LIKE you, I don’t understand why “Year In Review” or “Best of [insert year here]” articles are run in December — the year’s not over! I mean, what — are we to believe that by writing these things largely in advance, to run at the end of the year, whatever publication, “on-line” or real, maybe is able to give its writing and production staff a little breather, a little time off over the holidays?! Ridiculous.
Anyway, it’s with that in mind, you know, running this in early
JanuaryFebruary instead, that I justify dumping a ton of What’s Bueno items here — with modified ratings, to save space, and in the process get to clear out a bunch of photos I have on my computer.
Be warned: Most of it’s from the 99¢ Only store, and some of you, what, six readers have given me grief about covering them more than the other dollar stores. And to that I say, “Get off my ass!” And more importantly, “Thank you for reading my blog.”
Baby New Year Solar Dealie from Dollar Tree!
I kinda like these solar-powered figures. Both Dollar Tree and 99¢ Only carries various styles for a buck a piece. They don’t seem to last indefinitely: The solar cell wears out, they slow down and eventually stop moving. This one was cute and it was only available for 2015. For all I know they were back this year with “2016” on it. 5 out of 7 dollar signs!
$ $ $ $ $ $ $
Simpsons Figurines from Dollar Tree!
A buck for a Simpsons figurine? Aah, hell, why not. I think there were eight of them. Bart as Bartman, Lisa, Maggie, Marge, Homer, Chief Wiggum, Krusty (shown) and Mr. Burns. I thought Burns looked the best, so that’s the one I bought — you may choose differently. They had similar figures from other properties, too — Toy Story, DC Comics, Cars, Finding Nemo (Bruce the Shark was particularly well done). They’re each about 3″ tall or smaller. Not a bad deal: 4 out of 7 dollar signs!
$ $ $ $ $ $ $
Dollar Tree: Taste of Tony’s Microwaveable Pizza!
Dollar Tree seems to have had a long relationship with Tony’s. Just a few years ago, you could occasionally find their full-size pizzas that go for $3 or more at the regular grocery store. Man, those were the days. Now they sell individual French bread pizzas there, and these. Note it’s “Taste of Tony’s” not “Tony’s” on these microwaveable dealies, since they’re smaller and most disappointingly, unlike the bigger Tony’s, they feature imitation cheese. Meh. Save your money and get the big, regular kind at the grocery store. Costs a little more, but it’s worth it. 3 out of 7 dollar signs.
$ $ $ $ $ $ $
99¢ Only: Splash and Play!
Though the photo on the package shows three, you get just one Splash and Play to a package. If you want three, you’re going to have to shell out three bucks.
And just what do you do with Splash and Play?
Despite its name, you just blow it up, lay it on the lawn in front of you and sit there quietly with your mother. There’s neither any splashing nor playing. It earns a perfect 7 out of 7 dollar signs for helping to keep your unruly kid under control!
$ $ $ $ $ $ $
99¢ Only: Aunt Jemima’s Griddle Melts!
Like you would, I collected the entire set — Sausage, Ham & Bacon; Egg & Cheese; Sausage, Egg & Cheese and Apples & Cinnamon. And I felt good about doing so, because the nutrition information on the back indicates they’re fairly low in fat.
Then I got ’em home, opened ’em up and saw how small they are:
Well, you can’t tell by the photo, but they measure a paltry 3″ x 3″. If you’re like me, and you are, you’re going to have to eat a whole box to satisfy that breakfast hunger — and in doing so, you just multiplied that fat content by four!
Here’s one after it came out of the microwave:
You’ll notice that despite the package photo to the contrary, there’s virtually no way to slide this mess onto a napkin for dainty eating.
I bumped into the head of the TedParsnipsDotCom web design team in our break room here (where he seems to spend his entire workday) and he took one look at this melted, congealed, adhered-to-the-plate monstrosity and snickered, “Heh — for people who can’t dump their own garbage on a piece of bread.”
Sadly, he’s right. And I told him so just before I ordered him to clean out his desk and had Security escort him out. 2 out of 7 dollar signs.
$ $ $ $ $ $ $
Dollar Tree: Bahama & Co. Tropical Tiki Air Freshener!
