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Category Archives: Food

Soda Review: Lucky 66 Orange

Our next soda is Lucky 66 Orange, made by a Wilmington, Illinois company that distributes nostalgically bottled sodas for sale in diners and gift shops all along historic Route 66 (hmm, I shoulda looked for these in Williams last week). The odd thing with fruit-flavored sodas is that they don’t necessarily have to taste like the fruit they represent. Orange Crush is a good example — it’s flavorful and ultra-sweet, with just a hint of orange. Lucky 66’s orange, by comparison, was a bit pallid. Although nice and lightly carbonated, it lacked the citrusy “kick” it desperately needed. Despite the disappointment, the soda does sport a lovely label:

Lucky 66 Orange Soda

Soda Review: Waialua Pineapple

Get ready for a classic “kid in a candy store” scenario. Yesterday the mister and I had a day-long trip to nearby Scottsdale (zoo, antiquing, lunch). Since we were going out there anyway, I had to have a detour at Pop The Soda Shop — a hot local business that I’d heard a lot of good things about, but never visited before. This place stocks bottles of just about every obscure, locally made soda in existence (they sell online, too). Naturally I picked up a dozen or so of a variety of flavors. In the next few weeks, I’m going to post write-ups on each of them.

Waialua Soda Bottle CapOur first subject will be Waialua pineapple, a soda originating from Hawaii. Although the label on the bottle sports a retro-style hula dancer, the company in fact got started only a few years ago by a newlywed couple who noticed the lack of soda bottlers on the islands. Right away I noticed that the drink has an appealingly light color, not the screaming piss yellow one would normally associate with pineapple soda. The lightness also extends to the taste. It’s got a really refreshing flavor — good and pineapple-y, sweet but not overpoweringly so. The fact that they use pure cane sugar and not corn syrup as sweetener makes a huge difference (that’s why hardcore Coke drinkers prefer the insanely sweet concoction from Mexico over the U.S. version). Now that I’ve tried the pineapple, I’m very curious about Waialua’s other three flavors … especially the mango. Guess we’ll have to schedule another Pop The Soda Shop trip!

Waialua Pineapple Soda Label

Weekly Mishmash: March 23-29

Cadbury Orange Creme Eggs. Amid a marked down candy buying spree at Walgreen’s, I spotted this variant on my favorite Easter treat for only a quarter each. Man, where have these babies been all my life? P.S. I miss the classic bunny commercials.
The Last of Mrs. Cheyney (1937). On the 24th, TCM ran a 24-hour Joan Crawford tribute. Two films never seen before, including this jewel robbery comedy, ended up getting recorded. Slogging through this labored and overly-scripted affair, “What were they thinking?” was the only thing that came to my mind. As much as I love and admire Miss Crawford, she never was a very effective light comedienne (The Women was the great exception). The movie is actually well-cast and beautifully mounted with all the gloss that MGM could buy, but what came out of all that effort was a snail-paced antique that gets way too bogged down in its frou-frou fake Britishness. Joanie, ya let me down again.
Spring Fever posterSpring Fever (1927). My other Crawford viewing was this little-seen silent starring the gay and not hiding it well William Haines. Looking like a completely different person a decade earlier, the fresh and appealing Crawford made the best of a nondescript “girlfriend” role here. Silents are always interesting in a way because they’re a window on their time with a unique point of view not seen in sound films. This one is no exception — even though it also drags a bit, switching from fluffy golfing comedy to heavy relationship drama to whiplash-inducing effect. On the plus side, Crawford and Haines play wonderfully off each other. And isn’t this a lovely poster?
The Tom & Jerry Spotlight Collection, Vol. 3. Tom & Jerry fan Christopher bought this for his DVD collection and we were enjoying it all week. Well, “enjoying” is a strong word. How about “watching”, instead? Volume one was packed with classic, award-winning T&J cartoons, while the second volume benefited from having most of the earlier (and therefore better) shorts co-starring the controversial Mammy character. The third and concluding volume of this series was meant to cover all the remaining classic-era MGM cartoons not covered in the first two sets, but Warner Home Video left off two cartoons with “objectionable” scenes in a bit of spineless corporate p.c. behavior. Most of the cartoons here aren’t even true Tom & Jerry vehicles anyway, with Spike and Tyke and that annoying little duckling taking up much of the screen time. The only mitigating thing on this set is a making-of documentary that includes several nightmare-inducing clips of the weird, weird Gene Deitch-directed Tom & Jerry shorts from the early ’60s.

