Thursday, February 26, 2015

PB&J Strawberry Pop Tarts!

When I saw Kellog's come out with the "Gone Nutty!" variety, I knew it was just a matter of time before they brought back the PB&J flavor. I'm pretty sure I even told Chelsea something to that effect. The original version was released in 1986, and it quickly became one of my favorite flavors. That's right, it beat out regular Strawberry, and even Chocolate. There was something about that combination of peanut butter and jelly after spending a couple minutes in the toaster that I just couldn't resist. Then one day, they were gone. There was no notice or forewarning, they just disappeared.

 Funny, but I don't remember being particularly broken up about it. I just noticed that the PB&J weren't in their normal spot, so I went to my next favorite flavor. I blame the internet for folks not being able to let things go these days. If Kellog's discontinued the PB&J right now, there would be fan sites and petitions set up trying to get them back. People would stand outside the Pop Tarts offices, demanding the return of their favorite breakfast pastry. And the folks at Kellog's would look out of their windows and laugh and laugh while they stuffed their faces with PB&J Pop Tarts.

It would be easy to think that you've won a prize the first time you open up a box of PB&J Pop Tarts. Like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the "Gone Nutty" varieties come wrapped in this goldish foil wrapper. It really classes up the whole deal. It even feels a little heavier and thicker than the silver foil wrapping. I get the impression that I could open up one of these envelopes 5 years from now, and the Pop Tarts inside would still be fresh. It doesn't mention it anywhere on the box, but I bet these things are space ready as is. Now that's a thought, maybe we should be sending Pop Tarts to outer space. If nothing else, we could use them to bribe any alien creatures we may encounter. Nobody can resist warm pastries with various flavors of gooey filling, not even beings from another galaxy.

When I finally managed to get the unbreakable gold foil packet open, I was unexpectedly hit with an aroma of peanut butter. Sure, I expected a peanut butter like smell, but I didn't think it would be like opening a jar of Jif. Actually, it's probably closer to opening a jar of Smucker's Goober. There's just a bit of strawberry jelly underneath all of that peanut butter. As I stared at the pastries on my plate, it occurred to me that they were much more consistent with the frosting in the 80's. Finding a poorly frosted Pop Tart was the exception. Now, it looks like they haphazardly swipe at them with a frosted paint brush while blindfolded, before they pull some sprinkles out of their pocket and toss them on top. Still, I've found the frosting, or lack thereof, doesn't really affect the flavor all that much. Much like people and books, it's what's on the inside that counts. Well, that goes for all but the unfrosted Pop Tarts. Screw those things.

Did you know you're only supposed to toast Pop-Tarts on the lowest setting for one cycle? The things you learn when you read the directions..I've always preferred mine a little charred on the edges, so I turn things up a bit. I might even put them in for another cycle. I'm a regular toasting rebel. As they were toasting, they filled the kitchen with the wonderful aroma of warm peanut butter. It's what I imagine the inside of a Jif factory smells like. It's as close as you can get to toasting an actual peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but without ruining your toaster.

Taking a peek inside the pastry, you can see that there are alternating strips of peanut butter and strawberry jelly filling.  It really works to even things out and keeps one flavor from dominating the other. And imagine my surprise when the peanut butter actually tasted and felt like peanut butter. That's right, I said felt. It was nice and gooey, just like warm PB&J should be. None of that dry, grainy knockoff nut butter here.

On the back of the box, there are some pastry themed jokes, as well as a coupon worth four dimes off another box of PB&J Pop Tarts. The Toaster Games joke fell flat for me, but "Who tarted?", that one made me chuckle. I'll have to try to work that into a conversation at work tomorrow. I doubt it will make any sense, but I'll know what I'm talking about.

So there you have it, a look at the return of the glorious PB&J Pop Tarts. This will probably be the last box of them that I buy, so if anyone wants that $.40 off coupon, shoot me an email with your address. Nothing says "You're cool" like a box of discounted toaster pastries.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Toyriffic gift!

If you've been following Eric over at Toyriffic for any amount of time, you've probably noticed his Playmobil custom figures. Some of the pieces come together so well, you would almost think that it was all part of Playmobil's plan. Well, after seeing his Warrior Nun Areala and Battle Angel customs, I figured I would commission a figure for myself. After much begging, pleading, and the promising of my first born, Eric agreed*. Ten minutes later, I received a message: "It is done".

A few days later, I received the newest member of my cadre:

Guy Fale! The slightly incompetent stuntman! Right away, I knew he was going to be fun. Whenever I needed to drive somewhere, he would make me take him along. Of course, he didn't want to ride in the passenger seat, oh no. He liked to feel the frigid air blasting around his helmet as he hung on to my antenna.

Alright! Let's go!

He tried riding on the roof once, but that didn't work out so well. Sorry, but I refuse to start my car unless everyone is either belted in, or at least holding on really tight.

Don't be a pansy! I'm not going anywhere!
After that, the stunts started getting a little more crazy and dangerous. After just barely escaping from the Swirling Whirlpool of Darkness in the White Throne of Death, Guy decided to try his luck at jumping through the Spinning Blades of Rheem.

