Monday, December 15, 2014

Candy, chocolate and HFCS - Three items worth reading

Is candy the next battleground in America's Health War? Joe Heim of the Washington Post took an in-depth look at the issue a couple months ago.

Of all the craft food movements currently seeing staggering growth (beer, whiskey, snacks), chocolate is possibly the most fascinating due to the particulars of the harvest and the long history and development of the cacao seed. The Rise of Awesome Milk Chocolate, by Marissa Sertich Velie at Serious Eats, will give you cravings, at the very least...

The backlash to HFCS from the corporate side has begun in earnest. Honey Nut Cheerios is the latest to use the removal of the additive as a marketing ploy. Linda Bonvie at Food Identity Theft has the details here.

Other news'n'notes
While SnackyPOP will continue to be a resource for healthy snacks and beverages, this blog will change direction slightly and focus more on what's new and available near you. Watch this space for a more detailed and developed database of craft sodas and unique snacks. Tasty news will continue to be featured here, AND even more so on Zombie Cat Bacon's new daily publication, The Daily R'n'R. Visit the Daily R'n'R today and register for our email newsletter delivered every day at lunch - always free, never not delicious.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Popcorn & soda pop: Changing fortunes

I love popcorn. I LOVE popcorn. I have my own mini version of your typical movie theater hot oil popper in Casa de Snackypop, and have owned a wide variety of stove top & hot air poppers over the years. I never get tired of it and I love the stuff. Present me with the devil's microwave product and prepare to be pummeled with vigor, forsooth!

As these things usually go, the rest of the world is finally catching up with me, and have begun to embrace the succulent wonders of the popped kernel.

Proof! The LA Times now knows what I know and offers a selection of some of the best gourmet popcorn purveyors in the country. But don't let this list lead you to believe the selection is limited. Just Google your state and the search term "gourmet popcorn" and you'll probably find a massive selection of choices within 15 minutes of your front door. Example: Wisconsin Gourmet Popcorn

Some of them are just the crappy multi-colored "party" tins filled with generic popped corn with chemical coatings. Take time to dig a little deeper and look for those vendors that actually give a shit about the product they're selling. Like these guys: Mike's Popcorn.

Pop - can it survive? Well, yeah sure.... but maybe not the way we expect. Bill Briggs of writes about long-percolating changes in the soda biz

Has it always been thus? Read on, dear soda connoisseur, about the first dark age of soda...

Finally, let's pour one out for the fallen:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The best cereals, a KIND Bar taste test and so much more!

  • Kevin Alexander over at the Thrillist serves up a HUGE ranking of 88 different cereals. Number one will surprise you...
  • Can anyone beat Heinz at the ketchup game? We buy Hunts (no HFCS), and a few upstarts are starting to make waves. Sir Kensington's Ketchup (and mayo too) is now available for your own personal taste test. Let me know how it goes...
  • Kevin Alexander/Thrillist again: he tackled the now ubiquitous KIND bar. I had no idea there were 29 different..uh..kinds...
  • Do you like snacks? Are you American? OK, you're normal, sez Huff Post.
  • Ever wonder about other kids' breakfast from around the world? The New York Times has a beautiful spread on that very subject right here...

Finally, pop choices at the corner store really are changing, according to the New Yorker article, 

How Coconut Water and Kombucha Took Over the Corner Store

"For decades, soda and other sugary carbonated drinks ruled the market, not only because they were popular but because they could be shipped cheaply and stored for long periods at room temperature. This made them a low-risk investment for cramped bodegas and convenience stores with limited cooler space. The growth of craft beverages in recent years has forced a change in the old distribution model."

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pringles, stupid flavor rankings and silent noodles

Pringles have been a semi-regular starter on my snacking roster for many years, I'm not huge chip guy; popcorn and pretzels rule the roost over here at ZCB Plaza. But, growing up in Canada, we were gifted by the snacklords with many "alternative flavours" such as salt & vinegar, sour cream & onion, dill pickle and the Lord & Master, ketchup.

Most of these flavors are available everywhere now, along with a cornucopia of new ones. But Pringles are different - uniform, thin, crispy (not crunchy - there's a difference!), and vaguely potatoey.

Vaguely, it turns out, is exactly right. This isn't a new revelation, but Pringles are not "potato chips". As I am trying to eat healthier while snacking, I did a little digging, and found this nugget too: Potato chips and it's half-breed cousin, Pringles, may contain acrylamide. What's that and what does it taste like, you ask? It tastes like cancer, usually.

Betcha can't eat just one!

On that note, I found a list of chip flavors ranked according to... what I don't know, but at least it is informative (meaning this is, technically, information). There is one thing wrong with this list. Just one minor omission:

To ease the horror of cancer-flavored Pringles and some guy not including The One Chip To Rule Us All on his stupid list, here's a dude making noodles. In silence.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The HFCS thing

Google "high fructose corn syrup" and you'll find over 900,000 articles discussing how and when HFCS will kill you, and nearly as many describing the many ways HFCS will make you a better parent and lover.

I'm a skeptic, so I read a lot to try to cut through the hype and fluff and bullshit. I really couldn't find any information regarding HFCS that wasn't corn industry PR or funded by an offshoot of the food processing industry. I didn't find any (authentic) medical journals saying "go for it!" or anything like that, either.

So here's a few links with a focus on HFCS and why it's a no-no.

Why You Should Never Eat High Fructose Corn Syrup

Make your own judgement call on this stuff. I just wanted to get this out there in case you're wondering I'm focusing on craft sodas and snacks here (and grilling sauces etc over at BBQHoney).

