I saw a row of President’s Choice Decadent Chocolate Flavoured Soda bottles on a shelf at Loblaws around Christmas and had to pick one up to Risa’s vocal disapproval. It’s for science, I told her. Think of the kids whose lives would be immeasurably improved if I, instead of they, drank this limited-availability monstrosity. Well, it finally made it into my testing lab and it’s not quite what I expected. Oh, in at least one way it’s exactly what I hoped it would be: a vaguely disgusting carbonated concoction that would slip past my lips once and never again tempt me to slip a fiver to the store clerk who would quietly slide my shame into a plain paper bag so that I could secretly imbibe on my way home, the sugar rush dulling the self-flaggelation over my lack of willpower. It’ll never happen again, I’d tell myself. Until the next time.
Instead, this is disgusting in a way that I didn’t expect. I had expected it to taste like a bad imitation of a chocolate chip cookie dipped in Coke, a guilty pleasure I enjoyed far too often during my youth. And since I love (but now rarely touch) both Coke and chocolate chip cookies, I was quite looking forward to the can of whoop-ass I was about to open on my senses.
Upon unscrewing the lid, I was almost overcome by the twin smells of caramel and chocolate, as if I’d dropped a bag of chocolate chips into a warm mug of Kraft Caramels. The taste was much closer to drinking a sickly sweet box of Pot of Gold chocolates than any cookie I’ve ever had. The after-taste was a medley of mint and disappointment, not at all dissimilar from a late-night hunt through the pantry looking for sweets and finding only a stash of After Eights.
It’s definitely flavourful, but not in a very good way. They would have been better served by selling Coke in a wide-mouth bottle with a couple of chocolate chip cookies for dipping strapped to the side. The hunt for a carbonated mashup that’s actually good continues.
When nature’s wrapping just isn’t enough.
No longer content with wrapping each little mandarin in its own plastic packaging, the East Dodgeville Loblaws had a rack of individually wrapped cantaloupes on display this weekend. The good news is that many more products are ready for this kind of innovative packaging. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next week.
Don’t be distracted by the “50% off for quick sale” stickers; these melons are lovingly pre-ripened for your convenience.
So the East Dodgeville Loblaws is now carrying individually wrapped mandarins. I’m not sure why these little oranges need to be wrapped in plastic when all of the other ones seem to survive just fine in nothing but the all-natural, easy-open, biodegradeable, and universally identifiable wrapping that’s built-in at the factory, but there you go. Another product innovation from the people who brought you individually tagged mushrooms.
Or as we say in English, “Ripe avocados.”
Increasingly, supermarkets are ripening my fruit for me. Tomatoes are vine-ripened, peaches and nectarines are tree-ripened, and now avocados at Sobeys are, uh, pre-ripened, as if they’re doing me some kind of favour. It’s funny how only avocados get this odd notation. Mind you, I’m sure that the “pre-ripened” sign will result in more sales than the equivalent “50% reduced for quick sale” over at Loblaws. The wonders of marketing: convincing you that they’re doing something revolutionary while selling you the same thing you’ve always been buying. Of course, the downside to this wonderful new pre-ripening service is that I now have to go to separate bins to buy avocados for today and Sunday.
Meanwhile, I’m still ripening all of my pears and bananas on my own. I feel that Sobeys just isn’t doing enough to meet my pre-ripened fruit needs.
