1. Goldfish!

    Grand Union recently had a special on Goldfish – you know, the baked snack cracker from the good folks at Pepperidge Farm, sure. A dollar a bag. Who can say no to that? Not me or you, I’ll tell you that much.

    At a buck a bag, I could afford to try a few different varieties, and among those I purchased were these:

    I guess I was pulled in by the exciting graphics and vibrant colors, but let me tell you, I wish I had given this purchase a little more thought.

    First of all, who’s the idiot who decided to mix two flavors in one bag? We’ve seen this with Doritos, too. And invariably what happens is both flavors and me, the consumer, loses. When I first tried those Doritos “Collisions” a few years ago (“Doritos Catastrophes” they should have been called), I presumed there was some sort of cellophane or foil divider inside my Big Grab to keep the Hot Wings chips and the Blue Cheese chips from commingling – and then I opened the bag and it was Brown v. Board of Education all over again. But in this case it was a bad thing.

    Same with these Goldfish – let me pull one out here: Is it a Parmesan one? Is it a Flavor Blasted Xplosive Pizza one? I have no idea. Here, I’ll eat it.

    …Okay, I ate it. And I still have no idea.

    That’s not even my biggest problem with these crackers. My issue is with this “Mix-Up Adventures” bullshit on the package. How is a bag of crackers “an adventure?” Give me a story on the back of the package. Provide me with some sort of narrative explaining how this happened, how they were mixed up – make me care about the fish inside. And then invite me to join in the experience by, I don’t know, moving them along some sort of inexpensive but colorfully printed game board, maybe a thin plastic sheet that can be folded up and packed inside the bag and measures at least 24″ x 24″ when spread out on the floor or my bed, and then you move the crackers along a path through things like caves and off cliffs, over waterfalls and into jungles and stuff.

    That’d be cool, right? They should do that. That would be an adventure. And it would probably make us slow down and eat them one at a time, preventing us from shoveling these things into our mouths by the handful, and then the bag is gone in five minutes and we’re back to gnawing on a dry brick of Maruchan ramen and then dabbing a wet pinky into the seasoning packet and eating it like Fun Dip.

    Posted by on August 16, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  2. Nice Try, Wendy’s!

    As you know, the vast Parsnips fortune was amassed by doing those little surveys on the back of sales slips.

    Oh yes: a free entree at Panda Express with purchase of any 2-entree plate here, a free Whopper Junior when I buy a medium fries and drink at Burger King there – it all adds up!

    Recently I was scouted, via register receipt, by the Wendy’s Corporation about joining their operation as a consultant. Ask anyone in the business world today – they’ll tell you consulting jobs are where it’s at. You’re not an actual employee with the company, so you don’t have to sit through the sexual harassment video tapes. But the billable hours, man!

    Thankfully, this being the 20th century, the computer age, I didn’t have to fly all the way to their headquarters in Ohio for the interview. Today in 2011, this sort of thing is done right here online!

    So I was working through the whole process when I got to this screen:

    Well, as you know, I do have that little ad agency – J. Walter Parsnips – and we handle mostly local accounts, generally yard sales, focusing on the medium of cardboard tacked to telephone poles.

    And, yes, I make it mandatory that once any foster child living under my roof reaches the age of 15, he or she has to get a part-time job at Jack in the Box down the street. (Family discount, baby!)

    Did I tell Wendy’s this?  No!

    Because that bit about “sometimes we look for people who work in particular industries” is a blatant lie, and if I checked anything other than “None of the Above” I would have been shown the online door quicker than you can say “Baconator Deluxe Double Combo with a Diet Coke.”

    No, friends, you always check “None of the Above” or you’re going to be locked out of the rest of the survey – or in this case, that cherry job with the Wendy’s organization.

    Do I feel bad about not being completely honest with them?  No – they lied to me first posing the question as they did.

    So get this! This was the next screen:

    Man, they just don’t give up! Do they want my goddamn opinions or not?!

