LAST WEEK I introduced you to the wonders of the local Filipino supermarket, remember?
It was a big move for both of us – you know, stepping outside of our comfort zones and buying food – to eat! – at a store where there are fish heads on ice for sale and in the dairy case there’s like six different types of bird eggs available, and that’s not counting the usual kind (from, what, chickens, right?). But this place hasn’t been closed down by the Board of Health, so I guess they’re doing something right. Or someone’s being paid off. Who knows?
Anyway, it struck me that a lot of the stuff they sell – and by a lot, I mean five things – have dirty-sounding names. At least you think so, you perv! Oh, that’s real mature, pal. Reeeal mature. What are you, in grade school?! And here they are:
Ha! Jackfruit! I mean, what were they thinking when they decided to call it that?! Ha! Jackfruit! Haaa! Ha!
Oh my God! These things are called Mango Balls! Wait, wait – Dried Mango Balls! Can you believe it! Someone signed off on this! “Hey, we need a name for our new product. What should we call it?” “How about Mango Balls?” “Sure, sounds good!” Did they not think this thing through? I guess not!
Ding Dong! Ha! And – ha haaa! – it says Mixed Nuts on the front! Also an elf sits under a mushroom, and I don’t have to tell you what that reminds everyone of! (Why, a leprechaun, of course!)
Puto! Now some of you might say “Well, Puto doesn’t sound dirty!” It does when you live in a part of the country with a proud Latino cultural heritage, sure! The fellas in the weight room at my gym are always calling me “puto,” no doubt ribbing me good-naturedly for my tendency to forget to wear underpants under my basketball shorts (leaving precious little to the imagination, especially when I’m doing my jumping jacks). So whatever “Puto” means in Filipinese, it apparently means “pony-sized genitalia” in Mexicanian – making this particularly funny now that I’ve deciphered it for you! Ha! “Puto!” If the people at White King Foods only knew! …”White King”?! – that’s racist!
Finally, here we have Milky Knots. Ha! Ha ha ha, “Milky Knots!”
Actually, this one sounds dirty and also painful somehow.
Look, we all had a good laugh here, but for God’s sake man, how old are you? Grow up!
Heh heh…”Mango Balls.”
10 More Foods I Bought at the 99¢ Only Store With Delightfully Anachronistic Package Design That I Need You To Be Aware Of
That’s right! Current products, all bought at my local 99¢ Only store – but each look like they’re from the past! It’s delightful! By God, I’m going to teach all of you to recognize anachronistic package design as well as appreciate it. Someday you’ll thank me for it.
By the way, if you missed the first installment, here it is. For you regulars – both of you – let’s get started! Let’s get started with some corn! (How many times have we all said that?)
This North Pride Cream Corn looks like it’s from…the early 1970s.
Proof of Its Modernity: Website address on back of label.
Where You’d Expect to See It: In a dump basket of off-brand, five-for-a-dollar canned items in a Hispanic grocery store off the 5 freeway on the way to Palm Springs.
Buy It Because: Makes a great side dish!
• With a whopping 5-1/4” x 2-1/2” of its label devoted to a photo of its contents, you know North Pride is serious about creamed corn. I’d like to think that the photo is a cropped image of an enormous vat of creamed corn, snapped by a factory employee who has propped a ladder against it and leaned way over the edge; now you’d like to think this, too. The North Pride people made a wise decision in making much of the label (that which isn’t dedicated to the mural of creamed corn) a bright, healthy, vegetable-y green. But I’m curious, and delighted, as now are you, as to why they decided to go with a sort of pale flesh tone for the rest of it.
IT was my houseboy, Kenji, who introduced me to the wonders of the Filipino market up the street.
Oh, what fun to watch him – in his undersized tank top embroidered with cupcakes that he’d begged me to buy for him at Justice for Girls (How could I deny him?) and the sarong I’d fashioned from a vintage Care Bear bedsheet (eBay!) – as he’d prance merrily down the aisles, loading my shopping cart with the exotic foods he remembered from growing up on his island home (ammonia duck eggs, purple yam biscuits, and his very favorite, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos curd).
I couldn’t help but laugh seeing him scamper to and fro, hiding and capering among displays of fish sauce and durian (often playfully holding up a pair of the oversized prickly fruit in front of his loins), and of course chattering gaily with the other men’s houseboys, always excitedly sharing snippets of gossip – trivial and ridiculous to you and me, but of the utmost import to Kenji and his kaibigans, their word for “friends.”
“Where is Nimuel this week?”
“I hear he cut his finger making lumpia, a type of fried spring roll popular among our people.”
“I have tickets to Katy Perry for next month!”
“OMG! You do not!”
“One dollar nineteen per pound for Seabass Goo? I am glad I do not pay the food-bills!”
