Sunday, November 29, 2015


I keep seeing links to online articles about how people are all up in arms over Reese’s Peanut Butter Trees. They say they don’t look like trees, they look like blobs. It's gotten so ridiculous that Reese's has been issuing apologies. What?

First of all, as we discussed in these pages back at Halloween, all of the Reese’s special seasonal candy shapes are just blobs. Always have been. But maybe this year’s batch of trees is blobbier than normal. I took the bait and clicked on an article posted by a local television station (Fox 11 in Los Angeles).  According to this fine piece of journalism, “People are upset Reese’s Trees don’t actually look like trees.” That’s the headline. You can see it for yourself here.

But if you read the referenced tweets, people mostly just seem amused by the (lack of) tree shape and include hashtags like #ItsStillReeses and #StillEating.

It's the Starbucks Red Cup Controversy of this week. Almost no one is actually upset about the actual candy. It’s all just clickbait and internet hysteria.

Here’s one of the pictures of the offending candy that’s been tweeted.

Okay, I'll admit that’s a little blobbier than usual. So, purely in the interest of science, I went out and bought my second package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Trees of the season, cracked them open and took a look.

They’re exactly the same as the first package I had which were exactly the same as every Reese’s Peanut Butter Tree I’ve eaten since I discovered them ten or twelve years ago: A barely Christmas tree-shaped blob. In other words, they look exactly like they’re supposed to which is pretty much the way they’re depicted on the package. Check it out.

Can Reese’s please stop apologizing now? They have nothing to be sorry for. In fact, it’s the world who should apologize to them. Why Mr. Reese doesn’t have a Nobel Prize on his mantle for giving the world the gift of peanut butter encased chocolate wonder is beyond me.

So if you want an even better ratio of peanut butter to chocolate than the standard, year ‘round variety, eat the Reese’s Peanut Butter Trees while they’re here. If you want something that looks exactly like a real pine tree then go eat a pine tree. And if you want to trump up some fake controversy to get people to click on your website you don’t need me to tell you how to do that. You nailed it. I clicked and told other people to do it too. Well done. But I also ate extra peanut butter trees. Who’s laughing now?

Bough Measuring Contest

If you’re falling for the whole Reese’s Treemageddon, I thought I’d offer you an alternative: The Snickers Tree. It's much more tree-like than the Reese’s. See?

So if looks are your only candy criteria then Snickers wins (and I never want to take a long car trip with your crazy ass.) But if you care about taste, then let’s dig in. 

The results are pretty much the same as the Reese's vs. Snickers Candy Pumpkin Showdown in October. I like Reese's better than Snickers so ugly tree shape doesn't even enter into it. But even if you prefer a Snickers bar, I still think Reese's wins. The Reese's Peanut Butter Tree is like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup only better. The Snickers Tree is like a Snicker's bar only worse. The peanut/caramel/nugat-to-chocolate ratio in the Snickers version is off. At least for me. Maybe you disagree. Which is fine. Don't take a long car trip with my crazy ass and leave all the Reese's Trees for me.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Poetic Gratitude

Nothing says Thanksgiving like an uncouth American attempt at Japanese traditional poetry so here's a little haiku I wrote about my favorite Thanksgiving junk food.

Cranberry jelly
Molded into tin can shape
I'm thankful for you

Happy Thanksgiving!

You know who's most thankful today? Deer. Because if you read Edward Winslow's account of the first Thanksgiving, he didn't mention turkey by name but he did say that the Pilgrims and the Indians ate venison. Lots and lots of venison. I don't know exactly how the fourth Thursday of November became the Great Turkey Massacre while deer got off scot-free but every buck and every doe certainly has something to be grateful for.

I don't want to talk turkey, though or any of the other kind of wholesome comfort foods traditionally associated with Thanksgiving. I want to talk about the junk food that really sets the holiday apart. I mean, you eat turkey all the time but cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie only come around once a year.

Without cranberry sauce Thanksgiving dinner is kind of beige and bland. You can make the stuff all fresh and fancy like some kind of relish but I prefer the jelly version that comes in a can. In fact it comes "as" a can. Cut open the top and plop it out on a plate and you've got a perfect can-shaped mold.

I know it don't look like much but the canned stuff kicks the stem-hole (can the stem-hole be considered  cranberry ass?) of that highfalutin' other kind. It's junk food holiday heaven.

