Friday, July 31, 2009

Vendo-Food, A Little Slice o'Heaven

It was a dark and stormy day around 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Rain had been pounding all day, and it was definitely the hot coffee, macaroni and cheese, comfort food type of day.

I lamented aloud for a pop-tart, when Dana (one of the producers here) said (snap!) there was a vending machine in the next building. Laden with change we dialed in the right letter and number for the vendo-treat.

The cherry pop tart (toasted) was DELICIOUS! The super sweetness punches through once it's been toasted. I don't know how I only ate one. For those of you who like a more Pastry-Taste, eat it straight no heat.

I love food out of vending machines. There is something magical about it - I don't know if it's the wide array of choices at your fingertips, or feeling like a big kid who can just pick something naughty to eat and Mom won't know. On the pop-tart trip, next to the traditional snack food machine, was the MEAL vending machine.

Maybe I'm sheltered or something, but I've never really seen a vending machine with real food in it. Sure, I adore the spinning desserts at the diner, but this was approaching the 8th wonder of the world status to me. I just kept pushing the arrow button to see what would spin around on the multiple levels. White Castle Burgers, Easy Mac, Ham and Cheddar Lunchables, Chicken Tender sandwich, Ramen noodles, Corn Flakes, yogurt, YooHoo, stuffed sandwiches. I've never even had a real White Castle Burger (yet), but heck, there was one here in this machine.

I'd love to know what the coolest thing you got out of a vending machine was. : )

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Original Flavor

Every good product eventually reaches a point of such success that its makers are faced with the question: Do we create additional versions of the product or do we continue with our current offering alone. Like a sequel to a movie, adding additional variations rarely improves upon the original. As a result, it's usually the original flavor that's the best. ... but that doesn't seem to be enough to prevent companies from continuing to try to improve on perfection.

At a recent trip to the supermarket, I found two such examples:

While the 'Double Stuf' comes pretty close to being as good as the original, Nabisco seems to have taken things to a whole new level with this wide assortment of products. (I know there are lots of folks who prefer Double Stuf, but I still favor the original.)

Oreos are a classic which are hard to improve upon. I've tried a number of these product variations and none comes close to the original snack.

Like the Oreo, the original Cheez-Its approximate perfection. Cheez-Its and a can of Coke is one of my favorite ways to binge.

While, in theory, there are lots of great options in terms of cheeses to use, the original cheese flavor seems to work the best. The White Cheddar tastes pretty good, but is far too messy. And the new Pepper Jack has a nice aftertaste -- but not a great during-taste.

Additionally, along with different flavors, the Sunshine Company added variety by creating different sizes of the product. The Big Cheez-It is like the original Cheez-It, only bigger. While, in theory, this should result in an even better experience, more often than not, a larger version results in poor eating ergonomics or a disruption in the delicate balance of flavors in the product.

So remember, aside from Cool Ranch Doritos and maybe Hint of Lime Tostitos, it's always best to go with the original flavor.