REVIEW: Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt

Some memories are best left in their own time. Case in point: Third wave ska, Disney Afternoon cartoons, JNCO pants. Let them be. Revisiting these things is a risk, a danger to the fond nostalgia they might evoke at this point in time. This is because they are objectively poor (and memories are unreliable), composed of a multitude of components and emotions, including the way we picture our younger selves—hopeful, untainted, resilient. Memories are a trick. We’re all on the same page here, right? Memories are a trick. Got it? Good.

Cue the time machine. Sometimes it’s a phone booth, sometimes it’s a DeLorean, and sometimes it’s a British phone booth. In this case it’s a supermarket freezer, packed full of frozen treats, yearning to be consumed. The colorful packaging displaying giant carb pills chock full o’ meat ‘n dairy tantalize and beckon, ready to send you back ten, fifteen, twenty years. Whatever you like, master. Look, it’s even a fixed run! Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt. What a beaut.

Remember Hot Pockets?

Flaky crust injected with beef or pork — an inside-out pizza, a sandwich with no edges. An afternoon treat before soccer practice, or during a Mortal Kombat II jam sesh. Enjoyed with a cold Fruitopia. Mom, stop trying to make phone calls, I’m on AOL! Aw, man I got Hot Pocket all over my hip-hop Looney Toons t-shirt. I know, I know. We just went over this. Memories are lies, yeah yeah. … Eff it, we’re going back! It’s a time machine, bro. You can’t not go. It’s a time machine. Don’t be lame. Let’s do it. Start it up!

The Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt sucks. The box promises Angus beef, portabella mushrooms, provolone and mozzarella and “soft-baked bread.” The bread is soft, yes, sort of like a ciabatta or something. It’s also super soggy after the requisite minute and fifty seconds in the microwave. Maybe there’s a conventional oven plan we can put this on? The box has no instructions for that. All the best, we’ve seen microwavable burritos. We don’t have 40 minutes to sit around waiting for a Hot Pocket to thaw.

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt Innards

There are a few hits of “premium meat” flavor and mushroom taste, which is somehow immediately fleeting, taken over by steaming hot filling that tastes like nothing. The photo on the box is stuffed with beef and cheese, and the bisected reality is one of a space worm from Dune that feeds on bad choices and nostalgia. The beef on the box is sliced and layered. The beef in the actual pocket is chopped into bits, resembling the leftover bits from a deli slicer. Even the box has memories that lie.

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt Closeup

The worst part is that it’s not substantial at all. It barely registers as a snack. If you’re not gonna make it good to eat at least food coma us so we can dream about a Hot Pocket that is satisfying on some level. It was a bad omen when taking it out of the microwave, the Hot Pocket looked like a pet gerbil that had made a doodie mess out of its backside all over the plate. It looked shameful, like it had made a mistake. It’s not your fault, though. The mistake was all ours.

As the time travel effects wear off and we slingshot back to the present, we see a whirlwind of our past: First girlfriend, favorite teacher, Chuck Berry’s cousin Marvin Berry, wife of multiple time travelers Rachel McAdams. Reflecting on our trip, Prophet Gaffigan was right. We should have never gone back. Now the entire past is up for scrutiny. Maybe everything in the past sucks, except for Batman the Animated Series, Starter jackets, and the Hubble Space Telescope.

The question is: Did the Hot Pocket get worse, or was it never good in the first place? The answer doesn’t matter. In 2014, it’s garbage. We’re all about e-cigs, Teslas, and Google Glass now. Perhaps it was a fine product for children. But we’re adults. We’ve had sushi. We’ve eaten Ethiopian food. This is not for us anymore. Forget it, Jake. It’s Hot Pockets.

(Nutrition Facts – 270 calories, 90 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 490 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.)

Item: Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt
Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 2 sandwiches/box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Very cheap at a buck a piece. Maybe one bite of okay flavor.
Cons: Not substantial. Contents eventually taste like nothing, like a waste of product. Should be at least filling if not tasty, but is neither.

