Turns out I’m having another one of my “episodes” where I suddenly seem to disappear off the face of the earth and friends, relatives and local law enforcement all turn out to take part in a massive search for me and then I wake up four states away in a cheap motel wearing German Mennonite women’s clothing, with no idea how I got there.
Thankfully I somehow had the foresight to schedule, in advance, a bunch of these What’s Bueno at the 99¢ Only Store posts to keep interest in my blog at an all-time low while I’m gone!
Toblerone?! At the 99¢ Only Store!? No way!
When I was a kid, Toblerone bars were among the imported stuff that all the rich kids I went to school with got for Christmas. Toblerones, Paddington Bears, “Ant and Bee” books and those little blue cylinders of Pustefix bubbles. Oh how the mighty have fallen! Not the rich kids I went to school with; I’m sure they’re all just richer. Bastards. No, I’m talking about Toblerone! They’re selling them at the 99¢ Only store now! Finally, they’re within the reach of good, plain people like you and me.
Those wealthy a-holes I went to school with can piss their money away paying twice as much for these at their precious Trader Joe’s! No, I’m serious – they can and they will.
But this year I can at long last have the Christmas that Mother and Dad were tragically unable to provide for me as a child, despite how I longed for and deserved it. That is, so long as Ant & Bee, Paddington, and Pustefix all start showing up at the 99¢ Only Store, too. But if not, I can deal with it. After all, what kind of spoiled brat man-child really needs fancy bubble solution imported from Europe? Doesn’t regular dish soap work just as well?
Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned from the austere simplicity of my plain white prayer bonnet.
HEY! I’m in jail for a few days taking care of that public indecency thing from July 4th (A plea of “no contest” is not an admission of guilt!) But no worries! Before I surrendered myself, I set up a bunch of these What’s Bueno at the 99¢ Only Store things that no one cares about to run in my absence!
Yes, according to the sticker on them, that’s what these things are called – Item No. 5071/607831 Made In Israel Planter!
And they’re ingenious! Apparently when they’re not defending their sovereignty against whoever they’re always fighting with, New Zealand, I think, when they’re not training their youth for the army, Israel is manufacturing these amazing planters! Now, above there, what you’re seeing is a big stack of them. Each one is 99¢ only and what you do, see, is you buy multiple planters and you stack them like this:
Stack them like that, and you can go as high as you want. But you put your dirt and plants in them first. Here’s what mine looks like, all filled with baby’s breath or some crap and also petunias. (Yes, petunias! They’re very pretty!)
Okay, okay, they don’t look as good as I hoped. Sadly, that photo was taken well over a month ago, and they look even worse now! I don’t have a green thumb, brother – I have a brown thumb! It’s covered with Kraft Philadephia Cream Cheese Indulgence Dark Chocolate Spread. That, friends, is what is known in the comedy world as a “call back.”
And that call back would make more sense if I hadn’t butchered an originally much longer post into half a dozen smaller ones! Speaking of butchering, and knife-like weapons, it’s time to “fall out” for the showers! Wish me luck!
Wait, I’m supposedly blogging from jail now…?
GUESS what! You’re in for a treat! Because I’ve been called out of town suddenly, to take care of my sick aunt, eh, Aunt Martha, sure, even though I’ve never mentioned her before and the tabloids are saying that I’m actually on strike and am trying to get them, whoever they are, to renegotiate my contract. Anyway, what was going to be one of those interminably long posts where I list a whole bunch of things that are bueno at the 99¢ Only Store has now become a week’s worth of short posts with one or two items per entry!
As my blogging mentor, or blogntor, Sylvia Haynes-Darden often says in her continuing education classes How To Not Lose Your Shirt Blogging and Lost Your Shirt? Unclutter Your Closet NOW, “If you have a bunch of stuff, spread it out over as many separate posts as possible, and if you haven’t worn it in a year, throw it out!”
