Review: Lays Wavy Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

(Editor’s Note: This article was initially written on a piece of paper on October 4th, wrapped around a brick, and thrown through the window at Shameless Consumer Industries. It took us a couple of months to track down Sha’Meless Consuman to his safe house in Sheboygan Wisconsin where he had shacked up with a life-size cardboard cutout of Ron Lipski. Some of the comments may be out of date, but he insisted we publish this unaltered.)

If there’s one thing the Shameless Consumer loves, it is the manager’s discount section at my local Tops Markets where all the damaged boxes go. If I had to guess, and this is just speculation, I assume they hire mostly arthritic ferrets to open boxes and feed them nothing but bath salts because they manage to damage enough Instant Oatmeal and cereal boxes that I was able to bribe several officials in the Breakfast Illuminati to rig the election in favor of Donald Trump. I don’t know if I’m allowed to post this because the election is still a month away, please advise.

I don’t particularly like the guy, but he was one of the first supporters of the 1986 Supreme Court Ruling in the case of Stanley Garczynski V the State of Florida in which the court ruled 8 to 1, majority opinion read by Justice Burger, that the presence of pizza on a bagel set the legal precedent that pizza could be eaten at anytime. It seems like a minor ruling, but it led to future rulings on the legality of pancakes for dinner.img_20170110_222435

Lays Chocolate Covered Wavy Chips are one of those things that sounds crazy, but is actually pretty simple on paper. It’s like brain surgery, any schmuck can figure it out but you have to get your mind into the right starting point to know that the goal is actually to keep the patient alive. This is a very simple combination of salty and sweet, a flavor shock that sends your brain swirling like a kick in the mouth by a boot covered in sidewalk salt after you slipped and accidentally keyed the dude’s car.

Most people who saw this in stores were probably hit with sticker shock, or my stun gun which tends to go off because I like to pretend that I’m Magnum PI while I’m rummaging through the candy jar for the freshest burnt French nuts. Don’t make this dirty. This product is five ounces of chips and chocolate, and initially it cost somewhere around the realm of $5. It was basically self-defeating, as the price kicks out any rational thought of how much chocolate actually weighs. The consumer just processes that they’re paying $5 for a bag of chips with relatively few chips.

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So this product was on Target’s clearance shelf, next to the catnip for white teenage girls also known as pumpkin spice as well as the pumpkin pie filling, the pumpkin coffee, the pumpkin marshmallows, and for some reason a hell of a lot of protein bars. There was also the Batman V Superman cereal, which we’ll talk about another day.

My recommendation on these chips is to eat them chip side down. Since only one side is actually covered in chocolate, the other side is pretty barren, leaving enough room to get that salty goodness all over the inside of your mouth cave before the chocolate shows up with dynamite and blows it all up. Eat it upside down and the chocolate will flood your taste buds and leave the salt out to dry. Isn’t salt normally dry? It comes from the sea so that can’t be right.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but this product would do well with less chocolate. Tone it down a bit, maybe you can fit more chips at the same weight then. There’s more chocolate than potato chip and you have two strong flavors knocking each other around with the chip basically being the Ronda Rousey of this fight. I understand when people say that the chocolate ruined the product for them You know the situation is pretty bad when ol’ Sha’Meless is giving instructions on how to eat a product the right way, but here we are.

The plus side is that the chocolate is very good. It delivers the whole “melts in your mouth, not in your hand,” a rather cunning concoction that mixed with the wavy chip means that there wasn’t much of a mess on my hands and the chip was crispy, not a soggy one in the bunch. It’s odd to consider this as a food that must be eaten properly, but stick the chip side down and you’ve got a party in your mouth where someone just smashed a champagne bottle on the counter.

Ultimately I have to give this one a positive review. If you see it on clearance, grab a bag or two. One for a friend, and one for you. See what chocolate in chips together can do. I just noticed that this paragraph is rhyming so I’m just going stop typing. Happy Halloween.

Verdict: 4/5 – A deliciously simple blend of salty and sweet that doesn’t advertise well consider its cost. Could use less chocolate on the chips. Now you know the breakfast Illuminati exists, they don’t care if I tell you because you can’t stop them.

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Review: Dark Chocolate & Vanilla Sea Salt Fortune Cookie

It’s collaboration week here on The Shameless Consumer.

