REVIEW: Cheeseburger Cheetos (Japan)

Cheeseburger Cheetos (Japan)

I’ll tell you what I like about living in the 21st century. I mean besides the whole finding cures for terrible diseases and having a lot of great shows on Netflix.

What I like are the rabbit holes.

Just recently I fell down a rabbit hole when I watched the episode of Family Matters where Urkelbot first appeared. I wanted to know who was playing the robot. Who wouldn’t? It was Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers from the 1984 movie Breakin’. From there I stumbled into Electric Boogaloo, then Cannon Films, then New Line Cinema, then the House Party Trilogy. Needless to say I watched all those movies and now own the discographies of both Kid ‘n Play and Tony! Toni! Toné!.

The internet is great.

This review led me down the path of food mascots, and eventually to food mascots that had their own video games. The 80s and early 90s were a magical time, you guys. I feel like branding and marketing was in its golden age then. It was the perfect nexus of junk food, fast food, video games and the cartoon arts.

How else can you explain the fact that Chester Cheetah had not one, but two video games? I knew he had one, but was surprised to find that 1992’s seminal Too Cool to Fool spawned a sequel called Wild Wild Quest. I want to live in the time when that was possible.

Not to be outdone, Ronald McDonald and the Noid both had a pair of digital adventures, and who could forget Kool-Aid Man’s eponymous Atari 2600 classic.

Not impressed? The 7-Up Spot had three games! Three! He was huge in the 90s! Wonder what he’s doing now. Probably directing.

But my favorite of all food mascot video games, and sneaking in just before the dawn of the millennium, was the Japanese release of Pepsiman for the original Playstation, starring none other than Pepsi Japan’s thirst-quenching superhero, Pepsiman. I had no idea that Pepsiman existed, and I feel like I missed out. He looks awesome! Equal parts Silver Surfer and Generation Next, if he commanded me to drink Pepsi, you bet your sweet sugar syrup I would. Needless to say, I’m marginally obsessed and want to eBay everything I can get my hands on. Sidebar: I love the bottle caps Japan does with the little figures on top? Why don’t we do that in the states?

Anyway, until my Pepsiman collection is complete, Chester Cheetah and this bag of Cheeseburger Cheetos will have to do.

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This variety is the newest limited edition from Frito-Lay Japan. I find it exciting, as I’ve never tried a Cheetos variant that wasn’t just a new level of spice with a new corresponding color of red.

Realistically, cheeseburger flavor is always a problematic endeavor. What does “cheeseburger” mean? Does it mean beef and cheese? Beef, cheese, and bun? Beef, cheese, bun, lettuce, tomato, onion, and relish as the photo on the bag suggests? You get the idea. It’s downright philosophical really.

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And speaking of the bag, I’m saddened Chester has been relegated to the back. He needs to get in touch with Spot’s representation.

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The nosegrope is unusual. It’s a weird blend of pickles, mustard, and, of all things, rye bread.

The flavor is an equally unusual blend of rye bread, cheese, pickles, mustard, and onion.

If that’s not helpful, I can pinpoint the flavor exactly. You know how you buy a McDonalds cheeseburger and it’s all delicious and wonderful? Have you ever purchased too many and put one in the fridge? These Cheetos taste like a day old, refrigerated then microwaved McDonalds cheeseburger. I don’t know if that’s what they were going for, but they nailed it. Seriously, it’s uncanny.

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The flavor is bizarre but it sort of works. These are maybe the most interesting Japanese snack I’ve had. I don’t know if I love them, but I am definitely intrigued by them. I always recommend picking up Japanese snacks for fun, but you really do have to try these.

Besides Chester could use the scratch. He’s on the back of the bag, and he’s not getting a third game any time soon.

(Nutrition Facts – 448 calories, 25.7 grams of fat, 579 milligrams of sodium, 49.6 grams of carbohydrates, 4.6 grams of protein.)

