PURPLE STUFF PODCAST: ICE CREAM EDITION

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Pursuit of maintaining childlike wonder requires excitement, even for the simplest things. Submitted for your approval: ICE CREAM.

The newest episode of The Purple Stuff Podcast is a big one. It’s all about some of the most outstanding ice cream and frozen treats. You need not be an expert on every single offering in your grocer’s freezer or every single Good Humor variation displayed on the side of your neighborhood ice cream truck to enjoy this one. Once you start thinking about your favorite frozen treats from throughout your life, the floodgates open. This is what happened to Matt and I in this episode. There were so many great ones that we had to try to squeeze them all in!

There’s a brain freezing treat awaiting everyone who listens to this one. Maybe you dig Italian ices? Maybe you are a soft serve type of person? Or you may be a fan of one of the more obscure ice pops that was only sold in one section of the world in 1991? No matter what, it’s pretty safe to say that everyone has a special spot for some kind of frozen treat so this one celebrates that. Memories of hot summer days chasing down the ice cream truck will rush back into your mind. Remember when you would eat a colored ice cream pop and your mouth, lips, and tongue all turned that color? Fortunate for us, the summer is almost here so we are celebrating that feeling by digging deep into our memories and telling you all about a slew of our ultimate Ice Cream entries.

In this episode we will touch on everything from shark pops to alien cakes to great balls of ice cream. It’s a creamy and delicious audio compendium of our favorite frozen treats. Please subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music or Podbean, OR you can check it out at the link above!

Sick To Be Square: Reuniting with Entenmann’s Almond Squares

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Strep throat sucks. I’m not presently afflicted with it right now, but I’ll never forget the first time that I had it. I was about 12 or 13 and it felt like the absolute worst kind of sickness I ever had up to that point in my life. Mostly because for that week or so, eating became an activity that I dreaded.

A chef I am not. A food reviewer? Far from it. But, like most of you, I’m a devourer of food. I enjoy the eating experience. Some people I know like to get it over with as quickly as possible. They’d rather open a compartment in their stomach and just place the food right inside than sit for an hour laboring over a delicious home cooked meal. Not me, I think eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures. To be so familiar with that kind of indulgence and then to have it randomly ripped away from you by a stupid sore throat is not cool. Do I sound over dramatic? Well, it was a severe sore throat, OK?

This might have been the first time that I realized that I was taking food for granted. Not only was I used to savoring my mom’s home cooking on an almost nightly basis, but, after dinner I usually liked to have something sweet. I was never a huge cake person, but if there was a box of anything Entenmann’s in the house, that shit wouldn’t last more than a couple of days. The variety pack of donuts (the one they’ve been selling forever) would be dead meat if it came within a few feet of my radar. Nowadays I don’t crave sweets anywhere near as much, but back then, an Entenmann’s box knew that its days were numbered as soon as it was removed from the plastic A&P bag and set off to the side on the kitchen counter. It was saying Hail Marys and making last minute alterations to its living will. What do you pass down to your niece, the sweet cheese danish?

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The “Ultimate” Almond Squares – now with a layer of Raspberry filling

So, that bout of strep throat brought my appreciation of eating to an abrupt halt. Rather than savoring the delicious dinner that my mother slaved over that evening, I was swallowing what could only be described as a meal of razorblades chased with a tall glass of Everclear. Damn strep throat. Consider yourself very lucky if you’ve never had to deal with this illness. An irritated and throbbing throat is never a welcome feeling, but strangely, it didn’t effect everything I ate.

Obviously, you don’t want to be eating hot buffalo wings with strep throat. Of course, chicken soup and tea with honey and lemon soothes your throat, but not many other meals can be considered good strep throat foods. It was that night that I inadvertently discovered that I was still able to eat and thoroughly enjoy a certain dessert.

My mom went grocery shopping earlier that day. She picked me up some throat lozenges and a few other things to make dinner. She also bought a dessert that she thought I’d like.

The classy white and blue Entenmann’s box was such a tease. The box sat on a slim stretch of counter between the stove and the wall, it couldn’t have been more than a foot wide, and the box nestled into it’s home quite perfectly. For the rest of the day, and through dinner time, my mouth watered desperately for the contents of the Entemann’s box. Why would I even bother indulging in dessert when I could barely eat or drink anything?

These Almond Squares looked so damn good that it was worth risking the most intense throat pain for them. I’m not talking about Hollywood Squares, or Quaker Oatmeal Squares, these were Entenmann’s f’n Almond Squares. Their mystique was legendary. While not as mainstream as their “Crumb Coffee Cake” or their “All Butter Loaf Cake,” I would not be denying myself these evenly cut squares of moist cake, doused in almond flavoring with powdered sugar on top, even if they were considered a mid-card offering.