(They had a two-for-one deal at the Learning Barn, and I have two hours to kill on Tuesday nights when Kim is in that Tantric Massage class that she and her Zumba instructor, Mauricio, signed up for together.)
Anyway, let’s get this thing started.
What is it with Kraft lately and their attempts to cram cream cheese down our throats – a cheese we already accept so willingly? Previously they tried to get us to accept their laughable “cooking creme”…
…which, by the way, is also available in large quantities at the 99¢ Only Store. Aren’t we as a nation fat enough as it is without having to eat all these cream cheese by-products? Answer: No, so they introduced this “Indulgence” nonsense which is now taking up valuable real estate in the refrigerated cases of the 99¢ Only Store. I did my part to unclog the case and clog up my arteries by buying a bucket of the stuff.
I opted for the dark chocolate variety, but you might like the milk chocolate variety. Anyway, here’s what happens: It’s like a sort of cross between Nutella and chocolate frosting and pudding. You can spread it on a toasted sandwich “flat” (also sold at the 99¢ Only Store) and it looks like this:
Eh, it’s pretty good. It’s not overwhelmingly bueno. Just sort of mediocrely bueno.
It doesn’t taste anything like cream cheese, so I’m not sure what the damn point is. Since I only have two more of those stupid “sandwich rounds” left but nearly a full container of this Indulgence stuff, I have a feeling I’m going to end up laying on the couch in the living room eating this with a spoon while I watch a week’s worth of “The Price Is Right” saved on the DVR this Saturday night. Alone.
(This weekend poor Kim agreed to help that hapless Mauricio rearrange his bedroom to optimize the positive energy – she took a Feng Shui class this past spring. Oh, I warned her. “Learn Feng Shui,” I quipped, “and you’ll end up moving more furniture than if you’re the only one of your friends with a pickup truck.” Heh – I need to send that one in to Bennett Cerf.)
LIKE MANY OF YOU, I blew off seven fingers lighting illegal fireworks last Fourth of July and until they grow back I can no longer wield a barbecue fork effectively, so for the time being, anyway, my grilling days are over. You don’t want to know how I can still type. Trust me.
Still, on Independence Day, or as it’s known in my neighborhood “¡Día de Independencia!” if you’re a proud, red-blooded American citizen (or, in my neighborhood, otherwise), by Godfrey, you want a delicious hot dog! It’s your goddamn God-given right as an American citizen! Or otherwise!
But don’t worry! No need to contact the ACLU! You’ll get your hot dog, because, friend…? The 99¢ Only Store has got you covered!
Did I say “you’ll get your hotdog”? I misspoke! You’ll get your hot dogs, plural! Two! For 99¢! Only!
What’s even more amazing is a pal was recently grousing to me over the presumed unavailability of pre-bunned hot dogs! Grouse no more, pal! Grouse no more! Your prayers have been answered! The future is here and it’s in the freezer section of your local 99¢ Only Store!
And here’s something else: No grilling required! So you can save all those matches and lighter fluid to ignite this year’s batch of Hens-Laying-Eggs! Don’t worry, they’re the free-range, cage-free variety of fireworks you can feel good about setting off.
No, instead of toiling outside (yeesh!) over a hot grill forever, you’ll be heating up your pre-bunned hot dogs right there in the microwave – for only about a lousy minute maybe. And then quicker than you can say, or see, “Oh say can you see!” they’re done!
And boy don’t they look good! Come in their own handy hot dog boat, too – saving you the time, trouble and expense of putting them on a plate! And for what? If you’re like me, and you are, you’re just going to eat them over the sink anyway.
Meanwhile poor Johnny Grillmaster next door is still slaving over his brand new Char-Broil Tru-Infrared 5-Burner Gourmet Edition T-47D and trying to make the best of a bad situation by “enjoying” a beer while “chatting” with the rest of the neighbors he’s invited over – the ones that aren’t in the pool, that is. Assholes.
