Dinosaur Dracula!

Sprite Cranberry Soda Review.

Uh oh – it looks like a new CRANBERRY SODA has entertered the arena!

I’m leaving “entered” misspelled because this was already a shitty opener.

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There it is. Sprite Cranberry. Joining mainstays like Sierra Mist Cranberry Splash and Cranberry Canada Dry, Sprite Cranberry’s arrival involves a pretty severe overuse of the word “cranberry.” I mean jeez. Read More…

My 1993 Christmas Tiki Hut.

Hot damn, I finally found it. Photographic evidence of that weird thing I did back in junior high.

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For several years, I used our family’s Christmas Eve party as an excuse to throw my own. Guests were encouraged away from the dinner table and into my bedroom, for a look at what I called THE CHRISTMAS TIKI HUT.

Basically, I transformed my bedroom (which by that point was a large room downstairs) into party central. A huge table at the back was covered with all sorts of store-bought snacks and drinks, plus goofy appetizers of my own design. (Uh oh.)

I was big into Tiki culture, owing to Archie McPhee and our one local Polynesian restaurant. Remember the bar from Goodfellas? This was my version of it. Christmas lights mixed with ceramic Tiki tumblers. An ambiance best described as “yard sale with food.”

This photo only tells part of the story. My entire bedroom was decorated for the occasion. You know those little Santa hats that they sell for pets? They were all over my action figures. And my God, the entertainment! Christmas movies playing all day long, and by “Christmas movies” I of course mean “Return of the Jedi.”

My family indulged me, not because they wanted to eat cheese that had been sitting out for sixteen hours, but because it was obviously so important to me. For a few years, I cared more about my Tiki Hut than any other Christmas-related thing.

The best part might have been the shopping. Every year, I’d beg someone to take me to Price Club, which was the precursor to Costco. Using money that couldn’t have been mine, I’d load up on jumbo-sized packages of snacks that only a thirteen-year-old psychopath would dream of serving for Christmas.

People nibbled, but most of the spread was still fully intact by the end of the night. Since much of that spread consisted of the same junk food I already lived on, I didn’t mind. During the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I was never anything but alarmingly bloated.

The Christmas Tiki Hut worked like a cocktail hour, or maybe a cocktail half an hour. Everyone would pile in. The adults would pretend to eat and drink. The children would actually eat and drink. Soon enough, they’d be back upstairs for the rest of the party. (I took no offense to how long anyone stayed, as long as everyone showed up.)

When I zoom into the stuff on that table, I’m surprised that they were so agreeable. Many of these foods would’ve been questionable even if they weren’t being served in a kid’s filthy bedroom. On Christmas Eve.

Let’s examine! Read More…

Christmas Crunch with Jingle Bell Rocks?!

I should be more excited about Christmas Crunch’s glorious return, but…

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Ho ho hum. They didn’t redesign the box. It’s exactly the same as last year’s. And last year’s was exactly the same as 2011’s.

I’d buy Christmas Crunch even if they released it in plain paper bags, but there’s so much to be said for an annual redressing.

Quaker used to change the boxes almost every year. Even when they failed to top the previous design, you still had to appreciate the effort that went into making the same three bullet points seem new and exciting.

Hey, Quaker? It’s time to freshen things up. Look to your own history. You used to rock this shit!

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For example, here’s Christmas Crunch as it appeared in 1998.

It’s simpler, but way more charming. The current box looks like a Target ad, but this one looks like some great old cartoon. (And I’d really, REALLY love to see a cartoon about Santa Claus spiking cereal with red boulders. My God… the things I would trade for a cartoon about Santa Claus spiking cereal with red boulders!)

And those boulders? That’s the other thing. Christmas Crunch used to come with all sorts of freebies and weird to-dos. Remember those cardboard tree ornaments from the ‘80s? Or how about the 1995 version, which came with packets of alien space frosting?

All Quaker has given us lately are coupons for DVDs we already own. I don’t need $3 off A Charlie Brown Christmas; I already have three copies.

In truth, I’m only blasting 2013’s Christmas Crunch for setup purposes. I guess I’m okay with the stupid repeated box. I mainly just wanted to gush about those weird red boulders from 1998! Read More…

Holiday Goodwill Goodies!

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Remember when I went to Goodwill to find Halloween goodies?

I thought it would be interesting to do the same for Christmas, so on Sunday, I went to that very same Goodwill store – the one with the stupid address that always makes my GPS explode.

The results were… mixed.

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They did have lots of Christmas stuff, but the prices were nuts. Three dollars for untested strands of lights! Four dollars for a dusty, half-melted candle that once bore the shape of a gingerbread house! SEVEN dollars for an armless nutcracker!

I was a yard sale/thrift store junkie back in the day, and Christmas decorations were always super cheap. People would do anything to get rid of them. Most of Goodwill’s holiday fare was the same kind of stuff. Things I would’ve expected to trade loose change for.

It’s worth noting that only the Christmas items were affected. I could’ve bought a desk, a chair and three lamps for fifteen bucks, but it would’ve cost just as much for a couple of junky poinsettia centerpieces. (You know the kind. They’re made for comically small tables.)

But whatever. I didn’t drive to Jersey to go home empty-handed. I was willing to suffer for this post! Here’s four dollars worth of crap that I somehow spent twenty dollars on! Read More…

Classic Christmas Commercials, Volume 1!

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It’s already December? How did that happen?

Thanks to an unusually late Thanksgiving, it completely caught me by surprise. Now I’m panicking. It’s the month that flies by in a week! I’m two power naps away from January! Screw that.

Renewing Dino Drac’s celebration of all things red and green is my latest ongoing feature, Classic Christmas Commercials. It’s a horse I’ve been kicking the shit out of since the early 2000s, but thanks to another assist from Larry P., I’m now armed with enough old holiday ads to… I don’t know. Fill a really stupid cannon.

Ancient TV commercials are some of the best windows into Christmases past, and I’m confident that at least one of these will shoot you back to an era of bad haircuts and smaller shoe sizes. Enjoy!

M&M’s Holidays Candy!
(1992)

Not everyone knows this, but “holiday-colored” M&M’s isn’t a recent invention. I remember them being around in the ‘80s, and the only way I’m wrong is if my best friend’s mother used to pick the red and green ones out of normal bags in the spirit of Christmas. There is no way she did that.

Even by 1992, the special M&M’s were still being sold in quaint, old-fashioned packages. If you’ll take my meaning, that made them feel less like “candy” and more like “dessert.” These were the fork-and-knifers of the M&M’s set, and eating them made us feel so fancy.

Pay close attention at the nine second mark. Notice how the kid breaks from decorating his Christmas tree to perform a touchdown dance, seemingly in response to the voice-over’s announcement that each bag now included 14% more candy? Even if I was willing to suspend my disbelief and allow the idea that he somehow heard that, I’d still think the touchdown dance was too much. Read More…