And no Thanksgiving dinner is complete without a piece of pumpkin pie. The fact that something this delicious can be made out of a tasteless gourd proves that enough sugar and spice makes everything nice. Apparently, you can pie anything. And don't forget the whipped cream on top.

No, seriously, you have to use more than that.

There you go. Spray it on thick right out of a can just the way the good Lord intended.

I might be stuck 25-hundred miles away this holiday but home tastes just a little closer thanks to junk food.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Over the L.A. River and Through the Woods...

It turns out I’m not the only one trying to create Thanksgiving-centric junk food. The Southern California hot dog restaurant chain Dog Haus is offering a Turducken dog complete with Thanksgiving-ish trimings.

If you haven’t had the pleasure, turducken is a dish consisting of a chicken stuffed into a duck stuffed into a turkey. On the plus side, that’s like a magic trick. Someone should yell, “Ta da!” when it’s served and the napkins should be pulled in an endless chain from the waiter’s sleeve. On the negative side, though, the name “turducken” starts with the word “turd”. A food has to taste pretty good to overcome that.

Anyway, apparently plain old turkey wasn’t fancy enough for a company that calls themselves a “craft” hot dog stand on their very own website and named themselves “Dog Haus” because their limited time Thanksgiving hot dog features a sausage made from this Russian nesting dolls of a poultry dish.

To the bird-in-bird-in-bird mix Dog Haus added Thanksgiving table staples sweet potatoes and cranberries and blended it all up into a sausage. Then they put that sucker on a King’s Hawaiian roll and topped it with sage gravy, roasted Brussels sprout & bacon slaw and crispy fried onions then they served it with a side of sweet potato fries.

The Turducken dog is pretty good and it does taste something like Turkey Day. I loved the crispy onions, the sprout slaw was nice and the pops of sweet from the cranberry in the sausage were great. The biggest surprise for me, though, was the King’s Hawaiian Roll. Every hot dog should come on one of those.

So I sat outside on an 80 degree late November afternoon and ate a fancypants Turducken hot dog. Yep. That’s feels like an L.A. Thanksgiving to me.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Tasty Hand Turkey!

For a holiday that’s all about eating, Thanksgiving sure doesn’t get much junk food to call its own. In an effort to change that I’ve already cobbled together my own Reese’s Thanksgiving Turkey. Now let’s do a candy version of that perennial grade school craft favorite, the hand turkey!

Just grab some Fun Dip and/or some War Heads Sour Dippers and a piece of candy corn and you’re ready to go.

Wet each of your fingers, dip them in the assorted powdered candy, bite off the end of a piece of candy corn to make a beak and stick that onto your thumb. Done.

Festive! Or insane. It could be insane. Either way, it’s Thanksgiving-specific junk food. That’s more than Big Candy is giving you.

Also, it turns out that War Heads Sour Dippers are pretty damned sour, especially after candy corn. Proceed at your own risk.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Ice Cream Sandwich Upgrade

Ever since John Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich, told a peon, “Bring me some meat between two pieces of bread so that I may eat while I continue to play cribbage or whist whatever old-timey card game I’m playing right now,” the “sandwich” has been a popular mealtime choice. But in the same way that slicing bread was surpassed by sliced bread, the traditional sandwich was made forever better when it morphed into the dessert sandwich. The ice cream sandwich. Man, those things are tasty. But it turns out that they can be even better.

I don’t know what mad genius first realized that you can make an ice cream sandwich out of a Pop Tart but that guy deserves some kind of a prize. I learned about this ice cream sandwich upgrade from my friend Jeremy to whom I will be eternally grateful.

Step One: Get some ice cream and some Pop Tarts. I prefer vanilla ice cream and Strawberry Pop Tarts but since I’d just bought a box of the seasonal Pumpkin Pie kind to give them a try (they’re okay I guess but they just made me want a regular Pop Tart and a piece of actual pumpkin pie) I went with what I had in the cabinet.

Step Two: Cut the Pop Tart in half. (Or just use two whole Pop Tarts like a real man.)

Step Three: Plop a scoop of ice cream on a half of Pop Tart.

Step Four: Drop the other half on top and enjoy!

I think even that snooty dandy The Earl of Sandwich would have approved.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

It's Alive!

