Bacon Freak’s Piglets Pecan Bacon Snack: A Review

We’re done with bacon, right?  Finally?  Everything’s been wrapped and infused and topped and garnished.  Every animal worth eating has had it rammed into all of its available orifices.  Every product has been flavored or scented.  We made perfumes and floss and personal lubricant.  There are shirts and socks and ties.  It’s finally over, right?  The douchey uninteresting posers have lost interest?  We’re moving onto the cronut now?

It’s about time.  Talk about overstaying your welcome.  And I’ll come right out and say it. Bacon, it’s not so great.  Seriously.  It’s good.  It’s not meme good.  Have a couple slices on your burger.  Pair it with some eggs.  Wrap a scallop.  Crumble it in your salad.  But then move the eff on.  It’s just a food.  It’s not a lifestyle.  As much as you want it to be.

I’ll admit I fell prey to the nonsense.  I tried a bacon latte at a hipster bakery.  I ate canned bacon.  Bacon popcorn.   I even tried some fizzy bacon drink tabs.  Just to say I did.  Why not, right?  That’s what it all was about.  Saying you did.  No one is really that into bacon.  And if you are.  Enjoy the next few days of life before your heart explodes like the Death Star.

Now if you run an artisanal charcuterie, by all means bacon away.  That’s an art and I’m sure you are making amazing stuff.  But that’s not the same as buying 10 pounds at the Piggly Wiggly to pile on a burger the size of a Frisbee for your next web video.

I’d love to say this will be my last bacon review, but it probably won’t.  Some food we didn’t realize we were forgetting will get the bacon treatment and it’ll land on all the blogs and media outlets.  What are you gonna do?  I’m only human.

Honestly, I was excited when I first saw this product.  I was picturing a perfect crunchy blend of salty and sweet that would make me reconsider my stance on bacon.  I was hoping it would be like those delicious sugared almonds I buy when I go to theme parks and such, but with a bacon.  Sounds good, right?  I know!

well, the nosegrope is what you’d think it would be.  It’s bacon.  Big, big bacon and lots of it.  No room for anything else.  A bad beginning.

Unfortunately, the taste of this mix was a complete letdown.  The bacon, sugar, and pecans have all been mashed together into a uniformly, semi-mushy mélange.  I wish there was more variety in the texture, but everything has just been sitting together for too long.

The pecans and brown sugar have absorbed the flavor of the bacon completely.  If you love bacon, that’s great.  But I wondered why the pecans and sugar were there at all.  Essentially you have bacon-infused pecans and bacon-infused brown sugar (which miraculously has lost most of its sweetness).  Even the bacon bits seem to be bacon-infused, the flavor is so intense.  It’s all just too much.  Too salty, too bacony.   And it left me tasting bacon for hours.  It’s not good.

The solution to this mess of a product would be to keep each component separate, or to sugar up the pecans and keep those sequestered from the bacon bits, so the consumer could mix them up at snack time.  That way you could retain the flavor of each individual component and make it taste like it tastes in my imagination.

But I guess when you have a snack produced by a website dedicated to shoving bacon up the ass of every product they could get their greasy fingers on, not every one is going to be a winner.  Actually I bet most of them aren’t winners.

Bacon Freak’s Piglets Pecan Bacon Snack is the perfect example of what was ridiculous about the whole bacon craze.  It was all coulda instead of shoulda.  A poorly executed idea rushed to capitalize on the trend du jour.

Just make this at home yourself.  It’ll be much much better.




Pepsi-Flavored Cheetos: A Review

Head on over to The Impulsive Buy for my review of the latest Japanese snack hybrid monstrosity: Pepsi-flavored Cheetos.

Pepsi-flavored Cheetos

Giant Star Wars Lightsaber Pocky: A Review

I don’t often find myself fundamentally opposed to snack foods, but I used to be fundamentally opposed to Pocky. The idea of it offended me.  Deeply.

I became aware of its existence at around the same time I became aware of the existence of anime.  Which also offended me.  I tried to get into anime at the behest of some friends who were REALLY into anime.  I wanted to like it, for them.  They were good people.

