Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Try Me

I'm kind of weird about advocating products I really like. If I find something awesome, I want to tell everyone, so they might be able to enjoy it, too. Anyhow, I took a major chance tonight while grocery shopping. I've been kind of craving popcorn, so I looked over the choices. The last time, I noticed something called Orville Redenbacher Cinnabon popcorn. I was intrigued by the idea of cinnamon popcorn, but the cinnamon roll frosting kind of put me off. I mean, cinnamon popcorn -- and with a frosting-- that's just kind of weird and freakish.

Well, I took a chance and tried it and I can't even begin to tell you how fabulous it is. I'd been kind of afraid of the whole flavored popcorn thing ever since I tried Act II's caramel corn variety. The thought of the so-called "caramel" alone makes me want to hurl. The caramel popcorn was just disgusting, and I don't even know why they continue to make it; I can't imagine anyone actually likes such a shoddily designed product.

So, because I'm bored and have too much time on my hands, I'm going to do a product review on these two popcorns.

Type: Act II Caramel Corn microwave popcorn.

Packaging: You get three bags of popcorn and three foil pouches of "caramel". The bags of popcorn are designed differently from all other microwave brands; instead of lying the bag flat, the butter and kernels are at the bottom of the bag and it's stood upright. The pouches are made of impenetrable steel and must be attacked with sharp objects to get the caramel out. Your hands will get sticky, there is no avoiding it.

Popcorn Flavor: "Caramel", but in truth, the popped corn itself tastes nothing but salty and burned.

Topping: A dark brown brick they call caramel, but which looks and tastes like no caramel I've ever eaten. It's not gooey like caramel, and not the lovely chestnut color a person might usually be accustomed to. It's thick, heavy, grainy, and has a sickly-sweet and vaguely caramel odor to it.

Convenience/Ease of Use: Nonexistent. The way the bag is designed, in my opinion, contributes to the fact that no matter how short of a time you cook the popcorn, it always burns. Add this to the fact that you're supposed to microwave the popcorn, toss in the caramel brick, and microwave it again for two minutes, only further burning the already-burnt popcorn. Then, I found it pretty much impossible to actually melt the caramel, no matter what method I tried. I even put the foil pouch in boiling water, and what I got was soft brown goo and a lot of oil. Really fucking nasty.

Taste: Sickeningly sweet, with a mellow burned flavor. And that's the pieces that actually have caramel on them; since the caramel never totally melts, it's impossible to actually coat the popcorn with it. You end up with big clumps of brown goo with some popcorn pieces stuck to it. I'm not sure how to describe the taste of the so-called caramel; it doesn't taste like real caramel, it's thicker, grainier and altogether way more disgusting.

Other Product Flaws: On top of the popcorn burning, there was constantly an unacceptable amount of unpopped kernels remaining. For one, if half the popcorn can't pop before it burns, there's obviously something wrong with the design, no? Secondly, watch your teeth.. I mean, you're supposed to shake everything in the bag up with the caramel -- which means a little surprise or two when you crack your teeth stumbling upon them.

Conclusion: Whoever came up with this entire product concept needs to be dragged out into the street and publicly flogged.

Type: Orville Redenbacher's Cinnabon microwave popcorn.

Packaging: 4 bags of popcorn with a foil packet of frosting bundled in each.

Popcorn Flavor: Cinnamon butter. I have to say I was a bit stunned, but it was absolutely delightful. Plenty of cinnamon flavor, plus the butter gives it a slight salty-sweet flavor combination that is just yummy.

Topping: "Sweet Pour Over Cinnabon Frosting". I will pay someone a quarter to bitchslap the person that came up with that name. Other than that, I have no complaints about the frosting. It's fairly liquidy and tastes like the generic cinnamon bun frosting you get everywhere. You get quite a bit of it to squirt all over everything, which is great, because the liquid seems to seep down and get the popcorn on the bottom, so you can get a fairly even coating without even having to shake the bag.

Convenience/Ease of Use: Yes, yes, yes. Everything about this product is convenient. I mean, leave it up to Orville to come up with the perfect popcorn product -- Act II just totally sucks monkey weiner in comparison. First of all, each bag of popcorn has its idiot-proof frosting pouch all bundled up and ready to go. Then, the bag is actually designed the correct way, so the popcorn popped perfectly and I had very few unpopped kernels. The bag itself is designed to be used as a bowl; you simply rip off the center section and voila! This is ideal for lazy persons like myself, who would hate to dirty a bowl when they could simply eat right out of the bag. Well, if I had a bowl, anyway. But at least your hands don't get all buttery and stuff when you reach in. And then the frosting pouches couldn't have been more simple; all you have to do is knead them before you pour them on, and they're designed with an easy-to-rip-off strip and a narrow opening so you can squirt it on in moderate amounts and thus eliminates the problem of shooting your wad all at once.

Taste: The popcorn alone is delicious. I absolutely love cinnamon, and I'm not a stranger to sweet popcorn; the French eat popcorn with sugar on it instead of salt, and I liked that a lot. However, even though I was a little wary of the whole frosting deal, especially after the disgusting caramel crap, the popcorn was about a million times better with the frosting on it. I don't know exactly why, maybe because it made the popcorn a bit more sweet. Or maybe because cinnamon rolls are always better with frosting on them. In any case, I was so amazed at the superiority of this product, how every detail and convenience was thought of and put together so well.

Conclusion: I know it sounds kind of weird, but trust me. It's really, really good. Major thumbs up.

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