Queen of Farts Hot Sauce
Submitted by Nevin Martell

I’ll admit that I didn’t buy Queen of Farts Hot Sauce for anything more than its novelty. The ingredient list wasn’t consulted, nor did I consider whether it would go better on chicken or beef. I naïvely purchased the sauce because I thought my wife would get a kick out of it. Who doesn’t love a fart joke?
 
It turns out that there’s a huge difference between an undirected joke about flatulence and one that is focused on the actions of a single recipient. So, instead of getting a chuckle when I presented my wife with the bottle, I was greeted with her self-described “stone face.”
 
In that instant, I felt my years of carefully curated cool ooze out of me. (All that time spent pretending to care about Radiohead albums after OK Computer—gone!). Instead, I was suddenly a vision of my father with his dated, somewhat inappropriate humor. He would have found the Queen of Farts hilarious. My wife and my father’s ex-wife? Not so much.
 
For weeks after my blunder, I mentally reviewed every joke that came out of my mouth, scanning it for possible dad-ish elements. Of course, this threw off my timing and often my quips would emerge after the conversation had moved on to another topic. This made me seem and feel even less funny, which only reinforced my dread that I was turning into my father, even though I was only 36.
 
The sauce remained unopened and was consigned to the back of our Lazy Susan behind a tin of black Hawaiian sea salt and a Costco-sized container of Saigon cinnamon. Sometimes I’d come across it when rooting around for an ingredient during one of my baking experiments, but I never dared reintroduce it as a prop in a sure-to-fail standup routine. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to throw it out; that just seemed wasteful.
 
A couple of months later, some friends decided to host what they dubbed a Seis De Mayo Hot Sauce Picnic. This was a miracle for me, because it meant that I would be able to both gracefully dispose of the hot sauce and I wouldn’t need to run around trying to find a cool contribution for the party.
 
I didn’t announce that I was the owner of the Queen of Farts Hot Sauce when we arrived at the get-together, I just slipped it onto the table where a couple of dozen slender glass bottles with names like Satan’s Rage and Dave’s Gourmet Insanity Hot Sauce already sat. To be honest, I wasn’t worried as much about the name as I was about the taste. We were hanging out with some pretty devout foodie types and I didn’t want to be the guy that brought the lame-sounding contribution that also happened to be awful. 
 
My wife and I grabbed cold beers and made up dinner plates from the informal buffet before retiring the living room, where people were testing out various hot sauces. I had just bit into a carefully constructed taco, when I heard the phrase I’d been dreading, “Who brought the Queen of Farts?”
 
I stopped chewing, hoping my pause might stop time and stave off the oncoming embarrassment. I could feel the blush rising in my cheeks as I tried to construct a plausible excuse for my hot sauce choice—“I’m a huge Lewis Carroll fan”; “I’m friends with the artist who designed the label”; “Isn’t it called Queen of Arts?”
 
The guy across the room staring intently at the bottle continued, “It’s really, really good. There are all these wonderful tropical fruit notes going on and a nice fiery finish. Props to whoever brought this.”
 
I swallowed hastily and half-raised my hand. “That’s mine.” 
 
“Amazing stuff,” my new best friend continued, dumping a hefty amount of the gassy monarch’s special sauce on his tacos. “Plus, it’s called Queen of Farts. Hilarious.”
 
He chuckled as he set the bottle down on the table.
 
I smiled and looked over at my wife to make sure she was catching the exchange, “I’m glad you think so.”
 
“You can’t go wrong with a good fart joke,” he said.
 
I cleared my throat, “Actually…” 

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Long Lake Pickled Eggs
Submitted by Pete Goodrich

The noble egg. Served poached, scrambled, fried and boiled, either soft or hard; the egg has long been a good source of protein while being low in fat and the dreaded carbohydrate. And what better way to serve the egg than pickled?  

I have named several: poached, scrambled, fried, and soft or hard boiled. Pickling eggs was only ever necessary in olden, frontier times. Before refrigeration was readily available. These are not our times. In modern society, pickling an egg should be seen as some sort of cruel joke at worst, or an amusing prank for residents of freshmen dormitories.

When you open the vacuum sealed jar of pickled eggs, when the first vinegary scent wafts across your nose one’s first instinct might be to recoil. That is the correct instinct. The aroma makes one ask him or herself, “Did this go bad? How can I even tell? What if they always smell this way?” All legitimate questions. Once you fish one candidate from the stinking brine, you will heft it in your hand and become bemused at the odd weight of the egg. For fun, boil a normal egg separately and compare from hand to hand. You may wonder how the pickling process lent this egg the density of lead?’  

You are right to do so.  

You will take your first tentative bite and chew reluctantly. It still tastes of egg, yes. But it’s somehow drier than a normal, hard-boiled egg. Drier, but with a faint tang of vinegar that no egg was ever missing. Where on a normal hard-boiled egg the whites are tender and soft, these are rubbery and taste of death. Where in a normal hard-boiled egg the yolk is rich and dry on your tongue, the yolk of the pickled egg is simply dry on your tongue. You look down at the jar, where you have eleven more nuggets of tough, eggy sorrow lay dead beneath the surface of the vinegar. They don’t even float. Do hard-boiled eggs float? You cannot remember.

Try not to think of how thick the layer of dust upon these eggs was when you first purchased it. You begin to think of how old these eggs might actually be. Were these jarred in my parents day? My grandparents?  

The jar has suggestions: “Try some on a chefs salad!” “Makes a great addition to potato salad!” The jar is lying to you. Nobody does that. Do not be the first!

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Progresso’s Vegetable Classics Tomato Basil Soup
Submitted by Kristin Kenney

I am confused. The can I brought home from Albertsons led me to believe that tonight I would dine on a “classic” vegetable soup, but this syrupy mess in my bowl tastes more like cough medicine. Intrigued, I glance over the can’s label once more, hoping to find some clue as to what exactly happened to the tomatoes and basil I was promised. Though I am heartened by the NO MSG callout, I’m still unenlightened as to why my tomato soup tastes more like sugar than vegetables. I know where the answer lies—that terrifying list of chemicals masquerading as ingredients on the back of the can, but I haven’t worked up the courage to take a look yet.

Spoon trembling, I try another bite. I hate wasting food, and, alas, my status as a college student means that this alone is my dinner. Sure, I have some nuts and assorted fruit lying about, but I cherish my vegetables, and dammit, I have to study later. I don’t have time for this. I gaze forlornly at the can’s graphic representation of the bite I’m about to airplane into my mouth: a brick-reddish spoonful of “tomato” soup, be-speckled with what I assume to be black fragments of “basil.” This is not promising.

