PowerCap Ice Cream (Blue Flavor)
Submitted by Nina McCallum)

Bad neighbors make your life hell. The epic struggle between my parents and their neighbors over an over-sized pergola within 2m of the boundary line has taken a toll on us all. So imagine how tiring it must be to be South Korea.

You’ve got North Korea just over there, occasionally testing nuclear missiles in their backyard and playing love songs to Kim Jong Il over loudspeakers across the fence. You’ve got Japan acting all superior even though you both grew up in the same neighborhood. You’ve got China using your open back door as an opportunity to check your cupboards for their enemies.

Despite these challenges, South Korea has summoned all its gusto to become the ice cream capital of South East Asia. Yes, they are the mass manufacturing frozen confection champions of a region not typically heralded for excellence in dessert. It’s all about picking an attainable goal, then really going for it.

With this context, the PowerCap makes perfect sense. Blue is the low bar of flavor achievement. While chocolate, strawberry and vanilla will always suffer in comparison with the real thing, blue is a blank slate. Not bubblegum, not blueberry—just blue. You can criticize a frozen dessert on texture (strangely silky), mouthfeel (melts into a thinner than expected liquid on the tongue) or overall appeal (waning), but you can’t say it doesn’t taste enough like blue. With blue, the game is rigged, and South Korea Number One Icy Treat Concern holds all the cards. They are also the banker.

With the flavor and color determined, South Korea’s best foodologists set to work on deciding the format. They settled on hand grenade. You must pull the cap off to access the creamy blue insides of an inactive hand-held bomb.

Trials of a time-sensitive version that better replicated a real-life situation in which you must eat the insides of a grenade were abandoned. Instead, they were put in a crate marked DELICIOUS and thrown over the border to North Korea.

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Submitted by Rebecca Fortey

Begórrah (emphasis on the second syllable, underscored by an exuberant yet precise Italian hand gesture) is a fusion food movement born of the scarcity of food in a fridge in East London one Sunday morning in May.

This new food union was invented by my partner, a skilled and resourceful cook, who, confronted with a combination of ingredients many would baulk at, saw not a problem but a cultural opportunity. Here is what he did:

  1. He lightly toasted an Irish Potato Farl.
  2. He folded onto it swathes of thinly-sliced prosciutto.
  3. He topped it with gently sun-blushed tomatoes and sprightly rocket.
  4. He ordered me to get out of bed and come eat my breakfast.

So it was that I became the first person to experience Begórrah. And as the earthy softness of the farl gave way to the sunny succulence of the topping, I was transported to a strange new country of rolling green beaches and elfin gondoliers pointing the way to the pot of Sangria at the end of the rainbow.

We wanted to spread the word, let the world know about Begórrah. Our Irish friend Clair would surely join the cause—hoping to broaden the horizons of the humble farl, for so long satisfied with just a light buttering. So we cornered her at a party and rhapsodized hard. We enthused about possible variations, tried to sell her on gnocchi in stout.

But Clair just fixed us with a contemptuous look: “Irish people don’t fucking say ‘Begórrah’,” she told us, “Ever.”

We were chastised; we nodded and said something about irony. But, on Sunday morning, irony forgotten, we still bite into the succulent softness of the farl and whisper gratefully, “Begórrah.”

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Stride Mega-Mystery ? Gum
Submitted by Laura Rubenstein

Like houndstooth, fingerprinting powder and a magnifying lens, Stride’s new Mega Mystery ? gum evokes a bygone type of espionage, one redolent with subterfuge and deceit—the world inhabited by Klaus Fuchs, the Rosenbergs, Harriet. Precisely the same dimensions as a novelty digital “spy camera” one could buy from Brookstone or Skymall in the early aughts, the package of Mega Mystery ? gum is a study in the seductive powers of jewel tones. Indeed, the hazy background of the small box recalls the neons of Dan Flavin, while the glinting silver ? looming at its center hints at the hulking gestalts of Richard Serra. Upon removing the protective plastic encasement and opening the package, one’s olfactory system is seized by the kind of cloying odor that would be enormously appealing to former disciples of Fruit Stripe gum, but also clearly bears specific ethers that guarantee nausea when consumed in a car, bus or plane. As for the actual gum: while not completely mysterious, per se, the exact origin of the Mega Mystery ? flavor is difficult to pinpoint. I imagine that its true identity lies somewhere between Pina Colada infused orthodontic putty and the tinned pineapple beloved by the Boxcar Children.

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Submitted by Megan Shank

Moonlight, so soft, so golden
Gentle breeze, give greetings to my love
The passion we sowed in Spring
Has in this Autumn
Reached time for reaping

According to Chinese legend, a beautiful woman named Chang’e lives on the moon with her pet rabbit. How she ended up there is a long and conflicted story. The important part is that every year on the night of Mid-Autumn Festival, Chinese traditionally eat mooncakes in celebration of her and the summer’s harvest.

