2 October 2002
Chow down

How you or I might fix a TV dinner:

  1. Select TV dinner from freezer, remove from box.
  2. Set microwave oven to appropriate time.
  3. Wait.
  4. Remove TV dinner from microwave oven; bon appetit.

How 42nd and Treadmill fixes a TV dinner:

  1. Select as many TV dinners from freezer as possible, arrange on tabletop.
  2. Invert containers to make cooking instructions visible.
  3. Add up the number of minutes specified for each dinner; call this number X.
  4. Place as many dinners in the microwave oven as possible and set the timer for X/2 minutes.
  5. Remove dinners and inspect.
  6. Announce that there will be mandatory overtime until the dinners are properly cooked.
  7. Place as many dinners in the microwave oven as possible and set the timer for X/2 minutes.
  8. Remove dinners and inspect.
  9. Call a staff meeting to discuss the condition of the dinners.
  10. Take any still-frozen dinners to a conventional oven and heat.
  11. Circulate memo regarding microwave management.
  12. Point out to malcontents that everything is being done exactly as it should be.


Permalink to this item (posted at 8:00 AM)
6 October 2002
Vegetable Monitors at work for you

The following Incredibly Specific instruction is printed on the back of the one-pound bag of Albertson's Cut Corn I just took out of the freezer:

SELL BY 11 27 2003 11:07 pm

What happens after that? At midnight, does it turn into pumpkin-pie filling?

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:37 PM)
16 December 2002
Gustatory inevitability

Absolute certainty, they say, comes with two things only: death and taxes.

And in December, Nova brings out the fruitcake, which, unlike your standard store-bought versions of same, can be eaten, even enjoyed. And what's more, there's no tax on it, nor any risk of death — unless it's eaten at a speed far exceeding anything I can manage, and I can put it away pretty darn quick.

There are, I am told, other fruitcakes out there which qualify as foodstuffs rather than as insulation, but in the absence of Actual Samples, this is the primo stuff, and I'm damned lucky to be getting it, so to speak.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:25 AM)
24 December 2002
Saucy observation

The Professor happens upon a Great Truth:

I'd feel sorry for myself if I weren't about to go out to an all-you-can-eat barbecue joint. There's just no room for self-pity when you're contemplating vast quantities of seasoned pork.

BBQ is quintessentially American: it's yummy, it's served up in, well, "vast quantities", and its nutritional qualities cause the minions of the Nanny State to break out in hives. I can think of no better recommendation for the stuff.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:11 AM)
23 January 2003
On the ziti beat

Have you heard this before?

"Listen, guys, they've got a new chef and they say it'll be much, much better. They promise ..."

Page has definitely heard it before. What's worse, she's hearing it again.

Fried chicken is really hard on a keyboard, though. Trust me on this one.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:52 AM)
2 February 2003
Lunchtime alert

I live only a few miles from the industrial compound that is the world headquarters of the Sonic drive-in chain, but it has never actually occurred to me to scale the walls and find out the true nature of their culinary secrets.

Kevin Parrott, by contrast, is a hell of a lot farther away — but for some reason, he was willing to do the dirty work. Regrets? He has a few.

(Muchas gracias: Marc at Quit That!)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:37 AM)
10 March 2003
Always honoring the protocols

My boss is seeking an answer to this:

"What wine goes best with watching the destruction of France?"

I'm inclined to think "anything bubbly," but I am no expert on such matters.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:14 PM)
11 March 2003
Huevos to go

West Hartford, Connecticut has spoken, and restaurant co-owner Bob Potter will comply: his new Mexican eatery there will not bear the name "C. O. Jones".

Customers of Potter's restaurant in New Haven don't seem to object to the name, or to the ballsy Mexican cuisine served, and so far there has been no uproar about a third location, to open in Storrs this spring, but West Hartford is evidently more testy than tickled.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:14 PM)
2 April 2003
The Food Police get into position

A bill being considered by the Connecticut legislature would outlaw, among other things, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in school cafeterias.

Section 1(b) is the crux of this particular biscuit:

No local or regional board of education shall allow the sale on school premises of the following items:

(1) Chewing gum, soda water, or water ice;

(2) Candy;

(3) Any juice product that contains less than ten per cent full-strength juice by volume;

(4) Any item containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil; or

(5) Any other item that contains more than eight grams of fat per one ounce serving.

What does the Law of Unintended Consequences say? The head of the Connecticut Food Service Association has an idea:

"Students would be left with no food choices. I predict students will either run to a local fast-food restaurant or go without lunch. Then what would we have accomplished?"

Why, we've shown them that when the government does something laughably absurd, it will be justified by telling you it's for your own good. This, of course, will help to develop the proper level of respect for law.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:36 PM)
8 April 2003
Meals Rejected by Ethiopians

Susanna Cornett's evocative piece about Army C-rations (which she at first misidentified as MREs, but no matter, and anyway almost all of her pieces are evocative) reminded me of my days in fatigues, so long ago that one's MOS was expressed in Roman numerals, and my first experience away from the mess hall, out on some practice bivouac.

Fortunately, I can't remember the song I wrote about one particular package — I do know that it was hard as hell to get reasonable scansion out of any verse that contained "Ham, Water Added, and Eggs, Chopped, Canned" — but two things I have learned over the years since then:

1. When you're hungry enough, minor aesthetic considerations fade into the background;

2. On most airlines, getting C-rations could be legitimately considered an upgrade.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:30 AM)
12 April 2003
Lunch is on him

Many of us, from Bart Simpson on down (or on up), have suggested to individuals: "Eat my shorts." And we say this, knowing full well that shorts are never actually eaten.

Well, almost never.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:39 AM)
12 May 2003
Twits ahoy!

Stephen Joseph, identified in this piece as a public interest lawyer — not even a hint of scare quotes — has filed suit in Marin County Superior Court against Kraft Foods' Nabisco unit, claiming that its use of trans fats in Oreo makes them dangerous. The suit asks that Nabisco be barred from selling Oreos to California children.

Suggestion for tort reform: Should Mr Joseph lose this suit, he should be force-fed Crisco. Intravenously.

(Via Tongue Tied)

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:12 PM)
13 May 2003
Quik thinking

The lovely Weetabix probably won't be satisfied with half a Kit Kat:

I have this intense urge for chocolate that I cannot even begin to describe. It?s all about the chocolate. Chocolate chocolate chocolate. Suddenly, the Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs bird doesn't seem so over the top. He was merely motivated and thinking outside the box. You've got to admire that, really. He wasn't channeling Bing Crosby like Honey Bear. He wasn't on speed like Dig Em Smacks. He wasn't epaulet-wearing alternative lifestyle poster boys like Snap, Crackle and Pop. He wasn't a freak like Count Chocula or Frankenberry. He wasn't all sly and full of artifice, like the Trix rabbit. He was just jonesing on some chocolate. You've gotta give a brotha his chocolate, baby. To hold out ain't righteous. Or something.

