Five Puzzling, Yet Popular, Snack Foods

I’ve reviewed a few snack foods during my time at ColuMn™, so I understand how people can grow to like things like ketchup-flavored potato chips and bubblegum soda. But I’ll never understand how anyone with working taste buds can like these five inexplicably popular “treats”.

1. Raisins

Let’s start off with a fairly controversial food, because raisins aren’t a complete disaster. I guess I’d rather just have a grape. Or nothing. You can smother them with sugar and toss a couple scoops into a box of bran flakes, pour chocolate on them, or just eat them out of that tiny, sticky box. But no matter how you serve ’em up, there’s a guaranteed better snack option out there. Raisin Bran? Try Frankenberry. Raisinettes? The next time you’re laying down $10 for a box of candy at the movies, at least make them work for it and demand Frozen Junior Mints.

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Mini box of raisins? You’re better off filling your mouth with the barrel of a gun.

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Never forget.

2. Wax Lips

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This, thankfully, is not a common candy. Pretty sure you can get these at Halloween still, and I do occasionally see wax coke bottle candy at some of the sketchier convenience stores. Wax lips have some value as a comedy prop that gets the wearer instant laughs stemming from the appearance that he/she has humorously over-sized, bright red lips. Genius. But it’s not candy. It’s a fucking candle that somebody forgot to stick a wick into.

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Or worse.

This is candy like shoes are candy. There’s more actual foodstuff in feces. If you eat a wax-based snack product, you deserve to suffer through the 30 years it takes for the human body to digest it.*

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Alright. I take it back. These look delicious.

*I’m assuming.

3. Carob

We can all agree that chocolate is awesome. People who don’t like chocolate are responsible for every single act of aggression throughout history. They’re not like you and me, and definitely should never be trusted. I get that some people hate white chocolate. That just means they’re wrong, probably with alarming frequency. But what sick bastard came up with carob? It looks like chocolate and feels like chocolate, but definitely doesn’t taste or poop out like chocolate.

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As with chocolate, carob is a bean, but everything that makes chocolate edible is completely missing from carob. It’s like comparing The Dark Knight Returns to Batman and Robin. Don’t. Even talking about carob or Batman and Robin will make your mouth taste like shit. This “snack” exists solely to make fun of stupid children and make clueless parent look like assholes.

4. Popcorn


I assume that here is where I lose most people. And I get it. Popcorn can be good. It’s a movie theater staple. But I say it’s a lousy snack and even worse Christmas decoration. The microwave version smells like a bag full of Taco Bell farts that have been fermenting for a year. The movie theater version is so grossly overpriced, it makes my cable bill look like a good value. And is there a worse snack for the film-watching experience? Combine the decibel level of a jet engine with the tooth-chipping prowess of a mouthful of rocks, and you get popcorn.

The nutritious part of a bag of popcorn.

Is there no better method to basically slurp down a stick of butter (or whatever unpronounceable liquid cancer they inflict on you at movies)? Here’s an idea: skip the popcorn and just bring a stick of butter and a junkie’s used needle.

5. Aplets and Cotlets

Ahhh. After the whole popcorn thing, I won you back with this entry, didn’t I? I’m not entirely sure what an aplet is and have absolutely no idea where they grow cotlets, but I’m pretty sure both words are synonyms for shit. This is the candy that your grandparents always bought in preparation for your visits when you were a kid if a) they hated you, or b) you were adopted).

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Believe it or not, it’s worse than it looks.

Looking at their website, I discovered three things. They’ve been disappointed kids (and adults) since 1920. Aplets are “Apple-Walnut” and Cotlets are “Apricot-Walnut” ‘candies’. And they’re manufactured in Cashmere, WA, just however many miles from ColuMn’s™ home base of Seattle (I can’t be expected to know where every city in Washington is, nor can I be expected to bother doing a routine search on Google Maps). But I don’t want to rip into a more-or-less local business, so I’ll let them off with a warning. They can thank my grandma.

Big Red vs. Big Blue

The mighty gladiators enter the arena.

Summer means one and only one thing: soda.  The soda companies go absolutely crazy filling the shelves with new sodas, old sodas in new packaging, and limited edition sodas will be gone as soon as Fall rolls around. It’s become something of a ColuMn™ tradition to review some of the wackier sodas that drop as soon as the weather warms up and this summer is no exception.

