Sunday, August 28, 2016

Pepsi Cola 1893: New Old-Fashioned Soda Pop For The Cool Kids; A Tasting And Review

I've got another confession to make and it's not a Foo Fighters song. (Foo Fighters cover band Goo Gighters?). The cold hard truth is that I've been figuratively sitting on this review for literally months. Deletes, re-writes, procrastination, fear. In fact, by the time this is published this soda might have already failed in the free market economy and been scrapped by PepsiCo for something more tuned-in to today's soda drinkers.

The trouble has been that I want to write a comprehensive review, but soda pops come with so much baggage. I would have to start at the beginning of soda in America to really convey my great and well-reasoned points. I would have to cover the entire history of beverage marketing for this article to really make sense. And this includes The Cola Wars--no small topic in itself. And then I would have to examine current trends in culture and lifestyle choices. You guys, I have a 200-level college course about cola trapped in my head. Sure there are a lot of familiar faces/students taking my class just because they loved me so much in my "Gossip Girl & Modern Ethics" course last semester. But can you begin to see how daunting a simple cola review becomes?

So I will write this abbreviated review with the understanding that you have a firm foundation in the cola market and are familiar, in general, with pop culture (get it?!). (In case you're wondering, I read Freakonomics, so yes I am as knowledgeable as an actual economist)

Well, anyways. Let me dig out my tasting notes from May 20, 2016 and get back into this review. I could just buy new cans and re-taste for today's review, but (spoiler alert) nope, no thanks.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Cracker Review: Nabisco Triscuit Smoked Gouda Flavor

Attractive three-quarters view of the box of crackers


For many of us crackers are an important part of daily life. From breakfast to all-day snacking to hosting outrageous and/or classy parties/sorties, crackers are there for us. Remember when you were a kid and you were sick? Your mom gave you crackers. Remember when you wanted to eat a brick of cheese but felt socially embarrassed to just go for it? Crackers.

Crackers aren't usually expensive--maybe a few dollars for a box--but there are so many varieties that you'll never try them all. Even such a small investment can be a huge risk when it comes to crackers. What if you don't like the flavor? There is so much that can go wrong. The possibilities for failure, like varieties of crackers, seem literally endless.

That's why I'm here. To taste your crackers for you and then give you an indication as to whether or not it's worth buying and eating that variety of cracker. But the decision to do so is still up to you! That's the beauty of free will. Or is free will an illusion? I'll have to ask my psychic what she thinks.

There's one thing that I don't have to ask my psychic about, though, and that's a question of how thorough this review will be. The answer is: quite so. A secondary effect feature of a rambling incoherent thoughtful and thorough review is length. Thank Al Gore (inventor of the Internet) for jump breaks. Click on, brave reader, to the full review!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

American Idol Finale, Finally

For the last fourteen years we've enjoyed fifteen seasons of the hit tv show American Idol. From Bush to Obama, Al Qaeda to ISIS, Nickelback to Bruno Mars. It was a post-9/11 world that needed a lift--a distraction from the burden of life. At least 5 different girls you knew just opened her own cupcake shop. Pinterest didn't exist yet. How did we live? How will we live now that Idol is over? Is music dead?

I wanted to write this retrospective as soon as the final episode aired, but I was unprepared. I had to go through Kubler-Ross' 5 stages of loss. I think I'm still stuck in "Denial" though because as Ryan Seacrest signed off for the very last time he dropped a naughty littler teaser: "goodbye...[pregnant pause]...for now. Seacrest out."

This makes me feel like American Idol will come back, albeit in a new form. It's like the furniture store that is "going out of business" to drum up sales even though they have no plans to go out of business. It makes me feel dirty in my guts. Like they took advantage of my naivety and fomo.

Every season for the past 8 years I say "this show is stupid. It's a drawn out show filled with ads and mediocre talents singing music I don't care about. I'm not going to watch it anymore." And I was finally fully committed to not watch anymore until they announced it would be the final season. So...bookends, and all that--I watched. How many other Americans out there are just like me?

My prediction for the New American Idol 2.0: it'll be web-centric and get stars from youtube/vine or maybe even release their own social media platform that you have to get if you want to audition or vote. The old model was stale. Kidz are into webz and appz.

