1. An Exciting New Feature!

    THE OTHER DAY I was enjoying a snack when the phone rang.

    “Hullo,” I said between bites.
    “What are you eating?” said a pal on the other end.
    “Muscle shirt, 2(x)ist contour pouch boxer briefs, Sensifoot diabetic compression socks—”
    “No, what are you eating?”
    “Oh. Cheddar cheese pretzel Combos that I got at the 99¢ Only store,” I proudly replied. “Cheese-filled Combos – Combos really cheeses the hunger away!™”
    “Oh, Jesus – I didn’t even know they made those anymore.  The 99¢ Only store: Where forgotten food products go to die.”

    So I told him to go to hell and hung up – but he brings up an interesting point: It’s not just food in delightfully anachronistic packaging that you’ll find at the 99¢ Only store, but also items that failed in the real marketplace and consequently no one wants.

    Now before we go any further –  I’d like to note that Combos are as popular as they’ve ever been and are still in production.  Heck, you know as well as I do Combos are the official cheese-filled snack of NASCAR. But what of other food items at the 99¢ Only store?

    Well, clearly it’s time to start a new feature on the ol’ blog, one that I’m sure to lose interest in or completely forget about probably after our initial offering here. But what an auspicious start, right?

    I was going to call it “What’s Good at the 99¢ Only Store,” but then my attorney told me that that’s dangerously close to a popular blog about Trader Joe’s – which I hate as much as you  do (the store, not the blog).

    So then we thought about going with “What’s Been Recently Discontinued and Has Shown Up in Enormous Quantities at the 99¢ Only Store,” because as you know, I’m not one to shy away from lengthy blog post titles (I do, however, make a point to keep the actual posts short and to the point).

    But it just didn’t have that zing. And zing is something you want in a blog post title.

    So I talked with some of the creatives and they suggested “What’s About to Expire at the 99¢ Only Store” and I liked that one.  It’s relevant, concise and as you’ll see, it’s exceedingly accurate.

    But it didn’t fly with the focus group.

    Now I’m not made of money so I did what everyone looking for quick and accurate market research does: I picked up a bunch of day laborers outside Home Depot and I ran the entire seminar in the back of my pickup for less than ninety bucks and a dozen bottles of tamarind Jarritos – and that price included the loading, unloading, and (mostly) careful stacking of sixteen sheets of drywall for the den renovation project we’re getting started on next week. (You don’t want to know what Young & Rubicam wanted to charge me and their price didn’t include manual labor!)

    Anyway, my focus grupo (not a typo!) came up with the name – and I trust their input because as it turns out I see a lot of these same guys shopping at my local 99¢ Only store anyway. So without further adieu I present to you – drumroll please…

    What’s Bueno at the 99¢ Only Store

    So let’s get started with our inaugural product, shall we?

    Dreyer’s Slow Churned Rich & Creamy Chocolate Shake Mix

    Cost:  At two for 99¢ Only, I’d be a fool not to buy a couple of these.

    Why They’re At The 99¢ Only Store:

    Description:  Pull off the lid…

    …and you’re looking at what seems to be a pile of who-did-it-and-ran.

    But it’s really just soft-serve ice cream masquerading as “frozen shake mix.” Anyway, what you’re supposed to do is take 1/3 cup of milk…

    ..pour it in…

    …and stir.

    But here’s our first problem. This soft-serve is frozen stiff and it’s not like mixing, say, eight heaping tablespoons of Strawberry Quik in a vintage Flintstones Welch’s jelly glass filled halfway with milk like you and I do for breakfast each morning. It’s tough going.

    And secondly – there’s no room! If you want this crap to blend, you’re going to have to do some serious stirring, and like the classic dilemma of the lactating mother on Space Mountain during Disneyland’s Topless Days (third weekend in August), milk is going to get everywhere.

    So what I had to do was leave the damn shake in the kitchen and try to forget about it for about ten minutes (no small feat, I assure you). But eventually I was able to get back to it (thank Christ) and the “shake mix” had melted enough to stir it – gently, gently!

    Then I ate it. It was too thick to really drink, and even though the directions say “for a thinner shake, add more milk,” there’s no goddamn room!

    The verdict: It was okay. Hell, two for a buck – I’d get a couple more. But if you want to try them, better hurry – as you can see, they expired yesterday so they’ll only be at the 99¢ Only store for another year, year and a half at most.

    Also: Speaking of Combos, according to their website, something called Buffalo Blue Cheese Pretzel Combos exists. My god, that combines four things you and I love – blue cheese, pretzels, Combos, and bison!

    Why the hell don’t these delights show up at the 99¢ Only store? I asked my attorney to look into it but he’s more interested in trying to convince me to delete the Disneyland line.

    Posted by on October 25, 2011, 9:00 AM.

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