Now, while my hot dogs look fine straight outta the ol’ Radarange, sure, I’m a fellow who likes his fixins – and plenty of them! Bring on the fixins!
Mmmmmmmm-mmm! as the late Andy Griffin would say! Good hot dog, good hot dog!
…Okay, that’s the second time they’ve played “Margaritaville” in three hours. I’m calling the goddamn police.
SAY! I wandered into the ol’ 99¢ Only Store the other day and guess what I ran into! Guess!
I ran into a great big display, an endcap, to use retail parlance, of Nabisco Honey Maid Grahams! Banged my ankle up pretty bad, too! I plan on suing the store! What are they doing putting an enormous endcap where I’m liable to run into it?! No, I’m joking. I’ll find something else to sue them about.
Anyway, back to the grahams! You’re already pooh-poohing these things because they’re low fat.
Yes, they’re “low fat,” but let’s face it, Tubby, you could stand to lose a few! And here I elbow you good-naturedly in the gut!
First of all, your regular Honey Maid cinnamon grahams aren’t exactly oozing with fat to begin with! 5% is all! The low-fat ones? 3%! Christ, why even bother, right? But with so little fat (and no saturated fat in these babies!) Honey Maid Low Fat Cinnamon Grahams are a food you can feel good about eating! Or, if you’re Alicia Silverstone, a food you can feel good about chewing, and your baby can feel good about eating!
Regardless, these are the good type of graham crackers! With the cinnamon and the sugar besprinkled atop each one, giving it a good, textured tooth as we say in the graham cracker game! Oh, don’t worry, pal – these aren’t those grahamscaped, metrosnackual, smooth-topped graham crackers! These are your hardy 45-grit graham crackers! (The lower the number, the coarser the grit! But you’d know that if you hadn’t cut class so much in eighth grade when budget cuts forced Central Junior High to combine Woodshop and Home Ec!)
What’s even more amazing than the fact that you get 14.4 ounces of these things for a buck is that these Nabisco Honey Maid Low Fat Cinnamon Grahams are not only
but, in a rare instance of reaching across the aisle, of putting aside their differences for the greater good, they’re also
And with all the hostility among the major players in today’s dollar store landscape, you’ll agree this is a breath of fresh air. (Or, if you’re Alicia Silverstone’s child, a mouthful of chewed-up graham cracker paste.)
I DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU, but in this economy, I just can’t pay crazy salon prices for my synthetic jumbo braids anymore.
That’s why I was thrilled when at the 99¢ Only store the other day, I happened upon these:
Now, I know what you’re saying. “Ted,” you’re saying, “I ain’t buying no dollar store ba-raid! No sir! Mmn-mn!”
Look, I felt the same way – at first.
But what if these braids were sixty inches long and not “puffed up” to give the appearance of more braid to the package? What if they were soft, silky and shiny? What would you say then?
Still not convinced? Well, then what would you say if I told you you’re getting 22% more braid – for free? Oh, sure, you’re paying for 2-1/4 ounces of 100% Super Synthetic jumbo braid, but for you, today, you’re getting 2-3/4 ounces of 100% Super Synthetic jumbo braid.
You’d call me a filthy liar – and brother, I wouldn’t blame you. So that’s why I made sure to get photographic proof:
So, yes, friends, the choice is clear!
Toshica’s Finest jumbo braids are…
HERE’S a little something you’d turn your nose up in the regular grocery store – and by Godfrey, you’d be right to do so:
But for some reason, when these things show up at the 99¢ Only Store, brother, you and I, we can’t get enough of ’em!
And here’s why: They’re 99¢! Only!
You know what these things go for in a real grocery story? Well, I’ll tell you– No, no, wait! I’ll do better – I’ll show you:
Holy crap! Two for six dollars, and that’s on sale! What kind of idiot pays $3 a piece for these? I guess the kind of idiot who’s slightly smarter than some moron who pays full price for them when they’re not on sale!
