Mountain Dew Kickstart Energizing Fruit Punch

Mountain Dew Kickstart is released today, much to the chagrin and delight of bearded babyfaces all over the world. Maybe it’s just my curmudgeonly tendencies and complete inability to understand idiomatic phrases, but “Kickstart” doesn’t hold too much power for me. The last item I owned that functioned primarily via kickstarting was from 1978 and met an untimely death via theft, and vibrated weakly in between my legs for a mere $5 fill-up. Kickstarter is a scary company where the dreams of hipsters live and thrive, so you’ll have to excuse me for being a little dubious of Mountain Dew’s Kickstart, the latest in a long, quirky line of breakfast-themed sodas following slowly on the heels of the Taco Bell-exclusive Mountain Dew AM.

After a long day of copy-machine mangled documents and succumbing to the realization of how damned uncomfortable Hunter boots are in a mildly heated office environment, regardless of their animal magnetism and raw power, I needed a boost slightly more powerful than my regular combination of sweatpants and Elliot Smith. Enter Mountain Dew Kickstart in Energizing Fruit Punch, stage left, accompanied by the Bloodhound Gang. If anyone is a prime candidate for extra energy, it’s me. I mean, Birkin ain’t got nothing on those eye bags, if you catch my drift. Punchline: I’m exhausted!

Right off the bat, this is a drink you don’t want to confuse with regular fruit punch, because its kick of caffeine puts it in a category of danger even more lurid than the normal stuff. It’s not something you want to serve to toddlers, but also doesn’t seem to be nearly as potent as most energy drinks on the market. It’s sweet and sticky, like fruit punch and Mountain Dew, and ends up tasting a lot like the bug juice they used to pour into us at camp, minus the irritability and sunburn. As an aside, I like that the accompanying adjective to this is “energizing” rather than something creepy and implicit, like “rockin'” or “brain-meltin'”. It seems mature.

Would I serve this to teenagers? Only if I was making them perform hard manual labor. Is it for coffee drinkers? Well, the caffeine is equivalent to a cup of coffee, and somehow I can’t see my mom replacing her daily mug of joe with a can of this every morning before she heliskis to work. It seems inappropriate for kids, and it’s just not strong enough for regular energy drink users. Thus, it’s difficult for me to precisely envision who the core demographic for this group is- it seems to be best suited for the bicurious of drinkers, “bi” in this case referring to Vitamin B-curious, of which this contains 80% of your daily recommended value. Drink away, my minions. I’ll stick to my coffee and 90’s grunge.

MiO Fit Arctic Grape and Berry Blast

Your locally-sourced badass and resident free-range bachelor is back on the prowl, ladies and germs, the prowl for delicious dainties and stupidly expensive condiments. It’s the time of year when Google’s advertising aggressively starts steering me toward camera auctions, wedding rings, discount leather apparel, and of course, drink mixes. Well, screw ’em. I don’t need more chaps or a robot’s recommendation on where to buy my condiments! I’ve found exciting things right here, you see. While MiO Fit might not be new or etsy-endorsed, it’s delicious and as always, convenient sandwiched in between a busy girl’s schedule of court, gym-ratting, and weekly trips to the spirits shoppe.

I decided to be intrepid and mix this not with water, but with dusty craft tonic water. Needless to say, Hendricks has never tasted better. MiO Fit, in both Arctic Grape and Berry Blast, has the tang and nostalgic flavor of old, discontinued Gatorade, and I say that with only the most plaintive of emphasis. Both flavors are redolent with sodium and vigor for all of your personal exertion needs and don’t taste half bad– pleasantly, they are on the other end of the MiO Energy spectrum and forgo sugar more than their counterparts. Arctic Grape is my personal favorite of the two, mainly because Berry Blast tastes like the Berry Lemonade released last May with a little more salt. 

While the MiO brand has somewhat run its course, Sassy Gay Friend now taking the role of Sassy Gay Queen and commenting on the latest David Ives fiasco between sips of Aperol, I still enjoy that they are condensing our beloved, albeit bulky drinks of yore into handheld versions for the modern day.

Davio’s Northern Italian Macaroni and Cheese Spring Rolls

Now that I’m navigating the world as an intrepid, paunchy bachelor, I’m finding that food just isn’t holding as much compel as it used to. Rather, it’s taken a backseat to the exciting minutia of single adult life, like perusing the dismal grocery selection, where the Alpo is literally next to the Campbell’s, at the local convenience store with the appraised eye of a Storage Wars veteran.

So, as I briefly alluded to with my last post, a trip to the real-life, big city grocery store brings both trials and tribulations, including the almost comically depressive existential decline of this very blog’s content. I remember when this blog used to be grassroots, man. Cell phone photos and hairbrushes all over the place. Now I’m just surrounded by women, empty space, and a thousand and one iterations of Pop Tarts that no man truly needs. The selection at Target has me yearning for the days of limited-edition Doritos that weren’t throwbacks to throwbacks debuting in 2007 but really in 1963?

