Reed’s Flying Cauldron Butterscotch Beer

I’m not in law school just yet, so I don’t know a lot about copyright law, but one thing I do have under my belt is a damned good sense of practical application of the law in real life. So when I see a soda bottle not even remotely trying to be subtle about tossing around references to butterscotch beer, the Flying Cauldron brewery, and Hogsbreath, England, it gives me a little pause to ponder the implications of screwing over my good friend Sui Generis. Case in point, Reed’s Butterscotch Beer, which whips out its caramel-colored goo and screams, “DEAL WITH IT” on the shelf. Just looking at it makes me feel like an accessory to a white-collar crime.

Where, oh where to begin with this one? Is it the vaguely Celtic-inspired font emblazoned across the bottle, as unique and special as a “mo chuisle” tramp stamp tattoo, or possibly the near-references to Harry Pot- er, Herman Trotter book places and themes? I could also bring up the flavor, the clip-art influenced flying cauldron, or as we eye-bearers call it, “pus-leaking beetle on a flaming H.O. scale rocket launcher.” Yikes. Without being too crass, it looks like a less-than-skilled child designed this after eating a ton of paste in art class. This is the worst violation of intellectual property laws since not-Pixar’s “What’s Up: Balloon to the Rescue.”

But I’m not here to debate the aesthetic merits of the bottle or the many potential legal ramifications of this flagrant asshattery. One cannot be an exceptional student, lover, and secretly embody Simon Schama and Billy Flynn simultaneously. Such are the limitations of men. The real question is, how does this taste? Reed’s markets it for “wizards and unrealized wizards alike.” Way to alienate the entire Muggle population. Suck my Patronus, Reed’s. And America’s, too. Well, through one way or another, this contraband has made it into the hands of a non-wizard FTW. And it tastes absolutely terrible.

 

Apparently, Slim Reedy just don’t give a fuck. This is what young Squibs get when their wizarding parents hate them. This is what real kids get when they drag their parents to the midnight book premieres. One positive aspect is that this does look a little like beer before you read the non-alcoholic part, so congratulations, you now look as cool as the guy drinking an O’Doul’s next to you at the bar. Also, nice wand. The flavor is sickly and sticks going down and it smells like butter, melted butter, and the candy dishes of old ladies everywhere. I feel like I’m playing an adult version of Candy Land where, when I land on the Sugar Booger Mountains, I have to take a shot of molasses and touch my nose with my foot. It’s barely drinkable. Each burp tastes like I’ve just downed a handful of kettle corn and before I could say Abra Kaglucopyranose, I found myself parched and hopped up on sugar at the same time. As much as I hate to say it, it sounds like a pretty good simulation of going to Universal Studios for a mere George Washington. I still hate this. Why? Because Reed’s is an awesome company. I hold them to a higher standard of performance and this isn’t cutting it.

Nostalgia Week #2: Little Debbie Zebra Cakes

It hurts to write this post because it feels like I’m peeling away a very dear, but vestigial part of my body. Like taking out my appendix, or lopping off an earlobe, admitting that Zebra Cakes are an abject failure, the wheezing obese diabetic token of snack cakes, physically pains me. Dr. D used to take me on weekends in her yellow VW bug and typically, our first order of business was to pick up some treats for the visit, forbidden favorites that followed an excursion to an animal shelter or Toys R Us. It was one of my first real feelings of equal power, how wonderful it felt to just hold up a pack of Zebra Cakes and get a nod of approval. Because of that the treat has stuck with me, holding a significance far beyond snack cakes. The zany zebra heralded one of my first brushes with responsibility- the joy and ensuing pain of eating too many Zebra Cakes.
Over a decade and a half later, I decided to revisit them out of pure nostalgic longing. I wasn’t disappointed to eat them again as they did rekindle the same delight I felt so many years back, still best paired with a 4-piece kid’s meal from Burger King and an episode of Angry Beavers, but I was disappointed to discover that a pack of these is worse, in almost every single respect, than eating a McDouble. This is right behind colored sunscreen and puppy feet on the ever-expanding list of “things that are adorable but should not, under any circumstances, be placed in a human’s mouth.” With a flimsy, crumbly structure and a persistent filminess, these things are basically the edible equivalent of the FBI Most Wanted List. They’re nasty hexagonal calorie bombs glued together with sweetened Floam. The texture seizes up and improves when subjected to a bout in the freezer, but primarily remains waxy on the outside and grainy with sugar on the inside. The zebra stripes don’t impart any chocolatey flavor to the cake at all.
While I’d wished the little cakes had tasted better, the reminiscence of kicking back with these and classic 90’s episodes of Nickelodeon is parallel to none, even the post-consumption guilt of realizing how much saturated fat is in these.

