Snackline Media 2017: Jen Takes on the Food

Another April 1st, another Snackline Media! Jen struck out with every item she chose, but her pain is your gain.

Bai: Tanzania Lemonade Tea

I honestly can’t think of a drink with a more obnoxious presentation. Before you even open the cap, you’re pelted with phrases like “Antioxidant Supertea,” “Nature’s Caffeine” and “Fan-favored flavor that tastes like the quarterback just kissed the prom queen.” It’s the kind of marketing that sours my tongue before I’ve even taken a sip: this level of cutesy copy wants to sell me on Bai as a lifestyle, in case the flavor itself doesn’t make an impression. The label itself is as cheap as its promises, with a fit so loose that I managed to rotate it simply by tightening and unscrewing the lid.

The flavor itself is indistinguishable from an Arnold Palmer, only with a significantly lower dose of sugar. There’s not much else to it: just the achingly sweet sensation you’ll find from most other drinks that combine lemonade and tea. You’ll just have to ask yourself whether you’re willing to carry around the healthier Bai when almost every word printed on its label is so obnoxious.

Chips Ahoy! Red Velvet

Looking back, I can see why my parents made Chewy Chips Ahoy! a mainstay in my childhood lunch box. They were smaller than just about any other cookie, but it was the quantity that we paid attention to at that age, and getting four of any dessert felt like a blessing. As much as I loved them, their appeal hasn’t held up: the unwavering consistency of its chemical taste grows old after a while, and there are plenty of unfamiliar snacks worth exploring before the reaper comes for me in his Bugles-branded coffin.

Chips Ahoy! Red Velvet feels like a gambit to bring the millennial drifters like me back into the fold. Based on its ubiquity in the snack aisle, Red Velvet is a moderately successful venture where everyone wants in. Colin once offered me a Red Velvet Pop Tart, which felt like it checked all its necessary boxes (competent flavor without drawing too much attention to itself) before going back to bed. Surely Chips Ahoy!’s take wouldn’t upset the balance?

The thing about Red Velvet: I’m fine with its creamy cheese flavoring as long as it’s balanced between the other competing forces. If there’s too much concentrated cheese, I’ll do my best to wash it down with something else and move on. Chips Ahoy! doesn’t do subtlety: each individual Red Velvet cookie overwhelms the senses and makes you wish were eating something else, anything else. Some flavors deserve more respect than an underwhelming, over-manufactured form factor, and Chips Ahoy! is incapable of such consideration.

Pop-Tarts: Dunkin’ Donuts Frosted Vanilla Latte

Oh boy, here we go.

Deal-hunting in a grocery store can easily take you down a dark road. Last year, a “Buy One, Get One Free” convinced me that two boxes of Orange Crush-flavored Pop-Tarts were a sensible acquisition. The following morning, I was punished for my sins by a wasteland of acidic filling that felt like an amplified take on the disgusting toothpaste flavors dentists squirt onto power brushes. The rest inevitably went in the garbage, and I was certain that would be the end of my novelty Pop-Tart adventure.

Last night, I was led astray by a desperate search for Snackline Media treats to sample, capped by the seven deadliest words in a writer’s mind: “I could use this for my article!” Before me stood a Pop-Tart box that fancied itself as a vanilla pastry-coffee combo sponsored by Dunkin’ Donuts. The back featured a cartoon poodle determined to murder this pastry, but priming children for a lifetime of bleary-eyed mornings and liquid sludge was horrifying in its own right. Anyone with sense would have walked right past, but the seven deadly words wouldn’t leave my head. Soon enough, it was sitting on my counter, waiting for me to make the ultimate mistake.

It takes a second to hit, but one second is all the windup it needs. The flavor certainly met my expectations: a bland, cardboard syrup with a hint of what I assume must be some chemical coffee composite. After that second, the true horror dawns when the flavor just won’t go away. Its base was so bland that it congealed with the rest of the pastry, quickly spreading through my mouth with the speed of a wildfire. When the whole thing is rotten, it’s more complicated than isolating and downing the flavor paste before it can sit for too long. It’s a game of wits against the enemy resting on your tongue.

I felt and acted on the urge to chew, which became the catalyst for my undoing. Every chomp exacerbated the situation, spreading ever-smaller chunks of corroded coffee shit as far as they would travel. If I let it sit, the pain would be eternal, but crushing it with my jaw meant my misery was far more intense. It was pure hell. It was the embodiment of every fear one has when trying a new food, amplified by the heat of a thousand suns. Were Hell real, this would be Satan’s food of choice for his damned souls.

Always be careful with “I could use this for my article!” You may be unprepared for the consequences.