Monday, September 12, 2016

Stamping my Passport to Flavor!

Today we'll be reviewing the Lay's "Passport to Flavor" Brazilian Picanha chips (subtitle Steak & Chimichurri sauce).  ((wtf is chimichurri?))

Initial impressions, there are some tasty-looking street food skewers of probably beef on the front.  I'd certainly try one of those if I saw it at a cart somewhere, because beef.  MAYBE these chips will be reminiscent of meaty flavors and whatnot?  I mean, the pork rinds were great, who doesn't like meat? (vegans don't count)

Fallout of your fears about these chips...
So, yeah, chips...  I gotta be honest, I ate these a week ago and I'm trying to remember what I had.  I recall something savory....?  Let's go to the pictures, perhaps that will tickle some neurons.  Typical bag of air, but this method of packing has resulted in a bag of mostly whole chips.  I am still want to reduce the rating for this method of packaging, but I can't for the life of me come up with a better packing method for chips that would result in unbroken product.  Maybe I just want more chips?  These are only 2.75 oz of chips.  Can't I at least get 3 oz?  What about a full quarter pound?  I bet they'd fit in the same bag of air...

I'll never get used to how empty a bag of chips looks when I open them.
Okay, time to take a look at these chips.  Funky, supposedly intense flavors; what are they going to be covered with?  What's this?  A good sign?  YES!!! NO RNP!!!  Looks like flecks of actual herbage on these chips, and some light dusting of darker spices.  There's a subtlety to the flavors here.  Nothing jumps up and pops you in the schnozz.  These are edible, don't kill you over a serving, and repeatable!

I get why these are called Crisps in Yee Olde England
The individual chips were large and fresh and crisp.  I enjoyed eating these.  Not in the usual OMG EPIC FLAVORE sense that I usually like (because it makes good reviews) but in a more subdued randomly eating chips while I do something kinda way.  They don't belt you upside the head, but they don't fade completely into the background.  I could certainly see myself eating these while watching a movie or having a conversation or something.  They're reminiscent of the spices and the savory nature of steak. Considering there are steak skewers on the bag, I guess this is a success.  All that said, I'm a bit disappointed.  There wasn't anything horrible about these chips, they weren't so boring I'll forget them, and they were of a flavor that I found at least marginally pleasurable.  So, basically, this chip was a near perfect storm to not only make writing a review boring as ever loving fuck, but also make me instinctually reach for them if I see them in the store again.  I mean, when I did the pork rinds they got a ridonkulous rating because they were awesome and they were great to review.  These are a 7.  Nothing to write home about, but you're happy you're not stuck with another 3.

Lay's Brazilian Picanha - Rating: buy more yes / 5

Now let's talk for a moment about the "Passport to Flavor" that's going on.  First, I'm just seeing these lately.. So I either missed the "do me a flavor" this summer, or there wasn't one.  At the same time, these creeping up in August/September means this isn't a replacement schtick, but is probably a limited release anyway.  Second, there are 3 more to pick up and I purposely chose this one to be the first of 4 because it looked boring/safe (I was right).  I'm a sucker for kettle-cooked and that's up next. Stay tuned!



Trader Joe's Somewhat Spicy Dill flavored Kettle Cooked potato chips.

Go buy these.


Not later, not next week.  Get your ass off that chair and get moving...

They're really crunchy, mildly spicy, and not nearly as dilly as you'd think given the label, but there is a LOT of Salt and Vinegar action going on here.  You'll drink a lot of beer with these.

Rating: The Vlasic Stork just shot a hot, chlamydia-filled stream of pickle juice onto your tonsils...

Monday, August 29, 2016

A return to normalcy...


Mr. Lester's Bacon Cotton Candy.........
Yeah, this exists...

I don't know if I can do this.
I mean, seriously, who the hell thought this would be a good idea?  What monster sits in a room and thinks, "Hey, that sickly sweet sugar fluff we somehow figured out how to bag and preserve on the shelf indefinitely, what if we added a salty savory pork flavor to that?"  Good god, this is what will really be left on the shelf after the fallout...

