REVIEW: Armour Syrup Flavored Vienna Sausage

Armour Syrup Flavored Vienna Sausage

There are certain cravings that make sense.

I want an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. Watching Chris Davis go yard at the Yard, I feel a sudden urge for peanuts and Cracker Jack.

Other cravings are a little more “out there,” but understandable given extenuating circumstances. It’s what excuses adding pork rinds to your milkshake after a night at the bar, or what allows pregnant women to justify eating Pillsbury brownie mix right out of the bowl. Some cravings, though, just make no sense whatsoever.

Take me and canned meat. Growing up with a bountiful supply of, well, your typical American upper-middle class food, I always had the blessing of fresh meat to eat during my formative gastronomic years. Likewise, in college, I enjoyed an all-you-can-eat dining hall which, despite being a young man with a plan, did not leave me with a necessary reliance on any sort of can. And having never lived through a natural disaster, been subjected to a dinner party at a Doomsday Prepper’s home, nor decided to engage in any kind of cross-oceanic voyage that would make canned food a necessity, you might surmise that I should have no attraction to the canned meat aisle to begin with.

You, my friend, would be wrong.

Quite the opposite, really. My fixation on canned meats knows no limits, which is probably why the 53 cent can of the new Armour Syrup Flavored Vienna Sausage captured my imagination.

First, a word on perspective. My romanticized version of canned meat aside, I’m still a realist when it comes to these kinds of products. At less than a pack of the really cheap gum (you know, the one with the multicolored striped zebra), I realize I’m getting something which probably has no taste whatsoever of the chicken, beef, and pork which I’m told make up each sausage. By the same token, I can dull my expectations of full bodied maple flavor when it comes to “syrup type sauce.” Just a quick recap of the hierarchy of syrup and such:

1) Maple Syrup

2) Pancake Syrup

3) Syrup-Type Sauce

Clearly we fall below the gourmet line. Actually, we even fall below the school cafeteria line, but who’s judging? Well, besides me. Now, about this aroma. There really is no experience short of a career as a dump truck driver that will prepare you for the initial waft of a freshly opened can. “Fresh” is the operative word here.

Overall, the smell strikes boldly of truck stop leftovers. Not just your generic Route 66 truck-stop leftovers, mind you. I’m talking Western Pennsylvania scrapple drowned in a weak corn syrup liquid which proudly claims a hue bordering on Diesel brownish-yellow and “if your pee is this color, please consult a doctor immediately.” Yeah, that kind of leftovers.

If you’ve never had a Vienna sausage, the best way I can describe it is like a cheap hot dog, only the size of your thumb. It’s a bit slimy on the outside, with an initial rubbery bite and a bit of pasty consistency on the finish. It doesn’t really taste like meat, but bad smell and all jokes aside, it’s not completely objectionable.

Armour Syrup Flavored Vienna Sausage Syrup Closeup

If you’re not averse to eating highly processed meats you might even find it “meh.” That said, you probably will need something to jazz it up. That’s where the “syrup type sauce” comes in. But who are we kidding? Calling this stuff a sauce is like calling watered down Pepsi a sauce. The consistency is that of water, with no body in texture and little, if any, flavor to the sweetness. It’s just kind of there, and what’s more, only has seeped into the sausages in moderate amounts. What it creates is a mildly sweet-salty combination, but only one on the atomic level. All things considered, it tastes exactly like you’d expect; a mini cheap hot dog with some sugar poured on it.

Armour Syrup Flavored Vienna Sausage Toothpick

While the epicurean toothpick method is highly preferred in most “snack from the can when nobody is looking” occasions, consider that the fine folks at Armour want you to remember that these are “Great with Breakfast!” To this end, I must admit, they are not.

Armour Syrup Flavored Vienna Sausage Waffle

And should you take it upon yourself to whip sliced pieces of Syrup flavored sausage into your favorite waffle batter, you will in fact yield an utterly insipid waffle with burnt pieces of said Vienna Sausage. Unless you prefer your waffles burnt on the outside, chewy on the inside, and just kinda weird tasting all over, I recommend passing on this cooking application of the product.

At 53 cents a can, Armour’s new Syrup Flavored Vienna Sausages might be the most economical way of getting your sweet and salty fix on this side of pouring a Splenda packet and salt packet in your mouth simultaneously. Nevertheless, the latest and greatest creation from Armour serves as a tried and true reminder that you get what you pay for.

I can forgive highly processed meat that doesn’t taste like meat. I mean, that’s what canned food is all about. But I was really expecting more from the syrup. to this end, I have to proclaim this bold innovation in canned food a failure. Oh well. I guess there’s always SPAM.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 sausages with syrup – 120 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 510 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)

Item: Armour Syrup Flavored Vienna Sausage
Purchased Price: 53 cents
Size: 4.75 oz. can
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Not completely detestable. Extremely cheap. Has kind of the salty-sweet thing going on, albeit in a leftover truck-stop diner food kind of way.
Cons: But, why? Syrup looks like gasoline. Not desirable by any means. Syrup lacks body, depth, or noticeable flavor outside of high fructose corn syrup. Sausages taste like cheap hot dogs out of a can, which technically they are. Cravings that make no sense.

