Anyone want s’more coffee?

29 08 2011

When it comes to coffee, I’m kind of a snob. Hold that cup o’ Joe; I’ll take a grande iced double-dirty chai-tea latte with whole milk, please and thank you.

But despite my apparently snobbish ways, I’m also an awkward mix of city-meets-country. I love the outdoors. I love camping. And my favorite part of camping is the marshmallows. If I had my way, every camping trip would involve jumbo marshmallows and a lot of extra chocolate. But I never get my way.

Anyway, you’re probably wondering what all this is about. What do coffee and marshmallows have in common? (Aside from the fact that they’re both roastable. Yes, that is now a word.)

It all started with a very nice e-mail titled “Super-caffeinated Marshmallows in 4 Flavors.” I’m pretty sure that wins the award for most intriguing title of any e-mail I’ve ever received. Anyway, it turns out that there’s this company called Caffex, and they specialize in the fusion of coffee and marshmallows. They asked me to review their product, which I think was actually very brave, because I’m not exactly the most tactful person I know.

But I was actually more than a little excited at the prospect of caffeinated marshmallows. (Even more excited than I was about low-fat Spam — imagine!) Not only am I a coffee snob, I’m kind of an addict. OK, I am an addict. And as you already know, I think marshmallows are the best. They help me release my inner five-year-old.

As good as caffeinated, coffee-flavored marshmallows sounded, I was admittedly still a little dubious. I like to drink my coffee. It goes back to that snob thing. I do not eat coffee. If the break-room coffee at work has been sitting in the carafe for a couple of days and has gotten a little squishy and … well, marshmallow-like, I leave it there. Common sense.

My misgivings about eating coffee were alleviated a little when I received the little sample package in the mail, with four individually wrapped, brightly packaged brown marshmallows inside. They didn’t look so bad. They were actually kind of cute. Cute, edible coffee. I could handle that.

CaffeMallows (as they’re called) come in four flavors: MoccaMallows JavaMallows, CoffeeMallows and TeaMallows. Yes, tea. That one, I wasn’t so sure about. Tea for me is kind of like vodka for some people. I don’t do tea unless it’s iced, heavily raspberry flavored and full of enough sugar to make me forget I’m drinking tea.

When I unwrapped each package and laid the little brown mallows out like so (so I could take a picture, just for all of you), I was suddenly not so sure again how I felt about eating these.

They look much more appetizing on the website, like squishy brownies or something. Arizona heat does not do nice things to marshmallows. To be frank, they looked like what would happen about 24 hours after my dog (if I had a dog) ate a bad burrito. To be fair, I don’t think that’s what they looked like originally. Curse you, 112-degree weather.

I tasted the marshmallows individually, starting with the MoccaMallow (the flavor of which was mocha, if you couldn’t guess). It surprised me, though not in a bad way. I thought it would be a lot sweeter. I mean, it’s technically still a marshmallow, right? But it had the bitter taste of a black cup o’ Joe with some (real, non-fake-sugary) chocolate mixed in. Let me remind you that my usual coffee delights are the barista’s equivalent of fruity drinks. This was the real stuff. And it was strong.

That being said, if you’re like most people I know and you drink coffee because you actually like the taste of coffee (by itself or with very little extra stuff thrown in), then you’ll love this. Because it really does taste like coffee. And deep down inside, past all that snobbiness, I love the taste of coffee, too. It just takes some getting past the initial shock.

I moved on to the JavaMallow, which was espresso-flavored. I had high hopes for this one. My big Christmas gift last year from my boyfriend was an espresso maker, if that gives you any idea of my feelings toward espresso.

No disappointment with this mallow — it tastes exactly like espresso. And — even better — it was a little sweeter than the mocha. New favorite.

Time for the CafeMallow (coffee-flavored). Turns out it was really similar to the espresso (even to my coffee-snob taste buds), but after some chewing and contemplating, I could tell the difference. Not as bold, a little sweeter … and a new favorite.

Teatime. I wasn’t so sure about this one.