Oh yeah, diet soda sucks too.

Most supermarket bread has HFCS as well, so we make our own. It's too easy not to do it (even without a bread machine!) so I'll nod to the guys over at First We Feast (hey!) and offer this link. Now you have No Excuse. Homemade/handmade bread tastes better every time.

Just do it

Monday, September 8, 2014

Craft soda - the beginnings of a directory, and a few notable snack delivery services

I have discovered quite a few excellent brands of artisan soda, made with love by hand (and no artificial sweeteners). So I can keep them organized, I'll start an ongoing directory with links to a where-to-buy section on each brand's site. Eventually, I'll have them all listed state-by-state.

Hawaii - Waialua Soda Works
California - Reed's
California - Pop Culture
Delaware - Fordham & Dominion
New York - Grown-Up Soda
North Carolina - Cheerwine
Minnesota - Whistler Classic Soda
Michigan - Proper Soda Co.
Connecticut - Avery's Beverages
Minnesota - Tree Fort Soda
Texas - Coffer
And in my state of Wisconsin - Wisco Pop

Many, many more to come...

To go with your newly acquired soda pop, check out these home delivery snack services:

Best Snack Delivery Services - 10 different snack subscription box companies (think Birch Box or Loot Crate), all with somewhat different themes, all affordable so experimenting isn't a huge blow to the wallet. I'll be dabbling over the next few months and trying a few of these out. NatureBox and Love with Food seem to be the leaders in the clubhouse at this point.
More tasty goodies coming your way soon...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Craft soda - a quick review

By now, you may have heard that craft beer is big and getting bigger. For those of you that haven't, it is. However, craft soda, a better-for-you-than-Coke category, is quietly picking up steam and more new beverages are being introduced every week. While most are new start-ups, some are extensions of a local brew pub's roster, others are revivals of old beloved brands or styles. Occasionally, I'll find a regional favorite; a lot of them use HFCS, those that don't may be featured here.

To get you up to speed on recent developments, here's a few links that'll give you an idea of the direction of this newish trend:

First in my files is this quickie review of eight New York craft sodas by Adam Platt of New York Magazine.

Also, about four years ago, NYC blog Urban Oyster provided a fine overview of the regional craft soda scene featuring Moxie, Foxon Park, Boylan, Grown Up Soda, and Bruce Cost. (Those with links contain info on where to buy).

Since about 2012, the news regarding craft sodas began to accelerate.

From July 2012 Craft Soda Steps Up to Bat features Maine Root and Hot Lips:
“We do have Coke in the bottle, but it’s Mexican Coke, which is cane sugar-based, and Fanta, which is also cane sugar,” Little says. “We don’t have a corn-syrup beverage.”
Later that summer, CityLab was concerned about regional soda losing that special something in Tastes Like Home with shout outs to North Carolina classic Cheerwine and New York's White Rock.

Last year Beer of Tomorrow reviewed a small sample of the LA craft soda scene here.

And about a year ago, Draft Magazine gave rundown of these five:
Phillips Brewing Captain Electro’s Intergalactic Root Beer: In blacklisting anything artificial, this B.C. brewery alchemized raw ingredients including sarsaparilla, cinnamon and molasses for this utterly distinct root beer.
Hotlips Soda Marionberry: Alongside fruit from Portland’s closest farms, sweet, dark marionberries achieve this pie-in-a-bottle taste.
Agrarian Ales Barley Pimento: This Oregon farmhouse-made draft soda (available in growlers) has a sweet barley malt base, but swaps hop spice for pimento kick, thus measuring in SHUs (Scoville heat units), not IBUs.
Brooklyn Soda Works Lemon & Thyme: New York soda jerks hand-juice all their fruit. Instead of lemon-lime, lemony tartness supports the predominant thyme.
Joia Lime, Hibiscus & Clove: From Minneapolis, the lime half of lemon-lime sodas couples with elegant hibiscus and fragrant clove for a tangy Key lime pie essence.

The investment site, Motley Fool, gave the burgeoning craft soda market some consideration here last September, with a mention of Reed's.

So there's a good overview of the craft soda biz so far. I'd love to hear your comments about some of the regional or craft drinks you've sampled.


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Another boom?

Been awhile/missed y'all...

Here's more on the upcoming craft soda storm:

Another craft brew booms...Soda!

Big news coming very soon...stay tuned

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New soda pop brands

There's a relatively new article on Business Insider reviewing some regional craft sodas from around the country. Click here for the article. Some have HFCS and some aren't really "craft" anymore, but it's nice to see this burgeoning beverage segment get some coverage.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Small time/Big flavor

Another older story regarding the craft soda movement:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Craft Beer Now, Craft Soda Tomorrow?

As we continue preparations for the launch of snackyPOP, I wanted to pass along this article from, as I feel this is where craft soda can be in 5-10 years (maybe sooner):

This Beer Could Be Your Life: Steve Hindy On Craft Brewers Vs. The Big Guys

Keep watching this space - things are starting to happen!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

snackyPOP is gestating

As we ever so carefully and slowly develop our new business idea(s), I will occasionally post articles and commentary for people with an interest in soda pop and snacks. Yup, soda pop and snacks.

We are fascinated by the local craft food movement and are amazed by the variety and creativity of those passionate folks who want something different than what's available from the giantmegaglobalcorp food-o-trons.

Here's a link to start things off: Pop art: Craft soda is fizzing over

Keep watching this space - something cool is coming very soon...