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  • Writer's pictureStand-Up Comedy Historian

Sandra’s Third Ring of Hell: Meal Mania


[Ed. note: I wrote this piece in 2010. Please keep that in mind if my terminology is dated. Enjoy!]

As I had promised, I have decided to once again fight the good fight against that culinary force of evil, Sandra Lee, by comparing her children’s cookbook to Dante’s classic, The Inferno.

This week’s installment is the third ring of Hell in the Inferno, which appropriately focuses on gluttony, or indulging in something too much, as in food or sex. Gluttony is a controversial subject nowadays in relation to child obesity, and Sandra Lee points out in the introduction to the third chapter of Cool Kids’ Cooking how she aims to prevent obesity in children: have kids, even her six-year-old nephew Brycer, cook food for themselves.

Sandra (or her ghostwriter) explains that “For a long time, Bryce would only eat chicken nuggets. Now he dishes up rad eats like Ritz Sticks and Ranch Slaw and Cowboy Meat Loaf with Glazed Carrots for everyday meals.”

Now as you can tell by these recipe titles, Sandra’s culinary expertise does not extend far past packaged crackers and bagged salads, so how she plans to eradicate obesity in kids remains to be seen. I should also mention that Sandra’s names for food are singsongy, childish, often alliterative, and, oh yes, if they can include an actual BRAND in the title that she can shill in her “cookbook” so much the better.

This chapter of the kid's cookbook features fourteen recipes: the aforementioned "Ritz Sticks," "Ranch Slaw," "Pepperoni Chicken," "Caesar Pasta," "Chicken Parmesan," "Pasta Zoo with Peas and Carrots," "Tex-Mex Baked Turkey Burgers," "Chili Chips," "Pineapple Pork Chops," "Vegetable Fried Rice," "Cowboy Meat Loaf," "Glazed Carrots," "Taco Mac," and finally "Ranchers Salad." I will be focusing on three of these horrid recipes, all of which include multiple processed foods and Sandra's ubiquitous product placement.

As you can see in this picture of Sandra “preparing” her Ranch Slaw, a nice fat advertisement for Sun-Maid Raisins is featured prominently. Of course, she could just want her young readers to know that when she says the recipe includes “1/2 cup raisins” she MEANS Sun-Maid and doesn’t want them to use an inferior brand (even if she does get kickbacks from the Raisin people).

Sandra’s “Ranch Slaw” consists of three other ingredients besides raisins (better be Sun-Maid, dammit!): ranch salad dressing, sour cream, and tri-color cole slaw mix, all with appropriate brands listed so that your little ones know exactly what they should use.

Dante describes the punishment for gluttony as sitting in a vile slush for all of eternity, which is what this combination sounds like it would turn into quickly. What else is wrong with this recipe, you might ask? Well, aside from the fact that it sounds disgusting and like no cole slaw I have ever had in my life, there is not one aspect of this recipe that could be considered “fresh.”

Yes, the cole slaw mix is a good start, but how hard is it to cut and clean some actual cabbage? This is exactly the sort of “recipe” that populates Sandra’s book—one that is basically assembling the packaged ingredients rather than cooking anything. I know that salad is usually all about assembly, but who would consider dumping crap into a bowl (don’t forget those Sun-Maid raisins!) a real recipe? All of Sandra’s “recipes” seem more likely to appear on the back of the packages of the products themselves than in a legitimate cookbook.

Another recipe Sandra exclaims will “say sayonara to bor-ring” and will make meals “the awesomest” (nice grammar there, hon) is her Chili Chips (alliterative!). Chili Chips are comprised of two ingredients: 1 package of frozen waffle fries and a packet of chili seasoning. Here is a picture of Sandra “preparing” the recipe in the book.

Can you guess how these are made? That’s right: dump the fries on a baking sheet, bake them, and then dump seasoning on top. Done. What a fantastic recipe, right? You couldn’t have come up with such a brilliant culinary masterpiece in years, admit it.

Actually, anyone with even 1/8 of a brain can see that fries that have seasoning sprinkled on top of them will taste pretty good. Have you ever been to a bar that had Old Bay seasoning on the fries? Same principle. Sandra calls this stoner food a “recipe” for kids when in reality it is as basic as a recipe can be. Oh, and forget about the “fresh” component of her 70% store-bought with 30% fresh ingredients philosophy (e.g. the Semiho way). How are store-bought French fries and chili seasoning in any way healthy or fresh? Way to reduce childhood obesity, Sandra.

The final recipe I will be examining in this comparison of Sandra’s cookbook to the Inferno is “Ranchers Salad.”

As you can see in this picture, African-American boys love to toss salads with branding irons that say “S” and “L” on them (representative of Sandra Lee, obviously). This is a WTF image if ever there was one. I can’t stop giggling every time I look at it. First, why is one of the only Black kids in the entire cookbook wearing such a ridiculous get-up? He’s got the cowboy hat and sheriff’s badge (Lord knows he probably would have had on boots with spurs if the picture was a full-body image).

Next, he is literally tossing a salad. Oh, Sandra…someone hasn’t been on Urban Dictionary or watched that scandalous episode of Oprah, has she?

Finally, the branding irons for salad tongs say “S” and “L” because Sandra is not only a lush who cannot cook, but she is also a complete narcissist who must include herself in some way on virtually every page of this stupid cookbook.

Okay, aside from the ridiculous image that appears on this page, the recipe itself for Ranchers Salad isn’t that bad. Sandra’s ingredients include “rib celery” (guess she forgot to add “of”), cherry tomatoes, ranch salad dressing (again), romaine lettuce, baby carrots (What? No brand name association? For shame!), and bacon pieces.

That seems all fine and good, but then she has to go and add her ubiquitous seasoning packets—barbecue seasoning in this case. I have no clue how or why anyone would want seasoning on their salad, especially after you have added fattening ranch dressing already, but apparently Sandra believes it will make your greens taste like you live on a ranch…or something.

Sorry, I can’t stop staring at the Black cowboy kid tossing salad (insert obligatory Brokeback Mountain reference here)…who came up with this picture? Was it a collaboration? Did Sandra request it? I doubt Sandra was involved with this cookbook at all. She was probably completely wasted when someone came into her room and asked her if she wanted to write a children’s cookbook.

“Will it feature a cartoon version of me as a teenage girl?”


“Will it have a Black cowboy kid tossing a salad?”


“Great. Start working on it while I try to seduce a politician.”

“Sure…do you have any recipes for us to use?”

“I’ve got copies of things you can do with Ritz crackers and Sun-maid raisins that I cut off the back of some boxes. Just use those.”

And thus, a cookbook was born.

Anyway, that is it for the third chapter. As always, Sandra has proven time and time again that the “awesomest” meals come from combining packages and not using fresh fruit and vegetables unless absolutely necessary. She is definitely helping reduce childhood obesity with her high-fat and high-sodium recipes for kids.

Gluttony is a major force in Sandra’s life, from the alcohol she consumes to the “vile slush” she peddles as Semi-Homemade cooking. And I must be a glutton for punishment for reading this cookbook repeatedly!

Next time, we will consider the fourth ring of Hell, the bizarrely titled “Everyday TV Dinners.”

To use an appropriate Sandra salutation, Dish delish!

For all of Sandra's Rings of Hell, please click here.

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