I gave anime a chance.  Multiple chances.  Long ass, drawn out, nothing-has-happened-in-the-last eight-episodes, if-this-is-supposed-to-be-serious-then-why-the-hell-did-that-guy’s-eyes-bug-out-when-he-got-hit-in-the-head-with-a-frying-pan chances.  But I didn’t like it.

Anime was something supremely mediocre that people were convincing themselves was really good.  When really it wasn’t good, it was just different and those people wanted to be people who were into something different.  That irked me, and subsequently I came to hate anything and everything associated with it.

And Pocky was associated with it.  It was a snack the fanboys and fangirls LOVED.  But they didn’t love it.  It was a part of the character they were crafting.  It was an accessory to the anime fan costume, if you will.

In hindsight, this misplaced rage was a function of those people having found something they liked and/or identified with that they could get excited about, while I had not.

Nowadays my life philosophy is almost completely rooted in the idea of liking what you like unabashedly.  Love writing Golden Girls slash fiction?  Adding characters to your DuckTales tattoo sleeve?  Painting large scale recreations of Richard Simmons’ Deal-a-Meal cards?  Then do it!  And go at it with the gusto and enthusiasm reserved only for Labrador retrievers and ADHD kids who have to wear helmets.  Because one day you’ll be dead, and it’s the happy distractions between now and then that are important.  The most important really.

Having made peace with this concept allows me to unabashedly love Star Wars, which is arguably the mediocre-est of mediocre things.  If you’re outside of Star Wars, the whole thing is easily dismissible.  If you’re inside it, it’s the greatest thing that has ever been because it has spaceships and lightsabers and lasers and monsters and occasionally hot primary-colored ladies.  I love all of it.

Today, we have the latest product at the nexus of Star Wars and food products: Giant Star Wars Lightsaber Pocky.  Sadly, the Force was not strong in these Pocky sticks as none of them arrived from Japan in one piece.

This pack comes with six Giant Pocky sticks.  Giant indicating that they are longer (9 inches to be exact) and thicker than normal Pocky.  They come in three flavors.  Each one corresponds to a different Star Wars character.  The pink Pocky is strawberry and corresponds to Darth Vader’s lightsaber from A New Hope.  The green one is green tea and represents Yoda’s lightsaber from Attack of the Clones.  The purple one is grape, and is not Mace Windu’s (!), but represents Luke’s blue lightsaber in A New Hope.  Why they didn’t make Luke’s Pocky blue is a mystery, and kind of maddening.  To people like me, anyway.  (You made it blue on the package, guys!)

The strawberry and grape flavors (and nosegropes) are intensely artificial, and just what you’d expect from a highly-flavored Japanese candy.  The grape isn’t bad but it crosses over a little too far into medicine-y territory for my liking.  The green tea flavor is not as intense.  It’s vaguely vegetal and quite unremarkable.

Overall, I liked the strawberry best.  It was the most familiar and least offensive.  However, I don’t think these Giant Pocky work as a whole.  The ratio of icing to biscuit cookie is pretty good in normal Pocky sticks.  Both are well represented and mix to provide a balanced cookie experience during chewation.

However, the ratio in this Giant Pocky is way off.  You get the burst of icing but it doesn’t last long, as it doesn’t have nearly the volume to compete with the sheer size of the biscuit cookie.  You’re left with a mouthful of cookie that, while decent, is not very interesting.  These did not need to be Giant.

A more inspired approach would have been to just have normal Pocky in the four lightsaber colors represented in the films, including a Pocky stick dipped at both ends with the biscuit visible in the middle to represent the always menacing Darth Maul.  But what do I know?

The packaging of this product is outstanding, but in the end they came up short on content and execution.  Say it with me.  Just like the prequels.

May the Force be with you. (I can’t believe I’ve had this blog for three years and haven’t ever written that.)

Clamato: A Review

I don’t listen to music.  Well, that’s not fair, everyone listens to music.  I don’t pursue music.  Some people love music.  My wife is never not listening to music (or singing or humming or whistling).  But I am indifferent.

I want to like music.  I want to be a music guy.  I make a nominal effort every month or so.  I load up a bunch of songs, proclaiming that this will be the month where I listen to music.  But it never happens.

