31 October, 2010

Vintage Sunday: Bonomo Turkish Taffy IS BACK

Of all the candies that were available when I was a kid. I remember Bonomo Turkish Taffy most fondly.  I don't know why - maybe because of their intense and ubiquitous advertising which ran well into the 1970's, or because Turkish Taffy was a standard feature of so many childhood Christmas stockings and Easter baskets, or maybe simply because it became unavailable for so long when it was discontinued years ago.  Whatever the reason, memories of Bonomo caused me to keep an eye open for it at every specialty candy store I visited for many years, without success.  Eventually I found out that the company had at one point been bought out by Tootsie and production had ceased in the late 1980's.  I had no idea that Bonomo had been resurrected as an independent company until a casual browse through my local Five Below store.  

THEY HAD BONOMO ON T3H SHELF!!  I was there with my big sister Fran and my wife Maryanne, digging Five Below's cool and fun pop cultural swag when I spotted it, and all three of us pretty much had the same reaction : OMG BONOMO TURKISH TAFFY GET SOME!!!!!1!  I picked up a pack of chocolate and a pack of vanilla and would have gotten the banana and strawberry flavors too, if they had any.

I'm happy to report that it's just like it was back in the day.  It still "tastes like ice cream," as the old ads used to say.  (Tastes like really cheap ice cream, but the ads never did specify the grade of ice cream, so I give them a pass.)  And it's still got that "brittle-chewy" makeup, so slapping the package sharply onto a tabletop still breaks the taffy into pieces which then soften in your mouth to a chewy-but-not-very-sticky consistency.

So, why was Turkish Taffy gone so long from the collective sweet tooth?  The original company, founded in 1897 by Turkish immigrant Albert Bonomo, was a candy manufacturer on Coney Island making saltwater taffy for sale to tourists.  In 1945, the founder's son Victor came up with "Turkish Taffy," made from a batter of corn syrup and egg whites that was boiled and then baked.  Turkish Taffy quickly became the company's star product. 

In 1980, the Tootsie Co. bought Bonomo, and within a few years discontinued Turkish Taffy, saying that "tastes had changed" and demand had fallen off.  

Today, Classic Caramel LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of candymaker Warrell Corporation, is making and distributing Bonomo Turkish Taffy using the original recipes, manufacturing process, and flavors.  Track some down - there's nothing like it.

30 October, 2010

Minees: A Great Deal at Dollar Tree

These are Minees.  They're little cookies which come in small lunchbox-sized packages, ten packages for a dollar, in five different flavors: chocolate with chocolate creme, chocolate with banana creme, chocolate with vanilla creme, vanilla with vanilla creme, and vanilla with strawberry creme.  I get them at Dollar Tree; it's one of the Tree's regular items and they're almost always in stock.

I know what you're thinking - Dollar Tree, junky food, probably pretty bad stuff.  Sometimes, the knock-off food products at the dollar store really are nasty.  Not this time, though.  Minees are great - the cookies are fresh and crispy, the filling isn't sticky-sweet, it's just right, and the individual packs encourage limits on snacking - after all, each of the ten packages weighs in at just 1¼ ounces and carries 165 calories.  (No, it's not health food, but it ain't bad, either.)

My wife and I both brownbag it for lunch;  we work at places where it's really inconvenient to go out at noon.  When I tuck a pack of Minees into her kit, it's like handing off a little piece of sunshine, because everyone loves cookies.

Happiness for a dime.  It should be so easy all through life.

27 October, 2010

Check Out This Other Guy's Blog

Here's some Dave Trivia:  Up until I was in my mid-20's, I had a grandaunt who lived near Pittsburgh, in Ross Township.  Every summer from the time I got my driver's license to the year she passed away, I would drive with my grandmother out to Western Pennsylvania to visit Aunt Helen.  I'd do some house repairs and chores and things for her while we were visiting, and in my free time I'd explore the area.  It's been a long time since I've been back, but I've got a lot of great memories stashed there.

So it was pretty cool when I got an email from Bryan, proprietor of Pittsburgh Eats, a relatively new blog covering Pittsburgh-area chow and assorted strange eats.  I got a big kick out of reading his review of Sir Pizza, a now-franchised pizza restaurant which was just a single Ross Township joint back in the day.  It was also only about 5 miles from my aunt's place and I used to go there at least a couple times every summer.  (It's not anything like the pizza I'm used to around here, but it's decent in its own way and at the time they were pretty cheap, too, which had its own special appeal when you're 17 and earning minimum wage.)