REVIEW: Papa John’s Double Cheeseburger Pizza

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza

Being fortunate enough to live in an area with a large number of mom ‘n’ pop pizza shops, I’ve seen the cheeseburger pizza road before. (But not an actual Cheeseburger Pizza Road – if I saw that, I would move there immediately.)

I’ve found that small pizza joints tend to have a wider variety of toppings and, thus, a wider variety of specialty pizzas, ranging from cheeseburger to taco to gyro to something with pine nuts and Hoisin sauce. Okay, I made up the last one, but it’s not out of the question.

Comparatively, most chain specialty pizzas and toppings in general are pretty pedestrian. I consider myself lucky if I can even get white sauce as an option. If they do decide to branch out, it tends to be towards Crazy Town, like shoving hot dogs or seven different cheeses into their crusts. In fact, a lot of the insanity in chain specialty pizzas involves shoving shit into the crust. I’m looking at you, Pizza Hut.

Papa John’s went a different direction with their Double Cheeseburger Pizza, however. They put the crazy on top, not in the crust.

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza Slice

Here’s what Papa John’s has to say about the Double Cheeseburger Pizza: “Featuring a zesty burger sauce covered with a double layer of 100% real beef, dill pickle slices, fresh cut roma tomatoes and 100% real cheese made from mozzarella.”

I have several points of contention with this description. Let’s start with the burger sauce.

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza Burger Sauce

First off, the words “zesty burger sauce” are both generic and sound like they should be about five miles away from my pizza. Upon tasting, I uphold this idea. On its own, the flavor of the sauce was distinctly mayo mixed with ketchup, aka the poor man’s Thousand Island dressing. Call me crazy, but fresh-from-the-oven hot mayonnaise is not appealing.

Next we have the double layer of real beef. “Double layer” is a questionable quantity, and that really showed here, as I found the beef pieces to be rather sparse. Furthermore, the pieces of beef were small and remarkably flavorless, which is a bad trait for a pizza that’s supposed to taste like a burger.

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza Pickles

The tomatoes and cheese were just fine, but the real issue was the pickles. While the beef had a weak showing, the pickles certainly made up for it in spades. It appeared that Papa John’s used the same pickles you’d find on a regular fast-food burger, which sounds promising on paper but did not translate at all to a burger party in my mouth.

I could not escape the pickles. There was a slice in every bite. After I’d done my duty for the purposes of this review and eaten the pizza as-is, I tried removing the pickles in an attempt to have a slice of pizza that did not taste like a jar of brine. It was impossible. Even with the pickles themselves gone, the juice had been absorbed deep into the crust.

I would like to officially rename Papa John’s Double Cheeseburger Pizza to Papa John’s Precariously Plentiful Pickle Pizza. With sad beef, warm mayo sauce, and so many brined cucumbers that it made me want to make about 15 Pickles the Drummer jokes throughout this review, I cannot in good conscience call this a cheeseburger pizza.

To use a forced basketball analogy, Papa John’s Double Cheeseburger Pizza needs to work on its fundamentals. For right now, I’m benching it.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/6 of a small pizza – 260 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 600 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 8 grams of protein.)

Item: Papa John’s Double Cheeseburger Pizza
Purchased Price: $6.00 (on sale: regular price $12)
Size: Small
Purchased at: Papa John’s
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: I got it for 50 percent off. The tomatoes and cheese were fine. Metalocalypse. I only ordered a small. If you put pickles on everything you eat, this is your dream come true.
Cons: Pickles overtook everything. A chain restaurant that left the crust alone but still made an awful specialty pizza. Warm mayo/ketchup sauce. I wish I was actually good at basketball. The double serving of burger was a double serving of sadness.

REVIEW: Burger King Big King (2013)

Burger King Big King

For every Diablo II, there is a Titan Quest. For every Bruce Lee, you get a Bruce Li (or a Bruce Leung if you’re really unfortunate). And for every Volcano, you are tortured by a Dante’s Peak. Is it me or am I the only who laughed when that old lady was screaming in that boiling lake? The melting legs in Volcano were funny too, but at least it had Anne Heche when she was “librarian-hot.”

They say people believe that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. (Run-on sentence warning.) I say people who say that are secretly wishing to bury a pickaxe into the skull of the imitation rather than spew some bullshit silver lining sayings.

