In a rare (but not unprecedented) show of bipartisanship that will not doom our country, this week
Yes, both 99¢ Only Store and its sworn enemy Dollar Tree have put aside their hate and contempt for one another to reach across the cluttered, messy aisle to one another in an effort to mutually offer you, the discount store consumer, not this week’s “What’s Bueno!” item, singular, but a panoply of “What’s Bueno!” items, plural!
And what are they? Freezer pops!
This couldn’t happen at a better time, either – we’re right smack in the middle of this summer’s first miserable heat wave here in the miserable Los Angeles area, so if you live around here, pal, you’re going to need ’em.
Today’s freezer pop enthusiast has a much wider variety to choose from than when you and I were kids. Back then we had Fla-Vor-Ice and Otter Pops and, brother, that was it! That was it!
And while they’re still available (as you’ll see), today, those parched of throat and desiccated of uvula can also reach for over a dozen other brands, for just a buck a box, including such delights as these here Kool Pops.
Licensed by Kool-Aid owner Kraft, these artifically flavored freezer pops are made with Real Fruit Juice from concentrate, so it’s a snack you can feel good about, eating one after another after another after another. Oh, no one stops at one.
They even make a tropical version, which I refused to try because like you, I hate banana-flavored anything. And yet, I like real bananas. Truly, I am an enigma.
Here are our old friends Otter Pops, just like you remember them, complete with crudely-drawn mascots, who have been part of Otter Pops for much longer than crudely-drawn characters have been trendy.
A $1.00 rebate on a box of Otter Pops that cost a dollar?! Astounding! Even more astounding is that there are people who will find it worth their time to cut out the UPC and the form from the box and fill that out, include a copy of their store receipt with price circled, put that all in an envelope, and affix a 46¢ stamp to it and send it off to Otter Pops to get a check for a dollar in the mail in six to eight weeks.
Also available are these 100% fruit juice Otter Pops. Despite the box warning me that they contained no high fructose corn syrup, I bought them anyway and they were quite refreshing.
For years, Otter Pops had mail-in offers for merchandise on their box backs. Some time ago, I sent away for a Louie Bloo Raspberry beach towel. When it arrived, I was disappointed that it was far too small for a gangly manchild such as myself to actually lay out on at the municipal pool. Inexplicably, it was as though it was designed for a child. What the hell?!
Here’s the international equivalent of our proud American freezer pops. They’re called Bolis Icesticks and they’re made in Mexico. The plastic they’re encased in is quite a bit thicker than any of the other pops. You don’t snip off the end with a pair of scissors, either: they’re segmented in two, and you snap them in the middle. The package notes that “BOLIS ICESTICKS are a convenient, inexpensive refreshment.” Inexpensive, sure. But I don’t know about convenient – you don’t need scissors to get ’em open, but snapping them in half leaves you with two separate sections and they can be messy.
Tampico knows its customers! The “number one selling citrus punch brand” in the US (according to its website) chooses to package its freezer pops the same way they do it south of the border, down Mexico way, in those snappable tubes, like Bolis (above). Like you, I can’t imagine why!
Sunny D Orange Citrus freezer pops. All one flavor, gang. No purple stuff here.
Wyler’s Authentic Italian Ices come in four flavors. To me, the only “authentic” Italian ice comes in a paper cup with a peel off lid and you eat it with a wooden spoon, and the only flavor is lemon.
And here’s Slush Puppie Slush Bars. Some trivia for you, courtesy Wikipedia: [Slush Puppie’s] original owners, Will Radcliff and his sister Phyllis, came up with the name while sitting on their front porch in Cincinnati, Ohio. The unique spelling of “puppie” was added to bring attention to both the name and the product. I think you’ll agree they succeeded.
Made with 100% Apple Juice, these Mott’s Freezer Bars come in four delicious flavors – Apple, Apple Strawberry, Apple White Grape and Fruit Punch – which I think we can assume has a delicious apple undertone to it.
Fla-Vor-Ice Fudge Pops are made with Real Hershey’s Cocoa. I like my fudgicles (or Fudgesicles, as they’re known east of the Allegheny) on a stick, dammit. When it comes to freezer pops, it’s advisable to stick with fruit flavors.
…Eh, that said, there’s also these freeze & eat Soda Pops. They come in A&W Root Beer, Crush Strawberry, Dr. Pepper and Crush Grape flavors. Well, those are mostly fruit flavors. Fruit and root flavors. And Dr. Pepper.
Sunkist has gotten into the act, too, with these so-called freezer “bars” as they call them – again, made with real fruit juice from concentrate and no high fructose corn syrup. This country runs on high fructose corn syrup – you better believe it, brother – but I reckon a little change of pace won’t kill us. Special thanks to eagle-eyed reader and 99¢ Only Store shopper Chris in the Sacramento area for sending this in. Your official I’m A Pal of Ted beach towel is in the mail. (Child size.)
Hawaiian Punch Freezer Bars feature four extreme flavors but best of all, the box has Punchy snowboarding down a frosty Hawaiian mountain. Totally awesome! Today’s 3-D rendered Hawaiian Punch mascot is a character with attitude. He’s edgy; he’s in your face!
These guys are your bargain basement freezer pops. Fun Pops are filled with inconsistent levels of colored fluid that seems to vary wildly from pop to pop, and come packaged in cheap a net bag. Yet you get twelve of these and they’re 2 ounces each (well, if they were all filled uniformly) which is more than most of the other varieties. So it seems to me you could do a lot worse than Fun Pops.
According to the label, each bag “may or may not contain: Grape, Orange, Blue Punch, Pina Colada, Banana, Lemon-Lime, Peach, Watermelon, Cherry, Mango, Green Apple & Strawberry.” Still, I passed on these because with my luck, I’d have gotten a bag with like three disgusting banana pops and no peach.
It’s not just me, right? There’s nothing worse than artificial banana flavoring, right?
Mike and Ike: The candy you never buy is now available in freezer pop form that you might buy!
Jolly Rancher has gotten into the act, too, and while they only offer two flavors, they do taste a lot like their hard candy counterparts.
Angry Birds freezer bars feature tangy flavors matching the colors of the red bird, the yellow bird, a pig, and the blue bird. As a bonus, each box has an Angry Birds bookmark that kids can cut out and use – a nostalgic throwback to a time when kids still read books and weren’t spending their free time playing heavily-licensed games on their smartphones.
All of these freezer pops are fine, I reckon, but now we’re down to my top two:
These Snapple Sorbet bars come in colored sleeves, but the innards are white as the driven snow. They’re really good.
But these lip-puckering sour WarHeads freezer pops are my hands-down favorite – and now yours too.
Interestingly, nearly all of these varieties of freezer pops are manufactured or licensed by The Jel Sert Company (or “Big Freezer Pop” as consumer watchdogs know them, probably), the folks who started it all back in 1969 with Fla-Vor-Ice.
And yes, Fla-Vor-Ice is among the brands available at the 99¢ Only Store and Dollar Tree.
They’ve got a Tropical Flavors pack, too. But you’ll want to stay away from that.
I think you’ll know why.
SO THE OTHER DAY I brought the gang into the conference room here at Parsnips Industries, LLC to brainstorm and pitch ideas for upcoming posts. As usual, it was a colossal waste of my time and quickly devolved into an argument over who would win in a fight between Jaime Lannister from “Game of Thrones” and Hanna Horvath from “Girls.” (The overwhelming consensus was that Hannah would wear Jaime down with her self-centered whining and then finish him off by getting naked for no reason at all.)
I finally managed to get everyone back on track with the promise of cookies (I had a half-finished package of Oreos at home I mentioned I’d bring in) and that’s when the head of the Ted Parsnips Web Design Team chimed in with one of his usual moronic ideas.
“Why don’t you review those new Watermelon Oreos?”
Of course, I was suspicious because for someone whose weekly paycheck depends on the commercial success of this site, he’s for some reason constantly trying to undermine it. Surely no such cooky exists! Watermelon Oreos? Yeah, sure – they’re probably right on my grocer’s shelf next to the – phpht! – Peanut Butter Pop Tarts.
But I called his bluff and looked into it. And to everyone’s surprise, it turns out there really is such a thing as a Watermelon Oreo.
So here’s the review:
Aaah, they’re okay I guess. You’d think they’d be disgusting but they’re not.
Still, I wish they’d have waited to launch this particular variety until they developed a seedless watermelon creme.
LADIES, we’ve all been there, haven’t we…?
