Dave’s Gourmet Insanity Popcorn

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Dave's Gourmet Insanity Microwave Popcorn

I don’t know who this Dave fellow is, but he’s certainly got some nerve mixing together two of my favorite things: popcorn and capsaicin. The opportunity to experience this self-proclaimedhottest popcorn on the planet” set me back a cool $3.95 (who am I kidding, it was gifted to me [but the price tag was still on it]), a small price to pay to guarantee that creepy Orville Redenbacher doesn’t get my popcorn money. The bag was a standard 3.5 oz. affair, and just for reference, my 1000W microwave popped the bag to perfection in 2:05.

Just like any company conscious of their customers’ personal safety, Dave was kind enough to include a warning near the bag’s opening: CAUTION WHEN OPENING: HOT STEAM. What Dave failed to do was include a subtext something along the lines of DO NOT BREATHE WHILE OPENING: PARTICLES OF SPICINESS WILL FIND THEIR WAY DOWN YOUR THROAT AND YOU WILL COUGH FOR AT LEAST 10 MINUTES. 

The popcorn itself was almost indistinguishably buttered, and the kernels were pretty uniformly covered in Dave’s spicy seasoning. With my very first bite, I could tell that whatever the spice was, it was definitely chili powder based. As a person who goes out of his way to eat spicy things, this popcorn didn’t have me scrambling for milk. That being said, I did manage to down two full pints of water as I worked my way through the bag.

It’s definitely a pretty cool novelty food item, but its definitely not the sort of thing you’re going to want lining the walls of your pantry. Considering the price and the fairly basic chili powder taste profile, I’d rate this at a solid 2.5 X‘s.

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Viking Cherry Noble Bar

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This review is actually fulfilling a request made by a friend in the army that spent  some time stationed at Ft. Lewis in Tacoma, WA. That information is relevant, because Washington is just about the only place you can find these natural energy bars at a retail store, and supposedly they’re really popular among the troops stationed in the area. There are several flavors to choose from, but luckily he brought me a Viking Cherry to try because the only other way to get hold of these is to order at least a box of 12 via Paypal for $25 plus shipping.

The idea behind these bars is actually pretty novel. Dana, the founder of Noble Bar, did some research to discover what ingredients were widely consumed by various civilizations. He then took those ingredients and combined them in his kitchen to create bars people from said civilization might have eaten. With this in mind, I bit into my Viking Cherry and imagined I was one of those badass longship oarsman starving for energy instead of a slightly overweight American blogger writing a deprecating review of Farmville.

My initial assessment of the bar was pretty positive; first taste impressions were that of Ocean Spray Craisins and birdseed. Some may find that profile slightly off-putting, but I really enjoyed it. The bar was perfectly chewy, and a little more moist than I was anticipating. At 2 ounces it’s a little smaller than a PowerBar, yet still surprisingly filling. I can’t attest to it’s energy rejuvenating powers, though, since I move around about as much as a centenarian just coming off a double hip replacement surgery.

I don’t know it they’re quite worth +$2.00 per bar, but considering the company is basically one guy and their production capabilities are limited, I can’t fault the price too much. I would recommend anyone in the Washington area, or anyone searching for novelty energy bars, give one of these a try, but they’re not necessarily a “must have” for the rest of us.

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Cheese Beer Bread Mix

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While curiously browsing through Wal-Mart’s Christmas shopping specials of snacks and gift bundles, I stumbled across a small box on the bottom shelf.  The box was left lonely in the corner, the only one of its kind.  It was shyly shoved toward the back with no other matches in sight, set as an outcast amongst the groups of Budweiser BBQ sauce sets, Ritz crackers, and tin packages of cookies.  However, seeing “Beer Bread” on the label was enough to make me to stop and investigate.

The bottle was an Amber Harvest Mills Baking product, a Cheese Beer Bread Mix!  I had never seen such a creation, so I rotated the bottle to learn what was included inside and how it was made.  What I had in my hand was a bread mix that lacked one key ingredient: Beer.  Apparently, this 16 oz bottle, and 12 ounces of your favorite beer is enough to bake delicious cheese-bread. It did mention, though, that light beer is not recommended and that ginger ale can be used as a substitute to create a lighter flavor.  The price was advertised for $5.00, but after adding beer and tax, the cost for the bread ends up being closer to 6 bucks.

