Archive for Worth a Fork

I’m waiting for a Pixy Stix version

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has approved, and then suddenly disapproved, the line of Palcohol powdered cocktails produced by Lipsmark LLC of Arizona.

The individual packets weigh one ounce and should be mixed with five ounces of water or your favorite mixer. And they are not snortable:

To take precautions against this action, we’ve added volume to the powder so it would take more than a half of a cup of powder to get the equivalent of one drink up your nose. You would feel a lot of pain for very little gain. Just use it the right way.

This technique could make for a truly dry martini. (Current methodology: pour the gin, open the bottle of vermouth just long enough for the gin to sense its presence, and then close the bottle.) At least, it ought to be worth a, um, shot.

(Via Consumerist.)

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Spot almost hit

Among the Big Three colas, I’ve pretty much always seen Pepsi as third, maybe even fourth if Shasta was being discounted more heavily than usual; but for no really good reason, I had an urge for a Pepsi yesterday, and the wherewithal to obtain a 20-ounce bottle. Which I did.

While it was occurring to me that I could have gotten the same results by opening an RC Cola and letting it sit until Tuesday, I started reading the label, and discovered something I hadn’t actually noticed before: the full name “Pepsi-Cola” is no longer being used.

When did this happen? According to Wikipedia, it’s been simply Pepsi since 1961. I know I’ve had several Pepsis since the year I turned eight, but maybe it’s a we-don’t-serve-Coke kind of deal.

Come to think of it, in 1961, Pepsi kicked off that “For Those Who Think Young” business, so the actual transition might have been in this very advertisement. That’s Joanie Sommers on the vocal; now I wonder if Johnny got angry because she brought home a carton of Coke.

And anyway, before it was Pepsi-Cola, it was, um, Brad’s Drink. This is Brad.

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At least it isn’t head cheese

Just calling it “beer” seems suddenly inadequate:

[M]icrobrewers at Dock Street Brewing Co. did go that extra mile for fans of AMC’s The Walking Dead — or any zombie fans, really — by cooking up some goat brains for a new brew called Dock Street Walker.

Yes, goat brains. Smoked brains, to be specific, an ingredient enjoyed by others around the world but perhaps not so much the American public.

According to the brewery’s press release, it’s “an American Pale Stout brewed with wheat, oats, flaked barley, organic cranberry, and Smoked Goat Brains!”

Enjoy it with a slab of goat cheese, and toast The Governor. (Oh, wait, The Governor is already toast.)

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Five Mississippi

The “five-second rule” will not die, and this is one reason why:

Biology students at Aston University in the UK monitored how quickly E. coli and common bacteria spread from surfaces to food such as toast (butter side down, no doubt), pasta and sticky sweets — with time being a significant factor in the transfer of germs.

Food picked up just a few seconds after being dropped is less likely to contain bacteria than if it is left for longer periods of time according to the findings.

There is, however, a variable that must be taken into account:

The type of flooring the food has been dropped on has an effect, with bacteria least likely to transfer from carpeted surfaces and most likely to transfer from laminate or tiled surfaces to moist foods making contact for more than five seconds.

This, of course, contradicts research from a couple of years ago, which supports my ongoing hypothesis that Everything We Know Is, Or Will Be, Wrong.

(Via The Glittering Eye.)

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I’ll tell you what you can do with your damn sauce

BBQ sauce to cure hemorrhoids?

(Another scary-but-funny clipping from Bad Newspaper.)

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Worth getting up for

The new, improved Breakfast of Champions:

We went to the breakfast buffet at Golden Corral and decimated the bacon tray.

Twice.

Just so you know we had a balanced breakfast, we also had cheesy hashbrowns, very oily homefries, gravy that was last used as salty spackle on the International Space Station, and an apple slice drowned in the caramel fountain.

Sorry, no calorie count: it’s too much trouble to do scientific notation in HTML.

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This schist is gneiss

Or some sort of rock, because it definitely doesn’t seem to be moo juice:

Might go well with a Cheese Sandwich, though.

