While I don't remember being encouraged to play with my food as a child, I can't remember being told not to. And so I did. I also vividly remember playing with all sorts of inanimate objects, bringing them to life in my mind to create stories and action sequences. It's what kept my attention in school (not on it).
As I started to get into doodling in my late teenage years, and more specifically, intricadoodling, the world around me changed, and the sickness of Pareidolia really started to take hold.
Pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to a stimulus, usually an image or a sound, by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists (e.g., in random data).
Basically, everywhere I look, I see faces and characters hidden in objects, stains, clouds, light, and the really obscure relationships among objects overlapping. They can haunt me, tease me, keep me from feeling lonely, make me laugh, and make me appreciate the power of perspective.
Here's an example from 2004