Wheatberry Cafe, Amherst, MA: All you do is lose!

Oof, this is going to be pretty bad. For our 500th post, here’s a terrible restaurant!

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That being said, on with the review. Keepitcoming and I love independent bakeries. We love delicious pastries, inventive sandwiches, artisanal ingredients, and good drinks, and have found a cadre of fantastic little nooks at our beck and call whenever we heed the call for a filling lunch or dinner.

So how could we be anything but excited when we found another one for the collection? Driving by during some errands, I was surprised that after living in the area for a relatively long span, neither of us had encountered Wheatberry Cafe. It looked innocuous and wholesome, like a sustainable grandmother’s project, and we hyped it up for a week prior to the review, excited to wake up early and try some food.

The atmosphere was a little unsure of itself and seemed distracted and out of focus. The sole stoned employee stood listlessly taking our order and was completely unaware not only of what vegetables they had available, but whether or not she could find them at all. With a ten seat maximum and a kitchen the size of a Manhattan studio apartment, that shouldn’t be too hard. And don’t give me the “we grow our own veggies” excuse. Any sustainable restaurant worth its salt grows enough for its patrons. How were they possibly out of sprouts at eleven in the morning?

The inside of the restaurant was charming, if you find pretentious jam jars, reusable bags, and creepy, talkative old women charming. It drove us outside to contemplate our order and wait for its arrival. The waitress was still fumbling with our sandwiches for another five, six minutes, and we had no choice but to entertain ourselves with the menu. (Fumbling is apt- the known photo we could find of the restaurant online features the same waitress staring vacantly into the abyss.) Unfortunately, that, too, came up short. I understand the appeal and variety in a daily menu, but there were only two sandwiches with asinine names (The Oinker!? I’m not ten and I’m not saying oinker) and prices that would put a museum cafeteria to shame. These “entrees” were saddled with a few prosaic desserts, and a hastily applied breakfast platter. And they’d run out of bagels, too.We got our sandwiches and tried to put the worst behind us, like a bad date with a small penis and halitosis, and tried to focus on the good aspects. And tried. And tried. And tried. Problem was, there was nothing good about the atmosphere, and the food sucked even worse. Our sandwiches were pressed paninis, usually a good sign, but were so riddled with grease and old burnt butter that Keepitcoming went inside to grab some napkins. She came out with an utterly horrified look on her face, leaned over to me, and whispered, “I think the napkins are used. They’re cloth napkins and they don’t feel clean.” Yes, that’s right. Even our napkins had that not so fresh feeling. It appears that the management didn’t even provide the proper receptacles for clean and dirty napkins, leaving patrons to play a horrible guessing game while they eat. But after a few bites, it was utterly essential to use them, so we grabbed some of the greasy, filmy napkins and ate some more.

The sandwiches, if unoriginal, sounded solid and successful. Wrong. The Oinker couldn’t have been prouder of listing the farms where all the ingredients were from, but tasted as good as the potential of its namesake taking wing. With cheddar cheese, apples, shredded pork, and dijon mustard, I opened the sandwich excitedly and found myself intoning the immortal words of Clara Peller herself- “Keepitcoming, where’s the beef?” Or meat, rather. For a $9 sandwich, they were skimpy on the pork. Really fucking skimpy. I tried to put that aside and enjoy the sandwich, but it was still so greasy and practically vegetarian.I assumed this was a fluke until we encountered the same thing with Keepitcoming’s sandwich. (The Happy Hen, if you must know.) Again, there was a mediocre amount of vegetables, including those Heirloom tomatoes that have practically surpassed Uggs in popularity, but a sparse smear of chevre and a few spotty pieces of chicken breast made this completely unpalatable. An alternative name for this sandwich could have also been, “Girl with a mixed breed,” because to add insult to injury, Keepitcoming found a long, straight dog hair in her sandwich. DNA tests to follow.

When all was said and done, it just wasn’t worth the extra calories to suffer through another sandwich half or the included wilted salad, especially with all the potential hazards and disappointments, so we moved onto our coffee and dessert, hoping that the success of Wheatberry rested on the laurels of their pastries.Wrong again. Our raspberry bar had a disproportionate amount of wrinkly baked jam to crumbly bland tart, with a buttery flavor and a relatively boring texture. It was so mediocre that we didn’t even care to finish it, and we are girls who love desserts. With our average at best iced Chai, we left Wheatberry with heavy hearts and sad, empty stomachs. There are far better area restaurants that have better selection, prices, and portions and won’t try to impress us with organic and sustainable ingredients to make up for poor quality.

