Archived entries for Om Nom Nom!

9 Snobby Foods I Learned About from Watching Movies

As someone who was raised on hot dogs and chicken McNuggets, it wasn’t until later in life that I really began to broaden my culinary horizons. Nowadays I love trying new and exotic foods and experimenting with recipes. I’ve been called a “foodie” before, but I hate that label as it implies I’m snobby about the food I eat, when in reality, I can just as easily chow down on some off-brand fishsticks as I could freshly caught mahi mahi with ginger glaze. If you know me, this is nothing new. I drink wine from a box.

The other day I got to thinking about how my first exposure to many of the “snobby” foods people like to eat came from movies, and this list was born. It’s fun to go back and watch these movies today, and think about how much my taste and knowledge of fine cuisine has changed since the first viewing.

Who’s hungry?

#1 – Sushi

Sushi in The Breakfast Club

  • What it is:  Japanese food consisting of cooked vinegared rice combined with other ingredients, usually raw fish or other seafood
  • Movie that introduced me to it:  The Breakfast Club (1985)

Even though I love the stuff nowadays, I have to admit it took me a long time before I was brave enough to try sushi, thanks in no small part to this scene in The Breakfast Club. For a long time I was under the impression sushi was synonymous with raw fish, which of course is false, as there are many different varieties of sushi, both raw and cooked, and plenty that don’t include fish at all. I suppose I could also blame the Ninja Turtles for further beating that misconception into my head, since in the cartoon they’d always turn their nose up at Splinter’s sushi and tell him how gross it was. John Bender agrees.

#2 – Vichyssoise

Vichyssoise in Batman Returns

  • What it is:  A French soup made with potatoes, leeks and cream.
  • Movie that introduced me to it:  Batman Returns (1992)

Thanks to Batman Returns,  I know precisely 2 things about vichyssoise, besides the fact that it’s really hard to spell:

  1. It’s supposed to be cold
  2. It’s the color of baby poop.

I almost can’t blame Batman for acting like an unappreciative dick when it’s served to him. I like to imagine that Alfred gets pretty bored hanging around the Wayne mansion day in and day out, waiting hand and foot a brooding, temperamental man child, and likes to flex his culinary talents by dreaming up ever more exotic and potentially disgusting recipes to serve just so he can get reactions like this one, and lord over Bruce his superior knowledge about world cuisine. It’s a very passive aggressive thing he does.

#3 – Pâté

Pate in Ace Ventura

  • What it is:  A mixture of cooked ground meat and fat minced into a spreadable paste.
  • Movie that introduced me to it:  Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

I must have eaten hundreds of braunschwieger sandwiches for lunch during my grade school years, so by the time I saw Ace Ventura and learned what pâté is, the concept of “spreadable meat” didn’t gross me out all that much. One day I hope to be able to eat it as elegantly as Ace Ventura does.


#4 – Caviar

Caviar in Overboard

  • What it is:  The pickled roe of sturgeon or other large fish, eaten as a delicacy.
  • Movie that introduced me to it:  Overboard (1987)

Caviar is one of those foods I will never understand why people eat. I can really only tolerate it on sushi, and even then it has to be the tiny bead-sized variety and I still end up scraping most of it off. My first introduction to caviar was the movie Overboard, and I have to say I agree with Goldie Hawn’s “gelatinous muck” description–but then again, maybe that’s just because I’m not mega-wealthy and I’ve never had the luxury of knowing what “good” caviar is. Also, I didn’t get the dick joke until I was much older.

#5 – Chilean Seabass

Chilean Seabass in Jurassic Park

  • What it is:  An endangered and expensive type of fish.
  • Movie that introduced me to it:  Jurassic Park (1994)

Because of Jurassic Park, whenever I go to a fancy seafood restaurant, I always check the menu for Chilean Sea Bass. I’ve never found it, but I swear the day I do, I’m going to order it. In the movie, Mr. Hammond gives the impression it’s very expensive, which for me has always added to its mystique. Thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that Chilean Seabass isn’t bass at all, but a cold-water species called Pantagonian Toothfish that’s marketed under a different name to be more appealing to Americans. And according to Seafood Watch, “real” Chilean sea bass from the actual country of Chile is endangered. So if I ever do get the chance to order it, I will ask a million questions about its country of origin and by what methods it was caught, Portlandia-style.

#6 – Escargot

Escargot in Pretty Woman

  • What it is:  Cooked snails, usually served as an appetizer.
  • Movie that introduced me to it:  Pretty Woman (1994)

Eating snails? A world of nope! Out of all the foods on this list, escargot is the only one I don’t think I’d be brave enough to try if given the chance. Admittedly it makes no sense, considering I eat other slimy things that have shells (clams, mussels, etc.). I’m also kind of against the level of pretentiousness that comes with any food requiring its own specialized set of utensils to eat, although I wouldn’t mind using them to fling a snail across the restaurant, like Julia Roberts does in Pretty Woman. That looked kinda fun.

#7 – Lobster

Lobster in Splash

  • What it is:  Lobster (no shit!)
  • Movie that introduced me to it:  Splash (1984)

Because of Splash, I used to think this is how you were actually supposed to eat lobster! Five-year-old me was pretty dumb, I know.  Having grown up in Baltimore, lobster was never really something I cared about anyway, since eating crabs is so ingrained into our culture. Lobster just tastes like butter anyway.

#8 – Flan

Flan in Envy

  • What it is:  Open pastry or sponge cake containing a sweet or savory filling
  • Movie that introduced me to it:  Envy (2004)

I admit, I had no idea what flan was before I saw Envy. Up until that point I thought it was crème brûlée, but apparently they are two different things. My only question now is how could you NOT want to eat flan after watching this scene?