Maybe it was the fact that I’d just taken three large bites of different types of coffee marshmallows, or maybe it was some sort of mental thing … or maybe it was just that good. But whatever the case, the TeaMallow is officially my favorite. Slightly sweet, only a little bitter, kind of herbal … tea-like, basically, only it made the flavor of tea actually palatable. (Sorry, all you tea drinkers. I really don’t like tea.)

So, there you have it. In a shocking upset, the TeaMallow is, in my opinion, the best out of the four. If you like your coffee strong and bitter, go for the MoccaMallow. Not as bitter and a little sweeter, the JavaMallow. Genuinely coffee-like, the CoffeeMallow. And even if you don’t like tea, you really should try the TeaMallow.

Oh, and also, I’m pretty sure the caffeine worked. Because I haven’t had my daily dose of coffee, and it’s 5 in the afternoon, and I feel just fine. Which is a sort of miracle, really.

The bottom line: Don’t expect CaffeMallows to be as sweet as regular marshmallows, but if you’re looking for a fluffy alternative to a cup of coffee — something that actually tastes like a cup of coffee (or tea) — give these a shot. They’re actually kind of fun to eat.

Next step for me: Buy a package of TeaMallows and make tea s’mores. Oh, the possibilities …

———

Ingredients: Each marshmallow is different, and I didn’t want to make your eyes fall out of your face by typing it all up. Suffice it to say they contain sugar and real coffee.
Price: Varies, but a variety four-pack is $7.99 if you order off the website.
Pros: Two words: squishy coffee. I mean, really, can it get much better?
Cons: This is really probably more of a pro, but if you’re expecting sugar, change your expectations. Oh, and also … don’t let them get hot (i.e. be outside for more than two minutes in Arizona). Because then they’ll start looking a bit like dog poop.

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Anything but chilly

26 05 2011

So … the reason I haven’t blogged in a while is because I was so scared to eat what I ate today. I bought it a couple of weeks ago, but it took me that long just to get over my fear.

Fine, fine. That’s not exactly the case. My thesis has been eating my soul. But the part about when I bought the food is true, and so is the part about me being terrified.

The food (at least I think it’s supposed to be food) in question is called Bhut Jolokia (or Naga Jolokia), and it comes from India. It’s also called ghost chili, apparently, which totally made it that much more appetizing to me. I’m not sure if the moniker implies that it kills whoever eats it, or that it’s made from corpses. From the looks of it, the answer is both. With a heat of 1,041,427 Scoville Heat Units, these things are apparently 1,488 times hotter than Tabasco sauce, which amounts to a comparatively mild 700 SHU.

In the words of Bill Nye the Science Guy, now you know.

And now I know — actually I knew before I tasted it. Which made the experience that much … deeper.

I almost ate one of these things straight out of the package, which probably would’ve been a bad choice since they’re apparently dehydrated. Fortunately, I read the back of the package first, which told me to place the chili in a bowl of hot water for 15 minutes and then use them in one of my favorite recipes. (Or, you know, eat one all by itself.)

The package also had this to say: Melissa’s Bhut Jolokia (boot joe-low-kee-uh) are absolutely the hottest chiles on the planet, testing at over 1 million scoville heat unit (habanero chiles are typically 400-500,000 Scoville and jalapeños 2,500-5,000).

As if that wasn’t lovely enough, it continued: CAUTION: This chile is extremely hot and potent!. Wear plastic gloves when handling chilis and do not touch face.

Does the inside of my mouth count as part of my face? Because I was about to put one of these there, and I wasn’t so sure about this whole plan.

By the way, in case you wondered, these things smell like ashes. I’m thinking it’s because they burned themselves up from the inside.

Instead of eating one dry (which would probably cause me to explode or something equally gory), I soaked one in a bowl for a good 20 minutes. I then donned some plastic gloves, took it out (it looked the same, just soggy), cut off the tip, paused in a moment of silence for my taste buds and put the little piece in my mouth.

Nothing could have prepared me for what happened. Absolutely nothing at all. Not even the Otter Pop I had sitting next to me as a sort of fire extinguisher, in case of emergency.