You’re in Goodwill, standing there in your drawers and about to try on someone else’s discarded, unwashed fleece lounge pants with that hideous Paul Frank monkey on them.
Suddenly you realize that although it seemed like a good idea at the time, ordering Lunch Special #4 (spicy red curry pineapple/carnitas-stuffed chile relleno with extra jalapeños, steeped in Sriracha sauce) at the Mexican Thai place on Reseda (with the ‘C’ rating in the window, no less!) proved to be a serious mistake.
That ominous rumbling down there is signaling you’ve got mere moments to decide whether to crabwalk from the dressing room to the unisex bathroom with the broken lock on the door or to secrete yourself into the middle of a densely-packed circular rack of blouses, sweaters and various other stained, out-of-season tops and make do with the uncertain privacy it may or may not provide before Mother Nature hits you full force with your monthly visit from, yes, your period!
(That’s what happens, right? I’m not a woman myself, so I’ve had to cobble together bits of information I gleaned when I was a boy and brought in the mail the same day we got a bunch of takeout menus from local restaurants and my 13-year-old sister received a big box from Kotex that I fixated on but no one would talk about.)
Anyway, what to do?
I’ll tell you what to do: Head on over to Goodwill’s bric-a-brac section and pick up yourself some Sure & Natural Maxishields!
A box of five pads with superabsorbent fibers will stem any tide, from neap to tsunami. Like Josephine the Plumber used to say, they’re the quicker-picker upper!
And how much would you pay for this box of free samples from the mid-1980s in your hour of need?
Damn the cost! Those hot peppers want out! Believe me, brother, it’s $3.99 well spent!
And there go the last of the women to ever visit this blog, I reckon. Likely the rest of you, too.
SO I was at Big Lots the other day looking for the solution to a problem.
You see, we enrolled little Jacob in one of those free LA Unified School District summer programs to get him the hell out of my hair, but those things are full of poor children and no surprise: one of the other boys has been stealing Jake’s cookies each day.
It’s every parent’s nightmare: Learning that your child has become the target of a bully, rather than him bullying some other little wussy boy (or girl).
The best way to handle the situation, of course, is to replace the expensive, name brand cookies (Oreos!) in Jacob’s lunch with something no one would want.
Big Lots to the rescue!
Of course there’s always the possibility that fat little bastard “Crisanto” will be so angry at the switch that he’ll really go off on the Jakester, but, aaah, the summer program’s only a lousy six weeks long. He’ll get by.
While at Big Lots, I decided to make a pilgrimage to the most holy of holy aisles, the Western Wall of Triscuits.
It’s impossible not to be awed by the scope and grandeur of this magnificent whole wheat palisade.
Sure, a box here and there has been replaced with the odd Wheat Thins or Cheez-Its (no doubt due to damage sustained from mortar fire from settlements in the hotly contested Pop-Tart Strip); still, it stands as a monument to the many diverse flavors making up the Triscuit brand, from the old standby, Original, to new and exciting varieties (with such trendy ingredients as brown rice, sweet potato, red bean and, yes!, sea salt & black pepper) whose light have burned oh so brightly for a couple of months in grocery stores and will soon be extinguished forever, as evidenced by their presence in the nationwide closeout chain.
Overwhelmed with emotion, I too joined the countless throngs of worshippers who came before me to tuck a prayer in the wall – a quiet, spiritual way to add one more plaintive voice to the wailing heard throughout Big Lots everywhere.
True, I’m not usually a very religious man, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.
It began shortly after ten p.m. last night.
A Los Angeles Police Department helicopter started circling above my neighborhood. It happens from time to time, and usually it doesn’t go on for too long.
By 3:15 a.m., however, the constant noise and erratic spotlight shining down from above as the chopper made its endless loops became a bit tiresome even for someone as famously calm, good-natured and even-tempered as myself.
There has to be a reason for this, I figured. They’re after someone.
But after five straight hours of window-rattling, house-shaking whup-whup-whup-whup and unnatural shafts of light shooting through trees and onto rooftops, cars and driveways, my patience had worn thin. I picked up the phone and called the LAPD’s Topanga Station to hopefully find out what the hell was going on.
The officer who answered was, to his credit, friendly and apologetic as he explained.
Someone reported seeing a man with a gun, he told me, so they set up a perimeter. [“Set up a perimeter” – that’s law enforcement talk.]
