Sunday, March 30, 2008

Grape Cigarettes

The following post was written by Miss Allison Wonderland. I don't really condone smoking, but I have to admit that having one smoker in the band does give us a little more street cred. Expect to see more of these posts in the coming months, since Allison is as curious about odd tobacco products as I am about unusual food.

What: Swisher Sweets (Grape)
When: Mar. 11, 2008
Where: Purchased in Michigan, smoked in Bloomington, Indiana
Cost: $3.49 for 2

Touring is an unhealthy business. However, as a smoker, being unhealthy is a full time job for me. Although I tend to avoid the gut-destroying food that Holly puts into her body, I find roadside gas stations to be a great source of odd tobacco products.

At a small gas station just across the US-Canada border, we stumbled across a “Huge Cigarettes Sale.” Exciting!

Of all of the varieties and flavours available, the one that caught my eye was a pack of grape flavoured Swisher Sweets Cigars. Two for the price of one! How could a red-blooded tobacco enthusiast such as myself resist?

As soon as I removed the shrink-wrap, an extremely strong cough-syrupesque aroma filled the air. It was to be expected, I suppose, since I’ve rarely come across anything grape-flavoured that DIDN’T smell and taste that way. Grape Jolly Ranchers have never made the contents of my purse smell like grape, though.

No bones about it, these were not very good. Only the filters were flavoured, so the actual smoke didn’t taste of anything but generic cigar smoke. I’m not disappointed by it, since the grape-flavouring tasted about as good as it smelled. A homeless gent walked by as I was smoking, and asked for a cigarette. I offered him one of these, and he politely declined. I find that pretty telling.

So, being stuck with two packs of these presents a personal dilemma. The cheap Irish-Catholic in me can’t bring herself to throw out something I paid money for (sale or no sale). On the other hand, there is no way I’m ever going to smoke the rest of these, even if I’m out of cigarettes and jonesin’ for something to smoke. I managed to unload one on a curious friend of mine, but I’m still stuck with the other. In the meantime, I’m preparing to have a wallet that smells like grape for a while.


Friday, March 28, 2008


What: Faygo Redpop!
When: Mar. 27, 2008
Where: Purchased in Arkansas, consumed en route to Ottawa
Cost: $0.99

The writing on the can actually reads "Genuine Faygo Dee-licious Redpop! Naturally and Artificially Flavored Strawberry Soda". I cracked it open while bored and thirsty in the van. Water would probably have been a better choice, but I have a reputation to protect.

I should have learned by now that opening a can of weirdly flavoured pop while sitting in the back of the van is a bad idea. There are no cup holders, so if the strange brew proves too gross to be finished I am stuck holding it in my hands until the next stop. I tried passing the can around the van for the rest of the band to try, desperately hoping that someone would drink the rest. It eventually came back to me only slightly emptier but with a lot more cooties.

It tasted like bad cream soda. After a couple of sips I thought I could taste a faint undercurrent of melted strawberry candy, but on the whole it did not live up to the "Strawberry Soda" label. It was definitely red pop though. Unsettlingly red pop. It smelled a lot worse than it tasted and was way too sweet to be refreshing.


This post is dedicated to Chris, who has grudgingly become my uncredited photographer and assistant (see his finger holding the pop can above), as well as the rest of the band who also take pictures, pick out food for me, and feed me vitamins to keep the ever-looming danger of scurvy at bay. Thanks guys.


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Now With More Bull Bile

What: Snickers Charged
When: Mar. 26, 2008
Where: Peterborough, ON
Cost: $0.99

Does chocolate-covered caramel and nougat really need added caffeine, taurine and B-vitamins? Snickers seems to think so. I picked up this special edition chocolate bar in the States, where the caffeine laws are not as strict as they are in Canada.

Circumstances prevented me from getting coffee this morning, so I decided to try the chocolate bar instead.

I split it with our Soundy, Chris. I can't actually remember the last time I tried a Snickers bar, but he assured me that it tasted exactly like a normal Snickers should (despite being slightly deformed from traveling through extreme weather conditions with us).

