Taste Test: Cafeteria Tray Chic

1. Not Your Average Hostess Cupcake, From Kim’s Kake Kreations & Bakery
In a tribute to her childhood days eating Hostess cupcakes and sipping Pepsi, owner Kim Hightower fills these dense, decadent cakes with homemade buttercream (instead of the white fluff she never liked) and tops them with dark-chocolate ganache and those familiar cursive loops of white piping. 5452 Madison Ave., 317-784-5253, kimskakekreations.com
2. Husk Frozen Corn
Hardly the tinny canned kernels you hid under your mashed potatoes, the super-sweet corn this company processes at its eastside plant grows within 30 miles of where it’s packaged and gets frozen within six hours. A pat of butter is the only condiment needed. Available at most Central Indiana Marsh Supermarkets, huskfoods.com
3. Traders Point Creamery “Single Serves” Yogurt
Tangier and with less sugar than most blended fruit yogurts, these adorable glass jars of probiotic goodness from the dairy that rewrote the book on organic yogurt drinks make perfect little totable snacks. The five-ounce servings are available in flavors such as low-fat vanilla, raspberry, wildberry, and (our favorite) banana-mango. 9101 Moore Rd., Zionsville, 317-733-1700, traderspointcreamery.com
4. Bru Burger Bar’s Burger Snack
Far from the dry puck the cafeteria crew plunked onto a puffy white bun, this miniaturized version of the Mass Ave standard’s gourmet burgers gets a classic treatment down to a tangy Thousand Island–like sauce. And since it’s small, you can feel okay about having a few more fries. 410 Massachusetts Ave., 317-635-4278, bruburgerbar.com
5. Cheesy Chicken Bake from The Food Florist
Among the “giftable” comfort-food classics this City Market–based company offers, none would make a lunch lady prouder than this hearty pasta casserole with a classic white sauce; a crunchy housemade breadcrumb topping; and just enough cheddar, mozzarella, and Monterey Jack to let the chicken flavor come through. 222 E. Market St., 317-999-7010, thefoodflorist.com
6. Shoefly Public House bottled Grape Soda
A creative list of kids’ items at this popular Fall Creek Place pub features wholesome dishes named for children of the owners’ friends and family (the “Julio” with pork tacos and yucca fries is a favorite). To wash it down, owner Craig Mariutto has concocted three creamy, fizzy sodas that he bottles in-house—including a grape version reminiscent of your grandmother’s homemade jelly. 122 E. 22nd St., 317-283-5007, shoeflypublichouse.com

A graduate of IU’s Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing, Terry Kirts hails from a town in Illinois so small it didn’t have a restaurant until he was in the 8th grade. Since 2000, he’s more than made up for the dearth of eateries in his childhood, logging hundreds of meals as the dining critic for WHERE Indianapolis, Indianapolis Woman, and NUVO before joining Indianapolis Monthly as a contributing editor in 2007. A senior lecturer in creative writing at IUPUI, Terry has published his poetry and creative nonfiction in a number of literary journals and anthologies, including Gastronomica, Alimentum, and Home Again: Essays and Memoirs from Indiana, and he’s the author of the poetry collection To the Refrigerator Gods, published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2011.