WEEK IN REVIEWS – 6/25/2011

VINTAGE SODA My worst canned drinks...and my favourite

Here are a few product reviews posted this week from other blogs we follow.

Believe or not, TAB soda still exists. Since New Coke doesn’t, it’s good to know I’ll have something era-appropriate to drink during those special occasions when I wear my Members Only jacket and leg warmers. (via Clearance Cuisine)

Rhubarb custard isn’t helping the stereotype that the British have horrible tasting food. (via Foodstuff Finds)

7 Up has gone retro with a version sweetened with real sugar. Personally, I would’ve preferred a REALLY retro version that uses one of the ingredients from 7 Up’s original formula, a mood-stabilizing drug called lithium citrate, and uses its original name, Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda. (via The Soda Jerks)

Your can opener should probably thank Dave’s Cupboard for reviewing every store-bought clam chowder he could get his hands on. (via Dave’s Cupboard)

Here are more Trader Joe’s product reviews than you can shake a stick at. Oh wait, I mean, more Trader Joe’s product reviews than you can shake an organic, all-natural, gluten-free, vegetarian, and handcrafted stick at. (via An Immovable Feast)

La Choy Beef Chow Mein

I feel like I haven’t been putting my Asian-ness to good use on The Impulsive Buy. Crashing my car last month was proof that I‘m giving credence to my heritage in my day-to-day life, but I wanted to take that Eastern expertise to a food review. Luckily for me, Wal-Mart sells various ethnic cuisines of questionable authenticity and it was easy for me to pick something out that looked intriguing.

Usually, “intriguing” for me means “so ridiculously ludicrous and insulting that I bet no other site has reviewed this.” This time, however, La Choy’s Beef Chow Mein genuinely looked like a tasty meal. As soon as I opened it up, though, I soon realized that things out of cans are rarely gourmet and never fresh. The top can, which contained brown gravy with a few specks of beef, resembled a premium soup that Alpo would make for dogs. The bottom can contained blanched bean sprouts, baby corn, carrots, water chestnuts, celery, and red pepper. Almost all of the mix was soggy bean sprouts.

It suddenly occurred to me that this chow mein had absolutely no chow mein in it. Maybe I‘ve been eating too much bastardized Chinese food, but I had always thought that chow mein was basically noodles with some sort of vegetables mixed in. I went to Wikipedia to restore some semblance of sanity to the situation, but they confirmed my initial suspicions that chow mein was indeed noodles. Which begged the question: What the fuck am I eating?

Whatever it was, it wasn’t anything that I would ever order at Panda Express. After mixing the vegetables with the beef sauce and simmering it for a few minutes, I tried some and savored the taste of limp bean sprouts in a sauce that tasted like something from a can of Chunky Soup. Mmm…mmm! I also loved the fact that the small portion seen on the can has more beef than the entire contents of what they’re really selling. That’s what I like to call value for money!

Even through my disappointed sarcasm, I couldn’t help but feel bad about the purchase. Can tasty Asian food ever come out of a can? Are we doomed to be stuck in the realm of takeout food? I pondered these questions as I put my chopsticks in the sink. Even baby corn’s intrinsic awesomeness couldn’t save the rest of the pan from going into the trash.

(Nutritional Facts – 1 cup – 90 calories, 2 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 mg of cholesterol, 880mg sodium, 11 grams of carbs, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, 8 grams of protein, 40% Vitamin A, 25% Vitamin C, 4% Calcium, and 10% Iron)

Item: La Choy Beef Chow Mein
Price: $2.50
Purchased at: Wal-Mart
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Comes in two separate cans so you feel like you’re actually making your own meal. Variety of vegetables theoretically make it interesting. You can add more beef or tofu to it in order to make it edible.
Cons: Vegetables have little to no texture. No chow mein in the chow mein. Can of “beef” is almost all sauce.

Casa Fiesta Beef Tamales

My doctor told me last week that I wasn’t getting enough of my fat intake from canned foods.

Actually, he told me that I was lucky to make it to his office from my car, but this is what I would buy if the previous sentence were true. It’s Casa Fiesta’s Beef Tamales in a can. It boasts that it needs no preservatives, which sounds healthy until you realize that it’s packed in its own grease.

The whole idea of tamales in a can would be enough to give some purists a heart attack — and not just from the cholesterol. Real tamales are lovingly made by hand by an Mexican woman and steamed over several hours with obnoxious mariachi music playing in the background.

They are wrapped in either corn husks or banana leaves, both of which are usurped here by the practical-yet-bland parchment paper. All six tamales are individually wrapped and ready for consumption.

For who?

I’m not certain, but I think I fit right into their self-loathing bachelor demographic. Low standards here are important because they’re not what I’d call pretty. In fact, the process of canning and shipping has left these tamales looking a little bit like spent condoms. I’ll let you use your imagination for the chili sauce.