No, you and I, pal, we’d never pay that price for these things; why, we don’t even know what the hell they are. But suddenly, for 99¢ (only), they’ve piqued our interest.
So I bought one, and Christ almighty, these Old El Paso Tortilla Stuffers Meal Starters, why, they’re not bad! To paraphrase a wise man, I don’t know why they call this stuff a “meal starter.” It does just fine by itself.
I mean, it includes meat – says so right on the package. Hell, they’ve even underlined it, they’re so confident of its meat content. And easy…? Brother, you know it. Simply squeeze the packet to break up any lumps like you’re massaging the blood clots out of your thigh after a nine-hour flight, tear open a corner, stand it up in the ol’ microwave, set it on high for sixty seconds and a minute later, why, mister, you’ve got yourself a meal!
I guess technically, you could actually put this delicious concoction in a tortilla as the package directs you to, but if you’re like me, you don’t play by the rules. You like to experiment, and I don’t mean the way you did with your dorm roommate the year you went to Reed before dropping out. No, I mean you like to develop your own recipes, which is exactly what I did here.
I started with a bed of Granny Goose tortilla chips (99¢ Only Store!), then emptied the contents of the Tortilla Stuffers packet on top and distributed it evenly, as though I was spreading cow manure on the front lawn. To this I added a liberal dousing of 99¢ Only-store purchased Louisiana Gem Jalapeno Pepper Sauce. (Not a typo! There’s no tilde over the ’n’ on the bottle – oh, I sent them an email.) And then on top of this I added some jalapeño slices – also from the good folks at Old El Paso and bought in jar form at, yes!, the 99¢ Only store.
The result? Nachos Del Parsnips™. A delight for the taste buds.
Also available at the 99¢ Only Store and also an official Ted Parsnips What’s Bueno At The 99¢ Only Store selection, Old El Paso Tortilla Stuffers Garlic Chili Chicken variety.
You can make Nachos Del Parsnips with the chicken version too, only with this stuff, you’ll want to spread it over the chips like you’re spreading chicken manure over your garden, rather than cow manure over your lawn.
Oh, I’m sorry, have I offended your tender sensibilities? Have I ruined Old El Paso Tortilla Stuffers for you permanently with my colorful turns of phrase?
Good. More for me.
NOW here’s a fun one!
It’s our old friend Hamburger Helper.
And the hysterical thing is – like I even have to point it out to you – the hysterical thing is that it tells us it’s “NEW!” at the top of the box – but then later, like in the middle of the box, it says to us, it says “CLASSIC.”
Well, Betty Crocker, which is it?! Because you can’t have it both ways, there, sweetheart! You can’t have it both ways!
This is exactly the kind of thing I’d have sent in to the back page of “Consumer Reports” where they showcase this sort of packaging absurdity on a monthly basis. But not after I submitted that Little Debbie thing last year and 1) they didn’t use it and 2) they didn’t even have the common decency to lie to me and tell me they liked it but then give me some stupid reason why they wouldn’t use it “but please keep pitching us more stuff,” which is what a good editor does!
Seriously, editors: As the print industry continues to die off, you lazy bastards might want to think about getting back to everyone who submits something, no matter how completely unusable our ideas are! Not only is it good business practice, by Godfrey, it’s common courtesy! Do you think Bennett Cerf got to where he was by just ignoring every pitch that was emailed to him while focusing instead on those joke books that we all enjoyed as children? In a word, no. But thank God he wrote those joke books, right? And where did he find the time? Between crafting such masterpieces as the riddle about the big red rock eater, and his appearances on “What’s My Line?”, I don’t know how he had time for anything else at all. Yet he did. Yet he did.
You folks should know better than to get me started on Bennett Cerf! Ha! Where were we?
Ah yes: I’ve nominated Hamburger Helper as this week’s What’s Bueno at the 99¢ Only Store item, and here’s why:
Because they sell the exact same thing in the grocery store for anywhere from about $1.25 to about two bucks! Only a fool buys Hamburger Helper!
