Friday, October 24, 2008

Nacho average s'mores

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We here at the IBARF -- the Institute for Bizarre and Revolting Foods, my own private research facility dedicated to the scientific study of weird foodstuffs -- have taken on very many challenges over the years. I once willingly had Coke with "coffee essence" in it. I even drank a caffeinated beer.

Those were easy to dismiss. Not as easy is my latest find: S'mores flavored tortilla chips.

They're from Archer Farms, which is the slightly-more-upscale house brand at Target. The hay-chewing, overalls-wearing owner of Archer Farms doesn't muck around with cows, unless it's to borrow a bit of skim for his rosemary and olive oil artisan bread.

Anyway, back to the S'mores chips. Upon first seeing them on the shelf, my wife and I recoiled visibly. S'mores chips? Made of corn? We found the idea not just unpalatable, but somehow offensive to our ethics and values. A s'more is graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows -- sneaking any nachos anywhere in there is not cool. Not. Cool.

Pepper, cheese, garlic, sour cream, ketchup, barbecue sauce -- these are chip flavors. Not goddam s'mores. I just couldn't even conceive of what they'd be like. Neither could a lady walking by who nodded when I accidentally shouted, "What kind of a fucking numbskull came up with THIS bullshit idea?"

My next sentence was: "Let's buy some."

I don't know what it is, but every time I see some weird snack food, my first impulse is to express horror and disgust. The next is to buy it, thus spending money on the product I'm 99% sure will be disgusting, and confirming some accountant's theory that they can sell any piece of shit to any moron who comes walking by. Do you think the CEO of Archer Farms (I picture a weathered old midwestern guy in oil-stained flannel sitting on a handmade porch swing with his wife, whom he calls "mother," looking out over a field of alfalfa) cares if he sells chips because someone bought them out of irony? Does he really care if s'mores are supposed to be made with graham crackers, not corn? Nope -- he comes up with a flavor, makes it last 10 months in the bag, slaps a label and a $3 price tag on it, and calls it a day. He makes a lot of money, this guy. He's one smart son of a bitch.

Regardless of why we bought them, my wife and I couldn't wait until we got into the sterilized confines of the IBARF tasting lab to start our research. We ate the S'mores chips in the car (the IBARF Annex).

Here are our findings:

- Visuals: Most chips are covered in delicious colors like orange, yellow, green, and red. These chips are covered in brown stuff. I know delicious things come in brown, too, like fudge and steak, but I'm just not used to brown things in chip form. It takes a minute to get used to the idea.

My favorite part of the bag is where it describes the S'mores chips as "authentic-style." Authentic s'mores nacho chips? Authentic to who?

- Bouquet: They smell like marshmallows. And corn. I normally don't smell those things in the same place. Call me old-fashioned.

- Tactile response: Good news! You don't get a lot of brown stuff stuck to your fingers when you handles the S'mores chips. Like you would with Cheetle. Because if you had brown fingers, sucking them and smearing them all over your pants and shirt, people might get the wrong idea.

- Auditory reaction: They crunch pretty much like your standard nacho chip. A molecule-thin gooey marshmallow center in every chip would've been nice to add a bit of softness, but to be honest I don't think chip technology is that advanced yet.

- Flavor: Now the big test. They're not exactly sweet, and they're not salty at all. There's a slight taste of chocolate and even slighter whisper of marshmallow, and only the barest hint of graham cracker flavor, though that may have just been wishful thinking. Mostly what you taste is corn. A mouthful of corn. Imagine a handful of unsalted Fritos dipped in cocoa powder and you've got the gist of it.

That's not to say they were horrible. Almost any snack could be improved by dipping it in cocoa powder. Take an apple. Ho hum. Now smother that apple in rich milk chocolate and you've got my attention. Add a layer of marshmallow Fluff and I'll give you a big wet kiss. Now chuck out the apple and add some graham crackers and you've got the perfect snack. Which is pretty much how the s'mores corn chips worked: Not bad, except for that business with the corn chips.

We still ate them, though.

1 comment:

Mica said...

Hey Dan!

I sent you and Nik a 4-feet-running e-mail a while back, but I just found your blog. It's hilarious. I really like this post about Archer Farms because I always think similar cynical thoughts when I see those "classy" hunter green bags at Target. That said, I guess I'm glad that their S'mores chips aren't *all* bad. Anyway, I love reading funny blogs, so I'm following yours!!

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