Friday, March 30, 2012

Ruffles Smokehouse Style BBQ

Note: This is a Presumptive Ephemeral Nom.

Obscure varieties of potato chips are my ultimate weakness.  It's to the point that it's almost by reflex and without thinking that I put said items into my shopping basket when I come across them.

When I saw it, Ruffles Smokehouse Style BBQ excited me a bit because smokey flavors are among my favorite.  This product is about what you would expect: its base is a sweet barbecue that you can find from any potato chip brand, but it goes further in issuing a smokier tone that sets it apart and, frankly, elevates it into something much more interesting and delicious.  My only qualm is that, despite the fact that the package indicates that the snack may taste like pork ribs, the ingredients contain no pork flavor (which I've seen and loved in other BBQ flavored chips)... in fact, the Ruffles website boasts that no pork was used in the product.  Lame!

I would ultimately compare these to the old Lays KC Masterpiece BBQ variety.

Ruffles Smokehouse Style BBQ: (Great)

Original Ruffles Authentic Barbecue(for comparison): (Good)

Acquired: Harris Teeter

What Is A Presumptive Ephemeral Nom?

A nom that is presumed to be ephemeral is a product reviewed on this site that, in my opinion, will soon be discontinued due to lack of success.  Whether its production or retail run is weeks or months long, any product that I deem a "Presumptive Ephemeral Nom" is one that you'll not be able to obtain, say, 2 years from now.

How do I know?  Sometimes a company will remark that a product is for a limited time only even if they do not market it as such.  Sometimes such products enjoy success and are later established as permanent ones, and sometimes not.

Aside from that, I'll be using the wisdom that I feel I've gained over a couple of decades of enjoying such products.  Whether the quality is bad, the flavor of the product is not finely tuned to American tastes, or even technical reasons such as when a product is good overall but doesn't have room in market segment, or when a product is too poorly marketed to breach consumer awareness.  It's usually a combination of these factors, along with my memory of what is successful and what is not that will guide me in my decision.

As for hard-to-find and regional products, I can only do my best with the information I'm able to dig up concerning its availability.  Any product that's hard to come by qualifies as "Ephemeral" for the purposes of this site.

I'm not infallible, and I encourage you argue with me in a post's comments on whether any given nom should be presumed ephemeral.  Also, I vow that if any products I review end up being permanent and widely available, then I will take down my post.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Fruity Pebbles Treats

Note: I try only to remark upon limited time and/or rare products on this blog, not simply new products.  Unless otherwise confirmed via research, any product presented on this site is presumed to be limited time and/or rare by my own personal opinion.  This product is an example.

I was one of myriad children who was taught to make Rice Krispies Treats by a parent or relative.  They're delicious of course, and simple enough to warrant beginning to teach a child their way around the kitchen.  If you were like me, then there was a point when you underwent an invigorating realization that the Rice Krispies in the recipe were easily interchangeable with any other cereal, and your imagination began to run wild.  As an imaginative exercise, perhaps you sought to realize which cereal would be the wildest to make Treats with.  If you had, then you probably would have settled on Fruity Pebbles Treats.

In my opinion, Fruity Pebbles is one of the gems in the cereal aisle.  It's been around forever, the box features your favorite Flintstones characters, and the cereal offers a texture and flavor that no other brand attempts to match.  My jaw dropped when I found these in the store, but alas, I ended up disappointed.

Honestly, the packaging on these is great; the wrappers are bright red, and they feature a photograph of the snack, which is quite colorful.  Sadly, the snack itself fails to impress.  The clustered cereal doesn't offer the bright and fruity burst of flavor that the original cereal does; a dull version of the original is offered instead.  The texture of the snack is strange... it has an almost elastic quality where it will compress when you squeeze or bite into it, but it will reform to its original shape quickly afterward.  I realize that marshmallow is spongy and sometimes elastic, but it's a very unsettling texture that doesn't show itself in home-made Rice Krispies Treats, or even the packaged ones.  Lastly, there's a salty taste in the snack that leaves you with a salty aftertaste.

Ultimately, Fruity Pebbles Treats offer over-processed artificial flavor and texture.  You're much better off making them from scratch.

Fruity Pebbles Treats: 0 NOMS (Unpleasant)

Original Rice Krispies Treats(for comparison): (Great)

Acquired: supermarket

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Printed Fun Pop-Tarts Gingerbread

 Another holiday limited edition and in one of my favorite flavors, and you could color me excited.

On top of that, the front of these Pop-Tarts have fun prints on them, which also belies that the fronts are plain instead of covered with frosting, which I often find is a bit overkill with most Pop Tarts. I've always been the kind of guy that enjoys the pie crust or cake more than the pie filling or frosting, so a plain Pop Tart is okay with me.

Unfortunately, these Pop-Tarts still fall into the trap of overbearing sweetness. Whereas most Pop-Tarts fillings are a fruity, syrupy jam (or otherwise a grainy paste in the case of spicy/earthy/chocolatey flavors), this version's filling is straight up marshmallow. With each bite, the filling oozes and stretches into strings, like a good fried mozzarella stick. Marshmallow with gingerbread? Why?

While the filling may not have hit the mark, the pastry dough is a much better creation. It parts ways in style from most, if not all Pop-Tarts doughs I've had. Whether or not it's able to claim the appropriate health accolades, this version's dough takes a wheat/whole grain approach. Its texture is much more tender than you'd expect. Its flavor is lightly of gingerbread, and it has that earthy and wheaty flavor that you'd expect from whole wheat bread or whole wheat pasta. It's also a bit more salty than I expected. The pastry dough for this product is legitimately interesting.

Overall, while the dough is different and good and the filling is basically marshmallow creme, I feel they're very much mismatched. This stuff is only worth a buy if you adore marshmallow, or if you're buying just for the novelty of it.

EDIT: I just realized that while I best enjoy Pop-Tarts at room temperature, the product deserves to also be tried heated/toasted, since that is the recommended serving suggestion.  Wow, these things are surprisingly different and better when heated.  The gingerbread flavor of the dough is more pronounced, and finally the inner marshmallow has reached a soft and not a spongy consistency.  Somehow, when heated, the marshmallow filling actually works with the pastry!  I will be bumping up the final NOM rating by 1, and I will be sure to try every Pop-Tarts product heated and also at room temperature from now on!

Printed Fun Pop Tarts Gingerbread: (Good)
Original Pop-Tarts (Strawberry, for comparison): (Good)

Acquired: supermarket

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Dulce de Leche Cheerios

 Note: I try only to remark upon limited time and/or rare products on this blog, not simply new products.  Unless otherwise confirmed via research, any product presented on this site is presumed to be limited time and/or rare by my own personal opinion.  This product is an example.

I would say that this stuff is mostly disappointing.  A trend I've come across is that when processed food is flavored with "dulce de leche", it will most often simply contain both sugar and some sort of butter flavoring in an attempt to capture the milky flavor of dulce de leche. (This product may suffer from an identity crisis, since the product's front packaging indicate, at different spots, that it's both flavored with dulce de leche and caramel, which are not the same thing.)

That may be an oversimplification in this case, but the flavor of these Cheerios are not completely unlike the Honey Nut variety.  Half of the cheerios in this box are made of corn (as opposed to the normal wheat), which I imagine is thought to add to the caramel-like flavor via the corn's natural sweetness, but instead it lends the flavor of a simple corn cereal, like Corn Pops.

In the end, while this cereal isn't bad, it simply tastes like sweet Cheerios with additional flavors of corn, butter, and perhaps brown sugar.

Dulce de Leche Cheerios: (Good)

Original Honey Nut Cheerios (for comparison): (Good)

Acquired: supermarket

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Birthday Cake Oreo

Oreos are the kind of food that I don't think to buy very much (via self control), but when I do, they're just too easy to eat.

I was ecstatic to see these special edition Oreos, especially since 1) Oreo releases special colored versions all the time, but rarely flavored ones, and 2) the cake-flavored fad is one I can get behind, with cake batter ice cream perhaps being my favorite variety.  This Oreo flavor celebrates Oreo's 100th Anniversary.

The flavor of these Oreos fall somewhere between the deliciousness of cake batter ice cream and the pointlessness of cake vodka.  That not-quite-vanilla cake flavor is captured in the cream (which has adorable colorful flecks, like confetti cake mix), but it doesn't quite capture that malty, starchy, doughy flavor that cake flavored products sometimes can.

They're delicious, and no less easy to eat than the original.

Birthday Cake Oreo:                   (Great)

Original Oreo(for comparison): (Great)

Acquired: Wegman's

About Ephemeral Noms

I've always loved junk food since I was a kid, and that especially includes soda and other soft drinks.  One of my favorite things about processed food products is that brands will often issue experimental or limited time flavors and variations.  I always enjoyed finding these variations and coveted their exclusivity.  Beyond that, I also appreciate the audacity and lack of orthodoxy that companies sometimes have for products that they know only have limited production.

It's to the point where I have a keen eye for product package variations while passing through stores.  Not only am I able to pick out special products innately, but my friends and family have learned to send me pictures and samples of such products when they find them.

It is for these reasons that I started this website.  I shall document all notable ephemeral variations of food products.  The products include but are not limited to candy, cookies, crackers, beverages, and snack chips.  The nature of their variations will generally include but are not limited to special editions, limited time offerings, trial versions, regional variations, or simply rare or hard-to-find varieties.

Not only will I give you pictures, impressions, and any useful information of each product, but I will rate how good it is (along with its original version for comparison) on the NOM scale.  What's the NOM scale?  It runs from 0 to 5, with each level representing a verbal descriptor:

0 NOMS - Unpleasant: Generally bad-tasting or unsettling.  Not worth eating, and perhaps only worth buying for novelty.

1 NOM - Passable: Not disgusting but not quite recommended for consumption.  Either the flavor is strange or bland, or perhaps the brand was on the right track but misstepped.

2 NOMS - Good: Tasty enough to warrant at least equal consideration among its competitors.  Recommended to purchase and consume in order to try it at the very least.

3 NOMS - Great: Well above average and an example of a product well done.  Tasty and special enough to warrant multiple if not regular purchases.

4 NOMS - Outstanding: Worthy of stocking up on.  A product that you'll remember for years.  So tasty that it stands alone and is hard to compare to any peer products.

5 NOMS - Paragon: A singular product that is an example to the industry, and a tragedy if it's not made permanent.  I don't think plan on giving this rating very much.

If you ever find that my opinions are crappy or that I've given insufficient information about something in any post, feel free to call me out in a post's comments!  I'm also interested in your opinions.