…Eh, for full price in a grocery store, that is!
It’s like Betty Crocker’s just given up and is saying, “Who are we kidding? Since that handsome devil Ted Parsnips single-handedly made it cool to shop in dollar stores, everyone’s forsaken traditional supermarkets, and we’re losing our shirts here. No one’s buying our Helpers anymore! Screw it! Cut a deal with the 99¢ Only Store and we’ll sell this stuff there now too. What choice have we got?”
It’s like she said just that!
Anyway, if all of that didn’t convince you that Hamburger Helper deserves its honor as What’s Bueno at the 99¢ Only Store item this week, well, then I don’t know what to tell you. But take a gander at this, brother:
Yes! A Twin Pack! That’s twice the Hamburger Helper you’d get at your Piggly Wiggly, your Food Lion, your Grand Union – for like less ’an half the price! That’s right: Less ’an half the price!
A regular box of Hamburger Helper at the 99¢ Only Store is “bueno” enough, right? So how did we luck out with these enormous, industrial-size, institutional-quantity, need-a-pallet-jack-to-move-’em, double-size boxes of Helper available for 99¢ only?
Well, I have no idea. But I do have a theory:
Perhaps the phrasing at the package’s lower right corner front panel, “2 Meals, 1 Box,” subliminally reminded shoppers of a particularly infamous viral video and thus entire shipments of these Twin Packs were shunned – left to gather dust in your Publixes, your Kashes & Karries, your CalaFoodses. Now, that’s just a theory. But it’s one worth considering.
Oh, wonderful. Now I won’t be able to eat it, either. And I bought like twelve boxes!
LIKE YOU I’m a big fan of Fresca. Have been since I was a little boy, sure.
Here’s some Fresca Fun Facts you might not know:
• According to Wikipedia, “according to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, Fresca was the favorite drink of President Lyndon B. Johnson, who had a button installed on the desk on his Oval Office desk which would summon his military aide to bring the drink.”
• It used to irritate Ladybird Johnson to no end when Lyndon would toss his empty Fresca cans out the window of the presidential motorcade especially because she was knocking herself out doing that whole “Beautify America” campaign.
…Actually, I made up that second Fresca Fun Fact, because as it turns out – and I had no way of knowing this when I started this blog post – I could only come up with one real Fresca Fun Fact.
Anyway, I was very happy a few years ago when they brought back Fresca – even more so than when I found out they brought back Steak-Umms.
Technically, neither product ever went away, I just didn’t see them for years. But for our purposes here, let’s just say they brought back Fresca. (I think they’ve always made Boo Berry cereal, too, but did anyone actually see it in a store from about 1978 to maybe 1997? No. I rest my case.)
So recently I started re-drinking Fresca, and it brought me back to my boyhood years, when I used to drink the stuff, oh my, by the canful and then throw my empties out the back window of the family station wagon as we’d head down the Interstate on family vacations.
“Give Ladybird something to do,” I used to laugh to myself, imagining our First Lady at the side of the highway wielding a stick with a nail at the end of it, spearing cans and putting them in a burlap sack slung over her shoulder like someone sentenced to 120 hours of community service, all of this despite the fact that I was probably born after Johnson had left office, I think. (How the hell would I know – who do I look like, Doris Kearns Goodwin?)
Okay, at this point, I don’t know where I was going with any of—
So Fresca’s good, sure, but I’m telling you, this stuff…?
Diet Shasta Grapefruit…? It’s like ten times better!
I like Fresca, sure, but it’s a little too goddamn sweet. The weird thing about Fresca is that it’s a “diet” soda, but it doesn’t make a point of telling you that on the front of the can. I guess you’re just supposed to know.
