Saturday, May 17, 2008

Gummy Popcorn

You might think that the words “gummy” and “popcorn” do not belong together, at least not as a description of something you might want to eat. But today at a 99-cent store in Queens,* I spotted this product:

It’s not just Gummy Popcorn, it’s Sour Gummy Popcorn. “Wow, that’s even worse,” you may be thinking. “This is the kind of thing that can bankrupt a farmer.” But of course we’re talking about candy here, not corn,** and sour candy lines range from bears to worms to random shapes, so corn is not terribly exceptionable here.

I wasn’t going to buy it, but then I saw this challenge:

My immediate response was, “I bet you can’t!” So I had to get it and find out for myself.

The candy pieces are actually pretty similar in appearance to the pictures on the box.

As you can see, the pieces are a bit larger around than a quarter, and of course much thicker.

Please, don’t feed Sour Gummy Popcorn into the machines at the Laundromat. After wrestling with the plastic bag for several minutes*** I was able to open it and free the candy nuggets. My husband looked alarmed. “Guess which flavor I’m not eating,” he said. “Oh, that’s right—all of them.”

They smell a bit like marshmallows—probably because they contain gelatin—but the first taste impression is sour, sour, sour. I bit into one and chewed and chewed (they’re not kidding when they call these “gummy”), and then guessed the flavor. What are my choices again? Apple, strawberry, watermelon, and popcorn. (Popcorn? Are you kidding me?) I chewed and mused. Apple, I think. Curious, my husband tried one too. After some deliberation, he said, “It’s either strawberry or watermelon. Oh, there’s the aftertaste. Watermelon.”

I can confirm that Sour Gummy Popcorn offers 99 cents worth of entertainment. But I can’t recommend it as something to eat.
* Just so you know: Queens is the world champion of 99-cent stores. Our neighborhood favorite has a hang tag in one aisle advertising “Plastic Stuff.”

** But in terms of the industrial food chain it’s still probably corn; see Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma or the documentary “King Corn” for more detailed explanation.

*** Why didn’t I just use scissors? Because I am stubborn.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday Roundup

It’s been another busy time for me; work continues to be hectic, plus I squeezed in a five-day trip to Portland last week. Mmm, Terminator Stout. But I do want to offer up a few quick looks at food issues in the news.

First, the Bush Administration doesn’t want you to know if your beef is carrying mad cow disease. Speaking as somebody who is barred from giving blood because I ate meat in England at the wrong time, I think consumers should be able to find out the information if they want it. What’s really interesting to me about this case is that as far as I can tell, it’s not about requiring suppliers to test all their beef; it’s about permitting suppliers to test more than the minimum to meet the wishes of customers (e.g., Japanese buyers).

The New York Times spotlights some unlikely farmers, or more accurately gardeners in East New York, who are not only having fun but are also growing enough to sell their produce to neighbors. Which means Greenmarket produce has more “food miles” than these vegetables.

And Brandweek reports that casual dining chains such as Applebee’s and TGIFriday’s are feeling the pinch as consumers take their dining-out dollars to in-store eateries at supermarkets such as Publix and Whole Foods. Is it churlish of me to point out here that most of what you find in the ready-to-eat section at Whole Foods is probably better, and perhaps better for you, than the menu standbys at Applebee’s? Of course that’s just my opinion.

Friday, May 9, 2008