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. 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 burnt-orange tube, dusted with pollen intended to evoke coconut, the Chick-O-Stick has nothing to do with chicken, although the color is reminiscent of buffalo-wing sauce.
The cross-sectioned Stick, a shiny moon-rock-y affair that resembles a ’70s-sci-fi set-design element, has nothing to do with anything found in nature — except possibly feces (the manner in which the peanut flecks are disported…enough said, we trust).
Packaging/Branding. The font and package shapes recall mid-century diner culture. Meanwhile, the company logo’s star and the product name’s label share the same nuclear-meltdown orange as the Stick, and the transparent cellophane makes no attempt to hide or even lessen the visual impact of the homely snack within — a zen attitude our testers almost admire.
Description. A wax tube of circus-colored corn syrup is one of the pleasures or activities of childhood that simply does not translate to adult life. It is constituted entirely of sugar, adulterated with chemicals, and it is a messy and disappointing hassle to consume. Children have rabid sweet teeth, plenty of free time, and no involvement with dry cleaning or at-home stain removal; slurping blue sugar water out of a tiny wax phallus does not strike them as inappropriate.
Adults, on the other hand, have absolutely no reason to associate with the Wax Syrup Stick and its terrifying array of food dyes. Our tester tried every possible mode of consumption, in search of the one that would not ikat her clothing with a Yellow 6 Rorschach series, and her notepad at the end of this failed endeavor looked like the NORAD screen during the missile-code sequence in WarGames: incisor shear, molar shear, scissor and knife incisions, manual snap, pinhole, supra-sink, bib method, spoon edge, gravity press.
And for what, she wondered after changing her shirt. For a taste experience she could replicate by licking an IKEA Tindra.
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.
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.