The caffeine did indeed prevent me from falling asleep during the relatively brief drive to Peterborough, although a large coffee would have been warmer and thus more satisfying.



Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

I hope the Easter Bunny was kinder to you all.

My time off has been spent stuffing myself full of vegetables, preparing for the next few weeks. I can't wait to see what Ontario's Gas Stations have to offer.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Drove to Chicago

What: Hostess Pudding Pie (Chocolate)
When: Mar. 16, 2008
Where: Somewhere between Arkansas and Illinois.
Cost: $0.99

While driving I found myself feeling a bit peckish. Bobby passed up this Pudding Pie that I had secreted in the basket of oddities that I keep in the back of the van. This is where the weird food that I buy awaits eating, nestled among packets of lemon juice and honey, cutlery and a couple books of Madlibs.

If you want to learn more about someone's psyche than you probably should, try playing Madlibs with them. It's enlightening.

Basia excitedly photographed me as I unwrapped the package and took my first bite. Mike thought it looked like a Pillsbury Pizza Pocket, and it did. Except it was full of chocolate pudding.

The whole thing was surprisingly heavy, making me glad that I didn't check the calorie count on the back. I really enjoyed the first few bites. The pie crust was more dense than ideal, but it was crisp and had a tasteful, light glaze. I like chocolate pudding, and found myself thinking that this was probably the best method of pudding delivery currently available.

Unfortunately (why is there always an "unfortunately"?), as I ate towards the centre of the pie the pudding-to-crust ratio increased and I became aware of an oddly tangy flavour that should not accompany a good chocolate pudding. It eventually became too much to ignore, and I was forced to throw out the half-eaten pie.

The proof of the pudding pie is in the eating, and it seems that Hostess has let me down again. A smart person might just accept that it is impossible for baked goods to be fresh and tasty yet well-preserved enough to stock a bomb shelter, and would therefore stop purchasing them.

I won't be stopping anytime soon.



Sunday, March 16, 2008

I Miss Vegetables

What: Funyuns Brand Onion Flavored Rings
When: Mar. 13, 2008
Where: Somewhere in Texas
Cost: $1.29

Funyuns are not uncommon. I see them every time I look for chips, but neither I nor any of my friends have ever tried one.

They look and taste exactly like crispy onion rings, without the real onion centre. I enjoyed the crunchiness, and liked that the onion flavour was not overpoweringly strong.


What: Dale Jr’s Big Mo’ (Peanut Butter)
When: Mar. 15, 2008
Where: Austin, TX
Cost: $1.29

I suspect that the same people who buy Funyuns are the target market for this Dale Earnhardt Jr.-endorsed chocolate bar. It was also only available in king-size.

I think that chocolate tastes better the warmer it is (which is why I don’t really like chocolate chips in my ice cream). The Texas sun warmed this chocolate up perfectly, so it was soft but not melty. The filling was smooth and delicious, making me glad that I had chosen peanut butter instead of caramel. I would definitely buy this chocolate bar again.

You know, I wonder what Dale Jr. does to pass the time in the car. Sleep (a.k.a. Nature’s Timewaster) is number one for Allison and me. When I’m driving I play a game I like to call “Counting Stuff”. Recent counts have included dead skunks in Oklahoma (7), anti-pornography billboards in Texas (5) and deer in Arkansas (36!). Alas, my cute trucker count remains at zero.


What: Atkinson’s Chick-O-Stick
When: Mar. 15, 2008
Where: Forest City, Arkansas
Cost: $0.25

This was recommended to me by someone who knows that I like trying weird food from service stations. He also told me that I probably wouldn’t like it, and he was right. It was a rod made of something similar to the inside of a Butterfinger, with coconut added. Not my favourite. I do like suggestions though, so please keep them coming.


I was sad to leave Austin this afternoon. We played some fun shows, ate a lot of BBQ and made new friends. It was also great to meet up with friends from other touring bands, since we are so rarely in the same city at the same time.

