Awhile ago, Tess came home from school talking about Babybel cheese. All the kids have it. It’s so cool. Could she get some, pretty-please-please-please?
On the scale of foods I worry about, Babybel cheese doesn’t even rank. Weird texture, yeah. Wrapped in dyed paraffin wax, yeah. But the ingredients are fine, and she’s not eating the wax. So of course I said yes. I say yes to a lot worse things on a one-time basis because I know that whenever Tess wants to taste something because it’s popular, she usually ends up not liking it anyway. But I can’t tell her that. She has to figure it out for herself.
Here’s what happened the first time I sent a Babybel in her lunch (she had more than this to eat — don’t worry!).
See that raspberry on top?
Not a raspberry.
And that’s when I realized why all the kids like Babybels so much.
To explain, let me quote from one of our favorite chapter book series, “Ivy & Bean,” by Annie Barrows. In this installment, “No News is Good News” (which we read after the Babybel fascination started), the heroines scheme how to make money so they can buy the coveted “Belldeloon cheese”:
“While Bean watched, Vanessa opened her lunchbox and took out a small red ball. It was a ball of cheese, but nobody cared about the cheese. The cheese was totally unimportant. The important thing was the coating around the cheese. It was wax.
“The wax was red. It was smooth. If you pulled on the secret string inside it, the wax split into two halves. You unfolded them and took the cheese out. Sometimes you took a bite of cheese. Mostly, you didn’t. You rolled the wax between your hands until it was warm. Once it was warm, you could squish it. You could squish it and squish it. You could make it into a shape. You could put it on your face. You could hold it for the rest of the day, and it would get dirtier and dirtier, until finally it was a small brown lump. Then you could stick it in the middle of your table and say it was a booger.”
Sometimes food is more about fun than food. And that’s OK.
(Apparently Babybel wax art is a bonafide thing. Or so says a Google image search and articles like this one on BuzzFeed. Who knew?)