Emily’s Dark Chocolate & Vanilla Sea Salt Fortune Cookie fulfills the Shameless Consumer’s two necessary food groups: Food and chocolate coating. It’s a quintessentially American design, taking an existing food product and drowning it in chocolate, then sprinkling it with something else. Take some twenty first century ingenuity and you make the chocolate dark and throw on some sea salt. Voila, it’s healthy, just don’t eat the plastic wrapping.

You see, like many American products, the idea was mostly a spinoff of an existing design. The actual concept of drowning food in chocolate comes from one Howard T. Fondue, a man whose secondary accomplishment was coining the phrase “how do you do?” The origins of fondue are less circulated and a little darker, having begun as a punishment technique for wayward children at Mr. Fondue’s orphanage. Now it’s not what you’re thinking, they’d only dip the kid in up to his neck and let the chocolate harden as something of a twisted, sweet prison. Then the other kids would eat them free.

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As you probably figured out, Mr. Fondue was not a very effective disciplinarian, hence why he eventually transitioned to the confectionery industry.

Now I know what you’re all asking: does the cookie come with an actual fortune, and if so what did ol’ Sha’Meless Consuman’s fortune say?

The Shameless Consumer doesn’t need a fortune cookie to tell his future, one that in the short term contains a forest fire partially started by two sticks of decade old Wrigley’s chewing gum and further out charges for violating the Geneva Convention’s rules pertaining to Olive Garden’s endless bread sticks. What is important about this product is how well said cookie tastes when doused in chocolate and a little bit of sea salt. If I wanted to write about books, I’d have learned how to sign my name to take the job at our competition Literate Consumer Industries, but we all have skeletons in our trunk, and bodies in our fondue pots.

But what the hell, let’s take a look at what my fortune is.

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Charming personality, huh? Well, I guess the cookie has a point. It was my charming personality that got me this job in the first place, perhaps secondary to the fact that I was the only applicant willing to agree to a spinal fluid test as part of the background check process. I think the test was fake, it was conducted at a Popeye’s Chicken. I also managed to avoid that nasty legal process in Alabama by greeting the motorcycle cop with “nice day for a Moon Pie, officer.”

But I’m getting off topic, let’s talk about this cookie.

Fortune cookies are one of those things that you never eat in tandem with something else, it’s like an after dinner mint but without the mint because the Chinese made it, so you have no expectation on how powerful the flavor is when put up against some potentially domineering flavors. We have a pretty good idea how oatmeal merges with various sweeteners and fruits, dark chocolate and sea salt is already a known entity, and I’ve mixed enough bowls of unmarked M&M’s and Skittles as a party gag to be well acquainted being shanked at a Chuck E Cheese Quinceañera party.

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The idea of a dark chocolate sea salt fortune cookie is about as risky as it gets, not considering the possibility of the chocolate making the fortune cookie soggy. Luckily Emily read her Fondue book, and coated the cookie with a thick layer of chocolate that both binds to the cookie and lovingly embraces it.

There is just enough chocolate and fortune cookie to balance out and ensure that neither flavor conquers the other, not unlike an unstoppable force making contact with an unmovable colon. I like the fact that there is an actual fortune in each cookie, its predetermined placement and personalized fortune a grim reminder that free choice is an illusion and the decision of me to buy the cookie was already made long before I finished being sick from that Pork protein bar. On the other hand, that means this review has already written itself and I can go have a slice of pizza.

Don’t mind me, folks.

So it turns out that fate didn’t want me having that pizza, as there was a disgusting animal in my kitchen eating the last slice. My misfortune for having left the door open coming home from golfing, but my luck that my clubs were within arm’s reach. I’ll have to call my neighbor to come pick him up, maybe explain that he should be kept on a leash until he graduates elementary school.

Anyway, Emily’s dark chocolate sea salt fortune cookie is a surprisingly satisfying blend of three flavors that really can’t be improved upon in any way. They cost $1 each, each cookie only has like 7g of sugar, and to top it off you get a nice message. I can also appreciate the fact that the salt is sprinkled on top rather than just mixed into the chocolate.

It’s a small, cheap touch, but one that a lot of crappy chocolate companies still miss. It’s like being proud of yourself for calling your mother on her birthday rather than the day after, even though you didn’t send her anything.

Verdict – 5/5: I predicted this cookie would receive a 5/5, but I already scored it. I am a fortune teller of the past.

