I Ate Spunk o’ the Otis … But Don’t Misunderstand

July 30, 2008

OK, so I know this is juvenile, but hey, I’m reading Howard Stern’s Private Parts right now so I’m in that mood. Normally I’m a fairly clean-living fellow so eating a processed industrial transfatty type thing like an Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate muffin would not happen. But a co-worker down the hall sells this junk for 50 cents, which is half the price of the friggin’ vending machine, and as I had an unrequited sugar/choco craving it had to be done. The quick and dirty food review: Otis Spunkmeyer chocolate muffins are not bad as plastic-wrapped industrial muffins go. They’re dry, but the list of ingredients is not as heinous as a lot of snack-cake type foods, the chocolate chips lend an extra richness, the portion size is ample and the taste is not overly chemical-like. This seems like damning with faint praise, but I ended up buying another one the next day. When I do things like this, I alter my diet the rest of the day and cut out further sugar or carb portions to help balance things out.

Heh, heh, heh, heh. Hey Beavis, he said ‘spunk,’ eh heh heh heh.

-EG

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Russell Stover: Right in the Garbage

January 7, 2008

assorted_chocolates.gifIn comparing life to a box of chocolates, Forrest Gump said that, therein, you don’t know what you’re gonna get.

But, like life, you do know what you’re getting: 95 percent shit.

So when I unwrapped one of the X-mas gifts from the in-laws and it was a box of Russell Stover chocolates, I had to have the patience to wait before they left the house before throwing it in the garbage.

OK, not until I fished out the two tiny toffees and the two nut clusters, but immediately thereafter into the can went the disgusting white, pink and orange sugar nouget crap. And not before I squeezed every single one in disgust hoping that maybe there was another decent candy—but they all were filled with bland nougets that I hate.

Who the hell buys and eats these dreadful chocolates? Get rid of these, please, from the face of the Earth!

If I’m going to get fat, I wanna do it eating stuff I enjoy.

I already made one New Year’s resolution, and that’s to never tolerate these outmoded chocolate assortments where someone else has chosen for you which candies to eat.

Last year’s assortment from the boss went right into the can—right there in my office—after I picked out the two caramel-nut truffles. And, well, you know what happened this year.

Maybe a little tough love is in order. After getting a cinema trivia chunky calendar (I love cinema but hate chunky calendars and trivia) from some other in-laws for several years in a row, I finally nipped that one in the bud by showing some sort of displeasure and noticed that I did not get another one of those to throw in the garbage this year.

Getting a Russell Stover assortment sort of sends the message: We don’t know what to get you and don’t want to spend any time thinking about it or putting any effort or money into it, so we got you this shitty box of chocolates that you might not like.

I won’t go into the big philosophical diabtribe about how X-mas is BS and gift-giving is a waste (all of which is true), but since we’re stuck with this friggin ritual then there will be certain expectations that have to be met.

One, is that the receiver of gifts expects the gift giver to know enough about them and their interests to know approximately what will please them.

So, I look the gift horse in the mouth, appreciate the thought (that counts) and blah blah blah.

Hogwash.

The next Russell Stover “quality assortment” goes into the trash bag with the torn gift wrap, in full view of all gathered.

Well, maybe I overestimate my cojones.

-Evan G


The Great Hershey Bar Debate: Whole or Chopped Nuts?

March 7, 2007

Call it nerdy or Seinfeldian or what have you, but somehow a friend and I conversed one day last year on the subject of Hershey bars. I think the discussion began with me admitting with some guilt that I had that day eaten a half pound Hershey almond bar in one sitting. He conversely admitted to having on occasion eaten several of the small 1.45 ounce bars in one sitting. I informed him that Kroger had the large bars on sale at considerable savings over buying the small bars at the regular price, but he scoffed: “I never buy the large bars—only the small ones; they taste better.”

To that, I scoffed back: “They don’t taste any different!”

But he held his ground.

Six months later, I have to concede: I believe he is right.

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In the intervening months I have bought and put conscious effort into tasting the various sizes and configurations of Hershey almond bars, from the 1.45 ounce regular candy bar size (usually 59 cents at Kroger; sometimes on sale for 4/$1.00 or 3/$1.00 at same) up through the 8- ounce monster which generally costs from $1.79 to $1.99, depending on venue.

