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. Turkey salad is itself superfluous. It is seldom seen outside the post-Thanksgiving repurposing-desperation period, usually on or around the Tuesday following, by which time all other turkey dishes — sandwiches; tetrazzini; an awkward canapé incident involving pimiento — have been exhausted and only salad and smoothies remain. It is never ordered, or craved.
The Foundation has yet to collect sufficient data on why this is so, although one leading theory has it that turkey, despite its superior taste, is not as agreeably chunkable as chicken and therefore fails to translate. But it is so nevertheless; turkey salad is inessential. Vegetarian turkey salad, then, is almost actively a waste of energy and space.
Description. Vegetarian pâté seldom works. It cannot. Pâté is by definition a spreadable meat, one that can hold a clever shape thanks to said meat’s natural fats. The vegetable version can scarcely call itself a “substitute,” forced as it is to shore up its flavorless and soupy presentation with large infusions of sodium, guar gum, and gelatin.
Perfectly serviceable red-pepper terrines, shiitake whips, and the like do exist, and partner productively with a pita wedge, but using the word “pâté” creates an expectation of richly fatty, rounded flavor and texture that no soy-proximation can replicate.
Scandia’s version is no exception. One could spin the can’s Soviet presentation as a deliberate decision not to overpromise Onassistine luxury, but the label is no-nonsense and efficient in its instructions for consumption. “To be preferably consumed till [sic] end of year inscribed on the lid” (here, 2013). “It is recommended to be consumed cold, a maximum 24 hours from opening the can.”