Again, I flinch as this poor excuse for soup slides down my throat. There must have been a mistake; I cannot imagine anything tasting this unvegetable-like passing Progresso’s quality control. Giving in, I flip the empty can over and glance first at the nutrition panel. 14 grams of sugar per serving. In eating this can of soup, which contains two servings, I have consumed the equivalent of an entire Snickers’ bar worth of sugar. 28 astonishing grams of sugar in a can of what Progresso deems “healthy” soup. I understand adding a dash of sugar to combat the natural acidity of tomatoes, but this is ridiculous. 

For a brief, glorious moment, I remember that fruits (because, like it or not, that is really what a tomato is) contain plenty of natural sugars. And so my eyes move down to the feared ingredient list, where I see that, after tomato puree and water, sugar is listed as the third of 15 ingredients, meaning there’s more sugar than 12 other ingredients. My heart sinks. You are not tomato soup, Progresso’s Vegetable Classics Tomato Basil. You are a sad can of what I must assume is unfrozen tomato ice cream. 

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Newtons Fruit Thins
Submitted by Jeremy Berger

I thought I knew where to find Fig Newtons, poking around amongst the cereal bars, the familiar names: Nature Valley Crunchy Granola, Kellogg’s Nutri-Grain, Kashi TLC. Aisle 2. My back cozy against the bread. New York. All those childhood years it never occurred to me that the jammy little neutron star of snacks was anything but healthy. I knew where I needed to go.

Nabisco’s Fig Newton has always been a case of ambiguous identity. “A cookie is just a cookie,” the claim ran, “but a Newton is fruit and cake.” Jekyll and Hyde. “The cookie that thinks it’s a fruit.” Renfield. The cookie aisle is rich with information. Deep in the center aisles the experience becomes loose and a little unhinged: there are more ingredients and they are harder to pronounce; dot-eyed elves shill goodies; pleasure and excess win out over sustenance. The cookies are across from the sodas and next to the candy, not far from beer, chips, trash bags and single-use plates.

It’s here I find Newtons Fruit Thins, a new Newton, news of which brought me here in the first place. The package says “a thin, crispy cookie baked with real fruit and 8 grams of whole grains per serving,” but to me they look like hardtack with a few bits of fig and raisin. Sure enough, figs play a minor supporting role in the Fruit Thin: instead of the second most abundant ingredient, they’ve been reduced to number six, behind whole wheat flour and rolled oats. More fat and calories than the original. Neither chewy nor jammy. A product of lean times and resources stretched thin.

I used to flip over a Fig Newton and smile because it looked like a mouth full of figs grinning at the possibility of being both fruit and cake, snack and treat. With Fruit Thins, I sense a grim connection to history and a message wrought in 2D and clear: TOUGH TIMES AHEAD, PREPARE TO ENDURE.

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Arizona Arnold Palmer Lite Half & Half
Submitted by Philip Drotleff

The first sip of this golf-themed beverage is actually quite a refreshing experience. The down-home southern goodness of iced tea mingles with the summery tartness of lemonade and creates an unbeatable flavor combination. Not since chocolate and peanut butter were introduced has there been a partnership that just feels so right.

As I savor the head rush that accompanies the first sip, I can almost feel the mid-afternoon sun on my face as I leisurely drink Arnold Palmer Lite Half & Half on a veranda overlooking a beautifully groomed lawn in some idyllic southern estate where people do not worry about money. My beautiful new wife and I have matching sweaters knotted around our necks. We play tennis most days, and on weekends I play golf with my equally rich and good-looking friends. We trade stock tips and advice on getting over jet lag or interacting with hired help.

The freezing rain beating on the window wakes me from my daydream. I am slumped in a chair in a dark room surrounded with the crumpled foil wrappers of about thirty chocolate Chanukah coins. I pick up my can of Arizona Arnold Palmer Lite Half & Half only to find it empty. It takes all the strength I can muster just to walk to the bathroom and brush my teeth before going to bed. Too tired to even weep, I fall asleep alone between cold, indifferent sheets. The next day I buy three more cans, accompanied by some candy bars and a bottle of cheap vodka.

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Trader Joe’s Mildly Spiced Vegetable Burritos
Submitted by Carly Fisher

Wandering the yuppie-packed aisles of Trader Joe’s can be an intimidating experience when you only have $150 to your name and so many tempting items at your fingertips. Tarte d’Alsace, Chicken Serenada, and Reduced Guilt Filet of Sole call my name, but it is only one that wins my affection: I turn to you, Trader Joe’s Mildly Spiced Vegetable Burrito.

The true zeitgeist of the recession, these burritos appeal to my innate sense of desperation. At around $2.50 for two burritos, you get a real bang for your buck—leaving plenty of spare change for the standard purchase of $3 Chuck Shaw. As advertised, the burritos are mildly spiced, which adds a slight punch of color to an otherwise unfulfilling and loveless life. Don’t fool yourself into believing these burritos are meant for sharing (couples don’t buy microwave burritos), so come hungry!

It would probably be in your best interest to use an oven to heat up the burritos to avoid the watery mess of corn, black beans, and tomatoes. But really, who does that? Instead: open the bottle of wine, heat up the burritos to an acceptable temperature, and then start writing. You have a whole lot of soul searching to do and only 300 calories to fuel those tears until your unemployment runs out, so time to get crackin’!

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Ralph and Charlie’s Carrot Everyday Beverage
Submitted by M.R. Easton

Last Saturday, I walked into a bodega thirsty and in possession of my senses, and by God, I walked out with a losing five-dollar scratch ticket and a bottle of agricultural waste.

I’d gone in looking for a sports drink, but a bottle of Ralph and Charlie’s carrot juice called to me from the refrigerated case. It was named for two guys, like Ben and Jerry’s. It was made here in Brooklyn. And the morphology was vaguely Nantuckety Nectarish, a predator mimicking its prey. 

I bought it, and, on impulse, a scratch ticket too. “Is it a good one?” I asked. “Inshallah.” God did not will it, but paying five dollars for a small piece of cardboard was not my worst purchase that day. 

Out on the sidewalk, I unscrewed the wide mouth cap and drank deeply. It had an unpleasant texture, and none of the rich, dirty taste of fresh carrot juice. In fact, it had almost no flavor at all beyond an odd, sweet sourness. Ralph and Charlie had found a way to capture the very worst part of vegetable juice, the feel of cellulose clinging to your teeth, without any of the flavor. (Or nutrition: “Not a significant source of cholesterol, sodium, protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, calcium and iron.”)

