Back when I was a kid, I would get excited to go to the mall. Of course my enthusiasm was not due to the shopping options but because of the food options. As a young one, I remember the concept of a food court being a little overwhelming to my developing mind. To view the restaurants I would see in different stretches on the side of the road all squished together indoors made my heart beat a little faster.
Fast forward to the adult version of myself and I still get excited to go to the mall. Only this time my enthusiasm is due to…wait a minute…nothing has changed…I still go to the mall mostly for the food.
With almost three decades of enjoying culinary delights at shopping malls all across the nation, I thought I would run down my top five favorite edible choices at these giant commerce centers. (Please note that this list counts down in order from the item I like to the item I love to the item I dream about).
5. Dippin’ Dots – I admit that my enjoyment of this mall “food” item is half novelty and half actual taste. When the Dippin’ Dots cart appeared at my local mall in Spokane when I had probably just turned double digits, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I would always get a free sample in one of those mini spoons but since the price for a small cup likely equated to two dots for $1, my parents would rarely buy me the treat. However, because it was something I couldn’t have and because it was the “ice cream of the future” I developed a soft spot for Dippin’ Dots, one that still exists to this day.
4. Candy – Every mall has one. Usually tucked between a fragrance store and an American Eagle, you will find a candy store. Big bins with chocolates, brightly colored gummis, jelly beans, salt water taffy, and assorted hard candies will draw the attention of anyone with a sweet tooth. Add to the fact that most of these places also have fudge up front at the cash register and it is tough to walk by. If I was lucky, my mom would let my brother and I place a couple pieces into a bag, weigh it to make sure it didn’t exceed ¼ of a pound, and then walk around the mall munching on our sweets while my mom shopped. It kept us happy and I still feel a bit of that happiness when I pass a candy store today.
3. PIZZA – Yes, I did purposely write “pizza” in all caps. Going to the mall and getting pizza was a neat experience because it was pizza by the slice. Not only was it pizza by the slice, but each individual slice was gigantic. Growing up I had my fair share of Sbarro and I would always enjoy looking through the glass and watching the steam rise off of the pies. You pointed to what you wanted and the employee would put the slice on a plate that was much too small and transport it to a big red tray. Like I alluded to above, getting pizza by the slice was just so different from when mom and dad ordered delivery or took us to a restaurant that I grew to really like it.
2. Pretzels – I must admit that I don’t eat the above items anymore when I go to the mall. However, with soft pretzels it is a whole different story. If I am in the mood for a snack while shopping, I am almost always going to get a pretzel. Whether it be Pretzel Time, Wetzel Pretzel, or Auntie Anne’s, I am a big fan. Nothing beats dunking a hot pretzel in nacho cheese or pizza sauce. I am not a soda person but when I eat a pretzel I will order a Pepsi. It is a perfect combination that hits the spot in the right way because it is delightful but not filling (who wants to leave the mall with a full belly anyway?). Every now and then I will let myself splurge and order a pretzel dog. Pretzel + hot dog = YUM.
1. Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll – Was this even up for debate? It almost isn’t fair. Once you come within 20 feet of a Cinnabon, the sweet air hits your senses and you can’t help but surrender your wallet. Don’t worry though because it is worth it. In a world where smells will sometimes lead to a letdown in taste, Cinnabon cinnamon rolls do the exact opposite. I let the Cinnabon aroma serve as a non-edible appetizer that sets me up to enjoy the actual product that always manages to blow my mind. Every bite is heavenly with the eating experience just getting more and more intense as you reach the middle of the roll. A Cinnabon cinnamon roll just isn’t the best food option at the mall, it is an experience that defines your entire shopping outing.
Who wants to be a mall rat with me and raid the food court? A cinnamon roll and pretzel counts as a nutritious dinner, right? Don’t Blink.