30-day Sugar Free Diet (+ robot/human war) – Ep. 99

Sugar-free Snackoberfest?

Snacktoberfest, the Hungry Dads’ annual event in which we review, for your reading pleasure, anything and everything we are snacking on in the month of October.  It’s a glorious thing…usually.  This year, the majestic tradition was “celebrated” in a shocking and controversial way.  At the behest of my dear wife, Mrs. Gallon, and for the entertainment of the Hungry Dads community, I Hugh Gallon, HAVE SPENT ALL OF OCTOBER SUGAR FREE.

That’s right folks. No candy, cake, or spoonfuls of sugar to make the medicine go down.

Mrs. Gallon pitched the idea of eliminating, “processed sugar,” in the same spirit in which she recommended juice diet of 2015 or our vegetarian debacle of 2012. A challenge and cleanse of sorts.  Snacktoberfest aside, October seemed like a good month for this experiment – it would be a victory to resist the temptation of pilfering pre-trick-or treating candy in the house.  Before I began sugar-free October, I researched some established sugar free diets, like Atkins and Sugar Busters. But these seemed a little unhealthy, not allowing for any fruit. Plus, my goal was not to lose weight.  So I went about creating my own plan.

Hardcore fans will recall Episode 34 in which I “gave up candy” for several months under the order of the Food Court’s Judge Rod Budget (Episode 21). However, I made it my mission to find loopholes and limit the definition of “candy,” as much as possible* (e.g. chocolate chips technically weren’t “candy,” but rather “baking ingredients,” thus were acceptable on my ersatz “no candy” diet.)  Here, I created a more sincere, prudent set of rules, eliminating processed sugar and most sugar in a way that was attainable and healthy (or at least not unhealthy).

Hugh Gallon’s “No Processed Sugar” Rules:

  1. No refined sugar (including “sugar in the raw” which is really just sugar)
  2. No sucrose, dextrose, or artificial sweeteners. These items are not only a huge loophole, but also often gross tasting and not healthy in my opinion.
  3. No honey, no juice, no dried fruits. These things are arguably “natural.” But they are essentially just another version of refined sugar and could be huge, sugar-laden loopholes making the challenge largely moot.
  4. No prepared or packaged foods with added sugar. Packaged foods had to show “0 grams of sugar (maybe less than 1% in some cases) AND the ingredients list could not mention sugar, fructose, or dextrose listed anywhere.
  5. Foods with “naturally occurring” sugars were permissible (fruit, milk, nuts), which admittedly can be high in sugar, but they are digestible in their natural form. And, as unhealthy as I am at times, I refuse eliminate foods that offer essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc.

Acceptable

  • Eggs, meat, potatoes, French fries, Burger (no  bun), Cheese (most – mozzarella is noticeably higher in sugars)
  • Wraps (certain types)
  • Butter, salt, garlic, spices, oil, mustard, vinegar, gravy (gravy made from juices of home cooking)
  • Seltzer, unsweetened iced tea, coffee, milk (especially whole milk which is higher in sugar but natural and very satisfying)
  • Cashew Butter, sunflower seed butter
  • Pickles, Nuts, plain potato chips, bananas (bananas are big indulgence as they are loaded with sugar, but kept ‘em as a natural, healthy “indulgence.” Hey, they are  a fruit man!)
  • Hard liquor

Restricted

  • Pizza, pasta (most)
  • Breads (most)
  • Condiments & sauces (most)
  • Soda (obviously)
  • Non-specialty peanut butter
  • Packaged snacks (most)
  • Beer/wine

The results?

Weight loss – I didn’t set out to lose weight, but I did – a little – about five pounds.

Appetite, mental state, and energy – I had heard that cutting out sugar caused headaches at first, then you feel amazing in the end.  I felt neither extreme, perhaps because I kept fruit and milk in my diet.  I ate more often, but less each time.  I noticed that my energy level was more even during the day, which makes sense. No sugar spikes and smaller, more responsible portions.   I felt a little healthier at the end of the month, but I didn’t feel so good that I was ready to continue the experiment.

Perseverance, sustainability, and cravings – The novelty and excitement in the beginning made cutting off processed sugar pretty easy. As the weeks dragged on, I got tired of eating the same things and exhausted by trying to find new foods that fit my rules.  I was emotionally craving sugar and comfort foods for sure.  I made it to the end of October, but I was ready to get back to some sugary foods.

Habit change? – I won’t cut out sugar entirely, but the experiment proved that my health can improved with far less sugar, whilst still eating the foods I like – albeit less often.  Unsweetened tea is good.  Bread can be avoided a bit more. Candy needn’t be ingested daily. Ketchup isn’t necessary.  I logically knew this stuff before, but hopefully my threshold for self-control has permanently readjusted for the better after this stunt.  Of course November and December are the real challenges.  Not only are the holidays looming, but my house is full of the sweet stuff: (a) Halloween; (b) a visit from my mother bearing snacks; (c) remains of a birthday candy gift scam; (d) leftover sheet cake in the freezer from my son’s birthday.  There have never been so many sweets in my house – its like during October, a natural predator was removed from the ecosystem resulting in an overpopulation of sweet snacks.

Walking and Eating – My favorite pastime, walking and eating, was affected by this sugar free thing big time. So many of the best walking foods are sugar based, bread, based, or are just packaged junk foods.

Looks like “Self-control-vember,” is next.

* Loopholes and workarounds during  the “candy ban,” included copious amounts of these technically “non-candy” items: cookies, chocolate chips (a baking items), spoonfuls of cake icing, marshmallows (also a baking item), and s’mores, and chocolate syrup straight from the bottle.

