Twinkie Festival in Emporia, Kansas!

You may not know this, but the Hostess brand got its start in Kansas. That’s right, Dorothy probably ate Twinkies.

Emporia, Kansas used to be one of the Mid-West’s main Twinkie producers. Hungry snackers from the great plains, Texas, Missouri, and even a stoner or two from Denver used to sate their munchies, dining on sponge cake and creamy filling that flowed from the Sunflower State.

As you know – if you are any kind of foodie, children of the 80’s, fan of junkfood, or recreational drug user – Twinkies have not been around since November of 2012, due to the bankruptcy of Hostess.

But now, all the snackers of the world can unite to celebrate because the Hostess plant in Emporia is back up and about to go online. The investment group who purchased Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and other assorted snack cakes with naughty names have assured the good people of the State of Kansas that Emporia is their flagship bakery. Emporia will be one of the main (and as far as I can ascertain: first) breadbaskets of the humble Twinkie for the entire nation.

In celebration of this momentous occasion, Emporia decided to do the coolest thing ever.

Behold!:

Oh yeah. Man I wish I could go to this event. Can you imagine anything more cool than a guy in a Twinkie costume, who just won the Twinkie eating contest, singing an original “Welcome Back Twinkie” ditty, strumming on his Twinkie-shaped ukulele?

What could the Twinkies Shake Dance possibly be? I want to learn it, doggon it!

If any of you out there are in Kansas, and going to this thing, you gotta send me some pics and a complete report.

I love Twinkies, and have sorely missed them. Let’s be honest, Uncle Julio’s Creamy Spongecake just isn’t the real thing, folks.

I already know what costume I would wear.

Sigh.

Celebrating the 4th of July

So yesterday was the fourth.

I had meant to post this little ditty last night, but we didn’t get home until midnight and I had a really important meeting this morning, so I had to go straight to bed – after all, Deigh without his beauty sleep is an ugly sight to behold.

Unfortunately, my neighbors must not have realized that I wanted seven hours of good shuteye, because those jackwagons decided to shoot huge booming artillery shells off until about two in the morning. I tried putting a pillow over my head, sleeping in the closet, and finally shooting a warning shot out my back sliding door with my 12 gauge, but none of it worked. Finally, after I began pelting them with frozen balls of dog feces (don’t ask, don’t tell)  I fell into an irritated, restless sleep that led to dreams of Bea Arthur, some Nutella, and a collie named Beau.

But back to yesterday . . .

As per usual, the Misses and I hauled our little family over to my cousin’s house by the lake. There was boating, tubing, swimming, eating, drinking, and my cousin, Tommy. Let me tell you, after a few Midori melon bombs, that guy is really a hoot to be around, just keep him away from the sister-in-laws.

But the real attraction, and the reason we continue to go year after year is actually quite simple. You see, I like fireworks, but I hate spending $200 – $300 on something I am going to blow up. Luckily, my cousin is an attorney and most of his friends have money – money to burn – money to blow stuff up with. I swear these guys save up all year, and are literally dying to blow up $100 bills if given half the chance.

They come like pilgrims, bringing their offerings for the gods of BOOM!

Behold, the shrine of wonder.

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Fourth of July Shopping Only To Find . . . Halloween?

Yesterday I had to go into Hobby Lobby in order to pick up some 4th of July decorations for a float for our town’s local parade tomorrow.

I love Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, Party City, and JoAnn Fabric; any place that has holiday decorations. Usually they can be counted on for a nice dose of nostalgia and an injection of holiday cheer.

Today I was walking in, minding my own business, trying to find the patriotic stuff.

Luckily, it was all on sale.

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They had two clearance rows of Independence Day. I quickly grabbed some garland, a few ribbons, and some poster banner.

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Horribly Expired Strawberry Wafers

The other day we stopped at a gas station. My wife and I were a bit hungry and so we decided to to grab a snack. My wife loves those wafer cookies, you know the chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry kind. They used to come in a variety pack that had all three flavors. Unfortunately, all I seem to be able to find are the individual packs.

Anyhow, the gas station had these in stock and they sounded good, so after much debate we settled on the strawberry wafers which were only 75 ¢ which was quite the bargain.

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We bought the wafers and a Frozen Run and a Cherrikee Red, and headed out the door. When we got to the car, my darling wife opened the package. A strong smell of pungent artificial strawberry filled the car (and our nostrils) with its delectable odor.