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It’ll never replace Preparation H

A Twitter account called @SochiMadness turned this up from somewhere:

Alleged Sochi menu

I don’t even want to know what flavor this is. (First person who says “Packed Fudge Ripple” goes to the back of the community toilet.)

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Dessert monitor

I dropped into Sprouts over the weekend and somehow failed to divert myself from the baked-goods section, which means that I brought home a pie: blueberry, with a lattice crust.

Somehow I made it last through Wednesday evening. As is my wont, I washed out the little aluminum pan, and discovered on the bottom the ominous letters N-S-A.

It took me a moment to regain my composure. “Oh, yeah. No sugar added.” But after forking out $50 that evening on prescription drugs, I figured that it’s just a matter of time before the government starts watching my groceries — assuming they’re not already.

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Cascading shortages

The Media Guy at Advertising Age notes the Velveeta shortage that you may have already heard about, and tosses in a startling revelation at the end:

The other day I was at my neighborhood grocery store, and — get this — they were out of Froot Loops. The truth is, I was sort of blindsided. I didn’t question a stockboy — mainly because I didn’t see any stockboys, but also because interrogating a stockboy seems kind of exhaustingly journalistic — but I suspect we might have another national crisis on our hands.

OMG, Froot Loops?

Let’s see. What would I like to be absent from the stores for the duration, and what should I write about it?

(Via Fark.)

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Strange froot

“Froot,” of course, is an entity distinct from “fruit”:

It turns out the “fruit flavored” circles touted by Toucan S[c]am are actually just “froot-blend”-flavored. Yep, all those pretty ROYGBV dyes don’t mean diddly, since each color tastes exactly the same!

This, of course, called for further investigation:

We handed our three blind tasters random samples of Froot Loops and asked them to guess which color they had been given. The results were pretty sporadic, with nearly each color being wrongly identified as around three or four others. The yellow loop, for example, was guessed to be red, orange, and purple twice; the purple loop, red twice, and then yellow, and green. Our Trix and Fruity Pebbles tests afterward yielded similar results.

Sigh. Maybe we’re all better off with plain old Cheerios.

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Let’s hope they sell it by today

“Spicy” tuna roll? More like “pricey” tuna roll:

Tuna roll at Whole Foods Market

Now back when I went to school, seven ounces at $27.40 a pound worked out to $11.99, though in those days I would have been distracted by the question of how in blazes something in a grocery store could possibly sell for $27.40 a pound. Today I see the beef tenderloins in the butcher’s case marked at $27.99 a pound, and I don’t even flinch.

It appears, though, that this package’s claimed item count is forty-one, and at $11.99 each, this indeed comes to $491.59. Next question: who on God’s green earth buys 41 tuna rolls at a time? Grumpy Cat?

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Beyond triplicate

A good threesome is hard to beat. Think Kukla, Fran and Ollie; Dewey, Cheetham and Howe; Manny, Moe and Jack. It was a shock to the system to discover that there was originally a fourth Pep Boy. But that’s nothing compared to this:

You’re familiar with the elves, Snap! Crackle! and Pop! Their onomatopoetic names match the very cereal they’ve repped since the ’30s — Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. In the years after that, the trio has withstood the influx of cartoon competitors like the Trix Rabbit, Lucky the Leprechaun, the Cookie Crisp thieves, Cap’n Crunch and many more. Lost in the shuffle, however, was a fourth Rice Krispies elf named Pow! His short life is a time-capsule of an era when everyone was dreaming big.

Say, kids, what era was that?

From 1948 through the mid ’50s, the brothers sponsored the popular children’s program The Howdy Doody Show. But in early 1950, Kellogg’s marketers snuck in a fourth friend, Pow. The company said in an email to Smithsonian.com, “[Pow] appeared in two TV commercials. The spaceman character was meant to exude the ‘power of whole grain rice.’ He was never considered an official character.”

And why don’t you hear about that fourth Pep Boy? Perhaps because he cashed out of the company early — or maybe because his name was also Moe.

(Thanks, M. A. Larson!)

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And it was all yellow

Do you, in fact, have any Pasteurized Recipe Cheese Product at all?

