This is a review, but it’s also a cry for help. When I saw Cow Candy’s Strawberry and Fruit Punch-flavored cheeses listed in Spotted on Shelves, my gut said “Yeah, I’m having those.”
I’m so addicted to the rush of novelty flavors that even when I read about something that couldn’t possibly be delicious, I’m still compelled to track it down. Fruit-flavored cookies are one thing, but cheese? What is wrong with me? How long until I’m buying cotton-candy-flavored beef filets?
Like a true junkie, I went into this with full faith that these cheese sticks, sporting colors more appropriate for children’s spring t-shirts, would take me to snack heaven for just a moment.
I looked past the blank yet somehow judgmental faces of the children’s cartoon characters and opened the packages. The red stick, emblazoned with Transformer Optimus Prime, was a smooth block. The My Little Pony-themed Strawberry Pinkie Pie had a pock-marked exterior. I wondered if this was a refrigeration error or if the flavors affected the textures in different ways.
The strawberry stick gave off a tangy artificial strawberry scent – Frankenberry cereal mixed with a trace of shoe funk. The fruit punch smelled like candy-induced vomit.
When I bit into the strawberry, it crumbled, strangely, into tiny spheres. The Fruit Punch cheese behaved more like what I expected – a rubbery snap.
Describing the taste of these cheese sticks is proving impossible, so I’ll tell you what they DON’T taste like – strawberry, fruit punch, or Jack cheese. Calling them salty/sweet feels wrong, as weren’t enough of either to do the term justice. If you removed everything good from cheese and fruit, this is what would be left. They’re just gross.
I powered my way through one of each flavor. Hours later, they still haunt me. It’s like I ate prop food not meant for consumption. They are by far the worst snack food I’ve ever encountered – my stomach is churning.
I’d intended to think up some cute way to use these cheese sticks in another snack/treat (shred them as a topping for sweet & savory mini pizzas?) but there’s really only one thing to do with them:
All I can do now is try not to barf, and wonder when I’m going to find Jeff VanVonderen sitting on my couch telling me people love me like crazy but are worried about my novelty flavor addiction.
(Nutrition Facts – 1 stick – 80 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 4 grams of protein..)
Purchased Price: $4.49 Size: 6 oz. bag Purchased at: Stop & Shop Rating: 1 out of 10 Pros: Nice colors! That’s it. Cons: Disgusting taste that resembles none of the flavors advertised. Odd texture in Strawberry version. They’re making me nauseous. Do not buy them for children you’re fond of.
They all said I was crazy. But where are they now? That’s right, they’re down there, with them, and I’m up here, safe. Well, as safe as anyone could be in these times. Heck, I could be the only one left. Just me and this journal and…them.
If you’re reading this, you know how it all started. But I was ahead of the game. Guns, ammo, canned foods, fortifying my house; I was as ready as I could be. And when they came, it all went down just like I knew it would. It all went to hell.
But I’ve written about all this already. Now, it’s all about daily survival. I ate my last can of creamed corn yesterday. All of my supplies were running low. Much as I hated to do it, I knew I would have to leave the safety and security of my house to find more supplies.
Fortunately, I knew there was a Vietnam vet who lived right across the street. I found the “trespassers will be shot” sign on his fence and the fact that I rarely saw him leave the house to be encouraging. Maybe get some ammo; figured I might get lucky and he’d have some MREs or something. I knew I’d never be able to get to a store; there are too many of them out there now, and even with Lucy (my trusty shotgun), I wouldn’t stand a chance. Besides, I’m sure the stores have already been ransacked, before things got really bad. But getting across the street…I could do that. They are slow and I am fast and wily.
So last night, I made my move. I ran across the brick wall that I accessed via the tree next to my second story window. Lucy and I cleared a large enough path for me to run across the street and climb the vet’s chain link fence surrounding his yard. It seemed to have been an effective deterrent, as there were none of them in the yard. I wondered why they hadn’t knocked over the fence through sheer numbers. Once they smell fresh meat, almost no obstacle can stop them.