#9 – Champagne

  • What it is:  Sparkling white wine produced in the Champagne region of France
  • Movie that introduced me to it:  Waynes World (1992)

Champagne in Wayne's World

Ahhh, Wayne’s World. You have given me so much knowledge. Without you, how would I know the difference between champagne and sparkling white wine, or that Milwaukee is Algonquin for “the good land”? Thanks to Benjamin’s wine snobbery, I’ll always have this fun factoid at the ready to impress people at fancy parties–that is, if I ever get invited to one.

Ninja Turtles + Vanilla Ice + Mac & Cheese = Mandatory Post on this Blog

Okay so we’ve got new TMNT fruit snacks, candy, and fucking mac & cheese now. Where the hell is my TMNT cereal?

The Power of this Creepy Candy Store Logo Compels Me

Candy Kitchen Sign

Just a word of warning, this post will contain a bunch of loosely associated memories with no real point to my sharing any of them, beyond just getting them out of my system so I can feel better. Nostalgia is kind of like barfing that way.

What started as a conversation about whether or not it’s possible to make alcoholic rock candy (the internet says no, but I’m not ready to rule it out just yet) sucked me into a vortex of nostalgia, recalling childhood vacations to Ocean City, Maryland where I would blow all my allowance money at the Boardwalk buying cheap souvenirs and candy. Once I decided I needed that dead baby shark in a jar, nobody could convince me otherwise.

No trip to the beach was complete without stopping in a Candy Kitchen store, instantly recognizable by its creepy logo of a sun smiling smugly down at dumb kids like me who spent our hard-earned money loading up on peanut butter fudge, rock candy (non-alcoholic), salt water taffy, and those sugary, jelly fruit slice thingies–seriously, what the hell are those things called? All I know is those scrooges behind the counter never gave me nearly enough of the pink grapefruits.

Pink Grapefruit Slices

Candy Kitchen is kind of an Ocean City institution, having been around since 1937. I was negative forty-four years old in 1937. Though I don’t get down to Maryland’s beaches much these days, it feels comforting to know these stores–and their creepy signs–are still around, compelling whole new generations of kids to trade their allowances for sugar.

Candy Kitchen, Ocean City, MD

Back in the 80s or early 90s (I honestly don’t remember because it could have been any of those years) Candy Kitchen ran a commercial on the local Ocean City tourism channel that had a fantasticly catchy jingle I can still hear clearly in my head, and almost remember all the lyrics to:

Candy Kitchen!
Candy Kitchen!
It’s a wonderful world of,
A wonderful world of,
A wonderful world of _______________?
Candy Kitchen!

The blank is the part I can’t remember. Whenever this gets stuck in my head, I fill in with the word “sweets” because that’s a logical substitution, this being a jingle for a candy store, right? But I can’t be 100% SURE that’s the correct lyric, and you have no idea what that kind of uncertainty does to me.  What I wouldn’t give to find a recording of that commercial just to hear this stupid jingle one more time. So if anyone out there happens to be sitting on some goldmine of local cable footage aired in Ocean City anywhere between 1985 and 1993, please scan it for Candy Kitchen commercials. I hope it’s not too unreasonable to expect such a thing is possible.

Giant Rainbow Lollipop

Speaking of unreasonable, one time I made the mistake of begging my parents to buy me one of those giant, rainbow-swirled lollipops bigger than my head which I ended up not finishing–not because it didn’t taste good, but because licking that much flavored corn syrup is a ridiculous expectation to put on a child, let alone carrying the behemoth around while avoiding hair, bugs, car upholstery, and other things that tend to stick easily to giant-ass lollipops.

The first five minutes of licking that sucker were among the happiest of my life, and the last five minutes before my Dad yanked it from my trembling hands to throw into the nearest trash bin (while uttering obscenities and something about having just wasted $20) were among the most terrifying. You know that scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark cuts off the newel post with a chainsaw? That’s totally my dad.

Here’s a picture taken sometime in the late 80s, after having just returned from one of these vacations. You can tell it’s post-vacation because of how tan we all are, but more tellingly, because of the look on my face that says, “I’m done.” Also, you can tell it’s the 80s because of the combination of neon and bad perms.

Beach Vacation Aftermath

Phew, I feel so better now that I’ve finished blowing nostalgia chunks. See what I mean?

Pizza Gyoza is Not Just for Ninja Turtles

Regular readers should already know I’m a huge fan of Nickelodeon’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show (and Ninja Turtles in general), but something you might not know is that I also love to cook!

Though I’ve never had the motivation to start a cooking blog (because the internet needs more of those, right?), I do love to experiment with recipes and even invent my own on occasion. I’ve never done a cooking post before, but how appropriate that my first one should be as geeky and Ninja Turtley as the recipe I’m about to show you.

That’s right kids, today I’m going to show you how to make…

…Pizza Gyoza!

TMNT Excited for Pizza

One of my favorite things about the new TMNT show are all the crazy, pizza-related food concoctions they come up with (pizza milkshake!?). In the 80′s cartoon, the Ninja Turtles were all about wacky pizza toppings, but in Nick’s modern, CGI-rendered world their palates seem to be a little more sophisticated. Granted, not by much.

A one-way ticket to Flavorville!

In Season 1, Episode 8, April introduces the Turtles to Mr. Murakami, a local noodle shop owner who is blind. After a run-in with the Purple Dragon gang where the Turtles save Mr. Murakami’s life, he cooks up a hot, steamy batch of pizza gyoza (pot stickers) as a special way to thank them. For these four green guys,  pizza dumplings were obviously a huge hit.

Pizza Gyoza

After seeing it on the show, I became obsessed with the idea of making pizza gyoza for real. I consulted with one of the coolest people I know–a fellow Ninja Turtle fan who also happens to be a great cook–and a few weekends ago the two of us came up with this recipe.