(Mental note: What possessed me to buy these damned inside-out Oreos?)

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:00 PM)
15 May 2003
Viva Oreo!

Stephen Joseph, last seen suing Kraft Foods over the hazards of Nabisco's Oreo cookies, has announced that he's dropping the suit: "At the time the lawsuit was filed nobody knew about trans fat," he said. "Now everybody knows about trans fat."

Were I a legal beagle at Kraft, I think I'd like to make sure that everybody knows about frivolous lawsuits, too.

(Muchas gracias: Cam Edwards.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:11 AM)
16 May 2003
The other side of the cookie

In previous episodes, I've made fun of a California lawyer's war on Oreos. I still think he's a twit, and I still think legal action is ill-advised if not actually insane, but I'm not about to argue that trans fats are actually good for you.

Diane L. goes a little farther. She characterizes them as a "health menace", and expounds:

The problem is not so much that these unhealthy fats are legal and shouldn't be (wrong and impractical liberal point of view) but that there are so few alternatives, unless one is a totally dedicated foodie/health nut. Why do I have to work so hard to keep this crap out of my body? Sometimes I want to pop some prepared food into the oven instead of cooking everything from scratch. But I can't, because most processed food has that poison in it.

And why is that, you ask?

Because it's cheap and doesn't go bad. So, people are getting diabetes, heart disease and getting seriously overweight, because food processors want to save money.

Well, not just because. I'd scorn the Oreo (although frankly, I prefer the late, lamented Hydrox, but that's another religious battle entirely) if it tasted like the hockey pucks it vaguely resembles; if I really wanted a mouthful of such, I'd stock up on rice cakes, which in civilized societies are used to hold up the wobbly fourth leg of the coffee table.

Diane does have a solution of sorts:

Business people must be increasingly aware that there is money to be made from offering an alternative. Even McDonald's is trying to change the formula for the toxic oil it fries its "food" in. As the effects of trans fats become more known to the public, there will be more of a market for healthy fast food and processed food.

Sounds reasonable enough to me. (If, as usual, Blogspot archives are harder to trace than Iraqi artifacts, dial up 12 May and take the 12:01 am posting.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:06 AM)
25 May 2003
No Whoppers please, we're British

Julie Burchill, in this Guardian piece, reports that Britain's warring factions can agree on one thing, and it's not Tony Blair:

Rightwing tabloids and leftwing broadsheets alike are forever scaremongering, and not just about genetic modification and pesticide residues, which may be proven to be unreservedly Bad Things; they also display anti-modernist, illogical hysteria to each new survey that shows — shock, horror! — that British people are eating what they like, when they want! rather than being forced around a table three times a day by some stand-in for Mr Barrett of Wimpole Street, eager for a regular opportunity to impose his anal retentive bossiness on his long-suffering family.

Not to mention having to feed that pesky Mr Browning who keeps popping in at all hours, no doubt.

[R]ightwing worrywarts hate fast/convenience food because it frees women from the kitchen and deprives the sort of man who thinks his home is his castle of another opportunity to flex his control-freak tendencies. Liberals hate it for two reasons: they don't like America, the spiritual home of fast food (tell that to the Earl of Sandwich and German Mr Hamburger), and, being self-loathing, they don't like England. In bemoaning our soulless grazing, they get a chance to compare us for the worse once more with France and Italy where, myth has it, family mealtimes and "good" food add to the quality of life. In some unexplained way, this is supposed to breed better people and a healthier society, mentally and physically — which makes me wonder why so many citizens of oh-so-civilised France and Italy have such a weakness for voting fascist.

"Cooking fresh food for a husband's just a drag," observed Mick Jagger many years ago, but you'd think by now instant cake and frozen steak would be staples, especially in a land given to foodstuffs called "stodge" and "spotted dick".

On this side of the pond, at least, the right wing doesn't seem particularly upset about convenience foods. Our leftists, of course, fume at the very existence of KFC and Mickey D and that sexist, plutocratic Burger King. Then there's Taco Bell, which has been criticized for worker exploitation, and I'm sure there's some anthropological critic somewhere who objects to the place because of its failure to reflect true Mexican culture or some comparable codswallop.

The real reason to abhor Taco Bell, of course, is because Michael Jackson likes it. And even the French have figured out the Quarter Pounder with Cheese, except for the name.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:02 AM)
6 September 2003
Rare and well-done

Rod Dreher at NRO's The Corner picked up on this letter to the editors of Crisis magazine by George W. Rutler, a clergyman from New York City. It's a gem from start to finish, and it provides, um, food for thought:

Taste is one thing; it is another thing to condemn meat eating as "evil" and permissible only "in rare and unfortunate circumstances." [Danel] Paden disagrees with no less an authority than God, Who forbids us to call any edible unworthy (Mark 7: 18-19), and Who enjoins St Peter to eat pork chops and lobster in one of my favorite revelations (Acts 10: 9-16). Does the Catholic Vegetarian Society [of which Paden is the director] think that our Lord was wrong to have served up fish to the 5,000, or should He have refrained from eating the Passover Lamb? When He rose from the dead and appeared in the Upper Room, He did not ask for a bowl of Cheerios, nor did He whip up a meatless omelette on the shore of Galilee.

Man was made to eat flesh (Genesis 1:26-31; 9:1-6), with the exception of human flesh. I stand on record against cannibalism, whether it be inflicted upon the Mbuti Pygmies by the Congolese Army or on larger people by a maniac in Milwaukee. But I am also grateful that the benevolent father in the parable did not welcome his prodigal son home with a bowl of radishes.

For the moment, I am enjoying a visual of PETA's sainted Ingrid Newkirk slow-roasting at 300 degrees for eternity, her own sanctimony for marinade — with just a dash of Lea & Perrins.

(Muchas gracias: The American Way!?)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:24 AM)
16 September 2003
Want some seafood, mama?

Not anymore. And it's all Natalie's fault.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:42 AM)
18 October 2003
Hey, Tony, supersize this

American chef Anthony Bourdain apparently can eat almost anything, up to and including snake hearts and iguana, but he draws the line at Mickey D's.

Yep. The very thought of a McNugget strikes fear into the man. And it's not some Pamela Anderson-esque concern about what horrible things must happen to those poor birds to become McNuggets — it's hard to imagine that any chicken at all goes into those weird little discs — or anything like that. Bourdain's objections are rooted in ubiquity: American fast food is all over the globe, and therefore worthy of his contempt.

Tropiary (Friday, 7:57 pm) spins this attitude to its logical conclusion: What if some enterpreneurial types decided to make Bourdain's reptilian delights available to mass audiences?

"Hold the mayo, hold the venom, every sandwich wrapped in denim...."

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:11 AM)
19 October 2003
General Orders don't upset us

The small cohort of Everything American Sucks malingerers will of course groan, but I find considerable delight in discovering that tucked away in a corner of what used to be Saddam International Airport, there's now a Burger King.

