It’s Back! And I’m Terrified

June 30, 2011 at 11:17 am | Posted in Me | Leave a comment
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When this image appeared in my inbox the other day, I got a little bit frightened.

The Really Big Chicken Sandwich Combo (RBCSC) — its $3.99 price tag too irresistible on a night a few months ago when I was eating alone and did not feel like cooking — was the fast food meal that made me realize I wasn’t a kid anymore, and thus couldn’t eat in the same way without paying an immediate physical price. In this case, the price was chest pains and difficulty breathing within twenty minutes of finishing the meal.

It’s not like I’m someone who hadn’t eaten any fast food for five years, and then decided to gorge myself on an absurdly large meal. Although I do eat real food most of the time, I occasionally jones for chicken nuggets, or curly fries, or a Dr. Pepper, and Jack in the Box is usually my destination when these cravings strike. {This is probably because (a) there is a location about 8 minutes away from my apartment, and (b) it was the fast food indulgence of my youth, so there’s a nostalgia factor there, too.} So while my fast food consumption is not a common occurrence, it’s not exactly rare, either, though I usually try to limit myself to one of the three combo items (sandwich OR fries OR soda) at a time so my stomach doesn’t feel like I consumed a rock afterwards.

But on the fatal RBCSC day, I threw caution (and good sense, and experience) to the wind, and ate fries AND a soda AND two chicken patties at the same time. And I paid for it dearly, by feeling as though I were about to have a heart attack.

So let my experience be a cautionary tale: Do not allow yourself to be fooled by the siren song of a $3.99 price tag. Approach the RBSCS with caution!

[ screenshot from Jack in the Box email ]


Questionable Marketing Decision

March 15, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | 1 Comment
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Don’t ask why I’m on the Jack in the Box mailing list (the answer is random cravings for chicken sandwiches), but when this number came through my inbox the other day I was a bit stunned by the subject line:

“Dos mas weekos to winno el trippo to Cancun.”

I mean, I see what they’re going for here — dumbass gringos who can’t speak Spanish properly and instead spew an awful version of unintelligible Spanglish — but it still struck me as a bit tasteless. Or maybe just heavy-handed. Either that, or I’m becoming a humorless lame-o in my old age. Get off my lawn, you damn kids!

[ screenshot from my email, via Jack in the Box ]

I’m worried about Diet Soda Cake

February 6, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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It started off as a completely innocent search: How much does a batch of frosted cupcakes cost to make? Ten minutes and many Yahoo! Answers pages later, I had gone off the deep end of diet baked goods, and I was starting to get worried. Fucking Diet Soda Cakes: How do they work?

A few weeks ago, I bought a box of Funfetti Cupcake Mix on sale for $1. I mixed up a small batch of cream cheese frosting to go with the cupcakes, with ingredients totaling about $1.80, so final cost for each of my 12 cupcakes was about 23 cents.

I was curious how this cost matched up to budget-conscious food blog recipes, so I searched Budget Bytes, a great food blog focused on homemade low-cost meals, to see how my $2.80 matched up. The site’s sole cupcake recipe included both boxed frosting and food coloring, so budget-wise we were on different levels, but it wasn’t the cost that caught my eye. IT WAS THE DIET SODA.

White cake mix and a can of diet lemon-lime soda form the basis of this recipe; the soda substituted for the vegetable oil and eggs that typically flesh out a boxed cake mix. I’m still not clear on how this works scientifically, and the online community seems equally vexed. No closer to the answer of the food science behind the cake, my next question was this: were diet soda cakes an innovation unique to this blog? Or had I stumbled on some kind of crazy diet baked goods underbelly?

Much to my surprise, the answer was the latter: diet soda cakes blanket the internet with the force of an adorable cat video. Chocolate cake and diet root beer. Devil’s food cake and diet Coke. White cake and diet Sprite, or, if you’re feeling sassy, diet orange soda. Recipes — that is, if you can call “1 box mix, 1 can of soda” a recipe — and recommendations abound, with most posters crediting Weight Watchers for the creation. Some people prefer the addition of an egg white or two, while others suggest fruit additions such as canned pineapple or frozen blueberries. Some (read: Yahoo! Answers users, natch) misunderstand the concept of ingredient reduction altogether. But the common thread is clear: Diet soda makes dieting DELICIOUS.

I can tell you right now: I will most likely never bake a diet soda cake, simply because I dislike the taste of artificial sweeteners. But hey, if that’s your jam, go for it!

[ Image from Amazon ]

Someone explain this to me:

March 29, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | 1 Comment
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Where has Jason Alexander been since 1998, and why has he reentered the spotlight to shill for Jenny Craig?

[ image from Wikimedia ]


March 9, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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This is how I feel about pretzels, Goldfish, cereal, and ranch dressing packets that combine to form Chex Mix.

[ image from xkcd ]

Tomatoes: A Field Guide

February 20, 2010 at 11:36 pm | Posted in Me | Leave a comment

I don’t really like tomatoes. I used to dislike all kinds of tomatoes in all kinds of contexts—except maybe for cherry tomatoes; I think we were usually on good terms—but now I’ve developed a much odder and more complicated set of situations where I will and will not eat tomatoes. The flow chart above (start at the green box) attempts to explain these situations. The chart is a bit outdated now, since it doesn’t account for BLTs or open-faced bagels, but it’s a good work in progress. Maybe I’ll print it out and make some laminated business cards for reference.