Pizza Gyoza Recipe

Ingredients for Pizza Gyoza Recipe

Gyoza & Filling Ingredients:

  •  3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. mild Italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 2 small sticks pepperoni, cooked to render juices & chopped
  • The green stalks of 8 spring onions, sliced small
  • 8 oz. shredded Mozarella cheese
  • 3/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 pkg. Wonton wrappers

Dipping Sauce Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup pizza sauce
  • 3 tsp. balsalmic vinegar
  • Pepperoni juices

Preparation:

Step 1: Cut pepperoni up into 1/4″ cubes. Heat a sauté pan over medium low heat. Add a dime size dollop of olive oil, the pepperoni cubed and one clove of minced garlic to the pan. Lightly sauté the meat, rendering out the fat, about 5-7 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove the meat and garlic, reserving the fat and oil for use in the dipping sauce. Set meat aside to cool.

Pepperoni & Garlic

Note: The pepperoni juice is to give the dipping sauce a super-charged burst of concentrated pizza flavor! You can leave it out, but I don’t recommend it.

Step 2: In a large bowl mix the sausage meat, remaining minced garlic, the cooled pepperoni, 8oz of shredded mozzarella and the sliced green onion stalks. Get your hands dirty!

Mix the filling for pizza gyoza by hand!

Step 3: Prep a small bowl of water and lay out the wonton wrappers. Grab a small portion of the gyoza filling (about half the size of a golfball and place in the center of the wrapper. Wet your index finger and run it along the edge around the filling, halfway around the wonton.  Bring the edges of the wonton up together, wrapping the meat, and pinch together the wet and dry edges, sealing the gyoza.  Next, make pleats in the dough around the edges and set aside, taking care to press the dumplings down on the opposite side of the pleated edge, so the dumpling sits with pleats up.

Making gyoza is kinda hard, yo.

This part kinda sucks...

Step 4: Heat up a large skillet over medium heat. Place about 1.5 tbs of vegetable oil in the pan and move around so that it coats the pan’s surface. Place the gyoza in the pan, pleat edge up, so that they aren’t touching. Sauté Uncovered for 3 minutes until the bottoms have browned. Next, add 1/4 cup if water to the pan, taking care to use the pan lid as a shield. Quickly cover the dumplings and simmer/steam the dumplings for 2 minutes. Check the dumplings. If the filling feels firm, uncover and cook an additional 2 minutes until the water has cooked off. Remove the dumplings from the pan.

Brown pizza gyoza, then steam it to finish cooking.

Step 5: Mix pizza sauce, balsamic vinegar, and pepperoni juices together for the dipping sauce, then serve with hot gyoza!

Note:  The vinegar and pepperoni juice work together to give the pizza sauce more “pizza” flavor (versus just tasting like tomato) as well as help thin it out to resemble more of a true soy-based gyoza sauce. I tried just the pizza sauce alone, but it doesn’t taste as good. Definitely add the vinegar and pepparoni juice!

Mix dipping sauce together and serve with gyoza.

All that’s left to do now is eat and enjoy! And let me tell you, these things taste amazing. Our goal when coming up with this recipe was to make them taste as flavorful and “pizza-y” as possible. They really do taste like a fresh, hot slice of pepperoni and sausage pizza…only in dumpling format!

Closeup of pizza gyoza, ready to eat!

Better keep a close eye on your gyozas when Mikey’s around, though…

Michelangelo steals Leo's pizza gyoza.

Hola? Is it Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos you’re looking for?

You don’t have to tell me how sad it is that I’m excited about Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos. I already know.

But combining this excitement with a Spanish-language version of Lionel Richie’s quintessential 80s ballad “Hello”? Someone at Taco Bell understands me better than I understand myself.

I made this anatomically incorrect picture in celebration:

Lionel Richie Eating a Taco

Keebler makes cinnamon roll cookies now!?

Who’s responsible around here? Why wasn’t I told? The most important development of my cookie-consuming life since Cookie Crisp cereal and I didn’t know about it until six months later!? I could have been eating Cinnamon Roll Cookies THIS WHOLE TIME. Yes, I feel “Cinnamon Roll Cookies” deserves capitalization, to say the very least.

Keebler Cinnamon Roll Cookies I dropped by my parents house for dinner Sunday night (because free food is my favorite kind of food) when my mom whipped out a package of these little babies over coffee. THAT SMELL! Oh sweet icing-frosted elf buns, that smell! You can decide for yourself if I meant the cookies or actual Keebler elf ass, but my point is these things smell as delicious as they taste, which is goddamn amazing, in case you were wondering. It’s almost enough to break my habit of rolling through the Burger King drive-thru just for Cinna-Minis. You do that too, right?

Cinnamon Roll Cookies

These little swirls of heaven are pull-apart moist and taste exactly like a cinnamon roll is supposed to. It helps that they look like actual cinnamon rolls, too. I always appreciate snack foods that go the extra mile and try to look like the real thing. (Wuddup, Hot Fries?) It helps me forget I’m eating high fructose corn syrup and modified whey proteins. But if you want an even truer-to-life Cinnamon Roll Cookie experience (and who doesn’t?), Keebler provides this helpful tip:

Warming Instructions:

Place 2 cookies on a paper plate in the center of the microwave oven. Cover with a paper towel. Heat on high for maximum power for 6-9 seconds. Cool briefly before handling. If cookies are over heated, frosting can become extremely hot and could cause burns.

You know shit tastes good when it’s dangerous to eat. Also, DIABEETUS.

P.S. Where the hell are the rest of the Keebler elves? Why does Ernie always get all the glory?

McDonald’s Big Mac with a side of synth and lasers.