My wife pulled one out.

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New Soda From Pennsylvania – Frozen Run Review Along With An Accidental Candy Cigarette Retrospective

The last time I was in a play was at a local community theater, in a small suburb of the town that I lived in and we had rehearsals three nights a week. Nearby was a local mom and pop gas station that sold the original Necco candy cigarettes.

I loved these things! I would run over there before rehearsals and stock up. Then I would sit around like a cool kid and suck on the white stick with the pink tip, and my lungs had absolutely no damage. I must have cleared out their entire stock of goods during the three weeks of rehearsals and the four week run of the show.

Now there are many brands of candy cigarettes – more than you might realize unless you are a true candy cigarette aficionado like myself.

Unfortunately, most of these taste like you went to an old, abandoned elementary school, broke out a ground floor window, climbed through, made your way through all the mice and spiderwebs to one of the chalkboards on the far wall of the classroom, and found an old broken piece of Dixon Waltham chalk and stuck it in your mouth.

Oh, but not  Necco candy cigarettes. It’s not the shape, or the idea of edible cigarettes. I don’t like to pretend like I am Nick Nolte from Cape Fear, puffing away at hard sugar like a hefty kid with a Pixie Stick.

To me, it doesn’t really matter if you call them candy stix, candy cigarettes, or candy heroin pipettes. I just like the taste. It’s a kind of a mellow peppermint that is both simple, yet luxurious, and as a bonus, there was always that little pink dot on the end to break up the monotony. Yes, I realize that the dot was there to symbolize the cherry, but it just kind of made  the sticks seem . . . I don’t know . . . cooler . . .

If that wasn’t awesome enough, Necco also perfected the smooth texture. These sticks did not have the crumbly, chalky instability of the “other” brands. These were firm candy sticks with just the right crunchiness to them.

The original Necco Stix or Cigarettes, or whatever had cool names like: Dinosaur, Supersonic, and Hawk and looked like this:

Dinosaurs candy stix

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New Beverages at a Pennsylvania Convenience Store

Yes, they really make something this cool. . .

Yes, they really make something this cool. . .

Can you believe this?

One thing I love about road trips is the chance to sample local cuisine and libation. Recently, we were on a road trip, driving through Pennsylvania and stopped to fill up the ol’ Family Truckster. I walked into the gas station, parched, sweaty, and ready for a refreshing beverage, when I saw this:

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Now I don’t know about you, but I am a pretty big fan of the Choco Taco.

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Did You Know That This Exists?

Visiting your local Cracker Barrel is always a treat. If you do not know what a Cracker Barrel is, or you do not have one near you, then I feel really badly for you. A Cracker Barrel is a treasure trove of kitsch and kitch. It is billed as an “Olde Country Store”. You can tell it is cool because of the extra “e” in Olde. You can usually find everything there from Blackjack chewing gum, to old time, hand carved (or mass produced in Nashville, Tennessee) front porch rocking chairs.

Yesterday, I went to our local Cracker Barrel for some country ham and fried okra, and low and behold, I found this:

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Your eyes are not deceiving you. That is, in fact, an edible UNO game made from Jelly Bellys. How freakin’ cool is that? I love UNO, and I love Jelly Belly. This is like a match made in heaven.

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Bobby’s Burger Palace

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We were tooling through DC recently, when we stumbled upon this little gem.

Now I will readily admit that I am a Food Network fan. I don’t know what it is about the cheesy jargon, the grotesquely over-complicated recipes, and the absolute snobbery that says you should never-ever, under any circumstances used jarred garlic, that gets my pulse racing, my mind all twitterpated, and my salivary glands into hyper-overdrive. There is just something so compelling about telling my relatives that yes, I freakin’ made that Godiva chocolate Crème brûlée from scratch, yo.

The first question I always get asked when I express my love for all things Food Network is: “Have you ever eaten at one of the celebrity restaurants?”

Actually, that is the second question.

The first question is usually more along the lines of, “Are you sure you are not gay?”

Usually I can assure them after about fifteen to twenty minutes of logical argumentation and much muscle flexing, that I am indeed, not gay. Then they move onto the second question, the one about the restaurants.

This brings us to Bobby’s Burger Palace, or BBP for those of us in the know.