These were the five songs that came up when I randomly shuffled everything on my phone just now:

    • “Rightstarter (Message to a Black Man)” by Public Enemy (I’ve never heard this song before now.)
    • “Fuzzy Dice” by Optimus Rhyme
    • “Crawling the Walls” by David Gross
    • “Running Right Through the World” by The Toasters
    • “Jump With My Baby” by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

If that’s not enough for you, I can tell you every single song I’ve listened to this entire week.  Because there are only three:

    • The aforementioned “Crawling the Walls” by David Gross
    • “Goin’ In (Skrillex Goin’ Down Mix)” by Birdy Nam Nam (due to my recent obsession with Spring Breakers)
    • “The Dope Show” by Marilyn Manson (in the shower, because sometimes a man’s gotta sing)

If I gave you my top five favorite albums, you’d probably stop hanging out with me.  But you can judge me.  It’s fine.  I made peace with it a long time ago.  I’m cool in other ways.

That’s not to say I live surrounded by ambient noise just listening to my own thoughts.  The horror.

I listen to podcasts.  Tons and tons of podcasts.  All the time.  Driving, jogging, cooking, avoiding the possibility of talking to strangers.  All the time.  My wife hates it.  “How can you just listen to people talking all the time?!”  But I love them.  They stimulate my brain like music doesn’t.

So recently, I was listening to FEaB, a podcast with Matt Mira of the Nerdist empire and Scott Mosier of the View Askew universe.  They were talking about airplane beverage service, and one of them brought up Clamato, today’s tomato and clam beverage invented by two maniacs in the 1960s that wanted a cocktail in the style of Manhattan clam chowder.  Because I guess eating soup and getting drunk was just taking too much time to do separately.

It’s been on my radar for years, but I’d never had it or remembered even seeing it anywhere.  They mocked it thoroughly, and it was quite entertaining.

So I started to wonder what the most mocked food product of all time is.  You know, the stuff that’s been the punch line of the most jokes or just the most universally insulted.

After surveying some associates, I have compiled a tentative list of ten contenders in no particular order.  Your input is appreciated.

    • New Coke
    • Zima
    • Crystal Pepsi
    • Hot Pockets
    • McGriddles
    • Cheez Whiz
    • Spam
    • Clamato
    • Funyuns
    • McRib

I think Clamato is mocked mostly for its name.  Partly for the clam thing, but mostly for its name.  It’s a pretty bad name.  But then, what else would you call an “invigorating mix of tomato juice, spices, and a touch of clam”?  A touch of clam.  I could not find that phrase any funnier.  I was going to use it in a cover band joke but thought better of it.  Your input is appreciated.

I thought this was going to be a hard to find product.  Wikipedia assured me it is popular in Canada and Mexico but less so in the U.S.  But there it was in my local grocer.  Not a few stray, dusty bottles either.  Like three feet of shelf space.  With three different sizes and two varieties!  I had no idea.

The nosegrope of Clamato is more of store bought spaghetti sauce than straight tomato juice.  Seems that’s where the spices (onion and garlic powder) come in.  I couldn’t discern the touch of clam.

Going in, I was expecting the flavor of Clamato to fall somewhere in between a clam explosion and an old timey sea captain’s beard.  But it didn’t.  They’re not lying when they say a touch of clam.  It’s surprisingly subtle.  It’s there, but the spaghetti sauce flavor is the most in your face.  That and the salt.  It’s salty.  Eight-hundred milligrams of sodium per eight ounces.  Blimey.

I didn’t have the clams to mix this stuff with beer, but I did whip up a Caesar, which is a Bloody Mary made with Clamato.  Not bad.  Still salty.  Probably not going to be my go-to cocktail.

And what makes this a cocktail and not a cold soup anyway?  It’s made with dried clam broth.  It’s got spices.  I’ve had less flavorful soups than this.  Is it just because it’s in a bottle?  Served in a glass and not a bowl?  Again, your input is appreciated.

I was really hoping for something disastrous with Clamato, but altogether, it’s not bad.  I don’t know if I would drink it even semi-regularly, but someone is enjoying it.  To each his own, I say!  I love podcasts, my wife likes music, and somewhere a dude is getting loose with clam and tomato juice.  We’re all stars now in the dope show! (I didn’t really know how to end this.)