Also, please check out Who Killed the Mix Tape?. We met Justin and Ben in Boston, where they interviewed Basia and encouraged me to start this blog.

Next Up: Hostess Pudding Pie


Update: I have added random (a.k.a. Pitchfork-style) numbers to the reviews. This will continue in all posts from now on.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Got Our Kicks

What: Dinty Moore Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
When: Mar. 13, 2008
Where: Purchased in Michigan, eaten in Austin, TX
Cost: $1.89

When Mike pointed this tub out to me I knew immediately that I had to buy it. It took me a few days to finally work up the courage to try it.

Believe it or not, I was anticipating this moment all day. 15-hours is a long time to be in a van without something to look forward to.

I don't really like scalloped potatoes, nor do I eat a lot of ham. When I took the small plastic tub out of the microwave an oily film had developed on the surface of the sauce. After I mixed it up it looked a little bit more like food, although it was still worryingly grey.

Honestly, these potatoes weren't as bad as they looked. They just tasted like reconstituted potatoes in a generic gravy-like sauce, with chunks of really salty ham. I actually ate about half the tub without realizing it.

An excellent choice? I'll have to take their word for it, since I cannot foresee myself ever trying another brand of Scalloped Potatoes and Ham.

What: Sifers Valomilk
When: Mar. 13, 2008
Where: Austin, TX
Cost: $0.89

These were the most interesting things I saw all day. I bought them in a gas station that we stopped at as soon as we crossed into Texas. Old-timey packaging and weird slogans ("The Original 'Flowing Center' Candy Cups") get me every time.

These cups had the weirdest filling. It was solid and liquid at the same time. It didn't really matter that it had a horrible, sort of milky flavour. I had quite a bit of fun just watching it ooze out into a little white puddle.

If I were a science teacher I would buy these to give out at Halloween. Otherwise I think I would stay clear of them.

What: de la Rosa Dulce de Cacahuate/Peanuts Confection
When: Mar. 13, 2008
Where: Austin, TX
Cost: $0.65

Allison and Basia have both repeatedly pointed out to me that the food I review doesn't necessarily have to be bad. I seem to be drawn to the gross stuff, but after the last two tests I had to agree with them. I was desperate for something tasty.

Fortunately this Mexican confection fit the bill. It was a very crumbly puck that tasted like it was made purely of icing sugar and powdered peanut butter (if such a thing exists). Very enjoyable for someone with a sweet tooth as well-developed as mine.

Thank god.

Next Up: Atkinson's Chick-O-Stick


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Whither Texas

What: Mrs. Freshley's Red Velvet Creme Cakes
When: Late-February, 2008
Where: Near Philadelphia
Cost: $0.99

These snack cakes looked like moist, lightly squished Twinkies, dyed a deep red. Well actually, the first thing I thought of when I looked at these cakes was that they looked like two perfect, vacuum-sealed bloody stool samples.

I'm sorry.

Red velvet cake is a type of chocolate cake. If I remember correctly, the red colour used to be a natural by-product of the cocoa reacting with other ingredients. Buttermilk, probably. The cocoa that we use nowadays is different, thus requiring large amounts of food colouring to turn boring old brown chocolate cake into the vivid red seen here.

Surprisingly, Mrs. Freshley seems to have done away with the cocoa altogether. These impostor cakes tasted exactly like Twinkies, with a VERY strong aftertaste of food-colouring. And creme filling, of course.

What: Hostess Banana Twinkies
When: Late-February, 2008
Where: Near Nashville
Cost: $0.99

These looked and tasted like regular Twinkies with the creme filling replaced with banana-flavoured children's antibiotics.

Pretty gross.

This is the last of my backlogged reviews. I have decided to take it easy on the creme filled cakes. Mostly because I hate the word "creme" so much.

Next Up: Dinty Moore Scalloped Potatoes and Ham


Sunday, March 9, 2008

I Ate Yr. Cherry Bomb

What: Christopher's Big Cherry
When: Late-February, 2008
Where: Purchased in Idaho
Cost: $0.99

The Idahoian equivalent of the yellow-boxed chocolate-covered cherries I occasionally see (but have never tried) in corner stores at home. They have always been the example I use when talking about candies that look so unappetizing that I can't understand why a store would stock them at all. I waited about a week after buying this Big Cherry before I tried it.

Immediately after I cautiously bit into it, someone called it a "bloody-jizz-filled turd". While not entirely accurate (the pink filling was solid, not runny), this caused me to giggle uncontrollably, unable to finish the bite I was chewing. I didn't try to take another one.

Other than being sickly-sweet, the Big Cherry was actually fairly inoffensive. The outside layer was not solid chocolate. Rather, it was a hefty, malleable mixture of chocolate, crushed nuts and coconut.

The filling was shockingly pink and tasted faintly like cherries. It had the texture of a year-old Cadbury Creme Egg.

All this was centered around a cherry, of course.

The whole thing reminded me of a cherry-flavoured nanaimo bar wrapped around a candied cherry. Not bad, but not something I would buy again.

We're heading back down into the States tomorrow, on our way to Austin, TX. I will be dutifully keeping my eyes open and my stomach full while I'm gone.

Next Up: Mrs. Freshley's Red Velvet Creme Cakes


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Ever wonder what the Hulk's balls taste like?

Wonder no longer.

What: Hostess Lucky Puffs
When: Feb. 29, 2008
Where: NYC
Cost: Unknown (purchased by Allison)

I have always avoided the Sno-ball rack of the Twinkie aisle. In truth, I never would have tried these green, St. Patty's-themed puffs if they had not been purchased for me. I can't imagine why anyone would willingly choose a Sno-ball over pretty much anything else that a gas station has to offer.

They are four layers of neon grossness.

Layer #1: Green Coconut.

There is just enough coconut to turn a coconut-hater off, but not enough to make the puff coconut-flavoured. So what is the point? Maybe it is there to give the food colouring something to adhere to.

Layer #2: Marshmallow.

Typical low-quality marshmallow. It was really dry and spongy, and made it hard to swallow. After the first two bites I peeled it off. Mike almost ate it, but was stopped by the pork gelatin listed in the ingredients. He still doesn't realize how lucky he was.

Layer #3: Chocolate Cake.

Are all Sno-balls chocolate flavoured? I had always assumed that they were white. This one was very dry, chocolatey cake. Not really great, but I did finish it once I had removed the marshmallow.

Layer #4: Creme Filling.

Your standard Hostess creme. I wanted there to be a LOT more of it. This shows how bad and dry the puff was, considering that the creme usually tastes vaguely like chemicals and should not be eaten in large amounts.

My advice to those reading at home: Don't eat these.

My advice to the Leprechaun on the package: If sitting on your pot of gold turns your "puffs" green, it's probably not real gold.

Next up: Big Cherry.


Monday, March 3, 2008

Eating my way through the USA.

So, lately I’ve spent a lot of time and money in gas stations. Our big red van needs gas and we need breakfast (and sometimes lunch and dinner). Over the last few months my diet has slowly devolved into an unhealthy mix of cheeseburgers, diet coke, and whatever free food we can get from the venues we are playing at. I keep things interesting by scouring the shelves of service stations along the way. Rest stops are all mostly the same, but often have a few regional differences to amuse even the weariest of travelers. These weird pastries or unusual chocolate bars were forgotten as quickly as I could eat (or not eat - I’m looking at you Mallow Cups) them, until it was decided that a blog should be started. The band has jumped on board frighteningly quickly, procuring me disgusting “delights” and photo-documenting some of my most recent gustatory adventures.

Now that I have a week back at home I’m going to try to write a few reviews and figure out how to blog like a pro. Stay tuned as I go to Austin, Southern Ontario and Quebec and then embark on yet another month-long tour of the US.