The Poisoned Pancakes

So did you do anything for Valentine's Day? Mine was pretty low-key. 

Except for, you know, trying to poison my kids.

I've never been a fan of big bouquets and fancy gifts, as you know if you read my V-Day diatribe from last year. For me, it just sucks all the specialness out of a gift when it's only purchased because it's Valentine's Day and that's what people do. My husband isn't obligated to buy me anything simply because it's February 14th - because he shows me he cares every day, in non-obligatory ways. Like not insisting that I shave my legs even when the hair is long enough to get tangled up with his in bed.

But my kids want to celebrate every holiday like it's Christmas, so I try to make V-Day a little bit special even if I'm not all that into it. My tradition is to make them pink heart-shaped pancakes with red-tinted syrup and heart-shaped pats of butter.

This Valentine's Day morning was no exception, and I dutifully cranked out stacks of pink pancakes shaped into (lopsided) hearts. I poured the syrup into a measuring cup and added the red food coloring. The only difference this year was that I used this gel food coloring I found in the cabinet instead of drops like I usually do. "This will make the syrup super-red!" I thought excitedly. And it did.

Pleased with my mad breakfasting skillz, I presented the pancakes to the kids. As always, they were thrilled. They scrambled to the table amid exclamations of, "You're the best mom EVER!" and "Ohh, awesome!"

I stood back and watched them proudly as they all shoved an extra-big first bite into their eager mouths, because that's what boys do.

... And then watched the expressions on their faces change from pleased to horrified.

Brows furrowed. Nostrils flared. Eyes watered. The toddler started bawling.

"These don't taste right!" my five-year-old wailed, a red-tinted avalanche of half-chewed pancake spilling from his mouth.

"Are you trying to poison us?" my nine-year-old demanded suspiciously, narrowing his eyes. (He probably remembers the time I nearly got them drunk.)

I was astonished. My mind raced back through the pancake-making process, trying to figure out if I had forgotten something. Maybe I'd added salt instead of sugar? Twice the usual amount of baking powder? And then it hit me: the red food coloring gel.

Gingerly, I swiped a finger through the syrup and put it in my mouth. And y'all? It was like I had doused their pancakes with Windex. And ass.

"Please don't make us eat these," my four little Valentines implored.

So I made regular pancakes. Which, although they weren't colored and heart-shaped and fancy, were much better received. And a lot less toxic.

Plus, despite their adverse reactions, there was apparently a silver lining to the whole fiasco. Because later that day, I heard the one kid who had managed to choke down a bite or two exclaim in wonderment from the bathroom: "Hey guys, come look at this! My poop is red!" This was followed by the sound of excited footsteps and a few delighted gasps of, "Cool!" and "Siiiiick!"

Maybe I'm winning at this mom thing after all.


  1. LOL, I can imagine which one managed to choke down a bite or two and then bragged about his red poop! I'm sure they were all duly impressed. Next time though, just use the liquid red and settle for a little less color!

  2. Just so you know for future endeavors... If you plan on buying red gel make sure to get the Wilton Red (no-taste) Icing Color
    610-998. Just a suggestion for non-toxic, happy children. :)
    It is the only true to color and not at all bitter and gross!

  3. I am SO GLAD YOU POSTED THIS!!!!!!! I made red and green icing for my Christmas sugar cookies using the gel food coloring and they were DISGUSTING!!! I'm so thrilled to know I am not the only one that has tried to poison her loved ones!!! :D

  4. The story was amazing... I was laughing so hard my 6 year old son kept asking what was so funny! But what I'm most amazed at is that your husband does sweet things so regularly that you don't need valentines day! I'm impressed and jealous!!


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