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American cheese + banana, and other weird snacks we eat when we're alone

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

And now, time for a snack. Kind of thing - and I do mean thing - you might eat when no one is looking, or if somebody is looking, they find it so ghastly, they look away like the scenes in horror films where things burst and spurt. I have my own favorite solitary meal. So do you, judging by the Twitter feed full of submissions - or should I say admissions - we got when we asked you to share your favorite idea of a weird snack. So we went shopping for the goods.

All right, we're here in a local grocery store...

(SOUNDBITE OF GROCERY CART CHILD SEAT BEING PUSHED UP)

SIMON: ...To get these important, pricey and precious ingredients. All right, let me see - bananas. I think fruits are - should be fairly near the front, right?

But plain bananas aren't enough for weird snacks.

Simply syrup with no high fructose, no high fructose corn syrup, genuine chocolate flavor, simply's (ph)...

Something sweet here, something savory over there, something sharp in a jar for my contribution to this culinary genre.

Bread and butter chips, hamburger dill chips, relish - oh, here we go, SweetHeat Bread & Butter Chips. SweetHeat - this is what we want.

Back at the NPR Test Kitchen, I assemble the ingredients.

OK, first, two slices of whole wheat bread.

(SOUNDBITE OF BREAD WRAPPER CRINKLING)

SIMON: Spongy, fresh - well, fresh is quite the word - and inviting. Then you slather it with - I love you - crunchy peanut butter spread. Now, let me emphasize, it's got to be the peanut butter spread - OK? - and slather it to the ends. And then what we who are French by marriage call la piece de resistance - huh? - SweetHeat Bread & Butter Chips. Ready? Here we go.

(SOUNDBITE OF JAR OPENING)

SIMON: Ooh.

(SOUNDBITE OF WRAPPER CRINKLING)

SIMON: Does that indicate freshness. OK. All right, here's an important part of the culinary process. Scrunch it, scrunch it, scrunch it, OK? You don't want any distance between - scrunch it, yeah, OK.

And that first bite.

Mmm. The piquance of the pickles melts with the pungence of the peanut butter, now folding into the inviting bidit (ph) of the whole wheat bread creates a snack that's briny, sharp, satisfying and disgusting, depending on who you ask.

My snack shares an ingredient with Shane DiGiovanna's. He's from Cincinnati and calls his snack the poor man's college sundae.

SHANE DIGIOVANNA: So I have a disability. I was born with a rare genetic condition. And so obviously, preparing food is rather difficult for me. So, you know, I often had to come up with snacks in college that were composed of things that I could open myself.

SIMON: Shane's sundae is a ripe banana, peanut butter, microwave.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICROWAVE TIMER GOING OFF)

SIMON: All right.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICROWAVE DOOR OPENING)

SIMON: Ooh.

(SOUNDBITE OF MICROWAVE DOOR CLOSING)

SIMON: Just the consistency we want. OK.

Chocolate sauce and...

(SOUNDBITE OF JAR OPENING)

SIMON: And now, the finishing touch - Reddi-Wip with real cream.

(SOUNDBITE OF WHIPPED CREAM BEING DISPENSED)

SIMON: A sundae sans ice cream - no brain freeze. And with the remaining banana, we wrapped up a childhood favorite of Seattle's Beth Martin.

BETH MARTIN: If you think about it, it's pretty common to have cheese with apples or pears. Why not try it with a banana?

SIMON: Not just any cheese.

MARTIN: You definitely need to use American cheese. It doesn't work so well with other types of cheese - really needs the saltiness and the creaminess of the American cheese.

SIMON: Beth remembers enjoying this treat as early as 5 or 6 alongside her brother, who cited a classical inspiration.

MARTIN: He says he probably is the one that instigated it after seeing it on an episode of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."

(SOUNDBITE OF "MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD" THEME MUSIC)

SIMON: You begin with a banana and then the inevitable, inimitable Kraft Single.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEESE SLICE BEING UNWRAPPED)

SIMON: Ah, the sound of freshness.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEESE SLICE BEING REMOVED FROM WRAPPER)

SIMON: Kraft Single wrapped around the banana, and here we go. (Laughter) Well, it's unique. The composition and execution is so intricate, maybe I just missed something.

Turns out that the recipe is, if nothing else, utterly authentic.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD")

FRED ROGERS: Piece of cheese...

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

ROGERS: ...And a banana.

SIMON: Straight from the man in the red sweater. So remember, it's OK to like the snacks you like. We have that on the highest authority.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD")

ROGERS: You always make each day such a special day. You know how? By just your being you.

SIMON: Please send us your weird snacks on Twitter @NPRWeekend. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.