Eating is an activity made for Guilty Pleasures.
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Whether it's sugar overload, the beauties of junk food or something you probably should have given up after college, our tastes stay with us, and darned if we don't keep circling back to the same shame-inducing delights time after time.
Here's a shopping cart's worth of indulgences, with an extra helping of guilt on the side.
Cookies with faces
A round cookie, unless it's an Oreo, doesn't offer many options. But a cookie with a head or a face certainly does. While I hate shortbread cookies — give me a Samoa or a Thin Mint over a Trefoil any day -- I'm particularly fond of Animal Crackers, and I think that's because they have faces. Publix, my grocery store, makes particularly delicious animal crackers that have a variety of interesting animals, which I eat in order of how bite-offable their body parts are. (This makes me sound like I need serious therapy, but come on, we're talking about cookies here.) I like to start eating the parrot-shaped ones shaped by biting off their tails. Teddy Grahams, my other favorite small animal-shaped cookie, are essentially graham crackers, but with tiny arms and legs that just beg to be broken off between my teeth. Let's see an actual graham cracker offer that. -Andy Dehnart
Video: 7-Eleven Slurpees If summer beverages were people, lemonade and iced tea would be dainty elderly ladies, and the Slurpee would be the stoner who bursts in late to the party wearing paisley board shorts and neon-colored flip-flops. There’s nothing nutritional or healthy about Slurpees, but they sure are fun. As kids we tried to only visit our local 7-Eleven when the female clerks were working — the Slurpee machines were still behind the counter then, and only the women would mix flavors (in kid lingo, that’s called a “suicide”). Now the Slurpee spouts are out in the store, meaning you can freely compose a drink that’s one part blue raspberry, one part root beer, one part grapermelon and one part Purple S’crème (looks purple, tastes vanilla). Some states, including my birthplace of Minnesota, no longer have 7-Elevens in their states, but for those who do: slurp on, my icy-mouthed brethren. -Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
When first starting my Starbucks ritual, I found the lingo required to order a beverage obnoxious at best. Whether it was the part-English, part pseudo-Italian sizes or the plethora of drink modifiers, it came off as difficult and pretentious to my wee newbie ear. Not until I stopped fighting it, and fully embraced my java overlords, did the pleasure of the Starbucks lexicon take hold. Now I mentally practice my order so that it may roll fast and deliberate from my tongue. Why order a venti Caramel Macchiato when I can order a venti, light-iced, half-caf, upside-down Caramel Macchiato with soy and an extra shot of vanilla? Joy! Beyond the simple fun of being bilingual in Beveragese, there’s the extra kick of becoming more fluent than my server. Now it’s a game of baffle-the-barista. The longer the order, the more I love it. Just remember: a tall, 140 degrees, double caffè latte with one shot of vanilla (leave room and add whip!) beats out a grande, low-fat, no-whip, dry Caramel Steamer. Ah heck, double-cup it! -Ree Hines
Red Bull Sugarfree
It’s an acquired taste, somewhere between chilled baby aspirin and sour limes. You never forget the eye squint and full-body cringe the first time you down a Red Bull, the energy drink that put the “all” back into all-nighters. Stick to the sugar-free version which, at a mere 10 calories, won’t wreck your diet. Let it glide down your throat and feel the caffeine jolt directly into your veins. Two sips later, the scattered thoughts in your mind achieve clarity, your mood lightens and the urge to rearrange the junk drawer overtakes you. With 80 mg of caffeine packed into an 8 oz. can, it’s as strong as a big cup of coffee, with twice the punch of a Diet Coke. Ignore the hype over the so-called detoxing effects of the taurine or its B-vitamin cocktail; Red Bull isn’t supposed to be a health drink. Just enjoy the buzz. One thing, though: Because it’s so closely linked to teens and clubbing twentysomethings, a full-fledged grownup seen drinking a Diet Red Bull in public invites unsolicited comments about arrested development. Whatever. Just call me twitchy. -Jane Weaver
Summer just isn’t complete without a visit to the fair, but not so much for the has-been rockers and blue-ribbon farm animals. The true main attraction of any fair always will be the artery-clogging food. Classic fair fare always will be popular. Those jumbo corn dogs, saltwater taffies, and variations on the lemonade shake-up aren’t going anywhere. But I’m drawn in by the passing fads of the deep fryer. Gooey Snickers bars, covered with batter and fried to a golden crisp, make me melt. A crispy Twinkie on a stick is five-star junk food. If I feel like being healthy, I’ll search for a stand selling deep fried veggies — some nutrients are bound to survive the heat. I firmly believe that deep-frying increases flavor as well as calories. So go ahead and splurge your whole week’s calorie intake in one afternoon at the fair. Just be careful not to lose it on the Tilt-A-Whirl. -Traci McMurray
The Cheesecake Factory
Beer and cotton candy
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