Gamer Fuel: Reviewing the Yummy & Yuck in the World of Geek Snacks

I’ve been in a strangely productive mood lately (read: not playing nearly as many video games as I usually do), which clearly means that something is deeply wrong with my brain. Unfortunately, this also means that I have zero game reviews to contribute here, which is why poor Mento’s been soldiering on alone in that department for the past few weeks.

But don’t mourn me just yet – I do still have something tangentially gamer-related that I can talk about!

Food.

Specifically, the snacks and energy drinks that are popping up as more and more advertising companies wake up and realize that the people who grew up playing the original Super Mario Brothers didn’t “grow out of” the video gaming world and are now their own demographic, full of disposable incomes and a love for things that reference – however gimmicky – their favorite hobby.

A quick visit to ThinkGeek.com can show you exactly what I’m talking about. Tear yourselves away from their latest venture into Star Wars home decor or Super Mario Brothers track jackets and steer your virtual cart into the Caffeine & Edibles aisle, and let’s settle ourselves in and take stock, okay? There’s a lot to look at, I know, but for today we’re only going to talk about the things I’ve actually tried.

I have a total weakness for gimmicky snacks and there have been quite a few times where, as I’m sure they hoped, I’ve been buying something completely unrelated at ThinkGeek and ended up popping a few weird snacks into my cart right before checkout. If you’re anything like me and are feeling the pull of curiosity’s temptation as you look at all those exotic edibles, I hope that my mini-reviews will actually help you decide whether or not to click ‘add to cart’ – or to run away screaming.


Astronaut Ice Cream

Quite frankly, if you’ve never experienced the sheer perfection of freeze-dried ice cream, you probably didn’t go to science museums much as a child and you have my deepest sympathy. If you have any sort of sweet tooth, you pretty much owe it to yourself to try this stuff at least once. Somehow the freeze-drying process manages to make the flavors even smoother and creamier than actual ice cream, and the texture is awesome. My all-time favorite would probably have to be the ice cream sandwich variety, just because that’s the one I remember always begging my parents to buy me whenever we went to a museum, but the Neopolitan flavor is a very close second. On the other hand, Mint Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Chocolate Chip are also excellent… it’s probably a good thing that this stuff is on the pricey side, because otherwise I’d probably gain about five million pounds from too much space deliciousness.

RATING: YUM


BaconPop – Bacon Flavored Popcorn

There is a serious glut of bacon-flavored, bacon-scented, bacon-shaped, bacon-themed, baconbaconbacon products in the geek-oriented market lately. Yeah, Bacon is delicious, but do I really need bacon-flavored lip balm or a bacon-scented candle? I’m leaning towards no, personally. However, when it comes to bacon in actual foodstuffs… I’ll try it.

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I love popcorn – it’s pretty much my favorite salty snack – so I may have already been biased towards liking this product, but honestly… it’s pretty good. The bacon flavor leans more towards super crispy, almost-burnt bacon, but it actually goes pretty well with the salty/buttery taste of the popcorn. Not a bad thing to reach for if you’re craving a quick, salty fix. The only downside is the price – even with it currently on sale, $3.99 for ┬áthree bags is undeniably steep.

RATING: YUM


Fizzy Cupcake Drink Tablets

Okay, these sound questionable right off the bat, I know. They’re tablets that you put into water that fizz up like an Alka-Seltzer to give you… cupcake flavored water. Yes, it sounds gross, so why the hell did I buy these? Well, at the time I was dating a guy who basically flat-out REFUSED to drink water – so much so that he kept getting kidney stones. So I was buying all sorts of drink mixes in a quest to find something that would make water palatable enough for him that he’d actually drink it regularly. He had a massive sweet tooth, so I thought these might be a workable solution…

Nope. Even for the weirdo with a gigantic sweet tooth (and we’re talking, he loved things that were so sickly sweet that it made my stomach turn), this was just too much. They sat, unused, for months, and soon became a joke – we couldn’t even give them away to anyone. So unless you’re a fan of ruining perfectly good water… I’d avoid.

RATING: YUCK


Cupcake Mints

On the other hand, these are basically cupcake-flavored crack. They may be called mints, but rest assured there’s not actually any mint flavoring involved. It’s just pure sugary, vanilla frosting-flavored goodness. They don’t freshen your breath or do anything but taste delicious, and they won’t last long, I promise. Buy the three-pack, considering that the single pack is $2.49 as opposed to the triple pack’s $5.99 – plus, trust me, if you like sweets, you’ll want all three packs.

RATING: YUM


Caffeinated Fruity Lollipops

Okay, I’m sort of cheating with this one. I’ve tried the caffeinated lollipops before, but I got the various coffee-flavored ones – which they sadly don’t seem to stock anymore. But the basic premise is the same: huge lollipops with a shot of caffeine, with the idea that you’ll snack on these while staying up all night to game / code / study / do occult rituals / whatever else you need to stay up all night for.

Personally, I have sort of natural insomniac tendencies – if I’m really involved in something, it’s easy for me to forget about sleep. I also tend to have a pretty high tolerance level for caffeine, given that my mother started letting me drink tea when I was still a toddler. So while I personally can’t vouch for the effectiveness of the caffeine in these sweets, my ex seemed to think they worked pretty well – he’d grab one to have on the way to work if he was having a sluggish morning. The ones we had also tasted absolutely awesome, and I hope they stock those again – Irish Creme lollipops are badass. The only downside to these is that they’re absolutely GIGANTIC. I wasn’t always able to finish mine, just because that’s a whole lotta sweet in one sitting. And lollipops don’t exactly keep well, so… that’s something to consider.

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If your high school had their sports teams go around selling those big lollipops during lunch period, that’s roughly the same size as these. So if you could handle those without any leftover, these won’t be a problem for you, and vice versa.

RATING: YUM (at least for the coffee-flavored variety)


Bacon Salt

Hey, more bacon! This product is relatively well-known on the internet already, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you reading this have actually tried it already. That said, if you haven’t, it’s actually not a bad thing to have in your spice rack. I’m a fan of using a couple shakes to flavor cheddar mac & cheese, or cooking a bunch of veggies with just a little butter and this salt. I actually just used the Hickory flavored Bacon Salt earlier today – I rubbed it on some pork loin and cooked the loin and some peas, green beans, and yellow corn together in a pot with a tiny bit of butter and it actually came out really nicely. It has the same sort of “crispy-almost-burnt” as most faux Bacon flavoring, but it’s surprisingly versatile. For someone like me, who likes to constantly rotate out various seasonings in my day-to-day cooking, I enjoy having it around.

It occurs to me that I should try putting this on some normal popcorn and seeing if it tastes as good as the above-mentioned Bacon Pop – goodness knows it’d be more cost effective D=

RATING: YUM

 

That’s it for this batch of geek-foodie reviews. Clearly, I need to try more of this type of thing if this is all I have to review, huh? After browsing the Caffeine & Edibles section, a few other things have already caught my eye =X I have poor impulse control, okay?


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