Mooncakes are Fig Newtons for the brave. Stuffed with fig, apricot, red bean, yellow raisins, pistachios or goose egg, they are as round as a full moon, thin-skinned, honey-toned and imprinted with characters for longevity, peace and harmony—or sometimes with just the filling’s ingredients.

Can’t read Chinese? Take a bite. Peanut allergy? Watch your ass.

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Santa Fe Ranch Corn Nuts Chips
Submitted by Dan Verderosa

Running late for the train into Penn Station, I grabbed a small bag of Corn Nuts to enjoy on the trip. Only after the train had left the station did I realize I had bought Corn Nuts Chips, not Corn Nuts. Let me be clear; I love Corn Nuts. I rarely see them in stores and I was very excited to have them. The disappointment I felt when I saw that my Corn Nuts were chips, not nuts, was palpable. I was against Corn Nuts Chips from the start.

Simply put, Corn Nuts Chips are seemingly the result of Doritos being cut into pieces with a rather large hole punch. Each one has a diameter of about one centimeter. Because these particular chips were Santa Fe Ranch flavored, they tasted like Cooler Ranch Doritos. I have no idea what makes them “Santa Fe” ranch, or why ranch from one city would necessarily be better than ranch from another.

If you want an awesome snack, buy Original Corn Nuts. If you want Doritos crumbs, by all means try Corn Nuts Chips.

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Martin’s Handmade Pretzels
Submitted by Emma Horwitz

In my quest to seduce a boy who had given me handfuls of his Wal-Mart brand Animal Crackers during a moment of intense hunger and childhood nostalgia, I decided to follow through on my claim of knowing the “single greatest snack food on the planet” by promising to personally buy him a package of Martin’s Pretzels. The plan would be irresistible: girl, authentically handmade pretzels, the warm feeling of being paid back after said girl inhaled fistfuls of the lumpy and unidentifiable cookie animals from a plastic gallon jug.

I ordered eight pounds, which, in pretzel weight, comes in a box bigger than my 1994 Dell Computer. In other words: unwieldy and matte grey. My plan would have worked, too, had Animal-Cracker Boy not disappeared, leaving me with enough Martin’s Pretzels so that not only could I have given away individual pretzels to each of our many hypothetical wedding guests, but also to our hypothetical divorce lawyers years later as stale thank you gifts. Although we never happened, I’m still left with the remnants of our would-be relationship: eight pounds of heavenly, individually handmade snacking material at my fingertips for my personal enjoyment at all hours.

Each folded set of pretzel hands (like edible nun arms) are wrapped with three of its siblings in a package that sports a proverb in bold letters on the back. “The fear of our Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” It’s pasted right next to the nutrition information and makes us want to eat as many Eden-Apple like pretzels we can get our hands on. No fat, no sugar: just starchy products and salt. These are not mere rods, sticks or twists of wussy name-brand pretzels. Martin’s Pretzels aren’t just pieces of oddly shaped baked toast; no, they are dipped in vats of lye, AKA a potentially dangerous chemical base. These folded-awesome-safe-chemical-burnt-toast pretzels extra, also come with visible chunks of salt that mesh with the pretzel, providing a perfect crunch of taste-bud harmony.

So why Martin’s? Because I can see the fingerprints of the Amish in each snack. Literally. I can see the pattern of some young Amish youth’s unique hand in the creases where pretzel meets pretzel. That’s right. Two snacks for the price of one: hardened, in some cases burnt (but that just makes them more human, right?), handmade, humanity-infused, chemically powerful toasted treats. And Amish fingerprints. It’s badass—like eating labor.

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SunChips in a
“100 Percent Compostable Chip Package”
Submitted by Ryan Myers

SunChips in a brand new bag? Well there’s a sufficient excuse to get an extra bag of chips. And what’s this? The bag is biodegradable? Wow, I bet these are the chips Captain Planet eats.

No, not unless Captain Planet likes to eat his chips in a small closet with two-dozen shrieking infants. I’m not sure how or why, but the new SunChips bag is made of baby screams. You can’t touch the damn thing without suffering a cacophonous crinkling. Forget reaching your hand inside. The difference between the sound of a normal bag of chips and the sonic horror of a bag of SunChips is the difference between being on an airplane with a screaming infant and being on airplane where you are the only passenger who is not a screaming infant.

We seem to accept infants screaming in public as unavoidable. But a few thousand years ago, when humans worried about attracting predators and feared being eaten by giant wolves and saber-tooth tigers, I bet there was a lot more hand over tiny mouth action. We should get back to that. We should also get back to me being able to eat SunChips without wearing ear protection.

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Haribo Sour S’ghetti
Submitted by Alison Baitz

The marketing masterminds at Haribo, I’m forced to assume, used the invented word “s’ghetti” as a not-so-subtle nod to the fact that many young children are unable to properly pronounce the name of the popular Italian dish, “spaghetti.” Luckily, the packaging—which features a multicolored mass of flying noodles with eyes, speared by a fork—assures the adult candy consumer that both kids and “grown-ups” love this product.