ARMA Energy SNX C4

As part of my extended, extended, extended, four years running resolution to get fit, I’ve joined the gym again. Note that nowhere in that sentence, does it claim how much weight I’ve lost or how many pounds I can lift or craigslist-esque bathroom mirror photos of me flexing with my shirt off. One of my biggest pet peeves is people who indirectly brag about their gym success while all the while looking like enormous fatasses. Only when you lose the weight with effort and an awesome trainer (pics or it didn’t happen) can you effectively brag. (And yes, I listened to the entire Karate Kid soundtrack while photographing this. Be jealous.)
But yes, the fact still remains that I have joined the gym. And to get my money’s worth, I must actually go to the gym. Sometimes this takes a little motivation, like going when I know there’s a block of my favorite Food Network shows, or having an especially long session before a large or special dinner, but sometimes I’m just too damned tired. And when water and electroshock therapy don’t do the trick, out comes a coffee or, in the worst case scenario, an energy drink. When a package from ARMA Energy SNX arrived at the house today, I decided to test out their energy-infused snacks to see if they’d be a part of my gym repertoire.
The most appealing flavor, C4, housed in a durable missile shell-shaped can with graphic enhancements that overcompensate for its size, featured a mixture of chocolate, caramel, cookie, and caffeine mix and a fun fact on the side to boot. Did you know that ARMA Energy is a premium energy drink? Already, I can see an issue with using these as an energy supplement before exercise. By having a pack of these as a snack, you’re downing 380 calories and 40% of your daily recommended value of saturated fat before you even hit the treadmill. For someone on a reduced calorie diet, it’s not ideal. And even as a regular snack on a 2,000 calories a day, it eats up quite a lot and amounts to roughly two candy bars’ worth of calories.
As you know, I have no problem indulging if something is delicious and unique enough. Unfortunately, the end result tastes like the remnants of a Halloween haul on November 30th. All the quality, brand-name stuff is gone, leaving behind melted unwrapped hunks of sugary caramel, off-brand chocolate that crumbles and stale cookies. While I admire the snack’s ability to put “energy” or at least a ton of vitamins into its contents without imparting a metallic flavor, the flavor that is there is basically nonexistent and one-noted.
The uncoated cookies seemed a little redundant when mixed in with the chocolate-covered cookies but provided a little visual contrast. This certainly didn’t live up to its explosive name and had a flavor more akin to a knockoff Twix bar– grainy, overly sweet, and hideously chewy like the bastard son of a Tootsie Roll. As far as an energy peak, despite collecting the full set of B vitamins, I experienced no more of a peak in my workout than if I had eaten a candy bar. Just a sugar rush and inevitable crash culminating in my passing out in front of Modern Family. Not something that I’d consider a viable energy source or even a decent snack after a workout.