I look forward to checking out new Pittsburgh Eats posts.  Good luck, Bryan!

Poland's Finest Pickled Vegetables

Poland's Finest All Natural Pickled Mixed Vegetables Assortment is a kind of pickled salad which are fairly common in Eastern Europe but still a little unusual here in the US.  The "Poland's Finest" brand name is new to me, but the concept isn't - I shop regularly at a couple of local Russian markets and you'd be amazed at the variety of different pickled salads on the shelves.

Anyway, this assortment caught my eye for a couple of reasons: the veggies were whole rather than the more common sliced or shredded, and the jar was topped of with two big red ripe tomatoes.  Pickled ripe tomatoes was a new one on me.  I bought the jar, brought it home, and stuck it in the fridge to chill.

We enjoyed the salad a couple of days later as a side dish with kielbasa.  As we unpacked the jar we found:
  • cucumber
  • tomato
  • carrot
  • celery
  • cabbage
  • large hot red paprika pepper
    The salad was awesome.  Sometimes I find that European picklers use too much sugar in their brine, but this was not the case here.  Everything was crispy, fresh, and delicious (except for the tomatoes which were not "crispy" by their very nature.  But they weren't mushy, either - they were firm and flavorful, like they had been cold-pack pickled right out of the garden.)  And, thanks to that bigass paprika pepper in there, the salad was spicy hot.  I really liked it, though Maryanne found the heat factor a little much for her (she is not a chilehead.)

    Now I just gotta get back to Ocean State before they sell out of this stuff...

    26 October, 2010

    A Cheap Bastard (Me) Goes To McDonalds

    I have never made a secret of my appreciation for McDonald's Sausage McMuffin With Egg.  It is the pinnacle of breakfast sandwich creation.  Say what you will about Mickey D's horrible, fatty, unhealthy menu (which, let's face it, is most of it) the Sausage McMuffin With Egg is a good choice to start the day:  It's a simple and decent breakfast in sandwich form, and when you break it down into components - 1 egg, 1 sausage patty, an English muffin, and a single slice of cheese - it's a fairly normal breakfast, not that much different than you'd make for yourself on a weekend morning.

    Even so, I don't indulge in them very often.  Partly this is because I can't really burn off breakfast by sitting in an office for eight hours.  But partly, it's because I really don't want to spend $3.50 or so to buy an egg, a sausage patty, and an English muffin.  You see, I can be a Cheap Bastard.

    But you know what?  Thanks to McDonald's dollar breakfast menu, I can enjoy a Sausage McMuffin with Egg while still being a Cheap Bastard.  Check it out - breakfast for me and a friend at work for about $2.25:

    Here are two Sausage McMuffins - English muffin, sausage patty, and cheese.  They're on the dollar breakfast menu.  I picked them up on my way to work.
    Here are two eggs, fried in rings for the proper size and shape, which I made at home before leaving for work.  They cost about ten cents each.

    And here are the Sausage McMuffins set with the homemade eggs, turning them instantly into Sausage McMuffins With Egg.  Total cost each:  $1.10 (compared to the full menu price of $3.50 each.)
    Oh, and Ronald McDonald, if you're listening:  I would never have even thought of doing this if you hadn't tried to charge me $2.50 for a fried egg, you greedy facepainted freak.

    25 October, 2010

    Frankie's Original-Style Horseradish

    Frankie's Original-Style Horseradish is produced by a local company, Saw Mill Site Farm in Greenfield MA.  I like to make my own horseradish because there is nothing as kickass as freshly grated homemade root. 

    Trouble is, the stores around me haven't always got fresh root in stock, and so I sometimes need to buy the prepared stuff.  There are several brands I like - I really should do a comparison of them all sometime soon - but I'm always willing to try a new one, particularly when they're local.

    I picked up a jar of Frankie's at Arnold's, a meat market in East Longmeadow MA.  It was very fresh; the color was creamy white and there were no strange ingredients, just horseradish root, vinegar, and salt - just like homemade.  It had a good strong nose and a nice horseradish flavor, but for my taste it was a little on the weak side.  My wife Maryanne thought it was "okay," but that's not actually saying too much - she can't take spicy heat but she can eat horseradish so strong that a teaspoon of it would make Batman cry for his mommy.