While the current Cheesepocalypse is a difficult time for our great nation, we are incredibly humbled and appreciative of the outpouring of love and support for the Liquid Gold of Velveeta. As you have likely seen or heard by now on social networks and major media outlets, there is currently limited availability of some Velveeta products in many stores nationwide. We want you to hear directly from us that it’s true — we are experiencing a temporary scarcity of our nation’s most precious commodity: Liquid Gold. But please know that we are working tirelessly to get more Velveeta on store shelves as soon as possible and that this was in no way a “publicity stunt.” We always want Velveeta where it belongs — in your hands, in your homes and in your stomachs.

This hysterical rant calls for some historical perspective. And few places have as much cheese history as Orange County, New York: Emil Frey, working for the Monroe Cheese Company, first developed Liederkranz, a variation on Limburger. He was eventually shipped off to Monroe’s second location:

The company opened a second factory in Covington, Pennsylvania, where it made mostly Swiss cheese. But many of the cheese wheels broke or were misshapen… [T]he broken bits were shipped back to Monroe, where Frey spent the next two years tinkering with them on his home stove. In 1918, he had his second big break. He discovered that mixing the broken wheels with other cheese byproducts created a smooth end-product with a velvety consistency. He named it Velveeta.

This brand spun off into the independent Velveeta Cheese Company, incorporated on Feb. 14, 1923.

Velveeta, in fact, was the last cheese-like substance to be manufactured in Monroe; its original parent company had decamped for Ohio in 1926, and the following year, Kraft acquired Velveeta.

Incidentally, Orange County was also the original home of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, created by Lawrence & Durland of Chester, New York.

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High-fructose cornball

The nonprofit (that’s a legal term) Center for Science in the Public Interest is headed by Michael Jacobson, once described by me as “the Perez Hilton of health”; when he’s not haranguing Starbucks into putting out a Broccoli Venti, he’s sending out something called the Nutrition Action Healthletter, a promotion for which landed on my doorstep in an envelope ominously marked “You Wanted This.” Obviously NSA isn’t as efficient as they think they are.

One of the sheets is headed “We Name Names!” It contains specific examples of Things You Dare Not Eat, including Cold Stone Creamery’s Oh Fudge! shake in the “Gotta Have It” size (24 ounces), which contains, they say, “the saturated fat content of two 16-oz ribeye steaks plus a buttered baked potato, all blended into a handy 24-oz cup.” Truth be told, I don’t think I could get both those steaks and a spud into my Seventies-vintage blender, but now I’m keen to try.

I was most amused, though, by the pitch for watermelon: “When they’re in season, watermelons are often locally grown, which means they may have a smaller carbon footprint than some other fruits.” This would almost make sense if they hadn’t also plugged mangoes, which are grown on this continent in laughably small quantities; flying in a bag of mangoes is likely to burn up more precious hydrocarbons than trucking in a couple of dozen watermelons.

Still, there’s nothing here appreciably more alarmist than your average issue of Consumer Reports, and it’s decidedly cheaper: $20 for a year. Then again, Jacobson doesn’t test cars, and if he did, he’d want to know why we’d own such fiendish devices in the first place.

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This stuff’s made in … Mexico?

It’s a tradition of long standing to mock purveyors of ostensible Mexican food who hail from, um, places where one might not expect to find purveyors of ostensible Mexican food.

I am amused to note, therefore, that Taco Bell’s branded supermarket-package taco shells, produced under license by Kraft Foods, are, according to the box, made in Mexico. In terms of flavor or quality control, it seems to make no difference; but by now, they could be making taco shells in Saskatchewan and nobody except ad agencies and obsessives like me would ever notice.

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Not the coolest approach

Says Gael, “The International Packaged Ice Association is a little delusional about the meaning of the word ‘food’.” It would so seem:

Packaged ice bag

On the upside, it’s a beverage — eventually.

Maybe they can use that great expanse of space at the top of the bag for nutritional information.

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A label without appeal

Although its accuracy is difficult to question:

Safeway banana label

(Tweeted by @_youhadonejob.)

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Brinestorm

Once again, we behold the power of cheese:

The state of Wisconsin has developed a way to use dairy products to actually unblock something: Icy roads.