A quick review of the foods I ate (and a few I didn’t) during my odd Snacktober:

 


Xtreme Wellness! Wraps – wraps replaced bread, but not all wraps are sugar free.  Thank god these are XTREME when it comes to being sugar free.  These are pretty tasty, although my taste buds could sense that slight lack of sugar yielding a mildly unpleasant aftertaste that got old buy the end of the month.


Cured meats – Lots of pepperonis and charcuterie were totally on the table.  These Vermont Minis were an exception. They had a full 1g of sugar per serving, so I had to leave them behind at the store and get some regular old pepperoni.

 

Plain potato chips – To my pleasure and surprise, these uber-processed potatoes, usually, do not contain any added sugar or notable sugar content. Flavors like BBQ and Sour Cream and Onion lay on some sugar, but a quick check of most labels yielded plain chips as a-OK.

 

 

 

 

 

Mongolian Fire Oil – Cottonseed and sesame oils infused with chilies, garlic, onion, and ginger.  That’s exactly what it tastes like. This was a special purchase made after a few weeks. My tongue needed a new flavor, so I took a chance on this fire oil. Believe it or not, its not super spicy.  Its got a mild, delightful spice to it that subsides very quickly.  You can put it right on your meat without fear of ruining your taste buds.

 

 

 

 

 

Simply Organic Doritos White Cheddar – Holy $hit! These are sugar free! Really? How? I don’t know. They taste almost exactly like legit Doritos.  The whole thing may be a farce like Seinfeld’s froyo expose.  Its either a sham or a miracle of science. Either way, we enjoyed two bags of this stuff during October.

 

Simply Organic Tostitos Blue Corn – The nutrition label passed the test and I almost bought them. But then I saw that the less fancy, bargain-priced Santitas. Sorry Tostitos!

 

 

 

 

Hummus – In a world without most condiments, hummus is king.  Known for making raw vegetables tolerable, hummus also worked for me as a dip for my wraps and meat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eating Out (Shake Shack/Nathans) – Avoiding sugar in my case meant avoiding bread. Fortunately here in NYC, there are carb-free, gluten-free folks who demand things like breadless burgers. So I was able to get Shake shack burger wrap, fries, and iced tea. All within the rules and super tasty (worth the 25 minute wait for this “fast food.”)

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potatoes – In retrospect, I didn’t rely on potatoes as much as I should have. Baked potatoes with butter, cheese and other stuff would have made for some great meals. Unfortunately the potatoes in my house were not for eating, but rather were bring used to power this clock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red meat – like chicken and eggs, an essential way to eat sugar free. And as with chicken, somewhat less enjoyable without my favorite sauces.  I had to cook it more carefully with flavor in mind, since I couldn’t just drown out the char with BBQ sauce like a usually do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eggs – This experiment reinvigorated my appreciation for eggs of all types – hard-boiled, scrambled with cheese and other stuff, over-easy, etc. (didn’t get to try soft boiled – sorry JW the Beef and Burger Baron!). The various ways to prepare them offered some nice variety. I also learned to enjoy them without ketchup like a grown up should.

 

 

Chicken – Good old fowl was a staple on this diet.  Easy and filling. The only hard part was finding tasty ways to prepare it without certain sauces (BBQ, teriyaki) or breading.  Oil, vinegar, butter, salt, and garlic were all great, but did get repetitive after a while.

 

 

 

Cheese – Most cheeses were great, zero sugar options. This Laughing cow, however, noted a full gram of sugar, so I passed on it.  Notably, mozzarella cheese, also had sugar listed, so I just opted for other, harder cheeses that were sugar free.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunflower Butter – I knew that peanuts were okay by my rules, but peanut butter is undoubtedly processed and many brands have added sugar. Even the “all natural” peanut butters left some doubt. So I opted for some other butters.  Sunflower butter is pretty good on texture, but you won’t be fooled by the taste.  Not much sweetness to speak of. But its tasty and filling on a wrap or on a spoon without being a sugar bomb.

 

 

Funyuns – Favorite of Rod Budget almost passed the test with less than 1g of sugar, but a look at the ingredients list showed sugar, albiet pretty low down. Still, it was a Funyun-less October for me.

 

 

 

 

 

Plain Corn Chips – Check the labels because some (not all) corn chips can pass the sugar free test. Santitas did. Que lastima!

 

 

 

 

Munchos – Just noting these distinctly, since they are almost, but not quite, potato chips. In my limited milieu of options, even the subtle texture difference brought by Muncho’s pureed and reconstituted potato substance, was  a welcome change of pace.

 

 

 

Pork rinds – Here’s a snack I’d seldom pick up if not for limited options.  But this experiment has renews my passion for pork rinds.  They are a nice change of pace from chips and yep – the traditional variety are totally sugar free.

 

 

 

Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with the “Mother” – Based on the recommendation of a friend, I paid extra for this fancy apple cider over the store brand.  It was totally worth it. I have often marinated with vinegars of various types.  This one was awesomely flavorful in a way I’ve not had before. (its also good as a salad dressing with some oil, or with some other stuff in it, good for  a sore throat).

 

 

 

Regular peanut butter – Nope. Sorry.  Peanuts are okay, but peanut butter, like juice, is just a little to sugar punched and un- natural to pass the test.  I suffered through the less sugary cashew and sunflower butter.

 

 

 

 

 

Almonds – Raw not too sugary and totally natural. Even though they are killing the water supply in California, I was happy to have almonds on hand during my month of need.

 

 

 

 

Classic Lays and Lays Simply Says Sea Salted – The nutrition labels passed the test and I almost bought them. But then I saw that the less fancy, bargain-priced store brand chips, which also passed the test.  Sorry Lays!

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Yellow mustard – Mustard is an old friend for dieters who want some flavor.  Mixed with vinegar or oil, mustard packs a lot of flavor without any sugar. Thank you mustard. We love you.

