Friday, October 3, 2014

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Cheesecake Cookies

A new seasonal delight is making the rounds that I finally got to try yesterday. Pepperidge Farm's Pumpkin Cheesecake cookies have been making waves, but when I opened the bag I got a different kind of tidal wave of destruction:


Smashing Pumpkins

The cookies themselves are just alright but the presentation could use some work. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Panera Dread

Do people really like Panera Bread? Like, really? Seriously? I had it for the first time a few weeks ago. My sister brought it in, so this experience is based solely on the food. She got me a turkey & bacon sandwich. Pretty simple, right? Well, here's a graphic that will demonstrate the magic of photography and prose the question as to who the hell actually eats sandwiches like these?

Believe it or not, these are supposed to be the same sandwiches

Those pieces of romaine lettuce are the same size as the frickin' pickle that came in the bag. I mean...REALLY??? And notice that there's still MORE lettuce on the sandwich even WITHOUT the garnish of the two nuclear torpedoes. I'm gonna go ahead and take a wild guess that their model sandwich wasn't made with romaine. 

I looked on Instagram and it seems kinda back-and-forth as to whether Panera Bread regularly uses romaine on their sandwiches. Some had it, some didn't. But to me this is absolutely disgusting. I'd rather eat fried mushrooms than this romaine crap. I sent the graphic to Panera on Facebook and Twitter and much to my surprise they actually did respond that the sandwich wasn't made properly. Maybe only one piece of a Paul Bunyan romaine head is supposed to make it onto each sandwich. We'll see what they say. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

It's Not Domestic Violence, It's DiGiorno!

Congratulations to DiGiorno for becoming the newest case study that will be discussed about in marketing classes for years to come. And congratulations for generally just being complete jerks in the middle of a serious discussion about domestic violence. Really, that's a level of prickery that not even the most seasoned trolls could dream of attaining.

The big news in the sports world was the "surfacing" of the video of Ray Rice beating the crap out of his then fiance, which was finally enough inspiration for the Baltimore Ravens to cut him and for the NFL to suspend him indefinitely. I find it highly unlikely that neither the NFL nor the Ravens had previously seen this video, so I'm sure more will come out about the kind of scumbags who are calling the shots. But this is a food blog, not a football blog.

In the wake of the Ray Rice video, two phrases were trending on Twitter: #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft, Both served as an outlet for discussion of victims of domestic violence. Women worldwide were participating, were supporting each other, were forming as one...and then the little 12 year old dillweed who manages DiGiorno's Twitter chimed in with this: #WhyIStayed You had pizza.


Needless to say, there was a massive outrage aimed right at DiGiorno and the Tweet was immediately deleted. That was two days ago. Their stream has been very quiet since then with the exception of two BS apologies that if you do a little research on you could probably find out the joker who was managing this page knew exactly what he was doing:

Let me break it down for you here: a lot of corporations do not yet understand the critical importance of social media and a solid digital marketing strategy and for a second I actually believed them about not reading the hashtag beforehand. But then I looked at their stream from the previous several days and found that they are EXTREMELY active on Twitter and their page looks like it's run by some idiot 12 year old. A technologically savvy 12 year old, but an idiot nevertheless. This guy knew EXACTLY what he was doing when he posted that Tweet. It's possible the above apology was written by someone else in the company, but the "You had pizza" Tweet was posted because the hashtags were trending. A day later they posted this next apology:
This one seems more accepting of their mistake and acknowledging that they did something really, really stupid but it doesn't forgive that a major brand like this just made themselves look like a giant ass in the crack. These are the only two Tweets they've had in the last 48 hours since the blowup. I'm guessing the social media manager, who is likely Mr. DiGiorno's son, got his ass fired and rightfully so. What's shocking is the majority of the company's tweets are WRITTEN IN CAPS LIKE THIS HAHAHAHAHA AND JUST LOOK REALLY IMMATURE HAHAHAHA. I mean, I'm all for a certain tone and humor with social media but keep it professional. My guess is the company has no clue what digital marketing is all about and were doing Mr. DiGiorno a favor.

If I were Mr. DiGiorno, here's what I would do for damage control: make several sizable donations to groups for victims of domestic violence, donate a surplus of your products to women and children's shelters including Baltimore since that's where Ray Rice played, and then hire me as your social media manager and I'll make sure you get everything back on track. This company needs to learn2internet. 

