Friday, August 16, 2019

I Tried the TMNT Shell Shock Surprise Ice Cream!

It’s totally radical and tubular — but mostly, it’s just vanilla ice cream dyed a different color.

By: Jimbo X

I don’t know why, but I’ve been on a TMNT kick over the last few months. Earlier this year I read through the entire original Eastman and Laird black-and-white comic run, and there’s definitely some solid stuff in there — the story arc about the Leech mutant that turns Raphael into a retarded baby turtle (written and drawn by Ric Veitch, of all people) is definitely the kind of material that would make for a great “grimdark” live-action movie, but like fuck that’ll ever see the light of day now that fuckin’ Disney runs everything.

Coincidentally, that inexplicable desire to flip through the TMNT back-catalog ran parallel with the launch of a new Walmart-exclusive Ninja Turtles-themed frozen dessert product, which, of course, is meant to tie-in to the newfangled TMNT ‘toon on Nickelodeon. You know, the one that turns April O’Neil black, replaces Shredder with a Donald Trump stand-in voiced by John Cena and features a morbidly obese Raphael as the ringleader — not that I’ve seen a single episode of the program, but odds are, it’s probably pretty fuckin’ terrible. 

But we’re not here today to judge the specific merits of the television program. Oh now, we’re here to talk about the newfangled TMNT Shell Shock Surprise Ice Cream, which is STILL being mass manufactured and available on store shelves a good three months after the “limited-time-only” comestible was originally announced.

Now, I’m going to give it straight to you people upfront. There is NOT a whole lot to be said about this product. So if you’re looking for an in-depth analysis of the product’s taste, texture and mouthfeel … well, odds are, you have autism. But that’s an aside, and we all know this is a product that’s not meant to be purchased for its intrinsic quality, but because it has pictures from a popular I.P. on the front of the box. 

Now, two things immediately ought to strike you about this item. Number one, the ice cream itself, quite clearly, is the same color as radioactive slime. Naturally, that bright green hue would lead one to simply assume that the flavor would be mint, or possibly something tropical and slightly homoerotic, like lime or kiwi. But despite the funky, pastel hue, the ice cream itself is actually vanilla dyed an aberrant color, which, to me, is branded foodstuff cowardice of the highest caliber. 

The other thing you should take note off is the promise of a deluge of “chocolaty caramel turtles” embedded in said ice cream. Well, let’s give the Walmart people some dap, because this ice cream does indeed include chocolaty caramel turtles that look as intricate and detailed as those depicted on the package art. Of course, what the box DOESN’T tell you is that there’s only five or six in each carton, because Walmart is apparently run by a buncha’ money-grubbing Shylocks just champing at the bit to rob you of your hard-earned moolah. But aye, that’s a bridge we’re gonna’ cross, when we get there.

In case you were wondering, this product is made by an Iowa-based company called Wells Enterprises, which believe it or not, is the nation’s largest privately-held ice cream manufacture. They’re also the masterminds behind the Blue Bunny brand of ice cream, which is a name you’re probably familiar with if you’re really poor. So yeah, we can’t say these guys DON’T know their target audiences here.

As for the nutritional value, well, hopefully, you can read at this point in your life. The entire carton is about 1,440 calories, which, comparatively, isn’t too atrocious for a product of its ilk. Of course, the fact that the box also tells you it contains fucking alkali and tara gum in it at least gives you a heads-up that what you’re about to eat is about as natural as having sex with a robot, so you can’t say they didn’t give you some lead-time on the consumer warning here.

And there’s the Shell Shock Surprise ice cream in all its splendor. And right then and there it became apparent to me where the namesake comes from, because it was a shell shock surprise at how few goddamn caramel turtles were embedded in the cream itself. And trust me, there WEREN’T that many more lurking underneath the subcutaneous layers of the ice cream. It may sound like I’m joking, but I counted up a grand total of EIGHT caramel turtles in my box. I mean, I can respect minimalism on one level, but holy fuck, this is a level of corporate chicanery bordering on lite consumer fraud up in this bitch.

But we can at least take some solace in knowing what few caramel turtles ARE in the ice cream are pretty decent, though, right?

Well, yes and no. The caramel turtles are made out of dark chocolate, so they have a really nice and robust semi-bitterness that does a great job of complementing the rather uninspired vanilla ice cream flavor. That part, I can give Wells some dap. Also, the craftsmanship on the turtle shells are almost ridiculously overachieving for a product of the like, to the point you have to wonder WHY they would go to such lengths to make the turtles look so detailed when nobody’s going to notice them, anyway. Alas, they didn’t do quite so well on the appendages, I’m afraid. In fact, the more you gawk at this fucker, the more the thing resembles a wad of chewing tobacco, or better yet, a lumpy chunk of dog shit. And really, who doesn’t want to be reminded of that while they’re sucking down ice cream the same hue and consistency of the flesh-eating acid vomit from The Fly II?

Which brings us to the ice cream itself. Well, like I’ve been telling you all article along, it’s just vanilla, and not a very flavorful one, at that. It’s like a really mushy, watery imitation of Breyers, with this liquid consistency that tastes less like a dairy product and more like Styrofoam. By now, you know the drill with Walmart-branded ice cream; as soon as it loses its status as a congealed substance, whatever minute flavor it DID have completely evaporates. Whatever you do, don’t let this fucker melt before you crack it open; the moment this product exits the solid phase, it turns utterly and completely flavorless.

But the product does have one seemingly unplanned bonus going for it. Once the mounds of ice cream turn all liquidy, your bowl LITERALLY looks like a bunch of African-American turtles swimming around in a pool of manimal-making mutagen. Trust me, as bright green as the image above looks, I assure you in person the hue is even MORE vibrant, and it’s definitely a cool visual. I mean, the product is mediocre as a motherfucker at the absolute best, but in terms of aesthetics, at least it’s really, really neat-looking. And really, isn’t that why we buy ANY ice cream in the first place. Well, actually, no, not at all.

Take out the TMNT license and there is LITERALLY nothing noteworthy about this product at all. I mean, the novelty of eating uranium-enriched-colored vanilla ice cream might have some weird appeal, but even at $4 a box you can DEFINITELY squander your money on better, ephemeral mass-manufactured dairy products. I know the temptation to pick up a carton and try it for yourself is going to be hard to resist, but really, there’s nothing remarkable going on here at all, save the artwork on the packaging.

It’s not a terrible ice cream, per se, but it’s nonetheless a rather bland frozen treat. The Ninja Turtles deserve better, you deserve better, and unbelievably, I think even WALMART might deserve better. Aye, it’s hard to believe this VERY product was made by the same people who gave us those unforgettable turtle-head stick treats with the bubblegum eyeballs back in the ‘90s, ain’t it?


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