Thursday, August 24, 2017

I Tried Friendly's Wattamelon Roll!

It's a giant oval-shaped ice cream roll shaped like a watermelon, complete with chocolate "seeds" embedded inside it. I mean, shit, how can you not want to try that?

By: Jimbo X

Sometimes, you encounter something so ... idiosyncratic I think's the word, but it's probably not 100 percent accurate ... that you just can't stop thinking about it. Well, for the last three months I've been mildly obsessing over something called Friendly's Wattamelon Roll, this giant sorbet ice cream concoction at the local grocer. It's been a "featured" item in the frozen food section since Labor Day and I swear, not a single unit has been purchased (perhaps even touched) since then. With summer officially coming to an end shortly, I knew the sands of time were running low, and when I saw the item being marked down to just one-fourth its original price, I knew it was now or never if I ever wanted to try it. And since something so outlandish probably doesn't generate a whole heap of brand revenue, naturally, I had to photographically document the entire consumer adventure.

You've probably heard of the Friendly's brand before. If Ben and Jerry's is the WWE of ice cream and Mayfield is New Japan, I'd suppose that makes this manufacturer like, the IWA Mid-South Wrestling of congealed dairy dessert stuffs. I don't recall ever trying a Friendly's bucket of ice cream before, but I've always thought its packaging was vastly superior to most of the stuff on freezer shelves, especially that lame-ass-looking PET stuff and those old-ass Walmart brand ice creams that just had pictures of pedo-looking coaches and construction workers on 'em. Fuck, I wish I had taken a picture of those things while they were still on sale ... those boxes are practically impossible to find on Google these days.

The package itself was pretty beat to shit and despite being wrapped in a thick layer of plastic, my take-home box was sweating like a whore in church. All in all, though, the aesthetics here are pretty decent and the package design - despite being soggier than day-old matzo ball soup - looked a whole lot better than most novelty ice creams. Calorie-wise, it's more or less what you would expect, and the ingredients are nothing to write home about (except for maybe the karaya gum, which is apparently a key ingredient in most laxatives.) Also, I like how insanely specific the directions are: don't you DARE think about cutting into this sumbitch with no regular butter knife, you BETTER make sure that blade has been immersed in hot water and towel-dried. Fuck, is that some sort of halal ice cream requirement or something?

And as soon as you pry open that nearly 2 quart box (which ain't easy - my box didn't have any resealable flaps, so I had to literally tear the motherfuckin' top lid of like a savage) this is what greets you. I'm not really a sucker for pareodilia, but man, does this thing look like an unhappy caterpillar or what? Well, that, or the poached corpse of the main character from the Katamari Damacy games

Not that such should surprise anybody in the slightest, but as soon as this thing hits room temperature it starts melting into a sickly sweet-smelling pink, white and green puddle (a nice offhanded homage to the primary color scheme of Aquafresh toothpaste, if I may say so myself.) This thing couldn't have been exposed to indoor lighting for more than 30 seconds when I snapped this photo ... I'd venture to guess that a half hour out in the open would've totally liquified the little bugger.

If you're wondering what those black things embedded in the pink goo are, that's the "chocolate watermelon seeds." I will give Friendly's all the credit in the world on this one - these are far and away the best artificial watermelon seeds I've ever tasted. That, and they look insanely detailed, too, right down to the fluctuating shapes and ridges. I can't imagine the field for "best edible desert representation of a watermelon seed" is too crowded, but if there's any "fake" watermelon seed out there in any culinary form that looks more authentic than this, I'm liable to shit my britches.

And yes, going back to the pareodilia theme, it does indeed look like a screaming pink face, to me, too - if not the horrific visage of Majin Buu himself. Or is it closer in line to the death gasp of Patrick Starfish? Yeah, some unsettling shit to think about while you're eating ice cream, ain't it?

Regardless of how much a spoonful may or may not resemble Gooey Gus from Ghost Writer, you can't say one goddamn bad thing about the design of the Wattamelon Roll. Sure, that light green color may make it look more like a sushi roll than an actual melon, but as soon as you dig into this sumbitch for the first time the price point justifies itself. It's been a while since I've had a real watermelon, but sweet cheese on a cracker, does that look like the interior guts of the beloved fruit or what?

Seriously, would you have known that isn't a real watermelon if I didn't tell you upfront? Well, maybe you would've mistaken it for a gem stone, or perhaps an up close shot from a book of OB-GYN oddities, but I don't think none of you would've look at this isolated photo and thought to yourself, "well, by golly Jimbo, that's a picture of ice cream, clear as day." Fuck, considering how authentic this looks, you've got to start wondering why Friendly's isn't making edible autopsy snacks too. Come on, a big old Frankenstein ice cream with vanilla bones and cherry flavored guts you can pluck out would be the seasonal Halloween novelty product to end all seasonal Halloween novelty products.

Oh, and as for the taste, you might be wondering? Eh, it's pretty solid. The outside lime-green dressing has a noticeable citrus sorbet taste, which isn't my favorite flavor in the world, although the interior pink stuff does indeed have a fairly faithful (if not overly sugary) artificial watermelon taste (still, it tops Pop-Tarts' take on the flavor like a motherfucker.) Oddly enough, the white stuff doesn't taste like vanilla at all - it's basically just a flavorless sponge that soaks up the combined taste of the lemon and watermelon sorbets. But yeah, the chocolate watermelon seeds taste just like big chunks of dark chocolate, so I guess that kinda' sorta' offsets some of the other negatives. 

Just for the aesthetics alone this thing is probably worth a try. Flavor-wise, I'd give it something like a 3 out of 5, but the experience has to register at least a 4.5. I mean, it's a shockingly realistic representation of a melon in sorbet form - outside of eating an exotic species, just how do you create a more esoteric snack?

I tip my hat to you, Friendly's. I spent a quarter of the calendar year wondering what sort of insane Franken-food you dreamed up, and when I finally bit the bullet (and watermelon sorbet) I knew it was about $3.48 well spent. I can't guarantee you'll like it (fruity sorbets, after all, are the definition of "an acquired taste") but unless you are hyper-allergic to dairy goods, I'd strongly suggest you give it a try, just for the absurdity of it all. I mean, it's a giant, frozen anime-character-like watermelon-shaped ice-cream you can literally carve up in layers like an actual fruit; at this juncture, the only thing I regret is not sprinkling my order with a hearty dollop of salt, which is something we here in the American South do, probably because we're all nutrionally suicidal and want to die from hypertension as soon as possible

So yeah, all in all, I'd say Friendly's Wattamelon Roll is something worth going out of your way to experience, and if you see it in the deep freeze at your local Kroger, I'd definitely recommend you scoop that sumbitch up before it goes into hibernation for a year. And lastly, for those of you aghast that I was somehow able to write an entire watermelon-themed article without ONCE making an off-handed remark about African-Americans, well ... yeah, I'm just as shocked as you, actually.


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