Don't fight or lie to the Internets, it just doesn't work. My guess is the company will come out with some kind of damage control in the next day or so and then you're gonna see a whole new voice on their Twitter. 




Sunday, August 31, 2014

Steak N' Eggs

Quickie food update here. Went to Watson Drugs & Soda Fountain in Orange the other day and got a dish I enjoyed several months earlier, the steak n' eggs:

The lighting was weird so I couldn't really see that the picture was off-center

The first time I had this it was really, really good. This time? Eh. The steak was overcooked and dry and the potatoes taste like they came right out of the freezer. I ate it all of course but it was just eh. Another random thought for those who appreciate good punctuation: I always refer to this place as Watsons but I have no idea if it's "Watsons" or "Watson's". I go to their website and what's the first thing I see? "Welcome to Watsons Drug & Soda Fountain. Watson's reminds us of the best of our past and gives us something to take with us into the future." To confuse matters even more, the seal simply says Watson. I really have no idea how to properly spell this out so I'll just use its formal name.

Happy eating. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Whatever Happened to Gobblestix?

I was browsing through a collection of hilarious problems that only 90s kids would understand at the expense of James Van Der Beek when I read a brand name that I hadn't heard in years: Dunk-a-roos. While these are still in circulation, they hit their peak popularity when I was a kid and I'm pretty sure the whole "too many cookies, not enough icing" was a problem I frequently encountered.

That said, it got me thinking about another popular snack that has all but disappeared: Gobblestix. Whatever happened to Gobblestix? I think Jennie-O manufactured them and they were around for a few years in the 90s but then seemingly vanished into thin air. Outside of nostalgic postings such as this, there's not a whole lot posted on the Internets about this once legendary compilation of processed turkey parts and decroded sodium...except this:

GOBBLESTIX!

Digging the burps. You wouldn't see that today. But seriously, what happened to these things? Anyone know?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I Wanted Robin Williams to Star in My Video Game as a Kid

I want to take a step back from my normal blogging nonsense to touch on the untimely passing of Robin Williams. New details came out yesterday confirming that his death was a suicide and reports have also included the grisly examiner's details over what happened that I won't go into here. When someone takes their own life it's always tragic. When someone takes their own life that has spent decades entertaining the world and filling our lives with laughter it feels like the world collectively became a little quieter.

Robin Williams is one of the greatest entertainers and talented actors of all time. I grew up watching him in a slew of children's films like Flubber and Jack but also appreciated his serious work such as his Academy Award winning performance in Good Will Hunting and his bone-chilling portrayal as a department store photo guy/stalker in the underrated One Hour Photo. The character of Mrs. Doubtfire is possibly one of the most recognizable personas in cinema over the last 20 years and any kid growing up in the 90s has likely played at least one game of Jumanji.

Williams' performance of "Blame Canada" from the 2000 Oscars

While I know he had substance abuse issues over the years that he went to rehab for, I don't think anyone knew just how much of a tortured soul he obviously was. I will be the first to admit that I do not fully understand depression and I think it's impossible for me to be able to completely comprehend what someone who is clinically depressed is going through. I have had friends who were clinically depressed (and some who were undiagnosed at the time) whom I tried to understand but failed miserably. Their reactions to something that was out of their control would take its toll on me which would result in a split in friendship, which isn't fair at all to the people I called friends. Thankfully these people are still in my life and I feel I can better support them with the knowledge I have now.

You can't "cure" depression by saying "oh, it'll be okay, don't worry." That's something I learned the hard way from some of my friends. Depression is like a battle and every day is a new field with fresh artillery. There's great treatment out there but there's still a feeling of shame and embarrassment that people with these conditions face when wanting to seek help. I can't force anyone to seek out help, but I can offer my support so that you know you are not alone. If you are struggling with something then I will listen to you. I will hear you out. I can't feel what you feel but I can do my best to try and understand where you are coming from. You are not alone. Robin Williams is a global icon yet probably felt like the loneliest man in the world and NO ONE should have to feel that way. I would never judge anyone because of something they're struggling with just as I wouldn't judge anybody based on their religion, race, or sexuality. If you're a douchebag then yeah, you just suck. But whatever you're made up of, that's who you are. Be loud and proud.

