Thirteen years ago, I worked at a potato chip bag factory in Rome, Georgia. I worked two or three nights a week, for twelve hours a night. Looking back on it, the job wasn’t really that bad — but at the time, I thought I was in Purgatory.
Most of my memories of the job have faded away, but I do remember making bags for a brand called Zapp’s. The bags had a distinctive look about them. I remember the shiny vertical stripes and the funky way the letter “Z” was scrawled. Zapp’s offered a peculiar array of flavors. The two that still stand out in my mind are “Gator Tators” and “Spicy Cajun Crawtators.” I was so intrigued that I went to Kroger and bought a few bags. They were delicious. Back then, kettle-cooked chips were rare.
A couple of years later, in 2003, I dated a girl named Ashleigh. One day, I was telling her about my experience at the potato chip bag factory and I mentioned the Spicy Cajun Crawtators to her. She laughed and rolled her eyes. She thought I was making it up.
I said, “No! I’m being completely serious! There really is a potato chip called a ‘Spicy Cajun Crawtator.’ It’s a crawdad-flavored chip! I’ll prove it to you! I’ll go to the grocery store and get some!”
But I couldn’t find any when I went to Kroger. They had disappeared from the shelves. It was as if the Zapp’s brand had never existed. I looked like a liar.
This afternoon, I was roaming around in Ingle’s. I don’t normally set foot in there, but I wanted to see what it would be like to buy fresh groceries and prepare food at home, rather than living on a steady diet of fast food and vending machine trash. While I was searching for beef chunks (for a stew I planned to make) I suddenly found myself face to face with a ghost from my past: Zapp’s Spicy Cajun Crawtators. There were a few other flavors on the shelf too … but I grabbed the Crawtators.
And now I have proof. I took a photo. Look, Ashleigh. See? See? They’re real. I wasn’t lying to you. I didn’t make it up. Spicy Cajun Crawtators are a reality. After ten years, I’ve finally been vindicated.
My e-book, Under the Electric Sun, is available on Kindle. It’s a young adult science fiction novel about a boy, an electronic raccoon, and a giant insect from another world. The story takes place in a high-tech underground city beneath the burned-out ruins of Washington, DC. (I don’t recommend it for young children.) Click here to download a copy to your Kindle, computer, or iPhone. You may need to download a Kindle app if you want to read it on your computer.