Archive for Worth a Fork

Only steal from the best

Gee, this meal tastes familiar:

A Long Beach restaurant is under fire after customers found out the restaurant was re-serving Popeyes Louisiana Chicken.

For the last four years, Kimberly Sanchez has been serving up breakfast and lunch at her restaurant, Sweet Dixie Kitchen.

And some people thought it was, well, her lunch:

The restaurant’s troubles started after a customer allegedly saw Sweet Dixie employees carrying Popeyes boxes into the kitchen. The customer then wrote a Yelp review relaying his dissatisfaction with having to pay a premium for fast food fried chicken.

A Sweet Dixie employee confirmed they source the fast food chain for their chicken and waffles, which sells for about $15. You can buy chicken at Popeyes for much less without the fixings, Sanchez adds, but she’s not apologizing.

“My kitchen is not set up for frying. We’re an old building. I don’t actually have a proper kitchen back there,” she said to ABC7. “I love Popeyes chicken. I love it. I think it’s the best chicken out there.”

Yelp, for its part, is reacting reactively with an Active Cleanup Alert:

This business recently made waves in the news, which often means that people come to this page to post their views on the news.

While we don’t take a stand one way or the other when it comes to these news events, we do work to remove both positive and negative posts that appear to be motivated more by the news coverage itself than the reviewer’s personal consumer experience with the business.

Bless you, Yelp.


Signs of the rhymes

There’s something faintly compelling about having a Whataburger half a mile away: of the national chains, only Popeye’s and Jack in the Box are closer. I ordered probably too much food, pulled ahead to the next window, and the shuffle in the music box duly served up the next song: Rebecca Black’s lovely cover of Troye Sivan’s “Wild.” Which would not be at all notable, except that the last time I went through the drive-thru at this Whataburger it played a different Rebecca Black song.

And the time before that.

This would seem to defy the odds: there are 5,090 songs on the playlist, including eleven by Rebecca Black.

And then this, postmarked “Metroplex MI 480,” was waiting for me back home:

Note received from Rebecca Black, October 2017

Maybe I’ve been doing something right these past six and a half years.

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Groundwork being laid

I live in a city with thirty-seven Sonic Drive-In locations, not including the suburbs. (Heck, the secret Sonic HQ is in Bricktown, just down the road a piece.) Not everyone is so blessed:

Sonic has 3,500 locations across the country, yet how is it that everywhere I turn there’s a Sonic commercial on TV, or a billboard advertising Sonic’s new breakfast menu? I have never eaten a Super Sonic Double Cheeseburger, nor have I ever actually seen a Sonic in person. Yet, the ads belies this disbelief that one ever existed. I always figured Sonic was just as confused as I am about its whereabouts, up until now that is.

If you’re living in a Sonic-deprived state with a misleading amount of Sonic billboards and TV commercials: it’s not a mistake, nor an advertising miscalculation. According to Sonic’s CEO Cliff Hudson, it’s all part of the plan.

The hype machine goes to work early:

“It’s cheaper and more efficient, because we do business in 45 out of 50 states, to buy nationally,” [said Hudson]. “You get the airtime cheaper and you get the better placement.”

Long-term strategies, building up the hype also plays a role in this uneven location-to-advertisement ratio. Customers are invested in the fast-food chain, even before one opens in the area.

And there is room for growth:

Texas, Oklahoma and Tennessee are riddled with Sonics, while Rhode Island, Delaware and Connecticut residents have to forge quite a trek to get their hands on a Sonic Dog or any number of their Blast Milkshakes. Same goes with California and Florida, that — despite their potential to hold 1,000 locations — have less than 100 Sonics.

It’s rather frightening to imagine that people are being subjected to silliness like this all across the nation:

Then again, it’s October now. They were probably a lot thirstier in July.

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I suspect there ain’t no Moore

Walmart’s grocery search continues to be, um, unreliable:

This is not something by Dinty Moore

I suspect Hormel would not be amused.

