Getting fat in Maine

When I moved to Maine in 1973 the first thing I needed to do was discover what good stuff Maine had to eat.

That didn’t take a lot of time or trouble.

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I discovered whoopie pies.

I’d never heard of them before and I was sorry I wasted 19 years of my life without ever tasting a rich, chocolate cake-like confection with a good full three inches of cream filling in between the cake!

Then I had my first Italian sandwich.

original italian

The first few didn’t do much for me. Pickles, green peppers and olives on a hero or sub sort of sandwich was bizarre, as was American cheese. I grew up in the burbs if Philadelphia where we ate hoagies. I spent my summers on the Southeastern Connecticut shore where we ate grinders. Those sandwiches weren’t exactly the same thing with a different name. There were slight differences but not enough for me to care. Hoagies had onions and grinders did not.

This Italian thing in Maine was on a softer roll; I’d describe it as an overgrown hotdog roll. The ham was boiled and the cheese was American. And there was that strange stuff I already mentioned – pickles, green peppers and olives. Oh, well, no matter, I’ll just keep ordering them until I love them as much as the natives. That didn’t take long.

end of sammy

I arrived in Maine in the summer and since the state has self-proclaimed itself as “Vacationland” there was no shortage of stores that catered to the out-of-state visitors.

I made it a point to get to know all the “tourist trap” hotspots soon after my arrival as I love all things cheesy and souveniry!

Chocolate fudge! A holiday treat!

Chocolate fudge! A holiday treat!

Typically fudge is something I used to encounter only around Christmas when my mother’s friend would deliver a holiday canister full of her homemade fudge for our family to enjoy. Now it’s in every little store and boutique and often there are little pieces sitting on a little dish for shoppers to sample. I am sampling pistachio, rocky road, orange cream, and more. A whole new world of “fudge” has opened up to me. I immersed myself in the world of fudge flavors.

Living in Vacationland means more fudge, more places and more flavors!

Living in Vacationland means more fudge, more places and more flavors!

I knew Maine was famous for its potatoes, but I wasn’t aware how good they were when hand-cut, deep-fried, piled high in a cardboard bowl and liberally sprinkled with salt and vinegar.

I became a fiend for Maine fries, especially pier fries and later in the season the fries with the tempting aroma that fills the air at all of the various agricultural fairs in Maine!

Get some fries and douse them i n vinegar. Now that's good fair food!

Get some fries and douse them i n vinegar. Now that’s good fair food!

If you’re wondering why there is no seafood on this list, it’s because I don’t like seafood. I never have and most likely never will. I was offered plenty of seafood right off the boat including lobster, haddock, halibut, shrimp and clams (from the clam flats) but I politely declined. When it comes to food I’m a total landlubber!

I haven’t mentioned some of the restaurants that served up the best homemade desserts in the state.

A particular favorite of mine, that’s gone now, was McClean’s on Pleasant Street in Brunswick. They had the best grasshopper pie (chocolate mint cream pie on an Oreo cookie crust) that I ever tasted. The restaurant was best-known for its fried clams, but I wouldn’t know about that!

Natives and vacationers seemed to agree the best place for fried clams was McCleans. I was a regular there for their grasshopper pie.

Natives and vacationers seemed to agree the best place for fried clams was McClean’s. I was a regular there for their grasshopper pie.

My Maine problem was I was a landlubber who was enjoying the treats I found in Maine and building a significant layer of blubber. I was young then, fairly active and responsible for only myself. I was nobody’s mother or role model. My own mother, who didn’t approve of my weight loss strategy, was back in Connecticut so I didn’t have to worry about her disapproval.

It was hard to go back to my favorite albeit restrictive way of eating to lose weight while living in Maine, land of plenty, but I managed to initiate my good old, never fails, doughnut and sundae weight loss plan.

It worked as it had worked many times in the past. I lost weight and like many times in the past once I returned to a magic number, I was done with the diet. It was a familiar pattern. Eat until I was uncomfortable with my weight, severely reduce calories to get back to a comfortable weight and then start all over again with the eating and weight gaining.

The pattern was eventually broken in 1987 when I was the mother of three girls (I had one more daughter in 1989) and I joined Weight Watchers. I’ve written a lot of blogs about what happened after that.

I got fat in Maine several times and I finally discovered how to lose weight right and keep it off in Maine – AYUH!

Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.