I now noticed the absence of the word juice from the bottle. On the front the contents were described twice, though with industry-insider vagueness, as an “everyday beverage.” The back was more specific, but still opaque: it was a “vegetable and pomace beverage,” and a “carrot drink.” 

A suspicion formed. 

Perhaps, as in the best works of suspense, you solved the mystery just moments before it is revealed: it turns out that pomace is what is left when you squeeze the juice out of something. Not only is it not juice, it is the opposite of juice. 

Google-image “pomace”; you will see loose wet piles, scattered pellets, and handfuls of dark roughage. The accompanying text explains that when not discarded outright, pomace is used as compost, cattle feed, or biofuel. It is generally not people food. 

There are exceptions: you can ferment grape pomace into a weak wine that Romans once gave to slaves. It’s illegal to sell this wine in the EU, although you can distill it to make grappa, a perfectly respectable product. You can use the pulp and skins of olives to make low-grade olive oil. But you have to use a lot of chemicals, and the vigilant EU pomace-keepers won’t let you call it olive oil.

And if it’s carrot pomace, well, apparently you can put it in a bottle spangled with pictures of fluffy white clouds and crisp orange carrots, and sell it to idiots as an “everyday beverage.” But it must be a different idiot every day. Thirsty as I was, I couldn’t even finish the bottle, let alone commit to making it part of my daily routine.

Ralph and Charlie’s website helpfully notes: “A healthy lifestyle starts with a glass of carrot juice every day.” That may be true, but they are not allowed to call their product carrot juice on the bottle. But it would probably be less market-savvy, and less true, to state, “A healthy lifestyle starts with a glass of carrot pomace every day.” Or even: “A healthy lifestyle starts with a glass of everyday beverage, every day.” 

The website continues in the third person: “‘This package is unique and straight-forward: you know what you are buying once you see the product,’ says the marketer.”

But the marketer’s brief comment only highlights what he hopes to hide. You most likely do not know what you are buying, unless you were already pomace-curious and have done your homework. And, perhaps freed from the stringent laws governing the bottle’s label, the website never drops the P-word. 

To be fair, Ralph and Charlie have found a way to keep waste out of the landfill, while creating an affordable, all-natural juice-like product. Not all of their drinks are pomace-based, and perhaps the other flavors are better. But for their carrot-flavored everyday beverage, Ralph and Charlie have gone after the wrong market segment. Instead of targeting for the finicky human market, they should have gone for livestock, compost heaps, and the coveted 18-34 millimeter biofuel-pellet-making machines.

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Neurogasm
Submitted by Jonathan Holley

There’s nothing wrong with the humdrum: some people are content with plain turkey sandwiches, rusty tap water, and vapid humping; but if you’re the kind of werewolf who lives for scorching curries and intense rail-making, a 14.5 ounce serving of Neurogasm “nutritional supplement” might just be your optimum drink accessory. It’s a lightly carbonated fruit concoction that’s surprisingly un-disgusting for something bottled in what appears to be a sex toy for rhinos. Each bottle “provides playful energy,” “supports healthy circulation,” and critically, “helps support the pleasure response.” 35 Calories. 

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Big Gay Ice Cream Choinkwich
Submitted by Shakira Andrea Sison

If you’ve ever wanted to attend Mass at a Catholic Church naked and eating a hotdog on Good Friday, then the indulgent treat of your fantasies is now a slobbering reality. The Choinkwich not only pairs the delectable flavors of smoked pork fat with chocolate and cream, it is also served from a truck that colorfully advertises activities that already destroyed civilization even before you began to contemplate sacrilege during Lent.

The Choinkwich is a chocolate ice cream sandwich made with… love (of the equal kind). A crispy, caramelized strip of bacon is nestled between layers of chocolate cartwheel cookie and chocolate soft serve ice cream. If you’re lucky it is served to you by the very cute and charming innovator of everything Big Gay Ice Cream, Doug Quint, who is also happens to be professional bassoon player! Now if that isn’t all kinds of sinful and creamy, then just spit me out and dip me in Nutella, another staple Doug uses to line cones at this infamous food truck that also recently opened its first store in the East Village in Manhattan.

The popular treat craved by bacon-chocolate junkies is such a mysterious presence that it is a secret. It does not appear on any menus or specials posted each day. One searching for the mix of salt, smoke, meat, frozen milk and cocoa must learn to ask for it on the sly. And if one is so unfortunate as reach the front of the line after a thirty minute wait and end up with no Choinkwich, there is always the equally seductive mix of vanilla, dulce de leche, rock salt and chocolate dip, very aptly named for the images it conjures once it meets thy puckering gay lips: The Salty Pimp.

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Tostitos Hint of Jalapeño
Submitted by Joe McGonegal

I can’t believe what I’m biting into—pure white corn, natural oil, a dash of salt. And now, layered on top, a smear of green, salty goodness: jalapeño powder. I lay you, powder down, one by one on my tongue and revel in this light and healthy treat.

Half a bag later, the wife still not home from work, I get that sinking feeling again, one I haven’t known since my schoolboy years. Unfamiliar at first, it comes back like an old nagging injury.

It’s the heartburn I used to get, eating seven-ounce bags of Cool Ranch on the stadium steps.

Congratulations, Tostitos, you had me at “whole grains.” But you’re a whore with angel wings, aren’t you, Doritos dressed in church clothes.

After years of putting on superior airs as I served you to dinner guests and friends, thinking you the refined, grown-up chip, I’ve been duped. I started on the Tortilla Chips during a health kick years ago and didn’t look back. Sure, I matured like everyone else into the Restaurant Style Blue Corn chips and flirted with the Dipping Strips!™ at game time. Then came the sly rhetoric of flavors. Witchcraft. The writing was on the grease-smeared bag. I was just too daft to read beyond “Hint of Lime” and “Hint of Jalapeño.”

But point, set, match: I’m basically eating Doritos again. I turn to your “nutritional” information to fact-check what’s already clear. 140 calories, 60 from fat. Identical to every other salty treat that’s led me down the rabbit hole.

Oh Tostitos, we were good once—could’ve been great. Maybe it’s time to try pretzels again.