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Kitty and the Colonel

So I was thumbing, to the extent one can be said to be thumbing with an optical mouse, through the Sanrio Hello Kitty Wiki, and happened upon this unexpected page:

Colonel Sanders goes to Japan

KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) are a popular international chain of fast food restaurants specialising in fried chicken. Its headquarters are in Louisville, Kentucky in the United States. Its brand ambassador is Colonel Sanders, an American business man who was the founder of the KFC company and appears on the KFC logo.

There follows a list of nine KFC stores “promoted by” Sanrio, four in Tokyo proper and five in Saitama Prefecture. By no means is this the extent of KFC’s distribution in Japan; there are literally a thousand more locations. And their biggest sales day, every year, is the 25th of December, as Japan Today has explained:

The tradition of eating KFC at Christmas [began] when an expat customer at the chain’s Aoyama store observed that, in a land bereft of Yuletide turkey, fried chicken was the next best thing. The store’s canny manager was paying attention and passed word on to the higher-ups, leading the company to launch its ludicrously successful Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii! (“Kentucky for Christmas!”) campaign in 1974.

Why wouldn’t Sanrio want a piece of that? Or maybe an 8-piece bucket.

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Tastes even better than asbestos

Or so I’m assuming, anyway:

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The following is a public-service announcement

You have several weeks to prepare:

If you have circus peanuts, don’t wait until October to dispose of them.

(Via @BayAreaFrau.)

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As Her Majesty turns away

Fortunately, we were left some nourishment:

Majestic ass biscuit

And also fortunately, we can get our hands on something that costs less than butter.

(Frighteningly, via a Tweeter of the same name.)


I believe he can be saved

Note: It’s only September, fercryingoutloud. Don’t go smashing any pumpkins.

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Almost certainly true

I would not expect to find one speck of fish in this can:

Caroline's Fishless Tuna (ha!) does carry this product, with a slightly different label, for $2.29 a can. Customer reviews have been pretty favorable, though I’m waiting to hear from Jessica Simpson.

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Improving on perfection

Is that even possible?

Some things in life are simply sublime. Like a walk in the park on a sweet summer morning. A glass of wine after a hard day’s work. Or you know … chocolate. Chocolate has changed quite a while since it was first brewed by the Aztecs but nowadays, the main types of chocolate are pretty well established: you get the classic milk chocolate, the exquisite dark chocolate, and the mild white chocolate. But what if there was a new kind, a new sensorial experience?

That’s exactly what the chocolate engineers at Barry Callebaut claim to have done: invented a new type of chocolate. They call it Ruby Chocolate.

“Mild”? White chocolate? Indeed. “It isn’t chocolate. It isn’t even Facebook friends with real chocolate. It isn’t even a LinkedIn 3rd connection with real chocolate.”

So what’s with the Ruby?

“Ruby chocolate is an intense sensorial delight. A tension between berry-fruitiness and luscious smoothness,” they write in a press release. “Ruby chocolate is made from the Ruby cocoa bean; through a unique processing, Barry Callebaut unlocks the flavor and color tone naturally present in the Ruby bean. No berries or berry flavor is added. No color is added.”

What makes this type of chocolate unique is not only the reddish color, but the fact that the berry fruity taste emerges naturally, from the Ruby cocoa bean. The texture is also reportedly different, more creamy and refreshing than other chocolates. But not everyone is convinced.

Any time you want to send me some for evaluation, just drop me a line.

(Via SteveF.)

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Truly a half-sour pickle

Another cultural icon circles the drain:

You think that’s bad? Imagine the situation in Nashville:

And if you can’t find half-sour pickles locally, make your own.

(Via @neontaster.)

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Not the least bit quick

Quick Quaker Oats, if you ask me, was never quite as perfect as the old style, stand-by-the-stove-all-morning variety. Still, that’s no selling point for a new, slower variety:

Enter: overnight oats. The make-ahead breakfast is a popular breakfast choice because it’s generally a super convenient, good-for-you meal that you can tweak to fit both your nutrient goals and your taste preferences. Overnight oats are transportable, so you can grab a pre-packed mason jar-ful on your way out the door, and they don’t require any heating or fuss. All you have to do is dump all your ingredients into a mason jar (or your favorite container), stir and shake, and then leave them in the fridge overnight.