Discontinued: Bertoli Chocolate Strata Cake

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Those of you who read The Shameless Consumer likely know about my list of items to avoid purchasing, chief among that list being products that are on clearance or discontinued, that still carry the “new food” label. Nothing says wildly successful like shutting down your operation a year later and going back to the drawing board, but as one fellow shameless consumer pointed out, it’s important to note the distinction in why items are discontinued. A product being discontinued doesn’t necessarily have to mean low quality, often times the cause of the company pulling it from shelves is because of high cost of production leading to a more expensive product or small profit margin, or not enough people buying simply due to the cost or flow of the market.

After trying Bertolli’s Triple Chocolate Strata Cake, I’m willing to bet that the reason leans towards cost than quality. A strata cake for those who are unaware (and I include myself in that group) is a three layer cake from Italy, a little known country that surprisingly is inhabited mostly by Italians. The strata cake contains a layer of chocolate mousse, above a chocolate sponge cake, above a layer of chocolate sauce, covered in chocolate chips. I did hear a rumor that if you collect ten UPC cutouts and mail them to a certain address, that a man named Gino will let you sleep with the fishes. I have no idea how that works, but I’m in the process of googling the correct address and will have a review once I’m done with my exotic nap. It must be like the bacta tank scene from Star Wars.

The triple chocolate strata cake is described on its box as “after dinner, Italians prefer nothing more than conversation with friends shared over a rich dessert and freshly brewed coffee.” I don’t know which Italian families Bertolli is referring to, but generally the ones I’ve sat in on end dinner with a loud argument shared over a rich dessert of someone getting stabbed with a fork and a whole lot of people waving their hands around while they talk. Then grandpa starts belting out opera songs in Italian while the staff does nothing because Olive Garden provides an authentic Italian experience. More pasta pronto, waiter.

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Bertolli’s Triple Chocolate Strata Cake costs $2 at Wegmans, 30% off of the regular price of about $3, which isn’t terrible considering this is Italian restaurant quality dessert and I know Italian culture because I’m Croatian and the grocery store stocks Spaghetti O’s and beeferoni. One important piece to note, and I’m going to go off the cuff a bit here and be serious for a second, is that this product contains ethyl alcohol, and has a rather strong liquor flavor. There are sure to be some readers who for one reason or another cannot or will not imbibe alcohol in any form or quantity, and may not expect that a frozen strata cake would have alcohol in it. It’s not enough to get you buzzed, unless you have the tolerance of a fetus, but the presence alone is enough to turn some people away and I have seen posts on the Bertolli Facebook page of people with said fetus-level tolerance complaining of headaches. On the other hand, some of you may actually prefer the variations of these Italian dishes when they are cooked with alcohol, so consider it a notice to you too.

This is honestly one of the strangest foods I have ever tasted, and I mean that in a good way. There are three layers to this dessert, the top of chocolate mousse, the middle layer a chocolate sponge cake, and the bottom a dark chocolate sauce. The mousse is light and fluffy, coated in chocolate chips. The middle layer of sponge cake somehow manages to stay not just dry, but strangely warm in spite of just being taken out of the freezer. The bottom layer of chocolate sauce is dark, thick, and rich, bringing the whole chocolatey quadrant together. As I already said, there’s a strong taste of alcohol in the mix. Not as overpowering as Bertolli’s Tiramisu, but strong nonetheless. Imagine the difference between a vodka cranberry and a straight shot of vodka directly injected into your brain, and you’ve got an idea.

But aside from the ehtyl alcohol, Bertolli’s Triple Chocolate Strata Cake has everything that kids need to grow big and strong. The cup is high in saturated fat, 35% of your daily value, but is rather low on cholesterol, sodium, and carbohydrates. You’ll also find 230mg of potassium, 3g dietary fiber, 20g sugar, and 3g of protein. You’ll even get 15% of your daily iron and 4% calcium, and think of all the sleeping you’ll do once you collect ten box tops. The only regret I have is that while while the box says that this is best shared with friends, there are only two cups, which means you either have to double up on one cup, or have a maximum of one friend. Get a couple of women trying to share this cup and someone is going to wind up “choked to death,” am I right ladies? Was the metaphor too subtle?

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One final note about the strata cake is that it can be eaten straight from the freezer or thawed in the fridge/microwave. I at one thawed and one frozen, and honestly preferred the frozen variant. You, on the other hand, will not be able to enjoy it at all because it is no longer available at Wegmans. Aren’t you glad I took the time to describe it to you, though?