I was in need of some comfort food. Besides, there was no rule in the house that said because I was sick that I couldn’t eat these. They were fair game and somehow I had it in my head that these wouldn’t annihilate my throat like the rest of the stuff I was ingesting like chicken parm. In fact, a part of me (the batshit insane part of me) thought they might actually heal my throat.

After dinner, I waited until my shows were on, and I switched the black and white TV on that we had in the kitchen, grabbed the box and plopped my sick ass down at the table. I started going to town on these delectably moist and heavenly squares of powdered perfection and all seemed right in the universe. I had almost forgotten that I was even sick. In fact, several squares into my session, I forgot I even had a sore throat!

Could it be? Could these Almond Squares have powers beyond my knowledge that weren’t listed in the ingredients? Shouldn’t Entenmann’s be required by the FDA to list that type of thing on the box? “Enjoy this delicious treat…also, our Almond Squares WILL CURE STREP THROAT.”

Several years later I recalled how much I loved these Almond Squares. It wasn’t just because I was sick and they provided me with some temporary relief. It was because they were actually awesome. I couldn’t imagine a world without them. Every single time my mom went food shopping I asked her to pick them up for me. I guess it wasn’t meant to be though, because the Squares and I never reunited. My mom broke it to me that she was never able to find them again after that.

Not too long after I got my license I was able to drive around on my own to several local grocery stores and even the Entenmanns outlet store in Edison, NJ to see if they had them. Of course, they were nowhere to be found. At that time, the Internet wasn’t even a valuable enough tool to even consider trying to get a straight answer about them, so I just called Entenmanns. The first rep told me they had no idea what I was referring to. The next rep I spoke to later put me on hold and when she returned she explained to me that they haven’t been made in nearly 4 or 5 years and there were no plans for them to return any time soon.

I never gave up my quest. Every time I passed the Entenmann’s display in the grocery store I would check for those tasty little square bastards. Never found them. Then, back in 2007, I decided to give it another shot. I called and e-mailed Entenmann’s. Again the rep told me they no longer made them, which was a piece of info which I had already known for many years. My last hope was the e-mail I sent to them. I waited several weeks, but never received a reply.

On one random day, I checked my mailbox and noticed a letter from Entenmanns. I felt like Clark Griswold in anticipation of opening up the envelope with his Christmas bonus. Would it be a certificate telling me that they were giving me a lifetime supply of Almond Squares for my undying support of their products? Was it an official Entenmann’s Almond Squares Ribbon that I could wear proudly on my jacket lapel? Was it the secret recipe from their vault so I can make them at home? WHAT WAS IT? I tore it open to find out.

What kind of witchcraft was this? A mysterious letter? I actually held it in my hands, it wasn’t an e-mail. It was made if paper and the coupons they slipped into the envelope were obviously made from pure rhodium. The coupons were worth well more than the savings it leads you to believe. Each one weighs 3 lbs.

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What do we got for ’em Johnny? Parting gifts include two Rhodium encrusted limited edition Entenmann’s coupons for $0.40 cents off any of their products. Expires 6/30/08

I could’ve easily expressed my thoughts about this back in 2007, but if I felt like it would be a waste of time because there was no way anyone else would have the same passion as I did to make this into an actual thing. I’m not saying I was going to be orchestrating a campaign or picketing outside Entenmann’s Headquarters to get these squares back on store shelves, but I was absolutely making more noise about these damn Almond Squares than anyone else on the freaking planet, especially nearly 15 years since the last time I remember eating them.

Now, it’s been over 20 years, and as a goof, I figured I’d do a Google search for them. What do you know? A new “Ultimate” version of the squares are available miraculously and nobody from Entenmann’s notified me. I checked the product locator on their site and immediately drove to the nearest store they listed. I picked up 2 packs.

I’m about to eat one now.

They are little different. I can’t officially say for sure, but I don’t remember the original having a layer of raspberry filling in them, but these are now referred to as “Ultimate Almond Squares.” The word Ultimate is possibly there to indicate the inclusion of the raspberry. The almond flavor and the moist consistency is all I remember though. They are still good, but I’m thinking this raspberry filling is an added feature to appeal to the newer, edgier dessert buying crowd. I’m just thankful they’re not Red Velvet Almond Squares. That would be a major sellout.

