Cereal - At the Culture frozen yogurt truck, get some froyo topped with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Fruity Pebbles of Cap n' Crunch. It's like getting those little variety packs of sugary cereals, but you don't have to fight with your siblings over who gets which ones! Or you can get the most adult version: Boiler Room's 1988 cocktail: a milky rum drink served with a shot glass full of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

PB&J - Get the peanut butter and jelly concrete at Scooter's Frozen Custard or go for the actual sandwich route with Brown Bag Lunch Truck's peanut butter pulled chicken with jelly sauce.