“Ja ja ja!”
Tuesday was the day when our coterie of stoic, stout men of means – all in our crisp white linen suits and stiff Panama hats – converged on the marketplace with our happy-go-lucky charges, snatching up raw milkfish and cooked canned pork, cinderblock-sized bricks of glass noodles and florescent pink hot dogs, fish sauce by the gallon, salted cassava rind and bag after bag of prawn-flavored crackers – a sort of cracker delicacy flavored with prawn, similar to our Andy Capp Hot Fries, but not as spicy and with a distinct prawn-like flavor – for the houseboys to prepare the week’s meals.
Okay, so I go down the snack and mung bean cake aisle and I see these things:
And it strikes me that the thing in the corner looks like one of those stupid Mr. Men characters or something from one of those stylized animated shorts from the early years of “Sesame Street” that they don’t show any more.
I mean, look at it:
Can’t you just see this thing explaining the concept of cooperation or teaching the letter Y?
What kills me is they get rid of quality stuff like this and the last twenty minutes of the show is freaking “Elmo’s World.”
Jesus Christ, no wonder our kids are in trouble.
HERE’S one that even the breakfast cereal websites won’t touch.
Available at your local Dollar Tree, this sweetened multi-grain cereal with the taste of fruit looks good enough to eat!
As for its mascot, a friendlier, funnier fellow we’ve never seen. The perfect spokescreature for venerable Fruit Rings, you’ll agree. But wait…!
Let’s move down the aisle eighteen inches or so…
Yes! You’re saying exactly what I said! “Do the Fruit Rings people know that Cocoa Rounds stole their mascot?”
Ah ha, but how do we know that it’s not Fruit Rings who stole him from Cocoa Rounds?
Clearly, we needed to get to the bottom of this. So I had someone look into it and it turns out that both cereals are made – deep in South America’s cereal bowl, Argentina – by the same manufacturer! So there’s no copyright infringement at all! Call off your lawyers, Fruit Rings and Cocoa Rounds – you’re on the same team!
So why the good goddamn couldn’t they have made the Cocoa Rounds guy brown or something? That’s what you or I would have done and we’d have been right to do it.
I‘VE got a real knee-slapper guaranteed to get you in good with the cute broad behind the counter at the package store where you pick up your forties on the way home from work every night.
Here’s a box of Mrs. Freshley’s Oatmeal Cremes. Sure, you know the ones – those individually wrapped creme-filled cookies. Our kids live on these things, and I bet yours do, too. They’re cheap and they let you buy them with your EBT card. It’s a food you can feel good about.
But how can they sell a box of eight for a buck at the local Dollar Barn?
A patented Ted Parsnips close-up holds the answer!
10 Foods from the 99¢ Only Store That Are Way Ahead of the Curve on That Whole “Retro Package Design” Thing
EVERYTHING old is new again, and you know that if you’ve bought Cap’n Crunch, Doritos, or Hostess Cupcakes lately. They’re among an increasing number of products decked out in “vintage” packaging aimed to appeal to nostalgic consumers. Here, let the Wall Street Journal explain it to you. (Just read the article or click through the slideshow. For the love of God, man, don’t watch the video! It’s four excruciating minutes of three people who apparently have never been on camera before talking over each other!)
Quaker, Frito Lay, and Hostess, however, are merely jumping on a bandwagon driven by braver companies: Let’s take a trip down the aisles of our local 99¢ Only store as we celebrate some of the greatest vintage-looking packages still available today from manufacturers who were so forward-thinking that they never changed their packages from whenever they first debuted.
Or at least it looks that way.
Many (but not all) are from small, private-label companies that probably contracted a graphic designer long ago to develop their packaging. They’ve seen no reason to update it, and frankly, you and me, we’re glad they haven’t.
This is not “10 Packages Desperately In Need of a Makeover,” – no no no! Indeed, we love the way these products look, and we hope that, despite the infinite power and influence this website wields over all manner of society and industry, none of the companies making these foods decides to update their product’s packaging. Indeed: They look fine as they are. By the way, they’re all great products, all made in the good ol’ USA, and each and every one from companies worth supporting!
And one last note: This is just the tip of the iceberg, brother. I got another two batches to hit you with in the next week or so, and believe me when I say that the package design just gets more charmingly anachronistic as we go along!
On with the show!
This Sacramento Tomato Juice looks like it’s from… the late 1970s.
Proof of Its Modernity: Website address on label.
Where You’d Expect to See It: At your grandparents’ house in the Bloody Marys they’ll sip while watching “Crockett’s Victory Garden.”
Buy It Because: “Sacramento Juices offer exceptional nutritional value and extraordinary taste. Enjoy Sacramento, and you’ll be serving healthy juices your whole family will love.” –from their website.