Not since Big Mac Tonight (who remembers that guy?) do I recall being this goddamn excited about a McDonald’s commercial. Just watch it and you’ll see what I mean:

I saw this little slice of throwback awesomeness last night during the AFC Championship game and kept hoping it’d pop up again because it blew my friggin’ mind. It’s like the fast food version of the early 80′s HBO intro, except not quite as amazing. 

[tweet https://twitter.com/shezcrafti/status/293171901604429824]

That’s pretty weird, right? I mean, when’s the last time you saw a commercial you wanted to immediately watch again? I fully support this abstract, artsy direction McDonald’s seems to be going in lately with their Big Mac commercials (see also this one and this one). I’m on a diet right now which means AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR BIG MAC ATTACKS, but I definitely do have time to stop and share my appreciation for totally rad, 80s-tastic commercials like this one.

The Chinese Takeout Meal Wheel, Or Why My Twitter Friends Are Awesome

It started as an innocent, totally not serious tweet:
[tweet https://twitter.com/shezcrafti/status/278678761803751424]

See, there’s this Chinese place up the street called Wok To Go I order from all the time. No, I mean, like  all the time. We’re talking 3-4 times a week, maybe more. I’ve stopped keeping track because I don’t like to think about how many pieces of shrimp toast I consume on a weekly basis, and also because I’m treading dangerously into #foreveralone territory here. It’s cheap, fast, easy, and makes me feel a little dirty afterward like an Asian hooker. Me so hungry! Not to mention it’s the best goddamn Chinese food within 25 miles AND they deliver late, and since I often don’t eat dinner until after nine, it’s my kind of place. I have no idea what my mom’s cell phone number is without looking at my phone, yet I know that Wok To Go’s number is 410-838-1085. By heart.

Anyway, I tend to get in these food ruts where I order the same thing all the time–lately it’s Shrimp & Beef Szechuan–and thought it’d be more fun to let fate decide my next takeout meal, so that’s where that tweet came from. (I know, my tweets are SO IMPORTANT.) But I never expected anyone to like, you know, actually make a wheel for me. But someone totally did.

Ben Rollier, if I could give you a fortune cookie right now, it would simply say, “You’re awesome.” LOOK AT THIS AWESOME THING HE MADE, you guys:

Wok-To-Go Wheel

Ben made this on his lunch break. His lunch break! Do you know what I did on my lunch break today? NOTHING! Well, nothing besides eat lunch. The beauty part is that because all Chinese takeout menus are the same (for real, it’s like a scientific fact or something), Ben’s app should work with your local Chinese and/or sushi dive. So yeah, Ben you totally get a Gold (Throwing) Star from me.

This is seriously the best thing that’s ever happened to me…um, today. It’s going to completely revolutionize my Chinese takeout consumption habits. What’s it going to be tonight, Wok To Go Wheel?? Shumai Steamed Dumplings? OKAY!

The Pink Starburst Conspiracy Theory

This year I ever-so-carefully prioritized my stash of Halloween candy such that trick-or-treaters received candy in the order of my least to most favorite, leaving me with a plentiful supply of leftover Candy That I Actually Enjoy Eating. The downside of that brilliant plan, however, is that I’m ashamed to admit over the past few days I’ve eaten through an entire bag of Starburst.

Go ahead and judge me. But at least I learned something valuable from the experience, albeit something dark and sinister. I learned there is a massive PINK STARBURST CONSPIRACY afoot.

Pink Starbursts

Look, we all know Pink Starbursts are the bomb diggity and the reason we buy Starbursts (unless you’re one of those communist Red Starburst people, in which case, you’re going to have to work a little harder at earning my trust) but after tearing through an entire bag of Starburst only to get about a 10% return on my investment, this latest experience has left a bad taste in my mouth. Well, actually it left a delicious, slightly sour fruity taste in my mouth, but shut up, you know what I mean.

According to this fellow Pink-Starburst-loving guy who actually called the Starburst Candy Helpline (side note: Holy shit there’s actually something called the Starburst Candy Helpline??), Starburst claims you have an even 25% chance of unwrapping each of its four flavors. Well I call bullshit.

Do you see this photo? DO YOU SEE IT? Out of an entire 10.58 ounce “Fun Size” bag, I got a measly five Pink Starbursts. FIVE! This shit is unacceptable.

Pink Starburst Overdose

Do you know how it feels to be strung out on fruit chews, tearing your way through pack after worthless pack of Reds, Oranges, and Yellows (and the dreaded Double Yellow combination) praying for a glimpse of that flirty pink wrapper? For a glimpse OF HOPE? If you’re really lucky you’ll find not one but two of those little pink squares in your Fun Size pack. There is no greater feeling of victory.

And while I’m on the subject, let’s talk about Pink Starburst’s flavor and how it tastes NOTHING like Strawberry as it purports to be. Seriously, what the hell is that flavor? I’m convinced it was chemically engineered to be an addictive but unidentifiable combination of tropical fruit flavors that seduce your tongue like a succubus, each bite unleashing a dribble of melony-sweet juices that tease and tease and tease but never satisfy. The world’s scientists are spending billions of dollars on the Large Hadron Collider in pursuit of the elusive God Particle when I’m pretty sure all they have to do is reverse-engineer a Pink Starburst to find it.

Now the real mystery, my friends, is why Wrigley Company refuses to sell bags of all-Pink Starburst. I’m definitely not the only one who feels they should:
Pink Starburst Petition results

You can’t even buy Pink Starburst in bulk. Look at all the other candies that have wised up and begun to offer individual flavors/colors. An all-Pink Starburst offering is practically a Breast Cancer Awareness marketing campaign waiting to happen. Do you hear me, Wrigley? I’m telling you this is a winning game plan. Please stop torturing us with a product that’s only 25% (if that) delicious. No, the Red, Orange, and Yellow Starbursts aren’t terrible–quite enjoyable, actually–but as far as Pink Starbursts Enthusiasts like myself are concerned, the other colors are mere filler and act as a collective spoiler that turns your Fun Size packs into a wasteful guessing game in which we are forced to buy a whole bag for a lousy handful of Pink.

