Tag Archives: food

Why I Love The 90s: Awesome, Terrible Foods

20 Feb

Hot damn! It’s been a long time since I ranted about my irrational nostalgia. Previously I’ve touched on amazing sci-fi shows, brilliant dinosaur-related stuff, and videogame-related things. Today’s topic is the diet of delicious yet deadly foods that could be found in that wonderful decade.

Speaking of dinosaurs and videogames, there seemed to be an awful lot of foods based around those themes. Turkey Dinosaurs were, quite frankly, one of the most wonderful things ever created by man – or in this case, Bernard Matthews. Breadcrumbed turkey meat (at least it said it was turkey, it could have been anything, including velociraptor) shaped as either a Stegosaurus or Tyrannosaurus Rex, they were a part of my regular diet and made me realise that if I had ever been stuck at Jurassic Park, it wouldn’t be the dinosaurs hunting me for a tasty snack. Bernard Matthews made plenty of exquisite processed foodstuffs when I was a wee lad, for instance Turkey Twizzlers and Drummers, but the dinosaurs were, obviously, the best of the lot.

I should do their advertisements.

I should do their advertisements.

Meanwhile, Sonic the Hedgehog was one of the many cartoonish mascots looking for further ways to burrow into the social subconscious. I remember the Sonic crisps and the tiny biscuits that were available, but after checking this lovely website I suddenly remembered the variety of other blue hedgehog-related foodstuffs. Sega weren’t alone, though. Tom & Jerry and Dennis the Menace had make-your-own cupcake sets with edible paper transfers to add your favourite characters. I recently checked and found that these are still ruddy available, and may well need to spend some unnecessary cash to get them. Not all of the tie-in foods were as wonderful though. I don’t think I’d rush out to Tesco if I found out you could get Mr Blobby’s Pink Lemonade again…

"Drink my dubious fizzy, tangy liquid! It's definitely not piss!"

“Drink my fizzy, tangy liquid! It’s definitely not piss!”

To be honest, there were plenty of foodstuffs that weren’t really food. Other than the obvious marketing gimmicks, we had the ‘Toys & Food’ brigade. Best of the bunch were the edible treats that actually came with toys. Of course there were the Kinder Eggs, scrumptious Kinder chocolate with a fairly mediocre toy inside – although I will never hear a bad word about their range of turtle toys, those things were amazing. But even better was the Onken FruFoo range. It was a kid’s yogurt that inexplicably came with a toy alien thing. I had a huge collection of the toys and every single one was a surreal monster with an extremely derp expression.

Here’s a German advert for them:

 

Then there were those foods that were actually just edible toys. To this day I still maintain that Cheestrings had more in common with rubber than they did with dairy. Dairylea Lunchables weren’t much better, adding stale crackers and ‘meat’ into the mix. Fiendish Feet were yogurts with a horror theme and spooky faces on the side. Transform-A-Snack combined Transformers with Monster Munch to create corn-based crisps that didn’t really work and created an awful, albeit delicious, mess. Melody Pops were the perfect treat for a passive-aggressive kid, allowing you to not only get sugary crap all over the house but also create a piercing, evil sound wherever you went.

"Sure to give you tinnitus!"

“Sure to give you tinnitus!”

Not all of our imports were as healthy as FruFoo, though. The 90s was also an era of nutritionally-dubious US products. Mountain Dew hit the shelves, was amazing, and was promptly taken away again. Lucky Charms had the same fate. It was almost as if the British food standards agency was scared of an outsider coming in and taking away the ‘mental child creator’ crown from the likes of Tizer and Cocoa Pops. Meanwhile, Nerds and Atomic Fireblasts were fighting it out to see which candy could give British kids diabetes at a quicker rate. Neither of them were taking the appropriate approach though. Why appear to be dangerously additive-filled when you could sneak into shopping trolleys as a healthy alternative? That’s what Sunny Delight did, and its strategy was perfect. I applaud you, you sugar-filled monster. Hell, look at the adverts:

 

Finally, a few random shout-outs. Hedgehog Flavour Crisps were weird and made Walker’s Cajun Squirrel seem tame (also, they seriously existed). Space Raiders were excellent value for money once, even though they tasted like the Monster Munch that couldn’t make the cut because of a slight resemblance to polystyrene. Starburst will always be Opal Fruits in my heart, and under their new name they were never as good. And last but not least, I will happily forgive Findus for any horse meat in their meals because they gave us the wonder of Crispy Pancakes.

