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What Ritz Crackers ‘n Cheese Dip Taught Me About Breaking Routines

Hidden Nuggets Series #26 – “And Elisha prayed, and said, ‘Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw.” – II Kings 6:17

Ritz 1I have a guilty snack pleasure confession to make. I love Kraft Handi-Snacks Ritz Crackers ‘n Cheese Dip.  Four crackers…compartment of processed cheese…sealed together in perfect harmony. Simply pull the plastic tab off the top and enjoy the yummy cheese ‘n cracker goodness. And only 100 calories to boot.

I’ve loved these all my life despite one annoying feature about the product…the little red stick. The 2” red stick has never worked for me. My irritation revolves around two things: cheese distribution and cracker stability.

First off, if you want the same amount of cheese on all the crackers you have to control how much cheese is spread onto each cracker. The stick makes this difficult. I usually end up putting too much cheese on the first cracker and then having none left for the last one.

The stick is also renowned for breaking the cracker in half, unless you hold it daintily with your pinky up like you are sipping a cup of tea. The cracker must be laid out on a completely flat surface or there is a greater than average chance the cracker splits when the stick spreads on the cheese glob. Don’t try to hold the cracker in the palm of your hand or between your thumb and index finger either. Neither of those methods solves the soft cracker vs. hard stick problem.

Clearly I have issues.

I’ve put up with that red stick for 25+ years, resigned to the fact I have to use it. That all changed recently, when I had a Handi-Snacks revelation.

One day during morning break at our school, I accidentally pulled off the plastic wrapping too hard. My jerky motion jarred the package and caused the red stick to drop to the floor. Great.

Well, I certainly wasn’t using a dirty stick to spread my cheese. So I looked at the teacher’s table for a plastic knife. Nothing.

So there I stand…helpless…a lummox holding his crackers ‘n cheese. What am I supposed to do without anything to spread the cheese?

I looked at the package and considered using my finger. That’s when I began to notice some interesting features about the packaging. The width of the cheese container is the same width as the cracker container. “Hmmm…” I thought. “Could I just scoop out the cheese with the cracker?”

I picked up a cracker and lowered it into the cheese. It was a perfect fit. Smiling, I finished my snack as the Hallelujah Chorus rang through my head.

I’ve never used the stick to spread the cheese again.

The Debrief

So many aspects of this breakthrough moment intrigue me.

My first thought was who are the packaging geniuses that thought of this? They’re brilliant. Keep them on staff Kraft.

My second thought…how did I miss this all these years?

I concluded it’s because I’m a sucker for routines. I’ve developed some good ones over the years to help guide me in many aspects of my life. I have a routines for brushing my teeth, for taking a five minute shower, for keeping track of my keys and wallet, for loading the dishwasher and for organizing my email. In this case, I’d been doing the same thing over and over, year after year since childhood – caught in a cheese spreading rut. I never considered there might be an alternative way to eat them.

I didn’t change my way of thinking until I was faced with a dilemma. Until that time my mind could not conceive of an alternative way to eat this snack without the utilizing the stick. That all changed when I was forced to improvise. My eyes were opened to new possibilities I had never dreamed of.

I simply had a cheese-spreading revelation. How about you? Are there areas of your life that need a fresh look? What routines are you stuck in? Have you been only thinking one way for a long time – content to be in your financial, emotional, relational or spiritual rut?

What’s it going to take to open your eyes to see new possibilities?

Questions: Do you like routines or are you one to simply go with the flow? How do you break free from bad routines? Anyone else enjoy Handi-Snacks Crackers ‘n Cheese?

For similar reading about eye openers, life perspective and changing habits check out Grayson’s post this week at Debt Roundup “A Sobering Moment of Reflection” and Sam’s (Financial Samurai) post at Get Rich Slowly entitled “Can we really change our financial habits if our backs aren’t against the wall?”

Image Credit: Luke1428.com

Next Post: The South Ain’t Gettin’ Personal Finance

Prior Post: Why Does Toys R Us Want My Phone Number?