Other Cheeseburger Cheetos reviews:
Grocery Gems

Item: Cheeseburger Cheetos (Japan)
Purchased Price: $3.29
Size: 83 grams
Purchased at: NapaJapan
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Scarily accurate and possibly unintentional flavor recreation. Pepsiman. Cheeseburger philosophy. Non-spicy Cheetos variants.
Cons: Lingering aftertaste.

REVIEW: Mike Tyson’s Black Energy Drink (Poland)

Mike Tyson's Black Energy 1I guess you could do worse than Mike Tyson as your product spokesperson. Granted there was that whole sex crime conviction and he did rip a guy’s ear off with his teeth and he did threaten to eat a guy’s children. But still. Spokesmen have been known to do worse.

I’m sure we all remember back in late 90s when the Jolly Green Giant rolled his Pontiac Fiero in the desert outside Reno after a four day meth bender. Sure he survived relatively unharmed, but sadly his diminutive life companion Sprout did not. The trial was sad and left the giant a broken man. And the next morning’s New York Times headline didn’t help his state of mind, mocking his beloved Jingle. “Ho, ho, ho! Maaaanslaughter. ”

Then it came to light that the only things Poppin’ Fresh was poppin’ were handfuls of OxyContin.

And I don’t even want to mention when Mr. Peanut’s fetish video surfaced.

Though I’m sure none of us were very surprised when Cap’n Crunch stabbed that guy outside of that Hooters in San Bernardino.

I used to be a Mike Tyson fan. When I was a kid, I loved him. Sure, I’d never seen him in a real life boxing match, nor had I ever heard him speak. But he was about the toughest NES boss I’d ever come across at that point in my life. That’s gotta count for something.

Mike Tyson's Black Energy 2I guess my first real falling out with ol’ Iron Mike came in 1990 when he lost the title to Buster Douglas. Again, I hadn’t seen a second of that fight (like my mom would ever let me get anything on Pay-Per-View). All I knew was that I’d been looking forward to Tyson refereeing a match between the then-heroic Hulk Hogan and the then-alive Macho King Randy Savage on Saturday Night’s Main Event, and now I would have to watch a boxing champion referee who didn’t star in a video game I’d been playing for years! What a disappointment.

Since then, like most of the world, I’ve watched with mild interest (and pity), Tyson’s slow descent from the God of Punching to a guy who just sort of floats around in the pop culture ether, showing up in stuff every once in a while.

And what better stop on that weird downward spiral than a stint as a peddler for this Polish energy drink.

Mike Tyson’s Black Energy.

First off, I like the can design. Simple and straightforward. Mike’s face tattoo is not something you’ll miss on a shelf. And a quick scan of the ingredients list reveals my new favorite drink ingredient: “aroma.”

Popping the top revealed a very Red Bullesque (Red Bullian?) nosegrope. Underwhelming. I was hoping “aroma” was going to be champion sweat.

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The drink itself is the color of my pee when I realize I haven’t had a liquid other than coffee in a few days. I was really hoping it was going to be intensely black. The drink. Not my pee.


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I don’t know what I was expecting this to taste like. Mike Tyson with part of Evander Holyfield’s ear in his mouth was at the front of my mind. All of those Polish jokes I’ve heard old people tell, in the back of my mind. I was hoping for some intensely foul craziness. But Mike Tyson’s Black Energy just tastes like Red Bull, though maybe not quite as sharp. Disappointing in the grand scheme, but I do like the Red Bull.

If you’re in Poland, I recommend picking up a can, if for no other reason than to have it on a shelf in your cubicle. Because why wouldn’t you?

I also recommend YouTubing the Black Energy commercials.

I also recommend watching that Hulk Hogan match.

I also recommend playing Mike Tyson’s Punch Out.

That is all.