Burger King’s Big King isn’t so much an imitation as it is more of a dare to size up a corporate “Who’s penis is bigger?” argument. The name itself, Big King, is a figurative flaming arrow shot Rambo-way at a certain clown who hawks a particular legendary two all-beef patties sandwich.

But if you plan on taking down a legend, you need to bring more than just empty talk.

You see, I envision this as a bonus stage in Mortal Kombat II, complete with a pixelated voice shouting “Round One, FIGHT!” and the secret blood code unlocked. It’s Big King versus Big Mac! (Cue the underrated Utah Saints’ remix of Mortal Kombat theme song.)

Then I picture the sap playing as Big King watching in silence as he is being barraged by multiple point punches. Soon, computerized shouts of “Toasty!” and “Flawless” pepper the air as the digitalized lettuce and pickles start flying around. Of course, the player smashes the Playstation controller onto the cold tile and walks out.

I believe Big King was introduced in the 90’s, the decade that brought such embarrassments like the soul patch, nipples on Batman’s suit or The Spin Doctors. However, not everything in the 90’s was bad, but Big King will make you think otherwise.

As you can imagine, Big King is two savory fire-grilled beef patties, special sweet thousand island sauce, lettuce, melted American cheese, crunchy pickles, crispy onions in a sesame seed bun. Don’t try to hum that tune while saying that because it won’t work. If you don’t detect the difference, your taste buds will certainly alert you to it.

The burger, to say at the very least, made me contemplate suicide after I poisoned all my goldfish by dropping an Alka-Seltzer in the bowl while listening to Interpol. Dramatic I know, but this burger was a complete Hindenburg disaster.

Burger King Big King Ooze

Upon examination, there was so much sauce. It was dripping off the sides like a glazed donut. The burger patties were dry and thin, like those cheap chocolate chip cookies you get from a subpar travel lodge. True to form in my experience, the cheese was not melted and limp. Yet, the lettuce and onions were abundant and crisp, and those pickles crunched like a sonata. Maybe those passive-aggressive people are right, there is a damned silver lining in everything!

Burger King Big King Topless 2

When I took my first bite, I wanted to throw it away angrily or 80’s-style wrestler stomp it on the ground. All I could taste was the tangy thousand-island dressing that had too much mayonnaise, the intense briny edge of the pickles and flavorless (but crispy) iceberg lettuce. If the sesame bun was toasted, I had no clue because it was soggy and disgusting. It was like eating a sweet mayonnaise and lettuce sandwich. The onions didn’t even add much, except depression.

The sauce drowned out everything. It doesn’t help the beef patties were wafer-thin as if it were pretending to be carpaccio and the flavorless lettuce only emphasized the sole flavor of sweet and tangy globs of mayonnaise.

I was so angry, the onion rings couldn’t even make me happy. Instead I smashed it with my fists and Frisbee’d the offensive sandwich into my neighbor’s lawn.

Burger King’s promise that “Taste is King” on its bags is akin to the corner escort who says “I love you long time.” I’m all for an alternative, but sometimes the old adage rings true…the original is sometimes better. Unless you’re talking about 2008’s Rambo, which I hate to admit, it kicks First Blood out of the jungle.

(Nutrition Facts – 510 calories, 29 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 780 milligrams of sodium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of sugar, 18 grams of protein.)

Item: Burger King Big King
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: The lettuce and pickles were crunchy. Jet Li. You will be find comfort being assured that McDonald’s still trumps in all other special sauce sandwiches. Unlocking the blood code and stomping things 80’s wrestler style.
Cons: Too much sauce. Cheese not melted. Bruce Li. Thin and dry patties. The onion rings won’t save you. Smashing your controller in a fit of rage as an adult.

REVIEW: Post Sesame Street C is for Cereal A is for Apple

Post Sesame Street C is for Cereal A is for Apple Box

A is for apple. B is for banana. C is for childless woman purchasing alcohol and a box of toddler cereal at the self-checkout, pretending that this is perfectly normal.

Wait, sorry, got that wrong. C is for cereal!