For the first half a second or so, it didn’t taste like anything. And then my tongue caught fire.

I spit it out. I had to. I couldn’t kill my poor esophagus. But it was too late to rescue my tongue. I was right in saying goodbye to my taste buds. I don’t think I’ll be using them again.

I also don’t think I’ve ever eaten an Otter Pop as fast as I just did. Unfortunately, it didn’t help. I can’t really feel my tongue … I mean, I can feel it, but the only thing I can tell you about it is that it really hurts. I think it can’t decide whether to be numb or on fire.

I can’t imagine what would happen if I took a nice big bite out of one of these things, nor do I want to imagine it. I’m pretty sure it would have something to do with hospitalization and stomach pumping. And probably a lot of water and ice chips for a long time.

When I try a weird food and decide I like it, I usually recommend it to people. Occasionally, when I’m feeling mean, I’ll recommend the nasty ones, too. But this … I would never wish this on anyone. By itself, anyway, a Bhut Jolokia isn’t food. It’s more of a fire-starter. In fact, you’d probably get the same effect by lighting a match and then chomping down on the flame, so if anyone feels like following in the stupid footsteps of yours truly, there’s a cheaper suggestion for you.

By the way, this beats both Clamato juice and green pepper jelly in terms of horrific experiences. Congratulations, Bhut Jolokia. Now give me my taste buds back and get out of my life.

———

Ingredients: World’s hottest chili. There you have it.
Price: $2.49 at Fry’s.
Pros: Great to use as a weapon … if you’re evil incarnate, that is.
Cons: One word: Ouch.





My hands smell like pomegranate puree

6 05 2011

I’m baaaack!

It’s finals weekend, too. Did you get that? I’m blogging on finals weekend. You should feel incredibly honored that I’m procrastinating taking time off from my ever-so-valuable studying to do this.

What is “this,” you ask? Well, just a few minutes ago, I consumed a lovely, gooey, chunky, slightly slimy bar of pomegranate pulp.

Let’s back up.

Yesterday, I was getting some shopping done at Target when I noticed they had a food section. Don’t ask me why I never noticed this before. It was a revelation. I thought there was no way I’d find anything out of the ordinary at Target (foodwise, anyway). But then I spotted the health-food aisle. And within the health-food aisle, I discovered Archer Farms fruit bars. (Archer Farms is apparently a Target brand, by the way. So Target really does make food.  Who knew?)

Now, before you call me out and tell me I’m incredibly picky, let me just say that I love fruit. I’m kind of a fruit nut … wait, that’s confusing. I don’t really like nuts. But I do like fruit. A lot.

However, as with all food I enjoy, I like fruit to a point. The picture on the front of the fruit-bar box showed flattened, shiny, sticky-looking slabs of … pomegranate, I guess. Stuck in a food processor and mixed with some unidentifiable chunks. I’m sorry, but that passes the point of appetizing.

Nasty-looking enough to try? Check. I bought them.

Before I ate one this morning, I spent some time getting acquainted with the box. On the front, under the picture of two gooey bars sitting on what looks like a piece of waxed paper on a table, it says, “Serving suggestion.” I assume this is another way of saying, “Don’t put these babies directly on your table, because they’re like gorilla glue and will never come off.” Maybe that was just my interpretation.

The other thing I noticed about the box was a little round seal toward the top that says, “Simply nutritious. Simply delicious.” How cute. I love rhymes. I’m just not sure I believed this one.

Time to find out.

Turns out these fruit bars are individually wrapped, which supported my gorilla-glue theory but is also a nice perk if you’re wanting to take them places, like the park with your children so you can punish them for squabbling by feeding them pomegranate goo.

The packages are incredibly hard to unwrap. Have you ever noticed that about healthy food? Maybe it’s just me, but I swear, every time I try to open something healthy, it’s much more difficult than opening, say, a package of Oreos. I think it’s a marketing ploy. I think they’re trying to make me feel like I need to get in better shape, and the way to do that is by eating their product. I’m on to you, health-food companies.