Some things I discovered:

+ A few bars contain whole, uncut almonds (the regular 1.45-ounce regular bars and, if I recall correctly, the harder-to-find, 4-ounce bars). The rest of the sizes contain chopped up nuts. Repeated tasting leads me to conclude that, hands down, the bars with whole almonds taste much better. It may be more expensive for Hershey to produce these and more difficult for them to produce bars with uniform nut distribution throughout the bar. Nonetheless, despite the occasional distribution flaws, these whole-nut bars taste fresher and “nuttier.”

The bar shown here has excellent whole-almond nut distribution.

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+ Some bars list a new emulsifier (PGPR) as an ingredient (apparently a cheap replacement for the superior cocoa butter). By now it is possible that all the Hershey bars contain this.

+ Taste variations in Hershey bars may be due to the ingredients that are required to shape the various sizes and configurations. The larger bars are molded into detachable rectangles while the regular bar is more uniform in shape. This observation is only speculation and how it specifically may affect taste I cannot say.

+ In addition to the adding of PGPR, another cost-saving move for some bars appears to be replacement of the paper/foil inner sleeve with an all-encompassing plastic package. Walmart carries these newer variations at the checkout lanes. So far I have refused to buy these while the paper/foil bars remain in stock.

+ The 1.45 ounce bar is the easiest and most common bar to find. Contains whole nuts.

+ The 2.1-ounce “Large Size” or “King Size” bar is the one most likely to be found in vending machines and at convenient stores and ranges in cost from $1 to $1.29, typically. They contain chopped nuts.

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+ The 4-ounce bars are the hardest to find and can contain whole almonds. The last place I found these was Dollar Tree, though evidently this size is also sold at theater concessions.

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+ The 5-ounce size is typically found at groceries such as Kroger or at Walgreen’s. For awhile these were issued in bonus-sized 7-ounce editions that touted “2 ounces free.” They cost upwards of $1.50 or so and contain chopped nuts.

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+ The 8 0z. “half pound” size bars contain, I believe, whole almonds, though I haven’t had one of these in awhile to verify. These are sold generally in the same places as the 5-ounce size. Cost is upwards of $2.

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Conclusion:

The winner for taste is the 1.45 ounce regular sized bar. There seems to be a silkiness and less chalky aspect in the texture than in the larger bars and the whole almonds are markedly better tasting than the chopped ones found in most of the other bars.

An advantage of the larger bars is the satisfaction derived from biting into the thicker chunk. The satisfaction is lessened, though, by the inferior taste of the more “stale” chopped almonds. There can be little question that wholly self contained almonds better retain their flavor.

-Evan


Titanic Struggle With Kroger Cheese

February 22, 2007

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I know what you’re thinking, either, “He’s got too much time on his hands,” or “There are wars and hunger and people with real problems in the world, and look what his comfortable ass is complaining about.” Obviously, I thought of these things before I posted. So, maybe this is frivolous. But haven’t you on many occasions wished you could get a picture of one of the many nagging, frustrating everyday problems that pop up (but shouldn’t) and share it with the world? I decided to act on that wish.

The deal is that after a day of dealing with problems, when you get home at night you want things that are supposed to go smoothly to, well, go smoothly. Easy-open food products should not become yet another fire you have to put out. Take the Kroger “easy” open and seal 16 oz. shredded cheddar cheese bag depicted herein. It’s touted as being convenient: just pull the top strip off and voila, you’re in cheese heaven. Except whoever shoddily manufactured the bag didn’t want to cooperate. I tear off the strip and, you guessed it, the strip perforation is higher than it’s supposed to be—so I’m not closer to having any cheese than when I tore the top off. Like the good old days, I have to seek and find scissors to complete this act of “convenience.” Prior to that, though, it was a titantic struggle and a test of manhood to see if I could deflower the remaining quarter of an inch of unbroken cheese-bag hymen by sheer force of hand pulling. I couldn’t, or more precisely, I wouldn’t. Why? Because manys the time I’ve applied the greatest pull-apart force on bags of chips, cereal, bagged salad and so on only to have the bag rip and explode with a resulting high-percentage loss of product.

When I was in high school in the 70s, we used to have a buzz-cut burly ex-marine, assistant gym teacher who taught social studies. His geopolitical views could be summed up as, “The commies are bad and out to get us.” Among his many horror stories of the Soviet system was that non-capitalist-made book pages and Red toilet paper was full of oversized wood chips.

When I encounter something like the ill-made Kroger cheese bag, it makes me remember that story.

-Evan