Recently, the oat mavens Quaker have caught on to the craze, and are now selling five new overnight oats flavors in single-serve cups. While we’re huge proponents of companies offering convenient, healthy and plant-based options to customers (and might even pick up a serving or two for ourselves!), we also have enjoyed making our own overnight oats ourselves. They’re easy, delicious, and can range from simple to decadent.

Quaker’s 65-gram cup, about half-full from the store, contains the following instructions:

Add your favorite milk to fill line and stir well.

Cover and refrigerate to cold steep all night.

Simply stir & enjoy for a cool & creamy yet hearty breakfast experience.

“All night” is defined as a minimum of eight hours, and you’re expected to ensure that your milk and yogurt (optional) are properly pasteurized.

The available flavors have names like Blueberry Banana & Vanilla Bliss.

And if you were wondering, the deadly-serious chap in the Quaker hat is named “Larry.”

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The Orange Dreadful

Looks like candy corn to meA bag containing about seven pounds of candy corn — actually, 111 ounces, which is something like 6.94 lb — has arrived at my porch after a trip from Texas, and I’m pretty sure it would have been more sensible to have ordered it in a cold month, which August is most assuredly not, at least not in this hemisphere. (And I’m also pretty sure that this particular vendor doesn’t ship to Ecuador or to Tierra del Fuego.)

That said, the mandatory Nutrition Facts label promptly presented itself for inspection, and you’ll be pleased (or appalled) to hear that one serving = 19 pieces of the dreaded wedge = 140 calories. For your future reference or bar-bet use, this means that one piece of candy corn (Brach’s, if it matters to you) contains 7.4 calories.

And as long as we’re pretending this stuff has food value, here’s a recipe for deep-fried candy corn.

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Wendy, we miss you

Well, no, she’s not gone or anything. Still, I wonder if she’s been forgotten:

From the mountains of Walla Walla, Washington to the sandy beaches of Florida, fast-food burgers are adored across the country. But while burger love is universal, different states have different ideas on what — and who — makes a great burger.

In a recent poll, Ranker asked more than 10,000 burger fans nationwide to name their favorite burger from a major fast-food establishment or restaurant chain. You can see the favorite fast-food burgers for every state below.

The United States of Burgers

No surprise here: Texas and Oklahoma (and, yes, Louisiana) respondents preferred Whataburger. Missouri opted for its homegrown Steak & Shake. (As did North Dakota. Go figure.)

But those guys in Illinois and Hawaii and Colorado don’t even have any In-N-Out Burger locations. What’s the deal?

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“Bite me” to the one you love

Troll Cake: I Wish Judge Judy Would Curbstomp YouThis subtle little confection is a Troll Cake, and in this case “troll” is a verb. (Yes, it’s that kind of troll.) The bakers thereof will be more than happy to explain it to you:

1. We take an internet comment.

2. Make it into a cake.

3. And then box it up and mail it to the troll who said it. The box includes a copy of their original comment.

If you have the troll’s street address, it’s $35 for what is actually more of a frosted and sparkled chocolate-chip brownie. If you don’t, they’ll track ’em down for an extra $25. (Five bucks off if you’re sending to Donald Trump, and yes, they know where he lives.)

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At least it’s not circus peanuts

Because I never would have ordered 7 pounds of circus peanuts:

May Lewis Black forgive me.

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Awaiting rollback

Friday night is when I hit up Voldemart’s Web site for my weekly grocery haul, which I pick up on Saturday afternoon. This week I dug a little deeper into the Bakery section, and saw something I might like, but not at this price:

Walmart price of 43 dollars for cherry turnovers

Last time I was able to make it to Crest, a comparable package was $3.75. So no, I didn’t add this to my cart.

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Go ahead and ask for seconds

It’s things like this that make me grateful for Whataburger:

Theme restaurants are nothing new. There was the highly-touted Fashion Cafe, which allowed diners to sip cocktails next to Elle McPherson’s autographed photos; Ninja New York, complete with chefs wielding weaponry from feudal Japan; and the lamentable Hulk Hogan’s Pastamania, a self-explanatory failure.