    Posted by on August 8, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  3. Celery!

    The problem? Celery is expensive. And it’s a complete pain in the ass. Once you’ve spent $1.89 easily, sure, for a bunch of celery, you’ve got to get it home, and I don’t need to tell you that you’re wiped out after all that shopping so the celery just goes right into the crisper where it’s easily forgotten.

    But you can’t forget it, because if you don’t deal with your celery quickly, why, you’ve got yourself a bunch of limp celery and you’ve just pissed away $1.89. Unless you’re a pal of mine who – I swear to God above, this is true! – unless you’re a pal of mine who actually likes to eat limp celery. Isn’t that the most disgusting thing you’ve ever heard? I know! What the hell is wrong with her?

    Okay, okay, we’ve all had a good laugh at her expense, but let’s knock it off now.

    So you’ve got to pull that celery back out of the crisper before it goes limp. You’ve got less than two days, probably, and that clock is ticking, brother – it’s ticking! So get to work: pry each stick apart from the wad, wash off the germs of whoever harvested it (Hey, we all have germs, I’m not singling anyone out.), chop off the greenery at the top and the whitery at the base; and then measuring twice but cutting once, divide each piece into lengths short enough to fit in your celery receptacle – some sort of plastic tub with a lid.  Now you fill that container with some water around the celery sticks, put the top on, and stick it in the fridge.  Stop the clock! They won’t go limp now.

    Your celery is now ready for whenever you need a quick, healthy snack. And when you want that quick, healthy snack, what you do, see, is you look in the fridge and make a point to ignore that plastic container of celery like you don’t see it, close the refrigerator door, and then opt for some cookies instead, because as long as you don’t have too many, well, they’re not that bad.

    Eventually, your celery is pushed way to the back of the fridge, all but forgotten behind eight pounds of government cheese, and then one day, many weeks later, you’ll want a tuna fish sandwich. By the way, why do we put the qualifier “fish” at the end?  Is there such a thing as “tuna pork”? Ooh, hold it Ted, you save that gem for a future post. Anyway, you want a little chopped celery in your tuna fish sandwich, in your tuna salad there, sure.

    So you pull out that forgotten container of celery and this is what you see.
    Warning: Graphic Images!

    Well, graphic image, singular. And you can’t even see the slimy scum in the cloudy water. But believe me – it’s slimy, scummy, and cloudy.

    What I’d like to know is why it’s perfectly legal for a homeless person to buy a loose cigarette at the local liquor store for, what is it, probably a quarter or fifty cents, but the grocery store refuses to sell me a single stick of celery for my damn tuna fish?  I don’t need a whole bunch, a whole wad of celery, I just need one freaking stick. Let’s face it, I was never going to “snack” on celery anyway, not even if I opened that door to find Lenny Weinrib himself had come back to life, flown up from Santiago, Chile and was singing and dancing next to the milk and eggs. What kind of idiot snacks on celery? I just bought it because eventually I was at some point going to make tuna fish for lunch, and now that plan is completely shot to hell, isn’t it?

    Well, I guess we’ll just have to go to KFC again today. Hey, on the way back, we’ll stop at Wendy’s for Frosties!

    Posted by on July 27, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  4. A Yoghurt Treat!

    Many of you have asked me just how I’m able to maintain my girlish figure especially considering that now the 99¢ Only store usually has tubs of off-brand cake frosting that’s good enough to eat right out of the jar with my finger. Others have been requesting a personal family recipe from me for that fund-raising cookbook you’re putting together for your local charity, women’s club, or other foundation that supports causes that I really shouldn’t have my name associated with, but I’ll just blame the whole thing on a made-up assistant if it ever becomes a problem.

    …Well, I’ll tell you how. Oh, and also give you that recipe.

    In a word: Yoghurt. You’ve probably heard of it. Perhaps you’ve even seen it for sale in one of those new “health-food” shops that are popping up everywhere. Or maybe you’ve visited Greece, where this unusual food hails from, and had it as a dressing (or “side”) on one of their national dishes, such as ceviche or sauerbraten.

