Tag Archives: Halloween

Spooky Nerds

Nerds LogoThis probably won’t be a full-on review, but I wanted to immortalize these Spooky Nerds on the Internet. When you see these big bags of Halloween candy with smaller, individually-wrapped packages inside, they usually put little effort into getting into the holiday spirit. They might throw a bat or a tombstone on the outer bag, but that’s about it. I guess they figure that the kids don’t give a shit if it looks spooky, and the adults are only buying the candy to hand it out to little assholes so their house doesn’t get egged, so who cares about Halloween themery?

Well, I’ll tell you who: Willy motherfucking Wonka.

Spooky Nerds

Check it out! Nerds running wild, dressed up as a witch, a ghost who is apparently vision impaired, and, flipping the bird to fundamentalist Christians everywhere, a little devil holding a pitchfork. With…fangs. Who is brown, which is odd, since there don’t appear to be any brown Nerds in this bag. Perhaps he’s meant to symbolize diversity. Wonka is totally a liberal.

That white one actually came in the orange box.  Being imperfect makes Spooky Nerds even cuter.
That white one actually came in the orange box. Being imperfect makes Spooky Nerds even cuter.

Here’s where Nerds really beats out the competition in Halloween coolness. It’s not just the bag that’s spooky – it’s the mini boxes inside, too! I would have liked to have seen black Nerds instead of white, but I understand – white fruit punch Nerds are already featured in several other Nerd varieties, so it’s easy to just toss them in a box. Orange Nerds are a little more inscrutable, as I’ve never seen them featured in the classic Nerd “two flavors, two sides” boxes. But then I remembered the gigantic boxes of Nerds they sell at movie theatre concession stands.

Rainbow Nerds

Goddamn, those boxes are huge. I’d imagine you’d be seeing rainbow going down AND coming up if you tried to eat that whole box in the course of one movie. Anyway, it looks like there could be some orange in there, but, unless you’ve got a serious case of OCD, you’re not separating all those flavors out, you’re just putting your mouth to the box, tipping up, and flooding your mouth with little tangy candies. Never before have orange Nerds appeared in such a pure form. Now’s your time to shine, guys.

Fruit punch Nerds get the little devil, sans pitchfork. I won’t go too much into the taste, since I’m sure most people have had fruit punch Nerds at least once in their lives, but I will say that they are indeed tiny, tangy, and crunchy. For being so small, Wonka does a good job of packing in the flavor. They’re loaded with that blurred, vaguely tropical taste fruit punch usually has. Actually, they taste a lot like Hawaiian Punch, which has that little zing in addition to its punchiness. Fruit punch Nerds get extra points for recalling memories of drinking Hawaiian Punch out of a can during summer break.

Orange Nerds get the little ghost guy at the bottom of the outer package that I couldn’t get into the shot. Actually, it looks kind of like a bat wearing a ghost costume. Double Halloween-y! That’s awesome.

Orange Nerds taste exactly like you would expect, which is like, well, artificially flavored orange candy. They never really taste like an actual orange, but they always have that citrus zip that lends itself well to Nerds and their claims of being tangy. If you like, say, the little oranges in Runts candy, you’ll like orange Nerds.

Maybe the kids these days won’t appreciate the effort Willy Wonka has made in turning Nerds into Halloween treats, but I would love getting a box or two of these way more than getting a fun-sized Milky Way that looks like the same candy bar I could get at the store any of the other 364 days out of the year. I think they make trick-or-treating just a bit more festive. BatGhost rules.

  • Score: 4 out of 5 newt eyes
  • Price: Free – my mom sent them as a Halloween present
  • Size: 1.16 lb. bag (It doesn’t say how many boxes are in the bag, and I’m not counting.)
  • Purchased at: I don’t know, so let’s just say, HAGRA’S HOUSE OF HORRORS
  • Nutritional Quirks: No brown Nerds inside.

Doritos They’re Back: Black Pepper Jack and Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ

Doritos They're BackWhen I first saw the display of these two limited edition Doritos flavors at my local store, I was quite confused. Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ and Black Pepper Jack, both with a mysterious message on the front. What did the two have to do with each other? Why were they back to begin with? Mystified, I picked up the Black Pepper Jack and went about my business.

When I got home, I took a closer look at the bag and its mysterious message.