Delicious Eagle Confection Tomato White Chocolate Candies

Unless you’re one of those 75% off candy hounds, you’re probably sick of Valentine’s Day offerings at this point. I’ve never just celebrated Valentine’s Day on its own. I’m pretty sure everyone else is in the same boat where the first two weeks of February basically comprise a slow incline to the grand bash. In the days leading up, I’ve tried to keep my intake light but always fall prey to the special candies and baked goods everyone’s grandma seems to churn out. And you know I’m a sucker for limited edition snacks! So to change up the game, I figure you could all use a break. Here’s a product that will swear you off Valentine’s candy, and all candy, forever.
This is yet another quirky Japanese candy that, like New Girl, pushes and pushes and never knows when to quit in its relentless search for your validation of its quirkiness. Yes, Japan, thank you for the adorable mascots. And the candy equation below detailing exactly how this two-part confection works. Oh, and the brightly colored package. I can deal with that because typically when this happens, the inside product is delightful as well as strange. But this is a new low, Japan.The strangely patriotic Eagle Confection Company, which may or may not actually exist outside of this package, brings us this creepy combination of tomatoes and white chocolate today in a fit of amateur science pairing the “harmony of sweet and sour tomato and white chocolate” per the package’s explanation. And yes, just in case you looked at the large tomato in chocolate on the package and thought, “I bet this is actually gooseberries in ranch dressing!” there are not one, and nor two, but four different representations of this combination on the front of the package, including but not limited to a soothing tomato pattern that could just as easily double as a Windows 7 default background. Did I mention these were found in a subway station?
Out of the bag, they look relatively innocuous, like something you’d buy on etsy from some homemaker in Indiana. To their credit, they look exactly as they are presented on the bag. However, in actuality, they are some of the strangest, least appealing things I have consumed in the history of this blog. They have a cloying scent that tricks the brain into thinking they’re actually sweet, but the low quality of the white chocolate and the tomatoes inside display a disappointing savory flavor with a salty, jammy aftertaste and a lingering fishiness on the tongue. They taste like chalk, salt, flour, and soy sauce, in that order. The coating crumbles easily and doesn’t melt but dissolves, leaving behind a chalky texture difficult to wash away with a glass of water.
While these were certainly different than the standard snacks one would find in the US or even in Japan, they lacked the proper execution of flavors that makes their whackier counterparts so desirable. Eating these was a bit tricky, like accidentally pouring sugar on sundried tomatoes instead of salt, and didn’t feel even remotely pleasurable or fun outside of the novelty of eating chocolate-covered vegetables.

Gross Week #5: Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Grilled Cheese Explosion

Ugh, I just had a grilled cheese explosion all over my sweatpants. Too much? Perhaps. One might even call it…wait for it…cheesy. I’d personally call it a gloopy, room temperature mess. Welcome to our fifth day of Gross Week, readers. Here’s the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Grilled Cheese Explosion, brought to you by bewildered kittens! Hold your horses, adult baby fetishizers– this is so easy you won’t have to have your aging mom make it for you.
How many different ways can companies try to shuffle around cheese, anyway? Seeing asiago Cheetos and camembert Easy Cheez just bothers me. It all tastes like the basic, vaguely tangy saltfest we all know and love. I’m not quite eager to whip out a bag of ten-year old vintage Ritz Bits with aged cheddar, if you know what I mean. So the Kraft Grilled Cheese Explosion, now with 100% more splooging on the package, eschews the familiar elbow macaroni format for little ditalini noodles. All the better to hold you with, I suppose. These looked appetizing dry but took on a translucent, slippery quality unlike any pasta I’ve had recently. It definitely wasn’t how I remembered eating it as a child.The directions for Kraft’s mac and cheese have also changed, in no part due to their stellar legal team fighting the obesity crisis. What used to be the “light” instructions in small print on the bottom of the box has now replaced the classic preparation and has cut the butter and milk in half. Of course, this doesn’t hinder you from adding a half stick of butter rather than a half tablespoon as I did as a child, but does try to detract and sort of screws with the ratios of the proper sauce mixture. When mixed, the entire pot of pasta seizes up unpleasantly instead of melting into a nice sauce, and the cheese powder never quite loses its grainy texture. I was surprised at how large the individual grains of powder were- they were more corrugated and crystallized than the fine powder of yore but surprisingly flavorless.
Despite smelling sharp, like actual cheddar, the only noticeable flavor was incredibly offputting, reeking of salt and butter, and not just the butter I added. It had more of a fake butter quality to it, making it more appropriately flavored as “$9 movie theatre popcorn” and had a clumpy, weirdly thick texture. Even after adding more than the recommended amount of milk, the sauce separated in some parts and seized in others, leaving each spoonful half-full of milky, runny sauce and half-full of chunks of undissolved powder.
As much as I love macaroni and cheese, this was inedible. Add its poor flavor to the confusing fact that there are two more of these “cheese explosion” varieties and you have a god-awful tasting menu. I don’t understand how Kraft’s menu team translated grilled cheese to a butter-on-butter sleazefest, but there you have it. Even piling a bit on top of a homemade nugget with some hot sauce like a cheap wedding appetizer didn’t help it. It was a veritable onslaught of hypertension crammed into small tubes.

