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.
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.
Pick one of these up at Dollar Tree and you can go as Darth Vader performing court-mandated community service picking up trash alongside the road.
Of course this presumes you already own a full Darth Vader costume that you can wear the vest on top of.
HERE’S what’s bueno at your local Dollar Tree for Halloween: Scary lenticular portraits!
Lenticulars (“flickers” some people call ’em) are those plastic-ridgy pictures where you look at it one way, you see one image, you look at it another way, you see a different image, and you look at it the wrong way and it’ll kick your ass.
These dual-image Halloween prints in the dollar stores have been around for a few years now — but this particular one bears worth mentioning:
First of all, it’s pretty damn big: The main image is about 7″ by about 11″ and with its “frame” it measures about 12″ by 16″.
But more than that — it looks like David Hyde Pierce!
I mean, it’s not just me, this is a manipulated photo of David Hyde Pierce, isn’t it? They took a picture of him and messed around with it, right? Gave him glasses, drew on a mustache (poorly), maybe put him in different clothes, and called it a day, I’m thinking.
Compare & contrast for yourself!
Okay, well, that’s not helping my case.
It’s almost as though it looks more like Mr. Pierce if you don’t have an actual photograph of the actor to compare it to. But still, you’ll agree it sort of evokes the feeling of David Hyde Pierce.
Unfortunately, this being a lenticular, it’s very difficult to photograph it decently and not get either a glare off the plastic ridges or a partial view of the secondary image (in this case, a skeleton):
Be that as it may, we’re rating this Halloween Lenticular From Dollar Tree That May Or May Not Have Used A Photograph Of David Hyde Pierce As Its Source Material…
5 out of 7 dollar signs!
…because it’s so big, it looks pretty cool, and, most of, because we’d all like to imagine a scene in “Frasier” where Niles enters his brother’s apartment carrying Dollar Tree bags (perhaps during the lean days of his separation from Maris) and announcing, “Apparently there’s something called a ‘dollar store’…”
MANY of you, what, six readers come here regular for one thing and one thing only: to read our popular feature, “What’s Bueno at the 99¢ Only Store”…
or its sister feature, “What’s Bueno at Dollar Tree”…
the latter which doesn’t pop up nearly as often as it should.
But what I’m hearing from all your emails, letters, postcards, and rocks with notes attached somehow thrown through my computer screen is this:
“Sure, Ted,” you begin, “Sure, this is bueno and that’s bueno, and then this other thing? Bueno. But some things seem bueno for obvious reasons; others not so.”
And you continue: “Why, there’s even been times, Ted, when some of the items you’ve labeled bueno are not bueno at all, and seem so absurd and ridiculous — why, my family and I suspect that you’re just labeling them bueno ironically — oh, we wouldn’t put it past you, you wacky guy!”
Guilty as charged!
So I thought to myself, Ted, I thought, how can we keep the popular feature — and yet make it better for them, what, six readers?
And then it hit me: Another rock flying through the screen.
Got me good, too — 18 stitches, and a Frankenstein-like scar on my forehead the guy at the emergency 24-Hour EconoVet said I’ll carry for life.
But while I was recovering from my concussion, it occurred to me that maybe what I should do is start rating the bueno-icity of these bueno items.
So I got right to work, and came up with this clever rating system: A series of 99¢ Only logos, and the amount of bueno of each item would be conveyed through the number of logos. For instance, something with nine logos would be the most amazing deal you could find at 99¢ Only:
Something with, say 4-1/2 logos would be a pretty good deal (I mean, its inclusion under the What’s Bueno banner already implies it’s bueno).
And, eh, something with just one logo? Or, God forbid, half a logo…?
Let’s just say it’s such a lousy deal that it’s being included only to point out what a lousy deal it is, because it’s unbueno at any price, as I imagine Ralph Nader would say if he had a blog.
Good! Everything set! Ready to go!
…Well, no, because ever since that lawsuit with the Fried Bologna Board of America, the stockholders here at Ted Parsnips LLC say everything I write has to go through Legal first. I tell you, we didn’t have these problems back in the 1950s, when I started blogging!
Those killjoys in Legal were of course worried about the whole rating system, and sent it off to my attorney (Why the hell do I even have a Legal department if they’re just going to send things out to our main lawyer? They’re more useless than the Ted Parsnips Web Design Team, who spend an awful lot of company time developing ideas for some sort of idiotic local Carnival of Cheese event they’re all involved with).