Hippo Size Huckleberry Soda: A Review

My dream is to quit my day job and wander the earth in search of soda, sampling every variety along the way.  I mean I’d fight crime with karate and save the occasional town from the local ruthless businessman by transforming my old soda delivery truck into a cabbage-shooting war machine, but mostly I’d be looking for soda.

Ok, twist my arm why don’t you!  Here’s the tentative synopsis for the pilot I may or may not be developing.  The sun shines down on me as I stand in a babbling brook, stripped to the waist, practicing my midday karate moves.  A scared woman comes running out of the woods.  She is stumbling because she is wearing a tattered fuzzy mascot costume.  The costume’s head is missing.  She takes a few striding steps into the stream before she falls forward into the water.

I dash over and help her up. I look around just as two jogging-suit-clad thugs (Italians, obviously) come crashing out of the tree line.  They shout threats and charge toward us, but I easily beat the crap out of them with karate.

There’s a cut and the woman and I are drying ourselves by the fire I’ve built next to my soda delivery truck.  I learn that she works for the local children’s entertainment restaurant (think Chuck E. Cheese’s), and that morning, she discovered a dead body in the ball pit in what she assumes to be a drug-related murder.  She has noticed shady goings-on in the restaurant’s backroom, and she believes the new owner of Dapper Dannigan’s Pizza Promenade is a bit crooked.

She thinks he is putting cocaine in the soda fountains to hook kids while they’re young.  Pressure is being put on the local business council to look the other way.  Whistleblowers start turning up with game machine prize tickets stuffed in their mouths.

The rest plays out like you think it would.  I get involved due to my outrage that soda is being used for evil and because of my love of franchised children’s entertainment restaurants (there are flashback sequences to happy childhood memories before my parents died).

I use a lot of karate, and there is eventually a showdown in a darkened costume storage room in which I have to contend with many furry costumes, not quite sure which one the evil boss is hiding in.  A lot of henchmen are thrown into cardboard boxes along the way, someone is beaten into submission with a Whack-a-Mole mallet, and ultimately I knock out the bad guy by hurling him headfirst into the token machine causing a small avalanche of tokens to cascade down upon him.  “Game over.”  That’s what I say, all cool like.  “Game over.”  Because of all the games.  It’s pretty great.

I’m already attached to play myself.

You guys got me all sidetracked.  We’re here today to review soda.  A soda that I have never heard of or seen anywhere other than the sandwich and soda shop in which I purchased it.  I can’t even find out much about it on the internet.  Very mysterious.  (Note to self, episode idea, mysterious soda company, little web presence, family-owned roller rink, evil Yakuza, real estate development scheme?)

Hippo Sized Soda was founded in the late 1920s in Texas, and apparently it was gone for a while, but has been resurrected by Orca Beverage which now offers six flavors.  That’s really all I know.  And that info was mostly gleaned from bottle collecting websites.  Even a Google image search for “hippo size soda” only reveals more bottle collecting images and a lot of Melissa McCarthy photos (seriously), which is both weird and unfortunate.

I love the two-color aesthetic of the bottle label.  Hippos are awesome and haven’t really been utilized to their full potential since their binge eating days of the 1980s.

This Hippo Huckleberry soda is flavored with huckleberry and elderberry extract.  I have never seen either of these berries in person, much less eaten them, so I cannot speak to aroma or flavor accuracy.

The nosegrope is a really nice mix of grape soda and blueberries.  Mostly blueberries.

The soda is finely carbonated.  Lots of small bubbles.  I was hoping for one hippo-sized bubble of CO2 that just exploded in my face when I opened it.  It’s also pink, which doesn’t really come across in the photo.

Its flavor is also a mélange.   Grape and blueberry with notes of raspberry.  It’s not overly sweet and has a pleasantly tart finish.  It’s an interesting mix that I haven’t encountered before.  If that’s what huckleberry tastes like, then I’ve been missing out!

This soda is great.  I highly recommend it.  I can’t wait to truck out to the other end of the neighboring city to pick up some more flavors.   Though I hear there is a watermelon distributor on the way who’s been lacing his wares with LCD!  That cannot stand!  (Note to self: avalanche of drug-infused watermelon that knocks out villain.)