Gross Food Week #3: Jeff’s Chocolate Soda

Guys, I just discovered instagram. And you know what else I discovered? Jeff’s Chocolate Soda. And you know what else I just discovered, today? The futility of mankind and the heartbreaking realization that we’re all doomed, man, you know? Probably as a result of this soda’s existence. All three are connected. Come, let’s take a journey.
Jeff’s Chocolate Soda, found in a Stop and Stop but easily purchased at www.getcreamed.net, the only non-porn website on the planet with an extremely porn-like name, is the end of mankind. Nowhere else can a label entice you with 50’s style clip art graphics and brutally pervert you with a singular message. Get creamed. And by all means, the package warns you, do not shake this beverage. Why that is is not explicitly stated, but I think we can all figure out the rest.
The chocolate soda is 97% fat free and 99% flavor free, too, and allows you to get your daily recommended value of authentic Tootsie Roll flavor without compromising your lack of dignity. The soda smells like marshmallow cream and is a little salty, a scent that, combined with its visual euphemisms, makes this feel like an episode of dirty Blue’s Clues. Luckily, this off scent disappears quickly after opening the bottle and does not translate to the drink’s flavor. It has a thick texture that straddles a line between saliva and whipping cream- not quite solid, but nearing dangerous levels of mucus. It comes out of the bottle matte brown with a few runny bubbles on its surface. It’s not a very appealing beverage for this and many other reasons.
I will give it this; for a soda containing one gram of fat, it certainly packs an enjoyable and authentic Dutch chocolate flavor. It is fair, simple, and immediately chocolatey- again, much like a Tootsie Roll. That’s presumably also where the 48 grams of sugar (per 12 ounces) come in. With a soda like that, who needs enemies? This is a scant 5 grams of sugar away from beating out Sunkist as the world’s worst soda, according to Men’s Health. If poor Paula Deen wasn’t already diagnosed with Type II Diabetes, one or two of these would have easily done the trick.
Unfortunately, I can’t say I’m impressed. This soda’s future is bleak if the company thinks it can ride with the big boys successfully on sugar and catcalls alone. For the sake of my health and my sense of humor, Miss Love and I will be sticking with something lighter and will likely find a more satisfying way to get creamed without all that fluff.

Marley’s Mellow Mood Relaxation Drink

Believe it or not, this drink wasn’t created or endorsed by John Grogan’s loveable yellow laborador. I know, I was disappointed, too. For those of you who are into Marley, though, the Bob one, this drink might come as a pleasant surprise. Marley’s Mellow Mood Relaxation boasts yet another way to get your sleep on. Because nothing relaxes you like a tie-dyed assault of colors, and 29 grams of sugar per can, right? Jah, mon, and that’s all you’ll hear from me.
The can boasts a lofty goal of considering this a dietary supplement, like a Flintstones multi-vitamin. While I’m sure there’s at least one person out there who is actively making this a part of their day-to-day routine, the vast majority of you can stop holding your breath. There are better relaxation supplements out there, and I doubt any of them taste like home-fermented fruit leather. The drink says it’s berry flavored, but tastes more like berries that have been sun-dried with every intent of being made into macro granola but were sadly forgotten in a head shop for a few months. There’s a raisiny note to this, and it’s fairly strong, persistent flavor that lingers throughout each sip. I’m no stranger to slightly medicinal flavors in energy or relaxation drinks, but this gave the beverage a synthetic and creepy edge that inspired me to go through my Stranger Danger checklist one more time. It tastes like bottled mall incense, the kind that comes packaged with a free angry warrior statue.
It’s lightly carbonated and has a watery, floral flavor with a medicinal bite against the fermented berries scent, but holds very little appeal for me as it lacks the fresh flavors of most fruit-flavored sodas. Its flavor does mirror its mission statement in that it is a fairly murky, lazy soda, but unfortunately, that translates to a dismal drink. Color me affected by my own childhood, but drinking it left me with unpleasant memories of taking cherry Robutussin when I was sick. I immediately regretted the two sips I took, as I wasn’t so much relaxed as I was sluggish after trying a little of this and aching from the sugar. Every time you drink this beverage, a dentist earns a $20,000 bonus. This might work if you’ve had a tough day playing Ultimate and need a break, but nevermore, Tuff Gong, nevermore. I may have got the beverage, but I didn’t get no ecstasy, not in the slightest.

