Inaugural Salty Snack Off!

Wow – sometimes it is hard to get by when your Internet doesn’t work (since I was trying to post every other day). Luckily this weekend proved to be the perfect time (NFL Wildcard Weekend) for me to try out some of the many snacks that exist out there to eat with your spirit of choice.

Right now I have a whole lot of different items to munch on at any given time (Licorice, assorted mini-chocolates, chips, cookies, pretzels, popcorn, marshmallows, cereal, and an assorted amount of party mixes now). That is probably more than is appropriate, but hey, when you drink a lot, you snack a lot (and incidentally you have to work out a lot).

For this challenge I took some newcomers that I have seen pop-up in the snack world at a few of the normal haunts, as well as two constant stalwarts I almost always have on hand.

To further aid in this experiment, I picked out the top munchie inducing alcohol – WHISKEY and with it, Whiskey Sours, to power thru the snacks. So, with a bottle of Jim Bean in hand, and snacks in a brown bag (thanks new bag law, that actually came in handy)…I travelled to my friend’s house and we went to the task (friends don’t let friends eat crappy snacks alone!).

To start out, we sampled about a half-cup of each snack on it’s own, no alcohol (this was, by far, the hardest part!). The players (5 total): UTZ PUBMIX (normally bought from Costco, but I did find it at CostPlus, too), Pai Gow Poker Party Mix (CostPlus $5), Generic Party Mix (found both at Target and CostPlus $6-$8 depending), ChexMix, and the Fishbowl Party Snacks (CostPlus $8, but I have seen it somewhere else, just not sure where). Yes, yes, yes – lot’s of items from CostPlus, but it just happened to be next to Target when I was stocking up on Soda’s (read: mixers), so I stopped inside and, of course I am going to find goodies. Trader Joe’s, sadly, did not carry any non-nut salty snacks surprisingly, but I did find two different items for future “research”, hehehe.

Anyways, the 1st impressions:

  • Pai Gow Poker Party Mix ($5, 22oz): This mix contains Pretzels, Rice Crackers, Cajun Corn, Chili Cheese Spirals, Honey Sesame Sticks, and Wasabi Peas. Indeed, Wasabi Peas have entered the fray of snack mix. Well, out of that wonderful group, there are absolutely no winners at all. The parts are bad and the sum is worse! Total and utter failure. Failure to flavorize. Nothing has a taste really except for the wasabi peas. The pretzels are bland, nearing stale taste. Rice Crackers (hint of seaweed as always), don’t even taste like rice! They taste like paper. Cajun Corn and Chili Cheese Spirals try to spicy up the mix, but they die a quick death in your mouth from the other items. Honey Sesame sticks (aka pretzels #2) just sit there like an old dog. Which leaves the Wasabi Peas – a party foul in your mouth! What fucking taste doctor said this is Wasabi pea? Did they conjure up what a Wasabi Pea is supposed to taste like and run with that? It’s all trying-to-taste-like-wasabi-but-not flavor, and zero effort at pea. I should have gone with a $5 Scratcher.
  • ChexMix Original ($2, 8.75oz): Always a good item to have on hand, ChexMix has Corn, Rice, and Wheat Chex, Bagel Chips, and Pretzel-bites. All around good flavor in each item, and here a solid example of the sum being better than the parts, but, each piece can stand on it’s own (which leads me to believe some drunk product inventor at General Mills had all sorts of half eaten boxes of crap on his desk and knocked the boxes over…and when cleaning them up – BLAMMO! ChexMix.). ChexMix also has come out with more mixes – Turtle, Sour Cream and Onion, Honey Nut, Cheddar, and now a New “BOLD” Original flavor (don’t worry, I bought them all so you don’t have to). If ever in doubt, don’t have a Costco nearby, or just love cereal type mixes, go this route.
  • Generic Party Mix ($5-$7, 28oz): What a snooze-fest here. You have 4 generic items of normally tasty treats: Doritos, Fritos, Pretzels and, the worst, Cheetos. If you insist on chincing out here (since this is the cheapest by far for the amount – albeit PUBMIX is “heavier”), pick-up real Doritos, Fritos and Cheetos and make your own “Good” small mix, and once completed and everyone is liquored up, change that out to this garbage. It’s like serving crappy wine after the good wine to please the guests – real awesome. Be like Jesus and keep the good wine flowing.
  • Fish Bowl Party Snacks ($8, 22.5oz): We may have a true contender here. This mix gets down and dirty offering up the following: Cheesy whales (with a smile), Rice Crackers of all shapes and sizes, Honey-Toasted Peanuts, and yet another one containing Wasabi Peas! In-fact, the back of the container states “We’ve added a touch of Wasabi peas for a nice spicy surprise”. And what a surprise they turn out to be. Spot. Fucking. On. WOW. There are some good Wasabi peas out there, and these peas give those a roll for their money. And that’s the odd man of the bunch. Every rice cracker has a solid, bursting flavor that doesn’t stop, and when it does, eat another! The honey-toasted peanuts should be sifted out and saved as your most prized possession – these little fucks kick ass! What are these people thinking? The only real let-down is those damn whales, with a weak cheese flavor (ain’t like a Goldfish, which ain’t like a Cheez-it), but they come with smiles! And who doesn’t like a whale smiling at you. When all is said and done, you get a fishbowl out of it too no less – deftly promoted on the lid “for kids of all ages”. Buy this, sift out your nuts, and serve the rest in a real bowl. Keep the Whiskey ready for the Wasabi.
  • Utz PubMix ($8. 43oz – which is only really the weight of the snacks): From the start you could tell the winner. There has yet to be a snack mix to compete with the Pub master here. Utz has crafted a friggen Picasso of snack mix here. They packed in Honey Mustard Twistix, Cheddar Cheese Twistix, Honey Roasted Sesame Chips, Oriental Rice Crackers, Pretzel Sticks, Nacho Bagel chips and, the real standout I love to reach for – Worcestershire rye chips. This mix kicks ass, takes names, and blows up your mouth hole. Cheesus it is so good. Snack heaven in every bite. If you only eat one little snack bite at a time, this mix is for you – everything can hold it’s own, there is no generic anything in here. Just plain ‘ol snack ass-kicking. You’ll never visit my home bar without seeing this baby parked nearby.

As the nite went on and we drank down that bottle, eating the different snacks, talking shit about the Pai Gow mix, and watching The Shield on DVD, I noticed the Generics pull through in just pure craving satisfier. If you have an asshole who likes to throw-up a lot, make sure they eat these crappos so it doesn’t feel like your watching money go into the toilet when he hugs it later on in the evening.

I re-tried all these snacks again at home with another round (different day), this time with the help of Tequila, inside Tequila Sunrise’s. I woke up hugging the fishbowl and the dog nearly eating what fell on the floor…after she had apparently helped herself to the bag of ChexMix. Oddly enough Pai Gow survived and was left perfectly intact…that should tell you something.

For what it’s worth, I now need to figure out a steady drink to kill off the Pai Gow Mix (since I can’t feed it to the dog), and that’s $5 I can’t get back.


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