Kraft Jet-Puffed StackerMallows

In the long-standing tradition of foodstuffs that have been created just so that someone can write “new” on the label, and people can have the illusion of convenience (but in most cases are just pure stupidity), comes Kraft’s new Jet-Puffed Stacker Mallows.

When someone tries to create something new that is designed to have an easier functionality than what is currently available, he must first identify what the problem is with the way that a product or service currently exists or operates. In some cases, where there isn’t much of a problem, but companies are looking to sell something, they can find the tiniest inconveniences and blow them up to ridiculous proportions.

In this particular case, Jet-Puffed has decided that putting marshmallows on a S’more is too difficult a task to accomplish due to the fact that they are ROUND, and stacking a flat object is much much easier. While I can’t argue with this logic, and their attempt to solve this problem is understandable (even though YOUNG KIDS have been able to accomplish S’more making for FOR-EVVV-ERRR), what they’ve come up with is completely underwhelming.

What would you think of if asked to imagine a marshmallow with flat sides? This thing that looks like tofu floating in hot chocolate? This disturbing image? Heck, even the fictional Stay Puft brand actually makes square marshmallows (or at least the omniconsumercorportaion does). Alas, no, THIS is what they came up with.

 

This is what marshmallows look like when stepped on. You want to eat a stepped-on marshmallow?

It’s not that hard to make square marshmallows. And it probably would be easier to make them on an assembly line than round ones anyway: just make a large mallow sheet and have a grid come down to cut it into squares. What Jet-Puffed seems to have effectively done here is take their regular marshmallows and put them through some kind of press, squeezing all of the air out and leaving their product a rubbery tile of something or other. Even worse, the increased surface area to volume ratio means that there is much more of the confectioners sugar-type coating that is aimed to prevent the marshmallow from sticking. This, in turn, dries out your mouth and leaves a gritty residue inside of it. It is not an appealing taste sensation.

But that’s raw. Mallows could also be eaten in a molten state, roasted over a fire or microwaved. How would they fare this way? Well, as far as roasting them goes, it would be nearly impossible to put one of these on a stick and hold it over a fire. The thinness would give them little or no support on the stick and they would fall off, on the dirty ground, leaving your kid in state of sadness worse than this stupid kid or even this. Do you really want to be the guy who makes the mets miss the postseason because of flat marshmallows and dead Santas? I didn’t think so.

But how exactly ARE stackermallows effective? On the back, three “recipes” to make S’mores are listed: Microwave (which this seems to be made exactly for), a toaster oven (which i guess could work)… or wrapping a pre-made s’more in foil and putting it on a grill. How is that last one easier or more fun than this? And even with the microwave or toaster oven option, they’re missing the most important part: regular marshmallows have flat tops and bottoms that allow them to stand on their ends on the s’more as they currently are. They’ve completely made up this stackability problem and are trying to sell you something completely unnecessary, re-inventing the wheel, almost literally.

Basically what I’m saying is that Jet-Puffed ruined my childhood and owes me an apology*.

*not really

Kraft Jet-Puffed Stacker Mallows get 0 stars for basically being flat, rubbery, smushed, airless, grainy tablets trying to pass as marshmallows. Jet-Puffed is trying to sell a fallacy that making S’mores is difficult and their product makes that process simpler, when in reality, it probably is no easier. In addition, they deprive you of one of the biggest joys of eating marshmallows, roasing them over a fire, and then sticking the flaming wad of sugar in your sibling’s face.

The 2006 Fuller Christmas Letter

Look, we have a new design! If there are any issues with this new layout, please (please, please) leave a comment so I can fix it. It looks fine on my computer, but maybe it doesn’t on yours. Please let us know what you think – Positive, Negative, Who Cares – in the comments section for this review.

What with my mom using a computer relatively regularly these days, she’s made a habit of writing a Christmas letter every year to stuff into Christmas cards. I’ve long been on the record about the, well, “impersonal-ness” of Christmas card letters, but at the end of the day, is a general letter any more impersonal than the simple signatures at the bottom of any Christmas card? Eh, not really. Two (three? – maybe four? – god, I’m old) years ago, I actually made a deal with my mom that I would write the letter for the cards, mainly because I had complained about the content in years past. She sent my letter out indiscriminately with the cards, so I’m sure that my tale of how my brother had become an unsuccessful comic artist/writer probably fell upon many a “not getting the joke” ear. Anyway, that’s in the past, so here we are at 2006’s letter.

Nate still hates Christmas.

First, let it be known that I don’t feel bad reviewing my mom’s letter – as my mother, she should expect no less from me. Whatever the star rating I assign, she should simply say, “well, that’s Dan for ya.” In her defense, this the first year that both my brother and I have been completely out of her hair, both having completely moved out years and (almost) a year ago.

