Content warning: Explicit and specific discussion of calories and numbers are detailed in this post.
One-hundred and twenty-two. And then, two-hundred and forty-four. I find myself disappointed that I don't languidly recall more useful three-letter digits.
I've not eaten, or even thought about eating, a Kinder Bueno bar for over a year. In fact, I remember the last time I had dared to let one pass my lips. Alone in the pouring rain, sometime in mid-February, on a footpath somewhere in the Pennines, completely under-prepared and under-dressed for the weather. My sodden, cold hands could barely open the packet. This was marginally before the pandemic really took hold...and I guess, marginally before the woman upstairs had properly made herself comfortable again up there.
Sometime shortly after, the Kinder Bueno ended up on anorexia's no-go list, and though significant progress has been made since then, I can't say I've really spent any time considering them since. Some things, like Maltesers, Granola and Naan Bread, have often frequented both my conscious and unconscious rumination. Mainly because they sit all firmly in the high-high quadrant of my personal taste versus caloric value scale. In other words, I like them a lot, but they're calorically scary. Though, all three I have now though been able to successfully reintroduce, might I add.
But, Kinder Buenos...they haven't been among the many foodstuffs I've actively sought to reintroduce. Not out of fear, or so I thought, but to me they're just kind of like, whatever. I can take them or leave them.
So, had I been quizzed on the calories in one finger, I likely would've been in the correct ballpark, but you wouldn't have gotten a super speedy "just under 11!", like you would've if you'd asked about a single Malteser. I'm not a machine, after all.
But, lo and behold, it turns out that did know the exact figure all along.
The other night I woke from an incredibly horrible and vivid dream in which I had eaten a Kinder Bueno bar at seven o'clock in the morning. I then proceeded to panic that I'd been foolish enough to waste some of my precious breakfast calories on a confectionery that can't decide whether it wants to be German or Spanish. Particularly panicked was I, because I woke up still feeling hungry.
I usually dream vividly, but not lucidly. However, thankfully, it’s usually never too long before I become more cognizant and realise that it was all just a bad dream.
I can assure you that I'm definitely not persuaded by Freud's outlandish ideas about the significance of our dreams. Studying Psychology at Oxford did teach me something, you know. Nor am I persuaded theologically that dreams are necessarily a reliable way of discerning Christian doctrine – though this is a complicated one, which if you’re a budding pneumatologist, I’ll happily natter about another time.
Nevertheless, something about this dream boggled and bugged me.
In the dream, a detail had been particularly vivid. There were one-hundred and twenty-two calories in a finger of Kinder Bueno. Two-hundred and forty-four if you eat both of the fingers in a pack. An oddly specific detail for someone claiming not to have given this much thought.
Naturally, my curious mind wouldn't rest until I'd Googled the calories in a Kinder Bueno, just to see if my subconscious really had picked a random figure out of thin air to make a point. No, it turns out. One-hundred and twenty two. I was bang on. After dwelling on the significance of this, I am both impressed and horrified.
The funny thing is, there probably aren't 122 calories in each finger of the specific Kinder Bueno that I have subsequently bought on some gnostic whim. My rational self knows that the numbers on these packets are all ballpark, estimated figures, and no-one really knows...especially when it comes to mass-produced, complex mixtures of ingredients such as this. And, crucially, no-one should really care as much as I do.
The only way to really know how many calories were actually in this specific Kinder Bueno would be to burn it, use it to heat up some water, and do some temperature-energy calculation that I don't fully understand because I dropped Chemistry once it started to get too complicated. Even then, this would be prone to experimental error, not to mention human error. And, I wouldn't be able to eat it after, because it would have been burned.
So, I'm sorry if I forget your birthday. My head is full of numbers I didn't even realise I knew. It's just a shame it's not full of more useful ones….like birthdays.
Then I said to myself,
“The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?” I said to myself, “This too is meaningless.”