 

 

 

Popcorn – An unsurprising option for a health kick. Not as tasty as potato chips, but nice as an alternative. I was even able to find a few cheese flavored, herb flavored, and chipotle flavored popcorns that remained sugar free, so lots of variety here. Although, like the wraps, my taste buds missed the slight hint of sugar that you’d find in a more traditional flavored popcorn.

 

 

Beans – I had planned on eating beans more during my sugar free month. But I quickly figured out that I didn’t really like beans.  Baked beans are okay. But they are okay thanks to sugar. I probably should have found some good spicy bean recipes or something. But I defaulted to meat mostly. Sorry beans.

 

 

 

Cashew Butter – Tastes better than sunflower butter and almost as good as peanut butter.   I opted for a brand that assuredly had no added sugar.  This officially met the standards of my diet, but I had to be responsible about it since it did (naturally) pack a decent amount of sugar in it. Still, I considered cashew butter to be one of the few indulgences I had.

 

 

 


Vegetables – Gotta eat ‘em. Don’t love ‘em. Gotta eat ‘em. Natural. Low in sugar. Don’t love ‘em. Gotta eat ‘em.  These Steam’ables (did we need the apostrophe?) Edamame are undoubtedly amongst the most delicious of vegetables.

 

 

 

Dill Pickles – like beans, I had expected pickles to be a huge savior in sugar free snacking, acknowledging that certain types, like Bread and Butter were unacceptable based on sugar content. But y’know what? I got sick of pickles really fast. Like three days with a few pickles each and I was done for the month.

 

 

Packaged side dishes – most convenient packaged foods at he grocery store had sugar included, so meals were usually from scratch. But a look down the health food aisle yielded some sugar free prepared foods, like this Hodgson Mill Garlic and Herb Quinoa and Brown Rice.  Totally tasty and fancy. Make tonight a quinoa night, won’t you?

Soda and Appendages – Ep. 98

In episode 98, the guys confront some hard questions about soda:

  • Is it ever okay to scam free soda at restaurants using water cups?  (Spurred by Hugh’s all-day visit to the soda fountain pictured below.)

  • Does Hugh Gallon have freak appendages, or did he enlist an Ewok to point at this “no refills allowed” menu?
  • Do the Scots know anything about soda, or should they stick to their specialty: The Glasgow Kiss?  (The latter)
  • Is organic house-made soda finally taking off and making it to the masses?

 

  • Chubby Chubby Chubby Chubby Chubby Chubby Chubby… CHUBBY????

British Food – Ep. 97

JW the Beef and Burger Bacon Baron (yes its really him!) join Rod and Hugh in the studio to discuss why British food has a bad reputation and to taste test some food to beat that reputation (and a few that support it).

British foods (from Myers and Keswick) reviewed by an American palate

Myers and Keswick (pronounced “kessick,” you wanker) is the spot in NYC to get all of the best British fare, both packaged and prepared.  I fancied a visit to the shop and was fortunate to have a tour guide from across the pond – none other than JW the Beef and Burger Baron. Or “J. Dubbs, Triple B.” translated to American.

JW gave a guided tour of Myers and Keswick. He pointed out basically every single item in the shop, denoting nearly everything as a “must try” item.  Knowing limitations on the Hungry Dads petty cash fund, I limited our purchases for Round #1 to the below choice selections, curated carefully by JW.

Popular culture has been traditionally unkind to British food.  But for every boiled tomato, I think there are dozens of extremely tasty treats from the old country loading with flavour.

Bangers – The first half of the infamous duo of “bangers and mash.”  Without underselling them, these essentially taste like breakfast sausages, but they are the size and texture of a bratwurst.  I ate mine without any mashed potatoes, and the experience felt a tad incomplete. But they were certainly tasty.

 

 

Sausage Roll – A sausage (maybe a banger?) encrusted in a somewhat flakey breading (maybe deep fried?).  I ate mine cold and did not regret it.  I am sure that a fresh, warm, toasty sausage roll is its own delicious experience. But I was pleasantly surprised how tasty it was cold – since often cold fried stuff has a certain nastiness to it.  No such nastiness here. All tastiness.

 

 

Scotch Egg – What’s inside this breaded ball? Well, egg. But based on its size there must be something else right? I bit into my scotch egg with absolutely no idea what lay inside. Could’ve been more egg. Could’ve been lobster (to which I am allergic). It was in fact…meat. Super yummy meat. Sausage. Pork sausage I believe. Almost a ham/bacon flavor to it. So like the layers of the earth, there was a nice breaded external crust.   Then a hammy, sausage inner layer. Then the exterior core of hard boiled egg white. Then at the absolute core was the yolk – also hard boiled.  It’s like a hard-boiled egg, but EXTREME!

Fruit Pastilles –At first bite, the taste and crunch of oversized sugar granules on the exterior, lead you to believe that you are just eating a flattened out gumdrop – flat on both sides, about ¼ thick.   But the Fruit Pastille is a bit different than the gumdrop beyond its shape.  It’s harder – not full on Jujy-fruit-hard – but you’ll need to engage your molars for sure.  Then, once you get through the sugar shell, you’ll realize that they are just a tad bit less sweet than your standard American gumdrop.

 

Eight British Chips – RANKED

Tayto Smoky Bacon  (the BIG 37.5g bag) distinct from American bacon flavor in that it did not taste like bacon bits.  That is nether a compliment nor an condemnation.  My sense is that in Britain, bacon is a bit more like ham than the American super crispy uber salty.  That translated here. Will say, I did not detect much smokiness, which I do not necessarily think is an issue of cultural flavor.  But as with 99% of chips we review – yes, they are tasty.  They’re chips! (Note: as I write this, Mrs. Gallon commented on them, about 20 minutes after she tried them together.  She thought they tasted like vomit (her words) and the taste stayed with her.