• With its largely gold label with touches of green and a little silhouette cameo of a horse and buggy, this is a particularly handsome design.
Yes, it may look like an ordinary jar of peanut butter, but look at that label closely! Much like you, it’s whipped!
It’s also got 1/3 less sugar, but don’t let that scare you off! Notice it doesn’t say what it has 1/3 less sugar than!
Oh, wait, actually it does. In smaller print.
Anyhow, a pal turned me onto this stuff and now I’m hooked. You can get it at the 99¢ Only store! And of course that begs the question, “Did this stuff not sell in regular stores and the Peter Pan Peanut Butter people are just dumping it at the dollar store before it expires to recoup some of the costs from what was presumably an enormous new-product roll-out (industry jargon), or was it made specifically for your dollar store retailers?”
I suppose I could look into this, but c’mon, neither of us really care. How much more interesting do you expect this damn thing to be? It’s a post on a blog, for goodness sake! Let’s not kid ourselves here!
The point is that the stuff is light and fluffy, and incidentally, that’s where the “1/3 less sugar” notation comes from. Essentially, a standard jar of peanut butter this size, unwhipped, would contain 1/3 more condensed peanut butter…and the sugar that comes with it.
So you’re paying for a smaller amount of peanut butter that might otherwise come in a jar this size…if it wasn’t whipped up all frothy and light. So is 99¢ a fair price for a 9.3 ounce jar of peanut butter?
Go ahead, don’t be shy. I haven’t had an outbreak in weeks.
Now, I ask you, isn’t that something? This is peanut butter you can eat right out of the jar! And according to my pal, it has erotic applications as well! Well, actually she said you could frost a cake with it and I just presumed that was some sort of euphemism.
But if she wasn’t talking dirty, if I were to take what she said literally, then yes, you could absolutely frost a cake with this stuff. It’s just that light and fluffy.
And remember those 1970s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercials with the “You got my chocolate in your peanut butter!” and the “You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!”…? Well, finally, thirty-five years later, the fatal flaw of those commercials has been erased. The improbability has been significantly lessened. The suspension of disbelief formally required to embrace the ads’ message is no longer necessary: It now makes perfect sense to walk around eating peanut butter right out of the jar, and I mean walking around town, not around the kitchen in your underwear at three in the morning.
See that you do.
AS Mark Twain once famously quipped, “Everyone talks about government cheese, but no one does anything about it.” Well, the fact is, up until now, no one knew what it looked like! It was something we’d all heard about but never seen, like the effects of global warming or Chet Bono’s penis. Well, no more, folks! Here it is, in all its glory!
Now you’re asking me, “Ted, you’re independently wealthy. You’re not a drain on society.Why have you a brick of government cheese?”
Oh, not a brick, folks. Four bricks!
That’s eight pounds of reduced fat pasteurized process goodness!
Look, it’s a long story. They were given to me as gifts, and really, how do you gracefully decline a wonderful gesture like this from a pal of a pal who is presumably defrauding the government one cheese brick at a time?
The bottom line is I have no idea what to do with them. That retaining wall project you promised to help me with comes to mind, sure, but the ol’ ball & chain may want fondue later and I’m not going to destroy all our hard work removing the potential keystone after we’ve finally got the pachysandra planted.
GUESS where I had lunch the other day!
No, go ahead, guess!
I’ll give you a hint!
I wiped my face with one of these!
That’s right, I had lunch at Wienerschnitzel.
Hey, they’re celebrating 50 years of good food this year! How often does a fast food place print on their napkins? Never, I reckon. You know this one’s going in the ol’ scrapbook. Don’t worry – it’s not the one I used to wipe my face with – that one was all greasy so I threw it away!
The uninitiated are probably saying, “Well, if it’s called Wienerschnitzel, why does their coat of arms have a D/W on it?”
I’ll tell you, if you’ll settle down for a moment! Jesus Christ.
Originally, it was called “Der Wienerschnitzel.” But at some point they dropped the “Der” because it made everyone who eats there sound stupid. “Hey, where you going for lunch?” “Der…Wienerschnitzel.” “What are you, stupid?”
I hear tell of a Wienerschnitzel in Burbank where they serve beer. I hear tell of it, but I’ve never been.
Look, you can probably copy and paste that napkin image up there a few times so it repeats and make yourself some new desktop wallpaper. Why don’t you do that? Then send me pictures of your desktop, and maybe you’ll win a prize.
HERE’S a bit of whimsy that you’ll share with Fiorello and the rest of the boys at the ol’ barber shop come Saturday.
It seems a store up the street is selling Seabass Goo for $1.49 a pound.
You’ll want to bookmark this one so you can come back again and again when you need a laugh or a quick pick-me-up.