Stouffer’s Corner Bistro Southwest Style Chicken Panini

Everyone has a favorite restaurant they go to, a little hole in the wall with sandwiches from Jesus himself. If you don’t, you can’t possibly be human. I was looking forward to this sandwich because I, like all true-blooded, non-Communist Americans, love a good, melty ‘wich. But after gnawing through a third of this, I can safely say that Stouffer’s Corner Bistro should be condemned and shut down by the health committee.The sandwich looked promising. The bread smelled buttery and was thickly sliced, and there were big pieces of chicken and bacon on the surface. I positioned it on the obligatory crisping tray and set it off, and the microwave was flooded with a pleasant, though buttery, cooking aroma. Not a bad start.I let it sit for a minute while I went about setting up the photo shoot. I kind of went wild with the Southwestern theme. But my efforts were for naught, I tell you! This killed in more ways than The Virgin Suicides and almost hurt my feelings. Before I even tasted it, I knew I hated it. I couldn’t pull the sandwich halves off the tray! I had to wedge a knife under and saw them off, leaving big chunks of bread behind. When I did get them together, the bread was downright offensive. One “crisped” brown spot lay exposed, like a scab on top of a mushy, soaking wet bread, covered in fake butter. It oozed butter to the touch.It was $4.79 at my hideously overpriced university convenience store, though, and I was hungry, so I persevered, maneuvering the grotesquely wet sandwich into my mouth. It was horrid. The bread was the dominant flavor, reeking of fake butter and chewy white flour, leaving a greasy film in my mouth and a shameful sheen on my fingers, and the chicken was spongy and crumbly at the same time. The bacon was sparse and few between, and the southwestern sauce didn’t lubricate so much as glue the entire thing together. The cheese left the den of sin for a better, more fulfilling sandwich.Congratulations, Stouffer’s. I now hate you more than I hated you before. If you need me, I’ll be at an actual deli.

Bear Fruit Bar: Organic Apple Raspberry

Bear Fruit Bar has dared to definitively answer the timeless question that has haunted the human mind for generations: “Do bears shit in the woods?” Now, we’ve been long accustomed to assume that the correct response is a simple “yes.” Esteemed readers, thanks to my field research with the Bear Fruit Bar, I can accurately report that the truth is not what you’ve been lead to believe. Bears shit 4″ by 1 1/2″ flexible bricks and they are marketed as the Fruit of the Bear.

I sampled the Organic Apple Raspberry flavor. It took a special effort of will to refrain from photographing it on a toilet. Instead, I posed the bar on top of my favorite page of my favorite sternly judgmental book about needlepoint. The bar had a tangy yet innocuous fruity taste. Its more prominent feature on the palate was the presence of densely packed, irregularly shaped fiber particles that lingered in my mouth minutes after taking a small bite. This bar has condensed all the negative features of fresh fruit into a form that even the makers of Soylent Green would consider a little ‘too real.’(On behalf of Foodette Reviews, I would like to thank Keepitcoming Love for taking one for the team and eating this ass, as well as writing field notes on her experience with Bear Fruit.)

12 “Noon to Midnight” Beverage

Oy. This is billed as an intelligent alternative to alcohol, so in the spirit of that lustful affirmation, I’m writing this in a slightly inebriated state. Where to start? On one hand, this beverage might get you accolades from your guests, who applaud your efforts to reach beyond the threshold of boorish alcoholic consumption. On the other hand, you might get punched in the gonads because this drink shits, and hard.Twelve is an interesting concept. For starters, you’ve got a nice 750 ml glass bottle with what’s essentially juice inside. I have no problem with that. I find that an Arnold Palmer, the simplest of beverages, quenches my thirst better than everything on a hot day. But what’s crammed inside this bottle is a mélange of clashing flavors that overwhelm and irritate the palate.The original flavor has more herbs and spices than a KFC in Greenwich, CT, and twice the audacity. From the second you crack open the screwcap on the bottle, the senses are agitated with pine, cloves, cinnamon and licorice on the nose, and a lighter fruity effervescence underneath. The combination of these flavors is truly aggravating. There is no healthy balance between the fruit and the spices, making the end result taste like you’re sucking on a pomander and at best, with doctoring from outside sources, taste like a sugary chamomile tea.We earnestly tried to determine if we were misinterpreting Twelve in some way, but appreciating a non-alcoholic juice beverage simply shouldn’t be this difficult. After each sip, we were faced with the unavoidable conclusion that drinking Twelve caused us to cringe and use swear words.I wish that this had tasted better, because I’d have loved to bring it to my fundamentalist Christian friends who abstain from drinking wine. They’d still be pussies, but at least they’d be quenched pussies who can enjoy the party. But in all honesty, I’d feel conflicted bringing this to any party. I can’t see an edible compliment to this drink that wouldn’t break under the intensity of the flavors, nor can I give a written compliment because I’m just disappointed in the construction of this beverage.