Fortunately, it does not taste awful. I would never dare serve these to other people, but they are good when you are too lazy to cook and want some spicy food out of a can. The masa dough on the outside is passable even though it kind of blends in with the beef. The beef paste has no real discernible texture; it is comparable to a dryer version of Chef Boyardee’s mystery beef.

If it weren’t for the color, I wouldn’t be able to tell where one ended and the other one began. After drenching it in hot sauce and sour cream, however, you will cease caring and begin enjoying this bastardized Mexican classic.

(Nutritional Facts – 2 tamales – 220 calories, 15 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 mg of cholesterol, 680 mg sodium, 14 grams of carbs, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugar, 5 grams of protein, 8% Vitamin A, 2% Vitamin C, 2% Calcium, and 4% Iron)

Item: Casa Fiesta Beef Tamales
Price: $1.39
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tastes pretty good once you throw a bunch of stuff on it. Convenient and good to have on hand. No preservatives.
Cons: Very greasy if you don’t scoop out the excess. Lacks any discernible texture. Obnoxious mariachi music. Kind of look like spent condoms.

Campbell’s Chunky Fully Loaded Rigatoni & Meatballs Soup

Oh, football season — the most masculine, yet homoerotic of all seasons. Think of all the Sundays spent shouting while in the vicinity of drunk and rowdy men. Ponder the countless hours debating whether those feelings you have for Tom Brady are natural admiration or unfettered lust. There is really nothing else quite like it.

For years, the folks at Campbell’s have capitalized on the season’s excitement by using football players to promote their Chunky Soup. I have no problem with sports leagues promoting products, but I can’t quite make out the connection here. After all, this is a brand of soup based solely on the premise that large men enjoy a steaming hot bowl of soup after a grueling practice. Who needs a frosty Gatorade or a sandwich when you can have a boiling hot bowl of soup with processed meats and vegetables that melt in your mouth? While this may seem surreal and absurd, nothing is quite as insane as what they are pitching with the Fully Loaded soup variety.

Apparently Chunky Soup, the soup that eats like a meal, wasn’t meal-like enough to satisfy the hunger of football players after they were done frolicking in mud as rain poured down on them. Instead of wondering who the hell pitches these commercials, I’m going to try to decipher exactly why this thing product is considered soup. I suppose the Chunky Fully Loaded takes after athletes and is a soup on steroids and human growth hormones. However, they have taken their approach way too far and have created a proverbial monster. You see, this is clearly rigatoni and meatballs, and unless I have been mistaken for my entire life, pasta is not soup. In fact, unlike crock pot meals and shepherd’s pie, it’s not even close to being soup. You might as well sever your own testicles and call it chicken cordon bleu. It really makes absolutely no sense.

Speaking of testicles, Campbell’s has finally accomplished what they have always strived to do — give soup some serious balls. While that statement is indeed a terrible joke, it’s also what I think this “soup” is really made of. The meatballs have an abnormally chewy texture that I could only assume mirror the texture of a certain questionable organ meat. Maybe this is to appeal to the people with giant Oakland Raiders vinyl decals and metallic ballsacks hanging from the back of their trucks, but nobody knows for sure. I understand that they can’t use the finest cuts available, but this is bordering on unappetizing and disturbing.

Luckily, I am less than picky about canned pasta and can safely say that I would much rather eat this than Chef Boyardee. The rigatoni is not mushy like many canned pastas and actually has some texture to it. They are also large enough to make me feel like a really big man while I’m eating them, which is probably worth the price of purchase on its own. The meatballs, strange texture and all, are not completely awful and are edible enough. The tomato sauce, which I suppose would be the soup in this case, has actual chunks of tomato and has a good acidic bite that is a refreshing change from the saccharine taste of the tomato sauces in other canned pastas.

What I appreciate most is the fact that the soup has a pop-top lid. Most of the people that buy this type of food do not own a can opener, so I like that they are saving us from the humiliation of stabbing it with a knife and jamming a spoon in to get it open. Even still, I can’t forgive them for completely messing with my sense of reality. When certain things in my worldview become distorted, I can’t help but feel despondent. If I ever go to Olive Garden and get “Fettuccini Alfredo” as the soup of the day, you will know why I tried to hang myself with the noodles.

(Nutritional Facts – 1 cup – 220 calories, 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 20 mg of cholesterol, 800mg sodium, 24 grams of carbs, 6 grams of dietary fiber, 8 grams of sugar, 13 grams of protein, 4% Vitamin A, 8% Calcium, and 10% Iron)

Item: Campbell’s Chunky Fully Loaded Rigatoni & Meatballs Soup
Price: $2.00
Purchased at: Ralph’s
Rating: 3 out of 5
Pros: A lot of food for a decent price. Rigatoni and sauce taste pretty good. Not mushy. Tom Brady.
Cons: Meatballs have strange texture. Eating soup after strenuous exercise. Raiders fans with truck nuts. Things that aren’t soup being called soup. Trying to hang yourself with noodles.