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Sad meal

Here’s what we’ll be covering, today. A little preview:

Walking around the Gross-Out recently, my eyes landed on this travesty.

Spam and Roasted Potatoes with Gravy. I knew I would have to buy it when I saw the subtitle “Meal for 1”. There is nothing more depressing than that phrase. There are so many other naming options that don’t remind you that, not only are you eating Spam as a meal, you are crushingly lonely.

They could have gone with “Single Serving!” Which helps because if you buy two and give one to a friend, you’re both enjoying a “single serving” of a larger meal. The inclusion of the “1” means that no matter how many people eat with you, they’re each eating a separate meal for that sole person. Enjoy your trough of slop, single person, it’s just for you.

And then there’s the “gravy”. I think most gravy is made from the drippings of the meat that it’s poured over. I really, really hope this isn’t Spam gravy.

I heated it as recommended. When the package came out of the microwave, it smelled faintly of beans and rice.

Opened up, it’s significantly soupier than advertised. The uncovered smell is that of KFC mashed potatoes forcefully injected with an unnatural creaminess. There’s a brightness to it, as well. Like turkey and lemons.

It looks like the Spam was thrown in at the last second and is pushed over to one side.

I stir it up and notice that it’s 50% “gravy”. The Spam is unnervingly soft. It breaks apart and squishes.

First bite. The potatoes are firmer than I expected. Too firm, in fact; they’re a little underdone. They’re also not roasted… maybe boiled or steamed. There’s no oven flavor here.

The whole experience of this “meal” is strikingly similar to a can of Campbell’s chunky clam chowder, or maybe chicken corn chowder (I think it says something about Campbell’s soups that their clam chowder is indistinguishable from their chicken chowder in my memory). The gravy is not a gravy. It’s a sauce. Very cornstarchy.

I know I haven’t said anything about the Spam, yet. That’s because the Spam adds nothing to the dish. It might as well be tofu. It’s soft, uncharacteristically bland, and kind of annoying.

I’d say they should rename this dish “Potato Soup w/ a Suggestion of Meat”.

Looking at the ingredients, I notice a lot of cheeses. That’s strange, because there was definitely no cheese flavor. Also, they didn’t mention the cheese in the name. Maybe call it “cheese sauce” instead of “gravy.” It would make me want to puke less, and it might trick me into thinking I can taste it.

The chowder makes me sad. But not nearly as sad as I felt when I saw the next package.

Mini Saltine Crackers (No Salt Topping) .Whoa.

Hey, iBake Foods, were you operating on a budget of $6 a year? Explain this design to me.

“Alright, we only have 2 colors left in the printer. Should we include a picture of the crackers?”

“Well, they’ll look terrible…”

“Let’s do it!”

The package is amazingly sad, and then they hit you with that “No Salt Topping”. Now you’re thinking about how it probably tastes like cardboard, too.

My best guess is that the Cheez-It company accidentally forgot to add cheese or salt to the machines, and ran it for a full day before they noticed. Then they panicked and slapped together a box as cheaply as possible so they could sell the result.

And the box is huge–twice the width of a regular box.

So how boring is this? Let’s find out. It smells a little like cardboard and tempera paint. But mostly, it smells like nothing.

Some points for accuracy. They do look like colorless Cheez-Its, just not quite that colorless.

First instant of tasting is identical to eating those puffy animal crackers. I think it’s just a textural thing, though because the flavor transforms into flour. Just bare flour. It’s like eating the color beige.

This is absolutely the most neutral thing I’ve ever eaten. It’s not gross, but not good. I ate about 20 of them, trying to place the flavor or be able to describe it in comical terms, before I gave up and decided I would just have to say “I ate about 20 of them, trying to place the flavor.”

It tastes like nothing, but not like styrofoam which actually has no flavor. It’s just the most plain flavor possible. Plain! That’s it. Pure plain!

Yep. Plain.

The next item was not obtained from the Gross-Out. I’ve seen it in various places, and when I knew I was going to be eating a sad meal, I immediately sought it out.