Metromint Goodberry

Apologies for the lack of a post yesterday. Swagger and I got slightly caught up in an orgy of hard starches, aka, the Corn and Potato Festival. A tasting will ensue.

Man, I wish I was famous. I mean like, famous famous, like, “Ooops, that was my Ponzi scheme, but it’s all good. Can I interest you gentlemen in some drinks? A nice Beaucastel, perhaps?” famous, more of that than of “Oh no, my vagina (aka, The Fame Monster) has gone off and posted itself on the YouTube. Again.”

You don’t need to be famous to do that!

Regardless, it would be pretty bitchin’ if I had a few summer houses, a wine cellar, and the debonair to not give a damn at all. It’s hard to look suave and autonomous in a ’98 Ford Escort. I’m not complaining, though. The upper tax bracket does have some serious irritations, though- Rosie O’Donnell eating all the food at your parties, the pressure to keep your hair in the same shade of “frosted Greenwich blonde,” and charities.

That might be the most annoying of all. But for those of you who aspire to be famous, there’s an alternative. That’s right, before you send off for that exotic mail-order baby or try to breastfeed the giant manbaby, Perez Hilton, you can just get this water, Metromint Goodberry. Goodberry. Even the name is simpering and pretentious, like a black tie charity ball for cleft palate afflicted Christian orphans. The hand is back, by the way.It’s perfect for achieving that brooding, angry focus of complete and utter weltschmerz, because it tastes like a mixture of bad cough medicine and frustration. It’s got a clever, catchy name, evocative of the yesteryear, with metrosexuality and singular color schemes. It has polka dots so it can match with your handbags and cummerbunds. And it tastes like honest to goodness horror, so you can feel guilty and ingest it at the same time.This water is terrible. The flavor lingers and the mint is loud and pushy, like Hillary Clinton, and I just want it to go away so I can return to my normal state of life. I couldn’t even finish a shotglass of this swill. I don’t wanna be famous. Not if I have to endorse democracy and Metromint. Not for anything- my cup runneth over! God damn, this water sucks.

Keepitcoming Love’s Disturbing Observation of the Day: “This water tastes like punishment.”

Scooter Pie

This is an absolutely terrible name. I mean, it’s a bastardization of a moon pie, fueled with the tears of grandchildren (true story!) and manages to become entirely tasteless. But it’s a Southern classic, with an RC Cola, and since I’m not in the South, we get the leftover brand name confection, the scooter pie.

Moon pie has its flavors, though, and varieties popped out every so often to make life exciting. But the scooter pie doesn’t even have its own website, it’s so vague. So I went out on a quest to see exactly what this enigma tasted like.Unwrapping it, I was dismayed to find that there were two of these circular hells in the package. The chocolate didn’t melt on my hands, it was that waxy, and the marshmallow inside had the consistency of Silly Putty and a similar flavor. Believe me, I know. That’s exactly how I lost my first tooth. The surrounding graham crackers were both mushy and crumbly at the same time, like some Schrodinger’s Crap paradox, and the entire combination was like the s’more from hell.Look, South, stick to fried chicken and red velvet cake. This. Is. Not. Food. NOT FOOD. Don’t eat it. Don’t touch it. It’s really quite cruel to consider chewing on, as the byproduct turns out to be the exact consistency of gum dropped in a sandbox. Bad food.