    I have no complaints about the quality or freshness.  It's clear that Saw Mill Site Farm takes great care and pride in their product.  For average horseradish eaters, Frankie's is a good choice for a flavorful zip without risk of being overwhelmed.  And I would never hesitate to use it in a sauce or a salad as an ingredient.  But pass on it if you prefer your horseradish to attack your sinuses with a +20 Vorpal Sword.

    24 October, 2010

    Pierogi by Delicious Fresh Piergoi Inc.

    I love pierogi - those little Polish dumplings that vaguely resemble ravioli.  Living in an area with an historically large Polish ethnic population, there are a couple of local sources for excellent handmade pierogi practically at my doorstep.  Pierogi Queen, made in Enfield CT at a local Polish deli, is famous in my hometown for having the absolute best ones, and Millie's, made in nearby Chicopee MA are a close second.

    And yet, I'm still occasionally willing to take a chance on unfamiliar brands.  Recently, these were pierogi made by Delicious Fresh Pierogi Inc. from Roselle Park NJ.

    Now, if you've got the stones to call yourself "Delicious Fresh Pierogi Inc." your product had better be pretty good.  And they are.  We tried two varieties, Potato & Cheese and Potato & Spinach.  Both of them were indeed delicious, though the Potato & Cheese version used cottage cheese in the filling rather than the more traditional farmer's cheese.

    Delicious Piergoi Inc has a pretty wide distribution network including ShopRite, Stop & Shop/Giant, Whole Foods, Wegman's and Harris Teeter.  If you see them in one of your local stores fear not, they will not disappoint you.

    23 October, 2010


    Lynnafred took this shot of dragonfruit the last time she was at Dong's in West Hartford.  Just thought I'd share.

    22 October, 2010

    More Pocky

    Awhile ago, I did a post on a collection of Pocky I'd eaten. Well, I'm back again with two more flavors: Strawberry Custard Cake and Chocolate Banana Cake.

    The Chocolate Banana Cake have a lot more flavor than the regular chocolate banana flavored ones that I tried before. These seemed to have a more "natural" tasting banana flavor instead of the typical, noticibly artificial sort. The chocolate on these was also more pronounced, giving it an equal standing with the banana instead of letting it get overshadowed. They were good.

    The Strawberry Custard Cake ones were heavenly, however. Milky and rich and full of strawberry flavored goodness, these are my new #1 favorite Pocky flavor. It was like biting into vanilla custard topped with fresh strawberries...except, you know, on a Pocky biscuit stick.

    Awesome Customer Service

    The Sony Movie Channel goes above and beyond when it comes to offering up movies from the extensive Sony library:  25 hours a day. 

    Imported Pasta: Maltagliati Brand

    I was shopping in Ocean State Job Lot the other day and found a brand of imported pasta I hadn't seen before: Maltagliati, made by Pastificio Fabianelli S.p.a. in Arezzo, Italy.   Certified by the USDA as organic (if that's important to you) and made of 100% Durum wheat semolina, it was a bargain at a dollar a pound.  Also, as you can see by the picture at right, it featured a totally appealing early-20th century logo of an Italian chef looking pretty damn pleased with himself and his steaming-hot plate of spaghetts, so I really couldn't help but buy a couple of packages.

    I'm glad I did, too.  It cooks up beautifully, maintaining it's al dente character and not getting "sticky" even though I had to hold it in the water a little longer than I liked while the sauce was heating up.  Excellent stuff - I'm going to get over there and buy some more while they still have some.  (That's the perils of shopping at a job lot store - they'll be selling something you get hooked on, only to run out and never carry it again.)

    One thing, though... Maltagliati strikes me as a pretty strange name for a pasta brand.  The word translates as "badly cut," and in Italy it's used to describe randomly-shaped bits of pasta scraps left over from cutting standard shapes.  Maltagliati are usually used in soups like minestrone or pasta e fagioli and in the past few years it's gotten so popular that some manufacturers package bags of intentionally-produced pasta pieces as maltagliati.


    This PDF brochure from Pastificio Fabianelli describes their Maltagliati brand pasta and includes a chart of the shapes available.  It's in English.

    Click here to go to Pastificio Fabianelli's main website, which is Flash-based and completely in Italian.


    20 October, 2010

    Sweet Candy Co. Orange & Raspberry Sticks

    Sweet Candy Company, based in Salt Lake City UT, is one of the country's oldest family-owned candymakers.  When we saw that their Orange Sticks and Raspberry Sticks - fruit jellies covered in milk or dark chocolate - were available as a "special purchase" at ALDI, we picked up some of each of the varieties ALDI had available.