Halloween Candy Mountain

 

We’re only five days into October, and already my stash of Halloween candy looks like this:

Halloween Candy Mountain

Mars was having a BOGO sale on the Dots, gummies, and bubble gum–you know, the second tier candy that people push out of the way to get to the Snickers and Reese’s. I also found some cool-looking Halloween ring pops and a couple of bags of really gross-looking gummies.  I guess I went…a little crazy. Some of this stuff I’ll be saving to review later on, and some of it probably won’t survive the weekend.

I should really stop listening to these guys.

Candy Mountain Unicorns

P.S. — 27 Days ‘Til Halloween

27 Days Til Halloween

 

The world has gone Pumpkin Spice crazy.

‘Tis the Pumpkin Spice season. Between all those damn commercials for pumpkin spice coffee, those Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows I reviewed the other day, and the return of Pumpkin Spice Hershey’s Kisses, we are in the midst of a full-on Pumpkin Spice Pandemonium.

Somehow I’ve managed not to ever try these spicy, pumpkin-y Hershey’s Kisses before now. When I saw these in the store the other day I thought to myself, this is the year.

Pumpkin Spice Hershey's Kisses

Pumpkin Spice Hershey's Kisses

Pumpkin Spice Hershey's Kisses

Pumpkin Spice Hershey's Kisses

I still haven’t decided whether I like the taste or not. They’re not bad, just different. White chocolate and pumpkin spice is a weird combination. On the other hand, orange-colored Hershey Kisses = fun, so I’m not going to complain too much.

What’s your favorite seasonal pumpkin spice treat?

P.S. — 28 Days ‘Til Halloween

28 Days 'Til Halloween

One for the mummy…

I’ve been all about mummies lately. I don’t really know why, but I am! Especially cute mummies. I was inexplicably drawn to this package of Mike & Ike Mummy’s Mix at the grocery store the other day, I think mainly because of the cool-looking cartoon mummy on the package. If there was a toy or figure of some sort that looked like him, I would totally buy it. And then I remembered that last year my sister had given me a set of LED mummy string lights, and these photos were born.

Mummy Mix & Mummy Lights

The packaging is cool, but the candy itself is nothing to write home about. They look and taste just like regular Mike and Ikes, but with the addition of two different flavors. How un-fun. I was so underwhelmed I couldn’t even bring myself to write  a proper review of them. The mummy string lights were a necessary addition so that I wouldn’t bore you to tears talking about them.

Fruity Mummies

I have to agree with Shawn over at Branded In The 80s that Mummy’s Mix is pretty fail. I fully support his idea that these Mike and Ikes should be all white and come in mystery flavors. They could even go the extra mile and dot the all-white bodies with two little black eyes. That would take these from “meh” to ah-meh-zing. Are you listening, people who make Mike & Ike?? You need to step up your game.

Handful of Mummies!

Also, I dug this little wind-up guy out of my Halloween stash to star in this blog post. Just look at that face. It makes me indescribably happy. As if it were possible to love him any more than I already do, he also glows in the dark! I would have taken a picture of his glow magic, but my phone takes crappy pictures on a good day and I wouldn’t want to short-change him like that–he deserves better. Trust me though, it’s a breathtaking sight.

Wind-Up Glow-in-the-Dark Mummy

And lastly, I’ll leave you with my favorite groan-worthy mummy joke:

Q: What do you get if you cross a mummy with a CD?

A: A wrap song!

P.S. — 29 Days ‘Til Halloween

29 Days 'Til Halloween

Jet-Puffed Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows

Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows

Here’s a sweet seasonal food product that until yesterday I had never tried before: pumpkin spice-flavored marshmallows! (Try as I may, I can never bring myself to call marshmallows “mallows.” It just doesn’t have the same appeal.) Apparently these have been around since last year and were a huge hit on a lot of baking and cooking sites, but since they’re new to me I decided to review them anyway. For shiggles.

Believe it or not, I received this package of Kraft Jet-Puffed Pumpkin Spice Mallows as part of a Halloween-themed birthday gift. The first thing I noticed was the very pumpkin-y scent, which I could smell through the bag before I even opened it.

Bag of Jet-Puffed Pumpkin Spice Mallows

In addition to being flavored with pumpkin-spice and dusted with a subtle orangey-brown color, these marshmallows are pumpkin-shaped. That’s fun and exciting…right?

Pumpkin-Shaped Marshmallows

Once again I’m feeling the need to apologize for my phone’s crappy camera and my complete lack of photography skill. So, yeah, sorry about that. On the plus side I discovered that taking pictures of pumpkin-shaped marshmallows is more fun than it should be.

Pumpkin Spice Mallows Close-up

I was a little worried they wouldn’t taste good since the smell of pumpkin spice in these is so over-powering, but I was pleasantly surprised. The pumpkin-y taste is, thankfully, much more subtle than the smell. On the other hand, because these are just marshmallows, it’s also kind of a tease.  It’s a bit like hovering over a freshly-baked pumpkin pie and breathing in the fumes. But I’d much rather eat marshmallows that are faintly kissed with fake pumpkin flavor than marshmallows that taste overwhelmingly like fake pumpkin flavor–so these get a pass from me.

The All-Important Hot Chocolate Test

Because what good is a marshmallow if it doesn’t taste good in hot chocolate? For this review I went the extra mile and brewed up a steaming cup of hot chocolate, which took all of a few seconds thanks to my Keurig–and yes, that totally qualifies as “going the extra mile” for me–and plopped in a few Pumpkin Spice Mallows.