A man with a gun?! I wondered, confused.
Given the supposed gang presence just east and northeast of me, I was both surprised that ‘a man with a gun’ was such an unusual occurrence that it warrants five hours of searching by air and a little unsure whether this was a good or a bad thing.
But it turns out, the officer added, it was just two juveniles with BB guns, and the whole operation should be wrapping up now, and sorry it woke you up.
I didn’t mention to him that I nor probably anyone in the less than four-block radius below the helicopter’s continuous orbits had been “woken up;” more likely no one had been able to go to sleep in the first place. (Nor did I speak for the entire community and suggest that the LAPD have carte blanche in administering any kind of street justice on these two dumbasses and their Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifles for causing all of this. Because that would be presumptuous on my part and insulting to the professional men and women of the LAPD.)
No, I just thanked him for the information and said good night, relieved that the end was nigh.
…And then the circling and noise and lights continued for another half-hour.
LIKE YOURS, enormous tracts of the landscape that is my workday is made up of avoiding doing any work at all and looking at those time-sucking websites with a whole grid of fascinating and enriching slideshow-based articles to peruse; i.e., “Ten Scariest Abandoned Scrapbooking Stores,” “Sexiest Waltons Cosplay” and “Ridiculously Adorable Organic Material Stuck to the Undersides of Subway Seats” where you click on a link that brings you to another page of articles in little boxes and then you click on one of them (usually not the one you were originally interested in because it curiously doesn’t exist on this new page). And that brings you to another page which leads you to yet a different website of links and then again to another page and a different site, on and on and on and on, and his father’s father before him.
One of the things I’ve seen time and time again, and you have, too, probably, is the “World’s Biggest Pool.” And as it will soon enrage you, it enrages me every time I see it. Every time I see it!
It’s a magnificent example of how the internet has dumbed down so many who now will believe anything they read and are too lazy to use any critical thinking skills or do any research on their own.
Those who provide content for these sort of sites ought to be ashamed, is what, for taking the so-called facts concerning this pool at face value without verifying them nor even using reasonable common sense; instead reposting this nonsense everywhere.
You see, San Alfonso del Mar is a large resort on the coast of Chile. It has a pool in front of it that’s very big.
The “facts” usually cited are that the pool is 1 kilometer long, covers about 19 acres, holds 66 million gallons of water, and has a maximum depth of 115 feet.
I don’t have any problem with the first three pieces of data. It’s the last one – the 115 foot depth – that I call utter hovadina on.
Let’s take another look at the pool, shall we?
As you can see, it’s right up against the shore. A child, even a stupid child, who has dug holes in the sand at the beach knows that the deeper you go, the more likely water starts rushing in through the sand. Suddenly, your hole collapses. (Much like after you had that particularly virulent strain of monkey dysenta— Okay, never mind about that.)
Now imagine digging a hole 115 feet deep this close to the shore. The water table so close to the Pacific Ocean would make this an engineering nightmare! Probably!
And for what? What exactly would be the purpose in having one end of the pool 115 feet deep? You tell me! For scuba diving perhaps! To explore what? The featureless cement bottom of a pool?
Here’s a photo of a few mighty vessels asea, or in this case, apool:
Notice that in each instance, you’re seeing a shadow of roughly the same size just below each of these magnificent crafts. That’s because the shadows are on the pool bottom, I posit, a relatively short distance below.
Next! Satellite photo:
If one end of this pool was 115 feet deep – that’s roughly as deep as a ten story building is tall by the way – then that area – wherever it is, would be significantly darker than the shallower areas of the pool. You can see very shallow areas of the pool – presumably wading areas. But nothing very dark.
Clearly, this pool is not 115 feet deep.
Therefore, I submit, Your Honor, that this pool is at most 11.5 feet deep, and that somewhere along the way, someone left off the decimal point.
For the want of a dot on a page, the world’s largest pool has become the world’s deepest pool as well, and if you should go for a dip and your room key slips out of your trunks and sinks to the bottom, well, better call the front desk and see if they can get Ignacio in Maintenance to fire up the bathysphere and retrieve it.
Yet, I’m a reasonable a man, and I can understand how this misinformation has been repeated ad infinitum across the internet because doing the research on this one is not as easy as one might think.