This cereal is supposed to be so good that it was a virtually instant deal on Dragons’ Den. The name refers to its laxative effects but as far as I’m concerned it refers to the price: twelve bucks for 225 grams? My cereal of choice is already one of the most expensive options in the supermarket at $7 for a 540g box, and Holy Crap is almost twice the price for less than half the product. Holy Crap! I’m not averse to spending money on a high-quality product but four times the price of a premium cereal that is itself already twice the price of everything else seems a little rich. I’m also not quite sure what I’d do with the suggested serving size of two tablespoons, which is maybe a tenth the size of a proper bowl of cereal. Eating it also seems to require adherence to instructions or advance preparation far beyond what my fuzzy brain is willing to deal with in the morning. Despite more than a little curiosity, the great name, and the fact that it’s a Canadian company, I just can’t bring myself to spend $12 on a taste. Maybe if they offered me a free sample…
Chocolate dairy beverage? Grated dairy product? Frozen dessert? Isn’t anything made with milk, cheese, or cream any more? I hate to sound like a grouchy old man (though I’m rapidly becoming one), but when I was a kid, these things were called chocolate milk, grated cheese, and ice cream. Instead, more and more items in the dairy case have “modified milk ingredients” at the top of the ingredients list. It makes me wonder where all of the real dairy products go.
Of course, these products are not exactly new, having been around in one form or another for a few years. They are clearly part of the accelerating trend in the grocery store to pass off fake food as the real thing.
I didn’t buy either the dairy beverage or the frozen dessert, so I can’t review their taste. But I didn’t notice that the “grated dairy product” wasn’t actual cheese until I got home, so I can review that: it was so salty that it was inedible. Other than the texture, a dash of Silani grated dairy product on some pasta was basically indistinguishable from emptying a box of salt onto the plate. Even the Loblaws No Name Parmesan is superior.
While most “food” manufacturers take pains to hide the fact that they’re hiding the facts from you, Beatrice was notable for positively trumpeting the non-milkiness of their dairy beverage:
The text in the red circle says that it’s made with real milk “and added dairy ingredients.” It sounds about as appetizing as eating a burger made from beef and added cow ingredients. Beatrice may have learned its lesson after a few years of trying to sell this stuff and returned to selling chocolate milk again earlier this year.
I can’t imagine that he needed the money, but I’m really glad he signed up for this gig: that picture makes me titter like a tea-loving matron every time I see it in the kitchen.
While I recognize that memorizing all of those codes can be difficult for cashiers and it can’t be easy telling whether that bag of apples has a dozen galas or fujis, I think that painstakingly tagging every individual mushroom in the store is going a little overboard. Not only do labels not stick to mushrooms all that well, but I can’t imagine that it’s very efficient to pay some poor stocker to sit over boxes of mushrooms all day long with a label gun. And as with all tagged produce, the worst part is standing in the kitchen removing all of the labels. Good thing those printed codes save me five seconds in line; I can apply that time to the two minutes I have to spend standing over the cutting board de-labelling a bag of shiitakes.
I try to avoid my local Loblaws whenever possible, but occasionally it’s just too convenient to pass up. I never fail to be surprised by something there, and today was no different. At least they don’t shrink-wrap as much of their produce as the local Sobeys does.
Not content to let sleeping yogs bi, I decided to ask Metro if the “bi-products” label meant something other than what it seemed to. The emailed response from customer care came in this morning:
The Merchandising Team informs me of the following:
“Bi-products” would indicate Milk Bi-products which both Yogurt and Cottage cheese are. Some stores may have yogurt or Cottage cheese or Sour Cream or all. The layout of the counter in every store is unique based on counter size, set size and of course our customers’ needs.
So there you have it. Misspelled or otherwise, there’s nothing more to the sign than “milk leftovers.” Now I have to visit the meat department to see how they label the ground beef and sausages.
Can someone tell me which marketing genius at Metro thought it would be a good idea to have a whole section of the supermarket prominently labelled “Bi-Products”? Besides seeming wrong on at least two levels, it manages to be both meaningless and off-putting. “Yogurt” is pretty clear. But “Bi-Products”? I thought maybe I was missing some obvious marketing push, but a Google search for “Bi-products” just brings up a lot of what you’d expect, including a site offering buffalo skulls (green or boiled), jaw bones, or feet, all “bi-products” of buffalo ranching. Oh, and a lot of fluff about business intelligence, too.
In a food world where “by-product” generally means “stuff that we’d normally throw away because it’s disgusting and inedible, but we found a way to grind it up and sell it to you anyway,” why does Metro think that “Bi-Products” is a good label for premium yogourt?