Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Round-Up of the Seasonal Foodstuffs of Halloween 2013!

Our THIRD ANNUAL Celebration of the Best Limited-Time Snack Food Offerings of the All Hallow's Eve Season!

Another All Hallow's Eve Season has come and gone, I am afraid, and while Halloween 2013 is soon to be but just another fleeting memory, our stomachs, most certainly will always recall this year's limited-time only, Halloween-centric seasonal foodstuffs with much reverence. 

The 2011 bumper crop wasn't bad. 2012 had a pretty nice slate, too. But this past season's line-up of "Halloween time-only" snack foods and beverages has to be the most amazing line-up of spooky edibles and drinkables I've encountered in this lifetime. I mean, we've already chowed down on Little Debbie's Pumpkin Brownies,  reconnected with our good buddies Frute Brute and Yummy Mummy and washed it all down with Jones Soda's Red-Licorice Frankenstein is it even remotely possible to top those ghoulish gustatory experiences, really? 

Well, all I can say is, there's no deficit of seasonal foods out there to pay one final respect to before the 2013 Hallow-season is no more. Gather round, folks, as we reminisce over the limited-time only novelty products that have brought us so much joy since late August...

Chips Ahoy! Halloween Cookies!

Halloween cookies are a pretty good place to start the voyage, no? These products are pretty basic -- in essence, they're just regular Chips Ahoy! cookies -- BUT they've been re-branded with some holiday flair, so they're automatically ten times more awesome than normal. 

Unfortunately, there's really not a whole lot to talk about with the products, though. Despite the snazzy black and orange packaging, there's really nothing at all too unique about the cookies themselves, outside of some generic orange sprinkles speckled on the products to meet the bare minimum requirements for "special edition" licensing. I mean, don't get me wrong, the cookies do taste really good, but in this case, the "Halloween theme" is largely just a nominal one. It's a good, subtle way to begin the journey, but I think we can all agree that something a bit more lively is called for, no?

Candy Corn Oreos!

And the Halloween Gods smile upon us, with this absolutely AMAZING offering from Nabisco. Sure, we've tried plenty of non candy corn-flavored candy corn things in the past, but I doubt that even the most superlative of candy-corn-flavored-things-related experiences can really prepare you for the sheer amazingness that are "Candy Corn Oreos." 

For one thing, I like the fact that Nabisco opted for the beige cookie instead of the black ones. Anything that can save me a case of the dreaded "Black Tar Oreo Mouth" is a good move in my book, automatically. Of course, that alone isn't what makes these things so outstanding. That qualifier, unsurprisingly, belongs to the flavored creme itself.

The dual color scheme is cool and all, but that's not the truly impressive thing to address here. That honor would go to the TASTE of the creme, which amazingly, tastes more like candy corn than just about any candy corn-flavored confection I've ever tasted before. These things are really yummy, they don't make your teeth look like coal fragments, and the creme can easily be peeled off and melted into a fine fondue, if you really wanted to. If Nabisco doesn't bring these things back for 2014, there will be RIOTS IN THE STREETS, no doubt.

Pumpkin Spice M&Ms!

A Target exclusive, these special-edition M&Ms are designed to capitalize on America's love affair with all things pumpkin-spiced. To be honest, I'm actually kinda' surprised it took Mars this long to trot them out, really. I mean, shit...when McDonalds is squirting out craptastic pumpkin lattes, you KNOW its a domain ripe for the pillaging by any and all parties.

The color scheme for the candies was pretty much what you would expect: green, orange, and some brown. The bag did have a certain smell, I suppose, but it wasn't really a pumpkin-spice aroma. You could tell these weren't "normal" M&Ms as soon as you ripped them open, but judging from the smell alone, I highly doubt most folks would make the pumpkin spice connection at first whiff. 

Peculiarly, the treats didn't really taste much like pumpkin-spiced comestibles, either. It's kinda' hard to describe their taste and texture really -- as before, you knew they weren't traditional M&Ms, but at the same time, after you plopped them in your mouth, I don't think you'd necessarily deduce these things as being pumpkin-flavored, in any regard. The cinnamon flavoring is there, I suppose, but it's a bit faint. No offense Mars, but next year, you're going to have to do a bit better than this come Q3...