State highway departments will combine cheese brine, a salty water mixture left after cheese has been processed, with their rock salt to help melt ice on roadways.

I figure it can’t be any worse for the undercarriage of your ’92 Civic than the existing road curd crud.

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Miso sorry

Wonder why that price is variable?

Miso Specialties

(Via Miss Cellania, a May flower if ever there was one. No matter when her birthday is.)

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Despite their obvious greenity

It has been several years since I bothered to dish up a serving of lima beans, and apparently it’s unusual for a civilian to get near the things:

My theory is that they’re sold exclusively to prison cooks, school cafeteria cooks, and people who like to let canned goods ripen in their pantries before giving them to the food banks. And maybe parents who hate their kids. I bet Joan Crawford made her kids eat Lima beans all the time.

Or maybe it’s this:

Like many legumes, the seemingly innocent lima bean should not be eaten raw — doing so can be lethal. (And who wants to die in such an ignoble way as death by lima bean?) Also known as butter beans, the legumes can contain a high level of cyanide, which is part of the plant’s defense mechanism.

Which, of course, mandates some precautionary measures:

[L]ima beans should be cooked thoroughly, and uncovered to allow the poison to escape as gas. Also, drain the cooking water to be on the safe side.

This is probably the point at which I said “Screw it, I’m having Brussels sprouts instead.”

Then again, I have the advantage of not being a cardiac patient.

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Maybe just a sip

Apparently Costco carries Château Mouton Rothschild 2010:

I was impressed that they let me in the same room with it. It was locked in glass case. I wonder how many of the people who drink this wine appreciate it. I am sure it is very good, but it would be wasted on me with my barely functional nose. I bought a magnum of Cook’s Champagne for $7.

Which works out to $3.50 a (standard 750ml) bottle. Costco was asking $1,150 for the good stuff.

Oh, wait. This is a big-box store. They were asking $1,149.99.

I did enjoy the description:

This strides in with distinction, starting off with a showy but integrated layer of espresso-infused toast, followed by plush tiers of crushed currant, plum and blackberry fruit interspersed with cocoa and well-roasted.

Well, it sounds wonderful, anyway. I wonder how these experts would describe Dr Pepper (750 ml for 74 cents), which claims to have 23 different flavor notes.

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Is this a clear choice?

So now we have gluten-free vodka. Seriously. Are the distillers pulling our chain?

[T]he new spirits labeling trend contradicts long-standing advisories from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that all distilled spirits are gluten-free unless it is added after distillation. So is this all a marketing gimmick?

Distillation involves heating, which vaporizes the alcohol as a way to remove it from the mixture. “Distilled spirits, because of the distillation process, should contain no detectable gluten residues or gluten peptide residues,” says Steve Taylor, co-director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Food Allergy Research and Resource Program. “Proteins and peptides are not volatile and thus would not distill over.”

Which is what I was thinking. But I’m the kind of guy who washes his hair with trans fats, so I’m relatively unconcerned about such matters. Other folks, they’ve got concerns:

A 2011 FDA report, “Health Hazard Assessment for Gluten Exposure in Individuals with Celiac Disease,” recommended the “most sensitive individuals with CD” eat foods with less than one-ppm gluten levels to protect them from “from experiencing any detrimental health effects from extended to long-term exposure to gluten.”

And the “gluten-free” label on vodka only assures 20 ppm or below, consistent with the labeling on other such products.

So this isn’t quite as risible as it could be. Maybe. I know very few celiac sufferers, and in general, they don’t drink a whole lot of distilled spirits.

(Via Consumerist.)

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Nabiscold

Cookie sales in China aren’t zooming upward the way they used to be:

At Mondelēz distributors in China, there are piles of unsold Oreo and Chips Ahoy cookies. Why? China is in an economic slump. The brand is used to 25% sales increases every year, and increases are down to only 3% in the first quarter of 2013.

Aw. Quelle fromage.

Now if we find out they’ve been hoarding Mallomars — well, perhaps we should not go there.