    I can't even begin to tell you how gorgeous these simple jelly candies are.  The jelly is fruity and flavorful and the milk chocolate coatings are silky and rich; the dark chocolate (while a bit waxy) is of equally high quality.  No "mocolate" here.  Sweet's can give lessons to Hershey and M&M/Mars, both of whom have recently changed some of their candy bar recipes.

    Anyway, the whole fam damily enjoyed these, and I'd pick 'em up again if ever I see them.  Check your local ALDI to see if they've got 'em near you.

    Also:  Check out this review of  Sweet's Port Wine Gels over at Foodette Reviews if you're looking for a Sweet's candy what is more sophisticated and stuff.


    Sweet Candy Company website.  They give free factory tours.

    19 October, 2010

    Vienna Bites

    Spotted at Dollar Tree:  Vienna Bites.  They're presliced Vienna sausage, ready for recipes and what have you.  Or you can just open up the can and put it on a tray with some of those frilly toothpicks and serve 'em as hors doovers.

    18 October, 2010

    Del Monte Fruit Naturals Blueberries

    Del Monte has a new fruit snack - little cups of spoonable fruit packed in juice.  Lynnafred's tried a few of the available varieties:  Mixed berry, pineapple, peaches, blueberries.  For the most part, they've been decent or better.

    Except for the blueberries.

    I don't know how they managed to do it, but Del Monte has actually managed to make blueberries kind of nasty.  They're packed in a very delicious grape juice (which is kind of wierd in itself, why not just use blueberry juice?) but then you take a spoonful of the berries up to your mouth and find out that they taste like they're made of wax.

    These are pissed-off blueberries.  They've been working out in the Blueberry Gym, becoming tough and mean.  They don't like being chewed, and they resist it.  They look like blueberries, and they smell like blueberries, and they have blueberry skins and a gut full of blueberry seeds, but they act like some badass bastard blueberry that hates your mouth.

    Try them at your own risk - you've been warned.

    No Grainers Dog Treats

    Iris and Zim are currently brushing up on their Dumb Dog Trick routine, encouraged by No Grainers Dog Treats,  I found them at Stop & Shop over the weekend, and the dogs seem to love them 

    Unlike the majority of dog foods and treats on the market today, No Grainers don't contain any grain fillers.  I like that, because dogs aren't cattle and don't really have any business eating a lot of corn meal (which they can't digest.)  I feed them a premium meat-based kibble made without cornmeal and their usual snacks are dehydrated poultry.  The No Grainers I bought are made primarily from pork so I thought it would be a nice change in taste. Plus, they're little bite-size things so I can use them as training incentives.  Both dogs are highly "treat motivated."

    Enlarged to show detail, as they say.

    As it turns out, both dogs really love No Grainers and their Natural Pork Protein.  I gave one a try just to see what the appeal was, and as usual, I've discovered that "the dogs like it" is a crappy yardstick for whether or not I'll enjoy eating something.  (Note that this index is not reciprocal.  If I can stand to eat something, no matter how vile, it's almost guaranteed that the dogs will eat it, too.)

    Anyway, I ate one and it was pretty disgusting;   a little rancid-tasting, kind of livery, a little porky.  To me, not very appetizing.  Zim and Iris, however, would give it a solid thumbs-up if only they had thumbs.
    The bag points out (several times) that the treats are made with real pork protein, and this is illustrated with a picture of a sad-looking pig gazing up at something.  Maybe he's looking at the big steel hooks moving along the chain track on the ceiling. Hahahaha.

    Fun With Coupons



    LOL, butt spread.

    Life's too short to eat fake butter.


    17 October, 2010

    Vintage Sunday: Food Choppers - And a Relish Recipe

    This is a food chopper:

    It's a versatile kitchen tool.  In days gone by, almost every kitchen had one.  There were dozens of different models and designs, made by a large number of companies around the country - so many, in fact, that the variety available supports an active collectibles market.  Regardless of the model, size, shape of the hopper or curve of the handle, though, they all do pretty much the same thing the same way:  Stuff goes into the hopper, the handle is turned, and a screw drives the stuff out the front where it is cut into bits by a rotating knife with many blades.