    Yoghurt, pronounced “yo-gurt,” is high in beneficial ingredients, while lacking many of the things that make other foods less nutritious. Without further adieu, here’s that recipe:

    Ted Parsnips’ Samoa-Girl-Scout-Cookie-In-A-Cup

    1 cup (6 oz.) of Ralph’s Blended Grade A Low Fat Yoghurt, Pina Colada with Other Natural Flavors flavor
    1 tbsp Kretschmer Honey Crunch Wheat Germ For U.S. Export Only

    1. Preheat oven to 425º.
    2. Sprinkle a spoonful of wheat germ on top of the yoghurt.
    3. Eat the yoghurt. Holy crap, it tastes exactly like a Girl Scout™ brand Samoa® Cookie!
    4. That wasn’t very filling, was it?  Pop a frozen pizza in the oven.

    contributed by Ted Parsnips

    © 2011 Ted Parsnips. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced without permission.

    See how easy I’ve made that for you? It’s absolutely free of charge, too. You can print that out and send that right to the cookbook publisher – what could be easier? Please contact me for permission first with your request on your organization’s letterhead including a brief history of your organization, proof of non-profit status and expected print run. Also, I would appreciate a case of 24 copies of the cookbook when it’s published.

    Now a few things about this recipe, which as God as my witness, I created all by myself:

    • First of all, that Kretschmer Wheat Germ? I bought that at the 99¢ Only store – here in these United States! – yet clearly printed on the label is “For US Export Only.” Someone at 99¢ Only or the Kretschmer Corporation or both will probably lose his or her job over this post, but what can you do?
    • Secondly, it really tastes exactly like a Samoa! Seriously! The wheat germ becomes like the shredded coconut. I don’t know how it can taste exactly like a Samoa, since there’s no chocolate or caramel in my concoction, but I think the reason that it tastes exactly like a Samoa is because I haven’t had a Samoa for a long time and probably don’t remember exactly what they taste like.
    • Third, and most importantly, how much do you want to bet that the notoriously litigious Girls Scouts of America will get their panties in a knot over me mentioning the name of one of their precious cookies? My promise to you: I’ll reproduce the cease-and-desist email or letter here whenever I get it.

    How’s our pizza coming along?

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

  5. Salt!

    Well, it hadn’t been a week since I last showered you with images and descriptions of products in delightfully anachronistic packaging before the emails started coming in. “Ted, won’t you please find more products in delightfully anachronistic packaging to share with us, the readers,” so many of you wrote. Okay, okay, I give in! But you’re just getting one more…for now.

    And here we are. Despite the little missus’ recent heart attack scare, I can’t keep the salt away from her. I’ve given up trying to let her dole it out via the traditional shaker and just let her pour it onto her Fritos pie right out of the canister. She’s going through a package a week, and at this rate, Morton’s is getting a little pricey. Solution? Royal Crystal Iodized Salt.

    Picked up this baby at the Dollar Tree for – yes! – a dollar and believe me, brother, you’re not going to find a more delightfully anachronistic package of salt.

    This Royal Crystal Iodized Salt looks like it’s from…the 1970s.
    Proof of Its Modernity: Mention of trans fat on nutrition label.
    Where You’d Expect to See It: In the background of a photo in a print ad for Fit & Trim dog food in “Family Circle” from 1979, shot in a grocery store with all the products on the shelves out of focus just enough so you can’t read the brand names. But you’d, eh, recognize it from the color scheme, sure.
    Buy It Because: For God’s sake, salt is salt. You might as well get the cheap stuff. Hell, I’d feed our six foster kids road salt if we lived in a climate where I could scrape it off the streets in the winter.
    • A simple design with bold letters on a field of that deep red-orange – that’s what makes this one look old. That and the double-shield thing – I’m sure it has some sort of graphic design name – in which “Royal Crystal” is printed in white on deep blue. That thing alone looks like something you’d see as part of some sort of modern American colonial bicentennial style decorating motif, right? Oh, you know what I’m talking about. Look, the important thing is it looks like the Royal Crystal salt people designed this thing 35 years ago, and here it is, still today. I love it, and now that you’ve seen it, so do you.