Haribo is attempting a difficult feat with their sour “s’ghetti”: distinguish this treat from the droves of other thin, cylindrical shapes that crowd the extremely competitive sour candy marketplace. To have a fighting chance, the company crafted this clever spin on the product, which can best be described as sour gummy candy parading as unnaturally colored, bite-sized pasta.

What colors, you ask? Red, blue, and green for a whimsical take on typical tri-color pasta; Haribo’s tri-color sour candy pasta comes, not as the traditional flavors of wheat/egg, tomato, and spinach, but as the fruit flavors of green apple, strawberry, and blueberry. You can tell because the packaging has silly cartoon renderings of these fruit, which appear mind numbingly happy and even sport sculpted facial hair (check out the goatee on that green apple). If you have extreme, unnatural patience, you may be able to wait through the super sour crystals to taste these artificial fruit flavors. But if you’re a typical candy consumer, it’s likely that you will chomp up the s’ghettis while still sour, masking these unique, individual notes. Haribo doesn’t hang around in the doldrums with their sour pasta candy, so they made sure that their s’ghetti pieces weren’t too uniform. Some are slightly curved; others are stuck together and then curved. Talk about variety. Plus, since these sour s’ghettis are overwhelmingly blue and green, plucking a red s’ghetti from the package is a reward in and of itself.

It’s important to note that Haribo also makes lots of other gummy delicacies. Offerings include a rendition of the alphabet in gummy, gummy rattlesnakes and clownfish, and even a different variety of sour gummy pasta. “Fruity Pasta” is probably for the more refined consumer who prefers their pasta in a sort of fettuccini-like shape, not childlike spaghetti. It’s still cut into small pieces, though.

Like all other sour candy that inhabits the earth, Haribo Sour S’ghetti has no regard for your feelings or your body. The candy is very sour, and it exists to wreak havoc on your tongue and on your stomach.

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Union of Soviet Soda Republics:
Krushka & Bochka Kvass
Submitted by Chandra Steele

We’ve learned a lot about the Russians lately: that they’re still trying to gather secrets about how we live (even though there are no real travel restrictions and, you know, there’s the internet if they’re really lazy); that they have a town that’s an exact replica of Chevy Chase, Md., to train spies in (did they choose Chevy Chase because they’re fans of Spies Like Us?); and that no matter how much cleavage she shows, you shouldn’t trust a woman who dyes her hair red every week and sounds slightly foreign after a few glasses of vodka.

What hasn’t been very well publicized is that they seem to be very fond of a soda made of wort concentrate. Or that’s what the label of Krushka & Bochka Kvass would have you believe:

Kvass has been a Russian staple of refreshment for centuries, enjoyed by czars and peasants alike. Pushkin describes how Russians believed they needed Kvass like the air for living.

When not composing thousand-page literary works or fomenting revolution, Pushkin kicked back and enjoyed a nice cold glass of fermented soda. You can’t buy an endorsement like that.

Back to the wort concentrate, though. It’s rye flour, fermented rye malt and barley flour. To that they add some sugar. And that’s pretty much it. Kvass is described as “malty with a sweet finish and light sparkle, Kvass is truly a thirst quencher like no other.” The reality? A soda that tastes like the raisins that get stuck at the bottom of a box formed a collective that had meant to work toward the common good, but had instead just wound up hardened and weary.

Na zdorovye!

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Frito’s Scoops!
Submitted by Benjamin Gibson

Frito’s Scoops! With an exclamation mark like that in the name, you know, that you can peel it right off the snack label and slap it into a greeting! Or a musical!—did you know that Oliver! started out as a fudge round? “Oliver! You can say it, sing it or eat it! Oliver! Never before has a boy wanted more!”

Anyway, from the minute I saw the Frito’s Scoops! in the gas station where I was buying Mother’s Day dinner materials, I knew that I wanted to know how they tasted. Ha-ha! Of course that’s not true—I never want to know anything except what I can learn through the Internet! So I googled those Frito’s Scoops! right there in the gas station in front of everybody (while I was in line in front of those Oklahoma! Tarts). Boy, did people get impatient in that line until they found out I was googling! On an iPhone! I guess they settled down pretty quick when I told them that.

I found the Frito’s Scoops! page right away. If there is one thing that company values besides sodium, it is transparency. They give you the real scoop right away (and that’s a pun, but not a lie). First off, their Scoops! are additive free. That sounds really good—especially in this day and age, what with Barry Bonds and cows and all—but you should realize that that absence frees up some space for the negatives. That doesn’t shock you? What if I say it like this: Negatives!!!! Not sure what those negatives might be, but you can be sure there are medical studies that disagree with each other, which your parents will forward to you. Something else you can count on: the Scoops! bag has a “Kosher Triangle K” brand on it and its wrapping is a product of the Space Age. The Space Age!