Pillsbury Halloween Funfetti Frosting!

You may recall Pillsbury's Funfetti Fourth of July Frosting from earlier this year. Never ones to turn down a chance to make a facile dollar or two, I guess it's no surprise to anybody that that same frosted goop would be making a return appearance come Halloween, no?

Of course, the frosting comes with the traditional container of sprinkles...which, hey, what do you know, are all Halloween colors! Not exactly the most original concept here, but come's free sprinkles, dude!

Now, ripping off the metallic protective flap and uncovering this ORANGE frosting may not have been a surprise on par with "The Crying Game," but it was quite unexpected, nonetheless. While the frosting did have a very unusual tangerine tone, it tasted pretty much the same as any vanilla frosting you've sucked down before, so the deviation here, I assure you, is merely cosmetic. 

With the unguent paste provided by Pillsbury, I attempted to make a Jason Voorhees cookie with some of the aforementioned Halloween foodstuffs. Needless to say, the end results were as impressive as you would have imagined them! 

Marshmallow Ghost Peeps!

Sacrilege to some, I've never really been a huge fan of Peeps. I mean, don't get me wrong, they are adorable and all, but marshmallows have never really been my forte when it comes to saccharine food stuffs. Call me crazy, but I hardly think that three seconds of chewy bliss is worth spending the next half hour digging clumps of sugary goo from your bicuspids.

The marshmallow ghosts (henceforward referred to as "ghostmallows") had a very unusual paper doll aesthetic going on. I mean, yeah, you could easily yank them apart and eat them as individual supernatural beings, but what's the fun in that? Of course, staring at this nigh-perfect polter-trio got me wondering about what would happen if they were, I don't know, microwaved on high for about 45 seconds. Needless to say, the devil on my shoulder was singing its praises a LOT louder than the angel on the adjacent blade...

Their exorcism via radiation wasn't exactly a rousing success. Yes, I could have microwaved them even longer, but seeing as how my idea of a good time isn't spending all evening scrapping exploded goop off things, I decided to let the fellas here boil and simmer for less than a minute. Even in such a short amount of time, you no doubt see for yourself, they got deformed pretty noticeably -- through the magic of electricity, what started off as a trifecta of Caspers wound up becoming a trinity of Fatsos in the blink of an eye.

Huh...radiation spawned mutants, melted ghosts and a completely unhealthy amount of sugar absorbed into one's bloodstream...really, is there any better way to say "adios" to the Halloween season than that?

I think not, boils and ghouls. I think not...


Monday, October 28, 2013

The 2013 Little 5 Points Halloween Parade and Festival!

A Downright HUGE Photographic Essay Commemorating This Year's All Hallow's Eve Bash in the ATL!

Last year, I covered an event in Atlanta called the Little 5 Points Halloween Parade & Festival. It was a lot of fun, so of course, it's no surprise that me and my camera was around for the 2013 hootenannies. 

For those of you unfamiliar with Atlanta geography, Little 5 Point is basically our equivalent of SoHo. It's where all of the artistic hippie douche bag white people live, and where all the suburban dorks flock to buy vinyl records, kitschy memorabilia and eat pizza that's so great, your mouth can't interpret it. Before we hop into the Parade itself, I reckon it's worth taking some time to outline the surrounding L5P environs for you.

When you arrive in Little 5 Points -- which is a pretty small area, only about three or four blocks -- you'll notice an intriguing lack of chain stores (well, except for a gas station, but that's only been there for a couple of years.) Instead of Targets and Wal-Marts, you encounter stores like Junkman's Daughter, which is basically a bigger, trendier version of Spencer's Gifts. 

Oh, and you can also purchase synthetic marijuana-like compounds there, although official state law says such is super-duper-illegal. Thank goodness that Sativah is for incense purposes ONLY, and can never be consumed in any other manner, right?

When they call it "Junkman's Daughter," they mean it, because roughly half the store is filled with a bunch of old vintage rubbish that only Gen Y dweebs like me would even think about purchasing. I'm not sure what I would do with a six foot tall Golly Green Giant, but yeah...I wanted to buy it anyway.

You can also purchase one of a kind, and insanely expensive, folk artwork there. How my apartment has been without a four foot tall, three dimensional paper mache portrait of Johnny Cash this long is simply beyond me.

