My coworker returned from a long road trip a few weeks back and told me the new energy drink she consumed had given her a headache and upset her stomach. When prompted for the name of the energy drink, she replied, "Venom." God forbid you suffer the ill effects of drinking 16.9 oz of Venom, I mused. This line of energy drinks comes in four flavors, of which Mango was my first foray. Clearly it made an impression if it spurred me to write my first contribution to Phoood.com. I'd like to think I am judicious in my use of the word "thermonuclear," but that said, nothing less would describe the reactive mango core of this can. Venom Energy Mango is too sweet for its own good. It is more mango than mango. Moreover, something about the way the drink met my tongue made me feel as though, if they pumped two or three more PSIs of carbonation into this canister, it might just blast itself off to the moon. It's certainly tasty, but probably more like liquid candy than any other energy drink I've ever had (but I don't drink many). I think I'll stick with coffee for my kicks. It may stain my teeth, but at least I don't feel like I'm drinking diabetes when I have a cup of joe.
Some of my favorite breakfast cereals are Fruit Loops, Lucky Charms, Cap’n Crunch, Fruity Pebbles and … Raisin Bran. Weird, huh? I don’t really like bran cereal all that much, and usually just like to eat raisins all by themselves. But, somehow, Raisin Bran is more than the sum of its parts. I usually buy Kellogg’s Raisin Bran (no offense to Post Raisin Bran), but had never tried its sister product, Raisin Bran Crunch, until recently. Raisin Bran Crunch has flakes that are much crunchier than the flakes in Raisin Bran and also has oat and honey granola clusters. The cereal has a delicious, hearty crunch and stays crunchy in milk for a long time. It’s really good, and it’s nearly as healthy as Raisin Bran. My only minor quibble is that it didn’t seem to have as many raisins as Raisin Bran. I was expecting “two scoops” of raisins but noticed that, unlike Raisin Bran, the Raisin Bran Crunch box doesn’t mention anything about having “two scoops.” Nevertheless, it’s a delicious cereal that deserves a spot in my cupboard.
In case you haven’t heard, Pepsi has introduced several new sodas that are sweetened with natural sugar rather than high fructose corn syrup. One of these sodas is Pepsi Throwback, which recently received a “Good” rating here on Phoood. Pepsi Natural is another of the new sodas. It definitely deserves a “Don’t Waste Your Money” rating. For a short time, I considered giving it a “So-so” rating because the flavor is unique and I think some people may actually like it. I’m not one of these people, however. I found the flavor to be very odd and not at all what I want in a soda. The flavor of cola was definitely there, but not in a good way. Honestly, it reminded me of an old soda that had begun to go bad. The Pepsi web site says that Pepsi Natural is only available in limited markets. If you don’t live in one of these markets, be grateful. You won’t be tempted to waste your money on it. I predict that Pepsi Natural will ultimately suffer the same fate as Crystal Pepsi, Pepsi AM, and Pepsi Blue and become nothing but a brief mention on the List of Pepsi Types Wikipedia page.
Residents of four western states are extremely fortunate that they can eat at In-N-Out Burger, my favorite fast food restaurant. The highlight of In-N-Out’s sparse menu is the Double-Double, which has two patties, two slices of American cheese, lettuce, tomato, spread (similar to Thousand Island dressing with a mayonnaise base), and fresh or grilled onions (or no onions at all). It’s by far the best fast food burger I’ve eaten, and has had a very special place in my heart since the first time I ate one. The flavor and freshness of In-N-Out's burgers are what makes them so much better than the competition. When I need even more meat and cheese, I order a 4x4 (you guessed it - four patties and four slices of cheese!). In-N-Out will make your burger with as many patties and slices of cheese you want. I’ve been tempted to order a 6x6 or an 8x8, but haven’t … yet. One of my many goals in life is to order a 100x100 someday (see example here). In-N-Out is legendary for their excellent food, clean facilities, and friendly service. If you are one of the unfortunate souls who don’t live in California, Nevada, Arizona, or Utah, what are you waiting for? Get on a plane, train, automobile, motorcycle, bicycle, Segway, skateboard, or pogo stick and get yourself to an In-N-Out. I promise that you will not be disappointed.
Update July 6, 2009: The rumors are true! I confirmed with In-N-Out corporate headquarters that you can no longer order a burger larger than a 4x4. A company representative told me that this policy was implemented so that they could maintain their high quality standards. I wonder if the fear of lawsuits from sleazy lawyers (à la McDonald's) is the real reason for this change in policy.