Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Okay, where's the TV camera?

The flipside of yesterday's little rant: products I heartily endorse.


Pregnant women, the elderly and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to Happy Fun Ball.
Caution: Happy Fun Ball may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds.
Happy Fun Ball Contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.
Do not use Happy Fun Ball on concrete.Discontinue use of Happy Fun Ball if any of the following occurs:
Tingling in extremities
Loss of balance or coordination
Slurred speech
Temporary blindness
Profuse sweating
Heart palpitations

If Happy Fun Ball begins to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head.
Happy Fun Ball may stick to certain types of skin.
When not in use, Happy Fun Ball should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration...
Failure to do so relieves the makers of Happy Fun Ball, Wacky Products Incorporated, and its parent company Global Chemical Unlimited, of any and all liability.
Ingredients of Happy Fun Ball include an unknown glowing substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space.
Happy Fun Ball has been shipped to our troops in Saudi Arabia and is also being dropped by our warplanes on Iraq.
Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

(with thanks to Saturday Night Live, from the last season it was actually funny)

Pop: Diet Pepsi. I used to be a Coke Classic drinker until I found out there are TEN TEASPOONS of sugar in a can of Coke. That's your entire recommended daily allowance of sugar in one can, there, folks. If you don't care about that, consider this: it takes 32 glasses of water to neutralize the phosphoric acid in one can of Coke. What phosphoric acid does, in a nutshell, is break down the calcium in your bones. Drink enough Coke and you'll dissolve like those things Buffy the Vampire Slayer used to dispatch.
Still, if I have an addiction, it's to fizzy cola-flavoured sugarwater in an aluminum can, so I went off in search of substitutes. Being intensely brand loyal, I first tried Diet Coke...which tasted like cola run through a sperm machine and lightly flavoured with Bangladeshi saliva. Then we tried PC Diet Cola, which is okay as long as it's consumed ice-cold. Next on the docket was Diet Pepsi, and what a surprise: it tastes quite a bit like Coke Classic!
And yes, I know, aspartame is evil. You can't work in a grocery store without hearing legions of old ladies damning aspartame at every turn. I don't know how much stock to put in their rants--do you really think aspartame would have been released on an unsuspecting public without testing of some kind? (Okay, I take that back...Vioxx was, after all.)
Store Brand: Here's where I'm supposed to get all Price Choppery and say "Compliments and Compliments Value". I can't do it. Oh, some of the Compliments lines are actually quite good. Pretty much everything with a store label on it in my dairy department comes with my recommendation, and some of the frozen entrees (chicken and cheese meatballs, anyone?) are unique and delicious. But in grocery the quality is hit and miss, and in non-food it's mostly miss. Compliments Value tinfoil, for example, is actually rice paper.
I could be a traitor and speak highly of President's Choice. As a person in the industry, I am in awe of how well Loblaws has grown its brand. It's such a respected name that people routinely expect to find it in non-Loblaws stores, and get upset (some to the point of walking out) when told it's not available. But a point against PC: it's getting to be, more and more, a 'gourmet' brand, with gourmet prices that are often equal to those of national brands. Not what I think of as a store brand at all.
So I choose Kirkland, the house brand at Costco. I've yet to be disappointed with the quality of Kirkland products, and as long as you don't mind buying in bulk, the prices are often shockingly low. We've gone over a year on one box of laundry detergent that cost $13.69. And nobody goes to Costco without picking up Kirkland toilet paper.
Ketchup: Is there anything else besides Heinz? Here's a clue as to how respected this name is: Heinz has had to take repeated legal action against restaurants that put other brands of ketchup in Heinz bottles.
Soup: Campbell's. Unless it's pea soup, in which case it's Habitant hands down.
Toothpaste: Colgate. I don't trust Crest, because it always seems to market itself towards kids. If that's irrational, then so am I.
Macaroni and Cheese: I can't eat this stuff any more, but when I could, I was a real snob (not to mention a real slut) for Kraft Dinner, the number one prepared meal in Canada. (Number one in the States is tuna, which they insist on calling tuna FISH, as if it could be anything else.) I've tried every other mac 'n' cheese on the market. PC is passable, but the others tend to taste like the boxes they come in.
Yogurt: (I like the stuff--so sue me.) There are three I endorse: Source, by Yoplait (actually, Yoplait in general is pretty good); Activia, by Danone, which claims to have all sorts of health benefits and tastes damned good besides; and number one with a bullet, La Creme, also by Danone...the yogurt I'd recommend to people who hate yogurt. Its consistency is more like pudding, and the taste is heavenly.
Socks: HappyFeet, by MacGregor. Expensive...and worth every penny.

Miscellaneous, one-of-a-kind products that should be everywhere:

  • Renee's Extreme Cheese salad dressing
  • Reynolds Release tinfoil
  • Pretty much anything Swiffer's ever put out
  • Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser: this thing performs miracles
  • Anything with the letters C-L-R in it

And finally, in the realm of the big ticket item, I am a confirmed Toyota man, thanks to that company's legendary reliability and its industry-leading stance on environmental issues. (I'll take a Honda in a pinch.)

And that's it from my catalogue.

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