Hot Chocolate with Pumpkin Spice Mallows

I let them sit a few moments so the marshmallows would start to dissolve and get all melty in the chocolate before taking a sip.

Hot Chocolate with Pumpkin Spice Mallows

What did it taste like?

Happiness.

Pumpkin Spice Mallows = Happiness

So the bottom line from me on Pumpkin Spice Mallows is this: passable as a standalone snack, AMAZING in a cup of hot chocolate.

P.S. — My Halloween to-do list now includes using Pumpkin Spice Mallows to make Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispy Treats.

 

Poll: Does candy corn suck?

Not that it’s much of a secret around here anymore, but it’s time for a serious Halloween confession: I don’t like candy corn. In fact, I loathe it.

CANDY CORN - Y U NO?

(Image credit: someone on the internet who is now my hero.)

Ever since I dared to express my unflattering opinion of Candy Corn Oreos–and by extension candy corn itself–I’ve incurred the wrath of the candy corn faithful.  (Well, okay, “wrath” might be a little strong. It’s more like general disapproval and a few snarky tweets.)

To further fan the flames of The Great Candy Corn Debate of 2012, I checked in with ShezCrafti.com correspondent-of-the-now Mick Dundee, who weighed in with the following:

This man speaks the truth.

 

In response to this FIRESTORM OF CONTROVERSY, The Goodwill Geek wrote this measured response which sums up my feelings rather perfectly, and I quote: “Candy Corn will go marching on, long after we are all dead… serving as a tireless, never-ending symbol for Halloween. But that does not mean it needs to go in my mouth.”

And so, dear readers, my poll for the month of October is simply this:

 

Please direct all pro-candy corn sentiments and letters of support to Reis O’Brien.

Charms Fluffy Stuff Spider Web Cotton Candy

Two Halloween-related food posts in a row? INCONCEIVABLE!

I considered saving this review for my official Countdown to Halloween series of posts, which won’t begin until next Monday, but then I decided that this information was too important not to share as soon as possible. (Feel free to skip ahead to my verdict, which I’m considering a public service announcement.)

This past weekend I was itching to spend some of my birthday money on cheap, disposable crap I don’t need but desperately want, so naturally I hit up the toy store and candy store where I spotted Charms Fluffy Stuff Spider Web Cotton Candy.

Charms Fluffy Stuff Spider Web Cotton Candy

(Sorry, I didn’t have any exciting Halloween-appropriate backdrops to use in these photos, but I did have these black plastic paper plate holders which kind of remind me of spiderwebs–if spiderwebs were black, perfectly round, and dishwasher and microwave-safe.)

I generally love cotton candy, even though it’s one of those “sometimes foods” that the rehabilitated Cookie Monster preaches about to mollycoddled children nowadays (a video which warms my heart to know has more dislikes than likes) BECAUSE DIABEETUS. However, I’ve never had sour apple-flavored cotton candy, let alone sour apple-flavored cotton candy that’s made to resemble spider webs, so that’s all the purchase incentive I needed.

And hey, it’s fat-free. That’s something, I guess.

Fluffy Stuff Nutrition Facts

There was also this ominous warning about not placing the bag in direct sunlight, which I assume is there to prevent the contents from hatching and unleashing a scenario like Arachnophobia upon the world. Or it could just be to prevent the sugar from melting.

Sunlight Warning

I’m used to cotton candy being on a stick. I quickly discovered that one does not simply shake cotton candy out of a bag:

Fluffy Stuff Spider Web Pieces

Eventually it wiggled out in two big clumps. I decided the clumps looked nothing like spider webs other than being white, which was kind of disappointing. I don’t really know what I expected, to be honest. Charms wisely declined to show an accompanying photo of the product on the bag, presumably because it can easily be mistaken for a congealed mass of cotton balls. I added a spider to make myself feel better about it.

Spider Web Candy Clumps

Not a terribly realistic spider, I know, but then neither is the concept of a sour apple-flavored cotton candy spider web. And if any kind of spider can weave such a web, I imagine it would be a flamboyantly gay one that went a little too crazy with the BeDazzler.

Spider Web Cotton Candy Closeup

I attempted to treat the Fluffy Stuff as if it were fake, decorative spider webbing that you can stretch out and drape over furniture and stuff, but all I accomplished was getting sticky white shit all over my fingers.

Sticky Spider Web Cotton Candy

By this point I was pretty disappointed that Spider Web Cotton Candy was seeming more awesome as a premise than as an actual product. It looks nothing like spider webs and despite my best efforts, I couldn’t make it behave like spider webs either. But I was still optimistic that it would taste good–it would HAVE to taste good, right?

Now, before I tell you how it tasted, I want you to understand something: I love sour stuff. Perhaps not the Toxic Waste level of sour, but Sour Patch Kids, Warheads, and similar candies are all things I enjoy. I’ve been known to lick the sour crystals off sour gummy worms. Whiskey Sours are my go-to bar drink at wedding receptions. But I simply cannot endorse the flavor of Spider Web Cotton Candy–and believe me, I wanted to. I needed something to believe in after such a disappointing hands-on experience.


The short version:

It tastes like ass.

Oh sure, it tastes like sour apple too. But also ass.

Ideally you should be able to enjoy cotton candy by the handful, stuffing large fluffy pieces into your mouth that quickly dissolve on the tongue and flood your taste buds with a burst of pleasant flavor. Spider Web Cotton Candy, however, I could barely tolerate even in tiny pieces. It’s almost so sour that it burns your tongue, especially if you pinch off more than a small thimble-sized bite.

