Recall Bias

Hindsight is not just 20/20: it’s also extremely forgiving. Remember that painfully awkward first week of college when you didn’t know a soul beyond their first and/or screen name? No? Neither do I. That’s because despite how it actually went down at the time, most everything—from our college “glory days” to past relationships to George Lucas prequels—improve immensely in our memories with the passage of time.

Such is the case with a lot of things, but none more so than for Fruit Stripe gum.

A favorite treat of mine and every 90s child alike, Fruit Stripe gum offered it all: neon zebra-markings, tropical flavors and a free lick-on tattoo with every piece. My nostalgic memories of this novelty breath-saver were unequivocally positive, and—alongside my nuclear family and dogs wearing people clothes—clocked in among some of my all-time favorite things.

Turns out, my memories deceived me.

Last week, I came across a Lower East Side candy store selling packs of Fruit Stripe for just 99 cents a pop. “Tattoos inside! Collect all 10!” the multi-colored packaging called to me. I was in.

But when I opened the pack, I quickly found the gum to be flavorless, the tattoos to be blurry and the health warnings to be downright alarming: “Attention: Excessive consumption may have a laxative effect.”

As anyone who has ever rewatched Spice World can confirm, many of life’s fondest memories are best left glorified in the past.

Fortunately, at least a few things in life buck the trend and actually improve with time. While an earlier version of myself surely loathed eating kale or kissing boys, for example, present-day me is quite thankful that some first impressions can be relearned.

Such is especially the case when it comes to exercise. The timed mile in 9th grade phys-ed was the bane of my 15-year-old existence; eleven years later, I’m gearing up to run 18 miles tomorrow before brunch.

The same holds true for team sports. Don’t let this adorably androgynous photo fool you: my talent on the softball field – and subsequent enthusiasm for the sport – peaked somewhere around T-ball.

From strike outs to missed catches to apparent rules against sitting down to weave daisy chains in left field, I was often left frustrated and embarrassed from April ’til June and retired my glove as quickly as humanly possible.

So imagine my surprise when I was (pity) recruited onto a softball team earlier this summer and found that not only was I no longer afraid of the ball, but I actually enjoyed myself. AND I looked good doing it.

I guess team sports can join fine wine and Justin Timberlake as things that get better with age.

Have you ever revisited something, only to find it’s nothing like how you remembered it? Second question: anyone want a half pack of god-awful free and delicious gum?


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