Product Review! Dole Apple Cinnamon Fruit Crisp: it’s what’s for meal.

I try to play my part in the hilarious global production of Let’s Pretend There’s Time to Fix It, and generally abstain from prepackaged fruit cups for the little ones, instead buying my mandarin oranges and pears by the large tin, then transferring them to plastic containers once opened. Our membership to BJ’s, however, thwarts my efforts on a monthly basis.

If you belong to a warehouse club, you’re aware of the fruit and vegetable aisle (not to be confused with produce), where subtle halos beam from behind hundreds of neatly stacked boxes of every kind of fruit cocktail imaginable. I’ve steeled myself against the snack-pack aisle, but every now and then the left side of that fruit aisle (I ignore the vegetables on the right) calls to me as I try to pass it, like a siren, with whispers of “hey, your kid will absolutely eat this!”

Sometime within the last six months, I fell for the pleasantly packaged, health-ish Dole Fruit Crisp Apple Cinnamon cups, and it turns out that, no, they absolutely will not eat this. Their refusal is for the best, as these little sugar bombs have virtually no nutritional value, aside from the circumstantial fiber present in the “all natural fruit.” You can imagine my growing resentment of eleven oddly shaped containers taking up real estate in my pantry, and several days ago I could no longer stand it. I can’t throw away unspoiled food, and the easiest way to get rid of them would be to just eat them myself. The thirty seconds I spent waiting for my first “apples” to warm were not hopeful ones, and I assumed I’d toss the remaining ten cups into the food drive bin after one bite.

I’m currently down to two cups, with an emergency trip to BJ’s slated for tomorrow afternoon to pick up some more. While the apple adhesive is similar to that in the filling of a Table Talk pie, the apple chunks maintain an admirable level of bite-resistance. The “crispy, crumbly topping” pairs well with the sugary syrup by distracting from its own sweetness with a hefty smack of salt.

The product’s biggest selling point, at least to caretakers of small children, is how impressively quickly you can consume it. Twenty-eight seconds in my microwave yields the perfect temperature, just shy of scalding, and the cup is small enough to hold behind my back as I side-step one or more suspicious toddlers, dart into my office, throw a chair under the doorknob, and pretend to be shuffling through papers out of sight while scarfing down 160 calories of “lunch” in about ninety seconds. I don’t encourage such dietary habits in general, but until my wards stop literally stealing my breakfast, I have to eat on the sly or wait for reinforcements to arrive for dinner.

All in all, a positive rating from the moms-who-should-eat-better-but-don’t demographic. This product should be kept away from children after 4PM to avoid a Gremlins-eating-after-midnight effect, and anyone who takes pride in a healthy lifestyle should probably steer clear as well. That wouldn’t be me, what with my trinity of addictions (nicotine, caffeine, and aspartame). Although I give my gym’s treadmills a good what-for several days a week, it’s really more for bottled-rage management than fitness, as well as the free childcare (thank you, once again, Mr. and Mrs. S!).

This is a few of my favorite thing.

Chocolate Covered Popped Corn

Will wonders never cease, it’s winter in New England and it’s snowing. A lot. As I scroll through the endless Facebook griping, I’m reminded of this past summer, sitting on my porch in the stifling August heat, contemplating my edema-induced upside down piano legs, as my father would say, begging gods and nature for my promised Goreian deep freeze, or even just the tip-over of a truck carrying liquid nitrogen in which I could dip my sausagey toes. So forgive me my utter delight with 1) my now permanently non-incubatory midsection, and 2) our current weather. You know, the snow. In winter. But for anyone who views shoveling as a treat-worthy activity…

This recipe for a weapons-grade deceptively light “snack” hails from, but I found out about it through one of Mr. P’s lovely coworkers. While enjoying the tin-full she thoughtfully gave him/us during the holidays, I directed him to bring me either the recipe or her head, and I received the link within 24 hours. The sludge with which you coat the popped corn is well worth the fillings you’ll sacrifice as you snack on whatever quantity doesn’t quite make it into the pan. I had planned on shipping the maiden batch to my debonair brother, C, but looking at the remains this morning, I realize that’s just not going to happen. Perhaps if I double the recipe, eat half, and quickly drive to FedEx while still uncomfortably distended to ship the rest…

The only ingredient you probably don’t have is corn syrup (I keep it on hand, but I know that’s a lot to expect of everyone else). Do not attempt to make your own corn syrup; this enigmatic substance is synthesized in factories for a reason. I recommend using a microwavable popcorn, but get one that’s unsalted and unbuttered. Then proceed to add as much salt (disturbingly omitted from the recipe) as necessary. You’ll have to constantly taste — quel horreur! Do yourself a favor and don’t make plans for your first round, nor for your evening.

As a postscript, Mr. P pointed out to me that his lovely coworker used kettle corn in her version, not regular popping corn. Mr. P’s contribution was given due consideration.

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