Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Safeway Double the Nuggets Review Extravaganza

Me, a former stock clerk at Safeway, Ahhh.. I recall many hours of night shift frozen turkey bowling for 2 liters, grape thief takedown and apprehension (I, the bitter underpaid graveyard laborer took some satisfaction from this sort of thing) , toilet paper 8 pack kicking contests, and coupon machine crushing in the cardboard bailer.

This last one begs a little explanation. I couldn't count the number of times I stood up from facing the bottom shelves, to hit my head on these heavy and sturdy coupon dispensing machines only to have it beep irritatedly at me, and possibly eject a coupon for 10 cents off of my next purchase of Always. My priority shifted over time at the store from arranging the boxes of Count Chocula so that the next 5 year old realized and was impressed with how full the shelf was of his favorite cartoon covered sugar-coated refino corn wheat blend, to performing structural integrity experiments on coupon dispensers. I played sort of a "Will it beep?" game with kicks, elbows, pallet jacks, iron bars, chemicals, and ultimately the finale-the cardboard bailer. No "It will not beep." after being compressed into a cube with trays that once held cans of Fancy Feast. I was playing out my own ending to the Terminator, as the little red light did seem to go out sort of hesitantly. I was almost worried that it would come back and throw another coupon at me, maybe even with a last beep. I did have to deny that I took part in such experiments as I stupidly left the $175 retired machine wedged in the cardboard.

My other strong memory of this ridiculous job was bogo, the buy one get one free work to fill the store hustle with perhaps the most hated acronym ever. In the spirit of bogo, I thought I would provide a buy one get one free review of two types of Safeway nuggets. One type is tasty, and the other crunchy. Nuggets are probably quite common in Safeway, and I'm sure the marketing folks at Safeway will admit that Safeway nuggets are products that are established deep in the psyches of consumers in the form of off-brand loyalty. This is adherence to a branding code, a post 80s fanaticism that basically states "whatever you have been using to sell your product for the last 3 decades should be maintained, as it likely conjures images of pre-apple eden and waterfalls in the small minds of the discerning consumer". I am quite against irrational brand loyalty, which contributes to bloating corporations into something beyond production of soda pop, packaging of chicken into microwavable trays, or the provision of a roof, under which you can buy both stale popcorn and a sentimental copy of The Goonies for under 10 bucks. SO...

I thought I'd give the off-brands a chance.

Nuggets, Crunchy

Grape Nuts is a cereal which I find a fairly healthy and filling low-sugar alternative to most others out there, but it is one of those well-known and popular products that hasn't changed a bit, other than for its 4-6 dollar price range. I take my Grape Nuts quite seriously when it comes to breakfast cereal. This is one time where off-brands are so off, I felt comfortable padding the pockets of Post. It's as unusual a cereal as its name suggests. So you would understand my frustration, when my wife comes home with the Crunchy Nuggets. I thanked her profusely for thinking of me, but my mind was a little more like "I don't ask for much. Why? Why the fuck are you subbing out my Grape Nuts for some Nugget product, when that bottle of pop you're drinking is still covered with red and blue?". But I am generally an appreciative guy, and I gave the Crunchy Nuggets a try:

Flavor: A subtle blend of medite and water, with hints of wheat byproduct, and a nose of fragrant machinery.

Texture: Crunchy Nuggets beats Grape Nuts. End of discussion. It's a complete no-brainer, and here's why: Grape Nuts, while being one of my favorites, has kind of a pointlessness to it. It's so goddamned crunchy, that I have the choice of either waiting until it's soggy, or risk stress fractures in my molars. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm not pouring a bowl of cereal because I am enjoying the process and artistry of food preparation. I want it easy and I want it quick. Crunchy Nuggets nailed this with enough milk-defying crunch right out of the box without me reaching for my mouthguard. I loved this factor so much, that I poured a second bowl, which is something I would never do with Grape Nuts-I simply don't have the patience for that shit.

With the factors of flavor and texture averaged, I would say that Crunchy Nuggets is a match for Grape Nuts, and for half the price, I'm rethinking my staple.

Nuggets, Tasty

Tasty Nuggets for me was more of a curiosity, and I thought I'd branch out into Safeway's excellent, yet sub-select line of products.

Flavor: Duck Liver paté warmed on an engine block, aged 2 days outside of oak barrels in hot sun with blood vessels and marrow plucked and sucked from likewise-aged chicken drumstick.

Texture: A thirst inducing crunchy crumble, with what is that? at least 10% sand? I'm not sure I want to bog my septic system with this. Perhaps I should go squat in the back yard.

So the other thing I remember at Safeway was eating dog food for money, and earning enough for something that is truly safe for human consumption. Safeway Tasty Nuggets Dogfood is not something you should feed your dog, if for no other reason, than it's extremely likely you'll multiply your dog shit pick-up volumes. That, and it tastes bad.

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