Malta Goya Non-Alcoholic Malt Beverage. From the canned-food giant, Goya.

OK, sure. Malt. But what flavor? Some packaging graphics maybe? A description perhaps? Just a hint of what’s inside?

The malt reminds me of beer, and the package is reminiscent of Vegemite/Marmite (which I’ve never had, but have read descriptions of), so I’m expecting a yeasty, malty, somewhat savory experience. I’m not looking forward to it, honestly.

The above picture is not representative of delight. I was so surprised by the smell, that I started to laugh with disbelief.

Carrots. Stewed carrots. What?! What’s going on? Maybe some sweet corn in there, too. Or candied yams. They’re very distinctive smells, and not at all what I expected to find in a bottled beverage.

Light carbonation. It pours with a little head. I couldn’t get a good picture of it, but the foam is a reddish brown, like black cherry juice.

The liquid, while dark has a magenta hue. Out in the open like this, a little bit of tomato smell comes through, as well.  And that’s not just because of the tomatoes in the background of this picture.

I have no idea what to expect at this point.

It’s a very quickly dissipating flavor, so I have to keep drinking to pin it down.

It’s dark. There’s a very faint cherry flavor in the muddiness. Raisins, squash…The yams from the smell… Sweet earthy fall vegetables.

The main flavor is… Oh, dates! That’s it. It’s a date-flavored soda.

The best approximation I can think of would be adding a splash of V8 to some Dr. Pepper. And if that sounds gross to you, it’s because this is kind of a gross drink.

Do hops taste like autumn vegetables, beer people? I don’t know anything about beer.

All in all, the flavor is a bit too earthy for me to enjoy. But only marginally, so. I don’t like candied yams, and I can only eat a couple dates in a row. Even if these flavors appeal to you, I would say it’s for sipping only.

I’m glad to cross Malta Goya off the list, though. I’ve seen it dozens of times, and never gotten around to trying it until now.


That’s it for this one, but check out more “Adventures in eating.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. icearrow88 permalink
    September 15, 2012 6:00 pm

    Wow, this meal is so depressing. I love it!

  2. September 15, 2012 11:01 pm

    I just spent 5 minutes cracking up over the sadness of the oops-cheezits box. this entry was fabulous.

    Regarding hops, they mostly make things taste like allergic sneeze unless they are fermented, in which case things taste kind of grassy-bitter.

    • September 16, 2012 10:23 am

      I knew I could count on you or Sam for the hops clarification.

      • November 12, 2012 5:31 pm

        Been a brewmaster for Sierra Nevada for years, Hops vary quiet drastically in bitterness and different hops have a different I.B.U. ( I.B.U. = International bitterness unit ) and is meant mainly to curb the over-baringly sweetness of malt. But in all honesty what your describing ( actually wish I could try some ) sounds like Dimethyl Sulfides (DMS) / Cooked Vegetable Flavors. Like diacetyl in ales, DMS is common in many light lagers and is considered to be part of the character. DMS is produced in the wort during the boil by the reduction of another compound, S-methyl-methionine (SMM), which is itself produced during malting. When a malt is roasted or toasted, the SMM is reduced beforehand and does not manifest as DMS in the wort, which explains why it is more prevalent in pale lagers. In other styles, DMS is a common off-flavor, and can be caused by poor brewing practices or bacterial infections. If Becky is tasting grassy bitter for Hops, then she needs to buy better beer. If you really want to try a hopped-up commercial brew, I highly recommend Lagunita’s IPA, or a Sierra Nevada Hoptimum –
        Great blog, Cheers!

  3. Susanna permalink
    September 16, 2012 7:11 pm

    Oh god. That cracker box.

  4. September 17, 2012 4:58 pm

    Hmmmm, but what if the powers of Mini Saltine Crackers (No Salt) and excess gravy combine with a splash of malt?

  5. Adolf permalink
    April 4, 2013 5:24 pm

    HAHAHAH, I work for iBakefoods….they do everything as cheap as possible… this cracks me up

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