Actually, it could be human meat for all I care.

Actually, it could be human meat for all I care.

‘Til next time!

Bahstun! Food: Part Five

14 Mar

Here’s the final part of my Boston food piece. It’s been emotional.

It’s time to impart on you all the most important food lesson I learnt about Boston. For breakfast, it’s all well and good eating donuts, amazing breakfast bagels or leftovers; but in reality, there is only one place worth eating breakfast in Boston: Mike’s City Diner, aka my new favourite place on Earth.

A great little diner a little south of the main shopping districts, the first thing that impressed me was Talking Heads as the soundtrack to our meal. Apart from that it appeared to be a pretty standard diner fare – free coffee refills, pancakes, fried breakfasts, yada yada.

The difference is, everything is great. I chose the Emergency Room breakfast – which consisted of a short stack of pancakes with butter and maple syrup, and eggs, sausages, home fries and toast. This came to me on two, large, plates.

Not seen: my belt undone a notch to fit it all into my belly.

I nearly, nearly, couldn’t finish it. This was partly to do with the fact that I was pinching the leftovers of my girlfriend’s breakfast at the same time, but I managed it. Just about. I had to waddle out of the diner but it was oh so worth it. The sausage and eggs were done to perfection, and obviously it’s pretty hard to mess up making toast. But the real joys of the meal were the home fries (sautéed with onion and herbs and crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside) and the pancakes – oh good lord, the pancakes. I’ll just leave it at the best pancakes I have ever eaten. And this comes from someone who makes it his mission to devour batter in every way, shape and form.

As I flip-flopped between grumbling about eating too much and extolling the virtues of two plates of breakfast, we spent the rest of the day shopping. Eventually, at about four in the afternoon, food was required again. So, we went into the food court of a local shopping mall and had a look. Eventually we settled on getting some fries from a place called Flamers, whose menu seemed to consist of charred animal carcases or things cooked in the fat of other dead animals. I went for chilli cheese fries and the female chose bacon cheese fries. I still can’t quite get my head around American cheese being used on things other than burgers, but they were nice nonetheless.

I also accept 64 slices of American cheese eaten in one go.

Our final meal of the day was another trip to Wendy’s at about nine. Another round of value burgers, coke floats and milkshakes – sans fries this time.

The next morning was our final day in Boston. Having witnessed the glory of a pancake breakfast the day before at Mike’s, we decided to try out a different diner just round the corner from our Hotel, called Thornton’s. They had a similar option to the Emergency Room – consisting of two pancakes, two rashers of bacon, two sausages, two eggs, home fries, and two slices of toast. It was, again, delicious, and the pancakes were lovely and fluffy, but unfortunately it didn’t quite reach the heights of Mike’s. The home fries were wonderfully spicy though, and I was able to get myself another bottle of Mug Root Beer.

My final meal in Boston was at the airport. With two dollars and twenty cents left in my wallet, I splashed out on two donuts from Dunkin’. As I sat, waiting for the gate to be called and nibbling away at another Boston Creme, I wondered exactly how many holes on my belt I had grown. Whatever the number, it had been worth it.

Bahstun! Food: Part Four

13 Mar

Last time in my thrilling Boston food story, I had eaten my bodyweight at The Cheesecake Factory, and had returned to the hotel with a doggy bag of pizza and fries.

Unsurprisingly, I was still feeling quite full in the morning. However, after a few episodes of My Cat From Hell (God bless you, American Television) I was feeling a little peckish, so promptly devoured my cold sweet potato fries and pizza slices. The girlfriend was content with another breakfast bagel, and we picked one up on the way to our next destination: Harvard.

Harvard is brilliant. Just saying that now. Unfortunately, we picked somewhere bad to eat lunch. I have a very stupid habit of buying food out of vans. I don’t know what it is about it, but I’m attracted to food trucks like a fly to a bug zapper. Seeing a few Harvard students congregating outside a van selling Chinese food, I thought to myself ‘well, if they’re eating it, then it must be good’!

Turns out, Harvard students may be smart, but their taste buds are dumb as fuck.

Maybe Pro Plus kills taste?

Actually, I’m doing the van a disservice. I chose beef in black bean sauce with noodles, which was tasty enough – a standard British takeaway level – and the portion was massive. Unfortunately the dame went for a not-so-tasty orange chicken. The chicken itself was covered in powdery batter, and it was topped in what I think was sauerkraut. Even I couldn’t eat it, and I’m effectively a fleshy waste disposal machine.

