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.