The latest novelty eatery to experience a surge of attention is actually tucked inside an existing gimmick: In the Hard Rock Hotel of Ibiza, Spain, is an invitation-only room dubbed Sublimotion. And at more than $2000 per person — not including gratuities — it might be the world’s most expensive dining experience.

For two grand, they better have virtual-reality broccoli.

Wait, what?

The addition of technology is what sets Sublimotion apart. Projected images appear on walls and even on top of the single, 12-seat serving table. Virtual reality menus allow visitors to pluck vegetables and desserts from thin air; treats appear to be air-dropped from the ceiling. For the current “season” of gastronomic fanfare, the restaurant has planned for diners to experience a virtual callback to a 20th-century cabaret or sample the tasting menu while “flying” in a plane [pdf]. Previous programs have included edible admission tickets and levitating desserts. (The business has a consulting magician on hand.)

Dear me.

Now this was two years ago:

Suddenly I feel better about the $13 tab at Whataburger.

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Perhaps a vanishing art

So this turned up in ye olde timeline:

I suggest the P. J. O’Rourke method:

Buy the most expensive steak you can find, about as thick as the heel of a Bass Weejun. Salt and pepper it liberally and don’t worry that salting the steak before it’s cooked will make it tough. Salt does not make steak tough. Poverty makes steaks tough, sometimes absent entirely. Put half a shot glass of any kind of oil but motor or olive in a skillet. Heat up until the oil smokes like hell. Now take the batteries out of your smoke detector and put the steak in the pan. Fiddle with the steak, turn it over a lot and poke it constantly with a fork and knife. This does nothing for the steak, but it keeps you from wandering off and starting to watch a basketball game and turning the T-bone into a flight jacket. As soon as you think the steak should cook just a little longer, stop cooking it.

I’m here to tell you that this does actually work, though it’s not too hard to see the drawbacks inherent in the system.

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And 58 flops

H. J. Heinz is known for — says so right on the label — “57 varieties.” (Actually, I think they have more than that, but you don’t throw away a perfectly good trademark.) It would be heinous, I think, for them to obtain a new one by slapping a different label on an old one.

And especially in this case:

“Chicago is an amazing city full of traditions — [one] of them, as you well know, is never putting Ketchup on your Chicago Dog,” reads an oddly capitalized press release. It continues: “While Heinz respects this time-honored tradition, the brand is hoping that Chicagoans will reconsider their anti-ketchup stance.”

Nah. Chicago’s good.

Heinz’s new “Chicago Dog Sauce” — a limited-time-only cheap marketing ploy that disguises the company’s normal, bland ketchup with a new label — is an insult to Abe Froman and the rest of Chicago’s encased-meat community.

“But our marketing survey … ?”

No one here cares about that “random” sample of gullible tourists who deemed this behavior acceptable. These traitors were caught on film along the lakefront. They might as well be Packers fans.

(Via E. M. Zanotti.)

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Spice is nice

That’s what they say. Sometimes, though, blood is shed:

I was watching an episode [of Good Eats] about pickles this evening and this blurb comes up on the screen about how back in the 1300s the Europeans wiped out half of southeast Asia in their quest for nutmeg. That seems a little extreme and a heck of long time ago, is there any truth here? Well, the Dutch did pretty much wipe out the population on one small island in the 1600s.

That sounds fierce, and apparently it was:

The Banda Islands became the scene of the earliest European ventures in Asia, in order to get a grip on the spice trade. In August 1511, Afonso de Albuquerque conquered Malacca, which at the time was the hub of Asian trade, on behalf of the king of Portugal. In November of the same year, after having secured Malacca and learning of Banda’s location, Albuquerque sent an expedition of three ships led by his friend António de Abreu to find it. Malay pilots, either recruited or forcibly conscripted, guided them via Java, the Lesser Sundas, and Ambon to the Banda Islands, arriving in early 1512. The first Europeans to reach the Banda Islands, the expedition remained for about a month, buying and filling their ships with Banda’s nutmeg and mace, and with cloves in which Banda had a thriving entrepôt trade. An early account of Banda is in Suma Oriental, a book written by the Portuguese apothecary Tomé Pires, based in Malacca from 1512 to 1515. Full control of this trade by the Portuguese was not possible, and they remained participants without a foothold in the islands.