Sinfully Delicious Dessert Sprays and Candy Bites

It was a relatively normal night and Captain Crunch and I were watching Unwrapped, when we saw these strange little pills Mark Summers was…reviewing, and when he was…back, in the style of Mark Summers with those strange vocal pauses, we were on the internet, ordering them. They promised to cure our cravings for real dessert both in the form of sprays and pills. And I’m reviewing those today, readers!

Also, the winner for the next theme week, by a nose, is spicy week! Get your kleenex ready because I see tears in the future. Next theme week will be next Sunday. Also, get your entries in for the contest or I’ll have to eat all the leftovers by myself…Starting with the sprays. Serving size is two squirts, and the spray sampler pack came with strawberry cheesecake, key lime pie, cinnamon apple pie, and milk chocolate turtle. They’re in handy spray bottles so you can put it in your bag and strangely squirt it into your mouth while your friends are eating tiramisu, but to each his own.

I started with the milk chocolate turtle. It’s always a little odd, waiting for the sprayer to kick in because I’m sitting here holding this bottle to my mouth like a baby bird until it actually does spray. And when it did spray, it didn’t taste like turtle at all. It tasted like overly sweet iced coffee. I literally tasted no chocolate and the caramel was very fake and artificial. Captain Crunch and I agree: eat a Russell Stover low-fat turtle instead of this. 0

The next one up to bat was the key lime pie spray. It tasted limey, all right, about as “limey” as my fake British ex-boyfriend. It was like eating a dry Kool-Aid packet. I’ll give them credit- they did make it taste like lime, but there was no other flavor and that one flavor wasn’t even done very well. Too sugary, too intense, too artificial. 1After that was the strawberry cheesecake, which had also fallen victim to the artificial flavor syndrome. It was intensely strawberry, in a syrupy, in your face fashion. I didn’t taste cream cheese or crust, just really badly rendered strawberries. 0

The last of the sprays, thankfully, was the cinnamon apple pie spray. We steeled ourselves for the worst, but actually, it wasn’t so bad at all. It tasted warm, with a definitely prominent cinnamon flavor and an apple note, though artificial, and came together with a nice caramel taste. I don’t think I’d carry these around in my purse, as they don’t curb my cravings for desserts, but the concept was different and the apple one wasn’t actually bad at all. These did remind me of those candy sprays we all had as kids, though. 5

Next up were the dessert pills. These are really the most futuristic, offering the equivalent taste of any sumptuous dessert contained in each pill. The selections are as varied as a Las Vegas Buffet, with orange dreamsicle, mocha cappuccino cake, and more.The first dessert pill I tried, actually, while half asleep, was the banana cream pie. It was really tasty, and had both a creamy, rich banana flavor and a grahamy aftertaste in the middle. It was also less of an artificial banana than I’d assumed. I thought that although I’d never take this over an actual slice of banana cream pie, it was very silky and tasty. The texture of these is very smooth and consistent. There’s no graininess in them. 7

After that was chocolate hazelnut toffee. This one really tasted more artificial than the rest of them, with the hazelnut in the representation of the aforementioned bad coffee and the chocolate taking on a tootsie roll flavor. Not so great. The texture was kind of grainy, too, and had little granules of sugar in it. 2Next was the mocha butterscotch sundae. The butterscotch was really prominent in this one, and it had the same silkiness of the banana cream pie. I really didn’t taste any coffee in this one, unfortunately, and had more of the buttery, rum-like flavor than the rest of the sundae. This, although it wasn’t an accurate representation of the aforementioned flavor, was tasty and average. 5

Deciding to try a real coffee flavor, I went for the mocha cappuccino cake. Whoa. Talk about coffee. This one was granulated and had a slower melt, but was very, very concentrated in the coffee flavor, definitely dominating over the chocolate and cake tastes. It was very tasty and definitely had a nice and strong coffee flavor in it, if slightly artificial. 6

Key lime pie was one of the flavors from the sprays, so I was hoping it would be a little better. I was right. The lime was smooth, a lot more subtle and sweet, with a creamy texture, and less artificial, Although I would have preferred more of a graham flavoring, this was definitely one of the best. 7After that was a milk chocolate truffle. This was fantastic, and made me wonder why all the other chocolate-based flavors had such bad chocolate flavoring. It tasted like chocolate whipped cream and definitely best resembled its dessert partner. 8

