30 May, 2006

Fruit Gone Wrong

No matter what a kid does to Mr. Potato Head, he just ends up looking goofy. But Mr. Potato Head's friend, Oscar Orange, has an evil, fermented core: He always looks kind of creepy and sinister.


I have to take pictures of some of this crap, just so you won't think I'm making it up.

Pictured at left is the Grapple. (It's pronounced "grape-uhl," by the way, which is a whole different category of stupidity - why didn't they just spell it Graple if they wanted it to be pronounced with a long "a"?)

Anyway, a Grapple is a brand name for a perfectly good Fuji apple that's been injected with artificial grape flavor. Crack open the edge of the container, and these apples smell like a grape lollypop. Or Rev. Jim Jones' Guiana Kool-Aid.

The supermarkets charge $4 for this package - a dollar an apple! - but what is far worse is the slogan: "Looks like an apple. Tastes like a grape." What? Tastes like a grape? Grapes don't taste anything like "grape" candy.

I first saw these months ago in Stop and Shop supermarkets in Western Massachusetts, but they soon vanished from the produce aisles, presumably because no one was buying them. Now they've started turning up in the second-tier markets - smaller, neighborhood grocery stores. I hope they disappear from that market segment, too.

27 May, 2006

Ting - Jamaican Grapefruit Soda

It's hard to find a good grapefruit soda. Most grapefruity sodas that are readily available call themselves "citrus flavored" as though grapefruit was a dirty word.

Ting is the real thing. It's made in Jamaica, and the ingredients are pretty simple: Water, sugar, grapefruit juice, natural grapefruit flavor, citric acid, sodium citrate. It's carbonated (lightly) but should be agitated a little before opening to stir up the grapefruit sediment that tends to settle on the bottom of the bottle.

Most of all, it tastes great. Big, fruity grapefruit flavor with just a hint of lingering bitterness.

10-ounce glass bottles imported from Jamaica. Great stuff.

18 May, 2006

The Stir Chef

I bought this in a job-lot store for a fraction of its original price. The Stir Chef. It's incredibly cool - so cool that I can't believe they were in a markdown shop - and so simple that it's hard to believe no one ever came up with it before.

Basically, it's a high-torque, low-speed motor with three extendable, spring-loaded legs which clip to the edge of a pot. An extendable shaft passes through the center of the unit and is rotated by the motor. On the end of the shaft, you clip a paddle corresponding to the diameter of the pot you are using.

Set whatever you're cooking to simmer, turn on the Stir Chef, and you can go about your other business in the kitchen - the Stir Chef does the stirring for you. It works great for pudding, sauces, soups, and even high-density, hard-to-stir crap like oatmeal, corn meal mush, and grits. In the picture on the left, I have it stirring a 6-cup batch of scrapple (a mixture of pork, spices, and cornmeal) on low heat. Scrapple gets so thick as it cooks that it hurts to stir, but the Stir Chef handles it without even heating up.

Anyway, I don't want this to turn into an advertisement, so I'll cut it short. If you find this thing at a remainder shop near you, buy it, you won't be sorry. Hell, it even comes with batteries so you can play with it in the car on the way home.

13 May, 2006


It has taken many years, but the mystery of Red flavoring has finally been solved: it's "strawberry-cherry," according to the folks at Walgreens, who have probably violated some kind of top secret trade agreement by putting it right on the label of their Red Soda.

One sip confirms it: this is indeed the same Red as found in popsicles, lollypops, hard candy, and cheap confections the world over.

12 May, 2006

Orville Redenbacher Thinks I'm Stupid.

Just how goddamn stupid does ConAgra think we are? They label Orville Redenbacher popcorn with a tag that says "100% Whole Grain." No shit; thanks for the info, Captain Obvious.

11 May, 2006

Mini Gummy Bear-BQs

These are gummy bears for dogs, flavored with "Assorted Natural Flavors:" Savory Beef, Hickory Bacon, BBQ Chicken. I bought a small 1.75-ounce package at PetCo last time I was there as a treat for my dog. He hated them, and now I know why.

Being real gummies, they start with the usual gummy ingredients: sugar, food starch, coloring. So remember that although I won't directly say it again in the individual flavor reviews, they are sweet. Very, cloyingly sweet, worse than usual gummies. Plus they stick to my teeth (gummies aren't supposed to do that.)

Here goes:

Savory Beef Bear: Tasted sort of like that beefwater that leaks out of cheap hamburger when it's fried, and I don't mean the fat. Bright red. I got sick of the flavor of these after about one of them. It was the best of the three, so feel free to be afraid now.

BBQ Chicken Bear: Bright yellow, predominate flavor was an appallingly sweet barbecue sauce which could have been candied tomatoes for all the subtlety of flavor in these things. Slight background hint of cheap chicken bouillon (we're talking Smack Ramen Noodle Flavoring cheap.)

Last, and trust me, least: Hickory Bacon Bear. Orange. Smokey with a capital "smuh" and not much other flavor except for the sugar. These are so smokey that they taste like an ashtray, or a sip of bongwater, and they taste nothing like bacon at all.

Overall: nasty.

Oh, and the producers are illiterate, too. There shouldn't be an apostrophe in "Bear-BQ's."

Tarkhun Soda

The bright green color of tarkhun is what first prompted us to try this Russian tarragon-flavored soda, but we're glad we did. It has a rather strange aroma of baby powder ("It smells like Infant!") but a pleasant, light citrusy flavor that is very quenching.

There are several brands for sale in the US, but you'll need to find a Russian market first - we've never encountered it in a mainstream supermarket. It's available in 16-ounce bottles, 12-ounce cans, and large 2-liter plastic bottles.