The problem, I think, is that cotton candy just isn’t a good vehicle for such a bold flavor as Sour Apple. The delicate, quick-to-melt nature of cotton candy, which is very different from, say, gummies or hard candy, means your tongue is bombarded with too much sour too quickly. But just to be sure it wasn’t just me, I also forced–yes, forced!–my boyfriend to try it.

We both made faces like this:

My face when I ate Spider Web Cotton Candy.

Never again.

Spider Web Cotton Candy is NOT ShezCrafti Approved

 

 

 

Herr’s Chocolate Flavor-Drizzled Pumpkin Shaped Pretzels

Alternate title for this post: “Why I Shouldn’t Have Gone Inside Rite-Aid.”

This past weekend my boyfriend stopped at Rite-Aid to pick up some NyQuil (Sidebar: Since when did they start requiring you to provide your birth date for cough medicine purchases? Crazy!) for his cough and I made the mistake of going inside to look at Halloween stuff instead of staying in the car to finish jamming to that AWOLNATION song.

Situated innocently among an end cap of potato chips and plain old pretzels I found these festive-looking bags of Herr’s Chocolate Flavor-Drizzled Pumpkin Shaped Pretzels.

Herrs Halloween Pretzels

(Another alternate title idea for this post: “iPad Takes Shitty Pictures”)

Now, I don’t know who at Herr’s is in charge of naming products, but surely they could have come up with something a little catchier and not quite as wordy as “Herr’s Chocolate Flavor-Drizzled Pumpkin Shaped Pretzels.” Surely they could have eliminated a word or two and still have given you all the information you need to know. The way “Chocolate Flavor-Drizzled” is separated out leads me to believe there could be other flavors of this product I’m unaware of–perhaps caramel or white chocolate? And why is “Flavor-Drizzled” hyphenated but “Pumpkin Shaped” is not? #ShitNobodyCaresAboutExceptMe

I love the haunted house-themed packaging with the giant moon in the background. It’s a subtle color scheme that lets the Pumpkin Shaped Pretzels take center stage. On the back there’s also this silly Halloween message that suggests pretzels dress up for Halloween just like kids. DAT HERR’S BE CRAY. I love it.

Herr's Halloween Message

 

At first I was a little put off by the $3.49 price tag for what looks like such a small bag of pretzels, but then my natural instincts for seeking out delicious Halloween snack products against all costs took over.

As it turns out, the size of the bag is deceitful.

 

Herr's Chocolate Pumpkin Pretzels

There’s plenty of pretzels inside:

Lotsa pretzels!

Taste wise, these Pumpkin Pretzels have the right mix of salty and sweet with a hint of chocolate flavor. Other than the festive coloring and shape, they don’t seem that much different than your average chocolate-covered pretzels, but make no mistake–these things are addictive. The orange frosting has a buttery taste on the tongue and the inner pretzel core has a nice crunch. They’re not too sweet or overly salty; they’re just perfect.

Pumpkin Mini Pretzels

As far as Halloween food products go, Herr’s Chocolate Flavor-Drizzled Pumpkin Shaped Pretzels (god damn that’s getting tiresome to type out) aren’t the most exciting or creative of Halloween confections–like, say, Candy Corn Oreos or those green, gooey Cadbury Scream Eggs. But they look great, taste delicious, and more than made my trip into that Rite-Aid worthwhile.

Sorry, but candy corn still sucks even if it’s inside an Oreo.

Why a tech blog would be covering junk food is beyond me, but regardless I saw this abomination over at Gizmodo where they’re treating the marriage of golden Oreo cookies and candy corn flavoring like it’s the food of the gods.

Candy Corn Oreo

“You’ve basically got the best thing to happen to milk combined with arguably one of the best aspects of Halloween.”

[via Gizmodo]

Though I’m all for Halloween-ified food products, I don’t share their enthusiasm over this particular pairing. Candy corn is basically the parsley of Halloween candy. It adds color, it’s festive and it’s great to decorate with, but nobody actually loves eating it…right?

I can’t think of a time when I’ve ever seen anyone eat more than a handful of candy corn. Hell, I can barely tolerate a few pieces. I’m not sure what I dislike more: the sickening, buttery sweetness or its gross, waxy, chewy texture. I buy a bag of candy corn every Halloween just to stick in a bowl because it looks pretty. And you know what? Every year, when Halloween is over, I throw the entire bowl of untouched candy corn in the trash.

But who knows, maybe Oreo is onto something here. Maybe candy corn is more palatable when disguised in the familiarity of America’s most popular sandwich cookie. I don’t really have a strong desire to find out, and since these are only available at Target, which is kind of out of my way, I probably won’t know the answer anytime soon. Either way, candy corn still sucks.

Take it away, Lewis Black.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VU6S3-cXtKs

Everyone has that one McDonald’s menu item they miss. This is mine.

Cheddar Melt

“Go for the burger that goes all out for flavor–Cheddar Melt: our 1/4 lb. all-beef patty topped with the bold taste of grilled onions and real cheddar cheese sauce piled high on a toasted light rye bun. ”

For some people, its the McRib or the Arch Deluxe; maybe even the McDLT, which was really just a packaging gimmick. My Holy McGrail is the Cheddar Melt, McDonald’s short-lived version of the classic patty melt sandwich.

The Cheddar Melt made its debut in 1998 and only lasted a short while, then later resurfaced in the 90s which is when it became my go-to McDonald’s sandwich, even over the Quarter Pounder. Supposedly it also made a brief comeback in 2004, but I somehow completely missed it. Like the mythical Asian Salad or Holiday Pies, the Cheddar Melt drifts in and out of the McMenuverse according to some unknowable ebb and flow of McMarketing spacetime. (I’m really just trying to see how many McWords I can stuff in this post.)