I don't trust you Lester.
Let's get started with the "name brand" here, this is Lester.  Lester is not photogenic.  It is obvious to me that this whole company is some sort of weird ego-boost for Lester, because otherwise... why would you intentionally associate yourself with this?  If I met Lester at a road-side stand selling regular bacon I'd be wary; knowing that he's trying to hock Bacon-Flavored Cotton Candy?  No way in hell.  Seriously, Lester, the hills have eyes and I'm getting the fuck out of here.

Yes, please do
But, hey, maybe the key here is that this is intentionally a novelty product.  They know you'll only ever buy it once, and likely you will share the bag so you all don't have to buy your own.  That's what happened to this bag.  This was obtained by an associate at our local Rocket Fizz, a store for weird candy, snacks, and sodas.  We consumed it at a friendly get together where we intentionally watch bad movies.  Let's just say the cinema in play at the time I was excited to distract myself with this.  (that excitement was very, very short-lived)  Seriously, it looks like it should come free in your order from Archie McPhee,  So maybe Lester on the front is a good call?  Definitely tickles the horrible part of my brain that thinks banjos are funny/scary...  Anyway, let us actually try to eat some of this.

Obviously can't suffer too much from empty bag syndrome
This is it, this lump of lumps, this vaguely off-flesh-toned mass, like some sort of airy tumor.  It is more dense than I expected, but then again I am not very familiar with the wide world of prepackaged cotton candy.  I will say that it does not, in reality, look at all appetizing.  It is. . . well, actually, this weekend I spent an hour brushing cats excessively.  After the brushing I had a pile of removed fur that could be wadded into a relatively dense orange and grey mass the size of a tennis ball.  This felt like that.  Teasing apart a piece to eat was not unlike trying to pull out just one small bit of fur.  Almost identical tactile feedback.

I'm going to eat this?
"But how does it taste?" I can hear you asking...  At this point in the blog is when I usually go off the rails about RNP, the horror of the flavors in my face, or the off chance that I actually liked it.  The worst thing that could happen is if it were just, "meh".  So, of course, it's just "meh".  It's so "meh" I'm just "meh" trying to "meh" my "Meh" to the "MEH".  meh

It's very sweet.  Obviously, as it's just spun sugar.  But the flavor is specifically NOT BACON!!!  It's vaguely savory(?) and a bit salty.  The best way I could describe would be to imagine you had real cotton candy that you forgot in your car after the fair/circus/sporting event.  Now, imagine this lump that has allowed to settle overnight in a stale car has been very lightly sprinkled with the powder from really cheap "pork" flavor ramen noodles, and a touch of smoked sea salt.  It's not horrible, but it is also so benign that I'm having a hard time trying to describe it.  I will be clear, it is not good by any description.  Seriously, don't buy this, it's an awful concept that is poorly executed.  It only through the the application of horrible movies and hard alcohol that I was able to move passed this as a low point in my week.

Rating: 1 sad sugary slice / full 5 rashers

Thanks to Mary for providing the fodder for this review.  I promise these will get better.  I saw there wasn't a "Do me a Flavor" this summer, but the local Stuffer Shack had Four, count 'em FOUR new flavors of new chips in their Lay's Passport to Flavor promotion.  We shall see, Lay's, I am about to mushroom stamp every page of that passport...

Sunday, August 21, 2016

I have a computer again; a desktop to type on.  Based on my back-ups and whatnot I've been without for about 5 months now.  A hard five months where not much has happened too me, but I've had a lot of time to myself to think about the things that have happened around me.

Basically, I've got a lot of crap rolling around in my head lately, it's time I let some of it out.

It sounds like the most cheezy cliche thing to say this, but putting my thoughts into text is a form of therapy.  Some things I've written lately publicly and privately have really helped me rationalize and process some of my emotions.

So, don't be surprised if you see more here in the near future.

Besides, there's always more snack-foods to review!