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Trident Vitality Rejuve Gum
Submitted by Gregory Collins

An over-the-top, industrially and graphically designed silver box with a flip-up lid. Cigarettes for women? European chocolates? A lost prop from a Bourne movie? You just don’t know. Way too much Helvetica. You scour the fine print and discover it is gum. Impressive. You did not see that coming. You open it. Flashy foil and clear plastic inner packaging puts you in an absurdly Dyson state of mind. Health. Simplicity. Understated affluence. The mint sprig on the packaging has a drop shadow so you start salivating like a Pavlovian St. Bernard thinking a mojito explosion is imminent. Then, you bite down. Your senses gridlock. Massive confusion. Everything is watermelon. The juice is watermelon. Your tongue is watermelon. Your minty fresh exhalation is watermelon. You take it out of your mouth, hoping for visual clues. But there are none. There is only watermelon.

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Amy’s Organic Lentil Soup
Submitted by Amy Jennings

If you’ve read the Old Testament, perhaps to increase your chances of finishing the New York Times’ Sunday Puzzle, you may remember that Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup. If I were illogical, I’d say that soup must have been Amy’s Organic.

Heat some up on your lunch break and let its sophisticated bouquet ensconce your cubicle, transporting you to Prehistoric Cyprus whence the lentil came. Be sure to turn the dial on your cubicle time machine to just past the Aceramic1 Neolithic Era, because you’ll be wanting a whole bowlful of this stuff.

As the genetically unmodified aroma of lentils permeates the air, piquing the noses of coworkers feeding on composites of refined grain and trans fat, things could take a turn for the judgmental. Simply point out that the lentil is the least pretentious, by weight, of any legume and return to Cyprus for an afternoon of spindling and animal husbandry. Or let the soup take you to the 17th-Century BC and share a can with Esau. While you’re at it, ask him for a 4-letter word for the land of his descendants.

1 Non-pottery producing.

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Assorted Mini Jelly Fruit Slices Kosher L’Pesach
Submitted by Laura Rubenstein

Early spring in New England is a somewhat dithering affair. The sky is a pale gray blue, rubbery and oxygen-less, like the lips of the recently drowned. Along the horizon, where the heavens skirt along the curvature of the earth, a faint stripe of neon cerulean pulses: the promise of the seasons to come. But woe! While the days of Salvation and Hope may be nigh, they are not quite nigh enough. It is easy to forget that the monotony of these dreary days serves as a harbinger of the divine, signaling the imminent arrival of something Biblical. I speak not of the feast days of St. Julian of Anazarbus, St. Megingaud or St. Patrick, not of the April return of one J. Christ bearing Peeps. I speak of Passover.

Here is another way you can tell Passover is coming: when a box of Assorted Mini Jelly Fruit Slices Kosher L’Pesach shows up on the shelf of your local food emporium.

Assorted Mini Jelly Fruit Slices Kosher L’Pesach come in four colors, all equally unnatural and mildly toxic looking. Were I to construct a Venn diagram of a strawberry and a tube of cadmium pigment, the red Jelly Fruit Slic[e] Kosher L’Pesach would be firmly entrenched in the center, like Moses in his Nile-bound basket. So nauseatingly sugary are these vile candies of affliction that merely calling them to being in my mind’s eye causes a pronounced ache in my bicuspids. In the interest of journalistic integrity, I force myself to sample a slice of “lemon.” My teeth leave track marks in the gelatin (a texture similar to the form I imagine candied asp might take). I examine the two distinct impressions made by my central incisors; I am both repulsed and intrigued by how my Assorted Mini Jelly Fruit Slic[e] Kosher L’Pesach now resembles a fossilized relic dug up from the shadowy earth beneath a Sphinx. Unable and unwilling to sample another flavor, I throw the box Assorted Mini Jelly Fruit Slices Kosher L’Pesach into the garbage. Because they are a holy candy, I counterbalance my disposal of them with a selfless wish for mankind. I squeeze my eyes tight and pray to Pharoah that the box of Assorted Mini Jelly Fruit Slices Kosher L’Pesach eventually makes its way into the hands of more appreciative audiences: the peripatetic alcohol who lives in the apartment below mine; the colony of hardy squirrels who inhabit the dumpster behind my building; or Osiris, god of the Underworld.

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Pringles Xtreme Screamin’ Dill Pickle
Submitted by Matt Craine

I have recently been feeling that my taste buds are not being tested on a regular basis. At least not regularly enough to develop any kind of trending results or future projection of taste bud performance, let alone any sort of chart or graph. As such, I was tickled to find a food-like product that promised to do just that: Pringles Xtreme Screamin’ Dill Pickle.

While the entire line of four Pringles Xtreme Potato Crisps demands that you “Test Your Taste Buds,” I decided to refer to the handy infographs on the cans which presents a thermometeresque gauge of what I can only assume to be heat. When compared to the graphic located on the Ragin’ Cajun, Blastin’ Buffalo Wing, and Sizzlin’ Sweet BBQ cans, which are clearly marked by varying sizes of flames to correspond to the relative hotness of the powder-coating of the crisps, the prospective snacker is met with a conundrum upon viewing the corresponding graphic on the Screamin’ Dill Pickle can. Rather than a red fluid representing heat being at varying levels on the various crisps’ cans, the Screamin’ Dill Pickle can provides the snacker with a green thermometeresque design with symbols not easily recognized or related to any known scale of measurement. One is then led to the conclusion that this indicates the crisps’ level of pickle-ness. This presents a half-full meter, which, some might say, does not equate to a pickle-ness that could be called “screamin’” but I decided to test the old buds anyway.

I did so for several reasons—primarily, I wanted to develop my own sense of pickle-ness measurement, and starting in the middle seemed to be the best strategy. Secondarily, since Screamin’ Dill Pickle sounds like a Mississippi Delta Roots Blues guitarist/singer. Additionally, the can presents dill pickle spears flying out towards the snacker that one must assume are, in fact, screamin’ as they fly and finally because the entire Xtreme line promises that the crisps “…aren’t for the faint of heart” and if the snacker chooses to “brave one bite…[they’ll] be hooked on the aggressive taste that won’t quit.”

They were somewhere between OK and not that good. They didn’t taste like dill pickles, let alone screamin’ ones. More like Pringles brined in dill pickle juice that somehow retained their shape and crispness. To be fair, I did try eating them using many of the suggested methods from Pringles commercials: biting from one crisp, shoving anywhere from one to ten in my mouth at once, flipping them like coins into my mouth, and, of course, the ubiquitous “duck-billing” method. I found the taste to indeed be aggressive; I found the taste to indeed not quit. However I do not feel that they adequately tested my taste buds, or get me hooked, or gave me any eye-opening sense of how future pickle-ness could be measured, without the aid of experts and a green thermometeresque device.