When I got the package open, I expected some sort of rotting stench to flood my nostrils. (Call me pessimistic, but the bars reminded me uncannily of dried fruit, and specifically raisins. I like dried fruit; I hate raisins. Raisins are grape corpses.) I was pleasantly surprised (even though I shouldn’t have been) when the scent of pomegranate wafted through the air. Yum. Maybe this wouldn’t be such a terrible experience after all.

I tore off a chunk of the bar and put it in my mouth. The experience was a very detailed, intricate one. In order to best relate it to you, I’m going to break it down in terms of the number of times I chewed it:

Chew. Hmm, not bad, not bad. I taste pomegranate. Chew. Actually, it kind of tastes like gummy bears. Chew. Actually, it kind of tastes like those gummy vitamins my mom used to make me eat when I was too chicken to swallow pills. Chew. You know, it’s kind of losing its flavor. Chew. Hey … it’s chunky. Chew. Oh gross, what are these chunks?  Chew. OK, now it doesn’t taste like anything … but it’s really gooey. Gooey cardboard. Ugh, get it out of my mouth. Swallow. All gone. Thank you, God. Where’s the milk?

In case you couldn’t gather it from reading my innermost thoughts, these things are good at first — they taste much better than they look. But the best way to eat them is probably to chew each bite about twice and then swallow it, because otherwise, it loses its flavor fast, and the only sensation left is the gummyness of the … stuff, whatever it is. Pureed fruit, I guess. Suffice it to say, it’s really not good.

The perks are that they’re (mostly) natural, they’re good for you and they taste good at first. The downside — the whole gooey, melting cardboard thing — kind of outweighs the perks, at least for me.

Oh yeah, and as I’m sure you surmised from the title, my hands still smell like pomegranate. They’re down by my keyboard and I can smell them from … up here. You know, by my face.

Can’t say the fruit bar didn’t leave an impression.

———

Ingredients: Apples, fruit juice concentrate (apple, pomegranate, blueberry, lemon), oligofructose, oat fiber, natural flavor, vegetable juice (black carrot, red cabbage) for color and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
Price: $2.49 at Target.
Pros: The first few chews taste like pomegranate.
Cons: All subsequent chews negate the deliciousness of the first few. You have been warned.





Muffin tops — the healthy way

4 02 2011

The other day, I was wandering through Fry’s searching for unconventional food, when I came upon a treasure trove: the organic section. Whether it’s new or I’ve just been completely oblivious to it until now, I’m not sure, but I’d definitely hit the jackpot. Now, I’m not saying that natural food in general is weird — I love most organic food — but there’s definitely some not-so-normal stuff out there.

Take VitaTops, for instance: muffins that have two-thirds of their muffiny goodness missing, leaving only … a muffin top.

I could make so many jokes. But for your sake, I’ll refrain.

VitaTops are apparently the amputee cousins of VitaMuffins, which are low-calorie (whole) muffins. VitaMuffins have 100 calories. VitaTops have 100 calories. Yet VitaTops are missing the crucial bottom part of the muffin, hence the name.

I’m confused. Did Vitalicious (the company that makes these — I see a “vitamin” theme here) decide to saw off more than half of the muffin and stuff all the calories into the top? What’s the point? Why not give people the whole muffin — or at least cut down the number of calories in the muffin tops?

According to the website, VitaTops are “more convenient to carry and eat on-the-run.” I don’t know … I felt kind of gypped when I paid nearly 6 dollars for a box of muffin tops when I could’ve had whole muffins. Still don’t see the point.

Ah, life’s little mysteries. Despite my indignation at the price, I went ahead and bought the muffin tops — “deep chocolate” flavored ones, since I figured if I was paying that much for pieces of muffins, I might as well get something that sounded tasty.

They’re supposed to be kept frozen, which I guess is less worrisome than them being non-perishable, because it probably means they have fewer preservatives. This morning, I opened the box and took out a muffin top: a nice little individually wrapped frozen puck. Yum.