Ah, the tiki conundrum: I hate “goofy” tiki merchandise, but as both a tiki collector and dollar store enthusiast, I was compelled to purchase this. As you would, I hate its wacky oversized white teeth and wish the entire thing was cast in black or very dark brown. It’s a nodder, too, and I don’t like my tikis to move. Despite that, it somehow smells like my mother’s house did, so it gets some points for that. 3 out of 7 dollar signs.
$ $ $ $ $ $ $
99¢ Only: Core Power High Protein Milkshake!
Ask anyone who sees me at my gym: “That guy clearly has no idea what the hell he’s doing, but by Godfrey, he’s here almost every day doing it! Jackass!” After an intense but largely pointless, possibly muscle-damaging workout, I drink one of these. I think it’s supposed to be good for you. Tastes good, anyway! The main thing is they go for over three bucks at Walmart, so I feel like I’m getting an amazing deal regardless that drinking it is probably completely counterproductive to the effects of my misguided attempts to
stayget in shape at age — …eh, whatever age I am. 6 out of 7 dollar signs.
$ $ $ $ $ $ $
99¢ Only: Creepy Cameo Costume Jewelry!
Not a big jewelry wearer here — being a man and all — but I couldn’t help but be delighted by this ghastly cameo necklace in 99¢ Only’s ladies department. As you can see, the other cameos are traditional, what, 18th or 19th century-type ones. And then we have the skeleton woman. (Wish I got a closeup. Sorry!) Pretty sure it was leftover from Halloween and someone just put it with the others, but regardless, it gets 7 out of 7 dollar signs from me!
$ $ $ $ $ $ $
99¢ Only: Fred Cards!
When the early-2010s generation starts getting nostalgic about its bygone youth — and it seems the nostalgia cycle is getting smaller and smaller so it could be any day now — no doubt YouTube’s Fred will have his own segment with D-level non-celebrities reminiscing about him on some VH1 show. Meanwhile, in antique shops and collectible stores, you’ll find unopened decks of these Fred cards going for far more than 99¢ Only…with no takers. Despite all that, I’m giving these cards 6 out of 7 dollar signs in a pathetic attempt to appeal to a much younger demographic that doesn’t look at blogs.
$ $ $ $ $ $ $
Dollar Tree: Lobster Spread! With Cognac!
A dollar for lobster spread? And they have a similar crab spread as well! Doesn’t matter that the actual lobster (and crab) content is probably minimal — the can looks so stylish. I bought one of each. Tasted fine, though kind of unremarkable. Goes for $3.99 a can at Cost Plus World Market! That and the wonderful printed-on-the-can packaging earn it 5 out of 7 dollar signs.
$ $ $ $ $ $ $
99¢ Only: Jif Cereal!
The 99¢ Only store had more Jif cereal than you can shake a spoon at! You know I bought a coupla boxes, loving — as I do — all things peanut butter, as one should. I guess the people at Kellogg’s made too much for this product launch (industry term) and you, Mr & Mrs. Dollar Store Shopper, benefited. If you bought some when they had it. And brother, they had it for months! 6 out of 7 dollar signs!
$ $ $ $ $ $ $
99¢ Only: Super Obama Figure!
Even at $1.99, which is more than 99¢ only, I figured these wouldn’t last long and I was right — they were all gone on a return trip to the store a day later. There was practically no information on the package other than what you see on the front: “Obama — Exclusive.” Maybe “Made in China” on the back, but little if nothing else. Likely they were unlicensed (not that a public figure needs to be licensed), but eBay — chock full of them at ridiculously high prices with none selling — also shows figures from the same line featuring Obama as a Jedi Knight and as a Chicago White Sox player…which would have had to be licensed and weren’t. I was going to buy one for my father and send it to him as a joke, but really, $1.99 only plus whatever crazy price Priority Mail postage is up to these days just to good-naturedly raise Dad’s blood pressure? Pass! Still, 4 out of 7 dollar signs.
$ $ $ $ $ $ $
Dollar Tree: Stone Wave Microwave Cooker!
“If you wait long enough, anything As Seen On TV eventually makes its way to Dollar Tree.” —Ted Parsnips.