But I didn’t really care about what is in my food. I’m an American! I want to know what you can scoop! with it , and they do not even mention this on the website. Or maybe they did, but I would have had to scroll down. We’ll never really know. So I left that website (left it hard!), and went youtubing (right there in line in the gas station with people’s forties warming up behind me). I wanted to see what people were out there scooping. I saw a man scoop! up a puppy. Don’t you worry, he didn’t eat it on camera, but you never saw anything so ridiculous. Ridiculously CUTE! I should say. I saw people scoop! up salsa, cherries, marbles, kerosene, Benadryl and the uncorked essence of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. I even saw a man scoop! up a… but I guess he was pretty drunk and didn’t realize he was filming himself. Anyway, after all that, if you asked me how I feel about Frito’s Scoops! I suppose I would say that it sure is quite a world we live in and no mistake. Oh, also: a really dedicated diet of those Scoops! will probably unstring your bowels before you can get yourself out of a concert hug that quickly crosses the line into trauma. Kerosene too!

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The KFC Double Down
Submitted by Daisy Hildyard

Recently a KFC spokesperson made a plangent acknowledgment on behalf of the new Double Down. “It is such a meaty chicken sandwich,” he said. “There is no room for a bun.”

The representative provoked a consideration of so many buns, boxed and shelved, ranging for miles in an abandoned repository in Kentucky, rendered obsolete by an overwhelming excess of fresh meat; an absolution of the flesh, and it seemed that his proclamation had finally circumvented certain Eucharistic debates, which turn on transubstantiation, or the investment of the Real Presence of the godhead in the bread, with a particularly bold sleight-of-hand. The question was circumvented, and an individual circumvented that question, and that individual is the Colonel. His solution, which has been applied to the Double Down but which may be applied to any question involving wheaten substance, is given hereafter: do away with the bread. The Real Presence, in this context, is a technical term designating the Messianic body within the real or atomic physicality of the bread.

For, if Jesus took bread, and gave thanks, and brake, and he gave that bread unto his disciples; and if he said, “This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me,” he was speaking, at that time, of the action of breaking the bread, which is the prime cause of the burger, which is a piece of parted bread giving way to a heart of meat. Cleaved, it’s spliced again, and is reborn in a pile of flesh. Two chicken steaks include a slice of bacon and two varieties of cheese—these, washed with a red sea of the Colonel’s special sauce, packed in his secret breading recipe. The Secret, in this context, is a technical term designating a blend of uncatalogued but particularized ingredients.

Trialled in Kentucky and Nebraska, the sandwich comes wrapped in napkins or wearing a special disposable wrapper, which is a wimple made of white waxed paper, to prevent the consumer finishing up finger-deep in meat and grease; to give the consumer something to hold on to.

It tasted salty.

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Dum-Dums Bubblegum-Flavor Lollipop
Submitted by Brooke Barker

Pretend you are the protagonist of an episode of The Twilight Zone. One of the wistful episodes that are ostensibly about the end of the world but are really about never being able to read a book ever again. Young, strapping, and virile, you’re chosen among all of Earth’s citizens to be the test pilot on a mission to Pluto.

Also you really love bubble gum, OK? But you can’t have any in space, because of the gases and the vacuum and things like that.

So for the many thousands of years you’ve been floating adrift in the sea of space in hypersleep, you’ve dreamt of the flavor of bubble gum: sort of spicy, sort of root beerish, sort of vanilla-y. The thought of its flavor consumes you, much as you consumed it. Finally you touch down on the planet, welcomed by a band of citizens. One of their number, a plucky young boy hands you a bubble-gum-flavored lolly as a means of introduction. It is vaguely sweet, vaguely berry-flavored. Perhaps the flavor is of space berries? Perhaps this is the Plutonian version of bubble gum? Perhaps you had never known true bubblegum flavor until this night. You have little time to think, as suddenly your vision focuses, and it’s William Shatner, peering down on you with one of those old-timey mirror things strapped to his head, confirming that the operation was a complete success.

This is what the Dum Dum bubble gum lollipop tastes like. Not like bubble gum.

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Jack Link’s Premium Cuts Flamin’ Buffalo-Style Chicken Nuggets
Submitted by Karl Strength

While waiting to check out at the grocery store, I got bored. Then I noticed Jack Link’s Premium Cuts Flamin’ Buffalo-Style Chicken Nuggets: Made with White Meat Chicken Breast. Laurann begged me not to buy them. The cashier look surprised that they were still there on the counter.

As we walked to the car I pondered what they might taste like. Dry buffalo wing? Spicy Chicken Jerky?

Do not open Jack Link’s Premium Cuts Flamin’ Buffalo-Style Chicken Nuggets in a confined space. The smell filled my car faster than one would think a 3.25 oz pouch of Jack Link’s Premium Cuts Flamin’ Buffalo-Style Chicken Nuggets would be able. Laurann rolled down her window, and soon afterward, just got out of the car. After a coughing fit, I tried one.

Thank God the pouch was re-sealable.