The package said to heat it up for 18 seconds, so I did. After that, it was a nice little individually wrapped warm puck.

Coincidentally, my boyfriend bought me a chocolate chip muffin last night that I still hadn’t eaten by breakfast, so I put the two side-by-side for comparison’s sake. The real muffin made the puck look really pathetic. If I, in all my 5-foot-3 glory, stood next to Kobe Bryant, it might have the same effect.

Despite its (lack of) size, the muffin top did look good. I bit into it, expecting it to be warm and gooey … and part of it was. But the center was still frozen solid.

18 seconds in the microwave, my foot.

I put it in for another 10, and the results were much better. I took a bite, and then another bite, and then another … and within a minute, it was gone.

Yes, folks, that’s a good sign.

In spite of the slightly ridiculous fact that a VitaTop is only part of a muffin with the same number of calories as a whole muffin, these are still really good. (At least the “deep chocolate” ones are — other flavors include golden corn, banana nut and raisin bran.) Six dollars is slightly pricey for a box of 12, since they’re small, but they make a nutritious morning snack, and they taste like the real thing.

And, since the muffin tops only have 100 calories, if you eat them, you might be able to get rid of that muffin top.

There. I said it.

———

Ingredients: Water, whole wheat flour, organic evaporated cane juice, egg whites, chocolate chips (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, vanilla), cocoa (processed with alkali), soy fiber, erythritol, inulin, dried honey, wheat gluten, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, potassium bicarbonate), fruitrim (grape juice, brown rice syrup), tricalcium phosphate, natural flavor, sea salt, xanthan gum, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, folic acid, iron, biotin and zinc.
Price: $5.69 at Fry’s
Pros:
100 calories; lots of vitamins; tastes good; convenient snack (what with the individual wrapping and all).
Cons: Muffin tops. Just the tops. I’d rather have a whole muffin.





Thanksgiving in January … for breakfast

20 01 2011

I was all set to go out searching today for the perfect food to blog about. Turns out I didn’t have to.

I was rummaging through the pantry in search of dinner when I came across a jumbo box of Pop-Tarts labeled “pumpkin pie.” Apparently my mom bought them earlier today for my sister, who begged and pleaded and gave her puppy-dog eyes.

Score.

So I didn’t even have to go shopping this time around — which makes it seem like I’m lazy or a recluse. Both are probably true.

It almost feels like a cop-out, since I love both pumpkin pie and Pop-Tarts, but hey, I started classes this week — it’s a wonder I’m taking the time away from my hated bio homework to blog at all.

Plus, pumpkin pie and Pop-Tarts, while they make for a great alliteration, don’t necessarily sound like the most delicious combination out there. Nor the most obvious combination — I mean, who eats pumpkin pie for breakfast?  Besides me, I mean.

Kellogg’s does a lot of strange things with their toaster pastries (e.g. flavoring them like strawberry milkshakes), but usually their efforts turn out well (e.g. strawberry-milkshake Pop-Tarts).

But “frosted pumpkin pie” is just a little strange.

Time to give it a try. I ripped open the foil package — which has always frustrated me because they put two pastries inside each package, like they automatically expect you to be a pig and eat both. And if you don’t eat both, you’re forced to find a little baggie to save the second one in, since now you’ve destroyed its packaging to get to the first one. I feel like Pop-Tarts need an announcement on the front of the boxes: “Individually wrapped … sort of.”

I pulled out one pastry (and found a little baggie for the other) and bit into it. Another pet peeve about Pop-Tarts (even though I love them anyway): The crusty edges are always so dry. They need to make crustless Pop-Tarts, like that crustless bread my mom always refused to buy me when I was a kid no matter how much I complained.

Once I found the actual filling, I was able to get a better idea of what the Pop-Tart was supposed to taste like. Well … sort of able to. For as strong as pumpkin-flavored things usually are, this was surprisingly weak. I could definitely taste the spices, but the pumpkin flavor was almost entirely in the aftertaste.