A while back I briefly mentioned Big Blue back in May, 2010 in one of Sparks’ Sandbox entries.  I stated, “Other than the color, it IS Big Red.”  One reader took an issue with that assessment, writing, “It’s kinda funny. I recently did a review on Big Blue. It does not taste like Big Red, Big Red tastes like bubblegum, while Big Blue really tastes like a creme soda.”  The challenge was on.

But then I couldn’t find any Big Blue. The local convenience store no longer stocked it.  I considered paying way too much on ebay, but my pals at the convenience store came through, and not too long ago I was able to pick up one more bottle of Big Blue.

It was important for me to get the sodas in the same type of bottle.  It can be tough to find big red in a 20-ounce plastic bottle, but I stuck to my guns and finally dug one up.  I was all set.

The first step was to determine how I’d go about reviewing the two sodas.  I chose the blind taste test to start with, pouring a shot of each, closing my eyes, mixing them up, and then drinking each in turn.

The results were somewhat surprising.

Tasting just a shot, I thought that the Big Red tasted more like cream soda.  But then I took the second shot and honestly couldn’t tell the difference.  Forced to guess, I guessed that the Big Red was Big Blue and vice versa.  I was wrong.

Next I decided to just take swigs from the bottles, not blindfolded.  This time I was able to detect a slight difference between the two.  The Big Red clearly had more of a bubble gum taste, while the Big Blue was definitely cream soda.  They both taste an awful lot like cream soda, but there is a very subtle additional flavor profile of bubble gum.

So, I guess Jason Voorhees was right.  The two really are almost identical, but there is a very subtle difference.

Big Red is still my favorite, which is good since I haven’t seen a bottle of Big Blue outside of my refrigerator in months. I like cream soda okay, but it’s really never something I buy. I’ve got a history with Big Red, though, so it’s a pretty good bet that I’ll buy it again at some point.

So this is probably my last Big Red-related article, unless they come out with Big Green at some point.  Though if they come out with Big Brown, I might skip that one.

Big Brown?

Sparks’ Sandbox #8: 10 Reviews

  1. MT. DEW DISTORTION
    Dewmocracy is back with the appropriately titled “Dewmocracy 2”.  Three new flavors, with one promising to stick around and join Code Red, Live Wire, Baja Blast, regular Mt. Dew, and the first Dewmocracy winner, “Voltage“.The first entry we’ll take a look at is Distortion.  Now, don’t be confused.  None of these names make any sense in relation to the flavors.  They’re just “EXTREME”-sounding words.  Distortion tastes the most like regular Mt. Dew, only it’s much limier.  If you love limes, you’ll probably be able to tolerate Distortion.  You know Otter Pops?  Well, Distortion tastes exactly like Sir Isaac Lime if it were sipped directly from the Otter Pop tube, unfrozen.    SUGGESTED HARD LIQUOR PAIRING:  Gin.
  2. MT. DEW WHITE OUT
    This flavor of Dew is, well, it’s kind of a disgusting color. Kind of a milky white — a, shall we say, sperm white.  But the taste isn’t bad at all.  It’s sort of a cross between 7-Up an Squirt, which are fairly similar to begin with.  All in all, it’s not a BAD soda.  It’s sort of good.  But it’s not necessary.  We already have sodas that fill this niche.  And they do it without looking like bodily fluids.  SUGGESTED HARD LIQUOR PAIRING:  Vodka.
  3. MT. DEW TYPHOON
    The third type of Dew in the Dewmocracy 2 campaign is by far the best.  Typhoon is a fruit punch-flavored soda that tastes a lot like the punch you find at parties.  Being Mt. Dew, it is ridiculously sweet, but the flavor is pretty good (if just slightly almost similar to Code Red).  This candidate has my vote.  SUGGESTED HARD LIQUOR PAIRING:  Everything in your liquor cabinet and an assortment of fruit, or as it’s called in some of the finer upper crust establishments, the Spodie.

    ColuMn™ FUN FACT!
    There are  36mg of caffeine in 8 ounces of Mtn Dew Distortion (91mg in 20 ounces). In comparison, there are 80mg of caffeine in 8.2 oz. of Red Bull , 55mg in 12 ounces of regular Mtn Dew (37mg in 8 ounces) and 100mg in a small McDonald’s coffee.