Sprecher Bootlegger’s Bourbon Barrel Hard Root Beer: A Review

I’m not gonna say that the soda industry has jumped the shark.  The soda industry has jumped the shark, circled back, netted it, dragged it ashore, beat it to death with a shovel, stuffed it, and hung it on a wall in a Red Lobster bathroom in Hoboken.  I mean once you hit Turkey and Gravy Soda, all bets are off.  Bacon Soda?  Corn on the Cob?  Ranch Dressing?  That’s a slippery slope that will ultimately end up at Human.  Yep.  Human-flavored soda.

Soylent Green had it wrong.  We’re supposed to believe that human beings willingly crossed over to consuming little green squares for nourishment?  I don’t buy it.  First of all, Americans would never eat squares that are that small.  Soylent Green would have to come in blocks the size of bricks.  At least.  Second of all, Soylent Green is green.  Good luck with that.  Thirdly, it could never be cheaper than Ramen.  And lastly, if you’re not going to bother deep frying it or topping it with cheese, forget it.

I argue you wouldn’t even need to deceive people.  Forget Charlton Heston screaming in outrage.  You could easily get the general public to consume other humans, if you played your cards right.

If your goal is to start preparing humans for long term consumption of other humans, it’s doable, but you have to build up to that slowly.  Small incremental steps over time.

The key is fast food and soda.  That’s where it’s going to happen.  Toss a little human flesh into that burger.  Dump a little plasma into that soda.  Maybe a little plastic kidney in that kids’ meal (it could transform or whatever).

Over time, people will get used to the new flavors.  You’ll slowly rewrite their taste programming.  They won’t even notice.  Then you hit ‘em with your buzzwords.  One week it’s an angus burger, the next week humangus.  Coca-Cola becomes Coca-Col-A-Negative.  Buy off a few unethical junk food bloggers.  Pique the curiosity of the internet.  And you’re done.  Full blown consumption of humans.

Then comes the madness and Thunderdome and leather loin cloths, of couse.  But we’ll get a few years of societal normalcy before that.

Seriously, is it really that unbelievable?

But all is not lost!  There is one company stemming the tide of that destruction by doing their best to advance the sodatorial arts.  And that company is Sprecher, the soda and beer brewery in Wisconsin whose praises I have sung before.

Offered here today for your consideration is their Bootlegger’s Bourbon Barrel Hard Root Beer, an unholy 5% ABV hybrid of their two product lines.

The nosegrope is mostly root beer (they make great root beer) with subtle hints of vanilla.  The malty, beery aroma is also there but not nearly as strong as I was expecting it to be.  It smells like someone poured beer and root beer in the same glass.  Quite literally.

The taste follows the nosegrope pretty exactly.  Lots of big root beer flavor.  Hints of vanilla.  An underlying maltiness.  And lots of carbonation.  There may be bourbon notes in there too, as the name would suggest, but I don’t know if I’ve ever had bourbon.  (I’m not very manly, which I’m sure you’ve gathered by now.)  The only negative aspect of this is that it is very sweet.  I don’t know if I could get through two at a sitting.

The root beer is definitely doing most of the flavor work, which is good because, again, they make good root beer.  It’s smooth.   There is a little tang at the finish, but overall the malty alcohol isn’t very assertive.  It brought to mind the malt/soda coexistence of Mountain Dew’s Johnson City Gold.

If you can get your hands on this, then do.  It’s pretty good.

I’m not saying that Sprecher is singlehandedly reining in our headlong plunge into cannibalistic indoctrination, but they are at least doing their part to yank the wheel of the rusty, Mad Maxian war  bus slightly to the left.

And really, that’s what you want in a soda company.

Lollyphile Breast Milk Flavored Lollipops: A Review

I don’t understand the taboo around breast milk (weird sexual fetishists aside, of course).  It’s the only food that is universally celebrated in childhood and then universally forbidden in adulthood.  What if they did that with other childhood staples like chocolate chip cookies or Cinnamon Toast Crunch?  You get to eat some for a little while and then they take it away forever.  The world would be a sad place indeed, and that’s not just because my wife would kill herself.