(Nutrition Facts – 100 mL – 46 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, .1 grams of sodium, 10.8 grams of carbohydrates, 10.8 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Mike Tyson’s Black Energy Drink (Poland)
Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: 250 mL
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Red Bull. Soda Popinksi. Early 90s WWF. Poland. Champion sweat.
Cons: Pee. Buster Douglas. Face tattoos.

REVIEW: Seaweed Pringles (Thailand)

Seaweed Pringles

When I told people I’d be reviewing Seaweed Pringles this week, they reacted with that mild level of shock and disgust that I think is common when discussing almost any product associated with seaweed.  

It’s a silly reaction really, when you consider the unpronounceable chemicals most people ingest in the course of an average day’s worth of meals, or the slurry of anus and pig beaks that go into the universally loved hot dog. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. People eat sushi all the time, yet somehow they allow that seaweed a pass.  Divorce it from their beloved California Rolls and people recoil.  

Granted it’s algae and when people drift into it at the beach they tend to swim the other way as quickly as possible. But that’s not fair. Have you had a good look at a radish lately? Not exactly going to be calling out to you from the fridge in the middle of the night.

Sure it’s called seaweed, a moniker that couldn’t be more unpalatable, but that’s just a bad name.  It’s like Homer Simpson reminded Flanders, “There’s nothing wrong with crabgrass. It just has a bad name, that’s all. Everyone would love it if it had a cute name, like, elf grass.”

The whole thing is just a public relations failing. We all know beef is what’s for dinner and that pork is the other white meat, and people everywhere still can’t hear “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” without recalling fondly the all-singing, all-dancing California Raisins.

The only time seaweed gets represented in the popular culture at all is when someone washes up on a deserted beach somewhere. They roll over on their backs, cough up some sea water, and without fail, have a few requisite seaweed strands tangled about them. It’s shorthand for nearly drowning!

How about renaming seaweed “aqua greens” or “hydro leaves”? We could get Sebastian from The Little Mermaid to sing “Under the Sea” or something. And how far away are we from a Snorks reboot? Kids will be clamoring for seaweed. The stuff will sell itself.

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These Seaweed Pringles, imported from Thailand, won’t be doing any damage to seaweed’s reputation, but I don’t think these crisps will be winning the algae any new fans either. For those of you imagining popping the top of the can and being swept away to an exotic seashore on a nosegrope of briny goodness, forget it. The nosegrope is not much different than that of a can of regular Pringles. There is a vague earthiness buried somewhere deep in the Pringles aroma, but when I say vague, I mean I could very well be willfully imagining it.

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The same goes for the taste. They are not far off from a stack of regular Pringles. There is some sort of nebulous earthiness lurking somewhere on the tongue, but again, it is very, very subtle. If you were blind-tasting, you might not even notice. I don’t think I would.

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I found the salt level to be the most surprising. When I think of seaweed, I think salt. Dried seaweed strips can be pretty powerful. But for these chips, they chose to go the other way completely. Each chip is lightly dusted with a sugary coating, making them much sweeter than one would expect. Sugar is the first component in the breakdown of the seaweed extract in the ingredients list. That sweetness is really their defining taste characteristic.

Essentially what you have here are green Pringles. The minute changes to the standard recipe barely make these worth noticing. They could sell these in the U.S. as a St. Patrick’s Day limited edition. You could say that almost non-existent earthiness was meant to hearken back to old Ireland or a field of shamrocks somewhere. No one would bother to contradict you.

Are these bad? No, not at all. They are just unremarkable. These should have been a seaweedy smack in the face. But they’re just green. A little disappointing. Come on Pringles, if you’re going to do seaweed, do seaweed.

Don’t expect any algae-based Claymation characters anytime soon. We’ve got a long way to go, you guys.

(Nutrition Facts – 17 crisps (25g) – 130 calories, 7 grams of fat, 130 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, and 1 gram of protein.)

Other Seaweed Pringles reviews:
Crazy from Kong (video)

Item: Seaweed Pringles (Thailand)
Purchased Price: $6.99
Size: 110 grams
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Green Pringles. St. Patrick’s Day. The Snorks.
Cons: Sugar. Absence of seaweed. The California Raisins.