Nestle Nutrition Chocolate Nutrament Nutrition Drink

Where else but the dogmatic structure of a university can adults pay to be legally forced to churn out work like underage sweatshop employees, spending countless sleepless nights toiling on assignments that lead to…more school and more work? Seriously, I’m about to send a press release to the World Human Organization and Amnesty International. I’m more marveling than complaining. I like working on papers. I strive to enter a career that revolves around research and arguments. But I can’t help but be impressed at the marketing behind higher education.
As you can see by my incoherent and loosely structured rant, I’m knee-deep in the sludge of college finals. I have a gorgeously written paper due tomorrow, two final exams to study for, and a film about bugs to watch and take notes on. Needless to say, I’m locked in my dormitory awaiting execution by homework. It’s going to be a long two days. I stocked up on energy drinks and protein shakes to keep me alert and unencumbered by things like “food” and “bathroom breaks.”
Seriously, this drink looks like something you’d hand out to African refugee children suffering from ascites. Or college students. Same difference. I can’t tell if the label on this is a misguided jab at hipness from the 60-year old WordArt certified graphic designers on this account or just incredibly outdated and cheap. My guess is the latter. This is the only nutrition or protein drink I’ve seen that can be bought for $2. And your soul.
With 360 calories and your apparently daily recommended value of sugar, 49 grams, not a whole lot about this is screaming “nutritious.” The store only carried chocolate, but I must say I feel a little jilted that my area wasn’t privy to the more eclectic flavors this comes in like banana, coconut, and dulce de leche. And this barely passes as chocolate. Hell, canola oil surpasses cocoa in the ingredient list. Nestle, do you mean to tell me that one of the primary energy supplements in this is canola oil? Holy hell, this is worse than I anticipated. The can tells me to “just chill the can + shake vigorously to release the inner power.” I’m guessing that’s a roundabout way of saying there’s an asston of sediment at the bottom or a subliminal advertisement for masturbating.
This tastes like a distillation of chocolate Necco wafers and Flintstones vitamins, down to the chalkiness and artificially fruity flavor. It has a powdery, fake smell reminiscent of the marshmallows in Lucky Charms and flat, dull color. While there but for the grace of Nestle goes the texture, surprisingly fluid and smooth, there is absolutely nothing else redeeming about this drink. It has the disturbing heft and substance of baby formula and an unrelenting sugary aftertaste. In pinning down this flavor I think it’s best described as “protein ass.” Please, please, please, if you’re between this and another protein drink for twice the price, splurge. Nestle, merely putting the word “nutrition” on the bottle five times does not make this nutritious.

Back to Nature Cupcake Bites

When certain concepts are trendy, everyone jumps on the bandwagon. No sooner did the word “cupcake” make home cooks shiver with delight did news spread, and in a matter of months, trendy cupcake boutiques, recipes, and artistic renderings of cupcakes were the new “it” treat. Of course, all flash-in-the-pan products fall wayside to the trickle-down effect. In the case of cupcakes, they were first relegated to children’s birthday parties and baby showers. Their prices went up as did their twee factor, and as they got to be a more exclusive, “artisanal” item, varieties were made so that the novelty of cupcake trendiness could be available to the general public. Basically, a roundabout way of explaining why these Cupcake Bites are cheap and awful.