Iraqis generally have yet to grasp the concept of using both hands to handle a Whopper, but for members of the Coalition of the Hungry who comprise the occupation force, the Baghdad BK is a veritable oasis: despite a menu more limited than what's offered in Peoria, catering to the troops has brought this location, in a mere six months, to the worldwide top ten in sales. You gotta love it. I can hardly wait to see what happens when fast food moves into the Fertile Crescent at high speed.

(Muchas gracias: Phillip Coons.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:04 PM)
30 October 2003
Beef: it's what's for Christmas

A pound of 85/15 ground beef has been running $2.99 lately, and while occasionally steaks go on sale, most of the time you might as well put them on layaway.

Beef producers, on the other hand, are probably happy with the situation: the price they're getting, which had been hovering in the $90 (per 100 lb) range for some time, reached $102.92 this month, putting upward pressure on prices at the retail (and, yes, at the restaurant) level. Production levels are high, which means smaller herds — more cattle are coming to market — which means that unless there's a slackening of demand as the supply shrinks, prices will go even higher.

PETA and their friends will undoubtedly scoff while they chow down on their mesquite-grilled drywall, but I believe that the God of Texas Chili has very strict commandments about soybeans and such, so I will grit my teeth and write the check, however big it gets.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:47 PM)
3 December 2003
Bitter aftertaste in advance

Lynn S. was opening up a packet of tea when she noticed, down among the ingredients, a "dietary supplement" called stevia. Formally, it's Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni; it's apparently called a "dietary supplement" because the Food and Drug Administration considers it an unsafe food additive, and has apparently taken extreme measures to make sure that people avoid it.

And just what's so bad about stevia? It's a natural sweetener, generally lacking in the nasty side effects of the artificial varieties; it's tempting to conclude that the FDA bars its use as a sweetener in an effort to protect the manufacturers of the fake stuff and the politically-potent sugar lobby. Maybe. The FDA's general stance on stuff like this has been, generally, if one person in South Succotash comes down with a case of the green-apple quick-step, there ought to be an investigation. On the other hand, prescription drugs are routinely advertised on television with a list of side effects that would worry a rhinoceros, so the FDA's concern would seem to be something less than all-consuming.

The FDA, you'll remember, was quick to chime in when the Justice Department clamped down on the reimportation of drugs from Canada and other exotic lands, claiming they couldn't guarantee the safety of a pill that had been shipped from San Francisco to Saskatoon and back again. Inasmuch as technically they can't guarantee the safety of a pill I pick up from the drive-through window at Osco, I'm inclined to believe they're just repeating what they're told to repeat.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:02 AM)
23 December 2003
Terror level raised to "ketchup"

Kelly Jane Torrance of the Center for Consumer Freedom, attending the American Public Health Association conclave in (of course) San Francisco, picked up this quote from Robert Ross, chief executive officer of the California Endowment:

[T]he most prolific weapons of mass destruction in this country are a cheeseburger and a soda.

Guess which finger I'm holding up.

Now supersize it.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:42 PM)
9 January 2004
Let us all now veg out

Baldilocks reads the terms of the Official Salads Act:

Anyone who uses iceberg lettuce in a salad should be shot.

Croutons and bacon bits are masks for a salad prepared by a lazy salad-maker. If your ingredients are good, fresh and varied, you don't need that caca.

No yellow, orange or white dressings should be used. Hey, if you want to hide the taste of your salad, just tear up some iceberg, chop up a big, fat tomato and pour Thousand Island all over it. Blech.

Thousand Island has always struck me as overwrought, though it's difficult to find variations in the range of, say, 350 to 600 Island.

Other than that, I think I'd be fortunate to score higher than a D-plus on this admittedly strict set of requirements. And that's a shame, because:

If you think salads are boring, you're missing out on one of the great pleasures of eating. Time, attention and varied ingredients are all that are required. Don?t forget to make it beautiful as well. Eating is almost as much about the eye as it is about the tongue.

Mental note: This is probably not the ideal day to hit the drive-thru at Whataburger.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:23 AM)
2 February 2004
And they all look just the same

Fortunately, the food's good, and the service is measured in seconds, not in years — and that's what matters.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:46 AM)
10 March 2004
Eat [blank] and die

The case for Big Arm Woman as dinner date:

Of all the snobs in the world, food snobs are the absolute worst. I'm not interested in your super special imported brie and paté on cracked pepper rounds, and I could give a rat's ass that you refuse to pollute your body with non-soy milk. It's food. Eat what you want, freak out about pesticides and GM crap and whether that rhubarb root is really super fresh all you want — you're all still going to end up in the same place: DEAD.

Sure, I'll buy.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:54 AM)
17 March 2004
Bound to be the very next phase

Saffron, of course, is incredibly expensive, and everyone knows it. Part of the reason is that it doesn't grow just any old place; demand is high, which keeps the price stratospheric.

What everyone doesn't know is that lowly, oft-mocked vanilla, the taste that conjures up ultrabland memories of the 1950s (a time "deeply suspicious of flavor," said James Lileks), has been for many years now the second most expensive spice; we've gotten ourselves used to imitations, which are affordable by mere mortals, so we don't realize how much the stuff really costs.

Demand is high for the real McCoy, though, which explains why India is stepping up vanilla production in the hopes of realizing some big bucks — er, rupees.

And, says Oklahoma Gazette food writer Carol Smaglinski, saffron has actually dropped to #2; she quotes Leslie Pendleton of the International Association of Culinary Professionals, which runs a forum not open to us civilians, to the effect that vanilla prices have increased fifteenfold in the past five years, to about $150 a pound of unprocessed beans at the source, a buck and a quarter per bean. Much of this increase is due to conditions in Madagascar, which produces about two-thirds of the world's vanilla crop: back in 2000, a storm destroyed much of the country's production capacity, and Madagascar, by agreement with the International Monetary Fund, no longer imposes price controls. Once India is up to speed, prices for vanilla should drop somewhat; in the meantime, you can tell your skeptical Significant Other that saffron is actually a bargain these days.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:31 PM)
10 May 2004
A buck a burger

By convention, the Good Stuff goes on the top shelf, and that's where my supermarket of choice has been stocking Laura's Lean Beef, a product which immediately spawned two questions: "Do they really think they can get that kind of money for this?" and "Who the heck is Laura, anyway?"

The latter question, at least, was answerable on the Web. Laura Freeman, who gave up journalism to run the family's central-Kentucky cattle operation, moved into the high-end, low-fat, no-additives beef business in 1985; last year she sold $100 million worth of the stuff, every pound raised without dosing the cattle with antibiotics or growth hormones. The least I could do, I figured, was check it out.

"Lean," it turns out, is an understatement. The burgers I bought claimed a mere 8 percent fat (there's also a 4-percent version), and I'd be surprised if they had that much. My usual ploy of stuffing them side by side on George Foreman's grill and expecting the eventual shrinkage to make them fit on the surface failed miserably. Normally I pull them off the grill and drop them on a plate covered with paper towels to soak up liquids; the towels got damp, but they didn't get the drenching I'm used to.