REVIEW: CMMG Tactical Bacon

Tactical Bacon 1

There have been a lot of end of the world scenarios floating around over the past few decades.

A zombie outbreak leaving the world decimated and filled with the shambling dead. A superbug making its way over from China and bringing down humanity through one questionable chicken salad sandwich sold at a deli in New Jersey. A robot uprising enslaving humanity as Siri tires of looking up show times for Resident Evil sequels and becomes self-aware.

Y2Kers warned of the destruction of society at the hands of the number 0. Aerosmith cautioned us about an Earth-asteroid collision. The Mayans predicted we will run out of calendars at the end of this year.

They are all perfectly scary in their own right, but I’m going to float my own theory. A theory so terrifying, I can barely force the keystrokes.

Sentient cholesterol.

Follow me down the greasy rabbit hole.

We’re fat. Really fat. Like redesign the It’s a Small World boats fat. With that much idle cholesterol lying around, do you expect me to believe that it is not slowly evolving into some kind of super intelligent hivemind? Please.

Cholesterol is already conscious. It has to be. It’s only biding its time. It can’t just rise up all of a sudden. It has to lull us into a false sense of security first. Why do you think Paula Dean’s still alive? (Note to self: investigate possible Starship Troopers-like Paula Dean/queen bug scenario).
Notice the bacon phenomenon that’s been incubating on the internet for the past few years? Bingo. Zero hour is almost at hand.

Case in point. Tactical Bacon. Bacon in a can. A can! Surely such a sublime novelty sounds good on paper but couldn’t possibly deliver on its promise in the harsh cold light of reality.
I didn’t know what to expect upon opening the can. Possibly a wet messy clump of bacon strips sitting forlornly at the bottom of a can filled with salt brine.

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Instead I got this greasy, waxy paper stacked two layers deep and rolled into a tight roll the perfect size for fitting into a can. It was terrifying and beautiful. Unfurling it made me feel a little like Dexter Morgan. That exciting rush he must feel before a kill. But instead of a menacing roll of gleaming knives, I had a processed pork product.

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Tactical Bacon 6

I counted the strips. I had to know. At final count, my hands were heavy with grease, and I had over 40 strips of bacon. Dear God, man.

The nosegrope was indeed bacon. Not jerky, not chemical, not metallic. Bacon. That was troubling. The clock of humanity ticks one minute closer to midnight.

Tactical Bacon 7

Surely canned bacon can’t taste right. If there is a just and merciful omnipotent force guiding the universe, it wouldn’t allow it. But my friends, the bacon…tastes…good. It tastes like cold bacon. The texture has lost a little and become a touch mealy, there are occasional notes of the smoke flavoring that’s been added, and the bacon obviously doesn’t have that fresh from the pan pop, but the bacon tastes good. Certainly good enough.

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So the end game is upon us. Soon we will find ourselves in yet another disaster scenario. Panic will ensue. The human race will get wind of this product (it keeps for 10 years) and start stockpiling it, forgoing canned vegetables and survival rations. The disaster will pass by innocently, and people will find themselves with pantries full of canned bacon and a backed up Netflix queue.

And then…the snacking shall begin.

I weep for the subjugation of our once noble race. Writing this review, it has just occurred to me that I may very well be the puppet of our cholesterol masters. Turned into a disposable, pro-bacon, propaganda-spouting mouthpiece. I won’t live like this. It’s not right. I can’t betray my fellow man. I’m going to finish this can and wait for death’s sweet release.

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“Beware the Cholesterol Man, for he is the Devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport or lust or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death.”

(Nutrition Facts – 3 slices (14g) – 60 calories, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, and 5 grams of protein. )

Item: CMMG Tactical Bacon
Purchased Price: $19.99
Size: 9 ounces
Purchased at: Think Geek
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Bacon in a goddamn can.
Cons: Bacon in a goddamn can!