I don’t know why, but that made me kind of sad. Maybe it’s because I’m the kind of person who heaps extra frosting on my cake and prefers my Oreos double-stuffed. But whatever the case, the minuscule amount of filling in the PopTart was really disappointing. Especially because it was supposed to taste like pie. I like pie.

I finished the pastry — which I don’t always do with everything I try, so that’s an indication that it was at least OK. And that’s exactly what it was: not great, but good enough.

I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more filling in these, but maybe that’s just me being picky. If you’re a pumpkin liker and not a pumpkin lover, I’m sure these will work great for you. But if you eat pie for breakfast and you’re expecting these to be a perfect substitute, you should probably just stick to pie.

———

Ingredients: Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate [Vitamin B1], riboflavin [Vitamin B2], folic acid), corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, soybean and palm oil (with TBHQ for freshness), dextrose, sugar, cracker meal, contains 2 percent or less of wheat starch, nonfat milk, salt, pumpkin, maltodextrin, cornstarch, corn cereal, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, monocalcium phosphate), molasses, yellow corn flour, eggs, gelatin, cinnamon, vanilla extract, modified cornstarch, nutmeg, ginger, caramel color, sunflower lecithin, tricalcium phosphate, soy lecithin, cloves, Vitamin A palmate, niacinamide, reduced iron, Yellow #6, pyridoxine, hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Yellow #5, thiamin hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Red #40, folic acid and Blue #1.
Price: $3.42 at Wal-Mart (16 in box)
Pros:
Pumpkin pie … ish. Portable pie, in a way — if you’re a morning-pie person and you hate the fact that you always spill your pie all over yourself on your way to work, these are a good idea.
Cons: Doesn’t really taste like pie. So don’t expect a lot.





Cheddar ‘n bacon, Take 2

15 11 2010

I like to think I never make the same mistake twice. That’s not true, of course, but I like to think it.

When I was wandering through Safeway’s cracker aisle the other day, I though about last week’s Cheddar ‘n Bacon Easy Cheese, which is still sitting in my cupboard. (I was pondering cheese again, yes.) Suddenly, like a sign from the heavens, a box of Ritz Crackerfuls caught my eye. “Cheddar Cheese and Bacon,” the package read — which sounded all too familiar.

I’m not trying these, I thought. They’re just like Easy Cheese on a cracker — gourmet-style.

But then I saw something beautiful on the box: “Real Cheese & Bacon.” That sounded…refreshing. Promising — like it just might have that bacon-burger-on-a-cracker taste I’d hoped for from the Easy Cheese. With a resigned sigh, I plopped the box into my cart.

When I went to open the box, I expected rows of crackers in a plastic container, or maybe brown plastic bags stacked with crackers like regular Ritz boxes have. What I didn’t expect was individual wrapping.

Impressive.

Now the real test: would they taste any better than the Easy Cheese version?

I took a bite, and the answer was a definite yes.

These tasted real. The cheese tasted like cheese (although obviously it’s drier and more powdery than your standard block of cheddar). And the best part? I could taste the bacon.

Real bacon, according to the ingredients. It was beautiful.

I have to say it still didn’t taste like a bacon burger, but that makes sense, seeing as it was missing the burger factor. Come to think of it, adding beef to these might make them even better. But they weren’t bad to begin with.

The crackers are whole grain — not your average Ritz crackers, but probably healthier. From a read-through of the ingredients list, the cheese and bacon are apparently real (though the cheese is made with pasteurized milk — but that’s understandable). And the overall quality in taste is miles above Easy Cheese on a cracker.

Plus, they’re individually wrapped. You can’t go wrong with that.