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Hodja “Halva with Cocoa (Kakaolu Helva)”
Submitted by Reema A. Ghazi

In the increasingly complex quagmire of regional relations in the Middle East, claims to various cultural touchstones are bandied about as definitive evidence of one nation/religion/haplotype’s dominance over delusional neighbors. Naturally then, as staples of life and centerpieces of a group’s identity, claims to the origins of renowned foods are hotly contested. We’re all familiar with the Hummus Wars—international media outlets like Foreign Policy and BBC regularly report updates on the chickpea front. A lesser-known regional conflict, however, is what I like to call the Halva Discords.

What is halva, you ask? Quite simply, halva is Mediterranean fudge. Meaning “pretty” or “sweet” in Arabic, it is a brick-like vanilla and chocolate confection, the principal element of which is not butter, but the vaunted sesame seed. It has a marbled appearance and, in bold defiance of the laws of chemistry, a grainy texture which simultaneously melts and crumbles in your mouth. Having been introduced to the treat through Palestinian grandparents, I naturally assumed it was a Levantine invention; time has shown me that numerous nations from the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf allege ownership of the unique dessert. On a recent trip to a local multicultural, surely UN-sanctioned, grocery store, I was forced to pick up the sole offering of halva at the behest of a grandmother whose largess was not adequately indulged. My hesitation stemmed from the fact that Hodja “Halva with Cocoa (Kakaolu Helva)” hailed not from the usual Lebanon, Syria, or Palestine, but from the great land of Turkey.

In a feat of sheer temerity, I tell you this: Hodja “Halva with Cocoa (Kakaolu Helva)” is the best halva out there. The ratio of vanilla to chocolate is perfect; the balance between grainy and sticky is sublime. I know not whether this demonstrated superiority of the Turkish iteration supports the Republic’s claims of invention—all I know is that my allegiance in this ongoing struggle has shifted. Someone alert George Mitchell, post haste.

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Snyder’s Hot Buffalo Wing Pretzel Pieces
Submitted by Joe McGonegal

I buy my first bag for ninety-nine cents at a truck-stop in Wilkes-Barre along with a two-dollar box of Good & Fruity. I’m heading east on 84, back to where all is holy, doing some sort of F. Scott Fitzgerald shit where I travel back east, un-manifest destiny in a Toyota that might accelerate all the way to old Munich where they’ve never heard of Snyder’s Hot Buffalo Wing Pretzel Pieces. Halfway through the bag there’s a gleam coming off my forehead that a mother moose on the side of the highway might mistake for infrared and so stumbles off the uninspired road. By Lord’s Valley, the things have got me so dehydrated I’m having trouble catching my breath.

At the end of the bag it’s a pile of salt and dried crust of hot sauce and pepper and I risk it in the left lane at 80 mph to tilt the bag in front of my eyes. A trucker I’m passing sees me through the sunroof and nods approvingly. My salivary glands will take a few days off. But I’m 32 and single with no prospects and there’s nothing Snyder’s Hot Buffalo Wing Pretzel Pieces can’t do for me on the weary road. And when Port Jervis comes and the promise of the Hudson crossing miles away, I remember the Good & Fruity.

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Clam Chowder
Submitted by Jason Trower

My favorite chapter in Moby-Dick is chapter fifteen, “Chowder.” Ishmael and Queequeg arrive at an inn called the “Try Pots”, which serves two things: fish chowder and clam chowder. Most of the novel is about whaling, obsession, class struggle, deep theological contemplations—things I don’t encounter much in my daily life. But when Melville writes about clam chowder, he’s writing about something I know.

Clam chowder is one of those thick, simple foods like Beef Wellington, meatloaf, and chicken-fried steak that have been out of fashion for a long time. They’re the culinary equivalent of spats and hoop skirts. No “Foodie” (a term that I use only in a derogatory sense, like “Trekkie”) would ever order clam chowder, except as an ironic joke or after losing a bet with another “Foodie”.

To find clam chowder, go to any kitschy tourist restaurant on the coast of New England, or even here in Oregon. You know you’ve found a good place for chowder if the restaurant is festooned with nautical bric-a-brac like crab pots and metal diving helmets. The menu will have three items on it: clam chowder, fish, and French fries. If you don’t order the clam chowder the waitress will give you a strange look and roll her eyes, so just be safe and order the clam chowder.

Take note of how it exists in a nebulous state, not quite solid and not quite liquid. It’s usually served in a deep bowl where chunks of clam, potato and God-knows-what else can hide. There could be anything lurking in a bowl of clam chowder. Mystery is one of its finest qualities. Like the sea.

Clam chowder doesn’t have much taste on its own so it’s customary to use butter, salt, and pepper to give it some flavor. You can also add oyster crackers or broken Saltines for textural variety. You’ll also get some textural variety from the grain or two of sand you’ll crunch between your teeth. It’s a law of nature that each bowl of clam chowder must contain at least one grain of sand.