  4. MILKY WAY SIMPLY CARAMEL

    You know those boxes of chocolates that are all over the place every Valentine’s Day and Christmas?  And you know those pieces that are milk chocolate covering soft caramel?  Well, this candy bar is that, only longer.  If nougat isn’t your thing, but you’ve always wanted to try a Milky Way, you are in luck.  It’s really good, but not exactly taking candy in a bold new direction.
  5. THE LOST FINALE
    In a nutshell, I liked it.  I don’t need to have every mystery explained.  Of course they didn’t have everything figured out.  Yes, they probably should have spent more of the sixth season explaining stuff.  But they didn’t.  For a series finale, I think this one ranks up there among the best.  For the record, my personal favorite series finale is Star Trek: The Next Generation.  It was perfect.  On a scale of 1 to 10, I give Lost a solid 8.
  6. SUNKIST SOLAR FUSION
    I’m a big fan of Sunkist sodas.  The orange soda is great.  The fruit punch soda is awesome.  I still miss the days of Sunkist Natural.  But this new entry, this “Sunkist Solar Fusion” just is not very good.  It’s “Tropical Mandarin” flavor, so I guess I’m not a fan of tropical mandarins.  But if you do like mandarin or tangerine flavor, you might want to give this a shot.  I didn’t really like it, but I felt compelled to keep drinking it.
  7. STRAWBERRY MILKSHAKE WHOPPERS/PEANUT BUTTER WHOPPERS
    I love regular Whoppers.  The best thing to shove into your greedy dirty feed hole used to be a Whopper Blizzard from Dairy Queen.  But then I guess there was a regime change in whatever kingdom the Dairy Queen reigned and they stopped selling the only item on their menu worth spending actual money on.  So I was a pretty easy mark for the makers of Whopper Brand Malted Milk Balls.I first tried the Peanut Butter Whoppers.  They were alright, but I wasn’t impressed.  When a bunch fell on my cat-hair matted carpet, I wasn’t exactly wiping the tears out of my eyes when I tossed them in the trash.  Alright, but nothing to seek out, purchase, or eat.Strawberry Milkshake Whoppers, on the other hand, might just be the most perfect candy our society has yet invented.  I’m not prepared to say they’re better than Twix or Snickers or Kit Kat, but they aren’t out of place in the same conversation.    You may want to just eat a handful, but you will not be able to do that.  You will be driven to eat more and more.  You’ll know you’re going to make yourself sick.  You’ll know that on a nutritional scale, these fall somewhere below uranium.  But you won’t be able to stop.  They bear a striking similarity to those malted milk ball Easter eggs you get when you’re a kid.  If you like those, you’ll like these.  If you’re a breathing, cognitively functional human being, you’ll like these.  If you don’t like these, I find you reprehensible and bid you good day.  GOOD DAY.
  8. CAMEL CIGARETTES
    I’m no longer a smoker, but when I was, there was only one brand for me:  Camel.  Whether you enjoy the healthy easy breathin’ of Camel Lights, the husky-voiced manliness of Camel Filters, or the tube-breathin’ bad assery of Camel Straights, you’ll be sure to meet death with a smile on your face.
  9. BLUR
    Blur, the power-up racing game that’s not Mario Kart just came out and I can’t stop playing it.  I played the Beta that took place about a month ago and it almost immediately sold me on the game.  If you’ve played Mario Kart, you have a pretty good idea what this game is all about, only instead of Nintendo characters and a pretty limited range of cars, you get semi-realistic cars and controls.  I’m not knocking Mario Kart.  I love it.  But Blur seems to be a much deeper game, with over a half dozen different game modes, dozens of cars, 50 achievements, and a bunch of stuff I’m sure I haven’t discovered yet.  Hit cmsof up for a race sometime.  His Gamertag is, uh, cmsof.
  10. BIG BLUE
    Waaay back in the late 70s I took a family trip to Texas.  There, I discovered a beverage that would change the way I drank.  Big Red was not only, well, red, but it was sort of bubble gum-flavored. But in a good way.  Look, I realize bubble gum-flavored sodas are an acquired taste, so I’m not going to try to convince you to drink Big Red.  But I will try to convince you to drink Big Blue.  We’re looking at an entirely different beast here.  For one, it’s blue.  For another . . . .  Uh.  I guess that’s it.  Other than the color, it IS Big Red.  Quit your crying and just drink one.  Criminey.

The Great Frankenberry Experiments of the Early 21st Century: An Historical Perspective

If there’s one thing people know about me above all else, it’s that I’m a scientist first, human being second, and, I guess, lover third.  Stick journalist in there somewhere, too.  Oh.  And stuntman.  Really, I’m a stuntman first, scientist second.  Who gives a shit about the other stuff?  Being a stuntman/scientist is awesome, let me tell you.