    Posted by on July 22, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  6. Gluten-Free Rice Krispies!

    I  VISITED the cereal aisle of my local grocer yesterday hoping to see what the long-overdue new prize is in Kashi’s Good Friends cereal (still the Ira Glass Mini Goofy Glasses) but what ended up catching my eye was Rice Krispies! These weren’t just any Rice Krispies but Gluten-Free Rice Krispies. Like you, I had to laugh. As you know, this entire “gluten-free” nonsense is the next ridiculous trend in household products that Big Grocery is shoving down our throats.

    Remember just a few years ago they were adding oxygen to every manner of cleaning product because somehow the filthy air we breathe was supposed to get our underpants whiter? (Yeah, like that did your bloomers any good!) Next, all these different food products were suddenly infused with acai berry and green tea and flaxseed oil and whole grains! (What had we been eating before, partial grains? Sheesh.) And let’s not forget pomegranate – and to a lesser extent, blueberry – mania from a few years ago. Jesus!

    Good citizens all, we dutifully began to eat food with these new, exotic ingredients no one ever had heard of before. And no sooner had we all gotten used to buying mayonnaise with “olive oil” in it then we’re supposed to recalibrate our grocery buying again as they pull the same crap with this gluten-free campaign. But now we’re to avoid certain foods – the kind with “gluten” in them – at least until the manufacturers can come up with a gluten-free variety of whatever it was we were eating before. They’re working fast and hundreds of new variations of old products – gluten-free, of course – have already popped up. What’s also sprung up out of nowhere like so many gluten-free mushrooms in a pile of gluten-free horse manure are your gluten-free blogs written by these well-meaning but, okay, let’s face it, naive and half-witted gluten-free Moms who somehow have convinced themselves that their children can’t handle gluten. Whatever gluten is. (And, no, I don’t know, either.)

    Now I ask you: do you remember, growing up, a single kid in school who had a gluten allergy?  Of course not – they didn’t exist! So what happened to this loser generation of children that this previously non-existent problem has become such a wide-spread epidemic? I’ll tell you what happened – nothing! Nothing happened! Also, helicopter parenting.

    Gluten allergies are of course a myth, like Bigfoot landing on the moon and gluten-free spider eggs in Bubble Yum. And to prove it, I encourage you, if you know some kid with a supposed gluten allergy, to carry around a loaf of Wonder Bread.  And when you see that that poor little putz about to take a bite of his almond butter and goji berry sandwich on sunflower-seed-and-brown-rice gluten-free bread (all of which was purchased at Trader Joe’s, and don’t get me started on that place!), you knock it out of his hand and cram a slice of Wonder Bread there in its place. It helps build strong bodies 12 ways, and if he was eating it in the first place, he wouldn’t have had his sandwich knocked to the ground so easily.

    To see how completely joyless the whole idiotic gluten-free craze is – to show you that this gluten-free crusade doesn’t just remove the delicious gluten from our favorite foods, it removes the fun – you need only point your  browser at the Kellogg’s website, and visit their Gluten-Free Rice Krispies recipes section.

    I don’t need to tell you that the quintessential regular, good ol’-fashioned Rice Krispies recipe is of course, what else?, the beloved and revered Rice Krispies Treat. But not Gluten-Free Rice Krispies! Oh no, brother! What do you make with that cereal?

    Parmesan Zucchini Sticks. (Try showing up with those at the next bake sale. You’ll be drummed out of the PTA!)

