Choose the August Theme Week!

Fifty Shades of Chocolate will be well underway in July, but here’s your chance to get your vote in for August: our options conveniently rhyme, so without further ado, here are the lucky ideas:

Grill Week: Send us your best grilling recipes! As a bonus, any reviewables will be thrown on the grill, grillable or not.
Chill Week: All frozen foods, all the time.
Sauce Week: Sauces, sauces, sauces! Marinades may make an appearance.
Toss Week: Like gross week, but all zeroes. The ratings are pre-determined, the product is a surprise.
Ice Week: Cold food week for the hot weather! Ice cream, ice pops, frozen cocktails, and more.
Spice Week: Turning up the heat, this will feature the hottest, weirdest sauces we can get our paws on.

Enjoy!

2012 Summer Fancy Food Show, Day 2

Oof. We’re back home and recovering from our weekend, filing and checking out our snack hoard, and taking our pork vitamins again now that we’re back to suffering a proscuitto deficiency. And in terms of awesome new products to show you, this is easily our craziest year yet. We’re talking bubblegum in chocolate, fruity potato chips, and a few condiments that will knock our your teeth.

 Due to the sheer number of chocolate bars alone that you need to see, we’re bringing back chocolate week- or should I say, Fifty Shades of Chocolate? Eat your heart out, Mr. Godfried.

Yesterday, we started munching bright and early in the second room of the exhibition. Our first stop was the ever-popular Mexico booths, because where else can you get free avocado oil and salsa verde cocktails at 11AM? Oh, and cocktail atomizers, for the airplane. Doi.

Some of our favorite companies were there, like Askinosie, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Serendipity, and Frontera. Also in attendance were some terrifying Peruvian energy drink pushers, cheesemongers aplenty, and even a few cheese mice.

This year, there were so many different booths and new companies to scout out, we weren’t able to attend any of the seminars. Fear not, though- we got our fill of fascinating products.

The gummies above were a scant sampling of the 640 square feet of awesome that Buyer’s Best Friend brought with them- we finally got to meet our West Coast pals!

We took a break from eating and crowds to go to another room to eat and vote for the sofi award winners! Our favorites included bacon schnecken from Queen City Cookies and an amazing whole grain mustard from American Spoon. Also included was this gorgeous tea packaging from Le Hammeau whose booth dictator, oddly enough, adamantly refused any photos of his booth during the entire show.

After our brief respite and flirt with tamale pie and Korean hot sauce, we were ready to tackle the show once more. It seemed like many companies were enjoying the marketing opportunities that came along with 2012 being an election year- Dave’s Insanity had these funny adjustable hot sauce bottles, with adjustable opinions for Mittens and adjustable origins of birth for Obama. Nobody was safe!

Vosges had some badass chocolate displays, as they always do, featuring new flavors like carrot ginger and milk chocolate and smoked banana caramel. Both were eccentric and refined, as Vosges typically is. Also featured were the new Wild Ophelia bars, which we’ve reviewed here before.

It was another fantastic day at the Fancy Food Show, made even better by the events and after-parties we checked out afterwards. This definitely felt like one of the best shows yet, and seeing DC again made it an even better experience and mini-vacation. Although it will be much easier to bop over to Manhattan next summer, this was a great way to take a break and see a new place.

Tomorrow we’ll be racking up our Top 15 Sweet/Savory Snacks and give you a recap of the after-parties we checked out.

From there, it’s back to your regularly scheduled Foodette programming, with plenty of product and restaurant reviews and a shake of snark thrown in. Thanks for bearing with me over the last few weeks- I know that the last 14 days have likely wreaked havoc on the site and that new readers now have the impression that I’m a jet-setting, globe-trotting, chubby Carmen Sandiego. Actually, that’s kind of awesome.

In any case, thanks for your patience! You guys are swell. I’d feed you all if it weren’t so expensive. Incidentally, I will soon be feeding three of you- go to my Twitter page for details on how to win a $25 gift card to Quizno’s. I have three of them for the first three people to guess my favorite new Quizno’s item via DM.

