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More Reviews of New Food

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Way back in April of 2007 I pointed you to McSweeney's Reviews of New Food. These reviews veer from hyperliterary nostalgia-laced foodpoems (The Laughing Cow Light Cheese Wedges: "If P.E. was the Crimean War of my middle-school life, then cheese was my Florence Nightingale.") to terse microstories that can only hint at the writer's painful inner life (Doritos X-13D: "The best thing about Doritos X-13D is the way your vegetarian girlfriend tries one before she looks at the package and sees that these chips contain beef tallow."). In all cases, the reviews are best when they're about everything but the food itself.

In the years since I first mentioned McSweeney's Reviews of New Food, many newer, stranger foods have been produced and subsequently reviewed, thus necessitating a recapitulation of my admonition: you must read these important reviews of new food. If you don't read these reviews, how are you going to know which new foods will make you happy or sad? And how are you going to find out about the suffering and tragedies inherent in being a food reviewer? Prithy go forth and read some food reviews. Here are a few favorites:

Mache (Lamb's Lettuce)
Submitted by Marco Kaye

For far too long, arugula held a bitter stranglehold over our salad bars. Then frisée entered and quickly exited our lives as the latest trend in roughage. Now there's a newcomer, with a name that rhymes with squash. It's mache, also called lamb's lettuce. Mache attempted a debut five years ago, on NPR, but the green hasn't caught on until now. The reasons for this are twofold. First, many of us were blindsided by the watercress takeover of '05 to '06 (which was met with a resounding "I guess just dump them into the microgreens" attitude). Second, mache-cultivation techniques have improved a lot.

As each successive movement in art is a reaction against the previous mode, mache represents a collective shift away from the tart greens that populate those mesclun mixes. It tastes sweet and just slightly nutty. The tiny green leaves are attached seven or eight on a stem. It looks like several children's mittens tied together. And it's just as delicate and airy. It plates beautifully as well, the way a discarded child's mitten creates a forlorn oasis of humanity in a city street. ...

My Son James's Favorite Snacks
From the Local Tienda, as Described
by My Son James

Submitted by Lisa Domby

"This place doesn't have a name. It's in the old Johnny's Sporting Goods, but they don't sell crickets here anymore."

Takis Fuego (rolled corn chips, fire flavor): "These things taste way crunchier and way spicier and way awesomer than Doritos. The guacamole ones smell good, but they don't taste good."

Paleton Patolin paleta de malvavisco (chocolate-covered marshmallow with gummy eyes and mouth): "This thing looks like a weird clown, but it tastes pretty good." ...

Babidinos Paletadinos sabor tamarindo enchilada (tamarind lollipop): "This is my favorite thing to get. This thing is really chewy and spicy. You can't eat the whole thing, because it's too spicy, but you can save it in the refrigerator for a really long time. If you don't put it in the refrigerator, ants will get on it."

Dwight Yoakam's Chicken Fries
Submitted by Jonathan Holley

A product of the Bakersfield Biscuits Brand, Dwight Yoakam's Chicken Lickin's Chicken Fries come approximately 12 to a box, which costs just a dollar. These are similar to the chicken fries available at Burger King, but of inferior quality. The bright red, orange, and yellow packaging of Dwight Yoakam's chicken purports that they are "inspected for wholesomeness" by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The packaging is evasive regarding the results of said inspection. Were these fries deemed wholesome? It seems impossible.

In my 1997 analysis of the chickenesque, I famously hypothesized that Nabisco's Chicken in a Biskit crackers would forever maintain position as lowest rung on the chicken continuum. Today, Dwight Yoakam offers irrefutable counterevidence and collapses my former worldview.

See also: Panic's New Product Reviews and

Do you have a favorite new food? Or one that has left you forlorn and regretful? Share your own reviews of new food in the comments!

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Live Smarter
Need to Calm Yourself Down? Try This Military-Approved Breathing Technique
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Whether you’re dealing with co-worker chaos or pressure to perform on a project, it’s difficult to excel at work when you're extremely stressed. Can’t escape the office? Take a cue from real-life soldiers and try a technique called tactical breathing—also known as combat breathing, four-count breathing, and diaphragmatic breathing—to lower your heart rate and regain control of your breath.

“It’s one you can use when things are blowing up around you”—both literally and figuratively—“and you need to be able to stay calm,” explains clinical psychologist Belisa Vranich, who demonstrates a version of tactical breathing in Tech Insider’s video below.

Vranich is the author of 2016’s Breathe: The Simple, Revolutionary 14-Day Program to Improve your Mental and Physical Health. Watch, learn, and—of course—inhale and exhale along with her until you feel zen enough to salvage the remainder of your workday.