    See what I said about forcibly removing the heart and soul from our favorite foods? The gluten-freeniks would have our kids after-school-snacking not on an 8″x8″x2″ Rice Krispies Treat or two, presumably washed down with a quart of delicious Strawberry Quik as you and I did each day Monday through Friday, but rather on something made with vegetables.

    …Oh, look, if you scroll down on that same page, it turns out you can make Rice Krispies Treats with Gluten-Free Rice Krispies, too. Huh.

    I bet those gluten-free Rice Krispies make the marshmallows taste terrible.

    Posted by on July 14, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  7. The Long-Awaited Final 10 Products with Anachronistic-Looking Packaging That I Found at the 99¢ Only Store That You Need To Know About, I Guess

    Here’s that last ten I promised you weeks ago! And this is what’s going on, if you’ve just joined us: Apparently I have some weird fascination with products in packages that look like they were designed decades ago. Lord knows I’ve tried to get you interested in this, too. I thought maybe it could grow into a hobby we can share (since you evidently have no interest in competitive horseshoeing) and we could work on it during the weekends that I have you. You know, we could even take a trip to the 99¢ Only store sometime, just you and me. And…and maybe Lucinda, too, Daddy’s new…eh…roommate. Oh, you’ll like her fine.

    So what I did was I went to the 99¢ Only store and I found these things. Each and every single one is currently available there! (Well, except for the two that aren’t, but we’ll get to that later.) And the thing is, they all look old, which is pretty cool. They all look old, but they’re current products. Isn’t that neat?

    Now let’s dip into this final ten…with some dip!

    This Laura Scudder’s Green Onion Dip Mix looks like it’s from…the early 1980s.
    Proof of Its Modernity: Website listed on back.
    Where You’d Expect to See It: In the cupboard where your elderly widowed neighbor keeps all her spices and seasoning packets, the last of which she most recently purchased in 1983.
    Buy It Because: According to their website “Once you try it, you’ll never want to use any other brand.”
    • What a great old-looking design – made all the more wonderful when you realize those onions are rendered entirely with just two shades of green and one shade of brown.

    Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

    Posted by on July 12, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  8. French Fries!

    You know, it’s been hot here in Southern California these past few days – but not only during the day. Oh no. It’s also hot at night.

    Very early this morning, three a.m. it was, I was sweltering in bed, writhing beneath my sweat-soaked, greasy, Hawaiian Tropic-stained, sandy bedclothes (Like you, I didn’t shower after coming home from the beach on the Fourth of July – too tired!), unable to doze off. I had to be at a meeting at ten o’clock! I needed some sleep!

    Ambien? The goddamn pharmacy won’t give me any more refills.  A stiff drink? Well, maybe, but then I’m going to want to find a karaoke bar. Besides, what fun is a stiff drink without Ambien? Suddenly I remembered this:

    Of course! McDonald’s can help! So I got in the car and drove over to the local Golden Arches to pick myself up a large order of fries.

    “Make sure they’re good an’ hot!” I directed the gal through the speaker.
    “Nevermind, just get my fries! My fries, woman – I need to get home and sleep!”

    Oh, you know I kept that bag good and closed all the way home. Once there, I climbed back in bed, dumped the contents on the pillow next to my head and began pulling them into my mouth a fry at a time, darting my tongue in and out of my mouth like a Gilbert’s skink.

    McDonald’s fries work quickly: I was probably only on Fry 4 or 5 before they did their job and I was suddenly in the Land of Nod.  I woke up refreshed some hours later – not fatigued as you’d be from, say, Wendy’s fries.

    As you know from the time we had to share that bed at the Peppermill in Reno, I’m a violent sleeper – flailing about while I slumber like a Gilbert’s Skink caught in the jaws of a hungry coyote.  So while I slept, I must have mashed the hell out of the uneaten fries into a sort of paste with my head.

    And here’s the most amazing part: where this mass of frymush had adhered to my scalp, my chronic eczema all but disappeared! Sure, I had been picking it out of my hair while meeting with a potential publisher that morning about a new project (the fries worked so good I overslept and hadn’t time for breakfast), but after realizing its additional medicinal properties, I stopped snacking and left the rest of it in/on there.