I"ll try to be up front about how shitty the posts are going to be so you can skip ahead to me being foul mouthed about potato chips and whatnot.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Catching up on a fucked up 5 months...

Let's be upfront.  I'm not going to review any snack food in this post.  It's kind of a downer.

So, I'm living by myself now.

I'm living by myself in an apartment in Lincoln, NE with two cats. (So not really "alone")

I moved here on Halloween weekend.

I'm drinking rum (Kraken) mixed with Mt. Dew.  Don't ask me how that happened.  Probably because I had Kraken and Mt. Dew...  This is not a mixed drink for the weak of spirit.

Things have been weird.

Like, really weird, life changing weird, probably (hopefully) won't happen again weird.

I went to therapy for a while early last year, that actually went rather well.  I'm not going to therapy anymore.  Most of my "WTF is wrong with you?" is self-induced and, using learned techniques, is also now self-analyzed and thwarted.  That's probably not the best idea, but I find that I'm generally more stable now so I'm okay with it.  At least it saves me the $35 copay...

Tomorrow my parents are going to show up at my door and they want to take me to "the boats".  I want to spend time with my parents, but realistically I would probably get about the same amount of pleasure from wadding up 20 or 40 bucks and throwing it in a flaming waste-paper basket.

I don't get gambling, and yet I buy powerball tickets.  I am an enigma.  I am a mystery.

I apparently am good at typing out stream of consciousness random bullshit.

I have my thermostat set to 73 degrees.  Due to the ridiculously low cost of gas heat in this apartment complex, it is actually nearly 80 degrees in here.  I guess my neighbors are more interested in tropical heat than I am, and I have tropical plants...

I got a new couch.  It is a fucking awesome couch.  This fucker spreads most of the way across two walls of my apartment.  It naps well.  Like, really well.  I had vastly undervalued the ability to lay out at full length on a piece of furniture and lose consciousness.  Right now Clive and Schrodinger are playing "broke cat mountain" on it.  I'm. . . I'm okay with that.  I can't really judge two animals without testicles for having certain urges.  Also, at least they're not doing it at my feet under the computer desk like they usually do.  So, good on ya, boys!  Hope you get some satisfaction out of that.

Did I mention I'm drinking rum again?  That's probably a bad idea in the long run.  Empty calories, no real benefit, reduction in inhibitions, etc.  That being said, I'm losing weight.  (other than rum) I've been eliminating calorie groups from my diet.  No more soda (except this that I'm drinking because I was baby-sitting my sister's kids this weekend.  I'm Using It Up!), no sweet snacks, no candy, etc.  It's really working.  The plan is "20 by my 20", being pounds by my 20 year reunion on May.  The sit-ups suck, but hey, at least I feel weirdly invincible for an hour or two afterwards.  Now if I could only get my brain to remember how awesome you feel after you work out instead of how it focuses on how much it actually sucks to actually work out...  But I digress.

How many of you are actually still reading this shit?

I don't have to commute to work anymore.  This gives me approximately 8 hours more per week to do something, but I'm not sure what.  According to my queue in iTunes, that time is not being spent on listening to podcasts.  I have a ridiculous backlog right now.  I'm kinda weird in that I can't bring myself to listen to Welcome to Night Vale because I have the book and I know the next episode is after the book.  Continuity is a bitch.  At least I still have The Dollop, and there was a rare but welcome live Walking The Room.  I've also been slowly catching up on the Bleep Podcast.

I got some wicked awesome new in-ear headphones.  They have multiple drivers per ear, they sound amazing.  I've fallen asleep listening to ambient music 2 out of the last 3 nights...  Reminds me of when I was a kid and I listened to NPR while everybody else was in bed.  I would fall asleep to the sound of that weird guy who played rare classical music at 2 in the morning.  ...mourning.

My daughter is dead.