Laura and company don't raise all those cattle themselves, of course: they buy from outside producers, but they're extremely finicky about what they take. I tend to take "low-fat" claims for meats with a grain of seasoned salt, and indeed there was a dust-up last year between Laura and the Center for Science in the Public Interest; the Center found some samples that didn't match their labeling. Then again, CSPI lives in constant fear that people might actually enjoy eating.

Is all this worth four dollars a pound? And, dear God, what must her steaks cost? For now, though, I'm giving Laura at least one thumb up, and will sample more of her wares next time I pass by the top shelf.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:52 PM)
20 May 2004
Ordinary K

It's not so Special, says that sultry babe at Angelweave:

WHERE'S THE FREAKING FIBER?

Less than 1 gram, they admit: if you need more fiber (and you probably do) you'd probably be better off eating the box and pouring the cereal into the bird feeder.

Come to think of it, when the musical Stomp played here, one of the participants, reports the Oklahoma Gazette, not only used a copy of the alt-weekly as a percussion instrument but actually stuffed pages from it into his mouth. From the Gazette's "Chicken Fried News" section:

[W]e have said for a long time that the Gazette offers food for thought, but we never looked at it as something you pour in a bowl and douse with milk.

I don't envision this idea catching on enough to expand Gazette circulation locally, let alone in St. Louis, but hey: it's fiber.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:00 PM)
4 June 2004
Bugs ahoy!

No other description needed:

Cicada-chip cookies.

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:26 PM)
1 August 2004
Where was this on Flag Day?

Blue Bell Creameries in Brenham, Texas, maker of one of the more highly-prized brands of ice cream in these parts, has come up with an oddball flavor called Heart of America, which is something like this:

The ice cream is divided into three sections similar to Neapolitan Ice Cream. One part is a vanilla ice cream with a cherry sauce swirl, a second part is strawberry ice cream with milk chocolate hearts and the third section is vanilla ice cream with a wild blueberry sundae sauce swirl.

Strange concept, but it works — though frankly, I think the chocolate bits detract from the red, white and blue theme.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:03 PM)
28 August 2004
Potter lacks the flavor

The J. C. Potter Sausage Company of Durant, Oklahoma, which to me has always set the standard for pork products you'd rather not see in actual production, has bastardized its otherwise-excellent product line by adding — get this — a "CarbSmart" sausage biscuit at 7g "net carbs" per.

Even assuming that net carbs actually mean anything, an assumption I'm not prepared to make, this is just wrong. Nutrition experts of the Nanny State of course condemn stuff like sausage biscuits, as they do anything you're actually inclined to enjoy eating, and one should probably not make a habit of having these things for breakfast day after day, but one or two a week is well below a lethal dose, and screwing around with a perfectly-good product just to appeal to government bean counters and fad-diet carb counters is, in my view, a lose-lose situation.

Besides, these things, when prepared according to the package instructions, taste like a sponge that's been used to clean out a grease trap. And to add insult to injury, the price was 60 cents per box more than the standard variety, which for some inscrutable reason was sold out.

It had to be the corporate office in Chicagoland; nobody in a place like Durant, Oklahoma would ever come up with an idea this lame. For food, anyway.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:20 AM)
19 September 2004
Make mine a No. 2

The Happy Homemaker has turned up a menu, probably dating to the 1960s judging by the prices, from a Sonic Drive-In.

Of course, I would rather not have known that Tater Tots are "shredded & molded," but you can't have everything.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:11 AM)
26 November 2004
Hold the sticky stuff

Am I the only person in this city who ever buys Kellogg's Pop-Tarts in the unfrosted-blueberry variety? Their status as one of the original flavors hasn't done anything to insure their presence on the grocer's shelf; they seem to show up in the stores about twice a year if I'm lucky. Meanwhile, the sickeningly-sweet frosted versions get more shelf space than ketchup, despite their lack of palatability and their incompatibility with my old-style, uncomplicated toaster. (Something in the frosting seems to melt down into a nasty brown slag; for all I know, there could be plutonium in there.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:29 PM)
30 November 2004
Wings over Shanghai

The first Hooters restaurant in China has opened, and while I wouldn't have thought the Chinese would have any particular problems adapting a formula that is "delightfully tacky, yet unrefined", Costa at Population Statistic has identified two potential translation issues.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:35 AM)
7 December 2004
Uh-oh, SpaghettiOs

Once France was accepted as a member of the Axis of Weasels and otherwise-rational people started asking for "Freedom Fries", it was perhaps inevitable that the Campbell Soup Company would put the 117-year-old "Franco-American" brand name out of its misery.

Then again, I always preferred Chef Boy-Ar-Dee (who was an Italian, anyway).

(Via Weetabix.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:42 AM)
30 December 2004
Do the Tootsie roll

If you've embarked on a cruise on the Good Ship Lollipop, the crew will wish you "Happy landing on a chocolate bar."

And if you'd like to see a chocolate bar big enough to land on, all you have to do is ask Kimberly Swygert.

(Aside: One of the celebrated "one-hit wonders" of the rock era was the Wonder Who? — actually a more famous band under a temporary nom de disque — who scored a #12 smash with a cover of Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" at the end of 1965. Their, um, second hit was a version of "On The Good Ship Lollipop.")

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:31 AM)
6 January 2005
Vintage cheesecake

Like many organizations, the Green-Walled Garden Club (one of the Whittier names I've heard lately) of Frederick, Maryland has issued a cookbook as a fundraising tool.

Unlike many organizations, the Club has chosen to, um, spice up its cookbook: in addition to the recipes, there are a dozen photos of club members, aged 55 to 70, in varying degrees of undress. "Everyone does a cookbook," says member Marianne Coss. "We needed a gimmick."

It will be a while before I've sampled more than a handful of the 800-odd recipes in the book — this Pork with Red Plum Sauce (page 177) looks interesting — but I doubt I'll be able to convince anyone I bought this purely for prandial purposes.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:18 PM)
14 January 2005
Try the Iraq of Lamb

Tired of the same old chain restaurants?

Maybe you should try a Cheney restaurant.

(Via Screenhead.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:36 AM)
21 April 2005
Finally, a Colonel of sense

Kentucky Fried Chicken, in some locations anyway, is becoming ... Kentucky Fried Chicken.

And about time, I say. This "KFC" stuff did nothing to build the brand or expand the business; it was just a sop to people who consider the word "fried" obscene, and those people weren't buying any buckets in the first place.

Much that is great comes from Kentucky — bourbon, Corvettes, Susanna Cornett — and it's about time the yutzim at Yum! understood what that means.

Make mine Original, please.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:08 PM)
2 May 2005
Does two make a trend?

Earlier this year, I wrote about the Green-walled Garden Club of Frederick, Maryland, which issued a cookbook as a fundraiser in which the recipe sections were set off by photographs of club members, 55 and up, in "varying degrees of undress." (It's still available here.)