———

Ingredients:

Unbleached enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate {Vitamin B1}, riboflavin {Vitamin B2}, folic acid), whole grain wheat flour, palm and/or soybean and/or high oleic canola oil, resistant corn maltodextrin, sugar, cheddar cheese powder (pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), maltodextrin, corn syrup solids, semisoft cheeses (pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil, bacon ends (cured with water, salt, sugar, sodium phosphate, sodium ascorbate and sodium nitrate), whey, salt, leavening (calcium phosphate and/or baking soda), partially hydrogenated soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup, whey protein concentrate, lactose, disodium phosphate, natural flavor, citric and lactic acids, soy lecithin, rendered bacon fat and bacon bits (cured with water, salt, sugar, sodium phosphates, sodium ascorbate and sodium nitrate), dry cream (from milk), monosodium phosphate, rosemary extract, green tea extract, cheddar cheese (cultured milk, salt, enzymes, annatto extract color), annatto extract (vegetable color) and sodium caseinate.
Price: $3.79 at Safeway
Pros: Real bacon! Real cheese! Whole grains!
Cons: The ingredient list took up an entire side panel on the box, but at least I can pronounce most of them.





The epitome of American food

7 11 2010

There is no better American invention than the bacon burger. 

When I lived off cafeteria food my freshman year of college, I had a bacon burger nearly every day for lunch. Probably not the healthiest option…but man were they good.

Now, if bacon burgers are on one end of the of unhealthy American food spectrum, the food that lies on the other end can only be one thing: spray cheese.

I grew up calling it Cheez Whiz, but apparently that refers to equally-processed cheese dip and the correct term for Kraft’s spray cheese is Easy Cheese.

Easy indeed. When it comes to pasteurization and processing, you can’t get any more Americanized unless you eat a Chicken McNugget.  Put Velveeta in a toothpaste tube (or a hairspray can), and you’ve got Easy Cheese. Yum, yum.

When I saw the section of Easy Cheese in the grocery store, I almost passed it by. Everyone knows what aerosol cheese tastes like — no need to rehash it. But next to the regular flavors — Cheddar, American and Sharp Cheddar — the word “bacon” caught my eye (as it usually does under any circumstances).

Cheddar ‘n Bacon Easy Cheese. Would it be enough to balance out my disgust for spray cheese with my love for bacon burgers? I was about to find out.

When I got home, I frantically searched the pantry for Ritz crackers (because everyone knows processed cheese and Ritz go together like peanut butter and jelly), but all I could find were Town House Flipsides. Close enough.

I put (er, squirted?) what I thought was a fairly standard amount of cheese onto a cracker, covering one side. And then I ate it. 

My first impression was that the texture was really not all that pleasant. If you took away the flavor, I would have been chewing sawdust and paste.

But the flavor was the point, so that’s what I focused on as I ate it. (In fact, I’ll bet no one has ever eaten cheese on a cracker as contemplatively as I did.) By the time I was finished, I felt…conflicted.

If the can hadn’t informed me that it was supposed to be bacon-flavored, I don’t think I would have known. I could definitely taste the cheddar, and I tasted something saltier mixed in, but I wouldn’t have been able to identify it without the label.

I suppose it was disappointing more than anything. Spray cheese is spray cheese, but if you add bacon to it (or to anything), I’ll be more inclined to buy it. However, if I can barely tell it’s supposed to taste like bacon, it quickly loses its appeal.

Overall, the promise of bacon wasn’t enough to outweigh the fact that processed cheese is just…not good. There are much more terrible foods out there, but I can’t imagine buying this for any reason other than as a cheap, quasi-healthy snack. (After all, it does contain protein.)

In the end, bacon or no bacon, anything that has to be described as a “pasteurized cheese snack” is simply…

——— 

Ingredients: Cheddar cheese (milk, cheese culture, salt, enzymes), water, whey protein concentrate, canola oil, milk protein concentrate, contains less than 2% of sodium citrate, sodium phosphate, calcium phosphate, salt, lactic acid, sorbic acid as a preservative, natural flavor, yeast extract, monosodium glutamate, tomato powder, bacon (cured with water, salt, sugar, sodium phosphate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrate), spice, lactose, dried onions, apocarotenal (color), annatto (color), artificial color and caramel color.
Price: $3.50 at Safeway
Pros: Bacon. Kind of.
Cons: It’s spray cheese no matter how you swing it, and the list of ingredients is longer than my grocery list.








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