Today’s field report comes from the intrepid Dr. T.C. Ariano, SoCal lab jefe.
Description. When it comes to feeding their children, the only thing that worries today’s mothers more than that their offspring might accidentally smell, see, or hear about a peanut is the specter of creeping obesity. And yet, when Dakota’s birthday comes along, and the cupcakes that were JUST FINE FOR US are now verboten, you can’t send him or her to class empty-handed — or, worse, with…fruit. Enter Birthday Cake Popcorn.
Description. We suppose we could praise the Keebler Corporation’s restraint in not describing the product as “simply packed with fudge!”, but we will not, as everything else about an E.L. Fudge Double Stuffed cookie is annoying; creepy; twee; fecal; or a horrifying combination of all of these.
Description. A tubular “hot chili pepper & lime corn snack,” the Taki Fire is a violent cerise in color. This is well past the orangey-red “hot” snacks usually use to denote their fieriness; this is if Hieronymous Bosch stretched out a Corn Nut and dipped it in lye. The average Taki is a bit awkward in size, too long for a single bite but not satisfying when bitten in two, necessitating an annoying snap-in-half/pairing maneuver. Fortunately, death comes for the snacker long before this can become too tiresome.
Packaging/Branding. Takis are a product of the delightfully named Grupo Bimbo; the Taki package, like most Bimbo products, makes up in enthusiasm what it lacks in professionalism. The cross-section of fire on the front, for instance, is reminiscent of a home-movie still, and beset by two testicular limes; the front also depicts a handful of Takis falling through space like Zod and his henchmen when trapped in that pane of glass. The back is just as disturbing, and we don’t mean the revelation that Takis have a Twitter account. Rather, it’s the information about sodium levels, to wit: a single serving of Fire Takis — an ounce, or one quarter of a four-ounce bag — is 18% of the RDA for sodium. And…contains propylene glycol and an “anticaking” agent.
Flavor Profile. Fire Takis also contain hot chili pepper; that, and more vinegar than we use to clean the lab coffeemaker, dominate the proceedings. The heat is cumulative and unpleasant, but though both Drs. Bunting have the genetic makeup required to withstand and even enjoy extremely spicy foods, Dr. Bunting the Elder isn’t sure the Taki is a food at all, much less that it has anything else to offer in the way of alleged corn or lime. The spiciness does not augment the Taki; it merely ninjas the taste buds.
Habitat. The losing ends of late-night bets; JetBlue to Vegas.
Field Notes. Conveyed to the main lab according to correct postal hazmat protocols by Dr. Barkenbush.
Revulsion Scale: 10
Description. The spelling of “flavoured” indicates that the Miaow Miaow cuttlefish crackers belong more properly to a field guide of Malaysian snacks. The disodium 5’-inosinate E631 on the ingredients panel, meanwhile, suggests that the cuttlefish crackers originated at the Malaysian equivalent of NASA, and should return thereto before harming an unsuspecting global populace. While each cracker is modest in size, the replication of octopodean tentacle suckers on each cracker may have unwelcome associations with low-budget horror movies for the consumer.
Description. Ding Dong is, if not the most cluelessly branded in the field of Asian snack mixes, definitely in the top three. Nor does it help itself with its unappetizing visual presentation, a sickly hybrid of small-batch dog kibble and institutional succotash.
Packaging/Branding. For starters, “Dong.” Also, “mixed nuts.” (Pornographic and inaccurate: Ding Dong contains only one nut, the peanut, and a meager supply at that.) Furthermore, “cracker nuts”; “enjoy your munching”; and the mysterious “cornick.” Our researchers have failed to discover whether “cornick” is a real word, but the JBC Food Corp. appears to have snigletted a word for the substance from which Corn Nuts are made. We had to wonder why they didn’t also coin a synonym for fava beans, given their unfortunate associations with charismatic pop-culture cannibalism.
The packaging also features a Keeblerian troll daydreaming under a mushroom cap. His ear is the same size as his hand. We give up.
Flavor Profile. Standard and inoffensive, but again, the packaging misspeaks; the only “spice” on offer is salt, and plenty of it (10% of the RDA, compliments of a third of a 3.5-oz bag).
Habitat. The break room at a swingers’ club; regional airports.
Field Notes. Submitted by Dr. Barkenbush of the Bay Area collection team.
Revulsion Scale: 8
Description. Fashion editors of late have advocated adding a “pop of” neon to outfits. C&C’s watermelon-flavored soda is both neon and pop, and the product is so intensely hued that we can only recommend its use as an accessory, or emergency light source during extreme weather events, as whatever is responsible for its succulent hue is surely damaging to internal organs — particularly those of the children who likely constitute the bulk of the drink’s demographic. Pre-pubescents gravitate to hyper-sweet ersatzery such as this like kittens to a driveway puddle of antifreeze, and while we hesitate to intrude upon the parenting process, we feel a duty to note that it is much healthier to serve minors a slice of actual watermelon.
Or, for that matter, to trebuchet a 15-pounder at the child’s head at point-blank range. Concussions fade; nephritic acid scarring is forever.
report filed by Dr. D.T. Cole
Description. Someone at Southern California grocer Ralph’s knows that barriers don’t break themselves down. When rice cakes first made their jump from hippie health stores to supermarkets, they got jazzed up with a light dusting of cheese or cinnamon. Ralph’s top food scientists looked at the healthy rice-cake landscape and buried it under a flood of berry sweetness. The addition of what is basically a candy coating to the humble rice cake takes it out of competition with hippie snacks and puts it in the ring with candified treats such as pink-elephant popcorn.
Packaging/Branding. The first thing you’ll notice about the bag is the color and texture of the rice cakes. It’s very purple and very pink, the kind of colors that laugh at nature. The next thing you’ll notice is that they look like hamburger patties. Bon appétit!