Yahoo Answers: Always Full of Win

February 2, 2010 at 9:36 pm | Posted in Internet Sleuthiness | Leave a comment
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Nearly every time I search a complete sentence on Google (e.g. “what do vegetarians eat with mashed potatoes?” and “what can I serve with eggplant parmesan?”—no idea why they are usually food related), I end up with really amusing Yahoo Answers results. For example, when I searched the aforementioned eggplant question, this is what I found:

Okay, sure. Good answer. The cheesecake part was sort of out of left field, but whatever, I understand why it was chosen as the best. But scroll down a little, and you’ll find this understated gem:

Uncle Meat, your name (and avatar, yikes!) might be creepy, but your understanding of Italian cuisine is unparalleled.

And finally, under “Related Unsolved Questions,” I found this:

Color me surprised that his question hasn’t received any answers. Can’t imagine why!

Attack of the Aggressive Sugar Packet!

January 20, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Posted in Me | Leave a comment
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I have a difficult relationship with artificial sweeteners. One of the many idiosyncrasies that tend to mark me as unusual for my age (e.g. refusal to wear thong underwear, aversion to heels, having not read any of the Harry Potter books, etc.) is my extreme distaste for fake sugars, and thus my inability to stomach Diet Coke, low-sugar yogurts, or anything else sweetened with Splenda, Extra, Sweet’n’Low, or NutriSweet. Friends have tried to convince me that “it’s not that bad!” or that such-and-such new sweetener tastes “exactly” like sugar, but thus far I am unconvinced. That said, sometimes I wish I did like artificial sweeteners, because I really do like drinking sugared sodas, and the possibility of avoiding excessive sugar consumption is really tantalizing. Nevertheless, I can’t train my tastebuds to get on board with this plan, so for now, I’m sticking with my Dr. Pepper.

So, with all this in mind, I cracked up when I saw this photo on Passive Aggressive Notes. Talk about your assertive (threatening?) sugar packet! It refuses to cede market share to the Splenda packets of the world. Do you think it knows something we don’t?

[ image from Passive Aggressive Notes ]

My First BLT

January 18, 2010 at 5:35 pm | Posted in Me | Leave a comment

Last Thursday, I ate a BLT sandwich for the first time in my life.

The previous absence of BLTs from my diet can mostly be attributed to the fact that I grew up not eating red meat, leaving poultry and seafood as the sole animal-based proteins on the family dinner table. As an adult I have continued to abstain from red meat simply because eating any more than a few bites gives me a stomachache, a phenomenon my dad attributes to my digestive system lacking the proper enzymes to digest it.

Last week, however, turkey bacon was on sale at the supermarket, and on a whim I bought some, which I planned to eat in club sandwich-type configurations, or with eggs. On Thursday I realized that my fridge happened to contain all necessary ingredients for BLT creation: tomatoes, romaine lettuce, sourdough bread, and mayonnaise. I hardly ever have all these foodstuffs at the same time, so I took it as a sign that I was meant to eat a BLT. I toasted the bread, cooked the bacon, sliced the tomatoes, and took a bite.

It was SO DELICIOUS. My first thought was, damn, what have I been missing all these years??

The BLT is so simple, and yet so filling! I couldn’t stop thinking about it after the first one I ate; I think I’ve made three in the last five days. Even my vegetarian boyfriend fondly recalled the BLT as one of the few meat-based meals he loves. So here’s to you, turkey bacon, for letting me experience the glory that is the BLT for the very first time.

[ image from MSNBC ]

Sugar Sugar

January 17, 2010 at 1:48 am | Posted in Me | Leave a comment
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Last week I finally read the New York Times Sunday Magazine’s October column of “Consumed” that discussed the cult of Mexican coke. The key quality that differentiates Mexican coke from American coke (aside from the cute glass bottles) is that Mexican coke is sweetened with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup, a difference that devotees claim is both palatable and more delicious. The Times column also mentioned Pepsi’s upcoming “Throwback” promotion, which resurrects both the old-school labels of Pepsi and Mountain Dew, and, crucially, their “Made With Real Sugar” formulas. The article neglects to mention the third soda that would be given the sugar treatment: Dr. Pepper, which has been retooled as “Heritage Dr. Pepper.” *

I’m not sure “Consumed” columnist Rob Walker is even to blame for this omission, for Dr. Pepper’s own website includes nary a mention of Heritage Dr. Pepper; the only reason I discovered it was because I saw it on the shelf at Fiesta Market yesterday. As an avid Dr. Pepper fan who recently finished the chapter of The Omnivore’s Dilemma where Michael Pollan critiques high fructose corn syrup, I knew I had to try it for myself.

The verdict?

I hate to admit it, and I wish it wasn’t true, but I like regular Dr. Pepper much better. It’s probably just because my taste buds are used to those 23 flavors, but still, I was hoping for a revelation or something. Oh well. If Dr. Pepper won’t even push the promo on its own website, I can safely assume it won’t be around for long. Best not to get too attached.

* Until about two minutes ago, I did not know that Dr. Pepper was owned by neither Pepsi nor Coke, but by Snapple—rather, the Dr. Pepper–Snapple Group. Fun facts!

[ image from ]

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