Doritos They're Back Close-Up

Okay, Doritos. I will do your bidding and see back panel for details.

Commit Yourself

If this is their idea of “details”, I’m glad Doritos is in the chip-making business and not writing furniture assembly instructions for Ikea. Mostly blank, with a couple of words urging me to commit myself, and a shadowy dude opening a door at the top. The big black box with the Doritos logo in it looks like I should be able to scratch it off to reveal something, but it’s the same material as the rest of the bag. I said whatever to these chips and tossed them in the cupboard.

It wasn’t until I was at the checkout at the same store the next day that I looked at the chip display from further away. Hmmm…orange bag, black bag, some kind of cardboard creepy something-or-other on the top of the display…

Oh fucking duh. It’s Halloween time!

Disturbed by my own complete lack of cognitive ability, I picked up a smaller bag of the Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ at a convenience store a few days later and tried to piece together this mystery. “They’re back…” is an obviously spooky saying, used prodigiously in horror movies, usually said by a small child to make it as creepy as possible (because small children are inherently creepy). After extensive Internet research of about 30 seconds, I discovered that Black Pepper Jack existed on store shelves sometime between 2004 and 2008, and Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ sometime around 2007. The latter was part of one of those “the public chooses what flavor wins” competitions. I don’t know who won. I did not have a website that caused me to care so much about flavor competitions in 2007. I am sorry.

So what’s with this asylum626.com bullshit? Again using my incredible powers of deduction, I put the name of the website and the phrase “commit yourself” together and figured that Snack Strong Productions had put together some sort of creepy interactive Halloweeny thing involving a mental asylum that had gone craaaazy, so to speak. And I was right!

Asylum 626

I won’t go too much into it, but Asylum 626 is apparently a sequel to Hotel 626, and if you’re reading this and click that link at any time that isn’t between 6pm, and 6am, Doritos hates you and won’t let you play the game. Actually, it sounds like a pretty cool concept, and you can read a rather informative review of the game here, which is where I found out what that enigmatic black box on the back of the bag is for – apparently, it’s an “augmented reality marker”. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I do know that you need to have a bag of either Black Pepper Jack or Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ to play the game. Very clever, Doritos, but you haven’t tricked me. I bought BOTH bags.

After putting it all together, having two Halloween-colored bags of flavors that have come “back from the dead” to tie in with your scare-inducing interactive online game during the Halloween season makes a lot more sense now. Dammit. I hate it when Doritos makes sense.

But what of the flavor of these chips? Are they actually tasty, or just a shitty front for a Halloween gimmick? Let’s find out.

Black Pepper Jack

Black Pepper Jack – These chips smell pretty similar to Spicy Nacho Cheese Doritos. I couldn’t really detect any black pepper smell – it was more of a spicy pepper smell. Unlike Spicy Nacho Cheese, however, these chips lack the neon orange flavor powder, instead being lighter orange with little black flecks that I’m assuming are the black pepper and little red flecks that I suppose are the peppers in pepper jack cheese.

Black Pepper Jack Close-Up

The cheese flavor is milder in these chips than regular Nacho Cheese Doritos. It has less of the twang of most of the cheese-flavored Doritos.  I almost want to describe the cheese flavor as “creamy”, but calling artificially flavored chip powder creamy would be madness. Instead, I’ll call it “crammy”. Crammy cheese flavor. Yes.

There is no real black pepper taste as you’re eating the chip, but after you’ve swallowed, it hits you right in the back of the throat, along with that classic generic Doritos “spicy” flavor. If you’ve ever been the new and inexperienced owner of a pepper grinder, you’ve probably over-peppered something at some point, tasted it, and almost choked on the pepper. That’s what the aftertaste of this chip is like, but less intense and unpleasant. It’s nice that the cheese flavor has a chance to shine through, because I feel that if the pepper flavor was any stronger, it would be too powerful and overwhelm the cheese flavor. Besides, if you’ve ever eaten one of those Bertie Bott’s pepper-flavored jelly beans, you know that black pepper belongs as a seasoning, not a main flavor. And yes, I have eaten one of those jelly beans. I couldn’t tell if I was choking on the taste, or my own shame.

Smokin' Cheddar BBQ

Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ – I stuck my nose in this bag of chips and was overwhelmed by the smell of fake BBQ seasoning, just like the smell you find on Lay’s Barbecue chips, except stronger. There’s a subtle undercurrent of cheesy smell, and even that smells smoky, like the BBQ has infected the cheese, but in a good way.

