Monday, August 29, 2016

Goodbye Summer 2016

It's finally that time of the year folks. Summer is mercifully fading away, leaving it's wretched temperatures, bugs, and piss poor TV behind and making room for the best four months of the year. Right now it's that strange transitional period as we take in the last few pieces of one season before sending kids back to school and indulging in pure autumnal glory. It's a very exciting time, especially if like me you've got a healthy sized check ensuring plenty of seasonal novelties.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves though. Today we'll have a little show and tell as sort of a send-off to Summer and welcoming hug to Fall. We can also consider it the official start of Halloween coverage though I don't plan on diving in completely just yet. I respect September as it's own sub-season before the big October onslaught. Now let's talk about junk food.

The newest resurgence in the ave of 90's nostalgia, Crystal Pepsi has returned to shelves in full force. Despite the fact that I was a cola guzzling kid back when this stuff originally came out I've got almost zero recollection of it. I suppose it was something we never bothered with at my house, opting instead for our usual drinks. This re-release isn't an exact replica either as features like caffeine have been added to the formula. Guess that means I'll never know the true nature of classic Crystal Pepsi. As far as life regrets go, I can live with that one.
Flavor wise Crystal is actually pretty solid stuff. I've seen folks argue on both ends that it is either horrible or exactly the same as regular Pepsi. Neither argument is fully true. It tastes very much like traditional Pepsi but the slight alterations in chemical composition lends a slightly different profile and viscosity. If anything it has more of a refreshing snap to it which I find pretty spiffy. Topping the whole package is how the lack of color will make this a terrific ingredient for mixed drinks. Don't let other people scare you away, it's at least worth a try to see if you like it.

Another of the most talked about snacks lately are Swedish Fish Oreo. Based on the much hated candy that I honestly doubt many people have even tried, these science experiments are a Kroger exclusive. Question is whether they're worth a trip for anyone a decent distance from said chain. If you're an Oreo fanatic like myself, absolutely but what about normal people?
Here's the thing. It's been so long since I last tried Swedish Fish candy, I can't properly recall the experience let alone judge the accuracy of this Oreo variation. Truth be told, I was a little scared of this flavor going in, more so when I opened the bag only to be assaulted with a bizarre odor. Like any Oreo I was ready to put it through the three different tests. Consumed Normal and dry the cookies are...ok. Strange, fruity, a little off, more weird than bad. In coffee it was just way too strange. The fruitiness didn't mesh well with the bitter coffee. In milk though, that's where these guys shine. Having that strong flavor softened by the milk makes for a fine treat. Honestly, these aren't cookies for just anybody. This is something for us foodies, so if that sounds like you, go hunt some down.

Moving away from nostalgic revivals and crazy stunt snacks we've got a new Little Debbie. I was so stoked to find this having heard nothing about it's existence beforehand. That excitement resulted in a little bit of disappointment once I got them home. It's not that they're bad so much as the balance is way off. The cakes have a very strong artificial strawberry taste that nearly overpowers the fudge which leans too close to dark chocolate. So what you think is going to be a very light and energizing cake ends up being too heavy.

Also out of left field were these Jelly Belly cookies. Maybe regular Kroger shoppers are accustomed to them. I hardly ever visit the joint other than treks to get Lebanon Bologna. There were at least three flavors to chose from with cherry and some kind of berry on display though neither had the power to draw me away from the allure of citrus fruit. Essentially these are Lofthouse cookies with more potent frosting. A testament to their quality is that I barely got two out of the package before my family descended on them like hungry badgers.

The final piece of summer snacks to cover are Lay's selection of international flavored potato chips. This was a pretty lame line-up of styles with the Chinese Szechuan Chicken and Brazilian Picanha varieties offering little of value. Greek Tzatziki wasn't awful. It matched up to it's source material but without the cooling sensation that accompanies the sauce it just didn't work. The final installment, Indian Tika Masala was the only truly decent entry in the series. I wouldn't mind seeing that one stick around but the other three are best forgotten.

Now how about some fall treats? As usual, pumpkin spice has returned in full force, first off with these new Cheerios. They're a unique take on the pumpkin spice phenomenon, shying away from being too spiced while having a more natural pumpkin flavor. The effect is rather soothing as you can actually taste the puree and it has an aftertaste that can only be described as Autumn. Definitely worth a try for any cereal fans out there.

Thought we were done with pumpkin spice? No chance. Even Nurtra Grain Bars have gotten in on the fad this year. In a change from their usual jelly style filling, the pumpkin version is more of a....dare I say paste? Others in the house liked it but it doesn't quite work for me. I like the taste but it seems even more dry than normal Nutra Grain offerings. I can't easily recommend something that leaves me so feeling so damn thirsty.

While this is supposed to mark the turn towards Halloween, I must admit I was naughty and skipped ahead just a little by buying a Christmas Ornament. Forgive me Great Pumpkin, I have a good excuse. A couple years back, Hallmark released several horror themed ornaments such as Jaws, Frankenstein, and Alien. I missed out on the entire batch which stings all the more now that some of them sell for double what they did in stores. I may not ever feel comfortable paying out $30-$50 on the previous Alien but there was no way in hell I was gonna let the new Alien Queen slip by. Glad I got it as soon as I did cause these babies were going so fast, I had to buy the damn display model. She's a little lite and flimsy feeling for my liking but she'll make a fine addition to the tree all the same.
Flanking her highness are some Dorbz I picked up from Gamestop for silly cheap thanks to clearance pricing. Ronan may not have been the best villain around but who can resist his smiling genocidal face for less than the cost of a Hostess fruit pie?

That's enough random crap for now. I'm piecing together the newest Sentai recap and another Star Wars book review plus lots of Halloween goodies for you all. Right now I've gotta go have a conversation about toner. I'm just gonna leave you thinking about that.

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