And so here we are now--wow, a week later--with no Idol to watch. Sure, but there's NBC's hit show The Voice, right? No. That show is terrible. It's basically a bromance between Maroon 5 and Blake "The Turtle" Shelton. Just kiss already, you guyz. And Carson Daly, bless his heart, was never quite the same after MTV's TRL. It's depressing to watch him try to pretend like he's not dead inside. What happened to that show with Jessica Simpson's husband, you know, that 98Degrees guy? And all the contestants had to sing without musical accompaniment.

Irregardless, or without respective, let's get retrospective already.

Many Idol winners and runners' ups went on to do great things. Not cure-cancer-great or land-on-Mars/Matt-Damon-great, but have-songs-on-the-radio-great. Heck, Season2 finalist Clay Aiken was almost a US Congressman. And Season5 contestant Katherine McPhee has been in television shows, including a starring role in NBC's terrible show Smash. And she managed to be and stay hot, which is really important--and probably in poor taste to mention because of her public struggles with an eating disorder.

List of winners (unnumbered, ordered by season):
Kelly Clarkson
Ruben Studdard
Fantasia Barrino
Carrie Underwood
Taylor Hicks
Jordan Sparks
David Cook
Kris Allen
Lee DeWyze
Scotty McCreary
Phillip Phillips
Candace Glover
Caleb Johnson
Nick Fradiani
Trent Harmon

Even if you've never watched American Idol, some of those names probably have you like "oh yeah." For instance, country superstar Carrie Underwood. And if you are a superfan and watched every episode some of those names have you like "huh? who?" For instance Caleb Johnson?

Other notables to come out of Idol who have songs on the radio:
Chris Daughtry
Katharine McPhee
Kellie Pickler
Clay Aiken
Jennifer Hudson
David Archuleta
Adam Lambert

Yeah I dunno. All top 10 contestants from the past 14 years are probably still doing music somehow, but in a way like "This weekend at the county fair, American Idol runner up, Jax, opens for Chicago tribute band." Jax (the girl that printed leopard spots on her face) actually has a new song slated for a 2016 release called "I don't like your shoes." Jax is Ke$ha-Lite af.

Then we also had terrible singers on American Idol that got famous for being so bad. Remember William Hung (She Bangs) or the pants-on-the-ground guy?

Okay and so did you know that "American Idol Controversies" has its own Wikipedia page? It's pretty long, too. twss. In fact, I'll just link it here because summarizing is hard.

Was One Direction on American Idol, or did Simon Cowell create them some other way? I'm getting tired of writing about this. My brain would be okay if it never thought about American Idol again. I can't even remember what happened during the long protracted three night finale at this point. Some guest musicians. Past judges popping in. Songs. Ford commercials. A ton of Ford commercials. Ford is the Hulu of cars. They're going to build a huge factory in Mexico. So much for American jobs. #trump. J.Lo continued to be insufferable. Actual quote (paraphrased): "ooooh i'm sooo sad, i'm getting goosies for the last time. waaah"

The state of television is terrible. They should do a new show that's like American Idol, but instead of sing, the contestants solve crimes and the winner gets their own CSI/NCIS/whatever spinoff show.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Macaroni: Too Turnt?

Every person who eats carbs (less and less these days) or was ever a child (most people) are familiar with the macaroni noodle. From Aunt So-And-So's terrible mayo-drenched cold mac salad to down-home-style-restaurant's giant tray of breadcrumb covered real cheese mac to I'm-sad-and-alone-or-a-child Kraft Mac & Cheese, it's macaroni all the way down. But is macaroni 2turnt? Channel SHFT31 Investigates is on the scene to find out more.

Noodles Vs Pasta: A Primer in Knowing The Difference Between Pasta and Noodles

Most people who speak English use the terms "noodle" and "pasta" interchangeably. But did you know that there is a difference between noodles and pasta? There must be, because it has its own subheading. It's not as easy as differentiating, say, whiskey/bourbon/scotch. Check it out: spaghetti is both a noodle and a pasta. Couscous is a pasta but not a noodle. Ramen is a noodle but not a pasta. Pool noodles are neither pasta nor noodle, despite having noodle in the name.

Is it what they are made of? Sorta, yeah. Many Asian noodles are made from rice instead of grains.

I'm reading several other sites trying to get a solid answer on the actual difference, but it seems like there's no hard fast line. And also no one cares. It doesn't matter.