    You can use it to grind meat, but it's not the same as a meat grinder (pictured at left.)  With a meat grinder, the cutting action is done inside the barrel of the grinder as the meat is forced out through holes in a steel plate.  A food chopper forces the product out of the barrel where it is cut off on the outside.  The chopper was a labor-saving device used to mince meat, vegetables, and other ingredients without having to spend a lot of time with a knife.  It was the fastest way to get that kind of mincing done in the days before electric food processors.

    These days, not as many people actually use food choppers any more.  Cooks who want to save time on chopping chores turn to their food processors.  My food processor gets plenty of use, but there are times when I still turn to my great-grandmother's Universal Food Chopper.  It does an awesome job of cutting up cooked leftover beef roasts to turn them into hash. And it does an equally awesome job of cutting up vegetable ingredients for relish.

    How's that for a segue?

    Two consecurive frosts have raised hell with my vegetable garden.  The tomato vines have pretty much died back, and now I'm picking the green tomatoes that are still clinging to the vines.  I've got piles of green tomatoes.  Luckily, I have plenty of recipes that call for greenies.  Green tomato relishes are another one of those old-style products that have largely been forgotten as cheap and homogenous commercial products became widespread. I call this particular version "Golden Relish" because the use of some turmeric and yellow peppers in the veggie mix give it a golden tinge.  This isn't a spicy relish, but rather a good, solid, sweet relish for use on hot dogs, in salads, or on its own with sliced ham.

    Golden Relish
    Makes about 8 pints

    8 cups finely chopped green tomatoes (6 - 8 pounds)
    4 cups finely chopped onion
    3 yellow bell peppers, seeded and finely chopped
    6 red bell peppers, seeded and finely chopped
    3 large green bell peppers, seeded and finely chopped
    1/2 cup kosher salt
    1 tablespoon celery seed
    1½ teaspoons turmeric
    ¼ cup mustard seed
    4 cups sugar
    3 cups cider vinegar

    Cut each tomato in half across the center and use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds.  Run the tomatoees, onions, and peppers through the food chopper and then mix them well together in a large bowl.  Sprinkle the canning salt over the mixture and let it stand overnight in the refrigerator.  In the morning, rinse the mixture lightly and let it drain well in a strainer or colander.

    In a large pot, combine the celery seed, turmeric, sugar, vinegar, and chopped vegetables.  Bring to a simmer and cook for about 2 hours.  The tomatoes will release a lot of liquid during the cooking time.

    Use a slotted spoon to put the relish into pint jars without adding too much of the liquid.  Cap the jars and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

    15 October, 2010

    Bremer Boneless Ribette Meal

    The Bremer Boneless Ribette Meal is ALDI's version of the more famous Banquet Boneless Pork Rib Meal.  Bremer doesn't specify "pork" in the product name because their "ribette" is a mixture of pork, beef and - of course - the textured vegetable protein that is ever-present in meat patties like these.  Along with the patty, there is also a small serving of mashed potatoes and whole-kernel corn.

    Although a little spongy (thanks, TVP!) the ribette patty is pretty decent, with a good meaty flavor and a texture very similar to good homemade meatloaf.  It's been "barbecue seasoned" with various non-heinous magic dusts which include tomato powder, salt, molasses granules, dried vinegar, brown sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, and natural smoke extract.  The end result is quite palatable.

    The rib patty is drowned in a cheap-tasting barbecue sauce that's made mostly of modified food starch and sugar.  There's too much of it, and I suspect that it's responsible for a fairly decent portion of the 10-ounce net weight of the overall meal, but I will give the manufacturer credit for not using high-fructose corn syrup and for tinkering enough with the recipe that the sauce is not actually disgusting. 

    There isn't much to say about the mashed potatoes or the corn.  The potatoes are a fairly standard dehydrated product, enjoyably spudly, and the corn is kind of soft and overcooked.  Even at that, though, the corn is better than its Banquet counterpart because it isn't tough or chewy.

    Overall, I can't muster up any hate for this lunch.  It delivered exactly what I expected and brought it in under budget because it only cost 88 cents.  I would definitely buy it again.

    14 October, 2010

    Captain Crunch Shenanigans

    Cap'n Crunch was my favorite cereal when I was a kid.  It still is, though I don't eat it very often these days, being a fat old guy who's trying somewhat successfully to shed some pounds.  

    And then I found Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Treasures.  The front of the box promises that Crunch Treasures has "1/2 the sugar of regular Cap' Crunch."  Sounds good, right?  A lot of the flavor in Cap'n Crunch comes from brown sugar, so I figured that maybe Quaker cut back on the regular sugar - maybe replaced it with Splenda or something - to cut the sugar.  