Shasta, however, makes regular grapefruit soda and diet grapefruit soda, and this diet stuff, I’m telling you, it kicks Fresca’s ass. And I don’t mention this lightly: I’m a big fan of Fresca – you know this!
Oh! I’ve come up with another Fresca Fun Fact:
• The only place I’ve ever seen Fresca on tap is at California Chicken Café in Woodland Hills. Every time I’m there, I get it, because how often do you see Fresca on tap, right?
Anyway, they sell this Shasta crap at the 99¢ Only store, so I guess that makes this this week’s What’s Bueno at the 99¢ Only Store? entry. You should pick up a four-pack! (It’s the 99¢ Only Store. They sell them in four-packs. For 79¢. Don’t try to make sense of it – it’s the 99¢ Only Store, for God’s sake.)
Tell ’em Ladybird sent you! Or Lyndon; I guess that would make slightly more sense.
No! Wait, wait, wait! Tell ’em Doris Kearns Goodwin sent you! That’ll liven things up!
TODAY we’ve got a special Christmas edition of What’s Bueno At The 99¢ Only Store: Christmas Edition!
It’s special because it’s a Christmas edition of my popular blog feature…and also because I didn’t buy this at the 99¢ Only Store but rather at Dollar Tree, but c’mon, they’re both dollar stores. The only difference, really, is Dollar Trees are carpeted so that absorbs some of the noise from the ill-behaved children you’ll find in both chains, running around unsupervised, screaming, knocking things over and throwing things while their unfit parents are nowhere in sight.
Well, that and Dollar Tree had this thing and the 99¢ Only store didn’t. And this thing is…
Look, it’s a slide whistle! I’ve photographed it on the Parsnips Family Christmas tree because what a fun and wonderful gift the gift of a slide whistle would be as a gift for that someone special! Who wouldn’t enjoy finding this under the tree, or in their stocking? That’s right, no one!
It’s smartly packaged with “vintage”-looking typeface and card design, and even the name of the toy line, “Vintage Toys,” somehow evokes the feel of vintage toys.
You’d probably pay $9.95, like an idiot, for this thing from Archie McPhee, and God knows we all love Archie McPhee, sure, but at Dollar Tree you can score one of these for just a buck. Better still if there’s just one left in the toy section and one of those aforementioned obnoxious brats is reaching for it and you grab it just before him – or better yet, pull it out of his grubby little hand. Hell, give the little bastard a smack with the blister-card – teach him some goddamn manners! His neglectful parents are too busy way over in Aisle 5 choosing which ungodly scent of Ensueño fabric softener will stink up that week’s laundry to do anything about it anyway.
By the way, my attorney would like to mention that you probably shouldn’t smack a stranger’s child, especially given the profusion of security cameras in stores patronized by poor people. Still, it’s fun to imagine!
Vintage Toys Slide Whistle made the cut as this week’s What’s Bueno at the 99¢ Only Store: Christmas at Dollar Tree Edition Item of the Week item really for the impact it would make as a gift, not so much, sadly, as a slide whistle for your own sliding-whistle, or slide-whistling, needs.
Much like your genitals in a pair of girl-jeans, the package looks impressive but once you take it out, everyone at the office Christmas party is going to be disappointed. I’ll end that analogy now before noting that the only way to get this thing to really work is to blow it hard. Unlike your traditional slide whistles, this one features a little bird that vibrates up and down and in doing so adds a trilling, though not necessarily thrilling effect to the sound. (I’ve found it sounds more like a traditional slide whistle if you turn it upside down so the bird baffle doesn’t impede the flow of air.)
Still, it’s kind of fun as a gift, especially if you have any friends with a young, hyper child: You’ll be ahead of the game, too, because next November you’ll get an email from them saying, “Hey, let’s just do Christmas cards this year.”
Saving you, the reader, money: That’s exactly why Vintage Toys Slide Whistle is this week’s What’s Bueno At The 99¢ Only Store: A Very Dollar Tree Christmas Edition item.
I think we’re done here.