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For those of you who are uninitiated in the finer world of Food Network Culinary Magic, Bobby Flay is a celebrity chef who has his own show(s), cookbooks, and restaurant. He has been called a “master of the grill”, and is one of the hosts for “Worst Chef In America”. He has been on Iron Chef America and many other Food Network staples. You can tell how prolific and important he is because of this neat merchandise rack at the front of his burger joint:

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And make no mistake . . . this is not some fancy, schmancy four star designer restaurant. This . . . ? Well, this is a highly overpriced semi-fast food burger joint that serves surprisingly good greasy-joint hamburgers at Red Lobster prices. Nevertheless, there are gems to be found here, if you have the greenbacks.

One of the first things that you’ll notice is the BBP 1-2-3, which has to be one of the most annoying set of instructions I have ever seen in a restaurant. This sign, which adorns the window of every BBP, is the culinary equivalent of the lyrics to the song Boom Boom Pow, which are as follows:

Gotta get-get, gotta get-get Gotta get-get, gotta g-g-g-get-get-get, get-get
Boom boom boom, gotta get-get Boom boom boom, gotta get-get Boom boom boom, gotta get-get Boom boom boom, gotta get-get
Boom boom boom, now Boom boom boom, now Boom boom pow Boom boom

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Upon entering “The Palace”, you’ll notice the modern “foody” trendy decor. Sure to delight hipsters and culinary snobs from around this big blue globe, There is a comfortable, atmosphere, with an easy-to-read menu, which explains just how much a burger and fries are gonna cost you. Five bucks for a milkshake?!? Really? I mean your burgers are only eight to ten bucks, tops. That must be one freakin’ good milkshake, made out of sacred cows from India or something.

The burgers are 8 – 10 bucks and the sides are all 5 bucks. $7.95 doesn’t sound like much for a good burger until you add $5 for onion rings and then $5 for a shake. Ouch.

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The decor is all curvy lines and orange and lime. Yes, I used the word lime as a color.

Yes, I am straight.

Didn’t we cover that in like, paragraph 6, or something?

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Anyhow, it actually is an aesthetically pleasing place to sit and eat a burger.

You go up to the front counter, which for some reason I did not snap a picture of. There, the friendly cashier takes your order. Then you get a number and go and sit at your seat.

As you can see, most of the seating is communal. There are long bar-like tables, where you (and a perfect stranger) can sit and eat dinner together. Every Thursday night, they have the Bobby-Flay-Speed-Dating-and-a-Burger-athon, where you move down the chairs, boys on one side and girls on the other. OK, I made that last part up, but they really should have this. It would be like a mixture of Food Network and MTV. (Bobby, if you use this, I demand credit for the idea).

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Notice the Lime walls and chairs.

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While you are waiting, feel free to explore Bobby’s signature collection of sauces. They come presented in a metal centerpiece of saucy deliciousness.

The burger sauce tasted like a mixture of A-1 and Worcestershire sauce. It was really good and a bit zippy. My suggestion is that if you want a close equivalent, mix some A-1 and Worcestershire and go to town (maybe a smidge of ketchup, just to add a tomato-vinegar tang).

The Chipotle Ketchup tasted smoky and had a nice little zing to it that you could feel even after a pull or two on your $5 milkshake. Quite tasty if you are in to that sort of thing.

The ketchup tasted like mustard.

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The sauce centerpiece keeps giving, though, because when you turn it around, you find two more signature sauces, one of which I am quite convinced is really French’s Mustard cleverly transplanted into a bottle which reads: Yellow Mustard.

The other sauce is the pickley goodness of stadium jarred Jalapeños, only instead of adorning stale yellow tortilla chips, someone had the bright idea of pureeing the stuff and turning it into a sauce. I’m not kidding, it looks and tastes exactly like someone did just that, so if that’s your thing, you’re gonna love this sauce. If you would like to try it and you have no BBP nearby, might I recommend a jar of pickled Jalapeños and a blender.

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While we were investigating the miraculous tempting tastes of Bobby’s signature sauce (all of which I firmly believe I could recreate in my own home), our $5 milkshakes arrived. I ordered Pistachio. My wife ordered Blueberry Pomegranate.

These shakes were awesome, and to be honest, I probably would pay $5 for another of the pistachio. This isn’t the cheap Jello Pudding pistachio flavor we got going on here, folks, this is the real deal. We’re talking real pistachios mixed with a sugary creamy milky beverage into a real drop of nectar from the navel of Venus. That’s how good this was. I imagine that this is what that shining green beverage that Dale Arden drank in Flash Gordon tastes like.