The sheer overload has me grabbing shit off the shelves just so I can get home and watch Community. Last week, one of those shits happened to be these spring rolls. Congratulations, Davio’s, and may God have mercy on your fillet of sole.
These are Davio’s Macaroni and Cheese Rolls, and the only unhappiness they tangentially bring to my mother comes from the fact that I purchased them in the first place, thus further shaming the family and increasing my risk of heart disease. As for the drooling, I regret to inform you that said reaction cannot be attributed to the golden-brown crust of the rolls, but the sudden stroke you’ll incur after downing one or two of these. 180 calories per roll and not a lick of flavor to show for it. For all their plump-noodled glory, they are extremely bland and far too creamy and the noodles fade into an oblivion of flour and oil.

Also, Davio’s assumes its core demographic still lives with their parents. Is there anyone they don’t abjectly hate?

Let’s get one thing off our chests: the sauce I made to accompany this, per Davio’s tutelage, bears a disproportionate resemblance to human waste. It only adds insult to injury that I attempted to arrange the rolls as though I was presenting them to a party of six drunk twenty-somethings after a showing of “Love Actually” and a rabid desire for closure and saturated fat. However, it did help detract from the sheer richness of these rolls, like mozzarella sticks wrapped in spring rolls and carefully aggregated marketing data targeting my generation’s inability to let go of their childhoods. I’m surprised it didn’t come with a $2 off coupon of the Blu-Ray re-release of The Princess Bride.
Again, that doesn’t justify these existing as miniaturized fried human salt licks. Not in the slightest, unless you are starving or trapped in a fast-casual restaurant in a blizzard and it’s between these or your coworker, Chad.

Noosa Passionfruit Yoghurt

Now that I’m back home, my grocery shopping has been a little…weird. Weird is a good word, hazy is another. I’ll get out of the car, walk in the automatic doors of Stop and Shop, blink slowly, and suddenly look down, realizing I now have not one, but two carts. One is empty. The other cart has a jug of apple cider, frozen potato appetizers, and hair ties, all on clearance, in the baby seat. But I trust my judgment, so off I trudge.
This new frugality leads to both fun and despair later on in the week when I’m actually using the Ingredients Formerly Known as Chopped in my real, day-to-day life. I find myself making substitutes that negate my smug grin after leaving the store. “A dollar for all of those broken lasagna sheets? Watsky, you’re a genius, I swear.” But then pasta with tomato sauce turns into lasagna shards with hot sauce and condensed soup and I realize that things like hot pizza and chicken breasts are what the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs envied. (My sincerest apologies, Mr. Nabokov.) And I turn, in despair, to specialty foods once more.

This was one of the nicer things I picked up in my shopping haze, wholly moving forward with the intent of becoming one of those people who eats yoghurt for breakfast and decorates their home with old records and paintings by local artists whose work they “picked up” at an open studio in an abandoned warehouse. I will not let yuppies die, damn it. Noosa is Greek-style, Australian-inspired yoghurt made in Colorado, so it’s the cultural equivalent of those kids in your elementary school whose parents had sent them off to the first grade trilingual and fluent in karate. It’s intimidating and polished, despite its perpetually misspelled progressive name.
Noosa is delicious- finely crafted, rich, with the perfect balance between creamy and sweet and huge chunks of passionfruit. Were it not for the fact that it’s a visual trainwreck, it would blow the competition behind. Unfortunately, it’s the edible equivalent of the film Hostel. It literally plays tricks with your mind when something tastes like a fresh pannacotta and looks like the runny scrambled eggs you’d find at a complimentary hotel buffet. Even after mixing, it curdles, and the chunks on the surface never fully incorporate into the rest of the yoghurt. I want to buy Noosa again, but it’s the kind of thing that I only feel comfortable eating by myself, over the sink, alone.

Davio’s Northern Italian Frozen Reuben Spring Rolls

Happy Super Bowl, Davio’s is at it again, engaging in the time-honored tradition of publicly ousting a waitress at the minimum-wage pay scale for her love of non-Northern Italian Steakhouse food. I can only assume she was later fired. Who needs benefits and SEP plans when you have sandwiches, though? And Davio’s menu includes sesame-crusted tuna and macaroni and cheese. At this rate, a Reuben could be considered Northern Italian Steakhouse cuisine, seeing as their business model seems to be founded upon “food that people ingest.” Without further ado, here’s the Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse Reuben Spring Roll.

