Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Best Snack Food

Corn meal, vegetable oil, (partially hydrogenated Soybean or Corn Oil), reduced lactose whey, whey, cheese [cheddar and bleu (milk, salt, cheese cultures, enzymes)], Salt, Maltodextrin, Disodium Phosphate, Artificial Color (including FD&C Yellow #5 and #6) Citric Acid, Buttermilk Powder, Corn Syrup Solids, Tomato Powder, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Spice, Monosodium Glutamate, Corn Flour, Sugar, Sodium Caseinate, Malic Acid, Natural Flavors, Food Starch Modified, Disodium Guanylate Sodium Insinate, Non Fat Dry Milk, Partially Hydrogenated Soy/Cottonseeed Oil, Vinegar, Lecithin (soy), Artificial Flavor, Red Alura #40, Lake and Blue #1 Lake.

All otherwise known as Vitner’s Big Bag Cool Ranch Baked Corn Pops.

You’ll recall that I a while back decided that the more artificial something is, the more I like it. And the Best Snack Food is about as artificial as things can get. Not one, but two kinds of partially hydrogenated oil. “Artificial” is used twice in the ingredients. And it contains something called “Food Starch Modified.” (Into what, I have to wonder.) They have phosphates and something called “Red Alura #40” to go along with that “Blue #1 Lake.”

And that combination, which looks as though it might be for mustard gas or a new hybrid fuel, creates the greatest possible flavor of the greatest possible snack food. These Pops are light, airy, crunchy before and melty after you bite them, and ranch-and-salty enough that you’d better have something to drink with them. They can clog your arteries from across the room and once I start eating them I have to leave the room or I won’t stop. It’s insane.

Not as insane as they guy who thought this was worthy of putting on the Internet, but to each his own:

And they create the best Fallout – you know fallout, that powdery stuff that great snack foods leave on your fingers when eating it? If you ever get a chance to see me after a long ride, note that I’m always stretching my fingers away from each other and flexing them. That’s because of the fallout. I eat snack foods – especially Ranch Pops—on the road and never remember to bring along some sort of washcloth. As a result, I’ve appeared in court with orange-stained fingertips secretly being thankful it wasn’t a jury trial. And the Ranch Pops Fallout is the best. It coats your fingertips and gets all greasy until you scrape it off with your teeth and create a miniature Ranch Pop in your mouth, sucking it to the back of your tongue.

(As an aside, I only realized after reading an article on Slate where the “ranch” flavor comes from. It turns out there was, in fact, a “Hidden Valley Ranch” that created its own salad dressing, and from that we have the flavor known as Ranch.)

(As another aside, I once noted that we were running out of new flavors to entice people into eating chips, and mentioned to Sweetie that I thought it was about time to get a new one. I predicted that the next big chip flavor would be… Caesar. It hasn’t happened yet, but it will, judging from what they're doing overseas.)

As another aside, I should note that I had the bag of Ranch Pops sitting here while I was writing this, but didn’t eat even one of them because of my rule, sometimes observed, that I don’t eat after 8 p.m. But it was tough. And maybe that’s not even an aside, but an on-point comment, since that’s what this nomination is all about anyway: how great the Ranch Pops are.

I found Ranch Pops entirely by accident, when they were rearranging our grocery store to (as it turns out) make a few new aisles primarily to hold more foreign food, and particularly really really weird or scary foreign food, like “Spotted Dick.” Which is a real food. I was wandering around the store in a daze, trying to make heads or tails of things. We’ve been shopping at that store for something like six years, and I knew it like the back of my hand. In writing out the grocery list each week (I do the shopping because I’m less impulse-prone than Sweetie, and because if I go alone I can listen to my iPod while I shop, or even watch an episode of “Lost” while I wait in the inordinately long lines) I could make it out in the exact order of the aisles in the order I would go down them.

Then they moved things around and began construction and I was spending too much time there, wandering around looking for the Diet Mountain Dew and Febreze spray, and I turned the corner to a section of chips in a new order, and there they were . They had all the things I look for in a snack food. They were fake, of course. They were orange. And they were cheap.

I bought them, and never looked back. I could eat them every day, and I do; they’ve become a regular staple of lunch along with my bologna sandwich and Ramen noodles and diet soda. Check them out. Once you go Red Alura #40, you never go back. Posted by Picasa

I couldn't figure out what else to add to spice up this entry, so here' s a song. It's hard to find a song related to Ranch Pops. I gave up trying. Instead, listen to this because it's good.

Do Not Feed The Oysters -- Stephen Malkmus


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