On to the letter (note: my comments are in pop-ins, so be sure to hover over what look to be links):

MERRY CHRISTMAS – HAPPY, HEALTHY 2007

The usual busy-ness has overtaken our lives despite our empty nest. Gordon’s mother passed away in Wilmington in March after her 16+ year siege of dementia or Alzheimer’s. It took about 4 months to know that working weekends & holidays were no longer for me, as much as I enjoyed it. Our business and my new (in August) Nursery School director/ teacher position, trying to rebuild the program, at our nearby church, Mon.-Fri., and painting our new kitchen trim/doors/walls keep me hopping. Sept. & Oct. were crazy with 3 part-time jobs. I left the organist position 10/31.

We celebrated 3 November weekends by going to the Delaware shore – visiting relatives, to Gordon’s take-in father, now 90, in So. N.J., and to Longwood Gardens!

Our business went through a few slower months again this year, but Gordon keeps busy. We were fortunate to have work, while other shops were extremely slow or dead. We’re dinosaurs. Dealerships, as you know, give huge, extended warranties on new vehicles. There are dealer-only repairs due to technological restrictions. The trend is for repair information to be restricted or unavailable- e.g. our ’97 Volvo wagon.

Brian and Beth are fine, in Oxford (near the very recent Amish one-room schoolhouse tragic shooting). She’s made a great recovery from thyroid cancer surgery/treatment, enjoying her new, administrative job with the same hospice. Brian, a Nationwide Ins. senior claims adjuster, is in Chester County, also. We plan to see more of them on our weekends! Brian and Dan live 40 minutes apart.

Dan lives in Media, an hour+ away from us, and is a project manager for LaFrance Corp., Concordville, PA. He works in its factory in China, a 45 minute ferry ride from Hong Kong, a few times a year for a few weeks. Interesting work, but definitely a company city in a ‘third world’ area, he says. After five VERY hot, humid summer weeks, he preferred his three weeks during a very warm, not-so-humid fall. He and his high school friends premiered their new movie, Franklin II, this Saturday night at a church in Bethlehem. They have a good time. It’s not serious movie-making, but with serious production values, I guess. His website is emptybookshelf.com.

Come see our kitchen some time. Primer White (2 coats on walls & trim, which our 2nd contractor custom-made to cover #1’s mistakes takes time!) is looking pretty good. But that’s another story. The year of our totally incompetent contractor-thief is over! I’m jealous of all you handypeople!!

Sorry to be late, but the best to you in 2007!

Love,
Peggy and Gordon

end of letter
***

The 2006 Fuller Christmas Letter receives three stars. There was nothing patently untrue or unnecessarily subjective in it, though the details which make my life more difficult (such as the whole putting the ‘works in China’ part before ‘for a few weeks each year’) makes my Christmas season filled with too many conversations that start with “So, Dan, I hear you’re in China most of the year” then me following with, “well, I’m there less than two months per year…I’m in the US most of the year.” Minor grammatical quibbles aside, it provided a fair update of the Fullers for 2006AD.

I’ve never been known for my punctuality, so I cannot deduct any points for the fact that the cards will be going out during Epiphany instead of Advent/Christmas.

Empty Bookshelf’s First 100 Reviews


Oh, those kids. Always at it. You guys really shouldn’t’ve.

So here we are at the first of what may be a few reviews of our first milestone, 100 reviews. Not only is this the first review of this milestone, but of what could be very many milestones. We here at the Bookshelf like the word “milestone“, and don’t believe in Thesauruses. So here we go, our first hundred in a nutshell.

The first actual review happened way back in October of 2005… remember that time before the Steelers won the superbowl, before “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” movie, before Dick Cheny accidentally shot his friend while hunting, and before Bristol, United Kingdom celebrated the 200th birthday of Isambard Kingdom Brunel (actually April 9) by relighting the Clifton Suspension Bridge?

Dan’s first review was aimed at complaining about post-game hype surrounding an extremely long baseball game. Of course our readers probably care about boring Astros-Braves baseball games as much as they seemed to care about my terrible review of the dictionary. Even though that picture was good, it was nowhere near the five star quality of this image. I too tried my hand at reviewing food, but it was an utter failure. On the plus side, my review of the letter to the editor is one of my favorites, and my first review actually got eight comments, including this link. The few following that grilled chese review focused mostly on music, my opinion of “Good Night, and Good Luck”, a particular episode of Trading Spouses, and Dan’s opinion of My opinion of “Good Night, and Good Luck”. Dan also said that the Colbert report wouldn’t last, which seems to have been proven false.

October seemed to be us finding our footing.
***

November saw Dan’s Cleveland Trifecta, a diatribe against horses, a road that he liked, an episode of “Coach“, and his complaints about how much he aches, now that he’s an old man. I started the month strong with the Beth review, but struggled through the rest of it, with lame reviews like Thursday, a type of tooth”paste” that doesn’t work for me, and an insightful, yet completely unnecessary complaint about my nosebleeds. My FAO Schwarz review kinda made up for them, but the highlight of the month involved Dan and I sparring about how Christmas is coming earlier every year, and something about me being a time-traveling sheep.