The Elbow Fruit

Macaroni is also known as elbow pasta because it is shaped like an arm that is bent. A Lego arm. Tube. Thingy. No one has arms that bend like a macaroni. But it is bent. Is it too bent? I've seen some macaronis that are, like, half of a circle. I don't know the math, but that is a lot of bending. I use but too much.

Compared to spaghetti, macaroni is way too turnt. Spaghetti is the button-up straight-laced gentleman of pasta. Handsome, welcome at every party, easy to break in half, and fun to slurp. Spaghetti is the poster-boy for pasta.

Speaking of pasta that likes to party, what about farfalle? That is the pasta shaped like a bow-tie. Here is a pasta dressed to party. It might be more turnt than even macaroni, but probably not since it only goes to classy affairs. It is known to be Justin Timberlake's favorite pasta.

Other pastas less turnt than macaroni include spaghetti's many cousins: thin spaghetti, extra thin spaghetti, angel hair pasta, fettuccine, linguine. So many boring straight noodle pastas.

You're doing it wrong

There are pasta shaped like shells! How nuts is that. They aren't turnt tho. They are beautiful. I want to drizzle them in oil and fill them with cheese.

Do yourself a favor and download a jaypeg of pasta types and print it out and hang it on your dorm room wall. There are so many.

But are any as turnt as macaroni?

Neon Orange Cheez Powder

Kraft Mac & Cheese and its store shelf counter parts are the only macaroni that come pre-packaged with a sack of atomic orange flavor powder. That is pretty turnt. Does a Spongebob shaped pasta count as macaroni? I'm curious. According to the box it's still macaroni, only in a spongebob shape. That is blowing my mind. Is Spongebob the elbow pasta? Spongebob is turntaf.


A pasta pillow filled with cheese or meat. If macaroni is a 1996 Turbo charged Toyota Celica, then ravioli is a U-Haul truck. And inside the truck is not used furniture, but a party. Don't even get me started on tortellini.

What is the most mac & cheese you think you could eat in one sitting? I could probably do a box. That's a half stick of butter though.  That's almost too turnt.

I think mac & cheese should have their own Vine page and it would have Tony Hawk doing sweet tricks before eating some m&c with a big cheesy grin. Or Craig Kilborn could do hilarious commentary on people about to eat m&c.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Mardis Gras, God, & Fish Sandwiches

Today is Fat Tuesday (or "Mardis Gras" en Francais, s'il vous plait) and um, without looking at Wikipedia yet: it's a day when you have to go to New Orleans to get beads for showing your boobs to strangers and spend all day getting black-out-drunk. There are also affiliated parades. And enjoy it while you can because tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and you have to go to church to absolve your sins and get a crucifix drawn on your forehead using the ashes of a burned (?) Bible?

Hmm, I just read Wikipedia and I still don't understand what it really is. So like, you know how each time you go on your diet and you're really gonna do it for real and stick to it this time, but your diet doesn't start until tomorrow so today you're just going to enjoy pizza and chocolate cake for the last time before you never have it again? (It's also #NationalPizzaDay apparently, btw). Well it's like that except it has been distorted beyond just overeating and has become a National Holiday of Sin. Because starting on Wednesday you have to be good for like a month. And that's soooo hard so if you spend today and sin af, then maybe it will be out of your system. And then in 40 days your hangover starts to clear up and it's time to celebrate the death and rebirth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

"Be fruitful and multiply. Like a grown man wearing a furry rabbit costume." -- Genesis 1:28

Let's rewind a little bit. To today. Gluttony and sin. I don't have any data to back this up, but I would wager that the majority of people participating in today's SinFest 2016 (with headliner Creed on the Applebee's mainstage at 6PM), yes a majority of those people have no intention to participate in the second half of this equation. The half where you have to repent and give something up for 40 days for God. Because that represents personal sacrifice and it makes you totally #relatable to Christ. Like "hey Jesus, thanks for dying on the cross to erase the sins of all of mankind. I know what that's like bro. I went 40 days without Starbucks. Well I still went a couple times, but I stuck to a basic black coffee with only a little bit of cream and sugar so it totally doesn't count I still sacrificed, just like you."

How about adding something positive to your life/the world instead of just holding your breath, so to speak, and eliminating something you're just going to go back to? I mean, you're already eating healthy and exercising because of your New Year's resolutions, right? It's only February, don't tell me you've given up already! Oh man, we're never going to make it to April.