Smokin' Cheddar BBQ Close-Up

The coating on these chips is different from the Black Pepper Jack variety – the latter had a fine dusting of powder with speckles, while the former has a thick, sticky coating of what I guess you would call flavor paste. It’s like when you’ve eaten a bunch of chips and all the flavor comes off on your fingers and when you’re done, the oil from your hands has combined with the powder, causing a thick gunk that takes you several licks and sucks to get off. That’s disgusting. You’re disgusting.

The flavor is strikingly similar to the smell – overwhelmingly barbecue with a hint of smoky cheddar. Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ Doritos really deliver on the name this time. Two complaints – first, the hint of cheddar is nice, but I’d like to see it shine through a little more. Second, the BBQ taste is just…so…barbecuey. My palate is being assaulted by liquid smoke, which is not actually on the ingredients list, but I’m convinced they just dumped a whole bottle into the bag.

This is the first tortilla chip I’ve ever encountered that was BBQ-flavored, and maybe there’s a reason for that. Potato chips like Lay’s lend themselves well to the flavor, but there’s something disagreeable about it on a tortilla chip. Maybe Doritos should stick to the more Mexican-inspired flavors. Okay, so three complaints, I guess. (I’m just kidding, Doritos; never stop being insane.)

After I’d solved the mystery of these resurrected (and zombified, I’m assuming) chips, they charmed me before I’d even tasted them. During this time of the year you can’t throw a Jack O’ Lantern without hitting a Halloween-themed candy, but the other junk foods fail miserably at creating spoooky gimmicks for this holiday. For that reason, I have to admire Doritos for having the only porch light on in the curmudgeonly cul-de-sac of savory snacks. Black Pepper Jack Doritos are like a fun-sized Snickers bar, Smokin’ Cheddar BBQ is a box of raisins, but hey, at least you’re trying. I won’t egg your house, but you may be cleaning up toilet paper tomorrow. I promise to only hit the bushes and leave the tree alone.

Black Pepper Jack Doritos

  • Score: 2.5 out of 5 bottles of Witch’s brew
  • Price: $3.99
  • Size: 11 1/2 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
  • Nutritional Quirks: Makes me think of Bertie Bott’s jelly beans

Smokin Cheddar BBQ Doritos

  • Score: 1.5 out of 5 sad, smashed Jack O’Lanterns
  • Price: 99 cents
  • Size: 2 1/8 oz. bag
  • Purchased at: Circle K
  • Nutritional Quirks: Liquid smoke not listed in the ingredients, but they’re LYING

Jones Soda Buried Pomegranate

Jones Soda Buried PomegranateJones Soda loves making wacky holiday-themed sodas. Their most famous offering is probably the Thanksgiving pack, wherein they attempt to make you hate the holiday forever and throw up on your mother’s special-occasion tablecloth by turning Thanksgiving classics into soda flavors. I encourage you to read X-Entertainment’s review of the very first Thanksgiving pack, way back in 2004.

Spurned on by their popularity and America’s masochistic palate, Jones started to release other limited edition sodas, and Halloween inevitably had to get its due. Here are this year’s victims:

Jones Soda Halloween 09

I chose Buried Pomegranate, since I already experienced the other three flavors (Candy Corn, Lemon Drop Dead and Spooookiwi) in various iterations in past years, and as an added bonus, Buried Pomegranate gives me an excuse to rant about the popularity of pomegranates. Everything is pomegranate now, and everything pomegranate is usually overpriced. I don’t want a pomegranate martini. I don’t need pomegranate in my iced tea. To be honest, I resisted trying anything pomegranate-flavored for years, choosing to believe that it tasted like hobo breath and that anyone who liked it was just trying to be hip and bourgeoisie. About a year ago, I gave in and bought a tiny four-dollar bottle of POM juice. Turns out, pomegranate juice is pretty delicious. Fuck.

My outrage at the pomegranate’s social status aside, let’s check out this soda. The cans come in packs of four, and they are adorably pint-sized, which has me clapping my hands like an autistic child already. Unlike the rest of you fatties, I haven’t built up the tolerance to sugar and/or high-fructose corn syrup that allows you to suck down a 64-ounce Big Gulp in one sitting, so these mini cans are just right. Besides, let’s be fair, here – when you’re dealing with hi-larious gag (in several senses of the word) sodas, do you really want to have to tackle a full-sized can of the stuff?