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Trader Joe’s Gummy Tummies
Submitted by Bradley Philbert

I can’t afford both healthcare and a new Xbox, so I have no choice but to play games on my laptop, which limits my choices and feels generally slummy. I’m only now catching up to the Left 4 Dead franchise. My first day-off session lasted seven hours, until I realized that my girlfriend would be home in 40 minutes and I hadn’t cleaned the house or shopped for groceries.

Sweeping through Trader Joe’s in a daze, I imagined each Friday-afternoon shopper lunging at me with a taste for my soft brains and rich, warm blood. Kneecapping the undead with an assault rifle had been so satisfying that I skipped lunch. Hungry, with just raw turkey and two types of unwashed lettuce in my reusable tote, I caved at checkout and bought a bag of Gummy Tummies, ripe from the impulse cubby nearest my register. But when I got them to the car, they weren’t simple penguin chews as I expected. Instead, in my quivering hand I held translucent, poorly-rendered anthropomorphic gummies—their bellies, and sometimes feet or faces, full to bursting with pink and green gel.

I bit into one and watched it bleed out. Viscous, sweet—infectious, even. I tore into more and more in a half hour of frantic cleaning back home. Cherry and lime and Febreeze came together, a primal panic of scents and flavors. I craved not brains, but insulin. If man boobs are a sign of zombification, quarantine me now. Before it’s too late.

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Brown Peanut Butter Sprinkle Noodles
Submitted by Jacob Horn

I’m going through a phase in my life that I feel many others have experienced. It’s known as your 20s. This time is spent penniless and hungry, dismantling any scruples you may have had towards expiration dates and funny-looking spots on fruit. Escapism is not sought by watching The National Geographic Channel or The History Channel, but with the Food Network. Belief is suspended every time a perfectly roasted chicken appears onscreen. Everyone that I live with in my house seeks solace in the heavenly images presented by our goddess, Rachel Ray.

There is a policy in the house known as “No Name, Fair Game.” Basically, if you’re foolish enough not to brand every single food item with your name it’s up for grabs. Unattended pizza boxes are the first victims, followed closely by freshly prepared soups and potato chips.

But we’re not all savages, as evidenced by the “Fair Game Shelf.” Everything on this shelf is up for grabs, allowing hungry tenants the opportunity to cook what they wish with the limited (yet free) resources provided by the “Fair Game Shelf.” This humanitarian aid-providing shelf works well in theory but struggles to become fully realized. Instead of being stocked with anything remotely edible, its contents usually only include brown sugar and saran wrap.

Undeterred by the anemic choice of ingredients, my roommate decided to concoct a dish fit for our precious Food Network. The meal involved a simple base of spaghetti noodles basted in peanut butter with a hint of brown sugar. Sprinkles were added strictly for decoration. A world of unbearable sweetness existed in that first bite. Brown sugar and sprinkles were indistinguishable from each other and the peanut butter only added to it. The noodles didn’t even make a cameo in the taste department; they were merely a vehicle to hold the cavity-inducing paste. Seconds were out of the question. Swallowing was undesired.

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Annie’s Aged Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese
Submitted by Adam Rothbarth

I was at Target with my girlfriend, who was shopping for toiletries and groceries. Me, I’m admittedly too eccentric to buy food at Target, but I occasionally indulge her and go slummin’ at the place. She was looking at the macaroni isle, an area that I knew full well to stay far away from, as it would open old psychological wounds. My parents divorced when I was five, and in the subsequent ten years, my father rarely endeavored to cook something more complicated than macaroni and cheese. Everyone knows that children between the ages of five and fifteen are the world’s greatest champions of this dish, which is why it was that much more tragic that I was turned off to macaroni after many years of my father’s ill-fated attempts at turning it into a dish resembling what my mother made when I was at her house. Often, he would buy the Kraft brand, but occasionally he would be feeling crafty and try to make some variant on macaroni and cheese, usually resulting in overcooked spaghetti noodles smothered in butter, pepper and salt.

My girlfriend, upon noticing a “great deal” on some “awesome macaroni,” attempted to talk me into trying Annie’s Aged Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese. Supposedly it was organic, healthy, and good for the environment. All I saw on the back of the box was the image of my younger self, sneaking off to buy some M&M’s at the laundromat down the street after engaging in a hearty plate of my father’s macaroni—or, if I was lucky—butter noodles.

I paused, considering the consequences of not consulting my analyst before making the purchase. A combination of guilt, curiosity, and budgeting concerns caused me to temporarily lapse consciousness, and the next thing I remember I was leaving Target with a box of Annie’s Aged Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese.

It sat on my shelf for many weeks, until one day, when, after a long morning of classes and rehearsals, I returned home from school famished. It seemed to me that my only two options for lunch were to either defrost some chicken, or to cook the macaroni. After the long mental debate that ensued, I ended up cooking the macaroni. I decided that it would be important to cook some vegetables to add to the macaroni, in order to fool my eyes and mouth into believing that I was, in fact, trying an exotic new dish instead of indulging in the very meal that had cost me thousands of dollars of therapy over the past six years.

I ate the macaroni. It was delicious. Then, I called my father and forgave him for ruining my life.

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Southern Tier Choklat Imperial Stout
Submitted by Barry Grass

Oh, c’mon! That is what I exclaimed out loud, at a bar in Kansas City called Flying Saucer, when I first smelled this inky glass of ridiculously-strong-scented-candle-from-a-novelty-items-catalog-smelling beer. Holy balls does this beer have an assertive bouquet. Imperial Stouts should have a healthy dose of chocolate flavor, but this beer is like fermented fudge. Chocolate—oh, the unrelenting chocolate—grabs hold of every nose hair I have. Within the first five seconds of pouring this beer my fingers instinctively begin to locate DENTIST’S OFFICE in my phone’s address book. It doesn’t smell “bittersweet” as the label proclaims its Belgian chocolate nibs to be. Instead it smells like semi-sweet chocolate chips and Hershey’s chocolate syrup, with a hint of chocolate-flavor Dole pudding. It is very chocolaty. Bracingly, cloyingly sweet. Where’s the malted barley? Where’s the anything-that-isn’t-chocolate? This is a cartoon of a beer. Utterly ridiculous. Does anyone here have an insulin reader? Do my friends know who my general practitioner is? This is saccharine.