I just discovered that the Reese’s Peanut Butter Christmas Trees and Reese’s Christmas Bells are in stores! You know that made me dance a little dance and sing a little song. At first. Then I stopped dancing and singing, and not just because the people in the Ralph’s candy isle were staring at me. It was also because I realized that Reese’s is completely ignoring one of the best junk food holidays around: Thanksgiving. Why no chocolate-peanut butter turkeys, y’all? That ain’t right. How can I go straight to Christmas candy knowing that Turkey Day is being snubbed? So I decided to do something about it. I made my own damned turkey. Suck on that, Reese’s!

You can do it too! Grab yourself some of those trees and bells and also a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Ghosts, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Pumpkin and a sack of candy corn off the leftover Halloween candy discount shelf and get ready for some tasty arts and crafts.

It’s quick and easy. Just use a peanut butter pumpkin as the body, cut off a hunk of tree to make the fan of tail feathers, decapitate a ghost and there's your turkey head, shove the top of a piece of candy corn in it to make a beak, cram all that together then stick it on a Reese’s Peanut Butter Christmas Bell which serves as the feet. There you go! It’s a delicious Reese’s Peanut Butter Turkey!

I may have too much free time. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

How to Pronounce "Louisville"

Here's a simple (and junk food-centric) way to pronounce "Louisville" like a Kentucky native.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Shiver Me Timbers

What the hell happened to Long John Silver’s? When I was a kid the place looked like a pirate ship. It was all rustic wood and stuff with nets, harpoons and cutlasses on the walls. Now it looks like this:

And this:

I know businesses have to keep up with the times and I’m not privy to the market studies and whatnot that led to the changes so I guess (as usual) my opinion doesn’t count for all that much but when I was a kid going to Long John Silver’s meant eating fish & chips in something that felt kind of like a theme park (or at the very least a Renaissance festival.) That’s all gone now, replaced by crap like this:

I get the feeling that they changed it because someone thought all that pirate stuff was a little too intense for the family crowd. But eating greasy fast food in an environment filled with jolly rogers and replica weapons didn’t hurt me. It entertained me. The old Long John Silver’s décor was fun and unique. Now it’s milquetoast.

I’m not going to go off on a rant about the nanny state and how we’re raising a generation of perpetual babies but I will leave you with this: Here’s what the paper give-a-way pirate hats used to look like.

Now they look like this:

Someone should be made to walk the plank.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Fish & Chips & Stuff

I’d been eating fish & chips all my life before I really ate fish & chips.

As a kid I assumed that the dish had been invented by Long John Silver when his pirating days were over and he retired to America to open a chain of fast food restaurants from coast to coast.

(That guy might have been a dirty pirate who loved to loot and pillage but if he could invent food this good he couldn’t have been all bad. Besides, Long John had clearly paid for his sins. Check out that eye patch, peg leg and hook hand. Not to mention the fact that he’s saddled with the burden of parrot ownership. Those birds are filthy squawking jerks who live forever.) I didn’t learn until later that the combination of deep fried cod or halibut and chipped potatoes goes back 150 years or more in Britain.

Fast forward a few year more years. I was doing my stand-up act at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland when my wife and I discovered a little chip shop near my venue. It might have been the post-show euphoria talking but the authentic fish & chips I got that night was one of the best meals I’d ever had. Wrapped up to go in a piece of newspaper and eaten on the street, the fries and the fish had to pretty much be consumed as a combination in the same bite. And I’d covered the whole thing in something called “brown sauce,” a tangy condiment akin to U.S. steak sauce that turned out to be amazing. I’d always used ketchup on my fast food fish & chips but brown sauce was better and bites composed of fish & chips & sauce were perfect.  And it pretty much ruined Long John Silvers for me for a good long while. I missed the real thing. I missed that damned brown sauce.

I still haven’t been back to the UK but I have found something a little closer to home. Turns out there’s an authentic British chip shop run by an authentic Brit called Mac’s in Santa Barbara, California. They make the real deal and they serve it with brown sauce. Was it as good as I remembered? Nothing’s going to compare to the magic of walking through the Edinburgh streets at night having just killed at the biggest performing arts festival in the world eating that combination of food. But Mac’s came close. It really did. I highly recommend it.

Can't talk… Eating