I have to say that this is the euphoric culmination of a 20 year chase that I had hoped for. Naturally, compared to when I was 13, I’m now able to deal with getting a sore throat better than when I was a kid. I’m forever thankful to Entenmanns Almond Squares for being there by my side to make my first battle with strep throat slightly less torturous.

Check out two other Entenmann’s posts here at The Sexy Armpit:

* Entenamnn’s has been a tradition in the Northeast since 1898 and is now owned by Bimbo Bakeries, USA, the American arm of Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo. http://www.entenmanns.com/

Entenmann’s Pumpkin and Cider Donuts

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In hopes of finding the annual delicacy of Entenmann’s Halloween Cupcakes at the local Quick Check, I struck out, but found other suitable treats. Listen, I said suitable, not exactly worthy of replacing those delicious cupcakes that even Shawn from Branded in the ’80s lusts after, but still a good find! Entenmann’s Pumpkin and Cider Donuts made their way into my radar and I went for them. There’s 16 donuts here…no way in hell I’ll eat even half of these, but I wanted to taste them. 2 boxes for $6 bucks wasn’t bad.

Taste test time. Poured a mug of milk. Pumpkin was first. Nothing too mind blowing, mild pumpkin flavor, though not as distinct as I was expecting. They sort of remind me of a regular glazed Entenmann’s donunt or Frosted Pop’em, but with cinnamon and pumpkin flavor. Still very good, and more moist and enjoyable than Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Donut.

Cider was next. As much as I didn’t want to believe it, these were actually slightly better than the Pumpkin donuts. Both feature the same type of glaze and softness. It may be because I wasn’t expecting much, but they really surprised me. Usually the apple flavor in other Cider donuts is sickeningly sweet, but here it was just right. These were really friggin’ good and I’d like to inhale another one, but I’m stopping myself.

The problem with Entenmann’s is that everything they make is addicting. Their chocolate chip cookies are my most favorite chocolate chip cookies ever. I can eat a box without even thinking. That’s dangerous because their products aren’t really healthy for ya. Moderation folks. But with these sitting on my counter…it’s too much of a tease. Want to share them with me? By the end of Halloween I’ll probably have gained 10 pounds.

I Actually Baked Betty Crocker Pumpkin Bars!

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It’s not very often that I get motivated enough to cook or bake. In fact, I don’t think I’ve baked a real dessert in the entire time I’ve lived on my own. My stove collects dust and my oven sometimes opens it’s door to let out cries for attention like “Pleeeease slip a casserole in me,” “C’mon Jay, shove that oiled up pan inside me,” and the very cutting standby “bake some damn cookies you lazy bastard!” Since it’s Pumpkin-mania everywhere it’s too enticing to pass up some of the great desserts while browsing the grocery aisles. On a recent shopping excursion I picked up 2 of possibly the simplest pumpkin flavored desserts to make in history that will serve as a nice treat during the Halloween Countdown.

Betty Crocker’s always been known to help a brother out in the kitchen…and a sister. I really would invest more time into cooking, if I had it, but these powdery concoctions can be made in almost no time at all. By the time I get home from work, cooking is the last thing I want to do. Crap, why would I want to slave over a meal that I’m going to devour in 4 minutes when there’s important programming to enjoy on my DVR?

So, it’s not as rare as Halley’s Comet, but once in a while I do actually cook/bake. This time I decided to bake. Out of the two that I picked up, Betty Crocker’s Pumpkin Bars and Pumpkin Spice Cookies, I obviously opted for the easier to make of the two. Making the dough and then forming the actual cookies out of the dough would’ve been an extra step that I couldn’t be fooling around with. I had other important duties to tend this weekend like watching The Loved Ones and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Pumpkin Bars it is!

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The directions recommend butter, or a spread that is 65% vegetable oil, so I opted for the slightly healthier option of Smart Balance instead. Melted that up, and threw it in a bowl with the powder mix. Here’s where the hard labor comes in: I mixed that shit up all by myself. My arm was getting sore that’s how serious I was when mixing it. The dough became like a big ball and then I formed it into the baking dish (or pan, whichever you are using). I used a dish since that’s all I had in the condo. Sprayed the dish with fat-free canola oil before throwing in the dough. After about 25 minutes in the oven, I took it out and it looked and smelled excellent.

I was surprised because I was sure it was going to come out looking like a ridiculous globby mess, but it looked really good. Directions said to let it cool completely, so I went back to my movie watching and came back to ice it. The directions also recommend using Betty Crocker Cream Cheese icing, but the store I was in didn’t carry that so I got Pillsbury Cream Cheese icing. The icing job wasn’t stellar, but originally I wasn’t even going to put icing on it so I’m cutting myself some slack.