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Comments

  1. you’re making everything overly complicated. put the cheese on the cracker and shut your mouth.

  2. First of all, I had those crackers and cheese dips for snack every single day in elementary school! Love the lesson learned here – think of ways you can do things differently to enhance the experience.

    • No one was more shocked than I that there was a different way to eat this snack. I’m breaking the adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”

  3. Oh man, those things gross me out, haha! it’s more of a “food like substance” than it is food, but then again, who am I to talk – I love me some cheesecake!

    Anyhow, I think we could all use a little break in the routine. It gets the creative juices flowing.

  4. Haha this was a fun read. This is also why I liked eating the cheese with the small bread sticks, dipping is easier. Great point though – I do often like to stick to a routine, but it’s always good to get a fresh perspective.

    • I’ve tried eating the ones with the bread sticks. My kids like them…I could never get into them. However, I have seen the Oreo Cookies ‘n Creme Handi-Snacks at the store. Never tried them but I might be able to get excited about those.

  5. Done by Forty says:

    I’ve started purposely dropping things on the ground, just to see if I get any revelations from it. So far, my broken mug hasn’t yielded any new coffee drinking techniques, but I can always break another tomorrow and see what happens.

    Great stuff, Brian. Necessity really is the mother of invention.

    • See that’s the problem…you can’t drop something on purpose…it has to happen by accident. Only then do the true revelations come. 😉

  6. LOL! I love this. Isn’t it strange how sometimes the most innocuous things led to biggest a-has? Routines are strange but they are both good and bad. Some of my routines are the only thing that keeps me sane and on top of things I need to get done. At the same time, it’s easy to get in a routine and never ask ourselves is there a better way. I always feel like when something happens, good or bad, jars me from a routine, it’s a message to stop and think … are you trying to send me message? Many times the answer is yes! Have a great weekend, Brian!

    • I agree Shannon on the “keeping sanity” aspects of routines. And in general, I’d say they are a real plus for anyone looking to gain some structure in their life.

  7. This is amazing! I actually laughed out loud several times. And I’m with you. I actually still LOVE Velveeta Mac & Cheese despite the fact my palate also enjoys a fine brie or gorgonzola. It’s amazing what can happen when you break routine.

  8. Ah, the dreaded routine. I know all too well about that. The funny thing is that my day job is about breaking other people’s work habits and introducing them to things that will make their lives easier. When I get home, it is all routine. It always strikes me as odd. Thanks for the mention Brian!

    • This whole episode sounds silly but it really did make me think about routines and how blind we can become to new possibilities. I’ll bet many of those who you talk with resist the idea of change. I know as a teacher (people who are very used to routines) the last thing we want is for someone to push us to change what we do.

      • Most people are resistant the the change. I don’t have to force anyone to use my techniques or programs that I create. I show them how much faster they can do something and then let them see if they like it. Most people switch and then come to me asking for more ways to make their day efficient.

        • “…then let them see if they like it.” That’s the way to go. What you are really doing is showing them the path and then letting them take ownership of the decision. Most people will stick with their decision if they feel they made it as opposed to being forced into it.

  9. I get what you’re saying about the routines but I can’t get over that you eat and actually enjoy that cheese “product” 😉

  10. …and the cracker doesn’t snap in half while dipping? (smile)

    I had a similar revelation dealing with serving bags of chips at informal get-togethers. Instead of ripping open the bags and dumping them into bowls, I realized I could open the bag by cutting straight across the top of the bag, fold the sides of the bag down, and push the chips UP from the bottom of the bag. Instant bowls! No clean up.

    Anyways, while I like routines, I’m not so keen on regimentation (heh, probably why I’ve been self-employed my whole life). But I’ve found that shaking things up every now and then can definitely give you a new perspective and I recommend it. Even if it’s something as simple as changing where you sit every time you go to church or any other type of regular meeting.

    • Haha…yeh, the cracker still breaks sometimes when you try to scoop the cheese out. Somehow that doesn’t frustrate me as much as breaking it with the stick. Don’t know why.

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