Accompanied by a package riddled with errors– really, Davio’s, with your propensity for stuffing inappropriate things inside spring rolls, this puts you well on par with a college stoner tapping out an English paper. Rueben? She’? Missing commas and crappy punctuation? These are the most basic of issues. Stop trying to focus on your open mic-esque comparison of Jewish and Italian cuisine (“They’re different cultures! They’re not the same! Am I right? Right? Right?”) and open up Microsoft Word before you send these off to the printers.
Also, I hate to gripe, but how does turning a Reuben sandwich into a spring roll make it Italian? The only mentioning of “Italian spring rolls” on the vast internet archives is from Nadia G, an apt partner in crime to match with Davio’s, now that I think of it.

These babies feature corned beef, sauerkraut, and Thousand Island dressing wrapped up in a spring roll wrapper and fried. Of all the features, I was most afraid of the dressing, a trepidation that turned out to be well-founded. The beef and sauerkraut were delicious and portioned well. The fat in the beef melted from the indirect heat, and as a result, never got stringy or chewy, and the cabbage added a vinegary kick without getting too salty or mushy.

My main gripe lay in the dressing, as I mentioned before. It was concentrated on the ends of the roll, likely so that when cooked, it would evenly distribute throughout the roll. This was effective, but unfortunately, the concentration of dressing at the ends caused those sections of the roll to burn at a much faster rate than the rest of the roll, perhaps from the sugars in the sauce? I’m not sure of the cause, but it was not ideal. Luckily, the roll was tasty, although the predominant flavor was definitely the spring roll shell, followed by the heavily spiced meat. Apparently there was also Swiss cheese, but I didn’t detect it at all. 

These are tasty, but small and easily absorb grease. They are not going to satisfy your sandwich craving, or your spring roll craving, or your craving for Italian food at a Northern Italian Steakhouse that serves everything but Italian food. However, they’re not a half-bad Super Bowl snack, so I guess that gives them some edge over the standard reheated wings and pepperoni pizza at most shebangs.

CVS Gold Emblem Snacks for the Super Bowl

A quick reminder before the big game- CVS has plenty of awesome snacks for you to try, whether you’re picking up late-night Advil or early morning Gatorade. Depends on how your night goes.

Regardless, check out this football helmet full of goodies from their Gold Emblem collection. As a dedicated anti-sport hermit, I have been snacking on their chocolate-covered cashews while watching British documentaries about Japanese call boys on Netflix.

In any case, whether you’re posing blindfolded in an ornamental football helmet and taking creepy selfies alone in the dark or actually watching the Super Bowl, CVS and their Gold Emblem collection has snacks for you and your cadre of diverse friends.

I mean, just look at those gummies. Look at them and tell me you’re not hungry. Happy Super Bowl! May [insert your favorite team here] win, because I am loyal to none.

Campbell’s Go Spicy Chorizo and Pulled Chicken Soup

At 8PM, I’m Foodette, reporting from the front lines of hazardous demographic research and intensive Millenial indulgence with the latest and sadist from Campbell’s Go line, the perfect on-the-go meal for starving hipsters and barely intrepid foodies. This quippy meatbag, one in a line of six, screamed out at me from the desperate second-to-last shelf in Target. It’s so twee I wouldn’t be surprised if it had its own Tumblr. So, in a desperate attempt to stay relevant, I grabbed it for work lunch and ended up eating it when I ran out of food today. Yes, Campbell’s, I am the representative for this glamorous demographic you whimsically refer to as “unexpected.”
As I waited for the soup to heat, I enjoyed the lengthy commentary on the Campbell’s Go website, which, in addition to informing me that I was indeed ingesting a record 75% of my daily recommended intake of sodium, provided me with whimsical images of kittens and advice about getting over an ex. Spoiler alert, it includes “ziplining.” Wow, Campbell’s, you slay me, but I think I’ll stick with therapy for now.

After appeasing the microwave gods and heating the soup, I couldn’t tell if my satisfaction derived from the simple pleasure of not inducing 3rd degree burns from a boiling bag full of meat or performing a plastic lobotomy on the manic package model. In ether case, the anticipation outweighed the results. This soup is bland, man, bland with the power of a thousand OkCupid profiles whose aging users enjoy Kubrick and halfheartedly admit they’re an INTJ. Its inclusion of large chunks of chorizo sausage and distinguishable black beans and corn do little to ameliorate the fact that all have the consistency of damp paper towels. I sought, but found no pulled chicken.
“Microwave, what hell hath you wrought?”

The broth, thick and meaty, is arguably the most tolerable part of this complete breakfast, but just barely, and has a gelatinous, somewhat dirty consistency better suited to a cooking sauce than a meal base. It is unfortunately about as smoky as an electronic cigarette, but a quarter of a bottle of hot sauce accentuated its cumin-heavy base flavors. One could easily achieve the same results by spooning the last of a jar of chili into a can of Dinty Moore and letting Jesus take the wheel from there.

Can I take the heat? Campbell’s asks me. I can, but in the words of Truman, if this is the only option, I’ll just stay out of the kitchen. For all its buoyant exuberance, Campbell’s Go line tries hard but ultimately falls to the mediocre wayside in the face of discerning, flippant palates.