And then things got fiercer:

In order to obtain a monopoly, on the production and trade of nutmeg, the Dutch East India Company (VOC) waged a bloody battle with the Bandanese in 1621. Historian Willard Hanna estimated that before this struggle the islands were populated by approximately 15,000 people, and only 1,000 were left (the Bandanese were killed, starved while fleeing, exiled or sold as slaves). The Company constructed a comprehensive nutmeg plantation system on the islands during the 17th century. It included the nutmeg plantations for spice production, several forts for the defense of the spices, and a colonial town for trading and governance. The Dutch were not the only occupants of this region, however. The British skillfully negotiated with the village leaders on the island Rhun to protect them from the Dutch in exchange for a monopoly on their nutmeg. The village leader of Rhun accepted King James I of England as their sovereign, but the English presence on Rhun only lasted until 1624. Control of the Banda Islands continued to be contested until 1667 when, in the Treaty of Breda, the British ceded Rhun to the Dutch in exchange for the island of Manhattan and its city New Amsterdam (later New York) in North America.

Which leaves one question: how did Connecticut, rather than New York, end up as the Nutmeg State? Skulduggery, of course:

Connecticut received its nickname from the claim that some unscrupulous Connecticut traders would whittle “nutmeg” out of wood, creating a “wooden nutmeg,” a term which later came to mean any type of fraud.

Sorry about that, New Jersey.

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Will Cap’n Crunch walk the plank?

The subject is being discussed in Australia:

More than half of supermarket products marketed at kids are unhealthy, according to a new survey by the Obesity Policy Coalition. The finding has led to calls for cartoon characters to be removed from “junk food” packaging.

The OPC surveyed 186 packaged foods with cartoons or character promotions designed to attract children. It found 52 per cent were classified as unhealthy by the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) Nutrient Profiling Scoring Criterion calculator.

Grocers and food processors put up a counterargument, probably to no avail:

The Australian Food and Grocery Council says parents also have control over what they feed their children.

“Parents are best placed to make the right food choices for their kids, and they have a role in using their purchasing discretion to determine what foods they purchase,” a council spokesperson said.

Canberra, we may safely assume, has the same disdain for leaving parents in control that Washington does.

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It’s raining wieners

Oscar Mayer wants it that way:

As is currently en vogue for any company making a product that ends up in consumers’ hands, Oscar Mayer is expanding its Wienermobile fleet with a phallic flying drone that can (supposedly) drop a single hot dog on someone not too worried about what they’re eating. If Silicon Valley had its way, we’d only eat things that fell from the sky.

Specs, kinda sorta:

The drone itself appears to be a custom creation, weighing in at 6.5 pounds with a flight time of around 15 minutes, letting it fly about a mile before needing to land for a recharge. It has enough lifting power to carry a single wrapped hot dog during flight, but details on condiment capacity are still unknown. If you prefer those Chicago-style hot dogs piled high with pickle spears, tomato wedges, and peppers, you’ll presumably be limiting the WienerDrone’s flight capabilities.

You may have noticed that nowhere above is the word “bun” mentioned.

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Dying a thousand deaths

This phrase is of course metaphorical: each of us dies a single death, and the odds of so doing are 100 percent.

Unless, of course, we have a thing for French-fried potatoes, in which case we have a 200-percent shot:

Headline from The Telegraph: Eating chips doubles your chance of death

Notes Geoffrey K. Pulliam:

That’s right: although your probability of dying is one hundred percent, just like mine, the Telegraph has found a study saying you can double it by eating french fries.

Add this to whatever apocalyptic bushwah the Democrats are putting out about “TrumpCare” and you have to figure that the average American is in line for somewhere around 2.33 deaths (2.42 with ketchup).