When that company in London started serving ice cream made with breast milk a while back, people lost their minds in misguided outrage (the usual form of public outrage).  When I shared the news with an associate that I purchased these lollipops, she lost her mind in misguided outrage (the usual form of associate outrage).

I don’t get it, but I believe it’s all rooted in the inability in many human beings to grasp more than one issue at a time.  It’s been my experience with people (who are the worst) that when confronted with something strange, or even just mildly different, they default to righteous indignation.  The smarter of those humans can sometimes be swayed when someone like me (who is the best) points how that Situation A (which they are usually actively engaged in) is no different from Situation B or C or so on for the next 100 examples they didn’t bother to consider when forming they’re initial kneejerk reaction.  The dumber of those humans will never, and can never, be swayed because their reptile brains (my apologies to reptiles) will never be able to hold more than one thought at a time, much less make connections between two.

I’ll give you an example.  There was a local rally against Monsanto and their production of genetically modified organisms recently.  Dozens of outraged citizens marched down the street carrying low production-value protest signs and singing poorly conceived rhyming chants.  Because, you know, a few dozen bored soccer moms, highly impressionable college students, and aging hippies armed with poster board will change the mind of a faceless, possibly evil, obscenely large mega-corporation.

Now, I have nothing against GMOs because I haven’t done enough research to form an opinion, which is the way it should be (I really hope they’re not killing me).  But if you do have an informed, well-reasoned opinion, then by all means get out there and stand up for your beliefs.  The world needs thoughtful people.

It doesn’t need people marching on Saturday, standing up fervently for a headline they briefly glanced at on Friday.

What really irked me was a video I saw of the parking lot before the march.  It was filled to capacity with gas-guzzling SUVs, people carrying single-use bottles of water, and moms pushing gigantic strollers that will be buried in a landfill right up until the sun expands and swallows the earth whole.  And of course everyone was decked out in the usual trappings of rampant 21st century consumerism.

Now I certainly don’t have anything against consumer culture, but don’t expect me to take your soapbox shouting seriously when your soapbox is bejeweled and made of non-biodegradable plastic tinted a Kardashian-endorsed shade of pink that’s been colored with the blood of the Chinese children that produced it.

If you’re one of those people who may get outraged at the mention of breast milk-flavored lollipops, just relax and put down that McRib (or any other product that is equally terrible for you).  Everything is going to be alright.

Ok, enough of my soapboxing.

These lollipops are one of the latest offerings from Lollyphile, an Austin-based artisanal lollipop collective.  These are breast milk-flavored, but unfortunately contain no actual human breast milk.  Though the lollisters (coining that term for professional lollipop makers) claim they did procure the product of actual lactating humans for use in their attempts at flavor re-creation.  Sadly, I shan’t be able to verify the accuracy of this flavor as it has been some years 30+ since I’ve sampled that elixir of life.

Also, these lollipops are vegan (they are Austin-based, after all) which easily makes them the healthiest thing ever featured on this blog.

The nosegrope of the candy is vanilla-ish.  There was also a slight hint of something.  I don’t really know how to describe it.  Maybe it has something to do with the base of the candy?

The candy is sweet, though not too sweet, and there are hints of vanilla and marshmallow.  Like a toasted marshmallow Jelly Belly.  It’s creamy to be sure but oddly enough, not like any cream product I can recall sampling.  Also, there is something in the flavor that is tied in with that odd smell.  I’m failing as a food blogger here, but I don’t know what it is.  It’s not over the top, but there is a weird underflavor that lingers for a second after you’ve removed the candy from your mouth.  It can’t be intentional.  I honestly have no idea what it is.

Do they taste like breast milk?  I do not know, and I may never know.  Get with it, society!

Overall, these are pretty decent.  Obviously they are intended as an attention getter, which I am all for.  Though Lollyphile’s other flavors aren’t exactly run of the mill.  Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster, Habanero Tequila, et al.

I don’t know if you’d be enjoying these as your afternoon candy of choice, but they are definitely worth trying.  Don’t act like you don’t want to.

Order some up and bring them to your next baby shower.  You’ll be the hit of the party.  Or you’ll be thrown out on the street and shunned.  You gotta get a read on the room first.  People are weird.

Or just be subversive.  Give them out and don’t tell them what they are.  What are they gonna do?  March?