REVIEW: Pepsi Salty Watermelon (Japan)

Salty Watermelon Pepsi 1

Ah, the watermelon. Citrullus lanatus. The Summer Mistress. The Red Witch. Queen of the Fireflies. The Seedy Lady. The Damsel of Rind Street.

No matter which name you grew up using, Her Watery Majesty never fails to call to mind the carefree days of summer and youth well spent. Hot dogs, Slip ‘N Slides, sandy beaches and the unattainable girl I was in love with who lived next to my grandparents. Sigh. I’m not sure any fruit is more imbued with the power of nostalgia than the humble watermelon.

So with summer drawing to a humid close, let us not forget what the summer of 2012 has brought us. You can proudly tell your future grandchildren that you were at home watching with bated breath the night Michael Phelps did all of those important swimming things that he did. You can tell them that, yes, you camped out in the midnight line for Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection.

And, while nestled cozily in your underground cavern, you can explain to them that you stayed up late to watch the U.S. land the robot on Mars that would ultimately lead to the Martian invasion that nearly eradicated the human race.

It’s been an exciting few months.

And to mark all of these historic occasions, the Japanese arm of Pepsi has released their latest limited time only summer flavor, Salty Watermelon.

I’ve only had one experience with a Japanese Pepsi product and that was with their Pepsi Pink, a strawberry and milk flavored beverage that was released late in 2011. The name Pepsi Pink was a little misleading, as the drink itself was a unique soda entity that didn’t really retain any of the original Pepsi properties.

Pepsi Salty Watermelon is more true to its moniker. Upon opening the bottle, the first thing that surprised me was its nosegrope. There seemed to be some remnant of the original namesake beverage. I could detect both Pepsi and watermelon. The watermelon scent was not overpowering, but smelled a little like the artificial watermelon flavor found in so many hard candies (Jolly Ranchers, et al). But just a little.

That’s really what I was expecting this to be. Just a very sweet, very candy watermelon soda. But it’s not at all. I could still taste Pepsi. Actually, I tasted mostly Pepsi. The watermelon flavor that is weaved in is surprisingly subtle and only really makes its mark after you swallow, and then most strongly if you open your mouth to breathe. The watermelon is almost an afterthought. And it doesn’t taste like Jolly Ranchers at all, but is a pretty good approximation of actual watermelon.

The soda is also not very sweet. I don’t think I’d call it salty, but the sweetness has been scaled back considerably. It’s also very finely carbonated and has a fairly dry finish. Overall, it definitely drinks like a beverage for adults. A lot of forethought and restraint went into this drink. A sugary candy explosion it is not.

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I like the bottle design. Can’t go wrong with a watermelon and a beach. And I am a fan of the slender bottles used in Japan. The color of Pepsi Salty Watermelon leaves a little to be desired though. It’s not quite watermelon red. Just sort of pinkish, I guess. But who cares? Close enough.

Salty Watermelon Pepsi 3

This is an interesting beverage. It’s not at all what I was expecting. Pepsi Japan continues to offer the world an interesting array of seasonal flavors while we in the U.S. continue to chug the same old same old. Sigh.

Pick up a bottle of Pepsi Salty Watermelon if you can. It’s good. And hurry up, the stupid fall is right around the corner.

(Thanks to wonderful Impulsive Buy reader Michele for sending us bottles of Pepsi Salty Watermelon from Japan.)

(Nutrition Facts – 100 ml – 42 kcal, 0 grams of protein, 0 grams of fat, 19 milligrams of sodium, 10.5 grams of carbohydrates.)

Item: Pepsi Salty Watermelon (Japan)
Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 490 mL
Purchased at: Somewhere in Japan 
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Watermelonic accuracy. Restraint. Yellow plastic and garden hoses. Making up nicknames for fruit.
Cons: You’ll probably never get to try it. Martian invasions. Lost loves named Lindsey.