Truer words were never spoken. Now I just need to copyright that, put it on a t-shirt that I’ll advertise on TV and no one will buy, and it’ll end up at Dollar Tree, like a Bacon Bowl maker, the Topsy Tail braider, or the above, the Stone Wave microwave cooker. Like you, I have enough kitchen junk I never use, but I figured for a buck, this would have been worth buying just to review. And then I never got around to it until now.
But I did use it and took some pictures.
Here it is midway during the unboxing [industry term]. Looks like a cross between a Sherman tank and a TIE fighter!
Here’s all the elements, disassembled!
You get a pot and a lid! An instruction book, too, fulla recipes!
Here is it assembled, all ready for action!
I made exactly two dishes in it — some sort of spiced apple thing, which was pretty good, and something resembling an omelet, below:
The omelet wasn’t bad, either. The little Stone Wave cooker is small: you’re not going to be feeding an army with this thing. I’ll be surprised if it’s still in the cabinet. I haven’t used it other than those two times and I’m probably just going to toss it out if I haven’t already. Heck, at a buck, I can afford to!
Still, I’ll give it a decent rating especially because the Stone Wave Microwave Cooker, at my local Goodwill thrift store for the inflated price of $3.99, also qualifies as an Overpriced Goodwill Item of the Week…
And 99¢ Only has them, too — but for twice Dollar Tree’s price — $1.99!
Order it off TV and you’re going to pay $10 plus about $7 in shipping, so for all these reasons including Dollar Tree’s so-cheap-why-not-give-it-a-try price: 6 out of 7 dollar signs!
$ $ $ $ $ $ $
99¢ Only: Quisp Cereal!
I must be growing up: 99¢ Only was selling boxes of Quisp for just 99¢ only and all I did was take this picture. Don’t you make the mistake I did! 7 out of 7 dollar signs.
$ $ $ $ $ $ $
Dollar Tree: Wacky Packages Stickers!
Speaking of things from one’s childhood — I remember a time when you would get five Wacky Packies, as we called ’em, for a quarter — plus a stick of gum as well! Today, the gum is long gone, but Dollar Tree will sell you a package of four Topps Wacky Packages for a buck! Let me do the math here — Okay: The price of an entire pack of five hilarious stickers (and something to satisfy your gum tooth) from back when I was a kid — 25¢ — now only gets you one lousy sticker.
Or, to do more math and put it another way, that involves me doing more math — for the price of one pack of 4 Wacky Packs today, you could have gotten four packs of 5 Wacky Packs back in the day!
They’re still fun though, so 5 out of 7 dollar signs!
$ $ $ $ $ $ $
Wow, fifteen What’s Bueno at the Dollar Store items reviewed and I’ve barely made a dent in my backlog of dollar store crap. Expect more reviews, plenty more! And I’ll expect you to keep coming back to read them!
But I won’t hold my breath.
AS regular readers of this blog know, I’m currently visiting my father — “Father,” as he is known — here in Virginia.
Like you would, if he was your father, I rooted around in his cabinets. Figured maybe I’d change everything around in a manner that makes sense to me, as opposed to whatever ridiculous system he’s used to.
Elderly folks love when their visiting children do stuff like that!
Anyway, I came across two of his more exotic spices — “salt” and “pepper.”
Why, here they are now — ladies and gentlemen, let’s give them a big, big hand!
Upon close inspection of these salt & pepper shakers, it occurred to me to wonder — as it would occur to you to wonder if he was your father — why the hell are the tops of them all dented in?
What’s going on here?
They’re not outrageously misshaped, but there’s some dentage there, oh yes!
Then I realized, Father, he’s a man’s man! He seasons his damn food like he means it!
That must be it! Mystery solved!
However, we can’t rule out that those dents didn’t come from him throwing them at the noggin of the last know-it-all kid who decided to reorganize his home.
“Oh, yes, I can’t believe I put it off for so long! Who needs television, anyway?
“Ever since I cut the cord, I’m finding all kinds of time to do so many other things I enjoy!”
“And how nice of you to visit…with your plain, solid color jacket, and your unembellished purse, and oh my, that magnificent wide expanse of unblemished skin on your forehead and…hey, come back here!”