On my first taste test with a glass of milk, the bars actually came out delicious. When my family jokes around about who really made them, I’ll be honest – Betty Crocker only did half the work. I churned that dough up like I was a friggin’ machine. And I slathered that icing on like I was my 8 year old nephew. These pumpkin bars won’t be sticking around very long, but luckily those cookies will last me through the majority of the Halloween Countdown! 

Today Is Jason’s Birthday…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2aMsp3FBcM?rel=0]
Jason Voorhees Birthday is June 13th, 1946

Jason Voorhees must totally feel like Samantha Baker in Sixteen Candles. I forgot today is his birthday. There’s just been a lot going on and sometimes, as people get older, things like this pass us by. I’m going to make it up to him with a post of badass birthday cakes in his likeness! Thanks to user zackzander50 for the video above!

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Take a look at another awesome Jason Cake over at Your Happy Baker
Looks like the folks over at that blog won’t be getting hacked up anytime soon!

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I found this one on Tumblr but there was no credit given, so if it’s yours please let me know! 
AWESOME JOB! Jason and his mom will be quite pleased. 

There’s also a red velvet Jason cake posted over at I Really Like Food, which isn’t as good as the others, but still cool. So, happy birthday Jason! I really hope we see you on the big screen again soon. Maybe even in IMAX?

Shamrock Shakedown Giveaway!

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2 FREE Shamrock Shake cards that have been provided by McDonald’s will go out to 2 Random winners!
TO ENTER:
subject: SHAMROCK
If you are chosen we will reach out to you for your mailing address
WINNERS ANNOUNCED ON 3/7/12

Many folks in New Jersey are pissed off that the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Hoboken is cancelled this year. Things usually get pretty out of hand so the city is taking a break from it. I don’t get involved in parades because they bore the shit out of me. Drinking tons of beer is of course fun, but not with thousands of other drunken boozers roaming the streets and getting behind the wheel. Aside from eating a bowl of me Lucky Charms, I have other plans this St.Patrick’s Day.

I don’t really participate in the yearly resurgence of corned beef and cabbage, but I need MINT in my life constantly. Usually the one time of year that everything becomes MINT is in March because St. Patrick’s Day turns everything green and green often means MINT! There’s no better mint offering than mint ice cream! And since I’m obsessed with using straws, The Shamrock Shake is like a magic pot of gold for me.

In addition to consistently bringing back the McRib, McDonald’s has been keeping it real with their classic Shamrock Shake as well. The best part: they are now available nationwide, not just in select mystery locations. Just as I write this, as the Irish say, I’m really gummin’ for a Shamrock Shake. The only thing that would make the shake experience even better is if McD’s was offering this green delicacy in  Uncle O’Grimacey collector cups! Now, REMEMBER, you only have until MARCH 25th before the Shamrock Shakes disappear, so get your arses to McD’s to enjoy one!

I’ve Got Cookies Out The Ass!!!

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The Official Cookie of The Sexy Armpit

The holidays usually bring about an unusual amount of pie. Do you like PIE? Well call me a savage, but I actually prefer cookies…home baked if I have the choice. Well what do you know, just in time for Thanksgiving, Miss Sexy Armpit surprised me and put a little twist on my favorite cookies of all time and incorporated The Sexy Armpit color scheme into them! My family has always called them Venetian cookies, but they are also referred to as seven layer cookies, and making them is a pretty laborious task. The Sexy Armpit colors gave these cookies that added rush of flavor, even if it was just in my mind. There’s nothing like the official cookie of The Sexy Armpit for the finale of a huge delicious home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner.

Here are a few different links with recipes for these cookies:

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Also on the cookie front, a while back on Twitter my good ol’ pal Darius Whiteplume of one of my favorite blogs, Adventures of Nerdliness, tweeted about some Smurf Animal Crackers that he picked up in the store. Even though they are called crackers, they will always be cookies to me. The Smurf movie has since came and went and I think I may have been one of 12 people who actually kind of enjoyed it. My niece and nephew even seemed pretty bored by it when I took them to see it. Meanwhile Darius kept in mind that I mentioned I wanted to try these gimmick animal crackers, but I had a hard time finding them so he sent me a box of both the strawberry and Smurfberry varieties of the cookies. They are actually pretty damn tasty. I’m thinking of crushing them up and putting them in a bowl of milk to try to recreate Smurfberry Crunch. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Thanks to Darius and Miss Sexy Armpit for the surprise treats!