I was sold on the retro-looking “new, with sprinkles!” endorsement on the box because I am a pretty pretty princess. They’re pretty unattractive out of the bag, though. Small orbs, no bigger than a pea, with ice cream sprinkles haphazardly mashed onto a chalky, greyish coating. According to the box, they’re along the same lines of Cookie Dough Bites (same company, in fact) and have a wheat-based center with a candy coating. And sprinkles. Don’t forget the sprinkles.
While I give kudos to the company for explicitly stating that the chief ingredient is “white birthday cake,” I can’t help but shudder at how unappealing these are to eat. I’m still not sure why a company called Back to Nature makes these Frankensteinian creations with artificial flavorings. That being said, eating these is a bit purgatorial. I can nosh them with no enjoyment or sentiment, knowing that they’re absolutely terrible and really not caring. They inspire my most indifferent tendencies with a bland flavor. Bland is the kindest thing to say, though. Opening the bag, I was struck with a clinical, powdery scent, like the coating on a pair of medical disposable gloves. That alone was so unappealing that I almost didn’t eat these at all.
The texture of these is really offputting. While the appeal of an element of graininess was desired in Cookie Dough Bites to mimic the sandy, sugary texture of actually eating cookie dough, the same is present here and feels disgusting consumed out of context. The graininess makes me feel like I’m chewing on a tablespoon of pure granulated sugar mixed with greasy shortening. There’s no cake flavor to speak of and the mushy, irregularly textured center is a far cry from the fluffy, fragrant plushness of actual birthday cake. There were quite a few sprinkles in each bite which threw off the ratio of sprinkles to cake and turned them from a garnish to an ingredient. Those of you who have eaten raw sprinkles know that they taste kind of gross, with a crumbly, chalky waxiness and a strangely fruity sweet aftertaste, like that of an artificial sweetener. These were terrible. As a child I’m sure I would have been attracted to the bright pastel colors and sweet flavor, but there’s nothing appealing about them now. Even for a dollar, I’m pretty miffed.

Davio’s Northern Italian Steakhouse Frozen Chicken Parm Spring Rolls

For me, chicken parmesan and fried spring rolls are second-tier foods. I don’t dislike them, but I’m only going to order them when there is literally nothing else on a menu that I even vaguely like the sound of. Basically, with the exception of non-Jewish weddings, I never order chicken parmesan or spring rolls. The wild assumption that not everything needs to be deep fried in an wonton wrapper has apparently not reached the HQ at Davio’s. We’ve reviewed the Northern Italian Philly Cheesesteak spring rolls and studiously avoided the shrimp cojita. Now it’s time to sample my edible consolation prize, the Chicken Parm spring rolls from Davio’s.

These started as a result of some guy named Wayne’s fastidiously childish compulsion of only eating chicken parm regardless of the establishment he was dining at. Wayne sounds like the kind of guy who brings his own tofu burgers to 4th of July barbecues and feigns indigestion to get out of eating Indian food. Instead of dismissing this as annoying, Davio’s found it memorable enough to…create a spring roll out of? And give us permission to enjoy it even if our name isn’t Wayne? All right. Well, considering that constitutes a cool 312,041,825 out of 312,430,801 people in the USA, or 99.8% of people, I’m glad they felt the need to give us that disclaimer. I think we can all safely agree that the chief allure of chicken parmesan is the crispy, flaky crust underneath the sauce and cheese. Likewise, the prime part of an egg roll is the chewy wonton wrapper. Put the two fried goodies together and you have Tums executives everywhere laughing evilly and twiddling their mustaches in glee.
The epitome of class.
Regardless, I tried these out of shameless intrigue and a complete lack of desire to actually cook. Unfortunately, they bombed even while eaten commando. (The spring rolls, not me.) Wayne can go back to eating chicken parmesan, because these are no substitute for either dish. If I was able to have an egg roll at Davio’s made in my honor, it would be the anti-chicken parm egg roll, and would consist of all that is good and pure on this earth that I could stuff in my mouth. This egg roll, on the other hand, is the antithesis of that concept. It cooks unevenly, a small facet that just adds insult to injury. Davio’s bumbling chefs took the concept literally and stuffed breaded chicken, sauce, and cheese inside the thick, absorbent egg roll dough, which, when indirectly heated and steamed through its crispy shell, translates as a mushy, overbreaded cheesefest with a pasty, thick mouthfeel and a salty sauce recipe lifted directly from Totino’s Pizza Rolls. It was impossible to discern any chicken in this whatsoever in both texture and flavor.
A part of me really did adore the Philly cheesesteak rolls because there was no filler ingredient to gum up the works. Every aspect played a key role in the composition of the dish, with the meat and cheese as filling and the egg roll as the carbohydrate binder. Here, the balance was thrown off and the ratios were completely skewed. I felt like I was eating the end result of a rejected Epic Meal Time sketch, with the subpar quality and condescension included with the $6.49 price tag.