Being the childless woman mentioned above, I questioned my ability to fairly judge Post Sesame Street C is for Cereal. I have no nieces or nephews, and my time around children has been pretty limited in general. To be honest, they make me a little uncomfortable. There’s always something going on with their snot and they ask strange questions that I don’t know how to answer.

After a little thought, though, I realized I do have the mind of a child. I like poop and fart jokes, and I do run into things a lot. I don’t pick my nose in public, but I do occasionally burp out loud, forgetting I’m not at home.

I chose “A is for Apple” over “B is for Banana” (do you “C” what they did there?) partly because I’m not fond of fake banana flavoring and partly because the Cookie Monster is the mascot for that flavor. I get that they’re promoting “healthy” flavors, but dude…Cookie Monster. Cookie cereal. It makes me angry enough that cookies are now a “sometimes food”, but forcing the Cookie Monster to shill bananas is just sad.

Apple gets Elmo as a mascot. I’m cool with Elmo. I’m also going to completely ignore that his voice actor allegedly had sex with underaged boys or whatever. This is about cereal and toddlers and snot. Let’s not drag out any nasty business.

Post Sesame Street C is for Cereal A is for Apple Box Back

Palate cleanser: the back of Sesame Street Apple shows Elmo trying to catch butterflies. He could not be any happier about it, and the butterflies are happy too, probably because they realize that Elmo’s net is too small to catch any of them, so this is more of a fun outdoor dance party than anything else.

Because there’s a long-standing tradition of kids staring at the back of cereal boxes while they eat their breakfast, there’s some fun activities to occupy a young child’s mind. They are encouraged to count both the butterflies and the X’s and O’s on each butterfly.

Post Sesame Street C is for Cereal A is for Apple Close-Up

These letters were not chosen randomly – Sesame Street Cereal is shaped like X’s and O’s, which I personally find a little puzzling. Why are they limited to the letters that are universally recognized as hugs and kisses? Does Alpha-Bits have a trademark on the rest of the alphabet?

After a quick Google search, I discovered that Alpha-Bits is also a Post product, so what’s the problem, here? Your toddler could be learning how to spell words like “booger” and “poopyhead” with Elmo!

Of course, you could always play tic-tac-toe with your X’s and O’s. I always tie when I play against myself, though.

According to Post’s website, “Sunny days start with Post Sesame Street Cereal: Elmo Apple! It has just-for-toddlers nutrition that moms can feel good about (whole grains, low sugar, and natural colors and flavors), the classic fun of Elmo, and naturally-flavored X’s and O’s that kids will love.”

I guess cloudy and rainy days are out of luck. No Elmo for you.

I was surprised that apple was not actually listed as an ingredient in “Elmo Apple” (which is how Post seems to refer to it everywhere but on the actual cereal box). There’s the presence of always-vague “natural flavor”, but that’s it. While I found this discouraging, the ingredient list as a whole is short and composed of words I can actually pronounce, so moms really can feel good about that. Plus, the list of vitamins and minerals takes up half the side of the box, making my job at the end of this review harder, but making moms feel better knowing their toddler just ate 50 percent of their suggested daily intake of folic acid.

Like any other human being, I first tried A is for Apple by sticking my hand in the box and shoving the dry cereal into my mouth. This did not go well. It tasted like I was eating horse feed. Granted, I’ve never tried horse feed, but I’d imagine this cereal would make a fine substitute.

Post Sesame Street C is for Cereal A is for Apple Dry

The best way I could describe the flavor is “grains”. Not grainy, just grains, like if you’d gotten a box of Lucky Charms that had gone horribly wrong somewhere along the assembly line and was completely devoid of marshmallows or any sweetness. There was also a rather prominent, odd bitter taste.

I was so distracted by how blandly healthy the cereal tasted that I forgot for a second that it was supposed to taste like apple. It did not taste like apple. I reached my arms out, struggling to find the apple taste, much like how a toddler reaches up to his mommy when he wants to be picked up. I was able to find a faint taste, a tongue whiff, if you will, of apple, but even that lacked all signs of sweetness.