You may recall my visit to Little 5 Points Pizza last year. This year, the proprietors of the shop decided to completely drop their normal menu offerings and provide single slice pizzas instead. It's really a brilliant marketing move, in the face of all that parade-goer traffic; you may lose money not selling the XL pies, BUT, you manage to worm more people through the line, which probably results in the same -- if not more -- cash flow than the normal business model. And also, they got rid of their NASCAR arcade game for a "Bride of Pinbot" machine. Upgrades, all around I see...

On the left is the house vegetable pizza, and on the right is their spinach and mushroom. Granted, they weren't as good as the houses' legendary white pizzas, but they weren't too shabby, either. And don't let the paper plates fool you...these slices were downright enormous, probably about the size of HALF a medium sized pizza from Domino's.

If you have a hankering for old school record shops, you're in luck, because L5P has two on the same block. The pell-mell assortment you see here (OFF! CDs standing shoulder to shoulder with live G.G. Allin compilations!) was taken from Criminal Records, a shop that actually appeared to hold more comic books than it did vinyl recordings. They also had a pretty impressive assortment of super obscure DVDs, so bonus points for that.

Looks like Little 5 Pizza has some new competition -- Savage Pizza, a rival restaurant whose signage is completely Marvel Comics based. Seriously, the entire window is decorated with chalk outlines of Spider-Man characters, the billboard for the restaurant itself has a gigantic Sentinel on it and the interior contains murals of Doctor Strange. Needless to say, expect a full restaurant review coming shortly.

And lastly, here's The Vortex, far and away the most popular hangout haunt in Little 5 Points and definitely one of Atlanta's most iconic establishments. Never been in though, and I have no idea what's on the menu. Maybe I'll stop by on a slow weekday, maybe?

And now that we've painted the scene for you, who's ready for a visual tour of the 2013 Halloween Parade? Well, here you go, boils and ghouls...a gigantic (50 picture plus!) photographic essay charting this year's L5P shindig!

The parade kicked off at four PM. By 3:30, the place was busier than a colon with diphtheria. 

Marmaduke, it is worth noting,  also made an appearance at the event. 

And with the presentation of the ceremonial banner, this party is OFFICIAL!

As all good things in life should, we begin with the crossdressers...

...followed up, of course, by the girls that sure do know how to blow...trumpets. 

It wouldn't be Halloween without some puppets and at least one "Grim Fandango" cos-player, no?

La Parka's grandmother, seen here mean mugging for the camera. 

So, a six foot tall chicken, Colonel Sanders, a Mexican clown demon made out of paper and a guy that's not really good at unicycling walk into a bar...

Photographing a photographer. SO F'N META. 

For whatever reason, the Yellow Pages representatives got a huge ovation from the crowd. What can I say? Us Atlanta folks sure do love us some obsolete sources of data. 

Having a guy dressed up as an over-sized Fro-Yo cup is cool and all...

...but you're not REALLY doing it right unless you have a TRULY GIANT inflatable frozen yogurt cup on the back of your float, too.

The Jager Float. There's probably something a little iffy about driving around with a huge liquor bottle on top of a moving vehicle, but I can't figure out why...

Hey it's steampunk...fur trappers? Fairies? Cavemen? Beats me, kids. 

Umbrellas, balloons and being photo bombed by an event security staffer. Get used to the woman in yellow, because you're going to be seeing plenty of her today. 

Tony Stark: a man with a lot of skeletons in his closet. And also, on the side of his Ford F250.

Steampunk Hun. Because some people just don't have the balls to make cybernetic Nazi costumes. 

And MORE steampunk stuff. Because that shit ain't played out or anything at this point.

And here's the steampunk...World War I troops? Soldiers from the War of 1812? Cosplayers from a sci-fi tinged "Gilligan's Island?"

Big Daddies from "Bioshock" and really disaffected white girls. Two great tastes that go remarkably well together! 

Pirate trumpeters. And of course, they're steam-punky. You KNEW they would be steam-punky.

Turkeys were also present, to pimp the upcoming CGI flick "Free Birds." And hey, speaking of disappointing winged creatures...

...the Atlanta Hawks mascot was there, too! 

