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.
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. 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.
Description. A visual hybrid of a classic Entenmann’s chocolate-chip cookie and the cinnamon roll promised by the name, the CRC is distinguished primarily by the intensity of its odor. Dr. Barkenbush furnished the samples in two Ziploc bags, themselves within a USPS Priority Mail box sealed with packing tape; the cookies still managed to suffuse the lab’s entryway with the jackhammer scent of Cinnabon (a co-brander of this cookie venture).
Each cookie is festooned with pointedly random stripes of caramel — or so it appeared through eyes made watery by ersatz-pecan fumes.
Description. A comparatively faithful rendition of Sanrio’s most ubiquitous character, the Hello Kitty Marshmallow Pop does hit a couple of uncanny-valley snags. Its in-packaging presentation implies that it is composed entirely of Christmas-cookie sprinkles, but this isn’t the cause of the unsettlement; rather, it’s the rodent-y placement of Kitty’s button nose, which never quite succeeds in three dimensions — and the nipple-y placement of Kitty’s shirt buttons.
Speaking of buttons, their texture may startle some consumers; they, and Kitty’s other “features” (her bow, whiskers, et al.), resemble button candy in both diamond hardness and dearth of flavor. Setting them aside for future messages to be written on glass is advised.
Description. The world had not clamored, or even whispered shamefully under its covers at night, for a snack that represents the uncomfortable visual union between rotini pasta and magnified rhinovirus, and shares an unnatural orange with the Sea-Monkey-sized sea life that populates a “shrimp” Cup o’ Noodles. Yet said snack exists, presumably in not one but two flavors (the tester retrieved only the “picoso” subspecies).
Packaging/Branding. The depiction of the product on the front is accurate. This honesty is refreshing, but unfortunate, and the photograph resembles a bag of Ore-Ida crinkle fries to a suspicious degree. Other poor choices include the font, a stereotypical karate-school-signage affair; the “0g trans fat” tag (one third of the bag supplies 10% of the RDA of fat overall); and the watercolor shrimp next to the product name. The creature still has legs, antennae, and eyes…and the eyes look terrified.