Hula Hoops (Salt and Vinegar) – Same as the Original (below), but better.  As much as I enjoyed the original Hula Hoop in its shape and texture, the flavor there is a little too plain. Frankly, I had to look at the package to determine that it was potato based (as opposed to rice, or soy, or horse hooves).    Salt and vinegar is a distinctly British taste that lives perfectly on the Hula Hoop.

 

 

Walkers Cheese and Onion – Walkers (literally the same logo as Lays, with the word “Walkers” inside) gives us a great chip. But it should really be called “Onion and Cheese.” Or better yet “Onion, Onion, and Cheese.”  Plenty of Onion in there baby.   Of course we have to compare these to America’s sour cream and onion chips.  They are similar, but no no green specs flecked atop each chip.   Also about sixteen times more onion taste.  Mrs. Gallon will not be pleased whilst cuddling tonight.

 

Hula Hoops (Original) – These are a top notch snack. First, they are pretty unique in my vast snacking experience, made out of a sturdy ring of potato.  The thickness is the treasure here. Whereas a lot of snacks pride themselves on being “crispy,” or “melting” away, Hula Hoops promise thick snacking for a violent crunch in each bite.  Every hoop feels like a Godzilla level destruction in your mouth.

 

Walkers Salt and Vinegar – Walkers (British for “Lays”) classic British flavor offered in a chip.  Solid chip and in form, very similar to the American Lays.  The taste was a little too vinegary compared to my beloved Salt and Vinegar Hula Hoops, which were more mild and pleasing to my sensitive American palate

 

 

Quavers – These light and crispy chips have some good flavor. Purportedly cheese flavored, but the folks at Walkers must have snuck plenty of garlic in there too based on my breath afterwards.  Quavers succeed in their mission, which is to be crunchy. But this type of snack is low on my list based on how light it is. I like my snacks dense and filling. This bag would have to be three times as big to convince me it was worth it (especially in comparison to the dense and sturdy Hula Hoops).

 

Twiglets – I was most curious about Twiglets because they seem to be the most uniquely British in name and reputation.   In sum they  taste like burnt Cheetos without the cheese and with ashes of a house fire sprinkled on top. Sounds terrible right?  Yeah. But somehow they aren’t terrible.  I found them oddly compelling and kept going back to the bag.  My guess is that these are a Vege-mite type of flavor that my American taste buds just aren’t yet evolved to receive.

 

 

Delightfully Floaty Fizzibly Melty Prawn Cocktail Flavour Skips – I, Hugh Gallon, have a shellfish allergy, so much of this review as the opinions of my dear wife, Mrs. Gallon, and also, friends of the show Mr. and Mrs. Gary Costello.  Mrs. Costello was the biggest fan, comparing them to perhaps a shrimp salad type of taste. She noted a strong aftertaste but didn’t seem to find it off-putting. Her five year old daughter also enjoyed them. My guess is she enjoyed the texture, which were a puffy, melty, foam type of texture. Sort of fun to feel it disintegrate in your mouth – hence the made up marketing term, “fizzibly.”   Gary Costello tried one with an open mind, but was almost immediately turned off.  He was then even further turned off by the aftertaste.   I, despite m allergy decided to dig in after checking out the ingredients. I determined with relative certainly that there was no actual prawn inside. Although soy and gluten allergies abound (go figure).  It seemed safe.  I did not like them. But on account of my allegory, I don’t eat the stuff and have no taste for it. If my allergy went away tomorrow, I probably wouldn’t enjoy the most gourmet shrimp in the world.   Mrs. Gallon, a shrimp enthusiast, would not eat them at all.  While you may not consider that a review of the snack, since she never ate any, her response is a review of sorts.  It speaks to the lack of this snack’s cultural flexibility.  Her deeply American palate was not even interested in entertaining this “exotic” snack.  Granted, I have seen prawn flavored snacks on the regular from Europe to Asia.  But in the U.S…not so much.

Lays Do Us a Flavor ’17 – Ep. 96

Rod and Hugh are back for the fourth (fifth?) time to talk about Lays Do Us a Flavor with live taste tests and some complain’ about Lays (who are clearly the enemy for putting on a free, voluntary contest for the public.  They also tried a few other fringe flavors, not official in this year’s competition…(check our rankings of ALL FOURTEEN Lays Do Us a Flavor Finalists over the years.)

Fried Green Tomato (’17 Finalist) – A good idea.  It’s sufficiently unique, but not wacky.  The challenge here was harnessing a flavor that’s (a) not terribly well-known and (b) not particularly distinctive.   Note that the image on the bag has a sauce on the top of the fried tomato. That mystery sauce gives Lays license to flavor the chip however they want, I suppose. Well, they decided to flavor it like black pepper.  Lots of black pepper taste in there.  It’s a bit like a salt and pepper chip, but with more pepper.  Any green tomato taste was lost on us.  A good tasting chip to be sure. But even with the power of suggestion, Fried Green Tomato doesn’t really proffer its namesake flavor. Flavor: 8.25 / Originality: 8 / Accuracy of flavor: 1.5 / Total:  17.75

Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese (’17 Finalist) – An intuitive idea that I’m surprised hasn’t been tried before in a mainstream chip.  Not exactly the triple lindy for Lays flavor chemists though. Which is to say that everything bagels, while tasty, are driven by salt, garlic, onion, and poppy seeds – all flavors you can easily just pour onto some potato chips. So to increase the challenge they add, “with cream cheese.” Okay. Yeah. The cream cheese is there in there, resulting in a tasty, albeit non-daring entry into the Lays contest. Flavor: 7 /Originality: 5.25 / Accuracy of flavor:  6 /Total: 18.25