A failed attempt to rob Mrs. Doubtfire - I used to laugh hysterically as a kid to the "BACK OFF, ASSHOLE!" line

The other thing I wanted to briefly share is a little drawing from my childhood. My friend Trey has always looked up to Robin Williams. I, too, admired his brand of comedy but he was a hero to Trey ever since he was a little boy. As kids, Trey and I would regularly come up with ideas for movies, TV shows, and video games, knowing that one day we'd become the youngest child directors in history. One such idea for a video game was set in an interactive world a-la Spyro the Dragon, but centered around a dolphin named Tux who goes through this world freeing captive animals and kicking ass. We were only about 11 or 12 but made several drawings and storyboards and for a day or two were convinced that we'd get all this work done and pitch it to Sony and they'd make the game available on Playstation the following Spring. And the guy we wanted to voice our main dolphin character? Robin Williams.


Thanks, Mr. Williams, for all the laughs. I'm sorry that through all the laughter and smiles there was a great struggle taking place. I know you are now at peace, but I also know there's much more we can learn to better serve others in the future.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Return of the Buffet

So one of my favorite gourmet spots over the years has been the Great Plaza Buffet in Pacific Beach. Last October, much to my surprise, the restaurant abruptly closed for remodeling that would take them into January. Naturally the project lasted longer than it was supposed to and went into March. Due to the initial crowds, I didn't get a chance to try it until about May or June. It was fine but I wanted to try it again to really get a sense of the changes that were made. And yes, there were changes.

Let's start off very simple. The old restaurant was a dump for all intensive purposes, and then new management bought it over and invested a lot of money to clean it up. They also invested money into finally getting a working website (my virus scanner would alert me of Trojans whenever I'd try to visit the old website). But some programmer clearly jerked them out of their money, because look at this picture that's in the main slider of their site:

The American Beauty tagline is "look closer..."

Look closely at this picture. Something here doesn't make sense.

Do you see it yet? Apparently the Great Plaza Buffet is the only buffet in the United States that also offers an unlimited supply of mint Milano cookies and Goldfish crackers. SERIOUSLY GUYS??? I would LOVE to see how this website was built and how exactly this picture got placed on the main slider. Was it the owner? Was it a programmer? I mean, I'd love to see the butthole who thought out loud "HEY! Let's put a picture of a SUPER MARKET on our restaurant's website! YEAH!!!" When I update my Yelp review I'm going to include this picture.

Anyway. The food is the same for the most part. Let's get right into it:

Okay...something is wrong with this picture too, and it's not the redness of the meat

Yeah, one thing they got rid of was the mashed potatoes which makes about as much sense as a Progressive commercial that doesn't star Flo. How can you have steak but no mashed potatoes? And it's not like they're real, I'm sure they're powdered. So instead we get...French fries. Which were pretty good anyway but still.

The "Asian Sensation" plate

Another change: as far as I can tell they no longer have white rice. Con. But the Teriyaki chicken is now cut into smaller pieces and not served on a skewer. Pro.

The Transition Plate

Another possible change: The steak that they put out seems to be cooked medium rare at the highest. While many people may not like this, I enjoy red meat very much. Pro.

Fruity Tootie

Fruit. Nothing much has changed there.

Dessert

They have a few more dessert offerings but the main difference is the chocolate fountain. They give you marshmallows and skewers and you can dunk whatever you want in there. Naturally when I went to get my dessert they were conveniently out of skewers but whatever. Oh, and here's another waste of their money. They invest thousands in renovations and then when they finally get the menu together, this happens:

I bet Cholocate tastes really good

Seriously? Thousands of dollars invested and you're not even gonna proofread the front of your menu? 

So there are a couple lazy changes that I don't particularly like as noted above. The meals are about $2 more expensive and a drink is not included which is ridiculous. Last night the floors were also filthy. There was a frickin' piece of pineapple that was just sitting there for 20 minutes. Not good. Oh, and the menu also says that they still carry lamb ribs, though I haven't seen that item in the restaurant in years. 

Overall it's still good for what it is. I enjoyed my meal last night and would go back again. But I don't think it's as high up as it once was.