Apple cinnamon pie was bright red and tasted like a Yankee Candle and an Altoid had a baby. The cinnamon flavor was fresh and gave a little bit of spice to the pie, but the apple flavor was just off. A little odd, but still very buttery and good. Even better than the spray. 8

The next one was one of my favorites. Chocolate, peanuts, and caramel tasted exactly like a chocolate covered Baby Ruth bar. It was slightly salty, a little sweet, and carried all the elements of the flavors in it. If I were to order a single pack of these, it would be in this flavor, because everything mingled really well and best emulated the bar. 9

The biggest disappointment of the box was the one I had the most hope for, the orange dreamsicle. What could have been creamy and fruity tasted like St. Joseph’s baby aspirin and a crappy Starburst knock off. It was acidic and artificial and nowhere near reminiscent of a dreamsicle. What a shame. 0

Strawberry cheesecake worried me, because I thought it would be reminiscent of the spray. It was absolutely incredible. The strawberry flavoring was more subtle and had a creaminess to it like an actual cheesecake, and was sweet without being saccharine. 7

The peach cobbler failed miserably, tasting like I accidentally ate some of my shampoo or body wash instead of a piece of candy. It had only the peach flavoring, no other notes, and that was artificial and tangy. 0

Saving the best for last, though, I prepared for the peanut butter cup. It was fantastic. Unlike an actual peanut butter cup, you get the peanut butter flavoring first and then the chocolate. I was amazed at how different this was from the chocolate, peanuts, and caramel, because the peanut butter was both salty and rich and yet different from the peanuts. Not as much chocolate as I’d have liked in here, but still damned good. 9

All in all, I liked these as a novelty, but they’re definitely not the real thing. I’d invest my time and money in creating lower fat, indulgent versions of the desserts instead of relegating yourself to a tiny pill.

Best Value Potted Meat

Okay, so maybe this one isn’t a dorm food, but then again, my grandmother told me she ate baby food in college and from my research on the harsh streets of rural Amherst, some people still live in the 50’s and still totally do that. Not being one to stoop to Gerber’s obsequious ad campaign, I chose for the manlier, the cheaper, the less branded, the more disgusting…Potted meat.

Fun facts.
1. It doesn’t come in a pot.
2. You’ll want to smoke pot after trying it.

To gear ourselves up for this, Swagger and I did a little research by watching Youtube videos of people eating this live and showing their reactions. Although none made it out alive, at least we got a feel for what would happen. So I edited my living will from the Little Hugs and opened the can.Oh god, it smelled like cat food and leftover Spam. On the Wikipedia article, the fun fact of the day was that different varietals have different ingredients- beef tripe, mechanically separated whatever, the stuff they use to grease Rosie O’Donnell into pants every day. What have you. Ours listed mechanically separated chicken, so I thought we were safe.We spread it on a Saltine and made ourselves Sunny D cocktails. And then it was down the hatch for the potted meat. My first impression was that it wasn’t nearly as greasy as the cadre of videos made it sound. The texture wasn’t soft, but something entirely more terrible. It was creamy. It was very wet and very creamy. Meat. Should. Not. Be. Creamy. Even a cheese dog isn’t creamy. This had like, a whipped texture that minced prettily on the Saltine. And then, the taste. It didn’t taste like meat, really, but it did taste like salt. Closest I can liken it to is Spam. That’s a lie, actually, I’ve never had Spam. But it would probably taste like that, and Swagger, who has Spam, says it’s close to Spam.

It’s probably the worst thing you could ever put in your mouth, aside from Rosie O’Donnell’s penis. It’s potted meat. It leaves a greasy residue. And my dorm smells like an animal shelter.

Little Hugs Beverages

Well, color me wary. 24 juice drinks for the low, low price of $3? Without any pandering and possible blowjobs to the American Beverage Company? Sign me up.

Their alibi seems to check out. They’re the first and oldest kid’s single serve beverage in the United States. That seems plausible, meaning that they’ve remained quietly under the radar like a Soviet Spy, letting the other drinks take the flash in the pan spotlight, or that they’re so potent they’re on par with Plutonium and nobody dares take down the beast.

Spoiler alert, it’s option two. They’re cheap, but they’re nothing to shake a stick at. Writing this review even has me at a loss of words. At 12.5 cents a barrel, as they’re iconically shaped, I am quite positive that the exact cost of ingredients equals what you paid for. There’s nothing flashy on these. The plastic barrel is vaguely opaque, reminding me of the equally gross Nik-L-Nips, and comes adorned with disturbing Kool-Aid spawn shaped like barrels, which you will soon tear the heads off and drink their life juice from.

I don’t understand how the Kool-Aid friends play and frolic, because they contain absolutely no source of energy. What I’m talking about is sugar. Each juice is violently colored so that when you imbibe, you’re trying to pretend that it’s flavored like the color, when in reality, they dyed water and called it an afternoon. Let’s start with the least offensive. Aaaaand, that would be orange. It tastes a little like my childhood, at least when my childhood traded childhoods with a kid who ate at McDonald’s twice a week, bringing back a weak, weak flavor of Hi-C orangeade and St. Joseph’s baby aspirin. It’s kind of sweet. It’s relatively harmless. And it only gets worse.The grape color travels faster than the “flavor,” and before you know it, you have a torrent of purple liquid running hell down your throat. Shit. This is water and food coloring. And possibly a variation of cancer. When you look at a full bottle, it sort of resembles a hand grenade. And that’s when you should have stepped back and just said no.There is literally no taste to this other than the bitter hatred of citric acid. It’s a saccharine no man’s land. This should only be used in Gitmo.Little Hugs hears your complaints and bitch slaps you. You want sugar? Okay, here’s sugar. All the sugar that could have been evenly divided between grape, orange, blue raspberry, and your dentist’s cavity bill is shoved into fruit punch, a philosophical quagmire that manages to be watery and intensely sweet at the same time. Is it sweet or diluted? It’s the Schrodinger’s Cat of the bunch. Mac from Always Sunny would call it the wild card. The underlying notes, ha ha ha, are Smarties and cough medicine. It’s a delicious hobo cocktail and, again, is so far removed from fruit punch in its original form. Like chicken rings.
Last, but not good enough to cure your diabetes, is blue raspberry. I never really understood such a concept. Is raspberry so freaking boring that it needs to go to fat camp over the summer and start high school as the sexy new kid? The Wikipedia article is disturbingly sparse. What kind of a mutant marketing firm would commit such an atrocity?I’ll be frank. Blue tastes and smells like antifreeze, but is nowhere as palatable. I’ve written a living will and it’s in the third desk drawer on the left.For fun and in accordance with the side effects of Stockholm Syndrome, Swagger and I mixed each flavor together and created Satan’s cocktail. Grape dominated all of the flavors and we both promptly fainted from the chemical overload. Goodbye, cruel world.I take it back. This isn’t for college students. This isn’t for humans. Or animals. Leave the Little Hugs alone and go buy some Capri Sun. We’re not made of money, but this is getting ridiculous.

Rita’s Peeps Italian Ice

Haven’t you taken pleasure knowing that a food was fueled on the deaths of millions, or on the basis of insufferable cruelty? Pâté, for instance? Or veal cutlets? How about the kitchen of Semi-Homemade?

Well, yesterday, I had a confection that rivaled all. It took millions upon millions of tiny, smiling, droopy-beaked friends, it squashed them down, ground them up, froze them, and blended them into something incredible, so saccharine, yellow, and pee like in comparison, that they could only sell it for one day, but it rocked the nation like Tiger Woods rocked every single woman in the world.

It was Peeps Italian Ice at Rita’s.Yesterday, at their Free Italian Ice day, Rita’s debuted a new flavor of ice for one day only, the Peeps flavor, and I had to try it. It was bright, shocking yellow, like unnatural urine after a binge of Mello Yellow or a raver’s funeral. The flavor was pretty unnatural, too. It tasted like Peeps, I suppose. Like the sprinkles on Peeps, more. It also tasted like cake batter. The flavor, after a while, was way too intense. And by a while, I mean approximately three bites. Peeps are a fun novelty item because the flavor of marshmallow is partially diffused by the air that separates it. With this, it’s like eating marshmallow concentrate, and it’s pretty gross.

I thought the concept was cute, and I think it could be jazzed up a little and improved- like the quintessential toasted marshmallow milkshake idea, maybe with a shake, and a Peep on top? But this was watery and icky, and after a few bites, I left it on my dresser, and coming back and seeing it melted? Not pretty at all.