Friday, August 05, 2005

Caffeino Ultimo

This is it, my last day of caffeine consumption for the week. Um... last weekday caffeine consumption for the week. Can I still drink it tomorrow? I guess so, but then I'd have to go Sunday through Saturday, whereas if I stop at the end of today I can start again next Saturday and -- yeah, see, this is the whole reason for the detox in the first place. That sentence was just the Diet Vanilla Pepsi taking the reins on my neural activity.

So. Caffeine tomorrow, then none Sunday through Saturday. There's the plan. And as an extra added sign that it's time to take a break, the Starbucks girl actually fucked up my order this morning, putting me down for a decaf iced latte with whole milk when I wanted a nonfat with caffeine. I can't remember that ever happening before. Sure, they're known the world over for screwing up people's names on the cups, but at least they usually get the beverages right.

And it seems McSweeney's has rejected my work again, so it's once again time for a bit of self-publishing. I submitted this to the Reviews of New Food section, which I don't read religiously but can be entertaining. I tried the Trader Joe's brand of vegetarian sausage patties a couple months ago and felt something needed to be said on the subject.


There they are, side-by-side in the freezer case: Morningstar Breakfast Patties and Trader Joe's Breakfast Patties, competing for your hard-earned fake sausage dollar. "Sure," Trader Joe's subliminally imparts to you, "the Morningstar package is flashier and prettier, but look here: with our product, you get more patties to the box for almost a dollar less. You know you ridicule your friends who shop at Whole Foods because they pay significantly more for essentially the same products. Do you really want to turn into one of them?"

Shamed, you immediately grab a box (or even two) of the Trader Joe's patties lest your mere hesitation turn you into one of those yuppie Whole Foods sheep with a Prius parked next to a Hummer in their air-conditioned garage. And why not? Aren't Trader Joe's-branded products inevitably just as good as, if not better than, those of any competitor? Did you even bat an eyelash when they switched from Crystal Geyser to Trader Joe's Mountain Spring Water?

But once you've gotten the patties home and into the microwave, the triumphant mood takes a drastic turn. What's that smell coming from the kitchen? It sure as hell isn't the Morningstar smell, the one so convincingly meaty that nobody walking into the room would ever believe you were a vegetarian. It's some very different kind of odor, bad enough to make you hope that it's coming from somewhere else. Sadly, one bite of the finished product confirms your worst fears. This is not an acceptable substitute for a Morningstar Breakfast Patty. This is not even an acceptable substitute for some kind of freeze-dried high-protein nutritional supplement for soldiers or astronauts. It may, in fact, be the worst thing you've ever tasted, ever.

The next day, you actually take Trader Joe's up on their famous "return it if you don't like it" policy, the policy you always found endearing but never thought you'd take advantage of. A few weeks later, the Morningstar Breakfast Patty once again rules the freezer case unchallenged, and you and Trader Joe's try to put the whole unpleasant incident behind you.

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