Eating Moth Balls

When I was a kid, I had a favorite treat. Well, I suppose like all kids I had a number of favorite treats.

First came marshmallow peanuts — those artificially banana-flavored, peanut shaped, marshmallow goodies. Known as Circus Peanuts, they were the inspiration for the marshmallow treats in Lucky Charms cereal (a later favorite of mine).

After I ate too many Circus Peanuts one day and I discovered they weren’t as pretty or as tasty coming back up, I moved on to Cocoa Krispies. The cereal had the magical power (to me) of changing plain milk to chocolate milk. But I liked them right out of the box. Until, that is, I ate too many and learned that they suffered the same limitations as Circus Peanuts.

I moved on to Froot Loops, which turned the milk into a rainbow, and I was still enjoying my Froot Loops for breakfast when I met Jerry. He stayed with me anyway. We have an old friend who has three bowls of Froot Loops each morning for breakfast. She says this means she starts her day with three servings of fruit (well, maybe she means froot).


Around the same time I discovered Froot Loops, I also discovered “Moth Balls.” At least that’s what my sister called them. I don’t think I knew until I was about 10 years old that what we were eating were actually called malted milk balls and not moth balls. I always thought it was strange that the same thing that made the closets smell so bad could taste so good (simply by being dipped in chocolate). Being much more mature (although, obviously, not the sharpest tack in the box) when I was introduced to malted milk balls, I didn’t over-indulge. So, they remain a favorite.


As I mentioned in a previous post, my English Family (the tea connoisseurs) were not pleased when they learned I was making my tea in the microwave. Not only did they leave an electric tea kettle behind for our use, but they gave me my very own, elegant Diamond Jubilee “beaker.” On their return home they mailed me a box of Maltesers (the English version of malted milk — aka, moth — balls). I boiled a cuppa and opened the box of Maltesers. I’m sure it was exactly like high tea at any of your finer hotels.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

37 thoughts on “Eating Moth Balls”

  1. MALTED MILK BALLS!!! I haven't seen these in ages!! I LOVED them! They would melt in my mouth! You get the point…
    Love the beaker too I bet your tea tastes so much better in that.

  2. I love this: ,"After I ate too many Circus Peanuts one day and I discovered they weren't as pretty or as tasty coming back up, I moved on to Cocoa Krispies"
    You just crack me up, Mitchell :))
    Thanks for the images, long forgotten, of these good old cereal boxes. We were never allowed the sugared cereal — Cornflakes (which is what French people call alllll cereals), Cheerios, Cream of Wheat, Ralston– that was it for us :).

    I am ÜBER envious of your Diamond Jubilee bone china cup!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


    1. Judeet:
      It's funny. My-Mother-The-Dowager-Duchess was never big on junk food and always made us eat healthy… but we still managed to have our moments. (Also, I was such a skinny kid, she actually encouraged me to eat the fat of the steak at dinner.)

  3. Malted milk balls – still one of Todd's favorites!

    And I happen to be rather fond of Fruit Loops myself!

    1. Carole:
      The malted milk ball chocolate isn't quite the same when compared to our Lindt chocolate bars, but nothing beats that malty crunch. I can't remember the last time I had Froot Loops. (What I did for love…)

  4. Isn't it sad how those foods that were sheer nirvana when we were kids lose their appeal as we age? I remember when popsicles and Kool Ade were to die for! Where does the term "beaker" come from–is that for any mug or just fancy ones like your special beauty?

    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      Kool-Aid! Now that's something that never went over big in my family. But popsicles! A "beaker" to a Brit is a "mug" to an American. You really should rent the TV series "Keeping Up Appearances"; I think you'd love it (and the main character, Hyacinth, always offers a beaker to her next-door neighbor instead of risking a good China cup).

  5. I can't believe the crap we ate as kids. The absolute crap the advertisers made us want. And boy did I want it, too. Cap'n Crunch with Crunchberries. With a nice big glass of Tang. Turns my stomach now. Thank goodness our mother forced us to eat oatmeal, cream of wheat, grapefruit, and English muffins now and again. All of which sound good to me right now!

    1. Walt the Fourth:
      I never did like Cap'n Crunch (my brother LOVED it). He also loved Tang. But when I saw the orange color of his mouth and teeth, I couldn't take even one sip. I DO miss oatmeal. I'll be in NY in September and I'm sure to have English muffins. My mother proudly stocked up on them the first time my English brother-in-law came to NY. He had no idea what they were!

    1. Stephen:
      I finally tried them again about 30 years after the traumatic episode. I hated them. I don't know if it was the flashbacks or that they just weren't as good as I had thought. After all, how can one NOT like artificially flavored and colored candy that tastes sort of like a banana, is shaped sort of like a gigantic peanut, and is kind of a nuclear tangerine color?

    1. Jane and Lance:
      I have a feeling you wouldn't like my protein bars either. I had a colleague at Berkeley who wanted to try one after I said how good they were. She took a bite, spat it out, and said it tasted like cardboard dipped in imitation carob (not even REAL carob).

  6. Making tea in the microwave is fine – so long as you have the tab-end of a lit fag stuck to your bottom lip and are wearing a pair of manky Marigold gloves at the time! What an image!

    I may (as usual) be wrong but I believe that the same outfit is acceptable for drinking the tea too … although you must also perfect the art of picking up your biscuit using thumb and third-finger while holding fag-end between index and second finger! There's a lot to be thought about in the Home Counties Tea Ceremony!

  7. The Owl Wood:
    How did you know about my Marigold gloves? Maybe my nuked tea has never come out quite right because I've never been able to figure out which is the tab-end of a fag, nor would I want to hold him between only my index and second finger. Just not worth the trouble.

  8. Thank God it's breakfast here because you are making me drool. Well, the food you're showing that is. And guess what, I'm having Lucky Charms! m.

  9. The marshmallow peanuts were my dad's favorite candy! He got me hooked on them when I was a kid. Sometimes I miss American candy… Reese's and Skittles are hard to come by in Spain!

    1. I've definitely heard of the recipe! Haven't tried it yet! My favorite fun drinking recipe is gummy bears soaked in vodka…so vodka bears! 🙂 The bears absorb the vodka and they're just so delicious.

  10. Moth balls? Those flies have great balls! When I saw the picture I immediatly thought "Maltesers".

    Maybe those Froot Lops made you in such a colorful person! Or is that too Gay?

  11. I guess I missed out on all the fun. NONE of those foods (are they really food?) even slightly appealed to me… then or now. I've been eating raisin bran for breakfast for … well heck… over 65 years and am not tired of it yet. There was a time when I craved Twinkies…. remember taking a 12 pack on a weekend canoe trip once and had eaten the whole dozen within an hour. (guess I wasn't paddling much)… Tried a Twinkie a couple of years ago and about gagged. Isn't it remarkable what memories certain foods bring back?

    1. The Odd Essay:
      I love Raisin Bran, but haven't had it recently. I was never a big fan of Twinkies (my sister loved those); I was a Ring Ding and Devil Dog kind of guy, and had the same experience a few years back that you had with Twinkies. Our tastes so much more refined now!

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