News Scatterings from around the Web

Here’s a couple of interesting articles I found while browsing about the web…

Eat Drink Better, a sustainable food site, has an unfortunately amusing article about a candy company called Toxic Waste that is having to recall some shipments of its super sour bubble gum called  Short Circuits for, get this, high levels of lead.   Besides the fact that the candy is manufactured in Pakistan, it’s just crazy that you would have a candy named after electrical components that would in fact contain a key ingredient of those very same components…needless to say I don’t think I’ll be reviewing any Toxic Waste products any time soon!

OnMilwaukee.com features a review of an intriguing new beer-flavored potato chip by Sprecher Brewing Company.  It’s a kettle chip (my personal fave among the potato chip varieties) with what they note as a subtle beer flavor that would go great with a cheese dip.  One commenter notes that the malty sweetness makes them taste even more like doughnuts.  Either way it sounds like the perfect snack for Homer Simpson.  Unfortunately it appears to be a local Milwaukee brand so I won’t be tasting it anytime soon.

 

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Frito-Lay Makes a Move to All Natural Ingredients

Fascinating article in the Wall Street Journal about how Frito-Lay is making a concerted effort to convert many if not all their products to predominantly natural ingredients.   It will be interesting to see if this is just a momentary marketing-influenced trend or a genuine change in philosophy on the part of the company.

Frito-Lay, despite its monolithic status in the industry, has been a remarkably agile and responsive company the last few years and this move towards natural ingredients seems like the logical step.

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History Tidbits: The Story of Little Debbie

Any dedicated snacker knows very well the joys of Little Debbie Snack Cakes.   When cash is running low, Little Debbie has always been a great standby snack and they always come out with some very cool seasonal treats (their Easter Basket cakes are probably in stores near you now).

The iconic Little Debbie logo

I like Little Debbie as a brand because in a landscape increasingly dominated by huge multinational corporations, Little Debbie’s corporate parent McKee Foods remains a family-owned business.   The character of Little Debbie was actually a real child who was the granddaughter of the company’s founders.  In the 1960′s the company was introducing their first packaged snack cake but were left scrambling to find a name.  A supplier suggested to the McKee’s that they use their Granddaughter Debbie and call them Little Debbie’s Cakes.    The rest is snack history.

This post has made me hungry for Little Debbie cakes…expect a review soon!

 

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Review: Doritos Original Taco

A few posts back I highlighted a bag of retro-packaged, limited edition

My 3/4 eaten bag of Doritos Original Taco..told you I liked it!

Doritos Taco flavor that I had seen on the shelves. At the time I didn’t purchase it and have been kicking myself since then because it quickly disappeared from the shelves and I thought I wouldn’t get another chance to try this old-school Doritos flavor.

Luckily the self-punishment can now end because on a recent trip to the store I came across a distinctly non-Retro repackaging of the classic Doritos Taco flavor. While the packaging may lack the charm of the retro-style bag, it at least accentuates the brown color to evoke the spirit of the original branding.  The flavor is now officially called “Original Taco” and, I was excited to tear into the bag and taste one of the flavors Doritos originally built its brand on.

Before describing the taste, let’s diverge into a quick history lesson about this flavor. Doritos were first introduced in 1966 with only a basic corn flavor but then the Taco flavor came just a year later in 1967. Although the brand is most commonly associated with the nacho cheese flavor, that taste was not introduced until the 1970s. Taco was eventually retired in favor of “bolder” flavors but apparently the some dedicated snackers kept the Taco torch aflame and it is back on the market.

Enough history, let’s taste this classic snack! Opposed to some of the modern flavor iterations, Doritos Original Taco is refreshingly subtle. It has that light hint of taco flavor one might associate with the taco flavor packets you would use with ground beef to make tacos on the stove but it’s just that, a hint of the flavor. Unlike some of the recent creations coming out of the Frito-Lay flavor labs that seem to nail the profiles of foods nearly dead-on, no one will confuse the taste of Doritos Original Taco with an actual taco you might have but that in a way is part of its beauty. The power of the natural corn flavor is still allowed to be showcased and the flavorings act more like an accent to it. This is a dangerous kind of chip it’s very smooth to taste and you can end up getting through a bag in no time at all! The saltiness is also kept in check and there is a subtle sweetness that adds to the flavor.

On the whole I’m finding myself enjoying Doritos Original Taco even more than I thought I would. It is not trying to be more than it is and takes you back to a simpler time where a snack didn’t have to have “extreme” or “mega” in its flavor name to be on a shelf. Its the perfect median between a plain corn tortilla chip and flavored chips like Doritos Nacho flavor. I think it would work great in combination with other foods such as burgers, or dare say it, Tacos.

Positives

  • Subtle classic flavor that is not overpowering
  • As Doritos go it leaves your fingers looking pretty normal after eating (no nacho orange color to get rid of!)

Negatives

  • Introduced first as a limited edition reissue and now expanded, there is still some concern with how long this flavor might be around.
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Pork Rinds: The Rodney Dangerfield of Snacks

I’ve recently decided to pursue a lower carb eating lifestyle inspired by the excellent book “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes.  I will of course continue to indulge and enjoy in all myriad of snacks for this site but for my day to day eating experiences and health I really think lower carb is the healthiest way to go.

