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. An attempt to shoehorn the experience of Sunday-afternoon football-watching tavern cuisine into a three-quarter-inch tube of dangerously over-salted paste, the Buffalo Blue Cheese Pretzel Combo is surprisingly successful. It is not good, quite, but nor is it the disaster that would seem to be presaged by 1) the choice of pretzel base, the least appealing of the Combo shells in Dr. Bunting’s opinion; or 2) the inevitably doomed effort to replicate any cheese, or “cheese,” more upmarket than government-issue Velveeta.
Again, it is not great, but given the possible — and revolting — alternatives, merely skirting an utter palate catastrophe should be deemed a victory.
Description. Many years ago, during a field study in Chicago, Drs. Ariano, Bunting, and Savel stared in horrified wonderment at an entire display rack of gummi pizza. The ensuing discussion led to an elaborate experiment involving the mails and Canadian chocolate, and ended in an unfortunate banana-candy incident at U.S. Customs, but suffice it to say that gummi pizza has cast a long shadow over the B.A.R.F.
If we may pay the E. Frutti iteration one compliment — and we may, but…only the one — we can say that its rendering of two-day-old subpar pizza’s layer of congealed grease and decompensated toppings is uncanny. And revolting.
Description. The Chocletto is, in theory, the waking embodiment of every candy-loving child’s wildest dream: a hybrid of the Starburst shape, the Kraft caramel’s smooth chewiness, and chocolate.
The poo-hued reality falls short of “revolting,” but then, it just falls short, period.
Packaging/Branding. The Old Time Candy Company sends an eight-pack of Choclettos in a plastic dime-store sleeve; each candy is folded into a white waxed wrapper with “Choclettos™” printed in purple on the side.
Description. If it is not a truth universally acknowledged that bar food should not be replicated in vacuum-sealed cornmeal form, it should become one, as the B.A.R.F. lab has asserted in the past. Attempts to imitate pub snacks that depend in large part on greasy breading and/or melted cheese to succeed cannot possibly thrive in a chip-aisle environment, and necessarily suffer by comparison.
The Funyun is no exception. “Onion Flavored Rings” fashioned of corn starch, buttermilk powder, and sundry chemical shapers can never approach a genuine onion ring in flavor or texture.
Comparisons to a superior original aside, however, Funyuns do have a certain appeal. While we cannot deem them “good,” exactly, we cannot deny that, when paired with a Coca-Cola, their peppery crunch is at least interesting.
Description. The snack world already had a perfectly adequate “spring” Oreo. We called it “the Oreo,” and between Double-Stufs, Golden Oreos, the Oreos with the Thin-Mints-esque coating, the chocolate Oreos, the other 3,283 niche flavors, and the ability of most seasonally concerned gourmands to walk outside with a famous original Oreo on an April afternoon and eat it amongst the bees and blooms, the market did not seem to cry out for a specially branded sandwich cookie in addition to pre-existing products.
The market almost assuredly did not cry out for said sandwich cookie to feature a filling the color of hangover urine. Half a dozen pastels available to denote spring — or, more particularly, Easter eggs — and which shade does Nabisco select? Not pink, which they might push to girls, or lavender, perfect to roll off the line again in June for Pride Weekend, or pale green (St. Pat’s) or baby blue. No, Nabisco selected yellow, and not a gentle, baby-nursery, newborn-chick yellow, but rather a hepatitis-eyeball, B-movie-creature-teeth, neglected-meth-head-dye-job yellow.
The Spring Oreo soon became known around the Foundation Campus as, well, anything but; popular monikers included “the Or-Pee-o” and “the Needle-Shareo.” But we cannot help noting that “the Spring Urino” could have overcome its unfortunate tint had Nabisco decided on a rainbow of Spring Oreo shades. Instead, the sales team evidently opted to confine variety to the cookies themselves, which come in five different designs, all equally immaterial to the Oreo experience.
Description. People love chee”se” doodles; people love barbecue chips; surely people will love a puffed-corn snack that combines the two snaxperiences. …Or so the conversation in the Wise Corporation’s product-development department must have gone.
Elsewhere in the culture, another conversation occurred in which the venerable Dr. Egon Spengler warned, “Don’t cross the streams. It would be bad.” This latter exchange: ignored.
It is with some relief, then, that we report the failure of the expected perversion of food science to materialize. The “Honey BBQ & Cheese Flavored baked corn snack” is faintly unpleasant visually; the obligatory neon orange of the average cheesy puff is muted, as well as augmented with dark flea-like flecks of unknown origin. Optimists may identify them as bits of the paprika extract or tomato powder promised by the ingredients; realists, on the other hand, having never seen thiamin hydrochloride or disodium guanylate in their native forms, could conclude that they resemble bedbug powder. Neither party will sleep any better knowing that a food additive called “butter oil” exists.
Packaging/Branding. The hip-hop bee mascot is simply unacceptable. First of all, in the shameful Mr. Peanut tradition of talking-object/animal mascots since time immemorial, it has no trousers on. Second of all, it is a hip-hop bee.
Description. A roughly spherical blob of puffed reconstituted corn, coated with powdered cheese-food product. The Utz ball is typical of most species in the genus: painfully bright orange plumage that stains fingers; cakey mouthfeel; molar accretion.
Packaging/Branding. Minimalist, but concerned with promoting the healthfulness of the Balls. A My Three Sons-y font notes that the balls are baked, and what the spelling “Cheese” — versus the customary “cheez” or “cheeze” of the genre — suggests is confirmed: Utz uses real cheese in its Balls. The 25-cent sleeve of Balls reminds prospective snackers more than once that the Balls contain no trans fat. Gluten-averse consumers may also enjoy the Cheese Balls free of worry.