The taste is only minutely less absurd. I love chocolate milk, but I wouldn’t consider chocolate milk to make good beer. Choklat tastes like chocolate ice cream and alcohol sweetness. Petrol fumes waft from the back of my throat up to my nostrils, and they are unwelcome (even if they might interrupt the onset of diabetes). This is one of those beers that seems artificially boozy; its high Alcohol By Volume of 11% is unnecessary. A lower ABV would serve the beer. The mouthfeel is the finest quality of Choklat. The thickness of the mouthfeel makes it seem like you’re pouring brownie batter down your throat. Only a notorious sweet tooth could love this. Southern Tier Choklat is straight up enamel erasing. I feel like I’ve eaten an entire box of Russell Stover assorted candies with a couple of shots of booze to top it off. This beer makes me feel like I am the character Cathy from the comic strip of the same name.

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Grapples
Submitted by Matthew Wolfe

“We have a new item!” exclaimed the sign in the produce aisle. “Grapples! Crunches like an apple, tastes like a grape! 4 for $3.99!”

I watched a dozen or so shoppers pause and subject this new item to serious scrutiny. Based on their faces, which bore expressions ranging from clement confusion to naked horror, the Grapple’s arrival in their local supermarket was, like the arrival of any strange new neighbor, an unwelcome one.

The Grapple is an ordinary Gala apple infused with the taste of grapes. Patrons who examined its package closely learned that the Grapple contains natural and artificial grape flavors, is produced in the U.S. using apples meeting or exceeding the standard of “extra fancy,” and is the subject of a pending patent. What they didn’t learn, because the package didn’t say, is how the hell all that grape flavor got in there. This represents a high mystery, as the Grapple’s smooth, titian skin, which any foreign essence would presumably have needed to breach, remains wholly intact and unblemished. This alone makes the Grapple kind of frightening. At least with genetically modified produce you know, in a general way, what’s been done to it. Fruits transformed through sleight of hand offer no such certainty.

Selling the public on Grapples may start with making sure everyone is on the same page with regards to its pronunciation. I contend that the logical pronunciation of “Grapple” is grapple—it is, after all, a variety of apple—but the Grapple’s marketing team insists otherwise. Everywhere on the package that the word “Grapple” appears, the letter “a” is topped by a line. Although easily mistaken for a graphic flourish, this line is actually a macron, the diacritical mark used to indicate a long vowel sound. Also, right below the “ple” portion of the “Grapple” logo is the unambiguous edict, "’Say “Grape-l.’” I’d argue that a more memorable tagline would be “Grapple: It Rhymes With ’Papal!” But, then again, what I don’t know about marketing could fill whole books.

To be fair, peddling dubious fruit in crappy economic times is no easy chore. As a ploy to reel in the morbidly curious, the makers of Grapples are advertising a special promotion in which anyone who sends in two Grapple UPC codes receives an official Grapple soccer ball. This offer is illustrated by an enormous photo of a fierce-faced youngster booting the ever-living shit out of a bright purple sphere stamped with the Grapple logo. Seeing this, I dutifully loaded two packs into my shopping basket. It only occurred to me later that anyone who brings a lilac-colored ball onto a soccer field is just begging to be slide tackled.

Waiting in the checkout line, I asked the sulking clerk whether she’d tried the Grapples yet. She looked confused, so I showed her the package.

“Lord no,” she hissed, jerking back. “I don’t eat wrong food.”

Given its unnatural origins, I expected the Grapple to taste less like grapes than “grape,” that bogus flavor found in cheap candy and children’s cough medicine. But the batch of Grapples I sampled just tasted like inferior Galas—a little pale, a little cloying. Had I not known otherwise, I never would have guessed I was munching on a fruit outré enough to merit its own portmanteau.

I wolfed down eight Grapples while staring out my apartment window, watching the snow lash my Rust Belt city’s forlorn downtown. I’m hoping to receive my soccer ball by the first big thaw.

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Chili Nail Polish
Submitted by Tejal Rao

Our grandma doesn’t want us chewing our fingernails anymore, so she paints them all over with edible Chili Nail Polish, which she purchased at Fruity Tooty in downtown Nairobi. These bottles are all the rage, the brushes are made with antelope eyelashes, and the polish is a punishment you lick off your body.

At first, Chili Nail Polish makes our mindless chewing unbearable. The lips split and burn. Our tongues swell up and we hold them still in coconut water to cool them off. At bedtime, tired, we rub our eyes and burn ourselves like idiots, forgetting we have Chili Nail Polish fingers. It should come with a warning, we agree, and special bedtime-gloves, which our grandma finds hilarious.

She can’t know how things work (she’s never hankered for a nail). We develop a taste for the stuff, over the course of a summer, wanting her to paint our nails again, when we’ve sucked them clean like chicken bones and they’ve lost their flavor.

Back home we salivate, ask our mother about Chili Nail Polish. Can she get some? Can she please, please get the same brand as Grandma? She says the best she can do is cut a green chili in half, rub the pepper on our hands. This is no good. This burns the skin.

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Dalmatia Fig Spread (Original)
Submitted by Laura Rubenstein

For two days in the late autumn, I was gripped with a fever. A magical delirium had taken hold and I felt like a Sufic mystic drifting along the elusive coordinates that lie on the outer reaches of a waking dream. There, even the captions in US Weekly seemed to have been penned by Rumi. Everything around me was both amplified and blurred, as if viewed through the filter that is used in movies when a character has been slipped a roofie or is a Shaman. Regrettably, when the fever broke, my senses reverted to back to dulled. In the months since, I have often dreamt of that fleeting sensation of being suspended in something electric and luxurious. And then: last week, as I was stuffing my face at a sample table at Whole Foods, I discovered a means of passage into that elusive state via Dalmatia Fig Spread. The preserve was a rich golden brown (the precise hue of the Dalmatian coast at sunset) and was studded with tiny seeds that glinted like jewels under the fluorescent track lighting. The jam was of ideal spreading viscosity and cleaved nicely from the disposable plastic knife (I’ve found that many of the fruit spreads offered on sample day tend to clump and cling). As I took the first bite, my mouth was instantly awakened, my vision flooded with images of faraway lands. Gone was the mouth breather from Aisle 2 who kept double dipping his toothpick in the cubes of Gruyere. I was transported to the world of Suleiman the Magnificent, to the kind of place where I might slip on a pair of harem pants and curl up with the scroll of Esther. The kind of place where the words “olive garden” don’t necessarily evoke a leather banquette and a laminate menu. I spear a cube of Gruyere for the road and conclude: high in fiber, low in price, Dalmatia Fig Spread has secured a permanent spot upon the pick-me-up shelf in my pantry.