Oh, and before you try to figure just which Fallas Paredes discount clothing store it was taken at, you should know it’s already spoken for. I’ve talked to the store manager and let’s just say I’ve made it worth his while to not ship it back, as required, to Lucasfilm/Disney, and to tell them it was accidentally “thrown out.”
In just a month or so, that yellow piece of paper is mine.
Found in a thrift store near me for a quarter, and I bought it — because why not?, it was a quarter:
Apparently, in addition to Sony Electronics, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment, Sony Music Entertainment, Sony ATV/Music Publishing, Sony Mobile Communications and Sony Financial Holdings…
…there was, presumably, at one time, a Sony Cake Decorating Supplies Division.
Like you, I can’t imagine why they gave up on this lucrative industry.
HERE’S what’s bueno at the dollar store, specifically Super Dollar, that one down the street from me:
Why, it’s a 2-pack of boys briefs — and you know they’re good: They’ve got the Spongebob Squarepants Seal of Approval on ’em!
See, they help build self-esteem and promote a healthy self-image — by reinforcing the message to the wearer that he’s gorgeous.
My rating: 6 out of 7 dollar signs, on account of I covered the “girls boxer” version of these two years ago, and now it’s — hold on, let me do the math — now it’s two years later, and rather than Nickelodeon/Viacom having shut them down, somehow these creepy underpants have become a dollar store staple.
And as you collectors know, the best items in any extensive collection of a licensed property are always the unauthorized items.
But if my Jedi Mind Trick didn’t work on you, and it is the non-dairy coffee creamer you’re looking for, and you’re a collector, here’s a tip: There’s mint-in-package and there’s rancid French Vanilla in package, the latter of which is what you’ll get if you don’t empty it out before you give it an honored space next to your vinyl-cape Jawa and your Topps C3P0 penis card. And brother, if you don’t pour it out, eventually that plastic bottle’s going to swell and swell and swell…and then following a sudden explosion of Death Star proportions, you’re going to be spending the next few months cleaning chunkified high oleic soybean oil off of every piece of Star Wars memorabilia you’ve spent the last 38 years collecting. Or I guess the short version of all that is: “Oh geez, look, R2D2 Coffee Mate.”
While we’re discussing Star Wars, there’s this, too, which I also saw at Walmart today:
As with all inflatable Christmas lawn decorations, it’s hideous and you wouldn’t want it on your lawn or your neighbors’ lawn or anywhere that you’d have to see it, and you’d be forgiven if you ran merrily around your neighborhood with a steak knife and permanently disabled any you could find. (You’d be forgiven by me, anyway. I don’t have much sway with your neighbors, the homeowners association, or the local police.) The point is, as awful is it is, it still makes some sense in an absurd and not particularly funny way, and I get it.
This one I don’t get:
It’s just a Star Wars character. On your lawn. And, uh, it happens to be Christmastime.
As horrible and ridiculous as the other one is, at least they tied it into Christmas by having Darth Vader take a break from choking disbelievers to death and building a snowman and tossing wrapped presents around it.
Couldn’t they give this guy a corncob pipe or something? A button nose? Two eyes made out of carbonite, maybe?
MAN, I tell ya — seems despite all the bueno stuff available at the 99¢ Only store lately, I’ve been seriously remiss in covering what’s bueno over there — distracted, as I often am, by collectibles from Dollar Tree — their arch-rival!
So let’s see if we can make up for that with this:
Holy cow! It’s a quarttannaug for just 99¢ only!
Whoa, slow down, Ted — you’re so excited, people won’t be able to understand you! They’ll think you’re blogging about obscure Massachusetts port towns now!
Okay, okay… Deep breath…
All right, like I was saying, it’s a full-on quart of nog — specifically Silk brand Almond Nog, pumpkin spice variety, for 99¢ Only.
Oh, you know I bought a quart! You know I did!
I think what sold me on it was the gift tag-like label — the sign of good taste!
So I got it home, and I had a glass! A glasannaug, sure.
Steady, Ted, steady…
The best way I can describe it is it’s kind of like the non-GMO, soy-free, dairy-free, gluten-free drinkable equivalent of a collect-’em-all bike bag.
Wait wait wait! That’s not a bad thing.