The combination of beef, melty cheese, fried onions and toasty rye is a magical one. I don’t know why McDonald’s introduces awesome things only to take them away, seemingly right at the point when they become familiar fixtures of the McMenu.

You know what sucks? A food craving you can never satisfy because the food product you are craving doesn’t exist anymore. I got 99 first world problems and this sandwich is one.

I discovered the Japanese Snack aisle at Wegmans…this is not good.

Last year a Wegmans store opened up in my town. Unless you live in the North East, you might not be familiar with the chain, but basically it’s like a super-mega-ultra grocery store. Think of a department store, except all groceries and prepared foods. It is a supermarket to rule all other supermarkets.

Wegmans

Within the walls of this mammoth structure you can find every type of food imaginable, strategically organized into smaller store-like departments.There’s the organic food section, which is like a miniature Trader Joe’s; the candy shoppe with its overflowing of bins of bulk sweets; a huge, ridiculous prepared foods section, which is a restaurant-like smörgåsbord of cuisines from around the world; these are just a few examples of Wegmans’ greatness.

However, I don’t typically do my shopping there because, evidently, higher prices are the trade-off for so much awesomeness. Not to mention it’s on the other side of town and I’m lazy. So for me Wegmans is more of an experience; a once-in-a-while type of treat that I’ll occasionally go out of my way for when I’m craving something I can only get from Wegmans–like the scrumptrulescent shrimp in cream sauce from their Asian food bar.

This past weekend I discovered something I hadn’t really noticed before: the International Foods aisle. I soon learned it is a dangerous, dangerous place for me because I walked out of there with more Japanese snacks than I could carry:

Japanese Snacks

There aren’t many places you can buy Pocky and Koala’s March around here. They even had my favorite flavor of Pocky, Almond Crush. I couldn’t resist picking up a few other treats that looked tempting, like Mango-flavored Hi-Chew, Ojo Butter Coconut Cookies (which are made by Kraft?), Kasugai Lychee Gummies, and Meiji Pucca Choco Pretzels, which are adorably shaped like little fish. Why does food taste better when it’s cute?

All I can say is thank goodness this store is such a hassle for me to get to, otherwise this could become a regular habit.

Three Terrible-for-Me Things I’m Doing Today

I’m bitter about having to work on a Saturday, so I’m doing what I always do when life sucks: indulging in awesome things that are terrible for me.

#1 – Eating this.

I’m typically a diehard Ben & Jerry’s fan when it comes to ice cream (food of the freaking gods: Late Night Snack and Half Baked) but this week I discovered this amazing flavor of Turkey Hill ice cream:

Turkey Hill Party Cake

It’s vanilla ice cream swirled with buttercream frosting and rainbow-colored cake pieces. If I had to describe its taste, it’s somewhere between amazeballs and unicorn poop. It’s vanilla-y and cake-y as you’d expect, but those frosting swirls take it to another level.

There was this cereal I used to love as a kid called Sprinkle Spangles that had these candy sprinkles that would melt in my milk and I’d swirl them around and make all kinds of crazy colors. That’s what this ice cream looks and tastes like.  And the best part is it’s only like $3 for a whole half-gallon, versus B&J’s ridiculously-overpriced pints (five dollars for 14 ounces of ice cream, Ben & Jerry? Really?).

It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking some up.

Party Cake Ice Cream

#2 – Listening to this.

This isn’t so much terrible for me as it is for my boyfriend who’s having to put up with it:

Freestyle Forever 80s & 90s Hits

Clearly my musical tastes are superior.

I found this absolute jewel of a compilation album on Spotify a few weeks ago. Don’t let the tacky album art (which reminds me of those awful “best of the decade” hits albums that never feature the original artists) and gratuitous use of lens flare fool you–there’s some great stuff on here: Grandmaster Flash, Dazz Band, Shannon, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, Johnny O, and of course Freestyle with my personal favorite, “Don’t Stop the Rock” and lots more.

#3 – Spending way too much money on this.

Shellraiser

Last night I got a little hysterical after the debut of the opening intro sequence for Nickelodeon’s upcoming Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot and came pretty close to weeping openly from the sheer awesomeness of it. Hearing the the new theme song, which mixes in familiar phrases from the classic TMNT theme song we all know and love, got me right in the childhood.

It made me feel like this:

My natural reaction was to buy every new Nickelodeon TMNT action figure that currently exists–in doubles!

But I didn’t stop there. Today I went back and ordered all the vehicles, including the badass chunk of plastic you see above. I love that in this incarnation of TMNT, the party wagon is named “The Shellraiser” and is described as a “street to sewer assault vehicle.” How could I not buy that?

Here are the stock pics of everything in boxes:

[nggallery id=11]

And then I also purchased one each of the TMNT Classic Collection figures from Amazon.

[nggallery id=12]

Here’s the list of everything I picked up:

  • Nick TMNT Basic Figure Leonardo (x2)
  • Nick TMNT Basic Figure Donatello (x2)
  • Nick TMNT Basic Figure Raphael (x2)
  • Nick TMNT Basic Figure Michaelangelo (x2)
  • Nick TMNT Basic Figure Splinter (x2)
  • Nick TMNT Basic Figure April O’Neil (x2)
  • Nick TMNT Basic Figure Shredder (x2)
  • Nick TMNT Basic Figure Kraang (x2)
  • Nick TMNT Basic Figure Foot Soldier (x2)
  • Nick TMNT Shellraiser
  • Nick TMNT Ninja Stealth Bike
  • Nick TMNT Dragon Chopper
  • TMNT Classic Collection Leonardo
  • TMNT Classic Collection Donatello
  • TMNT Classic Collection Raphael
  • TMNT Classic Collection Michaelangelo

I can’t wait for these things to arrive. I’m going to be the coolest thirty-year-old in the neighborhood.