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
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. 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. Departs from the standard white or pink Sno Ball only in color; consumers fearing that the green/St. Pat’s Sno Ball might, like the Shamrock Shake, feature an unwelcome shot of mint may proceed without fear. …Excuse us: “without more fear.” The addition of a mint-flavored component would indeed push the Ball into pre-colonoscopy-milkshake territory, but the Sno Ball is already inevitably a variation on the weirdly light, but also chewily elderly, shell of marshmallow surrounding a stale asteroid of devil’s food cake, which itself contains a pasty crème filling — dusted with ciliae of faux-conut.
Description. Deconstructing the Butterfinger into its component parts: decent idea. Using the actual parts, instead of the ersatz orangey “peanut butter” and cocoa-powdery coating of the Butterfinger: even better idea.
Adding superfluous coconut to an already overloaded flavor profile: confusing, but not the dumbest idea we’ve ever heard.
The result is a honey-roasted-asteroid affair with a vague resemblance to deer pellets.
Description. A shockingly non-vile and genuine piece of candy — not what we expected from a cousin of the pathetically off-putting Chocletto. While the fecal-presentation problem is also present in the Walnetto, and to an even more troubling degree (…nuts; enough said), everything else is a marked improvement.
With that said, between the color, the nut hunks, and the unfortunate tendency towards…glistening at room temperature, the visual is extremely disgusting.
Packaging/Branding. The first sign that the depressing Chocletto experience is not to be repeated is the minuscule Diamond Walnuts logo on each Walnetto wrapper. The wrapper’s color scheme is an upgrade as well, not mistaking “institutional” for “classic” as the Chocletto’s does.
Description. Off-puttingly blunt though it seems, the Pearson’s Salted Nut Roll’s name is somewhat misleading; it is not a roll in the cinnamon-roll sense, but rather a tube of crème nougat rolled in salted peanuts.
The tube is 5-6 inches long; it is salty; it is filled with a white substance; and there is nut involvement. We trust that its selection for testing requires no further explanation.
Packaging/Branding. The presence of a yellow crown containing the words “king size” on the wrapper forced our data-collection technician to turn the Roll face-down at the Walgreen’s checkout, lest she be subject to the sort of “girl, please” reaction that greets boastful requests for Magnum condoms.
The front of the wrapper is otherwise nondescript. The back, meanwhile, is a nauseating horror movie in nutrition-panel format; a single Nut Roll contains 22g of fat, for 34% of the recommended daily allowance, as well as 18% of the carb allowance and 12% of the sodium.