Pumpkin Spice Spam

Pumpkin Spice Spam was a thing — for about four hours on September 23, 2019.

Then it was sold out, gone, possibly never to reappear on the national scene.

Hormel made Pumpkin Spice Spam available in two-packs from their own website — with a limit on one two-pack per customer — but also sold it through the Walmart.com website, with no limit on how much you could buy. Until, of course, it sold out. If I understand correctly, Hormel’s own site sold out within four hours or so of the 8 am EDT launch time, and Walmart made it a few hours longer before they, too, had none left to sell.

Because I’m a complete idiot, I of course had the launch hour and date programmed into my calendar; I’d even set up a Facebook event so others could ‘attend’ and get a reminder when the stuff went on sale.

I sitting on a plane waiting to take off (heading through Chicago to Nebraska) when the launch time came but was able to get my official sold-by-Hormel two-pack purchased before we left the runway. It wasn’t easy to get my order in; when eight a.m. came and I launched the site from my smartphone, the site crashed, and crashed, and crashed, and crashed some more. I knew this meant that demand for the stuff was going absolutely through the roof. But it finally came up and let me get my credit card information entered just seconds before we took off. Yay!

I hit the Walmart site once I got to Chicago and was in cell reception again … and was super-excited to find that they hadn’t put any kind of limit at all on how many packs you could buy.

As Carole has often quoted me as saying, “if a thing’s worth doing it’s worth overdoing.”

So I purchased five more two-can packs, for a total of six packs and twelve cans, figuring that would last me long enough for me to get sick of it.

I know you’re asking, “Jay, why the hell did you want some in the first place?”

The answer is simple: “just for the sheer gormless pointlessness of the whole thing. And also because I kind of like grilled Spam. But mostly just to be stupid.”

Fact is, I’d read reviews prior to launch from various foodie website saying that Pumpkin Spice Spam didn’t actually suck and would probably go well with breakfast. And that it wasn’t actually pumpkin-y at all, instead having a mild nutmeg-and-cinnamon taste. So why not try some while I could?

The stuff came while I was in Nebraska and Carole Ieft it all waiting for me on the entryway table. Upon arriving home I greeted the Spam with glad cries and entertained myself by making a little tower of the two-packs (and taking a photo) before squirreling them safely away.

We waited until Saturday to try the stuff. I opened a can, sliced it neatly into six equal slices, and cooked it in a grill pan with a little canola oil.

Carole, bless her heart, didn’t refuse outright to try some. And she didn’t think it was awful or anything. But, let’s let these photos tell the tale:

Despite her dour look, she said she didn’t actually dislike it, but it wasn’t anything she saw a reason to camp out for. So to speak.

Me? I pretty much liked it. I think it might even have been better if the nutmeg-and-cinnamon flavor had been a little stronger. It certainly wasn’t overwhelmingly spiced or cloyingly flavored.

Long story short — it wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped it would be, but was much less awful than I feared it could be. Hormel clearly tried to do a good job here and wasn’t just mailing it in or going for humor value alone. If it was available annually I’m sure I’d keep buying it. As it is, I have no doubt that I’ll make my way through the remaining eleven cans in due course.

Wafflemania

I don’t do Facebook much — that’s why I tend to be ignorant of news like “oh, alligators ate my left leg a month ago” until everyone else on the planet, up to and including the pool guys in cities a thousand miles north of the alligator line, knows the story.

But I do find a few things about Facebook’s content amusing. One is the Employees-of-Waffle-House closed group I somehow got added to. Every day is a soap opera like you would not believe.

People get into actual flamewars over whose manager is right about the order in which waffles and biscuits are supposed to be called to the cooks. And whether it’s even acceptable to make pancakes using waffle batter:

“OUR NAME IS NOT ‘PANCAKE HOUSE’. WE DO NOT MAKE PANCAKES!!!”

vs

“Hell, if it keeps the three year old who wants a pancake happy, we’ll cook him a damn pancake.”

Cue 900 follow-up messages taking every conceivable side of the issue. Including whether the aliens at Area 51 are somehow manipulating American waffle production for their own purposes.