Freshness & Quality

Talk about ephemera from the past… a recent eBay purchase arrived stored in this ancient looking plastic bag:

Vintage Grocery Bag

The cent sign and area for a handwritten price tells me it’s not recent, and based on the groovy flowers and lower case “fresh” lettering I’d say it’s from the ’70s. I vaguely remember bags like this (possibly the very same style, even?) during childhood trips to the grocery store. In the produce section, customers had to take their bagged fruits and veggies to an employee who’d weigh and price them before sending you on your merry way. Something about it makes me think about how ephemeral a lot of the stuff we take for granted is. This bag was just a common piece of everyday life back then, but now it seems more like a museum piece. I wonder if your average smiley faced Wal-Mart bag would have the same effect in thirty years?

Turkey Day Dishes Ranked and Rated

Pumpkin Pie, illustration by Matt HinrichsWe have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, and although I spend a lot of time thinking about family and tradition, blah blah blah, I often think about the food. It’s always the same things every year, often badly prepared, we eat too much of it, and yet we keep coming back for more. I think it’s high time to stack up the things we eat and compile them into a meaningless list. Here, in my humble opinion, are the best to worst Thanksgiving Day foods:

1. Pumpkin Pie What I spend the other eleven months of the year pining for. So essential to my happiness that any T-giving without a slice of golden-orange heaven seems incomplete. A+
2. Turkey with Gravy Good, not too dry mix of white and dark meat with a delicate drizzle of lumpless brown gravy deserves to be the centerpiece of the dinner plate. A
3. Buttered Dinner Roll An often overlooked part of the Thanksgiving table, but nothing beats a real oven-baked roll with a square of genuine butter. A
4. Stuffing As long as I don’t think too hard about eating something that was baked inside a hollowed-out turkey carcass, I love a thoughtfully prepared stuffing. My mom likes to use a recipe involving raisins, a needless addition which upsets the delicate flavor balance (sweets belong in the dessert, ma!). B+
5. Diet Cola An essential part of the meal when changing courses — a nice cool glass of your favorite diet cola (I like Diet Pepsi; Diet Coke has too much caffeine and the extra bubbles make me gassy.). It’s like Drain-O for the palate. B+
6. Green Bean Casserole Mushy and kinda gross, but really what would Thanksgiving be without it? Personally I’d prefer simply gorging on the French-fried onion topping. B
7. Cranberry Sauce I love the taste of cranberries — but when they’re presented in a gelatinous heap containing who knows what kind of mystery bits, my stomach starts to churn. Especially unappealing when served in the “straight outta the can” shape. C
8. Candied Yams When done well, cooked from scratch and coated with a lightly toasted marshmallow topping, these are excellent. I think I’ve only had them that way once, however, and mostly when I think of yams I picture a sickeningly sweet side dish which sucks away the specialness of the other foods on my plate. C-
9. White Salad This nausea-inducing grape and marshmallow concoction was a staple at the Thanksgivings of my childhood. It must be heaven for grape and marshmallow connoisseurs, of which I am not! D-
10. Egg Nog I associate egg nog with Christmas, but sometimes at Thanksgiving someone (with a sick sense of humor, no doubt) carts it out. The only way to consume this crap is to gag it down. F

All Singing, All Snacking

Tonight I turn over the weblog to ask an important question — whatever happened to those completely unironic TV commercials that emulated movie musicals? Sure, they were corny, but 20-plus years later I still remember them which has to count for something. The mid-’80s jingle for Better Cheddars crackers, for example, is a song that I sometimes use to torment my s.o. (along with My Buddy and Figurines). The actor in this commercial deserved some kind of award for being able to perform this fabulously dorky tune straight-faced:

Although Kelloggs’ usage of the Broadway chestnut “Great Day” as a jingle back in the late ’70s/early ’80s is something I remember well, I almost forgot about this mini extravaganza utilizing the company’s kiddie cereal mascots. The animation is clearly a notch above the Saturday morning cartoons it once accompanied. I especially dug revisiting Tusk, the Cocoa Krispies elephant:

The old Toffifay candy commercial jingle is something that really offended me as a kid. “Too good for kids”? Whatever. The one I recall had a sparring old codger and little boy, but this one (featuring actress Tracey Gold before her Growing Pains fame) will suffice. Boy, what a shrieky, unappealing song. In the end, perhaps it’s better off that we’ve moved on: