Patience is a virtue. Totino’s pushes the boundaries of scientific research thanks to me.


arrange the rolls in a circle on a plate

“arrange the rolls in a circle on a plate”

Oh man.  Does anyone remember my W(aL)D email shenanigans from a decade ago?

One such adventure was writing to Totino’s to ask if they had recommendations for microwaving more than 6 at a time.  They wrote back.  I asked them if I needed to arrange the rolls like wagon wheel spokes or like wagons on the Oregon Trail circling for protection.  I even got some 35¢ coupons that I considered as a research grant.

Have you noticed pizza roll cooking instructions lately?

I won! Information for the people! Research to benefit the masses!

Really though.  This brings up a new series of questions.

When did just arranging in “a single layer become” acceptable?  Who does Totino’s think they are discarding the time-honored tradition of microwaving things in a circle?  Did we learn nothing from our ancestors at Stonehenge?  Did they consult the Softstix team over at SuperPretzel, or just roll forward (pun still intended) with wild abandon?  How do you summon the flavor spirits without the ceremonial circle?

Has the Fibonacci spiral ever been tested as a cooking pattern?  Can Ci3 make me a plate specifically for microwaving pizza rolls and little cheese-filled pretzels with the Fibonacci spiral on it?

Totino's Pizza Roll Microwave Instructions

GetGo vs. Sheetz on Twitter


Heh.  Tweeted the other night during some shenanigans in GetGo.

Heh. They both responded.

I also got a DM from GetGo, but no real response yet after I provided my advantage card number. I’m not looking for any freebies, but those poor employees clearly had their hands full.

Sheetz wins the humor in social media award. I do wish there was one here in Bridgeville near I-79.

I am glad that there’s competition here.  Let’s just keep Wawa out.

Crop-dusting for disgusting cell-phone roaches.


This Facebook status seemed quite popular.  Thought I’d blog about it, and get some more input.  There are 2 points here that seem to universally annoy us…  People talking loudly (or at all) on cell phones in public places, and people that talk about disgusting things when you’re trying to eat.

So, I'm sitting at Chick-fil-A tonight, trying to enjoy some chicken nuggets and some chicken noodle soup... and some crazy Yinzer lady is about 4 booths away screaming into her cell phone, talking about infections, site-wounds, dialysis, and MRSA.  Besides it just being rude to be on your phone there in a public place...  Really? Everyone around is trying to eat. I wish I could pass gas on demand. I would have made several runs (pardon the pun) past her table.

So I'm sitting at Chick-fil-A...

The original text…

So, I’m sitting at Chick-fil-A tonight, trying to enjoy some chicken nuggets and some chicken noodle soup… and some crazy Yinzer lady is about 4 booths away screaming into her cell phone, talking about infections, site-wounds, dialysis, and MRSA.

Besides it just being rude to be on your phone there in a public place

Really? Everyone around is trying to eat. I wish I could pass gas on demand. I would have made several runs (pardon the pun) past her table.

Pus oozing from an abscess caused by bacteria—...

Image via Wikipedia

Click the pic above to magnify the first wave of comments, and if you want check out this old post for reference: Excuse me, I’m eating.

So, what’s your take on disgusting topics during meals, public cell phone users, and the unholy intersection of the two?

Chick Fil A 8pc Nuggets

Image by j.reed via Flickr

LIES ABOUT POTATO CHIPS


Today, I checked out a link on the Yahoo! site because it was simply titled “The Best Potato Chips“.  Well, I like potato chips… so I had to see what was up.  Well, the first annoying thing was that it said that there’s a list of 21 chips… but there are only 7 listen on the page… then the “Continue Reading…” link takes you to a slide show.  I hate slide show lists.  I want to see it all, right there in front of me, right away.  This isn’t a meeting, I don’t need a power point presentation.  These aren’t your vacation photos, I don’t need a slide show.

Turner Dairy | Chip DipThey did manage to recognize the awesome that is plain old ordinary Ruffles.  When I want to eat Turner’s chip dip, this is the chip that I must have.  Just ask anyone who works at the Rite Aid by my house.  I’m always there buying ruffles & Turner’s dip.  Really.  Just ask them…  “Is there a weird guy in here with crazy sideburns buying Turner’s Dip and Ruffles all the time?”  They’ll totally, be like “Yeah!”  I’m telling you.

As for the rest of this list though, it’s a lie.  Don’t believe it.  If the list had any credibility beyond being able to recognize the top of the line “ordinary” chip, it would have included Beer Chips or Snyder (of Berlin) Honey BBQ Chips.  There is just no excuse for these glaring omissions.  Shame on you, Shine From Yahoo!.  Shame on you.

BEER CHIPSI’ve written of Beer Chips before, here in my blog and at PittsburghBeat.com.  Why?  Because they’re awesome.  They’re next to impossible to put down.  I’m sure I could eat an entire bag without thinking about it, and probably have.  If we break them out when people are over, the bag disappears.  Kudos to the Beer Chips people on distribution, as I’ve seen them in places from Giant Eagle and Market District to Aldi.  You may have guessed that Beer Chips are chips somehow cooked with beer.  If you haven’t guessed this, then just stop reading, as all of this will be most likely lost on you anyway.  They’re sweet, they’re salty, and they do have a hint of a beer taste… but it’s ever so slight.  Of course, they also go great with a nice bottle of Yuengling, Straub, or Penn Pilsner in my experience.  Just writing this, I may have to stop at the store to get these next time I’m out.  They are that powerful.  I mean, I have beer in the ‘fridge, but how can I enjoy it now without Beer Chips?  I can’t.  That’s how.

Snyder of Berlin | Honey BBQ ChipsOn to the Snyder of Berlin Honey Bar-B-Q Potato Chips.  First off, I love honey BBQ in general.  Gooski’s Honey BBQ wings are one of my favorite foods ever.  You just  generally can’t go wrong with Honey BBQ.  I think my first experience with these was at camp.  They were out as a snack one night and I think I ate most of the bag.  I couldn’t stop.  Again, these have that incredible sweet/salty combination that is a win every time.  I know you can generally get them at most Sheetz locations, but it’s hit or miss if they’re there in Giant Eagle or wherever I happen to be grocery shopping.  If I see them, I just unconsciously grab them and only realize they’re in my hand or the grocery cart when I go to check out.  Now, one must beware of the Herr’s and Wise imitations.  Well, I don’t know who was really first… but for my own personal tastes, Snyder of Berlin is the standard Honey BBQ chip to which all others ought to be measured.  Actually, the Herr’s is an acceptable substitute if necessary, but the Wise ones are just inferior chips altogether.

Speaking of imitations, one of these days I need to get down to the Snyder of Berlin vs. Snyder’s of Hanover thing.  (There’s even a creepy Facebook group about the rift…) They each have that ominous and almost vindictive disclaimer on their packaging that they’re not associated with the other. Too weird.

Herr's | Ketchup ChipsThere are, of course, a few others worth mentioning…  Herr’s makes some bad-ass Ketchup flavored chips, some Salt & Pepper ones, and a bunch of other cool/weird flavors.  Utz makes a bunch of flavors and are quite decent chips.  (Is it “uhtz” or “ootz”?) Although, I see a “crab” flavor, and that scares me a little.  I may have to write to them about that.  Snyder of Berlin also has a ton of interesting varieties, another of my favorites being the kettle-cooked Sea Salt & Cracked Pepper chips.

You may thank me that you’re now more informed on the subject of the best potato chips than the average Shine From Yahoo! reader.  I’d be interested to see if you agree with me or if you’re just wrong.  Please feel free to talk about your favorites in the comments section!

Excuse me, I’m eating.


Over my lifetime, I’ve amassed a list of words and subjects that I’d rather not discuss while eating.  This includes dining out, eating dinner at home with my wife, with a large group, or even just snacking.

This especially applies to family gatherings.  For some reason, dinner conversation always comes around to operations, infections, and/or feces when I’m with my family, and oddly… this extends to my wife’s family too.

There are just some things I don’t want to think about or even hear mentioned while I’m shoveling food into my face.  I’m I alone in this?  Please tell me I’m not alone.  I can’t watch Dirty Jobs while I’m eating either.

Here’s a short list of words and subjects that I don’t want to hear while I’m eating…

  • Infection / Infected
  • Puss
  • Anything ending in “ectomy
  • Bloated
  • Operation
  • Poop, diarrhea, feces, shit, crap, etc.
  • Diaper (…especially when it leads to a discussion of use and/or contents.)
  • Vomit, “Throw up”, puke, regurgitate, etc.
  • Bile
  • “Soupy” describing anything other than soup.
  • Anything describing a recent doctor’s visit.
  • Anything describing a recent dentist visit.
  • Maggot
  • Blood
  • The word “Hospital”, because it never leads to anything good.

I’m sure there are more, but these are the most offensive.  What would you add to the list?

My $1.05 Pillsbury Research Grant Has Arrived!


35¢ OFF

So, you did read my initial letter about Totino’s and the follow-up correspondence, right?  Well, needless to say, my research grant is a little smaller than expected.  Some “cents off” apparently means just that.

I got 3 of these bad boys, entitling me to a whole 35¢ off of one Totino’s product.  One dollar and five cents off of three Totino’s products?  I’m sure I get more than that when I use my Giant Eagle Advantage Card & get them on a regular sale.  Maybe Giant Eagle will double these since they’re less than a dollar…  So I’ll be getting $2.10 worth of free pizza rolls.    I wonder what the regular price is?

Pizza Rolls on Sale at Giant Eagle!

Right now, Giant Eagle has Totino’s Pizza Rolls on sale… 3 boxes for $8.  They say they’re normally 3 for $10.  So… About 40 rolls in the 19.8 oz. bag, 35¢ would get me 4 pizza rolls?  And, I’d only be able to use one coupon with this special, as the Giant Eagle website states that you must buy 3 bags in order to get the $2 off, and the back of the coupon states that no other coupon is to be used with this coupon.  Does the sale act as a coupon?  If not, I could still only use the one coupon at a time… so out of 120 pizza rolls, a whopping 4 would be free?

Perhaps this was a karmic slap in the face?  Maybe a well-deserved one.  You’d think they would simply either not offer any coupons at all… or offer some coupons that are actually worth something… like a BOGO or at least a dollar off.  Perhaps they’re just cheap, or this is all they’re authorized to give out?  It cost them 38¢ to mail me the damn coupons!  That would have been 4 or 5 more free pizza rolls had they emailed me some coupons.  Maybe they know I’m goofing on them.

The letter accompanying the coupons is quite amusing…

Letter from Tracy Boyd @ General Mills

HA HA!  I'm using the internet!

When I see someone write “the internet”, I always think of the guy to the right.  I have no idea why.  I just do.  It sounds archaic written down like that.  THE INTERNET!  HA!  HA!

Not sure where to go from here.  Do I write back, and ask for more research funding?  Do I ask to talk to someone else who may be able to offer more money?  Do I write to completely unrelated organizations and as for research grants?  Has anyone reading this ever applied for a grant?  Should I include a research proposal?  Maybe I should just write back, super-excited about the $1.05, saying what a generous gift it is.  Maybe I should ask to speak directly to General Mills or Totino himself?  Heh.  I feel confident in turning this up a notch.

Also… research will definitely go forward.  I will need some time to assemble my team (although, I think I already know who’s in), procure the test product, and schedule a date for the study.

Stay tuned, loyal subjects!

®

A one time good will gesture from Pillsbury!


Pillsbury Pizza Rolls BoyNot too long ago, I wrote to the maker’s of Totino’s Pizza Rolls (which I soon discovered was Pillsbury/General Mills) to ask about microwave cooking times for quantities of more than the reccommended 6 at a time.  The answer seemed to be pretty vague, as most corporate replies are.  Of course, I was determined to ask further questions — goaded onward by many of you here and on other places around the ‘net.  Here’s where I’d like to share my reply to them, and of course their latest response.  Thanks to Dave again for the editing help here!

from ERiC AiXeLsyD world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
to Corporate.Response@genmills.com; Pillsbury@emails.pillsbury.com
date Tue, Mar 2, 2010 at 2:39 PM
subject Re: Your Response From “Pillsbury” – 2010/02/12-0715 XTB
mailed-by gmail.com

Hello Ms. Boyd,

Thank you for the quick and thorough response!  (Apologies if the “Ms.” should be a “Mr.”, I know the name Tracy can go either way!) In reading your response, I have a few more questions, and perhaps a proposal for your consideration.  I do enjoy the quickness/convenience of cooking in the microwave versus using a conventional oven.  Perhaps I should learn to use the toaster oven as a compromise?

The first thought brought to mind was that perhaps I may be doing something wrong.  The instructions say to arrange the rolls in a circle on a plate.  Would this be “in a circle” like spokes of a wheel, or “in a circle” like covered wagons circling around weary travelers?  I haven’t ever really put much thought into it until now, thinking I may perhaps be doing it wrong as there is no picture on the box to illustrate.

I’m somewhat confused as to the 8 pizza rolls for 45 seconds, as the recommended time for 6 rolls is (I believe) 55 seconds.  Typically, I go for 1:05 so that the middle isn’t still cold.  I’m also aware that all microwaves are different, and may vary, so I accept that my microwave is behind the curve, if you will.  I will have to try 8 rolls at a time, and may even venture into as of yet uncharted 10 or 12 roll at a time territory.  I know this may be a cavalier attitude, but it’s just how I roll.  (Pun intended.)  I will take into consideration that it has been “highly suggested” that I cook more than 8 in a conventional oven.

Along these same lines, I’m fascinated that no more than 8 rolls at a time have been put into the microwave at once in your test kitchens.  Is this really the case, or have trials involving more than 8 rolls at a time manifested disastrous results?  Is there some sort of moratorium on adventurous cooking?  I know that if I had access to a bunch of pizza rolls, and a bunch of microwave ovens… I’d feel it was my duty to push past the ambit of acceptability into the realm of ridiculousness.

I have bounced my ideas off of a few like-minded individuals, and we are prepared to do a public service by testing Totino’s pizza rolls in varying quantities, cooking times, and microwave ovens while making video and statistical documentation of the results.  I have safety goggles, a food thermometer, hot pads, a video camera on loan, and, obviously, a microwave oven.  The only thing that we require now would be copious amounts of pizza rolls.

While I’m guessing that you’re not officially able to get behind such a study, would you be able to provide coupons for the pizza rolls, or perhaps donate them altogether?  Certainly the prospect of someone embarking upon new microwave cooking frontiers would be exciting not only to you, but to the scientists/chefs/technicians in your test kitchens.  We would, of course, be more than happy to share all of our results, which you in turn would be able to use (or ignore) at your discretion.

I would like to thank you for your time and continued correspondence.  I truly appreciate the fact that Pillsbury/General Mills takes the time to respond to its consumers’ web inquiries with real emails from real people.

Respectfully Yours,
-Eric Aixelsyd

I thought that was a pretty straight-forward email with some easily answered questions & an interesting proposal.  Apparently I crossed the ridiculousness line for Ms./Mr./Mrs. Boyd, though.  I don’t know why, but I read the following response with the “not amused” tone.

from Corporate.Response@genmills.com
to world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
date Tue, Mar 2, 2010 at 6:47 PM
subject Your Response From “Pillsbury” – 2010/03/02-5183 XTB
mailed-by genmills.com

Hello Mr. Aixelsyd:

Thank you for contacting Pillsbury with your inquiry.

In regards to your question, we have not tested for more than 8 pizza rolls at a time.

If you wish to try this, it would be at your discretion. Please note that when adding more products into a microwave to cook ( ie 16 pizza rolls instead of 8 ) and trying to adjust the cooking temperature will not harm the safety of the product, but may change the quality, such as hardening of the crust or uneven cooking, etc.

As a one time good will gesture, we will send some cents off certificates in which you should receive within 20 business days.

We hope you find this information helpful. Please let us know if we can help you again.

Thank you,

Tracy Boyd
Customer Care Specialist

Coupons!  Nice.  This will be a long 20 business days.  I can’t believe that they’re actually sending coupons.  I wonder what the amount will be?  I have to do the testing now.  I have officially gone past the point of no return.  I must complete this absurd task… and I must do it right the first time.  I’m assuming that “one time good will gesture” means that they’ve had enough of my shenanigans.

So, they definitely have not tested more than 8 at a time in the microwave.  Why?  I know I would.  You know you would.  Hopefully, with the help of my esteemed colleagues, we will remedy this situation.  The world will know the limits of pizza rolls in the microwave.

Interestingly, my question about pizza roll circle placement went wholly ignored, as did the more personal inquisition as to Tracy’s gender.  Not that the second one matters, but perhaps it iw what pushed the button.  The circle question was quite important, though.  I’m surprised that there’s no drawing on the box/bag.  There are certainly illustrations out there for much more obvious sets of directions.

I can only imagine what went through his/her head as she read the “wagon wheels” line.  Ha ha ha.

So, this leaves us wondering…

  • How did they know that safety would not be an issue but the quality would degrade if they didn’t do any testing past the magic 8?
  • Seriously, now… Does “in a circle” mean like spokes of a wheel, or like circling covered wagons?
  • Is Tracy a man or a woman?

Luckily, Tracy said “Please let us know if we can help you again.”  I believe that we do again need some help.  Is another reply in order here, or do we just save it for inclusion with our test results?

Perhaps I’ll ave to include this too…

arrange the rolls in a circle on a plate

"arrange the rolls in a circle on a plate"

I can’t wait to hear your thoughts.


Entirely unrelated, just for fun…

Totino’s® Pizza Rolls®


Pillsbury | Totino’s® Pizza Rolls® Pizza SnacksWho doesn’t like Totino’s® Pizza Rolls® Pizza Snacks?  More importantly, who eats only six at a time?  Maybe for a small snack… or maybe I just eat too much.  I don’t have them often, but when I do… I most assuredly want more than six.

I realize that I could cook more than six at once and figure out the timing on my own… but that wouldn’t be any fun now, would it?  I decided to write to the maker’s of Totino’s, who (previously unbeknownst to me) happen to be Pillsbury.  I clicked around until I found their webform, and submitted this…

Hello Friends,

I write to you today regarding Totino’s Pizza Rolls.  These little snacks are awesome, my friends.  I love to eat them as a snack while I’m watching my favorite TV shows or Penguins hockey.

My problem though, is that I’m fat… and I need more than the 6 at a time that’s listed on the package in the cooking suggestions.

Certainly your portly Pillsbury mascot could appreciate my situation?  I’d like to suggest that the bags & boxes also include cooking recommendations for 12 at a time… or more.

Usually 12 can satisfy my snack cravings, although sometimes I go for 18.  Maybe you could include instructions for 13, a baker’s dozen as they say?

In the mean time, before you’re able to print new cooking instructions on the bags & boxes… can you just send me a chart of larger quantities and suggested cooking times?

Thank you for your time, I can’t wait to hear from you.  (I can appreciate how valuable time is… like when I try to cook two batches of 6 rolls during the commercials!)

Inquisitively,
-Eric

Which I thought was a little goofy, but not over-the-top.  Apparently this is a request that’s made often.  The answer seems well practiced…

from Corporate.Response@genmills.com
to world.and.lunar.domination@gmail.com
date Sun, Feb 14, 2010 at 2:01 PM
subject Your Response From “Pillsbury” – 2010/02/12-0715 XTB
mailed-by genmills.com

Hello Mr. Aixelsyd:

Thank you for contacting Pillsbury with your inquiry.
Unfortunately, the most that we have tested for in our kitchen is 8 pizza rolls in the microwave, in which you would place on a microwave safe plate in a circle and cook on high for 45 seconds (noting that microwave oven temperatures can vary).  If you are intersted in baking more, I would highly suggest following the directions for the oven.  Please be assured that your comments and suggestions will be shared with our product specialists.

We hope you find this information helpful.  Please let us know if we can help you again.

Thank you,

Tracy Boyd
Customer Care Specialist

I’m going to have to write back, and get goofier.  My inquiry was taken absolutely seriously.  I really can’t believe that there are food scientists or chefs out there that have a job that involves putting things in microwaves… and they haven’t gone past 8 at a time?  Ridiculous.  You know that you’d try to at least do a whole bag at once… if not two or three.  Look… I can’t even control my use of italics.  Can you imagine if I had a microwave and some goo-filled little exploding pods at my disposal?  Microwaves are cheap enough these days.  I’ll take donations… I’ll need a microwave and more Totino’s Pizza Rolls than you can count, and the trials will begin.  For more fun, I’ll need someone to help & video.

Anyone in?

McReadverspamtismentply


You may remember, a while ago I wrote to McDonald’s about the sandwich-which-can-not-be-named.  I got an envelope in the mail the other day from my McFriends, and I thought “Sweet! A reply about the McGang-Bang!  A real letter!”

Well, I was wrong.  It was some sort of reply/advertisement/spam all rolled into one.  I was very disappointed.  Then, I noticed that the letter wasn’t to Mr. AiXeLsyD, it was to Mr. Carroll… it must have been about the McDonald’s on West Liberty Avenue’s disgusting restroom?  They never did follow up on a local level like they said they would.  Instead, I get this advertisement for the Mac Snack Wrap and the breakfast dollar menu?  Seriously?

At least now I have a contact name.  I’m going to have to resort to snail mail to get a response for a real live person, I believe… anything other than the stupid “we can’t take unsolicited ideas” form letter would be awesome.

Oh well, the advertisement letter & a scan of the two coupons is below… I popped a “void” on them in hopes that Photobucket doesn’t delete the damn things.  They’ve removed old coupons on me before… I usually always blur out any numbers or barcodes that might make them usable.

McDonald's Letter from Salena M. Scardina

McDonald's - Mac Snack Wrap Coupons

Wow, I’m so honored to be contacted with such an auspicious reply!  I’m glad that my contact in 2009 gave them an opportunity to better understand my needs and expectations!  …that were never properly addressed.  I’ve already seen the Mac Snack Wrap commercials and billboards, so I’m now sure how this letter makes me among the first to know… perhaps there are some people in Appalachia and in Alaska that aren’t familiar with the concept of snacking on “a whole new level”.  I’d like to see some sort of chart on the levels of snacking.  Are they the opposite of Dante’s levels of hell?  Or, perhaps… one in the same?  [Insert your own joke about gluttony here.]  I”ll perhaps have to address this in future missives.

In the mean time, I’m making a call to all of my readers… if you can make me a chart of the levels of snacking, it would be greatly appreciated! I’d love to share it with everyone.

Maybe next time, I’ll go with the angle that I find the proliferation of “Mc” to be disturbing to those of us with Celtic heritage…