    Ha.  Maybe not.  Lynnafred and I compared the Nutrition Facts on a box of regular Cap'n Crunch with those on a box of Crunch Treasures, and what we found was pretty surprising:

    By boldly announcing on the front of the box that Treasures contains half the sugar of regular Cap'n Crunch, Quaker is trying to make the consumer believe that Treasures is somehow better for you than regular Cap'n Crunch - as if that's possible with sugar-bombs like the Cap'n Crunch family of junk food.

    Read down the labels with me:   Per serving, Treasures actually has more calories than regular Crunch (120 vs. 110.) Treasures is more heavily salted, too - 60mg more sodium.  But the biggest surprise is in the carbohydrate load.  Treasures really does has half the sugar (6g vs. 12g) but astonishingly it has almost double the "other carbohydrates!"  The end result is that Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Treasures has 26g of carbs compared to the original's 23g.  Half the sugar, yes, but the carb total is what really counts.

    So, Quaker is totally full of shit with their marketing here.  Also, notice that the "$1.00 Pack" in the photo above contains 4 servings and 3.9 ounces of Crunch Treasures, while the original Cap'n Crunch contains 6 servings and 5.5 ounces at the same price.  All this does is blur the nutritional understanding for most customers.  Using the raw numbers, we find that per ounce, these two cereals are just about the same, with Original delivering 25g of carbs per ounce and Treasures about 27g.   Now, if your unit of measurement is "1 box," you start to see a difference, due mostly to the difference in weight between the two:  the Original Cap'n Crunch would deliver 138g of total carbohydrates if you at the whole damn box, whereas the  Crunch Treasures holds 104g.  Whew.  Maths are hard, my head is going to asplode.

    The Important Part - How Does It Taste?

    Okay, but to hell with all that carb counting and sugar auditing shit, this is CAP'N FRIGGIN' CRUNCH we're talking about and the only metric that matters is how it tastes when we OM NOM NOM.   How does it taste?  In a word, crappy.  Treasures has just a hint of Crunch's delicious brown sugar bouquet when it's chomped dry right out of the box.  But Cap'n Crunch is meant to be eaten in milk, and Crunch Treasures completely fails here.  The sweet tastes is totally overwhelmed and washed away by the milk, leaving it tasting a little like millet-flavored cardboard.  And in a further betrayal of the Cap'n Crunch promise (Stays crunchy even in milk!) the stuff gets soggy fast.

    The verdict:  A soggy and solid "Meh."  Don't waste your money.  If you're going to blow your cash and your healthy blood glucose levels, you might as well go all out and enjoy the company of original Cap'n Crunch.  Crunch Treasures are worthless.

    13 October, 2010

    Cage Match! Roast Pork Steam Buns!

    When I was little, my parents used to take me to this little Chinese restaurant in Northampton, Mass, where we used to get lunch on Saturdays. One of the things we always used to get were steamed buns with a roasted pork center. The dough was conditioned to cook via steaming, and the dough was always tender and a little on the sweet side - something that complimented the savory pork inside very well. When the restaurant closed, I was out my delicious steam buns.

    But, luckily for me, the Asian supermarket in West Hartford always carries a varying selection of steam buns, roast pork included. I almost never see the same brand twice, which simultaneously rocks and sucks. So, today, I'll introduce two of the brands that I have seen more than once, Juan's and Prime Food, in a head-to-head comparison.

    Juan's: These come in a nine-pack. They're smaller than Prime Food's and have a more traditional "steam bun" shape to them. The dough is a little on the tough side, but still has that slightly sweet quality I expect from them. The filling is made of small bits of pork - meaty and with little filler. These are definitely on the sweeter side, and there's some sort of sauce in there that kind of clots together in a jellylike mass. Even still, these are good. I've always enjoyed them.

    Prime Food: These are bigger than Juan's, so for about the same price, you get a four pack instead of a nine pack. The dough is more tender, but they have an odd tendancy to crack at the top because of the way they're assembled. And because these're bigger, they have more filling in them. While these are more savory and roast-porky than Juan's, these also have bits of filler - cartelidge and spongy bits of fat - that the other doesn't, mixed in with the meat.

    Bottom line: While I like Prime Food's steam buns, I don't really like getting a mouthful of cartelidge bits. While they've gotten better about it over the years, they still have more filler than Juan's does. And even though I prefer the savory steam buns over the sweet Juan's brand buns, I'll have to firmly side with Juan's steam buns in this cage match.