So the Lenten season, or "Lent" starts tomorrow and is symbolic of the 40 days Jesus spent wandering the desert resisting the temptations of the devil. And let me tell you, the devil (fully clad in Prada) was on his A-game. You won't find it in modern translations of the Bible, but according to apocryphal texts Jesus was staggering through the desert all parched and famished and the devil was by his side the whole time with a cooler full of Bud Light Strawb-a-Ritas and a basket full of piping hot Arby's Crispy Fish Flatbread sandwiches.

And that's why, for the next 40 days and 40 nights, all of our favorite fast food restaurants have specials on their fish sandwiches. It's also something about not eating meat on Fridays (or at TGIFriday's!) but fish doesn't count as meat I guess. I know some fish who might disagree with that, tho.

This is the real reason for excitement. It's fish sandwich season! I love reviewing these special offerings. In the past I've eaten and reviewed:

  • McDonald's Fillet-o-Fish
  • Wendy's Premium Cod Fillet
  • White Castle's Fish Nibblers, Clam Strips, (Shrimp Nibblers? I don't remember)

Have I eaten Arby's fish sandwich? I don't remember. I feel like I have but I also feel like I haven't. All of these disgusting/delicious meals become a blur in my mind/body after a while. I see the commercials where that tough guy with the deep voice says gross things like "we bring the meat" which I'm pretty sure could get you arrested in certain social situations--and the commercials are for 2 for $5 fish sandwiches and I think, "i should go get that, i haven't had curly fries in like forever."

Are there any other spots blowing up the fish sandwich scene? Hit me up if you want to see a review. (& pls don't say BK, i can't even) Otherwise, Imma keep my eyes open for something tempting. And good luck with all of your Lenten sacrifices!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Burger King Buffalo Chicken Fries Review

The geniuses at Burger King have found a new part of the chicken. They are behind the fingers and above the (dinosaur shaped) nuggets. They are the fries of the chicken. And since chicken nuggets are for children and whole meat chicken tenders are too expensive to produce, Burger King has taken these ChickenFries and coated them in buffalo flavored powder so that grown men can eat them and still feel like a man.

They are the perfect companion to watching sporting events alone. Drive through the drive thru then don't forget to drive through a carry-out to pick up thirty of their cheapest lite beers. Even though you probably got a Coca-Cola with your large combo meal, you're going to need beer to recreate the sports-bar atmosphere in your one bedroom apartment tonight.

[nervous laughter]

I saw a commercial for these Buffalo ChickenFries a while back and immediately knew that sooner or later our stars would cross, fates intertwined, arriving at the one and only pure truth in an infinite embrace of destiny. 

Burger King is classically disgusting unappetizing. I've never been shy about ranking it at the bottom of fast food along with the likes of Subway. Although, if you remember back in October I accidentally ate a Whopper and was surprised by how not-terrible it tasted. I could never bring myself to go back to get the black bun Whopper (#sorrynotsorry). Yet only a quarter of a year later, here I am back at the trough of the BKLounge. I've exceeded my BK quota by 200% and disappointed everyone I've ever known myself.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Suffering Affluenza

Remember the Affluenza teen? So there was this kid, Ethan Couch, that stole beer from walmart, popped some Valium and went drunk driving on a restricted license in his dad's Ford pick-up truck. And then, speeding 70 in a 40, wrecked his vehicle into a group of people, thereby killing 4 and injuring 9. He was basically let off the hook for intoxicated vehicular manslaughter because the judge deemed that he didn't know any better. Nobody told him it was bad to do that.

Thus was born the disease Affluenza. When a person is wealthy to the degree that the normal rules of society seem alien they risk contracting the disease. Which is pretty ridiculous because I would wager that most teens in the 1% know not to get plastered and kill people with their car.

So this kid gets probation instead of prison. Maybe a smack on the wrist. But the thing is that he violated his probation and fled with his mother to Mexico. Now he is a fugitive felon. Couch and his mother were apprehended at the end of 2015.

All of that to say this: His mom looks like a ragged Carrot Top and he looks like a ragged McLovin. I saw their picture in the news and it's the first thing I thought and just wanted to say so out loud to someone. That's it.

Check it:

Here's looking forward to the tear-jerking made-for-tv Hallmark Original Movie.