Anyway, my attorney immediately had a conniption [legal term] and said using 99¢ Only store’s own 99¢ Only logo as a rating system would be like poking the 99¢ Only store’s Legal Department with a 99¢ Only stick, to coin a phrase.
“Besides,” he continued, “besides, those rating icons only work for 99¢ Only stores, so, what, you’re going to create a whole set of other rating icons for Dollar Tree and every other goddamn dollar store you go to?! Just how complicated do you want to make this idiotic blog of yours that nobody reads?! It’s not like you’re covering anything interesting — like local cheese carnivals.”
Well, he does have a point, so we gave the old new rating system the heave-ho and came up with a new new rating system, to wit:
The Official Ted Parsnips New What’s Bueno Dollar Store Rating Guide!
And here’s how it goes:
Seven Dollar Signs = The cream of the crop! An unbelievable find! An amazing deal! It doesn’t get any better than this!
You come across whatever I’ve reviewed with these lucky seven dollar signs at a dollar store, you pick ’em up, brother, and you pick up plenty of ’em! This is your best dollar store value, and you’re lucky — damn lucky! — you got a pal like me what tells you about crap like this! Damn lucky!
Six Dollar Signs = Still a really great deal! Just not an absolutely amazing deal! Worth dropping by your local dollar store on the way home from work even if you just ate a bunch of sauerkraut and your stomach is rumbling. Just make it snappy. No dawdling. Who gets to eat sauerkraut at work just before going home? I wish I worked in your office!
Five Dollar Signs = A great deal, but not a really great deal! Head home, deal with the after-effects of your late afternoon sauerkraut snack, then head back out to the store later, but do it tonight.
Four Dollar Si— …Okay, I think you get the idea. The more dollar signs, the more bueno the deal, the fewer dollar signs, the fewer bueno the deal. The scale goes all the way down to…
…No Dollar Signs, which of course means it’s a huge waste of money, even at a dollar.
And as someone who enjoys needlessly complicating things, I’ve of course crafted half-ratings for the whole scale as well…
…such as this Three and a Half Dollar Signs, which is for something that would fall, yes, midway between three dollar signs and four dollar signs. Though we’re both wondering why I bothered since it’s no secret I’m someone who enjoys dealing in extremes and 98% of the ratings will probably be either seven dollar signs or no dollar signs.
Anyway, that’s it! Are you as excited as I am?
Oh boy — I’m sure you can hardly wait for my next post!
Now you, too, can smell like Lou Ferrigno.
Or, I suppose, Edward Norton, Eric Bana, or Mark Ruffalo.
And for just a buck! Heck, you can’t even buy a decent pair of purple shorts for a buck these days. Though I suppose you never could.
Anyway, Hulk for Men Eau de Toilette Spray is…
…for today, June 10, 2015. Like I’m doing these on a daily basis now.
Discovered in the health & beauty aisle at my local Dollar Tree!
VitaRocks C Immune System Support Dietary Supplement!
“No Water Needed” reads the box. “Just Pop In Your Mouth!”
Like you’d be, I was intrigued. Could this be Vitamin C in fizzing candy form?! I gambled a buck to find out. For you, my readers.
Once home, I tore into that box and found fourteen of these packets inside:
So I ripped one open and what I found inside there, well, eh, I didn’t take a photo of.
Orange powder. Or it would have been, had it not been all clumped together.
I ingested it — and why not? — I paid for it.
Tasted like a pulverized chewable Vitamin C tablet, it did.
I thought I detected a bit of fizziness, so throwing caution to the wind (and possibly risking a Vitamin C overdose — what I do for you what, six, readers!), I dug into another packet, the contents of which were more powdery, less clumpy, and yes, fizzier.
Eventually, I read the damn box and yes, it confirms the popping aspect of this product:
“Enjoy a burst of orange flavor while getting immune-boosting benefits all in a great-tasting, popping vitamin!”
Fourteen packs for a buck is nothing to sneeze at, and the benefits of Vitamin C may well prevent you from sneezing altogether.*
*Sneezing is often associated with having a cold.
Despite the expiration date on the bottom being almost six months in the future, it seems that some of the contents’ packets were clumpier than others, with VitaRocks’ celebrated popping being more pronounced in the less clumpy ones (or, conversely, less pronounced in the more clumpy ones).
Still, I found that if it’s the popping that you’re aiming for (and you should be), clumpy or no, tap the contents of a packet into your gaping maw, but then chew it with your mouth open, like a damn cow.
For whatever reason, that seems to enhance the popping; but if you look like me (and you don’t), it doesn’t make for a pretty picture. A healthy immune system has its costs.