When thinking about the perfect low carb snack, the mighty Pork rind is the go-to solution.   Pork rinds are to put it simply, the fried skin of a pig.   Given its origin, pork rinds are often reviled by the traditional nutrition establishment as a food occupying the ninth circle of Hell but in reality are a solid, dare say nutritious snack choice (even Men’s Health magazine agrees!)

The fact is that pork rinds have less fat and more protein on a comparable basis than potato chips and none of the carbs. They also have zero cholesterol and a substantial amount of the fat present is unsaturated.   The only knock is a higher than preferred sodium content.

While you can find Frito Lay’s Baken-Ets pork rinds in almost every store, Snackdude has found that the closeout/overstock store Big Lots is a wonderful source of pork rinds from smaller producers that are quite tasty and cheap to boot…big bags for a buck-fifty.

So as you go forth and snack, do not overlook that tempting bag of crispy pork yummy sitting there on the gas station snack shelf…it deserves your love too.

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Seen in the Wild: Retro Hostess Packaging

Retro packaging appears to be an emerging trend on the shopping shelves.  In the wake of the retro Taco-flavored Doritos seen last week, I came across retro packaging for Hostess Twinkies (Banana flavor) and the classic Hostess Chocolate Cup Cakes.

Hostess Twinkies Banana Flavor Retro Packaging

Hostess Cup Cakes with Retro Packaging

I’m loving this trend and appreciate the simplicity of the older packaging.

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Candy Bandits on the Loose!

There seems to be a rash of candy-related robberies occurring across the U.S. as in the last day there are reports of two separate burglaries in which the only thing taken was candy!

The first incident occurred in Tulsa, Oklahoma back on November 19, 2010 when an unknown suspect broke into a Dollar General store and headed for the candy aisle.  After perusing the offerings, he grabbed some candy and left.  Tulsa police on Monday released the surveillance footage and it’s mildly amusing.   At least the guy picked Dollar General which on the whole has a decent selection of candy.

The other incident happened more recently in Mesa, AZ when a man named Steven Doty threw a brick through a window of a Blockbuster Video store (surprised he found one still inexistence) and proceeded to steal one item of candy (link).  Police caught him about a half-mile away.

I’d love to say something remarkably clever but these stories very much speak for themselves…I’m still shaking my head in hilarious disbelief.

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Seen in the Wild: Doritos Taco Retro Packaging

Recently on a stroll down the chip aisle in my local Super Wal-Mart my eye was drawn to something that looked very out of place but very cool: bags of retro-packaged Taco-flavored Doritos!

I’m a sucker for old school branding and the whole orange/brown color vibe that defined the 1970′s.     Didn’t end up purchasing the bag but I did snap a shot with my phone.

Here’s a link to the official post on Frito-Lay’s blog.

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Review: Doritos Tailgater BBQ

Doritos Tailgater BBQ (as well as its brother product Doritos Stadium Nachos) is a limited edition flavor released as part of a joint promotion with the Madden videogame franchise and Frito-Lay’s official NFL Sponsor status.   As this is Madden’s release day (still deciding whether to get it or not…want to wait for a few reviews plus my Xbox 360 is temporarily out of commission) I thought it only appropriate to review these new flavors.   This review will focus on the BBQ flavor and a future review will look at the Stadium Nacho flavor.

BBQ is one of the classic flavors in the potato/snack chip category and frankly I’ve never been that big a fan.   I’ve usually found the flavors too strong and artificial and did not remind me at all of anything resembling true BBQ. (trust me, I’m a Texan)

That is until I ripped open the bag of Doritos Tailgater BBQ.   The first thing I noticed was the aroma..more of a natural BBQ scent and seemingly less overpowering.

Upon tasting the chip, I was bracing for the standard artificial BBQ taste but was surprised by the balanced flavor.  The BBQ flavor is much more natural.  It’s a tad sweet, which might be a turnoff for some, but there is an underlying spice/heat that is a welcome counterbalance (and it definitely is not spicy by any means).  It doesn’t come across as too salty and the Doritos corn chip is the perfect platform for the seasoning.

I’m suitably impressed and I think the only negative is that this is a limited edition as it could easily have a spot in the Snackdude rotation.   I’m already looking forward to what Madden 12 could bring next year.   This item was purchased by Snackdude at Albertson’s for $1.99.

Overall Rating 4.5 (out of 5)

Positives

  • Unique BBQ flavor that is a mile away from the normal BBQ taste.
  • Classic crispy Doritos’s corn chip is a nice change of pace in the BBQ category from the standard potato chip.

Negatives

  • Limited edition means it won’t be around forever
  • Find it on sale…standard list price of $3.99 is high for an 11 oz bag.
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RIP Mr. Cheez Doodle

It’s a sad week in snackland as Morrie Yohai, the inventor of the original Cheez Doodle has passed away from cancer at the age of 90.   Although Cheetos were the first to market, the Cheez Doodle was the first puffed, baked version of the cheese snack.

According to the New York Daily News’ article on his passing, Yohai, whose father owned a snack food company, created the Cheez Doodle in the early 1950′s after discovering a machine that was able to puff out corn meal.  He matched the puffs with cheese and the rest is beautiful snack history…at least if you view beauty as having deliciously lickable orange colored cheese fingers.

Eventually the Wise snack foods company acquired the brand and is the current distributor of Cheez Doodles which are available primarily on the east coast which means I don’t have a chance in the world of tracking some down in LA.

So next time you are munching down on a cheese puff, take a second and give a little thanks to Morrie up there in the big convenience store in the sky.

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