Right off the bat, I was a little confused by the theme of Buried Pomegranate. Okay, so there’s a vampire on the can, looking sufficiently evil and Halloweeny, minus those purple-colored freckles that he should probably get checked out by a dermatologist specializing in undead skin conditions. I’m having a hard time connecting the name with the face, however. I mean, I guess vampires can be buried, but most of the vampires I know keep their coffins above ground. It seems it would be terribly inconvenient to have to re-bury yourself every sunrise and claw your way out once night fell. Just buy a castle with a fucking basement, already.

Our little widow-peaked friend has blood dripping off his fangs, suggesting he had just finished feasting on a comely virgin’s ivory neck before posing for his close-up. Wouldn’t “Bloody Pomegranate” have been a more appropriate moniker? I was down with the choice of pomegranate (after my Proletariat rage subsided) because my singular encounter with pomegranate juice taught me that it is a deep, dark red, thick and sticky. Just like blood! Where were you when I was all goffy in high school, pomegranate juice? Having the Kool-Aid man stare me down while I drank cherry-flavored soft drink mix from a plastic goblet really ruined the mood. Now could be my chance to relive those salad days, and with a REAL LIFE VAMPIRE hanging out with me, too boot!

Buried Pomegranate Close Up

What the fuck, Jones Soda? That’s not an awesome fake blood drink, that’s the color my bedspread was until I was ten years old. That’s the color my grandma uses to paint the roofs of the decorative birdhouses she makes. That’s the color of Suave Strawberry Shampoo.

Suave Strawberry Shampoo

That is NOT the color of totally awesome Halloween vampire victim blood. How fucking hard would it have been to add a little extra Red 40? I feel like I’m drinking perfume.

Of course, I think I’m confusing my own awesome idea of Bloody Pomegranate with the actual, less logical Buried Pomegranate. Since I’m still not exactly sure what that means, I can’t really make a correlation between appearance and name. I guess you’ve won this round, Jones Soda. Good for you. Purple freckles.

Adding insult to injury, Buried Pomegranate smells like a Yankee Candle Company candle. Of course, what am I asking for here, a soda that smells like pennies? Pig’s blood on the ingredient list? I’m getting a little carried away, here. I need to turn off the Depeche Mode and calm down.  Honestly, it actually smells good. A really strong, sweet berry smell that, okay I’ll admit it, I wouldn’t mind having as a candle scent in my house. The taste is pretty much the same, more like one of those berry mixes with strawberries and blueberries, with a little pomegranate thrown in. The sweetness is a little overpowering, but I think it works with the berry flavor. Real pomegranate juice is actually quite tart, and there’s just a hint of that here, which seems to compliment the carbonation. If you gave this to me in a blind taste test, I’d probably guess that it was a strawberry soda mixed with something that I couldn’t quite place. Then I’d probably tell you that I’m not a professional goddamn taste tester, so get off my back already. I can’t handle all this pressure.

Buried Pomegranate Soda

Jones Soda Buried Pomegranate’s can delivers on the Halloween spirit. I feel like I’ve made a new friend in this little evil bloodsucker. I’ve named him Barney. He’s going to sleep in my bed every night from now until Halloween. I’ll even drive him to the dermatologist. I’m such a good friend.

The soda, a little less spooky, but tasty nonetheless. I could have chosen Candy Corn, which is obviously more Halloweeny, but I’ve tried it before and I really don’t feel like I need to try it again.  Screw you guys.  Besides, The Impulsive Buy has my back.

I know a lot of people don’t like the “odd” fruity-flavored sodas like strawberry or grape, and those people probably wouldn’t like Buried Pomegranate. But if you’ve ever dontcha wanta Fanta, you might like this soda. Just don’t go into it having never tried pomegranates and think you’re getting a true experience. Of all of Jones Soda’s crazy flavors, this is one of the only ones I’ve actually thought could be a real soda flavor and not just a novelty.

  • Score: 2.5 out of 5 bloody, raw hamburgers
  • Price: $1.99
  • Size: 4 8 ounce cans
  • Purchased at: Target – available exclusively here
  • Nutritional Quirks: No pig’s blood.  🙁