Post Sesame Street C is for Cereal A is for Apple with Milk

The box said that one serving for children over the age of four was one cup with ½ cup of fat free milk. I don’t think I’ve ever measured out cereal and milk in my life, but I figured for the sake of the children, I would do it. It made a respectable bowlful. I only had 2% milk on-hand, and I wasn’t willing to commit enough to go buy some watery fat free milk just for this, so…deal.

The milk didn’t really help any. The best I can say is that the cereal stayed surprisingly crunchy in the milk, with only a few soggy pieces. The taste, however, was largely the same – blandly oat-ish, bitter, and with almost zero apple flavor to liven things up.

I may not be a child, but I have vague memories of being one, and I probably would have protested greatly had I been forced to eat Post Sesame Street C is for Cereal A is for Apple. Even the presence of Elmo would not have helped. I understand that it is made to be super healthy for growing little brains and bodies, but bitter oats and no apple flavor are not going to fly for any kid old enough to throw their food off the table.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 110 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 85 milligrams of potassium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugar, 18 grams of other carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein, 15% vitamin A, 10% vitamin C, 50% iron, 20% vitamin D, 25% thiamin, 25% riboflavin, 25% niacin, 25% vitamin B6, 50% folic acid, 25% vitamin B12, 10% phosphorus, 8% magnesium, 10% zinc and 4% copper.)

Item: Post Sesame Street C is for Cereal A is for Apple
Purchased Price: $3.19
Size: 10.5 oz. box
Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Provides 2/3 of toddler’s daily whole grains. Elmo. Chock full of vitamins and minerals. Outdoor dance parties with butterflies.
Cons: Tastes like grain-and-oat based horse feed. Unpleasant information about the voice of Elmo. Has a distinct bitter flavor. Having to play tic-tac-toe with yourself. Very little apple flavor. Snot.

REVIEW: Taco Bell A.M. Crunchwrap (Bacon & Sausage)

Taco Bell A.M. Crunchwrap

There are many terrible things I am more likely to do before I ever again eat the latest addition to Taco Bell’s signature FirstMeal menu:

Walk barefoot in an Irish bar on St. Patrick’s Day.

Get some fillings when I don’t really have cavities, “just for the heck of it.”

Watch Paranormal Activity by myself in an empty house and then leave the bedroom door open when I go to bed.

Steal my boss’s corporate card to buy myself an expensive lunch and defiantly say it’s because “they owe me.”

Accidentally swallow a goldfish.

That is how little I enjoyed these pudgy little artery-cloggers they call the Taco Bell A.M. Crunchwraps. Speaking of which, let’s break down the title of this new breakfast item: “Taco Bell” – OK, so we know where we can buy this. “A.M.” – Only available in the morning. Check. “Crunchwrap” – Woah, now… slow your roll. There wasn’t anything crunchy inside these wraps. Just chewy, oily, and rubbery things.

The A.M. Crunchwrap comes in two inexpensive, standard breakfast varieties, Bacon or Sausage. I tried both, and let me tell you that while the grilled flour tortilla is warm, toasty and crisp around the edges, the insides do not crunch. Both A.M. Crunchwraps come with the meat on top of a layer of scrambled eggs and cheese paired with a once-crispy hash brown. Unfortunately the hash brown patties inside of the two A.M. Crunchwraps I got were soggy with grease and excess moisture from being trapped in between a jacket of melted cheese and a flour tortilla, so what had probably been a nice, hot golden exterior was now golden mush. They get some points for even thinking of including hash browns though. It’s the idea of hash browns that counts.

Taco Bell Bacon A.M. Crunchwrap

That still isn’t the worst of it. Let’s talk specifically about the Bacon A.M. Crunchwrap. Contrary to my preconceived notions, there were no crisp, savory strips of bacon in this breakfast contraption, just bacon bits — the kind you’d probably find in a pre-packaged Cobb salad sold for $10.95 at the airport sandwich express counter right next to the case of SoBe and Evian. If Taco Bell were being really honest, they would’ve named this thing the “Bacon Bits A.M. Crunchwrap.” And if Taco Bell were being really, really honest, they would call it the “Chunks of Rubber A.M. Gushwrap.”

