1. 99 Tears!

    AS though it wasn’t enough to find out Bahooka is closed. Now, just a few days later, I learn we’ve also lost Dave Gold.

    “Who was Dave Gold?” you ask?

    Bite your tongue, sir or madam!  Dave Gold was the founder of 99¢ Only stores, the discount retail chain providing fodder for what seems like 99% of my posts! They’re also responsible for 99% of the food in my refrigerator and 82% of the clothes in my closet (I pick up that other 18% – used socks and underwear – over at Goodwill).

    I was going to link to his obit on the LA Times, but you hate the LA Times as much as I do – so instead, you can read about him on USA Today, a newspaper about which I am largely ambivalent. For now.

    In memory of Mr. Gold, here’s a 15-product salute of shopping suggestions for the next time you find yourself in one of his stores or better yet, reason to head there even if you weren’t planning on going!


    Some of these items may no longer be available, but you’ll agree that posting them anyway is a fitting tribute to the man who started it all back in 1982 and loved nothing more than finding great bargains to share with the rest of us.

    And it’s more of a eulogy than the 99¢ Only store website is doing! 99 lashes with a wet (ramen) noodle for them for not even mentioning his passing on their site!



    Life Savers Heritage Tin
    Can you believe they sold these things for 99¢ Only? The Pep-O-Mint and Wint-O-Green tins held oversized, individually-wrapped Life Savers, while the Wild Cherry and Butter Rum tins held six individual rolls each! Six rolls of Life Savers and a collectible tin to further clutter up your house?! Sold! 


    Sara Lee Chocolate Creme Cupcakes
    Wow! Eight cupcakes for 99¢ Only. And nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee! You couldn’t buy a two-pack of those disgusting Hostess cupcakes for less than a buck! No wonder they went out of business!


    Barbie Fun Yo Yo
    Like you, I was surprised to find the Barbie Fun Yo Yo here. Now, the Barbie Mundane Yo Yo – that’s what you expect to see closed out at the 99¢ Only store.


    Post Good Morenings Frosted Flakes
    This is a huge box of cereal for 99¢ Only! 22 bowls worth – says so right on the package! And it’s a good American name brand, not that crap from Argentina that tastes like it was sweetened with tapir piss. Why is this at the 99¢ Only store? If I were to guess, I’d say it was a new product launch that failed because the name “Good Morenings” just looks weird. What was wrong with “Good Mornings” spelled correctly as God Himself intended? “Mega Pack” at the top already tells us that we’re getting an enormous amount of frosted flakes. And even if we missed that, the box is gigantic!


    Rice Dream Rice Nog
    Are you kidding me?! Cartons and cartons of Rice Nog for 99¢ Only, available in late April? I’m glad I brought the pickup!


    Hasbro My 3D Viewer
    Judging by the quantity of  these Viewmaster-shaped 3D viewers (which you attach to your iPhone or iPod) that cluttered up the aisles at a bunch of 99¢ Only stores, someone at Hasbro thought this was going to be the next Cabbage Patch Kid. I imagine that person is now out of a job.



    Ritz Crackerfuls
    Ya hungry? How about peanut butter & chocolate on a crisp Ritz cracker! Or classic cheddar cheese on a crisp Ritz cracker! Everything tastes great when it sits on a Ritz, and when I tell you these elongated Ritz dealies go for about $3 at the regular grocery store, you’ll join me in shaking your head in delighted disbelief and saying, “Mmm-mm!  Good cracker, good cracker!”


    Musco Family Olive Co. Mediterranean Pearls Garlic Stuffed Queen Olives
    99¢ Only for a jar of garlic-clove stuffed olives: Oh, big deal, you say – until you realize these aren’t those nefarious olives imported from mysterious China steeped in a toxic brine of formaldehyde and terracotta warrior dust where you’re just as likely to pluck out an unfortunate factory worker’s eyeball from the jar as you are a withered olive! No sir, these are big, delicious, California-grown olives!  And at 99¢ Only for seven ounces, you can afford to pop ’em on all five of your fingers as seen in the company’s logo. (Or all three of your fingers if you’re a one-eyed former Chinese factory worker).


    Chicken of the Sea Coastal Cuisine
    99¢ Only on a product with $1 off coupon?! They’re literally paying us to take these things! Or they would be if 99¢ Only stores accepted coupons.