Crispy Taco (’17 Finalist) – Hugh hates that this one is so highly ranked because the idea is so uninspired (no offense to the person who pitched it).  Hugh has always wanted this contest to offer something entirely new, but also viable.  Taco flavored chips are old hat – mostly in the tortilla space, but it’s also a well tread road in potato chips.  But ‘ole Crispy Taco makes up ground with its tastiness. And even more so in accuracy of flavor.  You may say that it’s nothing too impressive to hit a taco flavor – just shake a packet of Ortega Taco Seasoning on a chip and there you have it.  Can’t argue with ya.  So what the heck is so impressive about Lays Crispy Taco? The “crispy,” you fool!  This POTATO chip, gives off a pitch perfect hard shell CORN tortilla flavor (a corn flavored potato chip is, admittedly, not unheard of). It melds perfectly with the eponymous taco seasoning. Then, your brain is in full taco mode and you start picking up tomato and lettuce. Lettuce! In a chip? What?  Okay, the lettuce might be power of suggestion. But Lays sparked my flavor imagination here.  I usually complain about gimmick flavors that taste too much like its namesake – it can by spooky and unsettling. But here, Crispy Taco managed to claw its way to the other side of the uncanny valley of flavor. Flavor: 9 / Originality: 1.5 / Accuracy of flavor 9.75 / Total: 20.25

And a few not in the competition, but noteworthy nonetheless…

Lays Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Poppers –  these came out right at the same time as the 2017 Do Us a Flavor contest, but oddly were not one of the three finalists for that year’s contest.  I suppose it could be a Lays creation, but it smacks of user submission sensibility.  Taste-wise, we give these good marks, although the namesake flavor (or flavors) are understated to the point they are not particularly identifiable.  The cream cheese is mostly invisible, which is surprising since Lays did successfully evoke cream cheese that same month with the Do Us a Flavor finalist, “Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese.”   The bacon flavor was surprisingly subtle, which I suppose is a good show of restraint by Lays in this bacon-crazed society of ours.  The jalapeño was the most notable flavor, but also restrained, mostly revealing itself at the end and in the aftertaste.  And as a whole, they don’t scream, “Lays Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Popper!”  That’s not to say these are flavorless. They are good.  But like many other gimmick flavors, this is, a unique idea and a tasty chip.  But it fails in its evoking its namesake flavor.

Lays Sea Salt and Lime – Wow.  These were a sweet surprise.   These were labeled, “Limited Time Flavor,” and I know that they are. But I have seen them from time to time before, at least in ethnic/foreign specialty shops and internationally.   Based on the name, my instinct on these is that these would simply meld the bitterness of lime with saltiness of a chip – an idea I didn’t love.  I am pleased to announce that Lays made a sweet potato chip (not a “sweet potato” chip, but a sweet “potato chip.”)  It would be more fitting to call this, limeade, or monitor, or margarita, given the sweetness.  Not that these are sugar bombs.  The sweetness is appropriate and well, balanced by salt.

We’ve covered this promotion thing plenty before…

Episode 1: The Chip Episode

Episode: 20 Lays Do Us a Flavor 2015

Episode 45: Lays Do Us A Flavor

Episode 85: Lays Do Us a Flavor 2017 – The Pitch! Ep. 85

All of the Finalist Flavors Reviewed and Ranked

 

Extreme Foods – Ep. 95

Fried Crickets, vomit flavored jellybeans, Haribo sugarless gummy bears (toxic flatulence-inducing, of internet legend), and least impressively Toxic Waste Sour Candy – Rod and Hugh dare to try them all. Episode 95, with real gagging sound effects!

 

Fried Crickets courtesy of entomarket in three flavors: Sour Cream and Onion, Chocolate and Coffee, Siracha…

 

 

 

 

Jelly Belly Beanboozled Jelly Beans – flavors include

• Barf
• Booger
• Canned Dog Food
• Dead Fish
• Lawn Clippings
• Moldy Cheese
• Rotten Egg
• Stinky Socks
• Spoiled Milk
• Toothpaste

 


Sugar free Gummy Bears, purported to cause gastronomical distress of epic proportions.

https://www.amazon.com/Albanese-Candy-Sugar-Assorted-5-pound/product-reviews/B00DE4GWWY

 

 

 

Check the scale on the back. How long can you last? Are you a “total wuss?” (15 seconds) or a “full toxie head?” (60 seconds). Take the challenge and see (spoiler – its not really all that bad, especially after 10 seconds…)

Party Foods – Ep. 94

After bearing the heavy burden of throwing a party for my dear wife’s 40th birthday, I

determined the major upsides to the obligation:

(1) I could stockpile our house with all sorts of junk food in the name of marital affection, so long as I focused on her favorite foods;

(2) I could be extravagant in food choices and volume – because who wants to throw a lame party?

(3) I could document the affair for the education and enjoyment of the Hungry Dads audience.

The party menu, as designed by a Hungry Dad:

 

 

There was a surprise party at a yogurt shop…all you could eat yogurt/candy.  I was a hero to all.

 

 

Then a party at our house, with the following:

 

Utz/Herrs Party Mix – It’s not a party without Party Mix.  And this party mix are post-party remnants, with a surprisingly high ratio of Cheetos/cheese crunches.  In this episode, we posit a hypothesis on why the pretzels were plucked out at a higher rate (the “hypothesis” is beer).

 

 

 

Pretzel Bites – A surprise hit with guests.  Highly recommended. Simple but not the kind of party food you see every day.