November didn’t see much improvement over October, but the Christmas stuff was entertaining.
***½

December got a bit better, even with a few less reviews. I busted out the old NES games, for a few reviews that I swear are not trying to copy off of XE, another personal favorite, Christmas Cards, Adam’s first review, Dan throwing the hate down on Pitchfork media, and a suprising amount of people commenting on Roger Ebert’s take on video games. The biggest advance in December was the pop-ins, that added added some clarity to our parentheses-obsessed-writing.

December was a highly engaging and entertaining month, even with only nine reviews.
****½

2006 rolled around, and January saw Dan get political, review half of a book, not like warm winters a lot. I only contributed three of ten reviews that month, but all three of them were relatively alright, mostly because “Where In Time is Carmen Sandiego“, and “The Simpsons” after season 9 is so easy to complain about.

January’s topics fell off a little.
***½

February, while being the shortest month, was also a monster for us, as far as number goes. A whopping twenty-one reviews. To be fair, 17 of them came in our envelope-pushing live superbowl reviews, the biggest stunt pulled in the history of reviewing anything and everything on a five star scale. The only other reviews of any substance were my Gauntlet Review of the Beatles albums, and Dan’s digging up of our one-issue underground high-school newspaper.

Despite the big stunt, and two good reviews, February was kinda lacking.
**½

March just plain sucked. Four reviews total. One by me. Three megareviews by Dan.

½

April was slightly better, with another of my top five of my reviews, Legacy of the Wizard. The other four I would give an average of 3 stars to, but since there were only four during the month, that’s going to cancel out the Legacy of the Wizard bonus and take it down a half star.

**½

For my money, May was our best month yet. Dan’s contribution was the lengthy three-part TV landscape review. I threw out quality stuff with my Songs for Silverman, and Degree Navigator reviews. The shorter American Dreamz and Davinci Code video game reviews were serviceable, but my immense LOST season 2 review tops everything.

*****

June fell off a bit. Four reviews total. Split two and two. Mine were based on a ridiculous news story, and anger at other people for coincidentally coming up with the same ideas as me. Dan tried to put everything into perspective by seeing how well the entire history of human ingenuity and artistry stacked up in the interstellar community, and complained a little about how the national geography of roadways isn’t designed to suit his needs.

**

July was filled with the (I gotta admit my ignorance as to the relevance of this phrase… and wikipedia does nothing to help) Navel Gazing set. I was had for a few minutes by a Jimmy Kimmel hoax, and I thought the critics were a little too harsh on Shayamalan. Despite the mediocre numbers for the month, I’d give it a 3.5

***½

This gives us a per-month average of 3 stars, which isn’t too shabby.

In my first ever review, I reviewed the concept of this website. I claimed that we wouldn’t be able to keep it fresh, that we’d run out of ideas, and that we wouldn’t be able to stay somewhat funny at least. I believe my exact quote was “It has the potential to provide hours of entertainment for readers, and shape their lives for years to come. However, the downside is that it could get old real soon, and provide us with nothing but an excuse not to get real jobs.”

Well, I think we’ve significantly proven wrong every single point that I just brought up. We have 29 categories, 19 subcategories, and even two sub-sub categories. We’re still writing about reasonably different things, and while we may have slacked on the funny in recent months, we still bring the ‘A’ game on occasion. As far as my quote goes, I’d be willing to bet that we’ve provided maybe a few hours of entertainment for a handful of people, which probably did nothing to shape their lives for even the near fututre. On the upside, it hasn’t gotten old, and we have gotten real-ish jobs.

For all of these reasons, I’m willing to up our star rating by half a star, over the average rating of 3. I’ve also realized that my method of calculating the rating might not be the best, so I’m gonna throw in another half star for a final rating of 4 stars out of five.

****

And for those of you playing along at home, yes, this technically is the 100th review and so therefore should be included. This review receives 3 stars for not having much to offer in the way of witty musings, and for having a faulty overall rating method, but for packing so many subjects and links into one review.

***

Warm Winters

Mini-Review!

Not to get all Seinfeldian here, but really, what’s the deal with warm winters? Here it is, January and it’s feeling like mid-March. Everyone knows what winter is good for, so I won’t go into detail here, but still, I expect some snowy fun. Of course it did snow in December and it remained cold enough to make driving no fun for a solid two weeks or so, but spring time in January? I won’t have any of that. And for those of you who hate the cold weather, just remember there’s a whole month (then three weeks) for the weather to get back in sync. So at best, this warm spell serves only to get your hopes up as February prepares its icy wrath.

robin
Yes, this is a picture of a robin. Yes, I took it today. Yes, it’s January. No, I don’t expect a prize for seeing the first one. (Calvin and Hobbes joke, there)

**

Warm Winters receive two stars due to their disobeying of the natural order of things. I’ve not skiied for a number of years BM, but if I were a skier, I wouldn’t be a happy camper. Is it too much to ask that the seasons be seasonal? The two stars are given for the fact that the car-based world is generally a safer place when roads aren’t slippery and the fact that my house is kept at the “meat locker” setting on the thermostat and warmer weather makes that much less of an issue. Regardless, I want my wintry rage!