Anyway, given my standing in the scientific community, Science often knocks on my door looking for my opinion of one scientific science thing or another.  I’m always happy to oblige.  It’s my duty to share my knowledge with humanity; a duty I’m honored to carry out.  So when Dr. Science sent this over to me, you can imagine my skepticism (there was none.  I totally accepted it at face value immediately — don’t tell Dr. Science).  He’d filled me in on some of the details over the telegraph.  Apparently, the large hydron collider had opened up a fracture in the time/space continuum and one vital bit of information had been sent through the time rift, across eons and light years.  And here it was, in my hands.  Something so profane and yet so obvious, the absolute truth behind it was reality shattering.

For the first time ever, we sciencers present to you this missive from the distant future.  While the author is quite elegant and refined, some of the ideas presented herein might be a bit too much for ColuMn’s more delicate readers.  We urge you to use your best judgment in determining whether or not to go on.  Are you prepared for EVERYTHING to change?  Whether you know it or not, it already has.  Or will.  I’m confused.

Without further ado, I present to you, Dr. , uh, Science Junior and The Great Frankenberry Experiments.

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November 11, 2012

After months of theorizing and hypothesizing, we had our first real breakthrough today.  Just the idea of it sets my head spinning.  If this works . . . Christ, if it even pretends to work, all of the world’s problems essentially become inconsequential as a new age dawns on mankind.    “What if?” that’s how all dreams start, is it not?  How all man’s accomplishments first begin.  A simple question.  Simple, yet frightening in consideration of what answers such a question might yield.

What if I ate a bowl of Frankenberry, but instead of just plain old boring milk I used . . . strawberry milk?  My God!  I can barely believe my fingers are typing these words.  And yet it seems so obvious.  How has this not been done before?  Has it?  Did the Ancients first discover this, destroying every mention of the concoction to spare future generations that much great fucking artificial strawberry taste?  Damn you, Ancients.  I curse your very graves.

Tomorrow will be the day.  Tomorrow, I raise my spoon, TRIUMPHANT!

November 12, 2012

It’s over.  The world as you once knew it is over.  What yesterday might have been considered just a bowl of self-loathing and regret (with Frankenberry cereal added) is now so much more.  My eyes have truly been opened to just how much artificial strawberry flavor one man can endure.  And it’s a lot.

I documented the process as best I could in photographs, but I fear I did not do it justice and must continue my research, replicating the outcome if possible.  That’s science.

Even though I’ve had this box of Frankenberry since July, I was surprised to discover the contents to be very fresh, like fresh picked strawberries, only not containing even the slightest drop of actual fruit.  I chose childhood favorite Nestle Stawberry Quik to mix into a little more than half a glass of Fat Free milk (my barely functional organs can only take so much punishment).  Combining the two ingredients, I felt it immediately necessary to remind myself that it was part of a nutritious breakfast, though it was the non-nutritious part.

Taking the bowl in my hand, I dipped the spoon into the murky pink waters, bringing up a heaping spoonful of cereal, marshmallow, and strawberry milk.  I raised it to my lips and shoveled it into my gaping maw.  The sensation was . . . exquisite.  Never before had so much artificial strawberry  exploded in my mouth (not in a gay way).  The strawberry combined with the strawberry didn’t cancel out the strawberry as I’d hypothesized.  In fact, it made the flavor even MORE strawberry-ish.

By the time I finished the bowl, my gums were bleeding profusely, but I was also ready to run a marathon.  Instead, I chose to sit on my sofa and ask myself why God hated me so much.  But I was jittery with sugar-infused energy while doing so.  If you need a quick pick-me-up, I can’t recommend this mixture highly enough.  Even if you like strawberrys!

As I put the spoon down in the empty bowl, cleaning strawberry milk and tiny cereal chunks out of my moustache and beard, another revelation hit me like a bolt of crunchy pink lightning:  if strawberry milk was that good, what would chocolate milk do?  Would it shatter the very universe itself?  My money was on that.   But we’ll have to wait and see if I commit universal genocide tomorrow, because I just crashed hard and no longer feel like wr

December 20, 2012

Much time has passed.  I wanted to log this experiment earlier, but it took me a month to recover from my previous findings (Frankenberry really chews your mouth up).  It’s really quite extraordinary.  It was just supposed to be a simple test.  What would be the results of mixing Frankenberry with chocolate milk?  Since Prometheus stole fire from the gods, humanity has always striven to break barriers and shatter taboos.  But sometimes that knowledge is dangerous, and once that knowledge is released, there’s no going back.  As Oppenheimer probably felt about the nuclear bomb, so do I feel about the insanity of the chocolate milk/Frankenberry hybrid.  My God.  What have I done?

