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. 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. 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. Apparently, a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich is a titanic effort to construct. How else to explain the proliferation of products meant to cut one’s build time? (The hideous brand names — Goober; Koogle — defy any attempt at rationalization.)
Thus, the PB ‘n J Sandwich Cracker, featuring all the carcinogenic preservatives of the Toast-Chee et al., but none of the illusion of freshness or good taste. Unattractive, stale, and employing the cheapest fake-grape formulation available, the PB ‘n J Sandwich Cracker is an insult to snacking, and to the rules of punctuation.
Packaging/Branding. It is telling that the words “artificially flavored” are rendered nearly the size of the customary noxious branding troll and his ill-fitting footwear at the bottom of the cracker sleeve. It is also telling, if hardly surprising, that Keebler fails to understand the correct punctuation of a contraction, posting only one apostrophe before the “n” (the word “and,” shortened on both sides, requires two apostrophes, one on each side).
Description. The Double-Decker Moon Pie comes out of the package looking like a hybrid: a runty stack of gluten-free pancakes caught in a weather event; and a cafeteria cheeseburger. The latter impression is thanks to the icing, a mustard color with unfortunate drips happening at the sides.
Cross-sectioning the Pie reveals a layer-cake-like interior iced with marshmallow, but thanks to the compression, there persists the overarching sense of an already-mediocre snack purposefully stepped on.
The Foundation greets you from the road for the next couple of weeks, as we collect data and snacks and convene with various colleagues around the country. Today’s snack comes to you from a rest stop in Indiana.
Description. How a snack so inorganic and fundamentally unappealing in shape, taste, and ingredients, a snack that so often tastes like bile and can boast only nominal innovation, has managed to elude a label of “revolting” for as long as Combos have is a mystery. The tubes of cracker or pretzel, marginally clever but probably more effort to achieve than a between-meal repast warrants; the extruded, reconstituted cheese paste; the sodium levels that fairly box the ears would all seem to add up to a surefire repellent.
Totis have several features to recommend them. The spicy-chili-lime-snack concept itself is a strong one, and the Toti is made with more natural-sounding ingredients than we had anticipated, given the lurid Bram Stokerish coloring of the snack rings. The flavoring seems to proceed from citric acid and genuine chili pepper. (Only the Lord knows what proceeds from “sodium acid pyrophosphate,” which sounds like an additive in fireworks.)