I am a proud alumnus of Piggott Elementary School in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Piggott was brand new when I attended and I had the honor of voting for the school mascot and school colors. I voted for the Piggott Piglets and “rainbow.” I was in first grade, please remember.
Also I stand by rainbow as a color.
Unfortunately, my peers weren’t ready for such pure ideas and we ended up being the Piggott Panthers with, get this, school colors of black and turquoise.
This was the 90s, please remember.
I have some memories of Piggott Elementary, vaguely. Playing flag football. My brother being elected school president with the slogan “I love this school” a la the Michael Jordan “I love this game” ads of the 90s. Intense Chinese jump rope sessions. And, of course, hot fries.
Piggott had a snack bar that was available after lunch, run by the upper grades. I have no idea what this snack bar was about or any other item there except for Hot Fries.
I remember the Hot Fries.
They weren’t always the Andy Capps brand. I know that, for sure. They used to be darker, more intense. I would eat them with my friends and beg my mom for $0.50 so I could buy them too.
I have memories of standing under the pavilion, hiding myself from the Vegas sun and eating Hot Fries, my fingers maroon and grimy.
When people ask me what Hot Fries taste like I usually don’t know what to say. “Here try them!” I thrust the bag in their faces. They balk at my caked, red hands and overeager attitude and soon it’s just me and my inadequate words again.
The ingredients label doesn’t offer much help.
There’s something called degermed yellow corn meal. I don’t know exactly what this is but it sounds like a yikes.
There are normal things like vegetable oil and spices.
Then the label gets really scary with things like “TBHQ, BHA, and BHT.” These seem like acronyms I would normally look up on Urban Dictionary. I mean TBHQ is like To Be Quite Honest, just with an autocorrect fail, right?
I’m getting off track.
Hot Fries taste like devil dust.
I was going to say fairy dust, but they are spicier than that. Maybe witch dust. I am reading a fantasy novel in my quest to branch out and I’m suddenly upset I’m not a practicing witch. I guess all girls go through this phase at some point, mine was just much later in life.
Hot Fries taste like witch dust.
They are thin, almost see-through, and I’ll be honest, a bit greasy. There’s a lot of spice, like probably too much spice, and they are hot. Not hot in the Hot Cheetos way (gross. I have standards) but hot in the way of whoa that’s a lot of chili powder in this chili, Jill, maybe too much?
Again, I don’t know what they taste like.
I’m not sure why I’m explaining this to you.
To me they don’t taste like ingredients they taste like the desert sun and the kickball pavement burning beneath me.
They taste like Mrs. Alvarez’s 4th/5th grade class and real life Battleship reenactments and that one bar on the playground that I used to do flips round and round.
They taste like my childhood.
Every few months or so I get a hankering to eat Hot Fries again. It hits suddenly and swiftly, this craving, and nothing else will do. (What could substitute?) Soon I’m on Amazon Prime trying to convince myself I really don’t need to buy 80 bags just to save a few dollars. That 10 will do. That really 1 would do, if only they sold in that quantity.
I wait impatiently for two days for them to be delivered, checking my app again and again.
And then they are here. Light as air and too spicy for their own good.
Then they are here and I am eating them and once again I’m 10 years old and my biggest problem is being taller than all the boys.
Hot Fries taste like witch dust, like the dust of my people.
I love this snack.