Silk brand Pumpkin Spice flavored Almond Nog is kind of holiday-themed, so that’s nice.
It’s just that it’s pretty much impossible getting away from the concept of “egg” when you’ve already committed to “nog.” I mean, how many other nogs can you name?
I’m sorry, WhiteWave Foods, benificent makers of Silk brand Almond Nog, but seriously: Anything other than “egg” that precedes “nog” is a punchline in reverse. You’d have been better off calling it “Faux Egg Nog.”
And as you all know — or should know, if you’ve invited me to any holiday get-togethers, I love pumpkin pie. Love it, love it, looooooove-it! Mmm-mm! Good pie! Good pie!
But “pumpkin-spice almond nog”…? All kindsa things can go wrong there.
The nog wasn’t bad, though the nog tasted a little artificial. And you know how I feel about artificially banana-flavored stuff. Don’t make me extend that one-item list to include “pumpkin spice.”
Bottom line? Bottom line regarding the nog? I’m happy I paid just 99¢ only for it.
Having said all that: I’m not allergic to gluten, I’m not lactose-intolerant, I don’t have some sort of stupid ethical dilemma with dairy items. So you’re getting the opinion of a guy who bought a quarttanaug simply because it was 99¢. Perhaps if I was stymied by any of those problems, I might appreciate it more, and by the way, I think we all appreciate how I’ve dismissed legitimate medical issues with the fun verb “stymy.”
Look, it’s late and I’m just digging myself in deeper here, so let’s end this now:
My Rating: 5.5 out of 7 Dollar Signs. On account of it’s not bad, it’s got really low fat (so low that I drank the whole quarttannaug in one gulping and wasn’t concerned about my trim girlish figure), and it’s probably good for you people who are still on that ridiculous “gluten-free” kick.
TODAY’S What’s Bueno item comes from our good friends at Dollar Tree, on account of it seems we never do enough What’s Buenos from them.
So in the spirit of the season, I’m doing a What’s Bueno from them today.
Anyway, it’s this thing:
It’s a bike bag!
Look carefully at the photo on the package — now, do you suppose it was an artistic decision to just show half of the bike inside the bag so there’s no question as to what a “bike bag” is used for…or does this bike bag, in fact, only fit half a bike?
Well, the bag apparently measures 60″ x 72″ so I’m guessing it’s the former. But, perhaps we’ll never know, because as it turns out, I didn’t buy this bike bag.
[ Just so you know…? I checked with my attorney and he tells me that I’m well within my rights reviewing items for “¡What’s Bueno at the Dollar Store!” without actually buying them. Well within my rights. In fact, I might as well just come clean, before that Michael Moore documentary on me comes out — a lot of times, I don’t even buy the damn ¡What’s Bueno at the Dollar Store! items that I review. Sheesh, what do you think — that I’m made out of dollars? ]
Anyway, what makes this Christmas House™ brand bike bag such a delight is this, at the bottom of the package:
Apparently, not only do you, what, six regular readers think I’m made of dollars, the Christmas House™ people think I’m made out of bicycles, and expect that I’ll be giving away four of them this Christmas and thus would have a reason for “Collect[ing] All 4 Designs.”
And to that I say, “Thanks a lot, Christmas House™, for spoiling the surprise.”
The cat is out of the bicycle bag: Four of you can expect shiny new bicycles in wonderful 60″ x 72″ bicycle bags under your tree this year from me.
Two of you, however, severely disappointed me — you know who you are! – and you’ll be getting nothing but cold Almond Nog & abuse from me this holiday season.
My Rating: 3.5 out of 7 Dollar Signs. Eh, probably perfectly serviceable as a bike bag, but let’s face it: It’s only being showcased here because of that genius “Collect All 4 Designs” bit.
After you’ve watched The Wiz live tonight on NBC, if you’re still hankerin’ for a new and different take on a beloved musical, check out this LP I saw in a thrift store (but left there for you):
It’s The Black Mikado!
Hmm…culturally-insensitively-written Asian characters traditionally played by white actors now being played by African-American actors?
Wow, I don’t even know where to begin with who I’m offended by this one, but I’ll start with Goodwill, who wanted $2.99 for it.