I have been running away from things too long.  I've been hiding and distracting myself from things.  I've been intentionally not applying my self-therapeutic methods the last 3 months.  I've been trying to fill this apartment with furniture and bookshelves and whatnot.  The excuse was that this was a project that needed my attention.  I needed seating so I could entertain guests.  Now I have a huge sectional couch.  I needed to clean up the apartment and get all the books off the floor.  Now I have bookshelves and everything is neat and shelved.  I need a coat-rack to hang coats.... got that.  I just keep making excuses to keep people from coming over as much as possible, but now I realize that the excuses are weak and I'm not really worried about the people coming over.  I'm avoiding letting people in.  I know I'll never have kids, and at this point I can't honestly say I'll ever get married or be anything other than alone.  I left I woman I loved because we couldn't be together.  I've been with nobody but her for the last 8 years and loved her more than I've ever loved anybody.  Yet, I know we're both better off for the choice to part.  At the same time I know we're both hurting.  Her youngest daughter died.  She fought the good fight, but she's still gone.  There is a hole in me.  Both from being alone, and from knowing that the closest thing I'm likely to have to a child of my own has passed.  I wish I had been there for her and her mother and her sister and her fiance; I am glad I wasn't there when it happened.  With very few exceptions, everybody I've ever known who gets cancer has died from that cancer.  Grandparents, other relatives, they all succumb.  I feel like such a heartless robotic motherfucker sometimes.  Every time I learn that a loved one has cancer it is like they are already dead.  I value the time they're still around, but it's like they're a ghost already or something.

If someone comes back from the brink, it's like they're back from the dead.  They lived and I celebrate their achievement by wiping the slate clean and revelling in their new existence.  But those people are few.  Mostly, I am mourning them while they are still alive, which is fucked.  Because when they do die, it's like all the processing in my brain is already done.  The last puzzle piece is in place, the flow-chart is at its terminal end.  I move on.  I watch others suffer.  I feel for them, I wish I could help them or somehow make them feel better.  But I don't let myself feel shitty.  I don't let myself feel what I know I should feel.

I just buy furniture....drink rum.

Friday, September 11, 2015

My codependency with potatoes and salt...

The days are harder now.

The nights are long, dark and deep.

It has been so long since I felt you upon my lips, tasted you...

I find myself turning to the embrace of others.

Spending time with those I would not by choice have associated if you were near.

Where have you gone?

I see you everyday, but not with me.

Four new suitors have shouted and danced  and gyrated to garner my attention, but they are not you.

My one.

My only.

My Red Nuke Powder™...

The slog continues...
Lay's (Do Me A Flavor) New York Reuben is on the block today.  This is the 3rd of the 4 new flavors this summer.  I've only got one to go after this, and I must say so far that there are not any that stand out from the crowd.

Let's start with being mad before I even open the bag.  The Reuben was invented in Omaha, NE.  There are several restaurants who argue about who was the first, but no culinary historian worth their salt would ever dispute that the home of the Reuben is Beef-Town USA, Omaha, NE.  So, yeah, FUCK YOU, NEW YORK!!! THIS IS NOT YOUR SANDWICH, YOU ASSHOLES!!!  I mean, WTF, Big Apple?  You've already got claim to so much in this country, you gotta steal our pastrami (Or corned beef!) on rye sandwich and say it's yours?  YOU DON'T EVEN MAKE SAUERKRAUT!!!  

Okay, I'm done.

As usual, we're dealing with the "big bag, lots of air" packing method that (usually) ensures that most of you chips will still be uncrushed when you open your snack.  I understand the why, but the what is still, "Hey, I just opened this and most of it is empty already..."

Capt', the bottom looks to be about 5 fathoms down.
But, that's pretty much par for the course these days, so I'll not dwell on it.  This is the 3rd of the 4 new flavors this summer in the Do Me A Flavor promotion.  Last year, this concept brought us some really unique flavors and the awesomeness that is Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger, the chip of choice for anybody who's anybody.  I've only got one more flavor to go this time around, and I must say so far that there are not any that stand out from the crowd.

You will notice the stark lack of something that has come to represent the best (and worst) of this blog.  That's right, there is No RNP in this product.  So, we obviously think we can rely on actual flavor instead of the taste-bud equivalent of ICBMs.  (I kinda miss the RNP to be honest...)

