As a teenage girl in '90s New York City, I spent an inordinate amount of time skulking in the dark corner booths of diners. Though people such as I were part and parcel of those roach motels of yesteryear, they staff still expected us to order something; those bottomless cups of black coffee didn’t pay the bills. Diners are for bacon and cheese fries and dubious burgers dripping with grease. But for girls like me with no self esteem, there was dry toast and the “Diet Delights” section of the menu—a collection maybe four or five dishes that from both a culinary and nutritional standpoint make absolutely no sense. 

The Diet Delights are not considered particularly desirable by today’s standards. They were also not desirable by yesterday’s standards, but as women we have been trained to understand that it takes sacrifice and suffering to do our part in creating an aesthetically appealing society that will please men we don’t know. That’s why generations of us acquired a taste for these abominations of gastronomy, and why we occasionally become nostalgic for a bite or two. That is why, against all odds, the Diet Delights section still exists on so many modern day menus. Someone has to be ordering them, right? 

If your greasy spoon has gotten with the times and replaced these classics with more modern health-conscious items like “wraps” (which are actually terrible for you) here’s how you can relive those lost hours of salad days gone by at home.

Classic Diet Salad

Step One: Put a few leaves of iceberg lettuce on a plate. Don’t chop them up into pieces that could actually fit into your mouth. They must be left whole, and they must be served at precisely one-degree above freezing.

Step Two: Buy an unripe honeydew and cut it into cubes. Repeat with unripe cantaloupe. Violently mix ¼ cup of each together with one half of a red grape to make fruit salad, then dump on top of lettuce. 

Step Three: Add a scoop of cottage cheese.

Step Four: Add a scoop of red Jell-O, which will add an exciting splash of color. If you’re an extra self-punishing sack of trash, use sugar-free Jell-O, and make it green because you don’t deserve the red kind. 

Step Five: Serve with a glass of water with an unwashed lemon wedge (with sticker if possible) and six Marlboro Menthol Lights.

Variations

Tropical Diet Salad

Add canned pineapple, and one canned peach half. It’s OK if this was packed in heavy syrup because it’s still fruit, ergo it’s good for you.

Waist Watchers Banquet

Buy a raw beefsteak tomato in December and store it in the coldest part of the refrigerator until ready to use. Slice off the top and hollow out the insides, then stuff it with tuna salad. Serve nestle the tomato into the cottage cheese, then drizzle the entire dish with tuna juice.

Burger Lovers

Who says just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your favorite foods? Grill a turkey or bison burger patty for 20 minutes to ensure all the fat is rendered. Serve on top of iceberg lettuce, then top with cottage cheese and Jell-O. Serve with 46 salt packets, and one packet of pepper.