Pssh! They aren't spinning THAT fast!
Unfortunately for Guy Fale, this little stunt laid him up in a full body cast for a few days. But hey, he got to lay around watching tv and eating junk food all day, so it's not all bad right?

Haha! He WAS the father!
Once he was feeling better, Guy started causing trouble again. This time it was among his fellow toys. He was particularly fond of picking on Squirrelanoid. I'm not sure why that seemed like a good idea to him. I should think that any sane person would do their best to avoid a gigantic, mutant, psycho squirrel.

Ever a show off, Guy Fale decided to put on an exhibition match between the Squirrelanoid and him. In the land of bad ideas, this one would be king. Squirrelanoid is always looking for an opportunity to tear into someone, or tear them apart. Regardless, posters were hung, TV ads were run, and tickets were sold. It wasn't exactly a packed house, but they were still plenty loud.

No sooner had the ref lowered his arm, than Squirrealanoid had Guy up in the air. It was obvious the stuntman was in way over his head, and he needed to think quickly in order to get out of the crazy rodent's grasp..

Too late. In a flurry of movment, Guy Fale's parts were strewn all over the ring. Even Robocop turned away in disgust, as Boba Fett stared silently at the loose head laying in front of him. Silver Streak proved to me that even a Tranformer can toss his cookies.

Once the crowd left, and Squirrelanoid got bored chewing on Guy's various pieces, another figure entered the ring, though this one seemed to have a different purpose..

It's Stunt Zombie! But, what is he doing here?

Oh no! Not again! He's created Stunt Zombie 2.0! He's bigger, meaner, and stronger than the original. And don't be fooled by that smile on his face. He's out for one thing, and one thing only..

He's out for revenge!

I want to send a huge thank you out to Eric for the custom Playmobil Stunt Zombie. He's always been generous to a fault, and is just a genuinely cool guy to know. I wouldn't hesitate to call him a friend. If you didn't click the links to his site I posted earlier, then what the hell is wrong with you? Last chance, go check out Toyriffic or I'll send the Stunt Zombies to terrorize you!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Combos Sweet and Salty!

I'm calling it now. 2015 will be a great year for my fellow junk foodies. I'm sure you're asking, "But Chris, how could you say that when it's still January?".  And I would tell you, "My point exactly". It's only January, and already Combos has thrown down the snack food gauntlet. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Ren and Stimpy Show #1!

It was a dark and chilly night in November 1992. I had ridden with my mom to A&P, and I was standing in front of the magazine rack while she was grocery shopping. I had started collecting comics the year before, and soon after I discovered the numerous comic books next to the Woman's Day and Redbooks. Frankly, their selection was amazing. They carried everything from DC to Image, with a mix of Archie and the rare Dark Horse comic. The issues would be lined up on the 6ft shelf, three rows deep. There was no real rhyme or reason to their arrangement, though I guess it didn't really matter. After a few days everything was mixed up anyway. I like to think it added to the experience. Who knew what books you would find behind that first row of comics?

Well, on that random November night in 1992, I found this issue:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Transformers G1 Triggerbots Override

I only ever saw the Transformers cartoon on a couple of occasions, so all my knowledge of them was based on TV commercials and the bio cards on the back of the toys. Of course, I rarely read or kept the bio cards, meaning most of the story lines I came up with were decidedly non-canon. Still, I like to think I did pretty well by the characters. I certainly knew Optimus Prime was a good guy and the Autobot leader, and it was pretty easy to see Soundwave was his enemy. So what if they sometimes worked together? It's not like Hasbro was going to come take the toys back from me.

So, my lack of knowledge of the backstory wasn't a problem. No, my main issue with the toys was that they were damn expensive compared to other action figures. Sure, I could get a car that turns into a robot and comes with a dozen weapons for $10.99, but I could also buy three different G.I. Joe figures for the same price. Thankfully, Hasbro realized this and released several smaller figures for those of us with a limited allowance.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sets I Had From The Lego 1992 Catalog

I was a little Lego fiend when I was growing up. I turned 11 in 1992, and toys weren't quite taboo yet. I was still comfortable talking about them with friends, and wouldn't run and hide if I heard kids from school walking by the toy aisle. It was also the year of my biggest Christmas Lego haul ever. I got some pretty big sets that year, and much like the larger toys from Hasbro and Kenner, they came with a flyer showing off that year's assortment of Lego sets.

This is still one of my favorite Lego catalog covers. I like the idea that all of Lego's realms coexist at one time, so it seems entirely possible for a space policeman and a Navy officer to be riding the metro when the Black Knight decides to collect a toll from the passengers. Of course, these were the days before the minifigures had anything but a smile on their faces, so everyone seems rather jolly about the whole affair.

Admittedly, I had a bunch of these sets before 1992. Several of them had already been out for a year or so, like the M-Tron team and the Metro Liner. It seems like Lego had released quite a few new sets the previous two years, so that might be why there doesn't seem like there's much new stuff in this pamphlet.

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