Now a California group is doing likewise. Making It with the Canyon Ladies is a fundraiser for the Colman Museum in Centerville, outside Chico. Each of the Canyon Ladies, ranging from fortysomething to eightysomething, poses with an artifact from the Museum.

Did Calendar Girls really start all this? And, more important, do I need another cookbook?

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:32 AM)
3 May 2005
It takes three hands to handle

A fifteen-pound hamburger? In Clearfield, Pennsylvania, you betcha:

Denny's Beer Barrel Pub, which lost its crown as the home of the world's biggest burger earlier this year, is now offering a new burger that weighs a whopping 15 pounds.

Dubbed the Beer Barrel Belly Buster, the burger comes with 10.5 pounds of ground beef, 25 slices of cheese, a head of lettuce, three tomatoes, two onions, a cup-and-a-half each of mayonnaise, relish, ketchup, mustard and banana peppers — and a bun.

It costs $30.

Um, hold the mayo.

There may have been a time when I might have tried to polish off one of those. But there's never been a time when I would have succeeded; I might go through 10½ pounds of ground beef in a month, maybe.

(Via Vinny Ferrari, who also isn't buying.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:28 AM)
6 May 2005
Fowl play

Did you miss International Respect for Chickens Day? Yeah, me too. I thought at first it might have something to do with Americans for Chicken Safety, but no.

Anyway, the day in question was Wednesday, on which I had (gasp!) fried chicken as the main course at dinnertime. And while I thought I was properly respectful — I have learned, for instance, that it is advisable to at least wear something during the frying process — I suspect that the proponents would have objected to this entrée no matter what steps I took.

Oh, well. I said all that to say all this: Matt Rosenberg wants your chicken recipes. He's already gotten one from me. Keep them simple and, if at all possible, respectful. If there are enough entries, there might even be a prize.

Meanwhile, this being the Friday before Mother's Day, I think I'll work up my mom's stock Friday offering: fish sticks, French fries, and Brussels sprouts.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:02 AM)
22 May 2005
But it's, y'know, organic

Which may or may not mean much of anything:

In the United States ... the rules that define organic products are, literally, nonsensical, in that organic standards are process-based and have little to do with the actual characteristics of the product. Certifiers attest to the ability of organic operations to follow a set of production standards and practices that meet the requirements of highly arbitrary regulations. Paradoxically, the presence of a detectable residue of a banned chemical alone does not constitute a violation of these regulations, as long as an organic operation has not used excluded methods. That's rather like saying that as long as your barber uses certain prescribed tools and lotions, your haircut is automatically of high quality.

Moreover, because organic farming is far less efficient than conventional farming, organic food costs more (to say nothing of requiring more and poorer- quality land put into farming), and the hype from markets like Whole Foods puts pressure on the less affluent to buy more expensive fruit and vegetables that may actually be of lower quality.

So says Lord Taverne of Pimlico, more familiarly Dick Taverne, author of The March of Unreason, which goes immediately on my list of Stuff To Read.

I do want to point out, though, that my experience with organic lettuce has been uniformly positive: it doesn't taste any better — I mean, we're talking lettuce here — but the two-dollar amorphous organic head inevitably lasts longer in the vegetable crisper than the 99-cent spheroid with the big brand name, and less of it winds up being thrown away for excess wilt.

(Via Matt Rosenberg.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:49 AM)
18 July 2005
Okay, I'm slow

Summer of 1972. I've wangled a day away from Fort Leonard Wood, and a trio of us have descended on St Louis, where we've planned a period of drinking and debauchery.

Well, we didn't drink much, and if any debauching was done, I missed it. But I got my first taste of Steak n Shake (It's a Meal), and I said to myself that I should definitely do this again sometime.

That "sometime" turned out to be today, a mere 33 years later. Admittedly, the company didn't expand into Oklahoma until recently. Still, it's not like I managed to avoid their territory for a third of a century; my daughter lives within three miles of one, and, well, there are all those World Tours.

It didn't hurt that this particular location dates back to the days of Route 66 and was within walking distance of my hotel. Given the sheer caloric count, I surely needed the walk. I should definitely do this again sometime, preferably before I turn 84.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:58 PM)
28 July 2005
Their condition is listed as "stable"

I griped last year that unfrosted blueberry Pop-Tarts® were hard to come by. And things have not improved, so on the rare occasion when I see them, I grab an extra box.

There was one box left in the pantry today, and there was one box on the shelf at the grocery, so I bought that one box, schlepped it home, pulled out the old box and moved it to the front — rotating the ol' stock, doncha know — and looked at the date: 26 February 2006. Well, these'll be gone long before that, I thought.

And then, pivoting the new box into position, I looked at the date: 26 February 2006.

Kellogg's, evidently, only produces a batch of these when they darn well feel like it.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:20 AM)
29 July 2005
And a cup of skim Worcestershire sauce

After that vegetarian thread, I'm almost afraid to post this, but what the hell: it's Dave's idea, let him sweat for coming up with steak-flavored Cheerios.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:29 PM)
14 August 2005
Your 15 percent is up

A few days back, Steven A. Shaw argued in The New York Times that restaurants should abolish the practice of tipping:

Customers believe in tipping because they think it makes economic sense. "Waiters know that they won't get paid if they don't do a good job," is how most advocates of the system (meaning most everybody in America) would put it. To be sure, this is a seductive, apparently rational statement about economic theory, but it appears to have little applicability to the real world of restaurants.

Michael Lynn, an associate professor of consumer behavior and marketing at Cornell's School of Hotel Administration, has conducted dozens of studies of tipping and has concluded that consumers' assessments of the quality of service correlate weakly to the amount they tip.

Rather, customers are likely to tip more in response to servers touching them lightly and crouching next to the table to make conversation than to how often their water glass is refilled — in other words, customers tip more when they like the server, not when the service is good. (Mr. Lynn's studies also indicate that male customers increase their tips for female servers while female customers increase their tips for male servers.)

Isn't it just possible that we'll like the server if the service is, by our reckoning, "good"?

A response from a server, posted at waiterrant.net:

While it might be true the patron's tip is based on how much they personally like their server, Shaw's position would remove the customer's monetary feedback entirely. Plus, water always seeks its own level and greed is rampant among restaurant owners. Sensing profit, restaurateurs will establish a service charge but start paying servers a flat hourly rate, thereby pocketing the difference. This obviates the consumer's ability to reward the server. You'll understand what I mean if you've ever shelled it out for a wedding reception. The establishment charges an 18% service charge on top of the bill but only pays its waiter between $10-$15 dollars an hour. Where does the rest of that money go? Right into the owner's pocket! Now you might say that's the way it works but hold on! There's a restaurant in NYC that adds a "service charge" of 18% for parties of six or more. The waiters pocket that money. However, when the Christmas season arrives and the restaurant starts booking multi-thousand dollar office parties — they switch the servers to a flat hourly rate and keep the difference. That's cynical and greedy. And that's exactly what will happen if every restaurant in America adopts a service charge.