Once I’d broken inside, I immediately saw the reason why. Old man sitting in a ragged armchair, wearing his Army uniform, shotgun under his chin. Looked like he’d been there for a while. Guess this was one war he didn’t want to fight.
I grabbed the shotgun (trigger finger accidentally fell off in the process; sorry old man) and headed into the kitchen. Found a few cans of condensed soup and not much else. I was surprised; I figured that, like me, he’d be more prepared for something like this.
My surprise vanished when I hit the basement. Jackpot! More guns and ammo than I could fit in my pack. Evaporated milk. Jugs of water. But there was one thing that really caught my eye: the Tactical Sammiches.
They were in a box on the floor. On top of the box was a print-out from ThinkGeek’s website (Ha! Websites. Hadn’t thought about those in a while) giving some details about the “sammiches”. (That’s cutesy slang for “sandwich”; if anyone ever reads this, they may not even know what the Internet was, so I figured I’d spell that one out.) According to the paper, the Sammiches have a 2 year shelf life! The old man really was prepared. I wonder what made him give up so quickly. Too old for this shit, I guess.
I didn’t have much time for contemplation. I could hear the fence rattling outside. The Sammiches came in two flavors: Pepperoni and Honey BBQ Beef. My pack space was at a premium, and even in these lean times the thought of a Honey BBQ Beef sandwich that wouldn’t spoil for two years turned my stomach a little, so I grabbed as many of the Pepperoni Sammiches as I could and booked it out of there.
Lucy and I got back home pretty much without incident. Had to smash a little girl’s head in with the butt of one of my newly acquired pistols; she had no eyes but she knew exactly where I was. Her pigtails were cute, even if they were matted with blood.
Once I was safe inside my house again, I took some time to look at the Tactical Sammich’s packaging. It’s a shiny brown package with a label on the front that says, “CMMG Small Arms ^and Sammiches Manufacturing”. The “^and Sammiches” part was inserted with cutesy font. I remembered the company from when I was shopping around for a 9mm to add to my collection. I bet they never figured their little gimmick would be taken seriously one day.
The back of the package describes the sandwich as “shelf stable pepperoni in bread”. Bread! I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had bread, but I could remember the lovely smell of it baking in my mother’s oven like it was yesterday. My mouth watered at the memory, even though my brain knew that whatever bread was actually in the Tactical Sammich wouldn’t exactly live up to my mother’s.
An interesting note: while the print-out claimed the Tactical Sammich had a shelf life of two years, there was no expiration date on the package. The one’s I’d taken from the dead guy’s house could have been sitting there for five weeks or five years. I had no way of knowing.
The first thing I noticed when I took the Tactical Sammich out of its sealed pouch was that it had a face. Two eyes, jagged teeth pattern forming a rictus smile, cracked skin…I shuddered. It took me a moment to compose myself. It looked too much like…
Well, after I got past the unintentional face, I was able to examine it more closely. The Tactical Sammich was about the same size as a Pop-Tart. The bread was unnaturally smooth and dense; it felt almost oily, but left no trace behind on my fingers.
When I cut it open, I was rather surprised at what I saw. The back of the package wasn’t kidding when it described the Sammich as “pepperoni in bread”. I’ve been taking some pictures with what’s left of the battery power in my camera; if anyone ever reads this, you can find pictures of the Tactical Sammich on it. As you can see, it looks like someone shoved a Slim Jim into two cheap hot dog buns that had been smashed together.
And that’s pretty much what it tasted like, too. Obviously, only one out of every three bites actually had the pepperoni in it, leaving the rest as mouthfuls of dense, mostly flavorless white bread. I worry that I might blow through my entire emergency water supply just trying to get these sammiches down my gullet.
Unfortunately, having my mouth full of gummy enriched flour was the best part of the meal. Having been at this whole survival thing for a while now, I have eaten my share of stale, expired Slim Jims, and that is exactly what the pepperoni in my Tactical Sammich was like. Leathery and yet greasy on the outside, skin shriveled, and very tough to bite through and chew. The pepperoni flavor was faint; I would describe it more accurately as faded. It was also bitter, and there was a lovely subtle aftertaste of dirt. There was nothing redeeming about this pepperoni stick.