I really loved how the Atlanta Hawks' float was a modified ambulance. Perhaps the team can use this one after Lebron and the boys mop the floor with them?

Oh, and I almost forgot...Godzilla made an appearance, too. For real! 

Also making the rounds? A local green energy advocacy group with a real hard-on against nuclear energy. Hey, why not use a Halloween parade to make blunt and incredibly out-of-place political statements?

Shirtless black dudes wielding wooden clubs, and white guys lugging around chainsaws. It's like peering inside a MARTA bus at three in the morning!

A shameless plug for Creepers Haunted House. Hey, the economic recovery begins with the haunted house sector, you know. 

Tall spooky people, and more steampunk! Seriously, why is this trend STILL going around, exactly? 

A pick-up truck spewing toxic sludge. Well, more toxic sludge than old-ass trucks usually emit, anyway.

Oh, ironic hipster college music...what would we ever do without you? Well, besides "live totally and completely happy," I guess. 

You know, all of this environmentalist America bashing is starting to get on my nerves. If only there was some red-blooded, All-American hero around to break up the monotony... looks like Linda took the muscles in the divorce settlement!

The lab-coat-rockin' bicyclist is cool and all, but you really ought to be paying attention to the giant pumpkin headed dude in the background scaring the living hell out of numerous children.

Believe it or not, this was one of TWO rugby-themed floats at the parade.

Hmm. Pirates, or Revolutionary War re-enactors? Your call, readers. 

Way to obstruct my view of the caged cat women, Miss Yellow Coat. 

Twice, actually. 

Easily the most frightening lawnmower I've seen since "Blades!

Did someone order a large shipment of Kraken, by any chance? 

The effort on some costumes, clearly, were mind-boggling. 

Hard to tell from this angle, but the dude in the passenger side is a guy dressed up like the puppet from the "Saw" movies. does that make Jigsaw officially a "Scrub?" 

Aliens and tie-dyed ballerinas. Peanut Butter, meet chocolate. 

Probably the ONLY Lisa Frank-inspired community theater parade float you will see in this lifetime. 

Clowns, and what appears to be the police officer from the Village People, showing off their crotch rockets.

Too bad you can't read the back of his jacket, which no doubt must've stated "If you can read this, the zombie bitch fell off." 

Looks like Congress is back in session!

An old guy, a girl in a top hat twirling several Hula Hoops and a guy that must have been really surprised when he took that wrong turn off Ponce de Leon...

Who hasn't always wanted to see some "Fifth Element" / "Marvin the Martian" slash-fiction? 

Just want Atlanta needs...more undocumented aliens. 

...I think I'll take the high road on this one, and just move to the next photograph. 

Frisbees, afros, all makes sense, after a while.

Looks like "Beetlejuice Goes Hawaiian" is finally in production! 

Hooray for cardboard kitsch! 

Hooray for...well, whatever the hell's going on here, I guess! 

A time-displaced traveler arrives at the parade. Judging from his wardrobe, I'd say he's probably from the year 1999. 

A somewhat overweight Michael Myers wearing a Deku Nut on his head sure does like pointing out things with his ice scraper.

This parade was so hot, the firefighters had to be called in, at one point. 

The Atlanta Ironic Hipsters Douche Bag Club was fully represented at this year's festivities. 

And although he had no problems walking on water, Jesus Christ had tremendous difficulties outrunning this minivan on pavement. 

A human-sized turkey and Jean Luc-Picard, together at last? I don't BEE-lieve it! 

The panda was far and away the most terrifying thing I saw at the festival that day. 

While a bunch of squirrels sang about nuts, the dude in body-fitting green spandex was showing off his to concerned/disgusted parade-goers. 

Ironically, they HAVE forgotten about you since then. 

Atlanta's number one alternative news-zine, proving yet again why nobody would want to pay to read anything they write about.

Told you there were TWO rugby floats at the event!

"Jem" cosplayers. This image is going to get downloaded a million times, I just know it. 

And my personal favorite? A float in honor of Atlanta's iconic "Murder Kroger," an institute more emblematic of the city than an empty baseball stadium come October.

And we end the parade, and this article, as we simply must: with culture-less white a-holes, sitting on top of things. How else do you think this thing could've ended, really?