Far from improving a customer's dining experience the service charge will ruin it. Why? Because if waiters are making an hourly wage they won't care what kind of service they give. And, since waiters will definitely be undercompensated they won't be happy and what will that do to the "emotional connection" patrons have with their server? It will destroy it — making customers miserable and causing experienced servers to leave the business in droves. The best way for a restaurant to make a waiter loyal and happy is to pay him or her well through tipping. In this age of corporate layoffs and CEO overcompensation do you think any young person (the usual age cohort for waiters) buys that nonsense about long term compensation after they saw their parents' loyalty to companies like Enron and Tyco so richly rewarded? They don't and they want their money now. Why? Because a lot of us can take care of ourselves.

I'm not sure I believe that service will go straight to hell if the wait staff is put on a straight wage, or on salary, but I'm more inclined to accept this version of the story. And as an experienced eBay buyer (over 300 auctions, nearly 200 won), I'm a firm believer in immediate feedback.

(For those who care: My standard tip is between 20 and 25 percent, rounded to the nearest 50 cents. Substandard service earns the canonical 15 percent. Service beyond the call of duty opens up the wallet considerably.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:35 PM)
22 August 2005
And don't lick the cone, either

Readers who follow my World Tour antics may recall an instance where I sampled Cake Batter ice cream, which is every bit as sweet and sticky as the name implies.

And now, apparently, temporarily off the market, at least at one chain:

Cold Stone Creamery together with the FDA are notifying the public that products containing "cake batter" ice cream sold at Cold Stone Creamery stores may be associated with outbreaks of Salmonella Typhimurium infection in four states.

I wasn't at a Cold Stone Creamery location when I tried the stuff, but this isn't the sort of thing that makes you feel good about your comfort foods, you know?

(Found at Clamhead by way of Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:11 AM)
23 August 2005
Tastes great, same filling

My humble thanks to the anonymous benefactor who had a box of unfrosted blueberry Pop-Tarts dropped off at my desk at 42nd and Treadmill.

Hmmm. Maybe I should put up a PayPal button after all.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:38 PM)
26 August 2005
Not available at the Spaghetti Warehouse

Dr. Weevil looks into his bowl and sees the future:

For twenty-five years I have thought that an enterprising individual with access to noodle-making technology could make money selling Alphanumeric Soup at computer conventions. The slogan writes itself: "full ASCII character set". If any of my readers actually try this, I want a 10% cut of the gross.

I want to see the DEL character (127).

But more than that, I want to see this:

There's at least one hypothetical pasta shape that would sell even better than Alphanumeric Soup to nerds, geeks, dweebs, and poindexters: a tiny Möbius strip. The 'casereccia' at [this] link looks close, but not quite right, and the same machine could no doubt make both. Whether tiny Klein bottles could be made of pasta I do not know: it might be difficult, but the inside-that's-really-an-outside would help soak up the sauce.

If they can pull this off, I'm ordering a case of bouillon tesseracts.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:24 AM)
7 September 2005
They don't travel well

Emblazoned on a Whataburger bag:

Rarely do the fries make it all the way home.

Um, they did this time.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:28 PM)
8 September 2005
One notch below ramen

If that's possible. Call it Garbage Soup:

Here?s what you need:
  • A hot plate.
  • A saucepan.
  • Leftover chicken bones from a (recent) meal at KFC or Boston Market or whatever that you would normally have thrown out.
  • Water.

Throw the chicken bones into the sauce pan and cover them with water. Heat the water to boiling and then lower the temperature to simmer for about an hour. Pour out the broth into a mug or bowl. Presto! Chicken soup. As weird and disgusting as this sounds, it really does work and it tastes pretty good.

Having once attempted to simulate Bloody Mary mix with a fistful of ketchup packets, I'm not even going to scoff.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:42 PM)
26 September 2005
Take your musical fruit elsewhere

Just to be sure, I called up the CASI Rules, and here it is:

2. NO FILLERS IN CHILI — Beans, macaroni, rice, hominy, or other similar ingredients are not permitted.

And dissimilar ingredients, I submit, are even worse. (Pineapple? You might as well toss in a handful of alfalfa, or a couple of prunes dried plums.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:48 PM)
23 October 2005
A suitable Halloween libation

Especially if you're having, you know, grownups over:

Vampire Merlot can take on the biggest char-grilled steaks and barbequed pork cutlets that you can throw at it, but it also has the fine elegance of this classic variety, allowing it to be served at parties with buffet foods and dips.

Although there are, of course, precautions to be taken:

The wine's lively, dark purple color will destroy your carpet so be careful!

Which would, as they say, really suck.

Vampire also produces an energy drink, a vodka, and Dracola Cola. Only the merlot, though, seems to have that true Transylvania twist.

(Via Population Statistic.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:05 PM)
As ascertained by experiment

I have no reason to think that beef at sixteen dollars a pound is anywhere near twice as good as beef at eight dollars a pound, even if filet mignon does sound a little spiffier than your average ribeye.

(We won't get into the fine points of, say, ground beef at $2.89. And before you ask, this was an impulse purchase, motivated by this very spirit of experimentation and by a projected vacant grilling day.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:13 PM)
31 October 2005
For a truly high-speed breakfast

It was inevitable: NASCAR bacon.

(Serving suggestion: Arrange in oval, each slice almost but not quite overlapping the next.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:36 AM)
10 November 2005
Fake but appetizing

Jonah Goldberg digs into the veggies and reports:

I tried a wide array of "cheese" products made from various non-dairy substances. And guess what? They all taste like really smart scientists got in a room and tried to come up with a close approximation of cheese. But, sorry, soy pizza doesn't taste like pizza; it tastes like something trying to taste like pizza. That doesn't mean it tastes bad, but it only tastes good to the extent it approaches tasting like the real thing. Throughout my ordeal, I kept referring to my meals as "pod-people food"; when you think of what "pod people" are like in Body Snatchers movies, what makes them creepy is that they're almost human. Meatless Chick'n nuggets, truth be told, don't taste that bad. In fact, I was astounded by how well the manufacturers simulated not just the taste, but the chewy texture, of chicken. But that's what was so off-putting: It's not chicken, and you know it.

The same holds true in clothing: it may feel like silk, it may look like silk, but you'll know it's polyester, and you will be despondent when you wear it.

And how similar a simulacrum, anyway?

[T]he meatless buffalo wings, manufactured by Health Is Wealth, were one of my favorite dishes. Labeled "Completely Meatless and 100% Vegan and Vegetarian," they're made almost entirely from soy and stone-ground wheat. I was disappointed to discover they don't contain fake bones. But why not create fake bones? Well, if one is to take the arguments of the ethical vegans at face value, isn't it a bit disgusting or immoral to make products that look like the foods they consider most evil? Fake hamburgers are really a marvel, but while they still come up short on the taste front, they certainly look like hamburgers. If meat is murder, why hawk products that look like the mutilated corpse? Consider our views on cannibalism, then imagine selling faux human flesh in, say, the form of human thumbs — "It tastes just like a missionary!" Wouldn't that still be in poor taste?