    12 October, 2010

    Healthy Choice Coupon Giveaway

    Lynnafred really likes her some Healthy Choice frozen meals.  She has a few favorites, and she's always scouting out new ones to try.  

    The folks at Healthy Choice are making it a little cheaper to do that.  Right now, over at their Facebook page, they are running a "progressive coupon" promotion.  Here's how it works:

    1. Go to Healthy Choice's Facebook page
    2. Click to "Like" Healthy Choice and a form will pop up for you to reserve your coupon.
    3. The coupon value starts off at 75 cents off one frozen entree, but the more people reserve a coupon, the more valuable the coupon actually sent to you will be.
    4. If enough people sign up, the value of the coupon could go up to "Buy One Get One Free."
    5. Coupon registration runs to October 25 or while supplies last.
     Full details and "the fine print" can be found at the Healthy Choice Facebook page.

    Yogu Yogurt flavored drink

    When I was a kid, Dave used to buy me these drinks every now and then that were flavored like fruit and yogurt. He used to buy me the ones that were flavored like honeydew melon, because melon is one of my favorite flavors for anything ever. Then the store he used to get them from closed and we couldn't find them anymore.
    So, while perusing the Korean market the other day, I stumbled across Yogu yogurt flavored drinks and bust out into a grin. "Remember these?" I asked, showing them to Dave. For nostalgia reasons, I had to pick one up. They didn't have my beloved honeydew, though, so I had to settle for strawberry.

    They're not as good as I remember them being, but few things in life are. I, for some reason, always found artificial strawberry flavor to be kind of nice, so the artificial flavor really didn't bother me. It was a lot sweeter than I remembered it being, though, and a look at the ingredients (which were in English - something I don't remember from when I was a kid. I remember them being in either Korean or Chinese.) told me that it has high fructose corn syurp, sugar, and sweetened condensed milk in it. Other than that, though, it did have a nice kind of tangy yogurt-y background flavor to it.

    I probably won't buy this again, but it was nice to see something that I loved as a kid again and even better to get to taste it now that I've grown up a bit.

    11 October, 2010

    Wild Turkeys

    The company where I work is located at the edge of town in a fairly rural area.   We regularly get visited by a variety of different wildlife.  Today a flock of wild turkeys strolled right up to the building to graze on tasty dogwood berries from the tree at the entrance.  They were making happy clucking noises as they fed on the berries and were fairly unconcerned as I walked out the door and past them to take some pictures.

    Food and Fortune Combine For Lulz

    So I get an order of orange chicken at a local Chinese takeout, and it comes with a free fly embedded into the coating, thoroughly cooked.  Ewww.

    And then, I open a fortune cookie and it says "Among the lucky, you are the chosen one."  Hahahaha, the Fates chose me  to get a fly in my food, those wacky cut-ups.

    Life Savers Gummies: Island Fruits flavors

    There are two kinds of food I'll try with almost no hesitation. The first one is potato chips. There's something about the greasy little buggers that I absolutely adore. If there was ever a way to win my heart with little or no effort, potato chips would be the way to go. The second is with any kind of gummi or other fruit snack. Even more than chips, I'll do anything for a fruit snack. Whenever I notice a new kind of gummi, I'm all over it.

    So when I was down in Florida and saw these Life Savers Island Fruits gummis at the local Publix, I couldn't resist. I ended up picking up a bag of these and a bag of Wonka Squishy Splooshberries gummies. I'll review the oddly named Wonka ones later.

    The thing I like best about Life Savers gummies is that they're almost always universally good. I've never had a lifesavers gummi candy that I haven't liked. These were, unsurprisingly to me, no exception.

    They come in four flavors: pineapple, fruit punch, strawberry kiwi, and mango melon. Mmm, delicious. The pineapple ones taste exactly like the hard fruits used to back in the day, before they discontinued them. It was nice to taste that delicious pineapple flavor again. The mango melon ones were also really delicious, with a strong mango flavor and just the slightest backdrop of canteloupe. The fruit punch ones were the fairly standard fruit punch flavor - they tasted just like red Hawaiian Punch. The most disappointing one was the one I was really looking forward to: the strawberry kiwi one, which had a completely artificial strawberry flavor and a hint of that artificial grass-like kiwi flavor.