 

 

 

The Big Sandwich – I am a huge fan of the big sandwich.  It’s a party staple and leftovers are surprisingly versatile.  Just remember to deconstruct any portion of the leftover sandwich that you won’t eat in a few days.  Leftover big sandwich sans lettuce/tomato can keep longer without getting gross – even in the freezer for a future hot sandwich.  Leftover lettuce tomato can serve as a salad in the days after the party (if you are a salad kinda person…we don’t judge).

 

 

 

French Fries – Fries are a crowd pleaser, but beware of having them delivered/brought in. By the time they are packed and travel, the crispy fry-job is lost and they taste more steamed.  Tasty enough. But a bit of a disappointment.

 

 

 

Coffeecake – you may say, “wait…coffeecake at a party…this isn’t an after-church morning mixer…” Well, let me tell you, at this party – coffeecake, served alongside beer and boxed wine, was a hit.   Coffee cake took the place of a proper cake or cupcakes – and nobody complained.

 

 

 

Pizza – Uninspired perhaps. Every party, from a college frat rave to a 4 year old birthday is going to have pizza. And it should.  The good thing about pizza is its ubiquitous appeal, and the fact that if it runs low, you can have more on hand in 30 minutes or less.

 

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies – Cookies are a simple crowd pleaser to help diversify your sweet offerings. Not everyone is into cake.

 

 

 

 

Chicken Wings – A crowd pleaser of the highest order. The challenges is whether to get BBQ or Buffalo. My solution – get both. Problem solved.

 

 

 

Herrs Nacho Cheese Dip/ Mild Cheddar Cheese Dip – An essential accessory to the pretzel bites (see above).

 

 

 

 

Giant Reeses Peanut Butter Cups – Despite some controversy on its peanut butter to chocolate ratios, this serves as an amazing alternative to a cheese plate. Put this thing on a cheese plate with a knife and watch your guests gleefully hack off chunks of this bad boy.

 

 

 

Giant Reesess with Giant Twizzlers and a hand for scale – Giant candy is fun.

 

 

 

 

Mini Sugar Cookies – Like Chocolate Chip cookies (above) a simple crowd pleaser to help diversify your sweet offerings. Not everyone is into cake, or chocolate chip cookies.

 

 

 

La Croix Seltzer – People love seltzer – especially La Croix. What’s the deal? Don’t believe us? Check out our Seltzer Episode.

 

 

 

Utz Pretzel Rods – A solid offering for any party. Dip it in any cheeses, chocolates, marshmallow fluffs or mustards in sight.   And you can pretend it’s a cigar and you are a wall street fatcat!

 

 

 

Target Market Pantry Peanut Butter Filled Pretzels – Peanut butter filled pretzels should be a no-brainer.  And sure, these are okay, but the result is subpar when compared to expectations. Surprisingly, it’s the pretzel that overperforms here – crispy and mostly consisting of the salty outer shell.  But inside, the peanut butter is a dried out nugget of crusty peanut butter. Not a hint of creaminess or smoothness to it.

 

 


Random Candy – this represents only a portion of my spoils, a result of perhaps the finest food scam ever to be perpetrated.  The invitation read, “No Presents Please.” So polite right? But lets be real. People hate coming empty handed.  We’d likely end up with 25 bottles of red wine in surrogate, “non-presents.” To appease the giving instincts of party guests, they were invited to bring a small amount of the birthday girl’s favorite candy – it then listed off all of her favorites (and some of my own).  To each individual, “a little candy,” was still a good amount.  All together, we yielded a kings ransom in sour gummies, choco/peanut butter foodstuffs, fruit chews, and licorice.


S’mores Station – A fun, mildly kitchy element to the party, offering the primary constituents of the s’more and some more unorthodox options.  We offered many ways to make your s’more – microwave, over a gas-stove flame or simply by spreading it on without any heating element at all.

Reese’s Spread – Purchased as an accessory to the “s’mores station” at a 40th birthday party for those who wanted to craft a s’more without a heating element.  Reese’s spread delivers almost exactly what you would hope – a semi-liquid (plasma?) version of your favorite peanut butter cup.  An overall creamy texture with an undercurrent of fine, granular, crunchiness, which is seemingly peanut butter particles.  To be clear, these particles are not off-putting like sand. They melt in your mouth deliciously.  But it is worth remarking that the overall experience does not evoke Reeses Cups or Reese’s Pieces. Instead, interestingly, it evokes Butterfinger, based on the crunch and flavor of the aforementioned peanut butter particulate.

Hershey’s Spread –Delicious and chocolaty. Like milk chocolate delicious. It’s not “rich” chocolate – which to me is code for bitter.  This stuff is the liquid version of a Hershey bar.  And it’s not pretending to be healthy like Nutella.    (Purchased as an accessory to the “s’mores station” at a 40th birthday party for those who wanted to craft a s’more without a heating element.)


Marshmallow Fluff – Yep. Its liquidy, plasma-like marshmallow.  It delivers exactly what you want. With fluff, its kinda neat that you get just the “inside” of the marshmallow.  None of that dry exterior soaking up your saliva before you get to the sticky center – it’s all sticky center!  Also, a fantastic phenomenon of the marshmallow fluff is that after you’ve pilfered some with, lets say, a spoon – within a few seconds, the top evens out, eliminating any evidence. It becomes smooth as paper.  Imagine how much time you spend trying to conceal your spoon marks in peanut butter or ice cream. No such issue here.  (Purchased as an accessory to the “s’mores station” at a 40th birthday party for those who wanted to craft a s’more without a heating element.)

 


Flipz Chocolate Covered Pretzels – The mix of salty and sweet in the chocolate covered pretzel is a crowd pleaser and I’m not sure anyone does it better than Flipz. There may be some “Ye Olde Chocolate Shop” on the boardwalk somewhere who supposedly does it better.  Strip away the charm and nostalgia, and I’ll bet these mass-manufactured versions are better.  Scientifically ideal ratios of chocolate, salt, and pretzel. God bless the mass-food production industrial machine.