Well, yes, I suppose it would.

Still, to borrow a fin from Charlie the Tuna, do we want our garlic-frittered homunculi to have good taste, or do we want them to taste good?

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:44 PM)
13 December 2005
Wash it down with De Beers

It's a diamond-studded fruitcake, and, well, yeah, I know, you can find those any day of the week on Sunset, but this one is edible.

With the exception of the precious stones, of course.

(Found among Diane's Stuff.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:17 AM)
20 December 2005
Someone's in the kitchen with Donna

If you're like me, food is very high on the list of things you like to eat, so you might want to note that there's a new annex to Donnaville featuring Actual Recipes tried and tested by the Lady D herself.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:36 PM)
21 December 2005
Goes great with yellow cake

Wash it down with a cuppa Joe: Valerie Flame Hot Sauce.

I'd order a case for Judith Miller, but MoDo might get mad at me.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:22 AM)
30 December 2005
Adventures in the Urban Zone

I take this Table for One business very seriously: I truly hate eating alone, and when I have to, which is 99-point-something percent of the time, I'll either grind something out in the kitchen or grab a sack at the drive-through. Neither of these circumstances gives me any credibility as a food critic. (If you have to ask someone where you should eat, ask Sean Gleeson.)

Then again, 99-point-something is not a hundred, and when Dan Lovejoy suggested "Let's do lunch," and was willing to let me pick the location, I got to weigh two criteria — "What's different?" and "What haven't I seen yet?" — and came up with the idea of Café do Brasil, which vacated its old spot in the Victoria Building (18th and Classen) some months back and has now resurfaced at 11th and Walker.

The atmosphere, as you might expect, is cheerily-controlled chaos; among the proffered soups du jour was the ineffable "Cream of Something," which I decided I might want to pass up. What I did get was the Plato Sao Paulo, which is a bed of rice and black beans about yea high, overlaid with strips of chicken breast, diced red onions and tomatoes. Simple but effective. Dan tried out one of the specialty pies. We traded stories of perfidy at work, and pronounced ourselves quite full when the check (less than $20) came.

Not quite on the way back home, I remembered something that I'd read about in one of Downtown OKC's Skyline Snapshots:

Located at NE 7th Street and Oklahoma Avenue this 2150 square foot urban loft residence lies amidst a definitively resurging area. With the convenience of downtown accessibility and the proximity to Automobile Alley, Deep Deuce and Bricktown, this modern designed home embodies urban living while capitalizing on the Oklahoma City skyline views. The clarity and openness of its plan, flexible spatial organization, balanced proportions and outdoor living spaces truly exemplify the client's desire for a dwelling/studio concept. The easily adaptable, functionally flexible home is site specific with directionally framed views always providing a connection to the outdoors.

Status: Designed by J3 Architecture, this private residence is currently under construction with completion expected in March 2006.

So I drove to 33 NE 7th to see what was up, and while evidence of that definitive resurging is presently conspicuous by its absence, I am prepared to assert that even in its unfinished state, this is one cool-looking house, and I am prepared to envy the client who is undoubtedly paying big bucks for it.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:07 PM)
27 January 2006
Eat the beetles

What, you mean that really is bug juice?

Food makers may not want to dwell on it, but the ingredient that gives Dannon Boysenberry yogurt and Tropicana Ruby Red Grapefruit juice their distinctive colors comes from crushed female cochineal beetles.

Pressed by consumer advocates, the Food and Drug Administration is expected to ... require companies to disclose when a food contains beetle-derived colorings.

Under current FDA regulations, food labels must identify certain man-made colorings by name, such as FD&C Red No. 40. But for carmine, cochineal and other naturally occurring ingredients, companies can use terms such as "color added" or, oddly, "artificial color."

[An] advocacy group, and a small but vocal group of consumers who are allergic to the ingredients have pushed for stiffer rules.

Joining the chorus are vegetarians, who don't want to eat insects, and consumers observing kosher dietary practices. ... "There are a lot of people who will not be happy to know that they are eating products that contain dried beetle."

Wait a minute. Bugs aren't kosher?

Leviticus 11:20-23 [ESV]:

All winged insects that go on all fours are detestable to you. Yet among the winged insects that go on all fours you may eat those that have jointed legs above their feet, with which to hop on the ground. Of them you may eat: the locust of any kind, the bald locust of any kind, the cricket of any kind, and the grasshopper of any kind. But all other winged insects that have four feet are detestable to you.

Of course, "all fours" makes little sense in the context of insects, unless they're limping. But no, apparently bugs aren't kosher, and just to make sure:

Of the "winged swarming things" (winged insects), a few are specifically permitted (Lev. 11:22), but the Sages are no longer certain which ones they are, so all have been forbidden.

Doesn't seem to matter how you kill them, either.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:31 PM)
14 February 2006
Don't touch my sausage

A suspiciously-timely survey by the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation (and who knew we had one of those?) with the assistance of Domino's Pizza says that it's possible to predict a couple's compatibility by their pizza toppings:

[T]hose who prefer more non-traditional topping combinations, such as pineapple and onion, are most romantically compatible with people who prefer similar non-traditional toppings.

If you prefer traditional single-meat toppings like pepperoni, your ideal match is a person who likes a pizza loaded with meat toppings — someone who is extroverted.

The survey said those who prefer multiple vegetable toppings tend to be introverted and that people who don't like or want any toppings are a mystery.

Or perhaps they're just cheesy.

Inasmuch as Domino's is reportedly involved with this survey, I'm wondering why they didn't pose the question I'd most like answered: "Will she come in 30 minutes or less?"

(Via Fark.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:08 AM)
11 March 2006
Burn the spring chicken

Whatever happened to "one from Column A" and "two from Column B"? Now there's "Sour bamboo shoot steams fish mouth" and other ineffable (ha! eff them, I say) delights.

Maybe McGehee will eat it: I don't see any indication that they put mayonnaise on any of this stuff. Not even the French Crips.

(Via Dr. B.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:00 AM)
28 March 2006
High-priced orders don't upset us

George Carlin once groused about people putting minor purchases on plastic:

Take my word for this: Tic Tacs is not a major purchase. No one should be borrowing money from a bank at 18 percent interest to buy a loaf of bread.

Not a problem: we'll put it on our debit card.

Then again:

It's a lesson George Beane, a Palmdale, California resident, will never forget. He and his wife pulled up to a local Burger King drive-through window last week and ordered two Whoppers and a couple of cheeseburgers.

The distracted and busy cashier had already rung up the order and taken $4.33 off of George's debit card. But in her haste to put the 'fast' in fast food and get to other customers, she accidentally rang in the charge again — without erasing the first three digits.

That brought the Beanes' burger bill to a whopping $4,334.33! And to make matters worse, no one noticed.

At least not right away. But when the Beanes went to make their monthly mortgage payment several days later, they were astounded to discover there was no money left in the account. It had all gone to pay off their meal mistake.

