The Joys of Junk Food

We flip over chips, go goofy for gumdrops, and turn cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. You love snacks and so do your neighbors. We know because we asked them. Together, let us explore junk food joy, perhaps with an Almond Joy, because sometimes you feel like a nut, and sometimes you don’t.

Mike Horn, Personal Trainer

Owner of Personal Training and Nutrition in Mobile, Mike Horn is a bodybuilding teacher, lecturer and champion. He can bench press your Volkswagen. But when it comes to snacking, don’t try this at home: “Last night I drank a gallon of chocolate milk and ate 18 honey buns, ” Horn says. “Not all at once. It took 30 minutes.”

After his honey bun bonanza, which likely made Little Debbie stock rise several points, Horn will not eat sweets for two weeks. If he is training for a bodybuilding competition, this man of steel eats no junk food for months leading up to the event.

It all started with 3 Musketeers bars, his favorite after-school snack. Horn says. “I’d always stop by the 7-11 store for one on the way home from high school.”

- Sponsors -

Scott Speck, Director of Mobile Symphony Orchestra

When Scott Speck was growing up in Boston, doctors blamed his childhood migraine headaches on milk. “Under physicians’ orders, I was told ‘no dairy, ’ therefore, no chocolate, ” Mobile’s maestro says. Around age 12, Speck outgrew his migraines, and doctors confirmed dairy had nothing to do with them. Recalling his dismay, Speck sadly confesses, “I had gone two years without chocolate – and for nothing! I call that time, ‘the lost years.’”

He’s making up for it now. Speck doesn’t just enjoy chocolate, he explores it. “I like trying chocolate from across the world, ” he says. “England, Holland, Switzerland, Italy and many other countries have great products.” The conductor feels that moderation is the key, at least in theory. “I try; I really do, ” he says, bemoaning his inability to resist all things cocoa.

Speck’s earliest childhood memories of a favorite candy bring back delightful nostalgia for Ritter Sport bars. Today the leader of the band says he munches “global chocolate” from great cities around the world, artisan creations of confectionary masters and even the sweet treats from a Mobile Winn-Dixie.

Gina Gregory, Mobile City Councilwoman

Colleagues, constituents, the press and the people all appreciate Mobile City Council member, Gina Gregory. So does Frito-Lay.

“When I was a little girl growing up in Fort Walton, Fritos were readily available, ” Mobile’s District 7 Representative recalls. “If I see Fritos laid out, they’re gone, ” Gregory warns. “I especially like them with onion dip and salsa.” Though Fritos are her snack of choice, like all good political leaders, Gregory practices inclusion. “Kit-Kat bars are good, too, ” she admits. You read it here first: Councilwoman Gregory supports chocolate. “Except with marshmallow, ” she clarifies, “I don’t care for that.” Political opponents supporting marshmallows were unavailable for comment.

Lenise Ligon, TV News Anchor

You know Lenise Ligon as a voice of Gulf Coast news – self-assured, authoritative, a reporter we can depend on. Ligon is also an avid jogger, passionate promoter of good health, and proponent of the many physical benefits to eating hearty, healthful snacks. From her WALA FOX10 studio, she says, “I go with almonds, Greek yogurt bites … and does green tea count as a snack?” Not exactly, but nice try.

During newscasts, Lenise is apt to grab a handful of nuts during breaks, snacking then returning to the news just like we do. But Mobile’s physically fit broadcaster has one indulgence. “Every birthday I treat myself to cheesecake, ” she confesses. “And it’s mine! All mine!” she adds, elevating her voice to a point that startles me. “I also love cheese-cake yogurt.”

Lisa Mills, Recording Artist

Bluesy singer, guitarist and song-writer Lisa Mills makes her home on Mobile Bay, but she also performs at clubs, concerts and venues across the U.S. and Europe. And, she occasionally makes appearances with Totino’s frozen pizza in hand. “I’m sure it gives me a day’s supply of sodium and junk, ” she smiles. “But I love it. Not just for the taste, but for the nostalgia.”

When Mills was growing up in Mississippi, her mother worked hard to support her family. “She worked long hours waitressing, ” Mills recalls. “Exhausted, Mother would often come home and prepare TV dinners. Eating Totino’s frozen pizza reminds me of my mom and what she did for us.” Late at night, the singer also enjoys delicious, quality ice cream with peanut butter and strawberries on top.

Dr. Jim Blackman, Dentist

Practicing dentistry for 32 years, Mobile’s Dr. Jim Blackman has met many a sweet tooth — just before pulling it. That’s why his snack of choice is baby carrots.

“I love carrots, ” he says. “Always have.” He also likes Oreos, but only with meals. “If you are going to eat sweets, do it at mealtime so your body can process the sugar along with the other food it’s receiving.” He warns, “The worst thing you can do is sip sugary soft drinks constantly, allowing sugar to continuously attack enamel. It’s much better to chug-a-lug a Coke in a few gulps.”

Todd Nelson, Owner The Chocolate Corner

Todd Nelson lives and works in the Gulf Shores area. Todd Nelson makes butter fudge for a living. Todd Nelson smiles a lot.

Ever hear the old saying about people working in candy stores never eating what they sell? Don’t believe it. “My favorite snack is chocolate turtles, which we make at The Chocolate Corner, ” Nelson says. “I nibble as needed.” But he constantly monitors his candy store employees, especially around the chocolate. “I weigh them at the end of each day, ” he laughs.

Nelson grew up munching Marathon bars that he purchased after school from Gulf Shores’ Jr. Food Mart. “They were long bars of chocolate with caramel in a red wrapper, ” he recalls. Today, chocolate and caramel are the tools of his trade. More smiles ensue from Nelson at the irony of this pleasant realization that his life has come full circle.

text by Emmett Burnett • illustration by Kelan Mercer

Get the best of Mobile delivered to your inbox

Be the first to know about local events, home tours, restaurant reviews and more!