 


Kenny’s Krumbs – “The best part of the crumb cake,” they claim.  A bold claim to which Kenny does not deliver.  Kenny provides a suitable and tasty cinnamon/brown sugar cookie-style offering.  But this does not, frankly, compare to the crumbly top part of a crumb cake.  A great idea worthy of Seinfeld’s “Top O’ the Muffin,” but not evocative of the crumb cake top.

 

 


Kettle Corn – A party favorite. Nuff’ said.

 

 

 

 

A jar of candy – this also represents only a portion of my spoils, a result of perhaps the finest food scam ever to be perpetrated.  The invitation read, “No Presents Please.” So polite right? But lets be real. People hate coming empty handed.  We’d likely end up with 25 bottles of red wine in surrogate, “non-presents.” To appease the giving instincts of party guests, they were invited to bring a small amount of the birthday girl’s favorite candy – it then listed off all of her favorites (and some of my own).  To each individual, “a little candy,” was still a good amount.  All together, we yielded a kings ransom in sour gummies, choco/peanut butter foodstuffs, fruit chews, and licorice.

 

An etsy-style, “candy-cake” with candies formed atop Styrofoam in a cake shape – an extremely thoughtful gift from a party guest which also represents only a portion of my spoils, a result of perhaps the finest food scam ever to be perpetrated.  The invitation read, “No Presents Please.” So polite right? But let’s be real. People hate coming empty handed.  We’d likely end up with 25 bottles of red wine in surrogate, “non-presents.” To appease the giving instincts of party guests, they were invited to bring a small amount of the birthday girl’s favorite candy – it then listed off all of her favorites (and some of my own).  To each individual, “a little candy,” was still a good amount.  All together, we yielded a kings ransom in sour gummies, choco/peanut butter foodstuffs, fruit chews, and licorice.

 

More chicken wings – see above.

 

 

 

 

Breckenridge Brewery Vanilla Porter – I like porters, often, because they can meld in flavors that I would otherwise call a snack – chocolate, s’mores, and here vanilla.  While I sort of dream that it will be a milkshake in a bottle, I honestly am always pleased when I get a tasty beer with a twinge of the sweet taste offered on the label. Here, Breckenridge Brewery gives us a pretty nice porter with a smattering of vanilla. Myself, not a beer enthusiast, would have welcomed some more vanilla here.  Nonetheless, this was a tasty one.

 

 

Not Your Mom’s Apple Pie/Strawberry Rhubarb – So these aren’t beer (I don’t think) or wine coolers – but they are alcoholic and the offshoot (I think) of the popular “Not your Father’s” brand of alcoholic root beer.  Whether or not these are a sweet beer, a wine cooler, or something else entirely, these are the bottled equivalent of a drink with a flower in it. Utterly un-masculine and utterly delicious. I could drink these all day.  That said, if you feel a little effeminate drinking it, feel free to ogle the shapely and attractive “mom” on the front of the label offering you her pie.  Norman Rockwell-meets-pinup girl. Definitely not your mom.

 

Pendulum Pilsner – An Edgar Allen Poe themed beer in honor of my wife’s Baltimore roots.

 

 

 

 

Sweet Baby Jesus! Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter – As noted before, I like porters, often, because they can meld in flavors that I would otherwise call a snack – chocolate, s’mores, vanilla.  But is there any chance they can meld chocolate/peanut butter with beer and not make it terrible?  Yes. Yes they can. And they did. This thing is tasty, tasty, tasty.  It’s not some sugar laden faux beer. Nope. Its porter and its surprisingly not sweet.  It takes chocolate, which is by its nature bitter, and peanuts, which are not naturally sweet, and put them in the porter, and…and… it works. That’s all I can say.  It evokes the peanut butter part of my brain and keeps up as a tasty porter.

 

FOOD  – Plan to feed fifty people.  Have it served/delivered waves:

  • 6pm – snacks, chips, crackers, soft pretzels, sushi, drinks
  • 645pm – sliders, fries
  • 715pm pizza, wings
  • 9:15PM: Dessert
  • Soft Pretzels (from the store, in our oven): 24 soft pretzels, mustard, cheese dip
  • Sushi Party Tray 1 (8 rolls): 2 Spicy Tuna, 2 California, 2 Salmon Avocado, 2 Shrimp Tempura
  • Sushi Party Tray 2 (16 sushi, 3 rolls): 16 pcs. Assort. sushi, 1 Dragon roll, 1 Rainbow roll, 1 Cali
  • 48 sliders (four trays) – assorted 8 Beef, 16 cheeseburger, 8 Pulled Chicken, 6 Pulled Pork, 6 Chicken, 4 Veggie
  • 3-4 catering orders of fries
  • 2 catering orders of sweet potato fries
  • 1 catering order of onion rings
  • 32 slices of pizza (four pizzas 2 plain, one meat, half veggie, half mushroom)
  • 2 Full trays of wings (serves 14-18 each tray) – one hot, one BBQ3-foot sandwich (ham, turkey, cheddar)
  • Snacks/Dessert – Pretzels, Flavored Popcorn, Chips, Kenny’s Crumbs, Giant Reeses, S’mores Station, Coffeecake, cookies

DRINK

  • Wine – 25 bottles: enough for 25 wine drinkers (1 bottle/4 drinks per wine drinker)
  • (get 60%-70% white, 15% red, 15% rose – 17 white, 4 red, 4 rose)
  • Beer – 25 six packs: enough for 25 beer drinkers (4-6 beers per beer drinker)
  • Soda/seltzer – La Croix Seltzer – 36 cans, Coke – 12 cans / Diet Coke – 12 cans, Boylan’s diet crème soda / Boylan’s diet black cherry soda

Butter Etiquette – Ep. 93

It’s high time someone on the internet took a good hard look at the various butter etiquette nuances out there. I mean, seriously, is it okay to use butter on a chocolate muffin?  How about on a peanut butter and jelly and butter sandwich? How about for shavin’ them man whiskers?