The flavor is. . . meh.  There's potato chippy flavor and texture, they're light and crisp and potatoey and salty.  But there's no Zazz!  No Pop!  I just get these vaguely umami ambient taste tones on my tongue that trick my brain into thinking someone is slicing pastrami approximately 2 miles upwind...

These aren't bad, don't get me wrong.  They're just boring.  I suppose if you're someone who doesn't like a good salt & vinegar punch in the mouth while you have a sandwich, these would be great accompaniment to an actual reuben sandwich.  

In the end, eating something like this makes me miss last year's Mango Salsa.  Or, god forbid, the cappuccino flavored horror; not at all good, but at least interesting.

Rating:  2.blah/5.wut?

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Welcome to the potato chip apocalypse...

Let's get this shit-show started!

Hey, Kid.  Wanna buy some questionable fungus flavors?
You're gonna get a two-fer today.  First up, Lay's Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries!  

Holy Crap, Man! Truffle Fries!  Do you know how much good truffle fries are worth!?!  They gotta get these pigs, see?  And they train them to sniff out these weird fungus nodules that grow underground, right?  And they sell those soil-caked mushroom lumps to high-end restaurants for a shitload of money!  It's such a unique, rich, earthy flavor that they even press smaller bits into, like, olive oil and shit.  Then these fungal geniuses fry something simple like dumb old potatoes in that oil, and Get This; Those potatoes now taste like they've got really expensive truffles IN THEM!!!

At least, that's the idea.  Let us just be subtle and say that the execution of this concept seems to lack some initiative on the part of Lay's potato chips.  I know they're a multimillion dollar company, but practically speaking you're not going to find any actual truffles in a bag of potato chips that has $1.49 stamped on the bag...
I don't even use a fish-eye lens to get the bag to look this empty...
When I opened the bag I noticed that the large, wavy chips are sprinkled in green.  I seriously thought they had put sour cream & onion chips in by mistake.  But, no, they are not, as the flavor is at once strong and yet vague.  I tried to pick out individual flavors, but all I got was a generic uncertain herbal shadow on a slightly spiced salty undertone.  There may have been something ever so tangentially related to cheese involved here as well, maybe.  I did not, in any way, taste truffles.  

I thought, "Hey, maybe I'm not smelling enough to taste the truffle?" Seeing as much of flavor is a combo of taste and smell, and knowing that truffles are aromatic as hell, I stuck my nose in the bag.  I will tell you that I did not smell herbs, spices, cheese, potatoes and I sure as hell didn't smell truffles.  To be quite honest, all I could smell was Dirt.  Fake Dirt, boring dirt, maybe dirt that had a trace of rot in it.  In an attempt to fake the flavor of truffles/truffle oil, they have succeeded in making me think of dry loam.

These chips taste/smell like seasoned crispy dirt.  And after smelling that I can't not taste it that way from now on forever...

Rating: 1.1/5.0 WTF?

What is. . . I mean. . .I guess the colors are nice.
ROUND 2: Lay's Southern Biscuits and Gravy!

How should I start this?  I'm trying to separate, in my head, these chips from the Truffle Dirt.  I opened the last bag, ate a few, and then left the rest out for the wolves in the office.  These I opened second and, assuming I wasn't so underwhelmed by the last bag by comparison, I actually thought they were pretty good.  Maybe?  Maybe only be comparison to the soil crisps?

Object are fuller than they appear...

Let's start with smell.  They smell good, or at least inviting.  I suppose I should be happy that neither this nor the last bag had any Red Nuke Powder in them.  Nothing here burns the nose hairs off.  The flavor is also attractive.  Salty, spice, a hint of umami.  Truth be told, the combination of taste and smell was actually somewhat reminiscent of actual biscuits and gravy.  But, ultimately it falls short.  Think about the actual meal.  You'll need the smell and taste of a buttermilk biscuit with salt and butter and a bit of caramelization of the carbs, and over that is a rich, salty cream/dairy-based gravy with a lot of fresh cracked pepper as well as all the flavors linked to the crumbled-up cooked sausage.  It may not be possible to get all of this in a bag of chips.  