2012 Summer Fancy Food Show, Day 1

We’re back in DC again! It’s our third year (WHAT) at the NASFT Summer Fancy Food Show and boy, have we got a lot of things to show you. We arrived in DC bright and early yesterday, and after an ass-kicking molecular gastronomy dinner with Junk Food Guy at RJ Cooper’s Rogue24, here we are at the convention center.

We tackled the show this morning, starting in the larger of the two convention halls. There we met vendors old and new, sweet and savory, and all delicious. 

Starting with this year’s Taste of the Union: predicted trends for the 2012-2013 cycle include aloe drinks, using ice cream as a flavor carrier and base, dessert-flavored desserts, and desserts utilizing different types of flour (rye, rice, etc.) Sauces have also made a comeback- we definitely saw more this year than in the past two, many of them with celebrity endorsement or variations from well-loved companies.

I was also pleased to discover that there seemed to be an increase in the number of small business distributors and stores at the show. It was very crowded, but it’s a sure sign of the times that things are turning around for small businesses if they’re this interested and involved in the specialty food industry once more. 

Guy Fieri’s sauce (/doubletake), surprisingly neither as offensive or eye-rolling as we’d expected. Clean, tangy flavors.

We ate many sweet treats…

And plenty of meat treats. 

2012 Fancy Food Show by the Numbers:

Food trucks and food buses: 4

Total whole ham legs: 16

Banana-encrusted people: 3

Gorgeously terrifying (terrifyingly gorgeous?) mushroom displays: 3

Carved fruit displays: 2

Duff Goldman cakes: 3


Duff Goldmans: 0

Atari-playing soda machines: 1

Turtle bread: 2

Today was an awesome kick-off to the convention, thanks to Chuao, Honest Tea, Madecasse, Hagensborg, First Field Ketchup, Sauces ‘n’ Love, Chozen, Gagne Foods, the guy who screamed, “yuh don’t need no scotch no more, brother,” at the iChill representative, and of course, the NASFT press team.
Tomorrow we’ll be seeing some of our favorite companies- Vosges, Cypress Grove, Bissinger’s, and Taza, I’m talking to you! And we’ll be hanging out at some awesome after-show media events.

Until then, eat well!

Herr’s Fire-Roasted Sweet Corn Potato Chips

Well, well, well. I had always crossed my fingers in the hopes that this day would come. I’d picked up pennies off the sidewalk, wished on a thousand stars, chucked spare change at people painted like statues in the park (that IS how you get extra wishes, right?) and turned in Lucky the Leprechaun to the FBI. And damn it, it all paid off.

Japan, your time has come.

On one or six occasions, I’ve professed my adoration for the whacky world of Asian chips and snacks and have yearned, pleaded, for these flavors to infiltrate the American market. Because since when did “lightly salted” started passing as a flavor? These flavors make my eyes glow with excitement and an underlying loathing for the pedestrian palates of my peers. It’s funny, though, with Frito Lay’s close involvement in the Asian snack market, I never thought that the progression would come from a decidedly New England-centric company, Herr’s. And what a seasonally appropriate flavor, too. Fire-roasted sweet corn. With every adjective comes an expectation. The question is, will the chips deliver?

Well, let’s start with the basics. The chips look innocuous. They’re feverishly endorsed on the back of the bag, all but promising you the lively conversation and eventual politically-fueled screaming matches that all backyard barbecues descend to after a period of time. And they smell. What do they smell like? Popcorn oil butter candy. Potato lies somewhere under summer’s perfume. The chips are the standard, oversized, high-quality ridges Herr’s regularly puts out. They have a soft, yielding crunch and don’t absorb too much grease.

