Lay's Dill Pickle Chips (Purchased at the Super Wawa before Norfolk, VA in Hampton Roads) Some chips taste just like what the bag advertises and that ain't a good thing. Herr's Heinz Ketchup Chips come to mind as do the wretched Herr's Steak & Worcestershire Chips that taste like a Ponderosa smells. Which is not a compliment, at least where I come from. Lay's Dill Pickle Chips – now available in Baltimore! – are just the opposite. They taste like dill pickle spears, bursting with the right mix of salty bite and vinegary tang. They're the perfect complement to a nice tomato sandwich on toast with mayo. An instant favorite, though I've found that they are best enjoyed in small doses. In other words, not recommended for a full day of chip and dipping.
Forkless Gourmet Chipotle Chicken Sandwich (Purchased at SuperFresh in Towson, MD) Proudly proclaiming themselves to be "Authentic ethnic meals in a bun," this was a spontaneous purchase days after I saw them mentioned in Parade's special ‘What America Eats' issue (which used to be much more special than it is now if you ask me). Luckily, the $3.99 spent on my bun meal makes me feel good because the box informs me that they have "created it to fit in [my] life." Well, ain't that sweet? After religiously following the box instructions – microwave 1.5 to 2 minutes to an internal temperature of 160°F – I'm rewarded with a hockey-puck-sized bun sandwich that's not quite as jam-packed with chicken breast and smoky chipotle salsa as the box would have you believe. The spongy roll has a very bready (with a hint of red pepper) aroma, but don't stop to admire your bun meal – the bottom of this thing gets tough in a hurry. Dancing that fine line between not great and not terrible, they're an alternative to Hot Pockets that you don't have to be ashamed to buy.
Budweiser Extra (Purchased at Ridgely Wine & Spirits, Towson, MD) I'm not sure what the marketing angle is for this curious, but surprisingly pleasant, blend of beer, caffeine, ginseng and other natural flavors. I was at the store picking up my supply of Yuengling Black & Tan when I noticed the convenient 10 oz. cans of Extra beckoning from their suction cupped holder. Sure, I'm a sucker for anything new, so I was willing to plunk down almost $2 for a 10 oz. can, but who else is going to? Alcoholic cyclists? People who don't want to be bothered mixing Mountain Dew and boxed wine for that alcohol kick and caffeinated buzz? Pouring Extra into a pint glass at home I quickly discovered two things: first, it has almost no head; and, second, though it smells like beer it sure doesn't taste like beer. In fact, my initial reaction after taking a lightly carbonated swig was, "Weird. Not bad, not good, just, weird." The more I drank it the more it reminded me of a home-brewed ginger beer that I made years ago. Friends loved its frisky bite and this chuggable little brew has a similar taste. Not sure what the nutrition facts are since the Bud web site doesn't acknowledge its existence and its official site still lists it as coming soon. I'm betting the caffeine content is pretty high, though, as I was wired for sound about 15 minutes after polishing off the can.
Campbell's Chunky Firehouse Chili: Hot & Spicy Beef & Bean Variety (Purchased at the nice SuperFresh in Towson, MD) As a devoted NFL viewer, I was exposed to just enough commercials for this product for them to have the desired effect. Week One: "Oh yeah, I bet the Campbell's chili is really good." Week Five: "Christ, are they still showing these commercials?" Week Nine: "Mmmmm, chili." You know the rest – by Week Eleven I'm looking for a coupon in the Sunday paper and eventually paying bust-out retail because my curiousity must... be... satisfied. On first whiff the "hearty, homestyle" blend of tomatoes, beef, red kidney beans, kidney beans, bell peppers, jalapenos, paprika and dried chipotle doesn't smell unlike my slow-cooked homemade chili after it's been in the fridge for a day, but how this is supposed to be two servings is beyond me. The fully-heated bowl has way too much tomato sauce, making me wonder if this is just one of their soups with another label slapped on it. By the time I finish the bowl my mouth is puckering and my heart is racing, but that's probably due to the combo of generic Sudafed, a Starbucks Venti Skim Latte and the chili's chart-topping sodium content (a whopping 1760 mg or more than 70% of my recommended daily allowance). Though it doesn't skimp on the beef, it's still repeating on me like a howitzer three hours later and my belly feels like I've swallowed an anvil.
NEXT: Vlasic Hamburger Stackers
Check back for more adventures in grocery shopping with THG! [This article first appeared in the pages of The Hungover Gourmet #9 available from our online store.]
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