Their habitats, markings, and behaviors. On Twitter @RevoltingSnacks.

Ding Dong (Hot & Spicy)

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

Nong Shim Shrimp Flavored Cracker (Hot & Spicy)

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.

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Description. If it is not a truth universally acknowledged that bar food should not be replicated in vacuum-sealed cornmeal form, it should become one, as the B.A.R.F. lab has asserted in the past. Attempts to imitate pub snacks that depend in large part on greasy breading and/or melted cheese to succeed cannot possibly thrive in a chip-aisle environment, and necessarily suffer by comparison.

The Funyun is no exception. “Onion Flavored Rings” fashioned of corn starch, buttermilk powder, and sundry chemical shapers can never approach a genuine onion ring in flavor or texture.

Comparisons to a superior original aside, however, Funyuns do have a certain appeal. While we cannot deem them “good,” exactly, we cannot deny that, when paired with a Coca-Cola, their peppery crunch is at least interesting.

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Sliced Herring Fillets in Cream Sauce

Description. Cured fish of any sort is guaranteed to motivate furious debates along any number of axes: how fishy is too fishy vs. “oy: it’s fish”; when to pair sweet with salt; rye-pernickel bread, clever solution or unholy hybrid. Addressing the sliced herring fillet, we will confine ourselves to a mere two of these arguments. The first: whether a snack is the same thing as a nosh.

As scientists, we at the B.A.R.F. must refrain from any final or permanent judgment in the matter; we will merely illustrate the reasoning, to wit: many consider a snack a food item that, while it may augment a meal, is not a meal substitute; a nosh, meanwhile, is understood as composed of meal components, but consumed in smaller quantities and grazing style — often at the same in-between times as a snack, but differing from a meal in degree, rather than as a snack does, in kind.

The herring fillet is widely seen as a noshable, like whitefish salad or lox; it may not represent an entire meal, but merely part of one, or something to nibble during Mother’s Day brunch. A forkful of the leftovers spread on a mini-bagel is clearly, on a figurative basis, a snack…but certain purists insist that a protein is never a snack…or that, if you have to use a utensil to create it, it is not a snack…or that an oversalted and mealy fillet studded with softened bones and topped with a too-sweet slurry of cream and red onions is not fit for human consumption in the first place.

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