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Vitaminwater: Stur-D
Submitted by Bryant Apolonio

The Coca-Cola Company markets it as the most delectable of all colored waters. “A distilled sample from the River Styx,” they say in their press release, “A single drink of which will render insignificant all weaknesses, defects, secret insufficiencies.” It will satisfy like no beverage has ever done before. It will be as if you had been thirsty your whole life and only just now had that thirst finally, finally, been quenched. It is faintly blue, which makes it more fun, of course. It’s 5% fruit juice.

A cynical friend of mine (her pouting lips, the world’s weight on her quivering, querulous brow) disputes the claim’s accuracy. “Bryant, why do you even buy that shit?” she asks, “It’s a scam, man.” She insists that Stur-D quote-unquote vitamin water is exactly like all other quote-unquote vitamin waters in that aftertaste and naivety are its primary components. Hah! More like, ‘subtlety on the palate’ and ‘unobtrusive health benefits’. What does she know, anyway?

Two weeks ago, I ran a marathon. My training schedule involved jogging at a steady pace for an hour, often more, every day. Anybody who’s ever tried this knows how rigorous an endeavor it can be. Aches dotted my body like bullet holes. My calves were glass. If some cosmic hand had not guided my own to the 7-Eleven refrigerator, towards my virginal bottle of Stur-D, I may have given up.

But I didn’t. I bought that water. And, like a party magician, so charming in his waistcoat of black satin, it offered me everything. Iridescent handkerchiefs pulled in a chain from his somehow flat front pocket: potassium, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin D, B12, B16!

Christ, the stuff’s even got agave extract in it. I have an agave plant sitting on my desk. It grows in a red clay pot my mother gave me. Its fleshy, apple-green leaves thrive on the stream of sunlight that leaks through my bedroom window some afternoons. Once I forgot to water it for a month and it survived. Stur-D is flavored with the goddamn Hercules of succulents.

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Eloté
Submitted by Becky Adnot Haynes

I recently got married, and my husband and I honeymooned in Sedona, Arizona. Our plane held vague and pleasant fantasies of cowboy sightings and midnight Margaritas in the resort’s Jacuzzi. But we’re from the Midwest, so our energy was quickly sapped from the time change and from resisting bad Southwestern art all day. We hit the sack around ten every night, and it suddenly felt a lot like being married.

Our last night in town, though, we vowed to rally, and made reservations at a Mexican-Southwestern fusion restaurant that came highly recommended by the people on Yelp. I had already sucked down my entire margarita when our server came to tell us about the appetizer special, and I was so hungry that I said “yes” before she could finish her pitch, even though my new husband, Kevin, said that it “sounded weird.”

The dish, called Eloté, was delicious: a fresh, spicy corn in a creamy sauce. It was so good, in fact, and so plentiful, that I hardly touched my fish tacos (which were good but not really what I expected, though it’s hard, even in retrospect, to pinpoint exactly what I did expect from a fish taco).

After we eat some particularly good restaurant fare, Kevin has a habit of saying something like “we should make this at home” or “I wonder how hard this would be to make at home,” and he said something along these lines after we finished licking the bowl that night. Really, he was wondering how hard it would be for me to make the dish at home—I taught him to make Ramen in 2006 and he still claims mine tastes better—which is a sentiment that both flatters me (he thinks I could make something resembling delicious food!) and makes me smile sadly, as if listening to a terminally ill child describe his wish of playing quarterback for the Patriots, because he doesn’t know that a 400-pound lineman is about to make him eat grass. Because really, I’m just not that good of a cook (Ramen, of course, excluded).

Later, after we went to sleep (we made it to midnight, though not to the Jacuzzi, which closed at ten) Kevin woke up and vomited, which definitely, definitely had to do with the Mexican food and not with being newly married. I, on the other hand, felt fine, and even woke up dreaming vaguely of the Eloté, thinking to myself that maybe when we got back to Ohio I’d stir together some canned corn and mayonnaise and see how that tasted.

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The Oreo Cakester
Submitted by Ariel Ramchandani

Travel induces amnesic product recollection: you are unable to remember that you have seen a similar product at home in order to marvel at a product away. This happens primarily with food and candy, and is a useful syndrome—how else could you experience crippling regret at not having brought more of these rare substances home to friends and family. Also, how better to smugly confirm cultural stereotypes—everything in Spain contains ham! Kinder Eggs hatch Nazi youth! More would get done in Puerto Rico if they stopped drinking rum out of miniature bottles made of chocolate!

A few weeks ago, while visiting Chicago, I ducked into a CVS to buy some black mist pantyhose. There, in the checkout line, in the goblet-like raised bins were Oreo Cakesters. Cakesters! The name alone makes them sound like playful Oreo toddlers, running loose on their stubby, cakey legs. Indeed, they are fat Oreos, bloated but cute. They come in pairs. Like babies, they squish and crinkle to the touch.

Genetically, their cakey texture aligns them with more with Whoopie! pies (which Wiki just told me are sometimes called BFOs, or Big Fat Oreos, this is meta and confusing and somehow seems racist). They also resemble Ho Hos, Ding Dongs or any other of tasty treats named to sound either like something gross you do in the bedroom, or someone or something gross to do it with: Sno Balls, Little Debbies, Suzie Qs, Swiss Rolls, Twinkies. The real story of the name Whoopie! is one of clean Amish delight: women would bake these and put them in their husbands lunchboxes. Their husbands would unwrap the treats and shout “Whoopie!” (As in “WHOOO-pie”, I assume. If not this one goes in the dirty pile too).

Except for a brief period of time when some Jewish misinformation had me thinking Oreo centers were made entirely of gelatin ripped directly from the hooves of live white ponies, I have always liked Oreos. Crunchy, good in milk. Superior crumb to fat-blob-suspended-in-crumb ratio. I wanted to try them in pillow form. Also, hello! Travel memorabilia. So the Cakesters. They have a sticky, fudgy perfume. They are supplicants in the way of white bread, condensing into only the space you allot them. They fill your mouth with a slightly but not entirely unpleasant choking sensation.

I haven’t seen them in New York, but I also haven’t really been looking. If I want to dance again with the illusive Cakester, I will order them on the Internet. I hope they come in an unmarked box. What I will do then is perform ‘the Cakester’: close the bedroom door, don a latex glove, unwrap a cookie and squish it in my fist until it resembles a small, stripey poo. I will then eat and repeat, with the chubby little twin.