And that is the long and short of the Tactical Sammich. Dense, flavorless bread and tough, heartburn-inducing, just plain bad-tasting pepperoni stick. No sauce, no cheese, nothing to tie the two together. If the Pepperoni Tactical Sammich was this bad, I can’t even imagine what was going on inside the Honey BBQ Beef. Now I know what really caused that old Vietnam vet to off himself.
You may think I’m being too critical of the Tactical Sammich. After all, the world as we knew it has essentially ended, they have taken over, and survival is next to impossible. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve eaten worse in my struggle to stay alive, and with a two-year shelf life, these Sammiches will help me to continue to exist for a while now, if they don’t get to me first. But I’m still a human being, last time I checked, and I still have a palate. I will choke down these “food” products because I have to. But that doesn’t mean I’ll like it.
(Nutrition Facts â€“ 1 sandwich (70 grams) â€“ 270 calories, 130 calories from fat, 15 grams of total fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 580 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 10 grams of protein, 4% vitamin A, 4% calcium, and 8% iron.)
Item: CMMG Pepperoni Tactical Sammich Price: $5.99 Size: 1 sandwich Purchased at: thinkgeek.com Rating: 2 out of 10 Pros: Can help keep you alive. Dead guys with convenient stashes. Two year shelf life. Lucy. Cons: Dense, flavorless bread. Employing overused tropes to write a review. Bitter, tough pepperoni. Them. No expiration date on the package.
You taunt me with your numbers and blank boxes, making me spend hours trying to figure out your mysterious ways. The pressure of trying to solve you permeates from my body into my pencil’s eraser and then into weak newspaper paper, causing it to tear, along with my hopes and dreams of solving the mystery that is you.
You look so easy to do, but are difficult like William Faulkner novels and making women orgasm.
Despite all that time spent, I have yet to solve one of you, and you are now on my list of things I have yet to solve, which grows longer every year.
This list includes: the Rubik’s Cube, a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of kittens, a crossword puzzle on the back of a Denny’s paper place mat, a word find puzzle on a Frosted Flakes box I opened in 1993, and the Da Vinci Code.
But I feel your days are numbered, Sudoku. For I have the key to unlocking your mysteries. It is the Staples Easy Button, which will make quick work of your numeric ways. For I have seen its power and it is magnificent.
Just by pressing the Staples Easy Button, entire offices have been cleaned, ink cartridges have fallen from the sky, and the Great Wall of China can instantly pop out of the ground.
It is as powerful as the fortune-telling Magic 8 Ball, which has accurately predicted on many occasions that I will not get laid.
It was difficult trying to find the elusive Staples Easy Button. For the Staples online store has been sold out for months. I thought, if only I had a Staples Easy Button to make it easier to find a Staples Easy Button. However, I ended up doing something much easier…eBay.
It was well worth the $4.75 plus $4.99 shipping to have the opportunity to see you unraveled, Sudoku. Now with one press of this Staples Easy Button, all your answers will be revealed!
(Presses Staples Easy Button)
“That was easy.”
What? Where are the answers?
(Presses Staples Easy Button again)
“That was easy.”
Why won’t you show me the answers, Staples Easy Button?
(Presses it again)
“That was easy.”
The Staples Easy Button doesn’t work!
You may have won this battle, but you have yet to win the war, Sudoku. I shall unlock your mysteries someday.
(Editor’s Note: Thanks to Impulsive Buy reader Muneer for letting me know about the Staples Easy Button. If only it could truly make my life easier.)â€¨
Item: Staples Easy Button Price: $4.75 (plus shipping) Purchased at: eBay Rating: 4 out of 10 Pros: Says “That was easy” when button is pushed. Batteries included. Nice novelty item to have on your desk at work. Kittens. Frosted Flakes. Cons: Totally ineffective in making things easy. It can’t even make Paris Hilton easier. Not available at Staples online store. Can easily annoy those around you if pressed too many times. My inability to solve a sudoku, figure out a Rubik’s Cube, put together a jigsaw puzzle, and make women orgasm. William Faulkner novels.