The hash brown made everything excessively oily. The bacon bits were tough. I imagine ground-up eraser tips from #2 pencils would taste like those bacon bits. Furthermore, they were stuffed inside one corner of the wrap instead of sprinkled throughout, so when I sliced it in half, all the bacon bits spilled out onto the plate. I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if I had been eating this straight out of the wrapper. Best case scenario, I would’ve ended up with a final bite filled with nothing but bacon bits. Worst case, a shower of bacon bits on my lap. The decent flavor of the scrambled egg and cheese was the only factor that kept the Bacon A.M. Crunchwrap from being 100 percent garbage.

Taco Bell Sausage A.M. Crunchwrap

The good news is that the Sausage A.M. Crunchwrap is better. Not excellent, but better. The Sausage A.M. Crunchwrap is sufficiently savory. Ironically, it wasn’t dripping with grease like the Bacon one. I’d think that a thick sausage patty would be oozing with the slick stuff, but alas, no. The sausage patty inside the Sausage A.M. Crunchwrap was of a decent diameter, too, and it was thick — a nice meaty counterpart to the egg, cheese and fried potato inside the tortilla. It also had some heft and felt like more of a substantial meal than the Bacon A.M. Crunchwrap.

The Sausage A.M. Crunchwrap seems like the final draft while the Bacon A.M. Crunchwrap was the shitty rough draft Taco Bell churned out in 30 minutes because they were working under deadline and hadn’t slept a wink after watching Paranormal Activity by themselves the night before.

If you’re in the mood for something relatively cheap and quick that’s not the worst fast food breakfast you’ll ever eat, then the Sausage A.M. Crunchwrap is for you. But if you’re interested in flavor, texture and experiencing complete satisfaction with your breakfast, then why are you eating at Taco Bell?

(Nutrition Facts – Bacon – 680 calories. Sausage – 720 calories.)

Item: Taco Bell A.M. Crunchwrap (Bacon & Sausage)
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 2 out of 10 (Bacon)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Sausage)
Pros: Tortilla is warm and crisp around the edges. Sausage A.M. Crunchwrap has nice heft to it. Sausage patty is savory and thick. The idea of hash browns.
Cons: Greasy. Bacon tastes like #2 pencil erasers. Something totally slamming that bedroom door shut in the middle of the night. Soggy hash browns.

REVIEW: Mixchief by Jell-O Make Your Own…Add Soda

Jello Mixchief Make Your Own...Add Soda

Jell-O has been a ubiquitous part of my life. As a child, I was mesmerized. I have memories of perfect translucent cubes of red or green topped with whipped cream in a tulip sundae glass at a greasy diner. The way the light came through the gelatin mystified me. On Jell-O salads, I thought it was magic the way grapes and bananas were suspended in the dessert.

Then as the years continued on, the magic of the wobbly treat gave way to how much alcohol I could fortify it with. Imbibing on Jell-O shots with whip cream as an underage college student was a rite of passage as much as a part of an end to my childhood innocence. Nothing says sexy like a college freshman with red stained lips from downing too many Jell-O shots pumped with grain alcohol.

Recently, I was in an accident where I proved an SUV will always win against a pedestrian in a Ben Sherman jacket (I still miss that jacket…). Guess it doesn’t matter how cool and mod the jacket is, it won’t protect your bones any more than an ordinary one. The first comforting meal after several surgeries I found was a Jell-O cup. They called them gelatin gems in the hospital but it’s the same thing. The nurses liked me enough to ensure I would get an extra cup that my I’m sure my insurance company paid a premium for. I would not be surprised to learn that for every gelatin gem I ate, an underwriter lost their job.

Like I said, Jell-O has always been a part of my life to some degree. Walking down the baking goods aisle, scoffing at the tubs of cornstarch and flour (which is knowingly weird but I think I have Tourette’s where I scoff at things randomly), I was looking for nothing in particular. Then there it was, my eyes fixated on the boxes of Jell-O. How refreshing to make Jell-O from scratch than to buy it in those already convenient six pack cups. I’m doing it I declared to no one.