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Mrs. Paul was never this finicky

Having once — way back in, oh, the 1980s — demonstrated my ability to produce a pie crust that didn’t end up with the general texture of a bicycle inner tube, I decided I would rely on simpler means thereafter. (There’s a reason for that word “once.”) Usually this requires a trip to the local market or to a separate bakery, but for some reason (I’m guessing a sale price) I plucked one of Mrs. Smith’s frozen concoctions out of the supermarket and schlepped it home.

The instructions on these, it seems to me, have gotten somewhat anal. Six steps now, of which the first, not unreasonably, is “Place oven rack into center position. Preheat oven to 400°.”

The second is a little snippier: “Remove frozen pie from box, and remove plastic overwrap from pie. Do not remove pie from original foil pan. Leave pan on counter while oven is preheating. After 10 minutes on counter, cut 4-6 slits in top crust.”

Emphasis added. Apparently Mrs. Smith, or one of her lackeys, believes that it takes 11 minutes or more to preheat an oven to 400°. I am here to tell you that my own 11-year-old Kenmore can do the job in 8:25. Moral: Render unto Sears the things that are Sears’.

The rest is fairly typical, though the juxtaposition of KEEP FROZEN and BAKE BEFORE SERVING on the front of the box suggests the potential for cognitive dissonance for the buyer who doesn’t quite understand the dynamics of frozen pie, and for the lawyer who’ll take his case after an unsatisfactory experience therewith.

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While we’re drinking 3.2

Supposedly, this is the World’s Strongest Beer:

Snake Venom is the latest pushing-the-limits beer produced by Scottish outfit Brewmeister. The 135-proof concoction beat out the previous record-holder, Armageddon, also made by Brewmeister.

“Unlike Armageddon, Snake Venom is not designed to mask the taste of the alcohol,” reads a statement on the company’s site. “The alcohol is very strong but the beer still tastes like a beer rather than a spirit. It’s hoppy, malty and very pleasant.”

A bottle of Snake Venom will run you about $80 (if you can find it) and contains a warning label cautioning imbibers from drinking too much.

Let’s see. 67.5 divided by 3.2 is, um, 21.1. This is, therefore, the one beer to have when you’re not having twenty-one.

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Inferior toroids

According to Vi Hart, those would be any bagels other than New York bagels.

Well, I liked it.

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Against her grain

Miriam samples a loaf of bread from Whole Paycheck Foods:

I was going to say it tastes nasty, but that would be unjust. It doesn’t taste nasty; it doesn’t taste like anything. It is the anti-taste. If you make a tuna fish sandwich out of it, it kills the taste of the tuna fish. Likewise with egg salad. You can’t taste the butter on your buttered toast. And you can’t taste the bacon on a BLT. Criminal!

Oh, surely it must have some flavor:

Well, when I was a child in school I used to chew on Faber #2 pencils. This bread tastes sort of like that. Without the lead, of course.

Too bad. Graphite is gluten-free.

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Slightly less raw

Before the weekend, Nancy Friedman put out a call for “corporate or product names [that] make you shudder and cringe,” and I admitted to having, namewise anyway, a love-hate relationship with Cuppies & Joe on 23rd; the name itself was, I said, “awfully twee,” but not enough to discourage visiting the place, which serves up a decent joe and very nice cuppies.

If that’s twee, though, this is not quite ate:

I used to work in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, where I often walked past one of the best worst business names ever! It was a restaurant named “Half Price Day Old Sushi” — Mmmmmmmm … what could possibly go wrong?

I think I’m just going to leave it at that and tiptoe quietly away.

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What the cat dragged in

Hello Kitty beerThat fruity-looking stuff in the can is, in fact, Hello Kitty beer, brewed in Taiwan and sold in China:

The Hello Kitty brew, licensed by the Shanghai KT trading company and made by Taiwanese beer maker Long Chuan, comes in at least six tropical flavors, from passion fruit to banana… the beers are only 2.3 percent alcohol by volume.

Two point three? That’s near near-beer.

Says Kotaku in a review:

[T]hese beers are dangerous. They’re so ridiculously smooth and tasty that one can barely tell they’re drinking beer. It’s almost like drinking fruit juice.

The guy in the corner nursing a Mike’s Hard Lemonade is laughing his face off.

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