Monday, August 31, 2009

Cruel, Cruel Cruller

For years I've seen boxes of donuts in the grocery store from the Koffee Kup Bakery of Burlington, VT, but never tried them. Their smiling donut spokesman and a sale price of $1.99 finally wore me down, and I recently bought a box of devils food chocolate donuts:

The box features their wonderful mascot, Mr. Cruller (it's in tiny lettering on his cap):
Curiously, he's Mr. Cruller, not Mr. Kruller.

I'm usually an ardent food label-reader, but this time I just looked at Mr. Cruller and put the box in the cart. Only when I got it home did I notice Mr. Cruller pointing to the horrific nutrition facts on the back:

I know donuts aren't health food, but 8 grams of trans fats per donut?! I thought that stuff was banned!! I'm seriously disappointed with Mr. Cruller. Mr. Peanut would never try to lead people astray like that.

Not wanting to meet Mr. Balloon Angioplasty next, I decided to forgo Mr. Cruller. This was a difficult decision since I hate wasting food (there are people starving in China, after all). To ease my guilty conscience, I decided to at least take a few pictures of the donuts before disposing of them as hazardous waste. So I got out the googly eyes and snapped away:

Not very original, I know, but there are few things that can't be improved upon by the addition of a pair of googly eyes. These particular eyes required quite a bit of scrubbing to remove the greasy residue after the photo shoot. Mr. Cruller will be staying on the grocery store shelf from now on.

Monday, August 10, 2009

I Scream for "Eye"ce Cream!

One of the best things about summer is the multitude of small, locally-owned ice cream stands that open up for the season. Who can resist a soft serve twist or a cone of mint chocolate chip on a hot day? And if you're really lucky, a smiling ice cream cone might just be there to encourage your licking.

I was really lucky on two occasions recently. We visited our local ice cream establishment, the Curry Freeze, in Rotterdam, NY. Contrary to what you must be thinking, the Curry Freeze does not actually sell frozen curry, but is named after the street where it's located.

Benevolently gazing down on all the patrons is a grinning soft serve cone:

A close-up reveals our friend to be a Flavor Burst cone:

I've actually seen this same Flavor Burst cone guy at two other ice cream stands in the region. It turns out Flavor Burst is a system to infuse a variety of flavoring into plain vanilla soft serve ice cream. Check out the Flavor Burst website for all the details including information on the ominously-named FB80LPa and FB44CMX systems. Regrettably, the cone guy is nowhere to be found on the website and seems to have been replaced with a much more pedestrian penguin mascot.

This past weekend we made a journey to a new (to us) ice cream stand located literally in the middle of nowhere in Wynantskill, NY. Moxie's has been making their own ice cream right on the premises since the 1930s.

Welcoming all visitors is Mr. Blue Moon, a cone of Moxie's unique Blue Moon flavor:

I asked what Blue Moon tasted like and was told that it tasted differently to everyone, so I had to try some. It tasted like orange sherbet to me, so I passed on a full cone of it. But I did try their Chocolate Challenge and Teaberry flavors. Both were excellent, but the Teaberry was particularly exciting for me because my family used to get this flavor at the now-defunct Farmer's Dairy ice cream store in Hazleton, PA.

Gracing the blue wall of the building where the ice cream is made are a pair of larger-than-life smiling cones:
Out back are some other ice cream cones like this giant lady cone in a pillbox hat:

And this purple gentleman in a top hat:

Moxie's also has a vast play area for kids, a romantic pergola, and rockers for the older set (like me). It's definitely worth the drive if you are anywhere near the Troy, NY area.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mr. Peanut Memories

In a previous post, I mentioned how my love of Mr. Peanut stems from early exposure to advertising premiums through my grandfather's small grocery store. Some premiums were designed for retail customers, but others were meant just for the grocery retailers themselves.

This profit calculator was given out by Planters to retailers like my grandfather. By sliding the inner card to match up the number of items in a carton or case with the cost in one window, the other window shows the percent profit for potential selling prices.

One side shows unit prices 25¢ and up, while the other shows 5¢ to 25¢.

Mr. Peanut's Guide to Profits is dated May 1972, and shows the current packaging for Planters peanuts, mixed nuts, and single-serving bags sold under the Southern Belle brand.

Less than a year later, in January 1973, this picture of me and my grandfather was taken in front of the candy counter of his store.

Look closely at the middle row of the candy counter and you can see three Planters items for sale. First, the white box on the left contains an unknown Planters item. It might be single serving bags of peanuts (probably in an earlier version of the bags shown here), but it could be a Chocolaty Coated Peanut Block or a Peanut Butter Chew. Then, in the orange box are peanut butter cups and next are peanut candy bars. Special thanks to JasonLiebig for posting these and many other great images of his packaging, advertising, and ephemera collection on Flickr!

I don't actually remember eating the Planters items in the candy case. When I was old enough to eat such things, I favored Fruit Stripe gum and Swedish Fish. Maybe the Planters candy was already phased out by then? However, I do have an original shipping box from the store that contained the peanut butter cups:

The sides:

The top:

Each display box held 24 individual cups. That's 288 cups in the box! If only we knew the wholesale price, Mr. Peanut could tell us just what the profit would be!

I had noticed that the Planters Peanut Candy bars have made a resurgence, so I decided I had to try one (or two) for research purposes.

It's basically peanut brittle with more peanuts and less brittle. It was good, but I couldn't help feeling like it must have been a pale imitation of the original, and it was awfully small. The original wrapper called it a Jumbo Block, and the new version is a mere 1.6 ounces. Then I looked carefully at the old Jumbo Block label and saw that it was only 0.83 ounces! No wonder we weigh so much more these days!

The Planters website also lists a Big Nut Bar, so I figured I had better track down some of these for comparison. It turns out these are more like a granola bar and are sold in boxes of 5 in the granola bar section of grocery stores.
The front of the box:

The individual wrapper:

These were good, too, and lacked the ominous "Choking Warning" of the Peanut Bar candy.

Wouldn't it be great if Planters re-issued the peanut butter cups, peanut chews, and chocolaty coated blocks? And you could still get Mr. Peanut items by saving the labels?!