    However: No word yet on whether they’ll alleviate that undiagnosed skin condition on my left foot. But as a handful or two of the fries have migrated down to the bottom of the bed, I’ll have a definitive answer to this in a day or so.  Stay tuned!

    Posted by on July 6, 2011, 5:35 PM.

  9. A Bowl of Ice Cream!

    As you know, traditionally, on Fridays, I like to leave you with a little something to think about over the weekend – a thought or question to reflect on, that perhaps you’ll maybe come away with a little better understanding of our place in the world.

    To that end I offer you an old Borden’s ad I found in a magazine. You know how I like old magazines, and any time I can pull a wad of them out of the trash heap that is Nana Parsnips’ house, I do so. It’s that much less crap I’ll have to throw away when she finally passes. (God forbid.)

    As you can see, we’ve got a pretty, almost picture-postcard image of good ol’ Elsie the Cow.

    She’s enjoying a bowl of delicious ice cream. And here’s where things get weird.

    Ice cream, it turns out, is made from milk.

    Cows give milk.

    It’s therefore quite possible, née, probable that the very bowl of ice cream Elsie is enjoying was made from milk she produced herself.

    How different is that than you or I sitting on the beach, clipping our toenails, tossing them in a bag of cheap trail mix and then presuming as we snack on a handful that the clippings are shards of particularly tough almonds or thick, sharp slivers of dessicated coconut?

    Now – same question, but picture the above scenario at a stretch of shoreline adjacent to a clothing-optional beach, and there’s really no line of demarcation telling me I had wandered into in an area where I needed to put my Umbros back on. I think a $135 ticket is a little outrageous.

    Posted by on June 24, 2011, 9:00 AM.

  10. Anachronistic Food Packaging – An Important Update!

    Last week, as you’ll recall, you attended Part II of my lecture series, “Understanding and Appreciating Anachronistic Package Design That I Found at the 99¢ Only Store” or whatever the hell I called it. Here, here’s a link in case you somehow forgot, and if you forgot, for God’s sake don’t tell me, because it’s just going to make me upset.

    Anyway, Number 10 in that slideshow was an unassuming little roll of candy called Necco Wafers, sure.

    Well! Wouldn’t you know it – as soon as the package design people at the New England Confectionery Company got wind of my article, they were so embarrassed that they immediately updated the packaging, and somehow got the new Necco Wafer rolls in the stores the very next day, all because of my article shaming them, which was not my intention – you know this!

    I was celebrating the “old school” (as you call insist on calling it) look of all of these products, Necco Wafers among them. Celebrating, not denigrating! I need to put that on a t-shirt. Look for it as soon as I get my Café Press store up and running. (Soon – promise!)

    So let’s take one last look at the Classic Necco Wafer packaging before it’s gone forever, and brother, let me tell you – if you come across any of these old packages, snatch them up! They’re not making any more of these wrappers! Forget buying gold – put your money in vintage Necco Wafer Rolls – if you can even find them!

    Below: The End of an Era – Classic Necco Wafer packaging, 1847-2011.*
    *1847 date an estimate only, based on year company was founded. Not a guarantee.

    Below: The Necco Wafer of Tomorrow and Beyond – The New England Confectionery Company’s reboot of the popular “Necco Wafer” franchise.

    You can’t stop progress, I guess.  I’m just relieved that as a concession to us anachronistic package designophiles – you included! – that the typeface they used for the words “The Original” looks kind of classic – you know, like something you’d see on the menu of a 50s themed diner, right?

    Obviously, I anticipate this mention on my blog will send demand for the chalky, delicious candy discs through the roof. I also anticipate that the Necco people will thank me by sending me a case or two of candy (but not Necco Wafers, please – something with actual chocolate in it, for crying out loud.)

    Posted by on June 22, 2011, 9:00 AM.

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