I wanted to be able to definitively say “I looked into this, dammit, and the pool is actually eleven and a half feet deep – Ignacio himself told me so!” so I got in touch with both the resort and the company responsible for building the pool.
In fact, I contacted them multiple times…but each attempt ended without any answers.
Crystal Lagoons Corporation LLC is the company responsible for designing and building the pool. They’re headquartered in Chile, but they have phone numbers in New York and Miami. Each time I called, I talked with what I presume is an answering service that couldn’t provide any information, and even though I left my contact information, no one called back.
I emailed them as well, both at their American and Chilean email addresses. No response! I fared no better contacting the resort itself: No reply to my emails and surprisingly, whoever answered the phone at this enormous world class resort couldn’t put me in touch with anyone who spoke better English than I speak Spanish. (And despite living where I do, I don’t hablo español muy good-o. Ha!)
Terrified of high international rates on my next phone bill, and suddenly remembering I write a blog about bad deals in thrift shops and good deals in dollar stores and not some sort of exhaustively researched online reference work, I didn’t call back.
Lest anyone suggest my assertion that the World’s Biggest Swimming Pool at San Alfonso del Mar is not 115 feet deep without concrete evidence to back it up makes me no better than those awful sites I’m complaining about, it’s not merely Buzzfeed and its countless viral content-peddling clones that are regurgitating the inaccurate depth factoid.
It’s also good, wholesome, decent sites like Popular Mechanics, Wikipedia, National Geographic (!) and, dear God above, the one website we all thought we could always count on, Snopes.com. Oh, Barbara and David Mikkelson, what happened?
So I say we settle this once and for all. Let’s get some kind of Kickstarter/IndieWhosis thing going to send me on a fact-finding mission down there for a couple of weeks so I can finally get us a definitive answer and put this controversy to rest once and for all. I’ve already got the tape measure and snorkel so don’t worry about that; I just need you folks to come up with airfare (first class, please – I drink a lot) and maybe twenty-five thousand dollars for an ocean-facing suite plus miscellaneous expenses. (Prostitution is legal there!)
Anyone pledging five grand gets a free postcard from the lobby (contingent on if they have free postcards in the lobby).
Pledge ten thousand and you get everything from the $5,000 package plus a little bottle of shampoo or a hotel bar of soap or something. I’m rewriting – née correcting – history here, folks, and you can be part of it! Let’s do this!
I’ve heard of bricks of cheese, but this is ridiculous!
Cheese Shingles. Not “Singles.” Shingles.
I don’t know!
Maybe it was supposed to be “singles” but the package design copy editor has a lisp and uses voice-to-text software when creating new product labels…?
Or is this one of those ridiculously esoteric food items that you usually only see on those obnoxious cooking shows?
“Chefs, please open your baskets.
“For the dessert round, you must use veal brittle, aquarium granola, horse balls and Monterey Jack cheese shingles. Good luck.”
Outside of those two scenarios, “shingles” doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I’ve worked construction. I know what shingles look like. I’ve also had shingles. I know what shingles feel like. These are neither rectangular and rigid, like the shingles on your roof; nor itchy and painful, like the shingles on your crotch.
So I asked a pal for his opinion.
“Look at this package of cheese I got at 99¢ Only. Is this a mistake?”
“Oh yes, buying cheese at the dollar store is definitely a mistake.”
“No, you jackass! The word ‘shingles’ on the package!”
He wasn’t sure either, but suggested that ‘singles’ are often individually wrapped slices of cheese (these were not individually wrapped), and since each slice was slightly staggered from the next thus resembling the overlapping nature of roofing shingles, perhaps the unlikely descriptor was intentional.
Mm. An interesting hypothesis, but I think he was giving too much credit to a company whose label looks like it was designed on a free online logo maker, so I immediately dismissed it. Plus there was that crack about where I do most of my shopping.
But it’s all irrelevant now anyway and we may never know the real story behind Monterey Jack Cheese Shingles because on a subsequent trip to 99¢ Only, I picked up this (for 99¢ Only):
Ah! Slices! Now there’s a word we all understand!
You know what? They were pretty good. And that name change can only help. Now I can enjoy Monterey Jack Slices without being subconsciously reminded of the bitter woody taste of cedar shingles or the gamy herpes taste the other kind is infused with. Oh, please, like you don’t eat your scabs!
Now then! Who’s up for one of my famous grilled cheese sandwiches?