The flavor can be best described as inspired by Inception. It’s butter in an ear of corn inside a potato chip inside a dream. Okay, more like a nightmare. While I can’t completely discount them for screwing up a flavor only the Japanese have managed to master, the overwhelming consensus is that these are more than a little unappetizing. And yet we can’t stop eating them. The flavor is spot-on. It’s so bad, it’s good, because there are three very familiar flavors in one bite and they come in distinct phases. First, that overly sweet canned corn element, then a cloying buttered popcorn greasiness, and lastly, a distinctly smoky barbecue note. Freaking strange, man. It’s like taking a dog and putting it in a cat costume. Somewhat the same, and somewhat familiar, but…not.

We like them anyway.

Skillet Diner, Seattle, WA

Throughout the meal, a single thought was running rampant through my head. Damn. We’re in public now, but when I take you back to my hotel, I am going to eat you like I’ve never eaten before. And in complete truth, I wish that I could have publicly done what I did later that night, bathed in the glow of Seattle dusk, paradise by the bathroom light. I didn’t just eat.

I fed.

And it was the best damned fried chicken I’ve ever had.

That’s the angle of Skillet Street Food, a company I’ve had a constant cross-continental flirtation with ever since the introduction of their famed bacon jam, my go-to pork condiment. When I heard that they’d traded in the Airstream for a physical location in Seattle, I knew I had to eat there at least once. What I didn’t expect is that in 40 hours, I’d go there twice and spend the other 35 hours thinking about it.
On my first visit to Skillet, with co-panelists April and Lil, I had pored over the menu ahead of time, no idea what to get or where to even start. I was overwhelmed by the bustle, the frantic dance of the plaid-draped servers, and the enticing scents coming from the open kitchen. Whoever is making their playlist is a genius with songs- Outkast, Rick Astley, and Bob Seger made good company with the cuisine. As soon as we sat down, though, one thing was definitely fixed in my mind: any place that has an agua fresca of the day is worth forgoing Walla Walla Riesling for. My hunch paid off with an enormous Mason jar full of the daily libation: jalapeno, agave, cucumber, and coriander provided a cool, even drink to quench my thirst with.

Both Lil and April had vocalized their dietary restrictions ahead of time, and looked like they were very pleased with the service and quality of their plates. Lil ordered a salmon salad, and April, the pork shoulder and corn succotash with a grapefruit and mint salad.
Both looked awesome. April also ordered a cocktail- at this point, I’d been satisfied with the portion sizes of both the food and drinks, but I’d advise going virgin if you check out the restaurant. Unless the size of the glasses provided a strange optical illusion, they looked frugally small, no larger than four ounces for all alcohols, beer included.

For my main course, one item stuck out like a blinking, neon sign. Fried chicken with clover and black pepper honey, mustard root veggie and potato salad, and a cornmeal waffle. Do want. One order included three huge, tender pieces with a sweet and substantial crust. I was pleased to see that they were all white meat portions held together with the smallest bones. Skillet Diner sources chickens that could be easily employed at Hooter’s from the looks of it. The waffle was dense and enormous, with a thickness and texture that held up to the deluge of toppings I crammed on top, and absorbed the tangy mustard dressing atop the potatoes for a wonderful contrast.

I asked for a side portion of stinging nettle chimichurri, a condiment I saw on another dish but couldn’t resist trying. It had a sweet, almost pear-like flavor and subtle spiciness.

I had such a wonderful time that almost immediately after I finished my leftovers post-conference on Friday, I decided to go back for a solo dinner. It was so crowded that I had to sit at the bar, but the slight inconvenience was made up for with the sweetest, kindest bartender I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Each order and delivery was punctuated with a “my darling” or “my dear,” a small bit of comfort in a strange city. I started with another agua fresca, this time featuring mint, jalapeno, and apple. There was a more aggressive tingle in this one than the night before, but the apple didn’t add as much flavor as the cucumber had.