It just looks wrong before the components are even combined.  You know you shouldn’t be messing with things of this magnitude, but as a stuntman of science, I feel compelled to press on.  By breaking this last taboo, what wonders will I unlock, both on the physical and mental planes?  I pick up the glass and pour the milk over the unnaturally pink cereal.  Things aren’t looking good, but I’m committed now.  I plunge the spoon into the bowl and pull out a heapin’ helpin’ of nastiness.  It doesn’t look good.  But then I taste it.  Hmm.  Not bad.  At first the Frankenberry taste overwhelms the chocolate milk and it just tastes like a bowl of Franks.  But as I progress through the meal, the chocolate taste becomes more apparent.  By the last few spoonfuls, the chocolate almost begins to overwhelm the Frankenberry.

Can I recommend it?  Should I recommend it?  The answer to both questions is “no”.  It’s simply not very good.  It’s strange and not bad, but regular Frankenberry in regular milk is just 1000 times better.  And besides, who knows what the consequences will ultimately be as a result of my prying where no man should ever pry?

December 21, 2012

Oops.  Fucked up bad.  Universe imploding.  A strange rift has opened up in my lab, so I’m encoding these log entries and sending them back in time, hoping some of the brightest minds of the past can prevent what I have unleashed on the present.  Einstein.  Hawking.  Spock.  Anyone.  Anyone.  An

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Wow!  That’s crazy stuff, huh?  Imagine that.  Dr. Science Junior is a stuntman, too!  Just like me.  Luckily, I think we’ll all agree that his data has landed in pretty much the only hands capable of addressing such a problem.  I must find this Dr. Science Junior, as they call him, and stop him from performing these experiments.

To that end, I regret to say that I am ending ColuMn.  I will now devote my life to finding Dr. Science Junior and preventing the armageddon that he sets off.

The future's premiere scientist/stuntman.

But first I think I’ll have a bowl of cereal.  For some reason I’m really craving Frankenberry.  You know what would be absolutely nuts?  What if I substituted strawberry milk for regular milk.  Oh, no!  I’ve got it.  What if I substitute CHOCOLATE milk!  That sounds really good.

And then after that I’ll Google Dr. Science Junior and see if I can find an email address or something.  Oh my God.  You should see this photo I just got from my friend.  I’ve got to write a bit about it.  So yeah.  Frankenberry, then write that bit, then whatever I was going to do with Professor Whatsisname.  Or maybe some stuntwork.

What was I saying?

Pac-Man Fruit Bonus Energy Drink

I’m not a huge fan of energy drinks.  I enjoy the occasional Vodka Red Bull or, in a pinch a Vodka Rock Star, but on their own I find energy drinks to be pretty putrid.  But I’m also a sucker for a great label, which is how I came to purchase two cans of Pac-Man Bonus Fruit Energy Drink.

You’d think with a name like Pac-Man BONUS FRUIT Energy Drink that the drink itself would taste, I don’t know, fruity.  It does now.  In fact, on not-even-closer inspection of the label, it clearly states, “Contains no fruit or fruit juice.”  Which isn’t surprising at all since Pac-Man Bonus Fruit Energy Drink tastes almost exactly like Red Bull.  Except that it’s sweeter.  And if you close your eyes and take a shallow breath, you can almost smell fruit.  But once you taste it, that fruit sensation is obliterated by energy drink taste.

I used to love to play Pac-Man when I was a kid.  I was descent on the arcade version, but just killed on the much-easier Atari home version.  I could still be playing the game I started in 1981 if I hadn’t had to, uh, live a life.  I guess it’s a good thing that the energy drink version of Pac-Man waited until I was old to be released, as the label clearly reads, “PRODUCT NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN.”

It’s basically morons like me that buy this shit, I guess.  People who make every purchased based exclusively on packaging.  That said, it’s really no more expensive than a can of Red Bull, so I don’t feel that I got completely taken.

The company that makes this syrup water is the Boston America Corp., who I have not heard of until right now.  They seem to specialize in products that cash in on the cultural milestones of my youth.  Hey, I’m not judging.  I’m all for it.  Just take a look at their site.  Awesome.  ColuMn doesn’t usually take the step to endorse a company or their products, but in this case we just might (we won’t – cmsof).

ColuMn FACTS!
110 Calories
175 mg fat
28 g Sugars
30 g Carbohydrates

ColuMn Fun Fact™:  Contains 70% of your Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin B6 and 210% of Vitamin B12!

ColuMn Rating:  ★★