[h/t Business Insider]

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10 Creepy Candles to Get You in the Halloween Mood
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Candles are always a handy household accessory, but they're especially useful around Halloween, when they can be used to light jack-o'-lanterns, summon spirits, or simply brighten a long, dark night. These spooky lights are more suited for tabletops than pumpkins, or soirees than seances, but they'll still make your upcoming costume shindig extra festive (and fragrant, to boot).


PyroPet’s cat-shaped Kisa candle looks like an ordinary wax feline. But as it melts, a hidden surprise reveals itself: a macabre metallic skeleton with charred bones and bared fangs.

The Kisa candle costs $34 and comes in three colors: pink, gray, and an ultra-spooky black. Not into cats? Additional PyroPet offerings include birds, bunnies, reindeer, owls, and dragons, all with the same silver framework.


Brain candle by Creepy Candles
Creepy Candles

This specimen-inspired candle by Etsy seller Creepy Candles would look equally at place in a mad scientist’s laboratory as it would at a Halloween soiree. A wax brain is suspended in green-tinted gel that resembles formaldehyde, but the candle itself thankfully smells like grapefruit. The Brain Candle costs $25 and is handmade to order.


Beeswax human spine candles, set of three, by Grave Digger Candles
Grave Digger Candles

Grow a spine this Halloween—or at least buy one. These notched beeswax pillar candles are inspired by the Victorian Era, a period in which physicians created detailed wax models of flayed corpses to teach medical students the literal ins and outs of anatomy. Etsy seller Grave Digger Candles sells them in sets of three for $76.


LED battery-operated Ouija board candle by Twisted Nightmares
Twisted Nightmares

This Ouija board-inspired, LED battery-operated candle probably won’t summon spirits, but it’s still spine-tinglingly spooky. Sold by Etsy user Twisted Nightmares, it costs $20 and requires three AAA batteries, which aren’t included with purchase.


Bleeding Heart Candle by Cozy Custom Candles
Cozy Custom Candles

Love guts, blood, and Gothic romance? Your heart might bleed for this candle, which turns into a gushing heart when lit. Sold by Etsy seller Cozy Custom Candles, the heart-shaped light source has a white outer shell made from a high-melt point paraffin wax, while its core is made of a red-colored wax blend with a low melting point. The candle hemorrhages vital fluids as it burns, making it the perfect accessory for a bloody good time.

The Bleeding Heart Candle costs $17 and comes in multiple autumnal scents, including caramel apple, pumpkin pie, and sweet cinnamon-pumpkin.


Pick Your Poison candle by Mr. Toad's House of Wax
Mr. Toad's House of Wax

The “Pick Your Poison” candles by Etsy seller Mr. Toad’s House of Wax appear to have been snatched from the shelf of a Victorian apothecarist. But while labeled “Poison Hemlock Oil” and “Tincture of Wolfsbane Poison,” they smell like fresh fallen leaves, pumpkin spice, and other autumnal scents when lit. Both candles cost $21, and are embellished with a sparkly jewel and black velvet ribbon.


Woods & Earth candle by Geeky Girl Scents
Geeky Girl Scents

There’s nothing quite like the aroma of trees and fresh graveyard dirt on a fall night. With hints of wood and earth, this candle by Etsy seller Geek Girl Scents will make your living room smell like a haunted cemetery. An eight-ounce jar costs $15, and a 16-ounce version is also available.


Witch Farts Scented Soy Wax Candle by The Candle Crate
The Candle Crate

If you’ve ever wondered what witch gas smells like (who hasn’t?), you can find out by purchasing The Candle Crate’s flaming ode to supernatural flatulence. The Etsy seller’s “Witch Farts” candle is more Glinda the Good Witch than Elphaba, with top notes of peach, apricot, and blackberries and middle notes of mandarin, cinnamon, and rose.

The soy wax candle costs $12, and is sold alongside other witchy, Harry Potter-inspired products like “Number 12 Grimmauld Place” and “The Leaky Cauldron.”


Ghost Repellent candle by Nola And Neighbors
Nola And Neighbors

Even if you ain’t afraid of no ghosts, you can still keep them at bay with this “Ghost Repellent” candle by Etsy sellers Nola And Neighbors. It smells like lavender and sage, and comes with an instruction label informing owners to light it “at dusk or dawn” for best results—although the ghost’s removal is “not guaranteed.” At $17, it’s still way cheaper than hiring the Ghostbusters.


Zombie Golden Girls prayer candle set by The Eternal Flame
The Eternal Flame

Golden Girls devotees who’d follow the Fab Four to the grave and beyond can light up their lanais with these zombie prayer candles by Etsy shop The Eternal Flame. They come in sets of four (one for each Girl, naturally) and cost $40. Color choices include white, orange, and purple.


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