That being said, they threw a rock at the broad side of a barn and managed to at least clip the edge.  I think these chips would stand out more if labeled as a "mystery flavor".  Don't tell anybody what they're supposed to taste like and let people make up their own minds.  Or don't try to think what they might taste like, just enjoy the flavor they are.  I can imagine these going quite well as a companion side to some cold macaroni salad or something.

Incidentally, there is a noticeable greasy sensation on the lips, this in combination with the other spices and flavors makes me think more of truffle oil than the other bag.  Not as the primary flavor, but you might have been able to convince me it was one of the ingredients.  

I actually want to split the rating on this one between what it wants to be, and what it is.

Rating:  2.0/5.0 as Biscuits & Gravy flavor
              3.5/5.0 as its own unspecified mystery snack flavor.

Coming up.... the other two.

Monday, July 27, 2015

I feel out of practice...

Hello darkness my old friend....

I've come to eat Red Nuke Powder again.

And tell the people about these chips that suck.

Or maybe be rewarded for pressing my luck.

For these chips are the warm-up to next week.

Weird flavors I seek...

Nice rich welcoming color, no blaring typesets or screaming color schemes...
Today is Lay's Sweet Southern Heat Barbecue chips.  This was the only flavor at the Stuffer Shack that I hadn't tried yet.  As you can see the label has a red chili of some sort, disemboweled for you to gaze upon.  There also appears to be a bowl of ketchup, or maybe cranberry sauce.  As usual, the bag feels light and is puffed full of air to imitate fullness.  I read somewhere that in the puff-bag model of distribution looking full and bigger is a bonus effect, the original purpose being to keep the chips inside from breaking as the container is its own airbag.  Whatever, I still feel cheated.

I am already wary.  Is that RNP or Tang?
The chips themselves taste fresh and they are quite crisp.  The color is off-orange of sorts, usually indicative of RNP but in this case may be purposeful coloring to suggest BBQ sauce.  The flavor is not the usual round-house kick to the tonsils I've been experiencing lately, but it isn't subtle.  There is a nice, semi-sweet flavor of a well spiced barbecue sauce over a mild but defined potato flavor.  But then the magic happens...

There is some heat here.  Not the weird chemical warfare that happens to your face when you eat anything with Red Nuke Powder on it, but heat none the less.  It grows slowly, so much so that I didn't notice it until I was on my 4th or 5th chip.  It also has a nice plateau of heat that is well below tolerable, if not actually pleasant.  It's as if the chips themselves are saying, "Yeah, man, I'm spicy.  But it's the kind of spicy you like.  I want you to finish my bag without pain or suffering.  Just a pleasant low simmer for you to enjoy at your leisure..."

Thanks, chips, I think I will.

Rank 4.1/5.0 - These were actually quite good, I would eat them again. I imagine these would be great old school baloney sandwiches and some Kool-Aid.

So, this was the warm up.  Something easy to work out, like a slow walk on a sunday morning.  But, worse things are coming.  You know what I mean.  The Lay's "Do Us a Flavor" promotion has started.  Be on the lookout in coming weeks for the following atrocities:

Kettle Cooked Gyros  <--I had 1 single chip of these already, in a word: bland
Wavy West Coast Truffle Fries  <--I already know these will suck because real truffles will not be involved
Southern Biscuits & Gravy  <--I reserve judgement on what appears to be horrible
New York Reuben <--First, Nebraska invented the Reuben, so fuck that noise.  Also, will probably suck because it has the option of being great and so the furthest to fall.

So, yeah, look forward to these trainwrecks.  I can't help but feel that, compared to last year, these are all weak-sauce flavors.  None of them are uniquely weird like the cappuccino of last year, they're all kind of a safe bet.  But I guess we'll find out soon enough.