I was feeling more like a sandwich that night, so despite the allure of the Friday night cornbread and short rib special, a lamby joe was on my mind. Indian spiced lamb, fried onions, and garam masala aioli on a soft, squishy bun. It came with luscious poutine, too. The sandwich was ephemeral, with a lightness that defied the homey messiness of its composition. The meat was such a finely ground blend that it was impossible to distinguish from the sauce, and had a spicy, sweet, ultimately comforting flavor, bolstered by the creamy aioli on top.
The poutine was righteous. Atypical from its Canadian counterpart, but delicious in its own fashion, it came in an enormous portion covered in Beecher’s cheddar, homemade duck gravy, and green onions. A cross between cheese fries and traditional poutine, the crispy fries soaked up the condiments but were easy and flavorful enough to eat by the forkful. With bites of the meat crumbles from the sandwich, it was the perfect meatcheesefriedbunsauce combination that I adore. A delicious mess.

I was stuffed and knew I’d be taking home leftovers, but I still wanted some sort of dessert. It was a battle between good and evil- good being the blueberry bread pudding with almond milk creme anglaise, oatmeal almond crunch, and homemade Cool Whip, and evil being the Elvis cake- banana peanut butter cake with peanut butter bacon sauce and candied bacon on top. The bartender recommended the blueberry, so I went with that. Not to say that there weren’t other desserts I would have loved to try. One could eat an entire meal of desserts here, from the homemade pie to the thick milkshakes to the fried waffle bacon caramel sundae.

But hot damn, this was the right decision. I wrecked this. I just killed it. It was the best bread pudding I’ve ever had, so smooth and custardy that a fork seemed superfluous. Unlike regular bread pudding, it didn’t segment in chunks and was served in thick slices with an airy, macaroon crust, bracketed with homemade almond granola and fresh, warm blueberries. The homemade Cool Whip turned me into a convert, this coming from a Reddi-Whip disciple. It was gently salted and vanilla-heavy, with a silky texture and an airy melt. The sweetness of the pudding was tempered from the granola’s bold salinity. It was a beautiful, hearty melange of textures and flavors with exceptional balance.

Two blocks away, I realized that I’d forgotten my leftovers at the restaurant. In any other situation, I might have called it a loss, but I sprinted back, wildly looking around for the box where I sat. It was gone! Hope abandoned, I trudged back to the door, nightmares of tepid buffets and Starbucks dancing through my head, when my server appeared behind me, leftovers in hand. Wordlessly, he handed them over to me. Our eyes locked, and with a fist-pump of solidarity, he nodded, and said, “Success.”

And in my hotel room at 1:45 in the morning, anxiously wolfing down the last of my lamby joe before catching my flight out, it seemed fitting that my final bite of Seattle was this carefully prepared, quirky little dish.  
Success indeed. Screw you, Bayless, I thought to myself. Your airport food can shove it, internally canceling my plans to check out Tortas at O’Hare. This, this sweet, raw emotion on a plate, was truly the epitome of travel and transcendence.

BlogHer Food ’12 Recap, Day 2

Conference day! As well as my time to scout out Seattle’s best and strangest food. Obviously, an excursion to Pike Place Market was in order. It was only a half mile from the hotel and the weather was brisk and sunny. I woke up at six, studied a little, and then headed off after checking out the sponsored booths at BlogHer.

The BlogHer sponsors were awesome. They had killer contests, amazing and interactive booths- make a rhubarb creature! Make your own yogurt! The fun was endless.

I started out my morning the way God intended, with some customized latte action and a plaid shirt. Sassy and caffeinated, I hit the awesome breakfast buffet and went on my way.

Bagel stakes! Yes!

Pike Place was an easy walk and offered so many things to see and do. I won’t bore you with facts or information or blah blah organic blah blah local color but I will say this. I don’t like people. You know I don’t like people because when I’m not making fun of food here, I’m making fun of people and then relating them to food. But the people in Seattle were weird, and by weird, I mean idiosyncratic. Funky. Not crazy, but not antisocial, either. 

Case in point: I’m not one for friendly banter with strangers. I’m not that guy who holds hands with random, unsanitary people at a concert. I try not to make out with strangers, though they throw themselves at me so. And the most reviling thing someone I’ve never seen can do is say something unsolicited to me because rarely do my quips come out as well-played and rehearsed as they do in my head, hours later. The best I’ve done is a “mmm,” which makes me look constipated and aroused at the same time.