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Resolutely independent

Chain restaurants are everywhere, or almost everywhere; the old-style out-by-Route 23 supper club seems to be in irreversible decline. But they had a lot to recommend them:

The one thing about most supper clubs is they required at least a 30-mile drive to get there because they were built on highways outside of major population areas, which gave them the feel of an upscale roadhouse — the opposite of “your neighborhood Applebee’s.”

In more ways than one, in fact:

Back then and now, a supper club is destination dining. But what is the difference? Consider this: At Applebee’s you get someone in a typical high turnover, low-wage job cooking your meal from a standard corporate recipe using pre-measured, pre-packaged ingredients so your meal looks exactly like the meal in those glitzy national TV ads — well, almost. At a supper club, your meal is prepared by someone who has likely worked there more than 25 years and takes great pride in their work. The food is fresher, the service is excellent and genuine, and your meal is cooked with seasoned cookware and grills that are over 50 years old. And the recipes are tried and true, and have been handed down from previous generations.

And then there’s Junior’s here in OKC, built on Northwest Highway (not yet the Distressway) in the early 1970s, before oil boom turned to oil bust. And they’re modestly modest:

Junior’s offers personalized service and fine dining. Don’t come looking for a gourmet fusion of three beans and art though. We offer the best hand-cut certified Black Angus steaks in town, Australian lobster, our famous Caesar Salad, and much more.

Old school, and proud of it. This is not something you encounter at Ruby Tuesday’s.

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It’s broccoli, dear

It’s just a little bitty tablet:

A chemical called sulforaphane, found in broccoli sprouts, has previously demonstrated an ability to reduce glucose levels in diabetic rats. Anders Rosengren of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and his colleagues wondered whether the same might be true for humans. To test the theory, his team gave 97 people with type 2 diabetes a concentrated dose of sulforaphane every day for three months, or a placebo. All but three people in the trial continued taking metformin. Those who didn’t take metformin were able to control their condition relatively well without it.

The concentration of sulforaphane given was around 100 times that found naturally in broccoli. “It was the same as eating around five kilograms of broccoli daily,” says Rosengren.

On average, those who received the broccoli extract saw their blood glucose reduce by 10 per cent more than those on the placebo. The extract was most effective in obese participants with “dysregulated” diabetes, whose baseline glucose levels were higher to start with.

“We’re very excited about the effects we’ve seen and are eager to bring the extract to patients,” says Rosengren. “We saw a reduction of glucose of about 10 per cent, which is sufficient to reduce complications in the eyes, kidneys and blood,” he says.

Besides, if you tried to eat 5 kg of broccoli, your intestines would be playing the opening to Also sprach Zarathustra.

Journal reference, should you need it: Science Translational Medicine, DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aah4477.

(Via Fark.)

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Num squared

Two-thirds of a LeeAnn observation:

Today I learned the filling in a Kit Kat is made from defective Kit Kats.

For some reason, this makes me extremely hopeful.

I could not resist:

“Makes you wonder how they made the very first Kit Kats.”

Right back at me:

“They sprang fully formed from the forehead of Milton Hershey.”

This isn’t close to being true or anything — Nestlé acquired Rowntree, which created the Kit Kat, and Hershey licensed the product, first from Rowntree, then from Nestlé — but I definitely like her explanation better.

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There seems to be a theme here

See if you can figure out what it is:

Bacon Restaurant, Oklahoma City

Sean Cummings, who used to run an Irish pub at this location, has decided that what we really want in this town is bacon. Lots of bacon.

Today's Bacon

Did I say lots of bacon?

Even the drink menu comes with bacon. The Bacon Whiskey Smash comes with Whiskey, bacon, simple syrup and mint. Or if you’re in the mood for a good Bloody Mary, they have a bacon one too.

Oh, and seven bucks will get you a Bacon Cheesecake for dessert.

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Come on and work it on out

It is generally accepted that a kid’ll eat the middle of an Oreo first. (How to do it? You unscrew it.) It was this particular characteristic, I presume, that gave birth to this Walmart/Sam’s Club knockoff of the Oreo:

Great Value Twist & Shout

I await a Lorna Doone-alike named for Eleanor Rigby.

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