The restaurant tried to get the couple a refund, but their bank told them the funds were subject to a three-day hold and there was no way they could change it. The Bank of America instituted the policy to stop those who don't have sufficient funds in their accounts from spending any more money.

No word on whether the Beanes got mayonnaise on said burgers.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:30 AM)
9 April 2006
Wait 'til we get our Heinz on you

Richard Armour explained it this way:

Shake and shake
The ketchup bottle;
None will come,
And then a lot'll.

But it doesn't have to be that way at all.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:00 PM)
5 May 2006
A day without flan

I have this sudden urge for something Italian.

(No, not Monica Bellucci. That's not sudden.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:04 AM)
21 May 2006
With a certain relish

Jack Bauer calls WFMU's William Berger and explains this very difficult procedure in great detail:

William, this is Jack Bauer, Los Angeles Counter Terrorist Unit — have you ever cooked hot dogs before? No? Well, don't worry 'cause I'm going to talk you through it. We are dealing with especially volatile materials here — Nathan's Famous Cheddar Cheese Beef Franks, so I need you to follow my instructions to the letter; I don't need to remind you that thousands of lives are at stake, and I imagine that you're pretty hungry. Chloe obtained an extensive file detailing your hunger rages, Mr. Berger, so don't play games with me — you and I both know we haven't a second to waste.

As you may already have surmised, there are three paragraphs to follow.

[Insert "perfect wiener" reference here]

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:02 AM)
Tastes great, more filling

Now here's some marketing. Old El Paso (which, despite its name, is neither particularly old nor in El Paso) put out a square-bottomed taco shell a couple of years ago; I didn't harp on it at the time, seeing no compelling need for a premium-priced product of this sort.

Until this week, when the usual yellow box appeared with a promotion I'm starting to see on lots of products these days: one free iTunes download.

The Stand 'N Stuff (a name it's now probably too late to change) comes ten to a box instead of twelve, and it does, in fact, stand up straight. And I verified experimentally that you, or at least I, can indeed cram a lot more into it before its structural integrity is threatened. The flavor is indistinguishable from what you'd get from the regular shell — basically, five-hole notebook paper with a hint of corn — but I didn't expect anything in the way of actual taste improvements, since none were promised, and besides, what matters here is the stuffing and the seasonings; the shell is merely a means to an end.

No, I haven't picked out my free song yet.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:23 PM)
24 May 2006
Utterly amaized

What I was really wondering, of course, was how much chicken there was in your average McNugget, but the real surprise was the prodigious amount of corn.

And rosemary? Who'd have guessed?

(Found at The Consumerist.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:47 AM)
26 May 2006
Instead of Dr Pepper

According to Queer Eye's Ted Allen, this is a truly choice combination: Cristal champagne with Popeye's Chicken.

Not that they'll have it at the drive-thru, but you get the idea.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:46 PM)
6 July 2006
Welcome to Cob County

Myself, I'm a lathe, not a typewriter.

(I am not persuaded that this has any connection to the presence, or absence, of the Y chromosome.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:08 PM)
19 July 2006
Good morning, Mr Leech

Have you had a busy day? Then tuck into some of these yummy white chocolate maggots. They make that "gummi" stuff look like candy.

Somewhere on the label: "Does not contain real maggots." Not every foodstuff can make such a guarantee.

(Via Belhoste, who just about now should be hitting the Pepto-Bismol.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:12 AM)
3 August 2006
Report to the Toastmaster General

Yours truly, fall 2004:

Am I the only person in this city who ever buys Kellogg's Pop-Tarts in the unfrosted-blueberry variety? Their status as one of the original flavors hasn't done anything to insure their presence on the grocer's shelf; they seem to show up in the stores about twice a year if I'm lucky. Meanwhile, the sickeningly-sweet frosted versions get more shelf space than ketchup, despite their lack of palatability and their incompatibility with my old-style, uncomplicated toaster. (Something in the frosting seems to melt down into a nasty brown slag; for all I know, there could be plutonium in there.)

In the twenty-odd months since that manifesto, I have determined that buying from one of the few stores that does stock them accomplishes more than complaining to one of the many stores that prefer to stock stuff like this.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:03 PM)
18 August 2006
I suspect I've been there

At least, this sounds somewhat familiar:

We wanted to try someplace new, so I suggested Anne Stuart?s Food-a-teria (not the real name) because we had heard from a bunch of people over the years that the food was really good, blah blah blah. It didn?t open until 11:00 AM, so we killed 45 minutes at Border?s, and arrived back at the food-a-teria at 11:15 AM.

So far, so good. But then:

"Don?t you feel odd being here?" she asked.

"Why? Because I?m the only young guy in the room not wearing an Izod shirt? And we?re probably the only people that didn?t come here directly from church? Or that everyone is white white?"

"Yeah."

"I think if this place only served mayonnaise, these people would be okay with it."

Naw. This place is on the north side of town. It's Southerners who embrace mayonnaise to excess.

(Is this an effort to get McGehee to repost his December 2002 mayonnaise rant? What do you think?)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:27 AM)
22 August 2006
They didn't say if it was kosher

Gatorade, schmatorade. What your body craves is ... pickle juice?

Apparently so:

Claiming 30 times the electrolytes of Powerade and 15 times that of Gatorade, the newly released Pickle Juice Sport already has major sports figures endorsing it.

Yes, you read correctly ? pickle juice. Developed through market research that confirms many people sneak a drink of pickle juice from the jar. Apparently there was a market, after all, for a manufactured beverage that tastes of dill, salt, and vinegar. This was later reinforced by an NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys, which received national attention over the Eagles? consumption of pickle juice to beat the 120 degree heat and led them to victory. Who knew?!

I plead guilty to taking a sip out of the jar once in a while, but it never occurred to me to pass it off as a sports beverage.

Then again, given my fondness for corn — on the cob, out of the can, out of the freezer — perhaps I need some extra green to offset all that yellow.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:54 PM)
2 September 2006
Don't look for the union label

After all, though they may be candy, they're still scabs:

The bandage itself is thin, sturdy plastic — you know the plastic that a package of Oscar Meyer bologna is in? It?s that type of plastic. On the back are two sticky spots that you remove the protective covering and use those sticky spots to stick it to your skin. The part over your "wound" is a hinged area that opens to reveal the candy "scab". (photo) The hinged area is re-closeable so you can take a few licks and save it for later.

The candy scab is simply molded, pressed sugar like a SweeTart or pressed Pixy Stix but the top is "scab red" and molded to look like a real scab. You get five bandages per box plus a pack of five "scab refills". The candy itself is nothing special, but isn?t bad tasting. The whole thing is pretty gross though.

Well, we've had boogers, and now scabs. What's next? A Hershey's Kiss in the shape of a lump o' crap? Otter Pops with chunks of real otter? (Keep in mind, I rule Google when it comes to ocelot spleen.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:53 AM)
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The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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