    The process required to cook these products is far too complicated – since here in the 21st century we’re all used to Rosie the Robot punching up something on the Foodarackacycle for us – and surely doomed them to the 99¢ Only store. That’s unfortunate, because they’re really pretty good. To prepare: Take both pouches out of the box, tear open the top of each half-way, add 2-1/2 tablespoons water to the rice pouch, put both pouches in the microwave on high for 60 seconds, then tear off the tops of both pouches completely, pour the contents into the handy box they came in (or a “plate,” there, Mr. Fancy Pants!), mix ’em up and eat. You, what, six regulars followed that no problem. I lost everyone else at the “Jetsons” reference.


    California Gold Prune Juice
    If you’re like me, and you are, you buy prune juice for one reason. This stuff does the trick, so why pay three times as much for the big name brand in a regular grocery store? I enjoy mine in a vintage early 1970s Apollo 13 juice glass as it reminds me of my youth – I’d have a great big helping right before leaving for school when we had Field Day. Believe me, there’s little that’ll motivate you faster across the 50-yard dash finish line than that tell-tale rumbling. I was good at the sack race, too, until the year I fell down – my lower body being mostly concealed in a burlap bag was both a blessing and a curse. Sadly, I could never get a partner for the three-legged race, but I know we would’ve taken first place as long as whoever I was tied to understood that all important stride/clench rhythm.


    Jans Escargots
    “In brine, ready to serve hot,” “high protein & low fat,” “perfectly cooked.” What more do you need to know? Besides, that should be plenty to keep your mind off the fact that you’re eating the same thing that crawls up the vinyl siding by your front door after a rain.


    Mattel Apptivity Angry Birds & Fruit Ninja
    I neither own an iPad nor had any interest in downloading the apps you’d need to play with these toys, but I couldn’t say no to King Pig and Sensei figures for 99¢ Only.


    Then I realized they’re essentially Happy Meals toys, which we all stopped buying when we grew up back in our mid-30s.


    Kraft Roka Blue Brand Spread
    They still make this stuff?! you ask, incredulously. According to Kraft’s website, they do indeed – this and four other flavors, throwbacks to the 60s all, and each still sold in its own tiny 5-ounce jar that, once emptied of its cheese spread contents, became little juice glasses that your grandmother couldn’t bear to throw away, having lived through the Depression.

    Believe it or not, I ran out of crisp Ritz crackers, so what you see above is Roka Blue spread atop Ritz’s cheap Mexican ripoff, a “Tosta.”  Mmm-mm! Cracker bueno, cracker bueno!

    Ritz or Tosta, the cracker is unnecessary – this stuff is good enough to eat right out of the jar with your finger. Or in this case, my finger.


    Wish Bone Balsamic Vinaigrette
    Your choice: 99¢ Only for 16 ounces of basamic vinaigrette dressing from the private label brand you’ve never heard of  – or for 36-ounces from the  national name brand you’ve trusted and enjoyed since you were a baby?


    Nabisco Lorna Doone Shortbread Cookies
    Like you, I always thought Lorna Doone was a stupid name for a cookie. Even when I took AP English in kindergarten and discovered it was named after a 1869 romance novel that takes place two centuries earlier, it only made me wonder what the hell the cookie-naming team at Nabisco was smoking when they came up with that one (I said as much to Miss Hamilton, and was made to sit in the corner and miss snack that day).

    For that reason alone I hated Lorna Doones as a child, and believe me, they were the last cookies eaten from that Nabisco sampler collection box (with the red wax paper lining and the brown VacuForm tray with individual cookie-slots, remember?).

    But a funny thing happened since then: I had me some ‘Doones again, and by Godfrey, as an adult, they’re delicious. And they’re quite a deal for 99¢ Only: Two of the 5-ounce packs will set you back just a couple of bucks at the 99¢ Only store – but buy them in their standard 10-ounce package at a regular supermarket…


    …and you’ll be strapped for cash so fast you might as well take Henry Winkler up on that reverse-mortgage deal he keeps going on about, and shame on him.

    99 thanks for creating the 99¢ Only store, Dave, and may you rest in peace!


    And I’m sure that your successor – whoever he may be! – shares your unique vision to ensure the chain’s continued success!


    Posted by on April 30, 2013, 9:17 AM.

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