I like clam chowder because it’s unpopular. No one talks about it. Chefs on the Food Network never make it. It perseveres quietly in touristy restaurants in out-of-the-way northern coastal states and in the pages of Moby-Dick.

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Si-Si-Sic Cream Sandwich Biscuits,
Peanut Flavor
Submitted by Deborah Frenkel

I bought these in a Japanese mini-mart off a side street in inner Sydney, the kind of mini-mart you have to go down a little flight of stairs to get to. They were the cheapest thing in the store. I spotted them on the heaped Reductions table next to the register, and for a moment remained immobilized by indecision, equally intrigued by the “Crunky (sic) Choc Flakes” to one side and the Salmon Jerky to the other. But the flakes were 3.20, the jerky 2.95, and I am cheap. I got the biscuits.

They cost me forty nine cents.

Aside from the price, and maybe the name, the most satisfying thing is the packet. Like many Asian snack foods, they come soothingly over-packaged, stacked in a plastic tray inside a curiously thick foil envelope, which is in turn covered by a white importer’s label laser-printed with nutritional information. They are a product of China and there is a customer service hotline I can call, should I feel the need. I find this all very reassuring.

There are six biscuits in the packet, I discover. Each is a sandwich of two coin-sized crackers, toothed around the edges and decorated with a little ring of five holes in the center. The function of these holes is uncertain. The cream filling is too meager and not gooey enough to squirt out through them, and anyway I have already opened the first sandwich into its two halves so squirting is no longer an option.

They are extremely crispy in an artificial, hydrogenated way. They are also not very good. The filling tastes a little like peanut butter, except pinker. The crackers leave an oily film on my fingers, which then gets onto my computer mouse and bungs up the scroll wheel.

Despite myself, I eat the whole pack.

They made me Si-Si-Sic.

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Serendipity Bordeaux
Black Cherry Ice Cream
Submitted by Scott Ogilvie

Bridget’s text read, “gone til sun. feed soba. keys und dillo. note inside”

The armadillo was to the left of the door with two keys lying flat beneath it. Bridget’s apartment was a second story shotgun. The entry put you right in her bedroom, so your thigh brushed the quilt as you squeezed between the bed and desk chair. Soba was there, mewing and hungry.

A note was taped to the door of the pantry. Inside, a jar was labeled:SOBA FOOD: 2 SCOOPS/DAY.

I found a plastic bottle cap on the floor and tossed it past the cat. She scampered after it, batting it against the baseboard so it skittered across the linoleum. I pulled some tissue out of a box for her to shred.

At the table I wrote a tiny paragraph in the center of a page to confirm my visit and filled the margin with doodles of Soba parachuting from a dirigible and flying with a jetpack. I worried that the jetpack doodle might make it look like her tail was getting burned in the powerful dual-exhaust of the pack, but I’d drawn it with a pen and the die was cast.

Bridget has been with my friend Aaron for a while. Before that, before Aaron moved in from Chicago, Bridget and I smooched once, sitting outside in the humid twilight of some stranger’s front yard while eating frozen custard from a busy stand. The cool fattiness of the custard on our tongues mixing with salty perspiration in the crazy June heat. It was fine. It was something to secretly remember when the three of us would hang out. Is that weird?

In the freezer was a pint of Serendipity Bordeaux Black Cherry ice cream. Serendipity, the local brand of ice cream sold at the local grocery. Totally premium. I never brought it up, the smooching. What would I say? “Hey buddy, I smooched your girlfriend once, over custard, in the grass.” I wasn’t sure what the point was. Maybe Bridget mentioned it to him anyway. And if she didn’t, was it any of my business to bring it up?

I fetched a bowl, slowly eating the cold, creamy maroon stuff and melting the chewy frozen cherry chunks in my mouth, perched on the corner of her bed. Soba made confetti around my feet. What was it like? Eating wine and cherry flavored ice cream on a bed that wasn’t mine, alone in my friend’s apartment? Did it imply something? Who was the cherry, or the wine, or the cream, or the sugar, or the spoon? All the metaphors seemed wrong or gross. I didn’t eat much, but it was good, sweet, with notes of cherry and oak. Complex I guess, for ice cream.

The water I rinsed the bowl with was scorching. No one notices a little missing ice cream, right? I mean, she might not open the pint for weeks, no one has a memory like that. I didn’t say anything about the kissing because I didn’t want him to get the wrong idea. We’re friends. No one notices if you don’t say anything.

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Deep-Fried White Castle Cheeseburgers
Submitted by Bryan McKenna

We arrive at the party, greeted by the host and his girlfriend, about 25 strangers, and the smell of grease. A small deep-fryer sits on the kitchen counter, frying balls of Pillsbury dough infused with cinnamon and sugar. I eat one and grab my first beer of the evening. I drink it quickly.

After mingling in the crowd for a bit and starting on beer number two, I notice a beer pong table set up in the corner, with a waiting list taped to the nearby wall. I get the attention of my roommate across the room, point at the list, and he nods. I sign us up and wait for our turn, finishing beer number two.