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Starbucks VIA® Ready Brew
Caramel Flavored Coffee
Submitted by Jessica Taft

Charity is fat. She has a mottled complexion, bulbous features, and limp dishwater hair. She stands sentry behind the register of my suburban Starbucks and is the primary recipient of my rarely confessed affection for significantly less-than-perfect women. When I first met her she would look at the floor or my credit card, but never at my eyes. She was awkward and I identified with her discomfort because I knew her deal: She ached to be normal but didn’t know how to make it happen.

About ten months ago a funny thing happened; a rash of pregnancy inflicted the most attractive baristas at my Starbucks. (I asked my coffee addict husband about it. He swears it’s not his doing.) One by one the latté makers slowly swelled, started to waddle, and then disappeared.

Most regulars were irritated by the lag in the espresso line, but I was focused on the opportunity for Charity. She was promoted to barista! And I’m happy to report that she’s grown into her new responsibilities in a lovely way: she stands tall, speaks clearly, and greets customers by name or beverage. Charity’s potential piggybacked on a few viable zygotes and now she’s living the dream.

One morning Charity tested her new authority and pitched me Starbucks VIA Carmel instant coffee. She snagged my attention with her direct gaze and upbeat singsong tone: Have you tried the new Via Carmel? It’s great! Then she smiled. Like the aunt of a kid selling shitty chocolate for a band trip, I caved.

Fast forward to now.

I’m stranded at home during an ice storm, low on groceries and desperate for a sugary treat, so I make myself a cup of the caramel flavored and presweetened VIA. The foil packet that holds the fine powder is long, smooth, and fun to fondle. I empty the contents into a small mug and sniff the wrapper for a hint of what’s to come. Sweetened micro ground coffee goes up my nose and makes me feel like a sneeze. I like it.

But after the VIA powder meets the kettle’s water, the result isn’t as good as the coffee in the nose part. There’s a vague chemical taste and … well … it reminds me of instant coffee. It also cloys. I don’t finish the contents of the mug and have no plans to drink the VIA I have left. But I won’t throw it out either, because I don’t want to toss my affection for Charity into the trash.

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Friendly’s Rich and Creamy
Chocolate n’ Vanilla Ice Cream
Submitted by Zoe Singer

Let me see if I can tell you what just happened. Happened, I say. This past November, my in-laws were here for the weekend. It was the weekend that Daylight Saving Time ends, as it happens, so they were here an extra hour. Upon their departure, my husband’s return to his unending professional obligations, and my small son’s early retirement—early that is, by today’s time, not yesterday’s—I find myself staring deeply into a tub of ice cream.

My in-laws bought it. Friendly’s. A split of chocolate n’ vanilla—flavored ice cream called premium. Which makes me seem to remember that the Haagen Daz we usually—that is occasionally—buy, is termed something like super-premium. Forced, I think with sympathy, to distinguish itself from the high-overrun, mono- and diglyceride-packed delectation I am preparing to eat. I choose, for the project, a long iced-tea spoon, which I inherited, in that I was invited to take items from my deceased Cousin Harry’s apartment. I choose to imagine that Harry and his late wife Evelyn frequently made and stirred iced tea. And the spoon elicits, also, uncontrollably, the sound of my father saying “when you sup with the devil, use a long-handled spoon.” So I do.

The combination of vanilla and chocolate is funny. Like Neapolitan back when they were just a young couple, in love, not yet tied down to responsibilities or strawberry. I remember clearly the experience of eating from individual cups of half vanilla and half chocolate ice cream, though truly I recall only licking the waxed cardboard pulled from the top of the sub-premium mini-tub, and the wood flavor of one’s own spit sucked back out of a fiddly little tongue depressor that came enveloped in white paper, torn from a cool paper chain of them stored in the ice cream freezer. Vanilla and chocolate keep you at it. Back, forth, etc.

The Friendly’s tub is worth reading. “Friendly’s, where ice cream makes the meal,” it says. A meaningless phrase that makes complete sense, to the credit of whoever came up with it. No, ice cream didn’t cook your meal, and no, it isn’t the only thing you ate for your meal (well, tonight it is) but you know, it just makes the meal. The nutritional information is also edifying, since this ice cream, for all its sub-super-premium status, contains less fat and sugar per serving than the full-fat biodynamic maple yogurt cups my husband takes to work each morning. I tell myself this means nothing and something: of course biodynamic yogurt is better, and having some Friendly’s ice cream this evening won’t hurt me.

I am standing by the sink scooping vanilla, then chocolate, then right up the dividing line, with my elegant spoon from the past, and making very quick progress with the whole endeavor. I do vaguely realize that I am in this situation because I was cleaning up—after my in-laws, my husband, and my son—and I bethought myself of the ice cream left in the freezer, and decided to have just one bite to cheer my tasks along. The tasks remain undone. The vanilla tastes more marshmallow than vanilla, and the chocolate more cocoa than chocolate. And where the perimeter of a Haagen Daz container becomes a silken custard when held for a while, here I encounter a texture more along the lines of mousse. This might not really melt.

I have divided the vanilla and chocolate. Eaten separately they have their flavors. Life, from my vantage point, can feel truly wonderful—capricious, delightful, enjoyably deviant, all frozen dairy delight and private reflective moments. Or it can seem quite embarrassingly bereft: sad and slovenly, isolated, fattening, unintended. Mixed together, the result is a brownish soup with no flavor you can really put a finger on.

At this point, I’ve created two perfect, pert, separate breasts—one vanilla, one chocolate—through my careful, mindless scooping with the long spoon. I wish for maraschino cherries. What else, I ask myself, can I use as nipples? I consider opening a bag of fresh cranberries for this purpose. I would position the red orbs just so, then put the top back on the Friendly’s tub and freeze the bosom, neither mentioning nor particularly remembering my little joke. It would be a real chuckle for my husband when, eventually, he succumbed to the call of the ice cream left in the freezer by his parents. Or, raw cranberries on ice cream is gross and leaving this diorama for my husband would be crazy and sad. He’s a busy man, and I don’t need to remind him that he leaves his child home alone with an unhinged freelance food writer.

Thinking this through, I’ve all but demolished the breasts. What’s left are two buggy eyes, one chocolate, one vanilla. I rack my brains for the best pupils. We’re out of dried currants, and cloves are painful and too flavorful. My in-laws have also provisioned the house with one of those huge, eventually sticky bottles of Hershey’s syrup that everyone else’s fridge always seems to contain. I carefully dot the eyeballs, squeeze a chocolate smile below them, replace the cover on the large, suspiciously light Friendly’s tub and set it gently in the freezer to await discovery. “Make every occasion special,” reads the little tagline on the side of the container.