A recap of the most mirthful, limited-time only comestibles of the holiday season!
You know, if I learned one thing this holiday season, it's that if you see an opportunity to snatch up an esoteric snackcake you've never laid eyes on before, it's probably for the best if you picked that sumbitch up right then and there.
I can't tell you how many awesome novelty foods I encountered around early November that I thought about picking up, but hesitated to purchase. Little Debbie brownies shaped like Santa Claus faces, gingerbread Twix, even candy-cane flavored Oreos; all incredibly tempting treats that I waited way too long to pick up. By mid-December, such products were virtually removed from store shelves; in their place, a million billion "Duck Dynasty" chocolate bars and winter-themed (and non weird-ass tasting) Oreos that nobody in their right mind could ever give a shit about, sadly.
While this year's stash may not have been as awesome as last year's collection, there were still quite a few seasonal items of interest that graced our grocery stores in 2013. Here's my anything but thorough round-up of the gimmick foods that, this Yuletide season, ROCKED MY PROVERBIAL CHRISTMAS TREE...
Little Debbie Christmas Marshmallow Treats!
A great place to begin, obviously, is with Little Debby. In the past, I have chided the manufacturer for, essentially, repackaging the exact same item for Valentine's Day, Easter and Halloween, but you know what? Who cares, when the overall product is so delicious (and suspiciously interchangeable depending on the season, with absolutely NO variation in flavor or texture from holiday-to-holiday!)
Well, uh, I guess there isn't too much to say about these, I guess. They're marshmallowy, they're really gooey, and they taste just the same as the did on Feb. 14, Oct. 31, and whenever Jesus's resurrection is supposed to be. Over the holidays, I have to say these things have grown on me, though; at first a bit indifferent to them, I now consider them a staple of my holiday diet...which may also explain my recent acquisition of jaundice, apparently.
Pillsbury Holiday Funfetti RUDOLPH RED Frosting!
Pillsbury FUNFETTI frosting is quickly becoming my favorite things ever. Ever since I sucked down some of their patriotic goo last July, I've been a bonafide frosting-a-holic. I didn't really think anything could eclipse the brand's super-spooky orange vanilla frosting from Halloween, but you know what, folks! I was wrong...deliciously, deliciously wrong.
For one thing, there's the hue. Despite the blood red tincture, I assure you this thing tastes as vanilla as...well, something that's really vanilla. As always, you get an extra, vacuum-sealed tray filled with holiday-themed sprinkles, which this time around, is mostly a bunch of green, red an white trees and dots. But really, it's the namesake of this thing that automatically makes it a qualifier for the best thing ever: RUDOLPH RED frosting. Go ahead, say it a couple times. RUDOLPH RED, RUDOLPH RED, RUDOLPH RED. If anything felt any better rolling off your tongue, the FDA would probably have to regulate it.
Most folks will consider this the grossest thing this side of that part in "Robocop" where the dude got toxic wasted, but I've actually began using the frosting...sprinkles and all...as something of a dessert dip. Yeah, it sounds disgusting as all hell at first, but after you dunk a few Oreos in there, you'll understand why I do it. Which brings me to the product's biggest fault: for those of you fond of NOT having menstrual fluid-hued marks all over the place, keep in mind that this stuff will stain your hands like a son of a Bumble.
Candy Cane Hershey's Bars!
Candy Cane-flavored Hershey's Bars...because why the hell not, I reckon! All in all, I can't say I've ever been a particularly huge fan of the brand (dark chocolate >>>> milk chocolate, and the whole guldarn world knows it), but who knows? This ain't your grandaddy's Hershey's...we're getting all different shades of peppermint with this shit, after all.
I really, really liked the packaging for this one. The little peppermint stripes on the east and west coasts of the package remind me of those old school international envelopes, which I've only ever seen in old-ass movies and "Shenmue" on the Sega Dreamcast. The minimalist aesthetics actually kinda' work here, making the product a rare example of mostly blank space being a visual positive, from a marketing standpoint.
Alas, my opinion of the candy bar itself is nowhere near as cheery...primarily because the product is, without hyperbole, the most disgusting-looking food I've ever seen. I mean, a good goddamn, look at that, ya'll -- it looks like a pound of human flesh, speckled with smallpox pustules. I literally gagged a little when I unwrapped my first package. That said, the candy bar itself isn't too horrific -- the peppermint/white chocolate combination actually works out quite well -- but again, THE CHICKENPOX SORES ALL OVER!