The blueberry pomegranate was good, too. It had just the right sour tang of the pomegranate, but enough of the blueberry to keep it sweet and delicious.

Oh, and did I mention that they came with really big straws?

I hate it when you get a huge shake and a tiny straw and then you suck and suck until your brain starts to feel like it will embolize  and your eyes pop out of your head and you wanna scream and throw the shake across the room. I don’t want to have to wait for my drink to melt into pistachio soup in order to drink it.

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After the shake, our burgers arrived. My wife got the Dallas burger which was spice-crusted, with coleslaw, Monterey Jack cheese, barbecue sauce, and pickles – and more power to her. That sounded gross to me. I think coleslaw should only be eaten on never.

I got Bobby’s Blu Bacon Burger, which freakin’ rocked! It was a quarter pound of amazingly seasoned beef, topped with crisp bacon and blu cheese crumbles, and it was absolutely delectable, and I mean, come on, how often do you get to use the word delectable?  But Bobby is not satisfied with just a tasty burger. No, no, no, he has to plus it by allowing you to have it CRUNCH STYLE. CRUNCH STYLE is the amazingly simple, wonderfully brilliant idea of putting plain Lay’s potato chips ON THE FREAKIN’ BURGER!!! Can you believe it? I thought that sounded horrible, but hey, free chips. I was SOOOOO wrong. CRUNCH STYLE is how I am having all my burgers from now on, because it really rocked.

I am usually kind of a purist. Chips and burgers go on the same plate, but you don’t mix them, silly human. How wrong I was! They demand to be mixed, and devoured. For the first time in my life, I understood what my dad meant when he told me not to worry if my peas and mashed potatoes touched, they were all going to the same place. I should have mixed those buggers and shoveled ’em down!

Really, this is an amazing new concept of culinary perfection. I dug it so much, you may find me mixing all sorts of other foods. What about Captain Crunch on Ebi sushi or Pickled Okra on Captain Crunch? The possibilities are endless!

I scarfed this thing in about a minute and a half, and still wanted more, and the best thing was that the burger only cost $7.95 and the CRUNCH STYLE was absolutely FREE!

It didn’t come with any traditional sides (unless you order it CRUNCH STYLE), but it did come with the biggest frickin’ pickle I’ve ever laid eyes on. Look at this thing:

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Now tell me that’s not a pickle!

We did order fries and onion rings as $5 sides.

The fries were crispy, well-seasoned, and came with the one sauce that I can not reproduce at home, creatively named: Bobby’s Fry Sauce. Bobby’s Fry Sauce may look like Red Robin’s Campfire sauce, which in and of itself is a delicious concoction made entirely of the scrapings of old campfires, but it is a far different animal.

I am still not sure what was in that sauce, but it seemed to be a mixture of mayonnaise, ketchup, peppers, garlic, and pureed manna. It was really tasty, and complimented the fries perfectly.

The one major disappointment of the night were the onion rings. Bobby may be able to make one heck of a crunch burger, but his onion rings are big, tasteless globs of grease.  They had no seasoning, no flavor, and left your mouth feeling coated and slippery and your stomach feeling bloated and icky.

Below is a picture that shows my wife’s burger – if you care, but I know you don’t because I have already told you how awesome my burger was.

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Anyhow, I ate the whole thing, including all of my pickle, and most of my wife’s. For the same price as a trip to Olive Garden, we got to eat at the restaurant of a grilling legend.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am hungry. I think I’ll go mix up some Jalapeño and burger sauce, then heat up the grill.

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I’m back . . .

Ok. So I took a year off. So sue me. This blog really isn’t about you, anyway, it’s about me. That’s right, I said it, it is about MOI (that’s a French word that is pronounced muah).

I only have, like 3 readers anyway, therefore I will post whenever and whatever I like. In the meantime, I have decided to come back and post semi-regularly.

Part of this decision was made on the basis of the fact that I really like this blog, and I thought to myself, “Self, what would this blog look like today, if you had in fact, kept it up all last year? Would it be chock full of awesome, original, neato content? Would you have more than three readers? Would you be proud of all the crazy cool tricks you learned to perform on the internet?”

This led to the two inevitable conclusions from questions such as these:

1.) If I want more than three friends than this blog must not be entirely about me . . .

2.) I use waaayyy too many commas.

Anyway, I am prepared to load this blog up with random goodies from my past, my present, and my future. I hope you enjoy the adventure.

I leave you with the following to think about: