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!
Considering a career in the alimentary-research field? Think twice, for you will spend many a greyish-green hour whomping room-temperature cream of mushroom onto sidewalks, to compare its similarity to vomit with that of tapioca; grinding off-brand cheese puffs in a pestle until you develop RSI; and horrifying first dates and prospective in-laws by comparing the top note of a lobster cracker to bacterial vaginosis.
But if you can get through a worthy tome like The Great American Cereal Book: How Breakfast Got Its Crunch by Marty Gitlin and Topher Ellis without requiring an Alka-Seltzer or a meditation break, you just might have a future in this business.
TGACB is a tirelessly researched, gorgeously illustrated, and astonishingly straight-faced encyclopedic history of the cold-cereal industry. Readers will learn that SpongeBob and Hannah Montana have their own cereals, for instance, and that General Mills VP John Holahan invented the tiny versions of marshmallows we find in breakfast cereals — known within the industry as “marbits” — by cutting up a Brach’s circus peanut. (He subsequently eluded justice.) It’s also an invaluable window into the metric tonnes of horseshit the naïve American consumer would put up with in decades gone by.
The B.A.R.F. has compiled a (Cheeri-)overview of the lowlights, both the cereals themselves and a few of the more egregious forgotten mascots. We highly recommend experiencing the book for yourselves, however.
"Girl Cootie Crunch" didn’t survive the first draft, evidently.
Without the equally off-putting mascot, “Bixby Beaver,” Crunchy Loggs might have avoided the association with turds in the punchbowl. Alas.
Fiesta Fruity Pebbles with Confetti Sprinkles
As a result of a parental sugar-cereal embargo that continues to this day, Dr. Bunting spent most of the ’80s craving the most diabetically sugar-laden breakfast foods on the market, but this would have been a Pixy Stik too far even for her.
Description. Dr. Blankenship toted the Burger Rings all the way from Down Under for testing in the home office. Dr. Bunting The Elder does not eat anything which walked on land, but “happily” for her, Burger Rings do not contain actual burger. (Or rings.) The Rings themselves do not contain any resemblance to their depiction on the packaging. As portrayed, Rings do not look appealing, exactly, but they are sizeable, and reminiscent at least of the pub grub they apparently aim to replicate. In real life, Rings look like Totis, but not as red or suggestive of irradiated Spaghetti-Os.
Packaging/Branding. Misleading, as mentioned above, and also counterintuitive. The color scheme probably wants to evoke a browned patty, with black singe marks, and mustard…but the dusky shades bring to mind a mid-eighties office park at night. Australian package notes and warnings provide some interest, although the “When you’re done, put the pack in the bin!” exhortation is properly read as “Put the pack in the bin; then you’re done.” The back label also disclaims that “average values [are] subject to seasonal variation.” In what season whey powder is at its freshest is not mentioned.
Description. Ever since that ill-advised promotion 25 years ago during which the Mars Corp. asked America to vote on which color M would replace the staid but reliable beige, the M&M has become progressively more antic in its desire to be all candies to all people. Specialty colors, pretzel fillings, uncomfortable advertising campaigns that ask us not only to anthropomorphize these tiny edibles, but also to infer that they are sexually active — there is the whiff of desperation.
The candy-corn/white-chocolate M&M pairs that whiff with a much stronger literal one, of candied orange peel rolled in Nerds. Each M is between a classic and a peanut M in size; the colors follow the stripes of a classic kernel of candy corn.
Packaging/Branding. Standard for the M&M family. Our AV technician failed to capture an in-focus shot of the package, but the front features the red M dressed in a candy-corn “costume” and looking too drunk to care what foolishness his overlords have forced him to promote this time. He may also be staggering under the weight of the 35% RDA of sat fats the single-serving package contains.