Thankfully, dinner was much better. We decided to go to Spike’s Junkyard Dogs. They do a deal, of sorts; eat six hot dogs and they take your photo for the ‘wall of fame’, and give you a free t-shirt. Eat more than the current champion, and you get a t-shirt and all your hot dogs for free!

Not seen: the fries. Or me, salivating.

The only issue was, the dogs are pretty large. Although I think I could have handled six dogs (and got my hands on a totally badass t-shirt), it would possibly have destroyed me. It would certainly have destroyed the rest of that evening, as I sat complaining that I ate too much. So instead I went for a standard – a chilli cheese dog with curly fries and a Mountain Dew.

The dog itself was very nice – chilli was a good level of spice, and the all-beef sausage was served in a nice baguette instead of a bun. A meal there wasn’t too expensive either and the decor was a suitable level of tackiness. Obviously not enough can be said for the wonders of Mountain Dew, either. If Mountain Dew offered all the vitamins and minerals needed for survival, I would quite happily drink it until the end of time.

Bahstun! Food: Part Three

12 Mar

Time for the next instalment of my Boston food adventure! The third day’s breakfast was again made up of Dunkin’ Donuts – this time a Boston Creme and a glazed. After that, we set off to the Boston Museum of Science. Somehow along the way we managed to pick up more Angus Steak Sandwiches and a Bacon & Egg Bagel for good measure.

The museum was probably the most awesome attraction of the week. Full of scientific wonders, stuffed animals, spinning thingamajigs, robots, and more; it was a dreamland. Unfortunately the food there wasn’t up to scratch. A small-ish, dry hot dog, and mediocre fries, for a relatively large amount of money all things considered.

Costumes on dogs should be made illegal

Photo unrelated, but it came up when I looked for a 'small hot dog'

Even so, it didn’t diminish our enjoyment of the epic science stuff. By the time to depart, though, I was parched. So, I made a quick stop at a vending machine. Unfortunately, it had already sold out of the greatest drink in the universe, Mountain Dew. I was shocked. Appalled. I would have needed years of therapy to get over the fact, were it not for my choice of a wildcard drink. I got my hands on this:

The Root of All Deliciousness

Always trust products with cartoon animals on them.

This is Mug Root Beer, otherwise known as the SWEET NECTAR OF THE GODS. It’s the first drink I have had where the aftertaste has improved the overall experience. It was exceptional. Now that I am back in the UK, I am having horrific withdrawal symptoms. If anyone wants to get me some Mug over here, I will quite happily pay you back in sexual favours.

We walked back through Boston itself, enjoying the sights and stopping off at some nice shops along the way. By the time we were back at the hotel, we were knackered. Surveying the empty boxes, bags, and cartons around us, we decided that we would not add to the landfill site that was slowly being created. Instead, we ate out for the first time.

Our choice? The Cheesecake Factory. I’ll disappoint you now: we didn’t eat any cheesecake. This is because the main meals were so massive that we couldn’t handle any dessert. Let’s do a rundown – my girlfriend chose enchiladas, whilst I went for a pepperoni pizza. Here was our mistake, though: two sides. I was determined to have mac’n’cheese whilst I was over here, and the lass chose some sweet potato fries. She finished neither the main nor the side.

Meal for one

A 'medium' anything at The Cheesecake Factory.

So, I was left with the best part of three dishes to myself. I succeeded in finishing the mac’n’cheese (it was delicious, thank you very much), and then struggled my way through the other two. I ate two-thirds of the pizza and between us we ate three-quarters of the fries. Then, the restaurant made clear to us why America is the greatest nation in the world.

Doggy bags.

After paying, I waddled back home with some fries and four slices of pizza under my arm. Breakfast for the next day sorted.

Bahstun! Food: Part Two

11 Mar

When I left you, I had discussed the wonders of Burger King Dinner and the virtues of having a girlfriend who chooses ridiculously huge meals.

For our second day, I felt the need to up the ante and bust out some real American treats. For breakfast, a donut – a chocolate-glazed wonder that either looked like a pressure-cooked and concentrated chocolate éclair or a turd that had been frozen in the Antarctic for seventeen years. Either way, it was delicious. I followed it up with a Twinkie. It hurt my insides. It might still be there, plotting its revenge.

Creamy evil

They're the Liam Neeson of the snack world: they will find you, and they will kill you. Also punch wolves with broken glass.