Fortunately, Hugh and Rod have once again heroically stepped in to provide you, the Hungry Dads listener, with the indispensable “Butter Appropriateness Quiz” ©  Rod ranks the following butter scenarios in the order of most appropriate use of butter to the least appropriate use of butter. Feel free to rank them for yourself and see if you’re as smart as Rod!

BUTTER USE SCENARIOS IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

  • Blueberry Muffin
  • Movie Theater Popcorn
  • On a Steak
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly and Butter Sandwich
  • Ham and Butter Sandwich
  • In Coffee
  • Chocolate Muffin
  • Generously Buttering EVERY Bite of a Dinner Roll
  • Pop Tart
  • Saltine

Oh, and then the guys each perform a butter shave on-air.  Is that appropriate?  Listen to find out!!!

Girl Scout Cookies – Ep. 92

Thin Mints® , Samoas® , Tagalongs® , Trefoils® , Do-si-dos® ,  Toffee-tastic™ , Girl Scout S’mores™ – Rod and Hugh review them all – with live on-air taste tests. How do you pronounce “Trefoils?”  Are “Samoas” named after the people of a Polynesian Island?   These are just  a few of the discussions that display the Hungry Dads’ utter ignorance and lack of basic intelligence. Listen and feel smarter. 

Jerky, Slaw, Bed (Happy Father’s Day) – Ep. 91

The Hungry Dads, once again pay tribute to their own fathers, themselves, and fathers everywhere with focus on some manly father-favorite foods (jerky and coleslaw), by debating the manliest of foods, and by deciding whether or not breakfast in bed is a sham.  Special guest, father of the Rod Budget, the elder Budget, the Swammi of Slaw, the Babe Ruth of Cole Slaw, Hotbobby!

Reviewed in this episode:  Epic Meat Bars – Turkey Almond Cranberry, Bison Bacon Cranberry, Venison Sea Salt + Pepper

 

Rank ’em – Pizza, fries, burgers, drinking straws – Ep. 90

Rod and Hugh leverage their vast eating experience to objectively rank, compare, and contrast the spectrum of quality for pizza, french fries, burgers, and drinking straws.  If you thought they could only opine on the spectrum of soda, eggs, and sandwiches… think again. They have strong and important opinions about drinking straws, too! An important episode that is not to be missed.

 

Ranked! KFC’s Colonel Sanders Renditions (A Tastemaker Special) Ep. 89

We rank the various renditions of Colonel Sanders, examining the original first, then the imitators, good, bad, accurate, and illegitimate. Who will the next colonel be? Maybe our own Rod Budget?  A quick look at each of KFC’s Colonels discussed in this episode:

“Original Recipe” – The real guy. The standard by which the rest are measured.  Listen to Episode 73 for the story of how he may be Hugh Gallon’s father.

 

 

Animated (mentioned in jump the shark Episode 73) – Sort of nice animation and style, but they had the Colonel trying to be cool and a little “extreme” in that 1990s style – even a fluid hip motion “cabbage patch” dance… “Go colonel…Go colonel” … So lame. (trivia: voiced by Randy Quaid)

 

The Colonel of Two worlds/The Colonel Corps – Kitschy and in line with the broad “multiple colonel” vision. Good art. Not a good story.

 

Dolph Ziggler – During 2016 SummerSlam, a commercial showed wrestler Dolph Ziggler dressed up as Colonel Sanders beating up a giant chicken in a wrestling ring. Nice synergy and embedded content. Another play against the kindly old man archetype.

 

 

Rob Lowe – Smoldering good looks, distinguished charm, and sexy charisma. This might be the second best play against type for the ‘ole Colonel. Inspired choice and surprisingly A-list, even if a bit boring.

 

 

George Hamilton – Nice play on the crispy chicken bit with Hamilton’s deep tanned skin. But sort of hacky and a little gross to conflate the two images – crispy chicken skin and darkened human skin?

 

 

Rob Riggle –  Part of the success for any Colonel, is of course, being a fan of the person inside the white suit. I’ve seen a fair amount of Rob Riggle in stuff. I think he’s talented enough. Seems like a nice guy.  But I’ve never cared for his humor – not my style. But somehow his schtick as the Colonel cracked me up. Maybe the perfect role for him?

Billy Zane – The gold gimmick was lame. And why Billy Zane? If there is a clever connection between the two, let us know.

 

 

Norm McDonald – Perfect play against type and makes it clear that they are not trying to give us a viable Colonel Sanders. Got me excited about the “multiple colonels” campaign.

 

Jim Gaffigan – We predicted it! Good fit to type for the campaign (Gaffigan is irreverent loves food). This sort of kicked off Gaffigan as a bankable commercial personality.

 

Darrel Hammond – Hammond was the first in this new campaign of multiple colonels and his rendition was too earnest and quite creepy. Hated it at the time. I’ve softened on it though. We didn’t know the long term plan, and can forgive it some in retrospect.

Easter Eating, Passover, and Jackfruit – Ep. 88

It’s a springtime explosion, as the guys discuss two of the most important eating traditions during the season of renewal: Easter/Passover and jackfruit!  Don’t tell me you don’t know jack! You don’t know jack… fruit.  Listen to the episode for a rundown of Hugh’s jackfruit heroics, and click here for an even more detailed account complete with pictures and humiliations!