Well, here's a product that employs the tried-and-true strategy of all lazy ass marketers who want to release something kinda' newish in time for the holidays, but without, you know, doing anything actually new.
STEP ONE: Take your standard product.
STEP TWO: Shape said product like Santa Claus.
STEP THREE: Sell, make money, use said money to make lavish purchases to fill the tremendous void in your own soul that no number of material riches can ever truly anesthetize.
But, uh, yeah, beyond that, it's an OK candy bar, I suppose. I can't say I'm necessarily a huge fan of Twix in General, but the combination here works out a little bit better than you'd probably expect. I also like the particular, chocolate-filled blankness in Santa's eyes. It's almost as if you can see the internal desolation residing within his cookie-stick filled corpuscles, really...
At last estimate, there's only about four fa-fillion M&M variations out there, so I suppose it's not all that surprising that Mars decided to release variation four fa-fillion and one for Christmas 2013.
The first thing you'll notice about the products is the strong, burnt-coffee odor that assails your nostrils as soon as you rip open the bag. Before you even know what colors the candy bits are (red, green and brown, in case you are wondering), you'll start second-guessing whether or not you left the Keurig machine on all day. As a general rule, that's probably not the first impression you want your product to make.
Needless to say, your mileage will vary on how much you enjoy said M&Ms. I've talked to some folks that found them completely inedible, but I didn't think they were that bad. Yeah, just nibbling one or two at a time leaves a somewhat gross taste in your mouth, but if you eat these things they way they were intended to -- by jamming twenty or so at a time in your maw like a famished seaman -- you'll realize "hey, these things are actually kinda' decent." Because they are, in actuality.
Little Debbie's Red Velvet Christmas Tree Cakes!
I couldn't find the Santa Brownies, so I had to settle for LD's "Red Velvet Christmas Tree Cakes" instead. I really like the packaging o this one, primarily because of its' somewhat subversive depiction of Jolly Ol' Saint Nick. Look at him up there, with his feet propped up, nibbling on what appears to be a mountain of Little Debby snackcakes. That's right, you fat exploiter of indigenous labor...you eat up real good.
The snack cakes themselves are fairly uncreative, but I can't slight them. I mean, how often is it that a thing-shaped dessert actually winds up actually LOOKING like the thing it's supposed to look like, anyway? Lest we forget the company's famed "Pumpkin Delights," which looked more like that giant clown robot ship Bowser rides in the last stage of "Super Mario Worlds" than Jack O' Lantens.
As for the taste of the products, they were all right. The packaging promises us a red velvet flavor, but I really couldn't tell the difference between this kind of filling and the general type of filling you find in every other Little Debby product. Aesthetically, it looks pretty cool though, and chewing the green things and revealing the red and white center kinda' makes me feel like I'm cutting a dinosaur in half.
What's a "Buck Bar," you may be asking? Well, I was just as curious as you were. By the looks of the packaging, I expected the internal contents to look like...well, a dollar bill of sorts, perhaps with a deer on it...
...only to find a generic, crap-tasting candy bar, segmented into squares that don't even break apart on the designated fault lines.
Yeah, this Buck Bar can go buck itself, all right.
Little Debbie's Christmas Spice Cookie Wreaths!
And for our grand finale, one more Little Debbie offering, this time, something called a "Christmas Spice Cookie Wreath." As to what spices fundamentally make up "Christmas spice," I remain dumbfounded. Ginger and cinnamon, I'm guessing?
The cookies sure do look pretty, though. I suppose they are supposed to resemble snow covered wreaths, but being a guy that's lived in the American Dirt Belt his entire life, I have no idea what such a sight would resemble.
But yeah, it's an all right cookie. It's a bit cinnamon-esque, and a bit gingery; not my most beloved flavors, but the crunchiness and frosting helps things gel together rather well. It probably won't change your world, I guess, but if you need to eat something that's sugary, circular and a little bumpy...well, this is a much better option than dipping a Ritz cracker in Funfetti frosting, for sure.
All in all, I suppose I can't complain too much about this year's Holiday lode. Sure, it would've been nice to hop into some of the kookier and more elaborate products out there (apparently, novelty holiday food hoarders are one of the nation's largest growing populations), but what can I say? I got to be disappointed by milk chocolate candies, was grossed the hell out by a Hershey bar, and I dipped a whole bunch of already saccharine things into a creamy, sugary abyss named after a fictitious elk.
Sounds like quite the Yuletide cheer, don't it?