With the power of sugar and fructose corn syrup behind me, we set off to the Museum of Fine Arts. The museum was fantastic, but alas the food there wasn’t quite within the measly budget of ‘recent graduate who is saving money to buy a hideous Boston Bruins hoodie’.

So, we set off from the museum halfway through the exhibits, and went out in search of lunch. I see myself as a hunter-gatherer, but one who prefers his spoils to be handed to him over a counter in exchange for some paper and circular pieces of metal.

We found a wonderful little pizzeria-cum-sub-shop called Il Mondo, on Huntington Avenue. My sub sandwich was the size of a toddler’s leg. For a small amount of money, I got enough food to feed a family of five for a week. Not only that, but it was delicious. I went for the standard – a meatball sub with cheese and marinara sauce. Other than the embarrassment of getting tomato all down the front of my coat (whoops), there were no flaws.

PARTY HARD

Me, following a delicious meatball-based lunch.

After our museum adventure was over (and many immature comments were made), we returned to central Boston. After a break to watch some excellent American television – more on that in a later post – it was time to get dinner. Wendy’s was on the agenda.

So, a challenge was set. Value menu only. I went for a Cheesy Cheddarburger, Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Value Fries, and a Small Shake. Each of the items was at a measly ₵99. Wendy’s fries were not so good – overcooked and not very flavoursome. However, each of the burgers was damn fine, and the shake was so thick that it could have been used in place of cement. It was also delicious and chocolatey.

Can I Has Cheezburger?

Yo dawg, I heard you like cheese with your cheeseburger so I...

The dame/girlfriend decided to go for a coke float and some chilli. Both were rather darn good, although the chilli could have done with a bit more spice. Wendy’s also wins because of the sheer friendliness of the guy serving.

Over our fine dining, we watched Americans and Canucks beat each other up on ice, in what is known as ‘NHL’. It was marvellous. And, sated, we went to sleep, dreaming of those mysterious items called vegetables.

Bahstun! Food: Part One

10 Mar

I spent from the 1st to the 8th March in the marvellous city of Boston, Massachusetts. Over the next few blog posts I’m going to write about my amazing time. First up, the most important part of any trip – the things I stuffed into my cavernous maw of a mouth.

We arrived in Boston at around six in the evening. Weary after a flight where I spent six hours watching high-brow cinema (A Dangerous Method, The Ides Of March, and The Descendants), we blundered out into the snow and onto a bus. Thankfully, Boston’s transport system is bloody fantastic so we had little trouble making our way to Hotel 140, in Boston’s Back Bay. I’ll say more about the hotel in another post – but let’s just say it was rather nice.

Of course, by the time we got there, we were a little tired. So to kick off our Boston adventures we decided to be incredibly adventurous and get Domino’s. Of course, this was delicious inexpensive and massive American Domino’s. And it was good. It set off a horrific week that might possibly have contained no food that was not either part of an animal or deep fried.

The next morning, we bought our breakfast for the week – a dozen Dunkin’ Donuts. They put Krispy Kreme to shame. I’d hazard at double the calories but it would be oh so worth it. There was one variation on the ‘eat fried and glazed delicious things breakfast’, also acquired from Dunkin’ and also circular in nature: the Angus Steak and Egg Breakfast Bagel. Or as it is now known, Ambrosia. I mean, Hell, just look at it!

Oh it's delicious

Om Nom Nom

Onion bagel, Angus steak, egg, and cheese. Oh my word. There is no better way to start your day.

On that first day, we went to the New England Aquarium. Again, in a later post (like all the attractions) I’ll talk about how awesome the awesome New England Aquarium of Awesome is. Quite simply, it has two kinds of penguins. For lunch we ate at the Aquarium and I had some fried chicken and chips. It was alright. The saving grace was its honey mustard dip, which I devoured with no hesitation.

For dinner, Burger King. A Double Stacker was my weapon of choice (I found out afterwards I could have had a Triple Stacker, much to my regret). I, modestly, chose to go for a small. My girlfriend, thankfully, went for a medium and could not finish her Chicken Sandwich meal, meaning that I got more fries, a Sprite the size of my face, and another Chicken Sandwich due to their amazing Buy One Get One Free deal.

Oh Sweet Lord

An artist's impression of my delicious dinner.

Not bad for a first day. I continued this trend. I may have even improved my calorie rate per 24 hour period.

Be back with more soon.