But these people, man. Something about the air unlocked me. These people zoned in on me to give me the what-for and I gave it right back. A drop-dead gorgeous drag queen walked by me when I was taking the Molly Moon photo, sizing me up and whispered, “Oh, you like that dog?” And something clicked and I stared right at her and said, “Fuck, yes, I love that dog.” Not untrue. I’d been to three dog-themed eateries that day, but still uncharacteristic.
The man selling these crabs asked me if I was going to buy one to take on a hot date. I declined purchasing but offered to take one to the park. Seriously, I don’t know what came over me. I was like an annoying frat boy and a drunk college chick all rolled into one, except that it was ten in the morning and I wasn’t inebriated.

 For Christ’s sake, I screamed “YOLO” at someone.

This can’t be good.
After collecting myself, I got some breakfast. It was like being in a cartoon, guys. One minute you’re walking with a sense of purpose to Beecher’s cheese for an Atkins-friendly breakfast of cheese and more cheese, and the next minute you’re taking a comical U-turn into a small bakery, cramped with people, lured by the smell of something with a seductive magnetism. Welcome to Piroshky Piroshky.
What’s a piroshky? No idea. Something delicious. I wanted to bring home fifty of them. Motivated by self-control and a credit card with a reachable limit, I settled on marzipan and ate it in Beecher’s. So classy.

It’s also worth noting that my original destination for breakfast was a crumpets-only shop and because you must eat crumpets at a crumpet store, I got two and ate them. I repeat, YOLO. 

Ricotta and lemon curd. The only non-housemade item was the paper plate it was on, and it was likely upcycled or purchased on etsy.

After my breakfast bacchanal, I headed back to the hotel to pace anxiously around the room and get ready for my panel. Lillian, April, and I met up ahead of time to scope out the area and had a decent idea of how to fill up an hour and a half without resorting to knock-knock jokes or trust falling.

The panel was a smashing success. Did you know that despite being on a panel about how to relate food to humor, one must know that food is and never will be, under any circumstances, funny? Take it from an expert, I had no idea. And here I thought I was totes successful. Internet famous. Turns out I was doing it wrong and mushrooms can go back to being singularly gross and not at all humorous. We could all do well to keep humor strictly within the realm of 1950’s pop hits and gentle anecdotes. 

Also, true story- nobody wanted to take a photo with me. And I tried so hard to guilt people into it, too! I think David’s annoying front-row paramour took home more women than I did. He also left the audience with a swell takeaway for a how-to panel along the lines of, “If you’re having joke problems I feel bad for you, son, I got 99 problems, but kitsch ain’t one,” and most of them left grumbling shortly after.

Oh well. It was Baby’s First Speaking Engagement and will go right in the scrapbook alongside the removal of my wisdom teeth and photos of my first prom. However, I didn’t completely Britta it, and I found that I meshed with everyone well and that we had clever and hopefully, insightful information to bequeath unto all the participants.

I was famished afterwards, but glowing with pride, so I returned to the room to snap photos of myself that may or may not have ended up on craigslist after the fact and then made a second grand entrance to the Spanish ballroom to meet my throngs of thong-waving, adoring fans and eat carbonated tomato appetizers and ahi tuna tacos.

However, miniature tacos and fizzy fruit do not a Foodette make, so once more, I schlepped off to my favorite mystery restaurant, the likes of which shall be revealed in a full restaurant review tomorrow.

Eating this made up for having to sit at the bar. 

And then I went back, full of love, poutine, and internet memes, my innards vibrating with delight, and slept until my flight back east.

Thanks, Seattle.

Thanks for the pepper garlands.

The neon beacons.

And the piles of photogenic cookies.

But most of all, thank you for being a little quirky.
We’ll always have BlogHer Food. 