Scouring the boxes, one stuck out and it wasn’t just the annoying name. Mixchief by Jell-O. Sounds sophisticated since there is a byline in the product. The weird mascot on the box looks like Spongebob SquarePants dressed up as “The Gimp” from Pulp Fiction.

Then there is the pun. Puns just suck but what grabbed me about this product was “Add Soda.” Scarfing down a dessert that will quench my thirst simultaneously? How could I pass? It’s unflavored so whatever soda I use will paint the canvas per se.

I decided to use a common soft drink we should all be able to buy, Coke Zero. I was going to use Seagram’s Cranberry Ginger Ale since it is the holidays but I didn’t want to hear “Well, we don’t get that in Timbukthree or Tristram” or wherever the hell you all come from. Coke Zero sounds like a reasonable choice. Breaking out my pots with the grace of an alchemist, I ripped open the box like an ordinary person.

Jello Mixchief Make Your Own...Add Soda Mixed

The instructions on the back are insipidly simple. If you cannot follow them, give up on life and drink a cup of bleach or beat yourself into a coma with a frying pan because you are pretty much useless. Sorry to sound so harsh but the directions fit on a small box if that tells you anything.

I followed the “extra special” variation where I used boiled soda instead of boiled water. The bubbling cola on the stove emanated a sickly pungent raisin-like smell. It grossed me out and I wanted to stop but I forced myself to proceed. The thought of Jell-O tasting like Coke was a tiny bit offsetting but so does chicken livers soaked in whole milk overnight and that shit is good.

Jello Mixchief Make Your Own...Add Soda Soda

Sometimes texture is just as important as the taste. Being Chinese, texture is a big component in the cuisine. How else to explain our obsession for soups laden with beef tendon or sucking on dried sour plums until they become slightly chewy? I like Coke Zero but in gelatin form would it taste as good? Would the texture compliment the soda? Would it be like a sixty-nine in my mouth? The answer is HELL NO! HELL NO TO ALL THREE!

The Impulsive Buy meet The Repulsive Buy. Somehow the gelatin mix was able to sap all the flavor out of the cola. It was flavorless and the tiny carbonated swallows made it even more repugnant. It was a truly an alien experience and eating it made me feel like the subject of a bukkake video.

Jello Mixchief Make Your Own...Add Soda Made

I understand the Jell-O may taste as good as the soft drink you choose but I think the texture negates that fact. Maybe I should have not used a diet cola and something sweeter. Maybe an orange soda or a cranberry soda would come off better. Either way, you’re welcome to try because I won’t. This was so unappealing that even a dollop (or five) of whipped cream only intensified the blandness.

The only thing I can think of this Jell-O being used for is perhaps a novelty cocktail Jell-O shot like a Captain Morgan’s and Coke or a Gin and Tonic garnished with a candied lime, maybe even a beer. This will require a lot of trial and error (along with tomato juice to satiate any hangover pains) but I don’t believe will be worth it. I also think fans of “molecular” cookery might find it a fun and easy way to play with texture. However if that’s the case, you’re probably advanced enough to use gelatins sheets anyhow.

Sadly, this was a big fail, or more specifically the Coke Zero was a fail. I still believe the timid carbonated effect with each gulp is a bit disgusting regardless of the choice of soda. I’m all for new ideas, especially when it comes something as kitschy as Jell-O. Sometimes you win and sometimes you just suck. Jell-O, this sucked, but we’ll always have lime or beef tendon.

(Nutrition facts – 1/2 cup (prepared with cola and water) – 40 calories, 0 grams of fat, 10 milligrams of sodium, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Mixchief by Jell-O Make Your Own…Add Soda
Price: $1.29
Size: 0.25 ounces
Purchased: A Publix supermarket that is weirdly dim and where an angry old lady surveys the deli.
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: This did not give me the farts. Imagining a war between the writers of The Impulsive Buy and its parallel earth counterpart The Repulsive Buy which inadvertently cause another Crisis of The Infinite Earths!!!
Cons: Bylines for products. Bukakke vids. The faint carbonation in the Jell-O is repulsive. My Mom making me eat things by trickery, claiming they were “Chinese hamburgers” or “Chinese hot dogs.”