It kind of makes you wonder what other closed employee-only groups there are out there — is there a group for American park rangers to bitch about things like the bear in the hat and necktie who keeps stealing picnic baskets? Or a group for Starbucks employees to bitch about the customers who complain because their latte is precisely two degrees too hot, with graphic descriptions of the tortures the baristas would like to subject said customers to? Or a group for pool guys to vent about all the alligators they’re finding in pools lately and how it’s not due to global warming, but rather, due to changes in pool chemical formulation?

Alligators, man. What are you going to do?

The Wienermobile

There are people in this country who do not own a large stuffed Wienermobile.

I am not one of those people.

(For what it’s worth, I’ve had this thing for years and years. Bought it off eBay. It came with strings attached to hang it from the ceiling of a store or business, but mostly I’ve just left it on the top bunk of the bunk bed we pointlessly use as a spare sofa down in the living room. I saw a post on Fark.com today about the wonderful life Wienermobile drivers experience and decided to post a photo of my own little Wienermobile in the comments.)

Depression-Era Values

Mom was a child of the Depression. She was born two months before the market crashed and she grew up one of eight kids in a rural Florida family where the father was frequently unemployed and the mother was frequently in mental hospitals. A large percentage of what they ate, they grew or raised themselves. One simply didn’t waste food.

Even after she put herself through college at Florida State, went off to grad school at the University of Michigan and then at Duke, and then wound up living a prosperous middle-class college town life, she hated to waste food.

She would make jam and jelly from the raspberries and blackberries whose bushes grew in profusion around our house in the mountains of Virginia and she’d seal the jars with canning wax. The seals didn’t always hold well and we’d find thick layers of mold on top of the jam, but Mom wouldn’t hear of throwing it out; she’d scrape the mold off and insist that we eat the jam anyway. More often than not, it’d gone to sugar and was grainy and unpleasant, but again — waste not, want not.

When I was in middle school, she was diagnosed with high blood pressure and told to avoid salt as much as possible. So, the next time she canned tomatoes and made tomato sauce, she used “No-Salt” instead of regular table salt. “No-Salt”, in case you’ve never had the misfortune of tasting it, is a vile salt alternative that, I swear to God, tastes more or less exactly like plutonium. It’s a nasty, bitter, metallic-tasting abomination from the pits of Hell, and Mom had a bumper crop of tomatoes that year. A decade later we were still unearthing jars of that that year’s sauce and staring at each other across the dinner table, afraid of pointing out that we’d rather go chew broken glass than eat any. Mom would not have been amused.

In the end, though, the memory of Mom and food gone wrong (but eaten anyway) that I treasure the most is the time she had couples from Dad’s department at Virginia Tech over for dinner. She had purchased a couple of large tubs of sour cream and some Lipton dried onion soup mix to make what the people of that era called “California Dip” or “French onion dip”.

Only… she’d grabbed the wrong box of dried soup mix off the shelf at Radford Brothers’. When she went to open it, she found she’d wound up with Lipton … chicken noodle soup mix.

She used it anyway. Little tiny noodles and all. It wasn’t the worst thing any of us had ever eaten, and I had to admit that the little tiny noodles gave the dip an interesting crunch, but still, the look on her guests’ faces when they dipped a potato chip and took a taste was something to behold. Expecting onion, they got … poultry.

In her defense, Mom never let her refrigerator get packed with spoiled or ancient food — she made sure things got eaten well before they’d evolve sentience. And she was a very good cook. It’s just that, like anyone, she made mistakes… and we all got to experience them right along with her.

Miss ya, Mom.1RIP Dora Ann Mondon Furr, 1929-2011

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. RIP Dora Ann Mondon Furr, 1929-2011

The Politics of Dancing (Waring Blender Edition)

Waring Blender
Just killed my red Waring bar blender trying to make Carole a smoothie with skim milk, frozen berries, and frozen yogurt chunks (which she’d prepared in advance in a silicone cube tray). Apparently there are some things that are too much for a Waring blender — deep frozen 1 inch cubes of frozen vanilla yogurt, for one, and Warren Zevon for another.

Note the Oxford comma there.

Anyway, the thing gave me 11 years’ service, so I’m not too broken hearted.

I went to look up and order another and to my horror, the blender arms race has gotten a bit out of control; they make Waring blenders that go up to almost a thousand dollars. I assume those are for making the Bruce Banner smoothies out of pitchblende, carnotite, basalt, and, of course, skim milk.