To all who checked me out, took a chance on me, undressed me with their eyes, brushed against me, dealt with my yammering, ate with me, drank with me, locked eyes with me from across a crowded room, and let me speak, thank you.

You all mean the world to me.

Foodette

BlogHer Food ’12 Recap, Day 1

Hey I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s 200+ photos from BlogHer Food, so ogle ’em, maybe. If you’re expecting snarky reviews, give it a few days before I cold-start my engine again. I’m coming back from the dead, fresh from the world of standardized testing and reverse redeye flights!

As you know, I’ve had a whirlwind of a weekend in Seattle. It was a blissful dalliance from charming New England. It started out at 2:45 in the morning when I left the house in a daze. That daze continued until well around three in the afternoon, but at least I got a good Pink Floyd-esque album cover out of it.

When I wasn’t paralyzed in fear from the turbulence of the incredibly small aircraft that, despite physics, successfully held us aloft, I took this photo.

 Arriving in Seattle was virtually painless, and when I got to the Fairmont Olympic, I collapsed in my room. Unbeknownst to me, Progresso’s fairies sneaked in ahead of me and left this gift.
The view from my room.
This is where the magic happened, and by magic, I mean LSAT study hub and naked snoring. Keeping it as classy as classy can be. Seriously, ladies, where were you?!

After a quick nap and brief study session, I hopped a bee-themed shuttle to an event sponsored by Whole Foods- a pollinator picnic! Representatives from Whole Foods and some local businesses spoke to us about the plight that the honeybees are facing with Colony Collapse Disorder. Did you know that 75% of our fruits and vegetables are pollinated by honeybees? Imagine a world without mangoes, almonds, strawberries, and blueberries, and you’ve got a fraction of an idea about what life would be like without bees. We learned about how we can help them in our own gardens and tomorrow, Miss Love and I will be constructing a bee bath and planting some bee-friendly wildflowers in our summer garden!

Whole Foods supplied us with some wonderful picnic food, too.

After the lecture, a few of us wandered out into the Arboretum, pleased to see the sun peeking out after we’d been warned of crappy weather. The Washington Park Arboretum is huge, and I would have loved to check out more of it.

Steam was rising off the beams after the rain let up- very picturesque!

 The park is full of beautiful sights and sounds.
We hopped back onto the bee bus and drove back to the hotel. 
I had a speaker get-together at six thirty, but was left with a few stir-crazy hours in between to look for food and hang out. I decided to introduce myself Seattle the way I like to introduce myself to know most things- get inside of it. I walked all around and staked out the restaurants I’d meticulously researched before the trip, stopping at a little place called Po Dog to grab a dinner snack before the meeting. True story, the free snack for passengers flying business class on United Airlines is an erect middle finger. Girl was famished.
Nature. Best appreciated with a greasy sack of food and Mexican coke.
But two hot dogs and fries might not have been the best option. Not to mention that they were solidly mediocre. Still! Peanut butter and banana! Wasabi egg roll dog! Lemon aioli! Also, shame on them for running out of the “I <3 wieners" shirts just before my grand arrival. Shame.
I got some ice cream instead. Molly Moon’s is boss, y’all. This was another collaboration sweet spot- Beecher’s Flagship Cheddar ice cream!
I juuuuuuuussttt missed their specialty Beecher’s sundae- pie crust crumbles, apple compote, Flagship cheddar ice cream, and cajeta. God. Damn.

Of course, all of this stupid stress eating was completely nullified by this dinner at this speaker meeting. I’ll leave you with a teaser photo for now…tomorrow, find out exactly what I did to that chicken.

Tune in tomorrow, 8PM EST, to hear how my awesome speaking engagement went, what else I ate, and why I’m officially the coolest person alive.

BlogHer Food ’12 (The Prequel)

BlogHer Food ’12 was such an enriching, positive experience for me and I was so glad to have the opportunity to speak to all of you along with my panel members during yesterday’s speech on humor’s place in food writing.