A few minutes later, someone from the vicinity of the beer pong table yells out “Bryan and Dave!” We walk over and take our place at one end of the table. I’m not particularly a good player, but my skills are passable after I’ve consumed between four and seven beers. Even though I’m not quite in my zone, we win our first game by two cups, and I wind up drinking two beers in the process, getting me into the lower range of my “talent zone.”

Our new opponents take their place at the end of the table, and we throw first. I sink my ball; Dave sinks his. Balls get returned to us. I sink mine; Dave sinks his. Balls return. We throw a “perfect” game. We don’t miss a cup. Ten cups in a row. We are perfect. Our opponents don’t even get a chance to throw once. They leave the table stunned. I have tears in my eyes. I am just so damn proud. We are riding high on beer and triumph and people at the party are looking at us a little differently than when we first arrived.

We walk into the kitchen to grab another beer from the fridge, and notice empty White Castle cardboard boxes sitting on the counter. Dave turns to the host and says “You got any more of those?” Our gracious host reaches in the vegetable drawer of the fridge and pulls out four White Castle cheeseburgers. Dave is about to put them in the microwave, and stops. “You got any Bisquick?” Our host pulls out a box, slightly curious. Dave grabs a bowl, pours some Bisquick in, adds water and a few spices (of note is Old Bay, though the rest are lost to memory), batters the cheeseburgers, and plops them in the deep fryer. They crisp and brown perfectly in the bubbling oil. He pulls them out and drains them, and I take my first bite. The cinnamon, sugar and spices in the used oil combine with the onions, cheese, and thin beef patties to create an amalgam of flavor in my mouth that I have never experienced before and probably will never experience again. The emotion is too much to take, and two tears fall from my eyes.

Dave ends his evening by hooking up with one of our hot friends who had taken the trip with us and unabashedly cupping her boob in the middle of the living room of our host’s apartment. I end my evening drinking more beer and passing out on a recliner trying to ignore the stomach cramps.

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Spaghetti with Ketchup
Submitted by Sarah E. Perrich

The city of Baltimore shuts down at two inches of snow. People from New England and the Midwest are baffled by this—by the way we ransack our grocery stores when the weather man predicts flurries, the way we keep our children home from school at a hint of ice, our remarkable learned helplessness when confronted by driving in remotely inclement weather.

Baltimore was in the middle of the worst blizzard in recorded history for the region. A week earlier the weathermen started predicting 12-20 inches of snow. The population froze, looked alarmed, and sprang into action. At no point over the last week has the parking lot of the grocery store near our house been less than full. Every night on our respective ways home we would pass it and think, “I really should run in and pick up a few things…” but we would shudder at the thought of what we would find inside and continue on home.

For those outside the region: had we gone inside we would have found bedlam. People fighting over shopping carts, shelves stripped bare of food, women smacking each other for the last head of mangy lettuce, checkout lines snaking clear back to the meat counter. I’m not exaggerating. Come to Baltimore for our next blizzard and hang out in the Giant Food in the dairy aisle. It’s as good as an episode of Jersey Shore.

The pantry grew barer.

The snow started on a Friday. I ran out for beer, but again passed by the grocery store. “It’ll be easier tomorrow—no one will be in there if there’s 18 inches of snow on the ground,” I told myself. Robert apparently told himself the same thing.

The next morning we woke up to a Narnian winter wonderland. Cars had disappeared and been replaced by magical, sparkling hillocks. There were drifts as tall as I am. I couldn’t find the road. Facebook informed me that two friends had seen snow plows stuck in the snow. Snow was still falling. The grocery store was closed.

We took an inventory of the pantry. It was pretty pathetic. Robert had leftover beans and rice for breakfast. I had popcorn and coffee. But what to have for lunch?

“You know what I haven’t had in a long time?” Robert said, looking in the cabinet for the fourteenth time.


“Spaghetti with ketchup.”

“Spaghetti with ketchup?”


“Why on earth would you eat that?”

“It’s good, man!”

I was raised in a house where we sat down to a table with a table cloth and linen napkins and candles to eat a cooked-from-scratch dinner every night. It was a “nothing with a label on the table” house.

Robert claims he had some kind of human family life growing up but as far as I can tell he was raised by savage monkeys.

“You put the ketchup on the noodles, like it’s sauce?” I said, incredulous.


“Do you—do you put cheese on it?”

“If you have it. You don’t really need it. Ketchup’s pretty salty.”


So for lunch we had spaghetti with ketchup.

It was really gross.

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Stouffer’s Anytime Gourmet
Wild Salmon Dijon in Puff Pastry
Submitted by Marina Ruben

As a BzzAgent, I receive free products by mail, then test and “bzz” about them. Most recently, I tried a Stouffer’s Anytime Gourmet culinary kit. The box contained frozen “Wild Salmon Dijon in Puff Pastry,” with a side of whole wheat orzo pasta.