Pumpkin Spice Milk and The F.M.A.O.A

Pumpkin Spice MilkAs the blogosphere’s resident flavored milk reviewer, I felt it was necessary to issue a statement regarding my opinion on Upstate Farm’s Fall treat, Pumpkin Spice milk.

Bloggers usually go through their experimental phase early on. They get it out of their system and go back to what has brought them success. As a note to rookie bloggers out there: writing about flavored milk WILL NOT GET YOU HITS. This is just what I do. It’s not a one-shot. By understanding that, it will help you gain insight into my burning passion for flavored milk. There are at least 12 – 13 people around the country that actually are interested in trying one of the flavored milks that I’ve reviewed, but they are a little on the apprehensive side. Now they now have a frame of reference.

I know what the few flavored milk maniacs want. I’m tuned in to the flavored milk community. We have a bi-annual board meeting in California and the FMAOA have asked me to be the keynote speaker again. If you are unsure what that acronym stands for, it’s the Flavored Milk Aficionados of America. I’ll be leaking some info here, but I’ll bend the rules abit. I wasn’t supposed to reveal my thoughts on this Pumpkin Spice milk yet, but since you’re reading, I’ll get a little crazy. At first, I’ll admit I was disappointed with the taste because I failed to read the label properly and was under the impression it was merely just Pumpkin flavored. Boy did I screw that one up! Failing to read the full description fouled up my entire tasting experience.

Once I realized that I was drinking PUMPKIN PIE flavored milk, it was an entirely different beast. Plain old artificial pumpkin flavoring would be amateur stuff. Once the pumpkin spice kicked in my mouth it immediately felt like I was drinking liquid pumpkin pie. The flavor is very accurate and the texture is smooth and velvety without being too thick. There’s nothing worse than trying to drink pancake batter although it may not be a bad idea for a flavored milk. My only complaint is that there was a bit of a vanilla note that distracted a bit from the pumpkin. As I’ve written in previous posts, I prefer drinking my desserts, it’s just less work. Not sure if Pumpkin Spice milk will appeal to any of you, but it came just in time for my month long Halloween celebration and I recommend it to those of you who occasionally like to pass on the brew and enjoy a cold flavored milk now and then.

Read my reviews of other flavored milks:

Entenmann’s Halloween Cupcakes

Entenmann's Halloween Cupcakes

Halloween time brings annual traditions that I look forward to all year. Although some of my traditions get tossed so far back in my memory banks that they only pop into my head once October rolls around. The last day of September already reminded me of the greatest Halloween treat known to mankind, Entenmann’s Halloween Cupcakes. I could just picture Sam from Trick r’ Treat devouring these luscious little things.

If I wanted to let myself go and negate all the times I’ve forced myself to go to the gym, I would eat Entenmann’s cakes, cookies, and pastries 4-6 times a day. But I’d say I eat them twice a year. Once a year I get the burning desire for their soft chocolate chip cookies which are the best cookies of all time, and during Halloween time, if they can be found in stores, their Halloween cupcakes! I’ve been eating these for many years and each year they seem to get more popular because they vanish from shelves so quickly.

What’s so great about these cupcakes is that they are just jam packed with Halloween goodness. Think back to when you were young. How many products had Halloween gimmicks? I remember there being a lot more than there is now. There were cereals, desserts, sodas, and of course candy with Halloween or monster themes. Now the Halloween gimmicks are scarce in grocery stores. The box art and the visibility of the actual cupcakes through top of the box makes them eye catching, especially for those of us who are always on the lookout for cool Halloween finds.

Represented in the cupcakes are many facets of the Halloween season. Most noticeable is the orange colored icing in honor of Halloween which is NOT flavored orange, it’s just colored that way. Then, what really seals the deal and gives them the extra Halloween kick is the few candy corns sprinkled on top. The candy corn flavor puts them over the top. It was criminal to see that one cupcake in my box lacked candy corn completely, a glaring flaw that would’ve made me put them down and take another box. Unfortunately, I was in possession of the only box left in Quick Chek. Back to the subtle levels of the cupcake. Much like how The Dude’s rug really brought the room together, hiding secretively underneath the icing is a layer of rich, soft chocolate frosting that is so damn delicious. You don’t expect there to be a coating of chocolate underneath the icing, but when you chomp down on one you’ll be in heaven. The chocolate smothers a moist, golden cupcake that isn’t lost underneath the sweet mound of sugary joy.

Like I said, these won’t help if you’re on a diet or on a strict workout regimen, but they will help keep your sanity. Entenmann’s Halloween cupcakes are one of life’s great pleasures so you don’t have to feel guilty if you only indulge a few times a year! The fact that they only come out during October makes their yearly appearance that much more of an event.