I’ll be posting more about my fun in the Pacific Northwest later this week (after my big exam!) but wanted to extend a few questions to those that attended the panel. It was an exciting time for me, as it was my first real public speaking engagement (outside of the requisite 4th grade graduation speech) and I am very curious how you liked what we said. I have heard some varied reactions to how the panel flowed and the lessons we left behind. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m fluctuating and growing as a writer. Any tips or constructive criticism you give me will most assuredly help me in my approach. Trust me- I can take it just as well as I dish it out!

So, if you checked it out or heard about it on Twitter, what did you like about the panel? What resonated with you, and what didn’t you like? If I were to speak again, what would you be interested in hearing about? In the interest of self-improvement, I’d love your open feedback. My comment section is anonymous, and if you’d prefer to send me an email, that would be wonderful, too.

Thanks again for checking me out. I’ll recap more of my whirlwind culinary romp later on, and wish to extend my gratitude to all of the wonderful bloggers and coordinators I met at the conference! It was a real joy to work with you.

Jess Watsky

Gone Speakin’

Hello, faithful readers,

I’ll be out for a few days- I’m traveling to BlogHer Food tomorrow morning, bright and early! If you’re checking out the conference, feel free to say hello and tell me how awesome my site is. And additionally, please come check out the panel I’m speaking in on Friday, June 8th, Humor’s Place in Food Blogging. It’s going to be a wonderful time.

I should be back to a regular posting schedule on Tuesday. I take the LSAT on Monday and am anxiously preparing for that as well. Things will hopefully be back to normal soon. The trolls will still troll, I will still seek out new things to make fun of, and you will all still laud me as the champion of all things aesthetically pleasing and well-dressed food product blogger in New England.

With love,

Foodette

Jif Chocolate Hazelnut and Mocha Cappuccino Hazelnut Spread

Pro tip: You can measure a company’s branding success in two easy steps. I call this test the NOCRUS exam, or the Nutella or Coconut Runoff Usage Simulation. It can be implemented by asking this question: does your product successfully utilize either Nutella-based, i.e., chocolate and hazelnut, or coconut-water/coconut inspired flavoring? If so, it’s likely that it’ll catch on like hotcakes and iPods. If not, it’ll be as successful as hotcake-flavored iPods. Terrible idea. Syrup everywhere. My point is, these two components are the new Jonas Bieber Anistons of the food world and companies everywhere are vying to get in on the action.

In Jif’s case, we have two new heavy hitters in the spread market, Chocolate and Mocha Cappuccino hazelnut-based spread. Both flavors are smooth and creamy, almost pudding-like and thick in texture. Of the two, the chocolate hazelnut is definitely the more classic example. It’s less muted in scent than Nutella (I had a jar on hand- strictly for comparative purposes) and has a stronger, more cocoa and vanilla-forward flavor. 

As much as it pains me to say it, having been practically weaned on Nutella as an infant, this is superior. It lacks the gummy elasticity of the former, and offers a bolder, less saccharine flavor.

The mocha cappuccino has some issues. Not quite to the level of product abomination parent issues, but just mild stuff. It just wants to talk. Conceptually, it seems like it would work. It follows a correct conditional proof. A, hazelnut, and B, chocolate, go together. B, chocolate, and C, coffee, also go together very well. So it logically follows that A, hazelnut, and C, coffee, go together. Which they do. But unfortunately, you can’t eat logic, and that’s why A, B, and C, together, taste pretty strange. The coffee is the dominant flavor, but hazelnut follows closely behind, unfortunately more reminiscent of coffee flavoring than the plain chocolate flavor. It has a similarly beguiling texture, but falls short of expectations and leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Not unlike formal logic.

Overall, though, the branding is successful and catchy enough that I could definitely see the original flavor catching on. With Nutella’s various lawsuits and health finger-pointing, as well as its notorious reputation as an ex-pen-seeeef European brand, this might just be the campaign to sway America to the Jif side. And based on the quality and flavor of these products, it’s not a bad side to be on.