When I was your age, carrots were bigger, and better behaved.

September 9, 2010

So, um, yeah. I don’t really know what to say about this. This is really a thing.

I watched the video and I had to check the link to make sure it wasn’t a SNL fake ad, but, nope.

I mean, I can get really, truly, excessively, excited about people eating vegetables. Some of my best friends eat vegetables. I was even into it back in university. But is this the best way to promote veggies? Shopping-cart-cliff-jumping through machine gun fire? Explosions?

Extreme Pterodactyl?

Does this really make you want a carrot?

Oh, sorry, marketing execs and focus groups, you were saying— it does? Okay, carrots, you win. I’m just gonna go over into this corner and shrivel up and rock for awhile. Pay me no mind.


Grocery Store Musical by Improv Everywhere

October 21, 2009

Improv Everywhere is well-known for the frozen Grand Central Station thing they did last year, and the spontaneous wedding reception they pulled off earlier this summer. Here’s their latest: a seemingly spontaneous musical number in the produce section of a large grocery store in Queens.

I bet they were hoping to get the patrons in the grocery store to squish their fruit together, too. I think the onlookers might have participated if the request made a little more intuitive sense- I don’t really get the fruit-squishing thing and I’m gonna assume that means the grandmas in the grape aisle must have been even more confused. Still, fun!
Here’s their interesting photo-essay about the process.

Thanks to Peneycad for the tip.

Haw Flakes: World Grocery Store, Volume One

August 8, 2009
Don't eat the silver one.

Don't eat the silver one.

Haw Flakes are Chinatown’s answer to fruit leather. These coin-shaped bites of goodness were my mom’s most effective form of child-bribery, a much-anticipated treat to keep me quiet in the back seat during long drives home from Chinatown. Meanwhile, my mom sat up front with the twisty face of a salted-plum lover, but that’s another story for another day.

I haw, you haw, she haw, he haw.

I haw, you haw, she haw, he haw.

Made of Chinese Hawthorn, these nickel-sized, pinky-beige candy discs can be found in just about every Chinese grocery store, for the suspiciously low price of $2 for four packages. Inside each package are 10 little rolls containing 15 flakes each. If you’re still doing the math, you’ll realize that this is a lot of flakes for a low low price. Too good to be true? Yep. True anyway? You betcha.

Each roll of Haw Flakes comes carefully wrapped in a bilingual, eye-poppingly magenta label. The ends of each roll are capped with cheerful little paper circles marked “Sunflower”, ironically accompanied by an image of a lotus flower (look above the word “flakes” in the photo below). The package lists only three ingredients: Haw, Sugar, and the delightfully Engrish “Edibility Dye”.

If these belonged to The Who, they would be a hoohaw.

If these belonged to The Who, they would be a hoohaw.

Haw Flakes have a distinctive scent- like lemony raisins with a hint of brandy- and a sort of crispy-crumbly-chewy texture (a contradictory triad, yes, but herein lies the mystery of this great Chinese confection). They’re not sticky like fruit leather, nor brittle like banana chips, but somewhere in-between. I like to push one flake at a time against my incisors and speed-nibble them- they have a firm, slightly gritty texture that dissolves into sweet, mild-tasting pulp, with a flavour somewhere between dried apples, fig newtons, rose petals, and tea. If you’re familiar with tamarind, they kind of taste like tamarind if it wasn’t so sour. Or they taste kind of like the sweet scent of an unlit cigarette. If you think that sounds gross, you probably haven’t smelled an unlit cigarette lately- unlit cigarette tobbacco actually smells really nice. Also, why aren’t there better words for tastes?

If you ask around, Haw Flake enthusiasts may claim that the candy has vague health benefits- “good for digestion” was one I heard a few times. I can’t speak to that, but I will say that Haw Flakes are a pretty good gateway to the world of Chinese sweets, as their flavour, though distinct, is still somehow familiar, like a combination of other flavours you know and like. Plus, the fiddly little discs are fun to eat, and you can’t beat the price. And that’s that. Haw haw.

World Grocery Store is a new post series I’m gonna do very randomly, describing the stuff I like to buy in independent grocery stores.