My concerns:

1. Anytime Gourmet’s orzo requires a microwave but doesn’t say so on the box. We don’t have a microwave.

2. Anytime Gourmet contains 90% of one’s daily saturated fat, which is only okay in that the meal is complicated enough to make and tastes crappy enough that cardiac demise might actually IMPROVE the evening.

3. I’ve never met a puff pastry that came closer to ending my marriage.

The package instructed us to bake the salmon for 19 minutes. Around minute 14, the kitchen began filling with smoke. I ran in and yanked open the oven door.

“Quick! Take it out of the oven,” I told Adam, who made no move to grab the potholders behind him.

“But it’s not 19 minutes.”

“It doesn’t matter. The time isn’t literal!” I slammed on the switch for the range fan as smoke billowed into the room. “Open the window!”

Adam frowned. “There’s nothing figurative about ‘19 minutes,’” he insisted.

I eyed the fire extinguisher as my relationship went up in flames.

Thank you, Anytime Gourmet, for confirming that my husband is so literal that he could endanger our lives and—the logical extension—those of our as-yet-unconceived children.

“What would you do,” I asked as I peeled away layers of charred phyllo, “if I told you to grab a child who was too close to the street?”

Adam declared that he would think about whether the directive made sense, then act. Think? With our child in the street? I hyperventilated over images of a truck-flattened toddler as Adam downed salty orzo, unable to waste even the most troubled of foods.

Adam looked up. “Is there anyone you trust more than me?”

I named a few people, then found out the question was rhetorical and intended as reassurance.

Thank you, Anytime Gourmet. I will be bzzing about you in couples therapy.

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Sheetz Shmonster Breakfast Sandwich
Submitted by Jason Morgan

Desperate fingertips slide across the menu screen. You can barely make out the options through the alcohol haze. Your head pounds—double egg, double meat, double cheese. The skuzzy barfly you brought along scoffs at your pretzel bread selection just before she dashes to the bathroom. “Complete Order!” you command and begin the hunt for a drink that isn’t shaken or stirred.

The harsh neon lighting reflecting off the linoleum floor summons a ball of nausea into your throat. Just a couple minutes until a mountain of sausage and egg, covered in pepper jack and sandwiched between the soft, half-stale pretzel turns this night around. You can make it. You just need something to wash down your drunken transgressions.

The cap of the half-gallon of Arizona Diet Green Tea is popped before you hit the counter. “Ticket,” says the nameless attended, who silently looks you up and down. You pull the crumpled receipt from your front suit jacket pocket. “Is that your friend?” the attendant asks, pointing to the barfly who, freed from the porcelain trap, is now sniffing every donut in the display case. A gulp of cool, calorie-free tea resurrects your throat long enough to get her attention and call her over to the counter.

“Number 198!”

You snatch the greasy bag off the pick-up counter with one hand and grab the barfly with the other. Cold air rushes in as the automatic sliding doors open. You plop your tea onto the top of the red trashcan, rip the sandwich out of the bag and unwrap that bitch. Not even the sour smell of purged long island iced tea can ruin this moment.

You close your eyes. A deep inhale—sweet sausage, microwaved egg, mushy pretzel.

Your taste buds confirm it as you sink your teeth into the oily mass. Breakfast has never tasted so good at 3 a.m. You feel life filling your empty soul. (Or is it the cholesterol filling your veins?)

“How can you eat that processed, fast-food junk?” asks the barfly, a thick strand of her tattered black hair stuck to her cheek dancing to the rhythm of her speech.

You open your eyes. One bite left and the world is clear; your mind—sharp. You slowly open your mouth, exposing the sandwich’s mashed remains. “It’s not fast food. It’s better food fast,” you answer, shoving the last bit of sacrificial breakfast sandwich into your mouth, chewing with your mouth open.

The barfly shudders and runs back inside. Caught, again, in the porcelain trap, that’s one bar fly you won’t have to deal with in the morning. Cool, calm and collected, you casually toss breakfast sandwich wrapper into the trashcan and make your way to the car.

“Welcome to Sheetz pump number 3. Please pre-pay inside or at the pump before you begin fueling.”

A deep inhale—you give thanks for the Shmonster’s sobering purity. It was a good night.

- - -

Psychedelic Mini-Brownies
Submitted by Kevin Dyerson

I’ve made psychedelic brownies for a long-time, but now I’ve started making psychedelic mini-brownies. These are really good cause lots of the time you just want things to be more psychedelic. And you can make lots of them at once and then stash them all over. And then when you want things to be more psychedelic you can have one or two, and if you want things to be really psychedelic you can have four or five. And you sorta over bake them so they get dry and storeable. And you put them in small containers for when you want to make things more psychedelic. Like if it’s a long boring day at your dumb job and you want to make the afternoon a little more psychedelic you can have one. Or if your wife is getting all naggy and saying stuff about things you’re not doing and you want to make things more psychedelic. Or if the work you brought home is just hanging over your head and you just need, like, for things to be more psychedelic. These are all good times to have psychedelic mini-brownies around.