    Other than the disappointment of the strawberry kiwi gimmi, the others were all really enjoyable. I'm not sure if I'd really call them "island" fruits as much as I would "troipcal" (which mean almost the same thing in the marketing world anyway) but if I saw them again around here, I'd pick them up. They were a nice change of pace from the typical flavors that you find in every pack of gummies and fruit snacks.

    10 October, 2010

    Vintage Sunday: Old Moxie Ads

    I'm sitting here, drinking a Moxie, and thought I'd share with you some vintage Moxie newspaper ads which have appeared over the years.  These are all from New England papers, though at the time these ads were run Moxie was the most popular soft drink in the US (yes, even more popular than Coca-Cola.)


    09 October, 2010

    Wye River Snacks

    Down in Maryland, there is a relatively small company called Wye River.  They started out in a garage, making and selling two distinctive seafood seasonings, Wye River Original Red and Wye River Spicy Black.  In the 25 years since they were founded, the company has grown and now puts out a variety of products, which includes the three snacks pictured above:  Wye River Crabbers (a cornmeal cracker seasoned with Original Red,) Wye River White Cheddar Cheese Crabbers (a cheese cracker also seasoned with Original Red,) and Wye River Crab Seasoned Microwave Popcorn (can you guess what it's seasoned with?  Go ahead, I bet you can.)

    I bought each of these snacks at Ocean State Job Lot, but not at the same time.  We first tried the cornmeal Crabbers and liked them, so we tried the white cheddar variety and thought those were good too.  That led to trying the popcorn.  Let me go into more detail about the snacks.

    Crab Seasoned Crabbers Cornbread Crackers - towards the top of the picture at left - Crispy and yet somehow "soft," these crackers are just amazing.  They're small, the size of animal crackers, and they're awesome for just munching on while watching TV, doing homework, or slaughtering enemies in a video game.  And they are TOTALLY IRRESISTIBLE once you eat one.  It's no wonder Wye River has been such a success. If Wye River Seasoning tastes anything like these crackers, I must find some.  I MUST.

    Crab Seasoned White Cheddar Crabbers - these are the more yellowy of the two crackers in the picture, interestingly enough - If I were to rate the Cornmeal Crackers as "Awesome," then the White Cheese variety would be rated as "Awesome PLUS" because they are even more delicious and addictive than the others, as impossible as it is to imagine.  They are crunchy and gently cheesy, and they have a pleasant but mild spicy bite to them.  I think the cornmeal in the other crackers absorbs some of the Wye River spiciness, but since these are more standard type crackers, the seasoning is more pronounced.  Whatever.  They are such incredibly badass cheese crackers that putting them in the pantry on the Snack Shelf made the Cheez Its, Goldfish, and Cheese Nips weep with  fear and poop their pants.

    Big smears of "crab seasoning" sticking to the nasty
    popcorn grease inside the bag.

    Unfortunately, when you have two such towering specimens of cravable awesomeness, any other snack in your lineup risks not being able to measure up, and such is the case with the Crab Seasoned Microwave Popcorn.  There are just so many things wrong with the popcorn that I hardly know where to start.  For one thing, the seasoning doesn't distribute very evenly on the popcorn.  It gets stuck in clumps on the inside of the popcorn bag.  I tried shaking the bag before opening it but it didn't do much good.  For another thing, I don't think the "crab seasoning" in the package is the same as the Wye River crab seasoning on the crackers.  It doesn't have the same flavor, or bite, or deliciousness.  It tastes more like cheap dusty paprika purchased from a dollar store's markdown bin.  The seasoning is so "off," in fact, that I actually had to put salt on the popcorn to make it taste like anything at all.  That's the first time I've had to add salt to microwave popcorn.  Something is really wrong with the seasoning mix that Wye River's contractor is using.  Worst of all, though, is the cheap-ass popping oil in the bag.  Cheaply-made microwave popcorn uses disgusting oils that leave your mouth coated with a distinct and nauseating film of grease.  Quality microwave popcorn uses better oils that don't do that.  Sorry, Wye River, but your popcorn coats my mouth.  The box contains three packets of popcorn.  I tried the first packet and was disappointed.  Days later, I popped the second packet thinking maybe I got a bum batch the first time, but I couldn't eat more than a handful of it because it was gross.  The third packet got thrown out unpopped.

    But even though I'll never buy the popcorn again, those crackers.  Those awesome crackers.  I can't wait to make Chex Mix with those crackers in them.  Just thinking of the deliciousness makes my head want to asplode.