The directions were simple:

  1. Empty bread mix into a bowl, and add beer (or ginger ale)
  2. Mix with a wooden spoon until moist (*Do not over-mix)
  3. Pour into a greased and floured 9” x 5” loaf pan
  4. Bake in a preheated 375° oven for 45-50 minutes, or until done

I followed said directions by adding a 12 oz can of my favorite beer (Milwaukee’s Best Ice) and anxiously wait 45 excruciating minutes for the concoction to bake.  After taking it out of the oven, I gave it some time to cool off, then sliced up my cheese bread and found that I enjoyed this delicious treat quite a bit!

The convenience of this all-included, simple, mix was a huge plus to the rating of this product.  The taste also had a huge positive influence on my overall opinion.  I will, however, stress that the “greased and floured pan” step of the instructions needs to be followed.  Unfortunately, I ignored this step and suffered through a hard crust that was difficult to remove from the pan.  Other than that though, there were no problems with the mix!  I greatly enjoyed the product and plan on purchasing another in the upcoming week.

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Stride Winterblue Gum

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Let me start with saying, the toughest part about writing this review was deciding what to categorize it as. Stride gum shouldn’t probably go under hygiene, but it’s certainly not music or movies either. At the end of the day, I put it in my mouth, and although that may qualify it for the sports designation, I felt the need to qualify it as food since it comes with Nutritional Facts on the wrapper. (Side note: If you’re chewing Stride to get your daily dose of Vitamin C or iron, stop. There’s none in it.)

There’s a reason grocery and retail stores put gum next to the checkout isle. No one actually goes shopping for it, but it’s really hard to resist hours of chewing fun at only $0.99 for a pack of 14 pieces (roughly 7.5 cents per piece after tax). One thing is for sure. This stuff isn’t your grandma’s Double Bubble that’s been sitting in her living room since you were in kindergarten and seems to crack a molar every time you bite into it. On the contrary, biting into Stride is satisfyingly soft.

Truth be told, I’m not sure what winterblue is supposed to take like. There’s no real precedence for flavor like there is for berry, or watermelon, or even bubble gum. Is it supposed to taste like wintergreen, with just a bit more of an edge? Regardless, it is one of the longer lasting gums I’ve ever had. I mean, I’m no Violet Beauregard from Willy Wonka, but I do enjoy chewing my gum longer than most people. In fact, if I were qualified to give this a J.D. Power and Associates ‘Longest Lasting Gum Without Losing Its Flavor’ award, I would have done it two paragraphs ago.

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KFC Fill Up Box

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Let me just preface this by mentioning that KFC isn’t in my usual rotation of fast food restaurants. It’s not that I don’t enjoy crispy and fattening poultry, I’ve just never had good experiences with KFC chicken. I test the fate of the gods and decide to give them another shot about once every 5 years, hoping every time to end up satisfied and happy with my decision. Last night, I realized I hadn’t made a visit since 2004, so I decided to ride along when my buddies mentioned they were interested in trying out the “famous” grilled chicken.

Despite all their advertising for their newer, “healthier,” grilled chicken, I hate change and decided to go with a couple of pieces of their classic original recipe. However, I wasn’t completely ignorant of the benefits of a well balanced meal, so I opted to go for their $5 Fill-Up box (apparently they’re trying to compete with Subway and their $5 footlongs). Besides the chicken, it came with mashed potatoes, gravy, a biscuit, potato wedges, and a drink. Not a bad deal for $5, not bad at all.

To be honest, it tasted fantastic. The chicken was almost a little too greasy for me and I couldn’t bring myself to shove all of the crispy goodness down my throat, but the biscuit was absolutely top notch. I consider myself a bit of an instant potatoes connoisseur, so I may be being a little hard on KFC’s mashed potatoes, but they simply struck me as average. The real story here was the potato wedges. They were incredible! I had all of them, probably 20 or so, eaten by the time I’d made it back to the apartment. If I could order just a giant side of potato wedges and not mess with any of the chicken business, I’d be one of those 300 pound regulars you always see at KFC that make you wonder, ‘how the hell did they squeeze themselves into that tiny booth?’

Not all was bueno at the end of the day, though. Just like playing a drinking game with liquor while everyone else is downing beer, it was good while it lasted, but seemed like a bad idea shortly after. Maybe it was the 1200 calories that did me in, but I felt absolutely horrible for hours after the meal! I had to call it a night early, and I still felt horrible for the entire morning after! I never actually threw up, but I sure as hell wanted to.

Once again, the KFC gods let me down in the end. I wouldn’t recommend anyone put themselves through a Fill-Up box. Instead, take your $5 to Popeyes or Chuch’s. Remember, hunger is only temporary; regret lasts a lifetime.

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