Cheesy random thoughts

I’ve had several rather insignificant blogging ideas rattling around in my brain, but no time to put them together because of the grueling, six-week leaf campaign. With no more tarps to pull and 12 days off from work I was finally able to create this cheesy excuse for a post.

The Best Cheez-It?

Back in February 2020, I published a taste test pitting Sunshine/Kellogg’s Cheez-It crackers against Nabisco’s Cheese Nips crackers, with Cheez-It winning the contest by a cracker crumb. See here. I subsequently found out Nabisco discontinued making Cheese Nips at some point in 2020. I continued to buy regular Cheez-Its at the Pittsford Wegman’s grocery, but when I visited the Wegman’s in nearby Penfield, I noticed they stocked Extra Cheesy Cheez-Its. Man, that’s some serious cheese flavor! But after awhile, the extra cheese got to be too much. I’ve found that a nice compromise is the Cheddar Jack variety of Cheez-Its. There’s extra cheddar flavor, but it’s not overpowering like Extra Cheesy.

Vanilla Coke or Pepsi Cream Soda Cola?

Readers of this blog know I’m a fan of Vanilla Coke. It was in short supply because of the pandemic, but returned to Wegman’s shelves in April 2021. This past September, I noticed Pepsi introduced its limited edition “Soda Shop Cream Soda Cola.” Curious, I bought a twelve-pack. Well, folks, the comparison wasn’t even close. Vanilla Coke has it all over the Pepsi pretender. Not much cola or vanilla flavor in Pepsi’s product. Other customers must have had the same reaction because Wegman’s pulled it off of their shelves.

Death of My Asus Chromebook

Maybe about six years ago, our PC died and our son steered us toward a Chromebook. They’re relatively inexpensive and start up as soon as you open the screen. Easy peasy. We got an Asus Chromebook with a 15.6″ screen (photo left). I initially didn’t like the Chromebook. What? No delete key! And I didn’t like not having a mouse. When I was laid off in September 2019, I liked the Chromebook even less because it didn’t have Word and Excel software that I would need for my résumé and job-search data. I learned shortly thereafter that Chromebook has free Word and Excel equivalents via the Google cloud. Cool! I also learned how to hook up my Chromebook to our printer when I needed a résumé hard-copy. I was pleased with my Chromebook until a month ago when one of the screen hinges (yellow circle) started making a clicking sound. I knew that wasn’t good. Asus’ screen hinges are extremely cheesy/flimsy. The problem got steadily worse and in a few days my Chromebook was no longer even operational with the screen starting to crack. I went to Staples to buy a new one, but their selection was very small. I then went to Target up the road and bought a 14″ HP Chromebook (photo right). The great thing about Chromebook is I turned on the HP and signed into Google and all of my favorites came up as if I was still on the the Asus. I was a little concerned about the smaller screen when I bought it, but the 14″ is actually preferable; less bulky and cumbersome and just as easy to read. In this case, smaller is better. HP’s long and substantial screen hinge design is heads and tails over Asus’ cheesy, flimsy hinges. Blogging on the couch with the light 14″ HP Chromebook on my lap is a pleasure.

Venerating St. Ives?

I get it. Men don’t usually talk about personal care products, but I really like St. Ives Oatmeal & Shea Butter Body Wash. Hey, everyone showers, right, and we all have to use some kind of soap. Well, Wegman’s took the St. Ives Oatmeal & Shea Butter body wash off their shelves for some dumb reason. I googled it and Target appeared to sell it. I made a trip to Target and bought two bottles. Cool. BTW, I googled St. Ives and discovered Ives/Yves is a canonized Roman Catholic “saint” who lived in Brittany from 1253 to 1303. Should I boycott St. Ives products because they’re named after a RC saint? Sounds very fundamentalish to me.

Polish American Studies

Readers of this blog may recall a 2018 post in which I recounted how I had turned an interest in my Polish heritage into an idol. See here. The best of the many publications I received in my Polish-American craze was “Polish American Studies” put out by the Polish American Historical Association. I recently had an interest in getting back into Polish/Polish-American history (on a much smaller scale than previously), so I submitted my membership application to PAHA again and received my first issue of the Polish American Studies journal. Fascinating articles.

Sweeter Than Sweet

Speaking of sodas, in my trips down Wegman’s soda aisle, I had regularly caught glimpses of Aunt Rosie’s Loganberry soda. Curious, I googled it and found out that the Loganberry drink (it’s actually non-carbonated) got its start at the now-defunct Crystal Beach Amusement Park in Fort Erie, Canada on the shores of Lake Erie, a 13-mile drive from Buffalo. Ah, so Aunt Rosie’s is a regional offering! Cool. I bought a 12-pack and taste tested it. It has a delicious flavor (the loganberry is a hybrid of the blackberry and raspberry), but, man, it’s sweet! A 12-ounce can of Coke has a whopping 39 grams (9.75 teaspoons) of sugar, but a can of Aunt Rosie’s beats that with 46 grams (11.5 teaspoons) of sugar, aka diabetes in a can.

The period goes inside the quotation marks

“The period goes here.

“…not here”.

Call it a pet peeve, but I read quite a bit and I’m amazed at how many writers, editors, and publishers get this grammar rule wrong.

Copy Cats!

I’ve noticed how politicians and political pundits now begin every other sentence with, “Look, …” Some PR/Communications guru must have written a book extolling the word for conveying bold assertiveness, but to me it’s kind of condescending and impolite. I don’t appreciate someone admonishing me to “Look” or “Listen” when they’re beginning to tell me something. The fact that everyone has jumped on the “Look, …” bandwagon is comical.

Heluva Good New England Clam Dip Recipe

Yesterday marked the first official day of Summer, so fire up the grill and bring out the burgers, hot dogs, and marinated chicken thighs! At our house, a patio picnic includes wavy potato chips and dip; New England clam dip that is. The days of buying clam dip at your local grocery store are long gone, but take heart because I have a very easy recipe for you. The post below was first published on July 10, 2017 and continues as this blog’s second most-viewed post of all time with 6981 hits to date.

capture30

An accoutrement staple of Summer backyard picnic dining is potato chips and dip. One of my family’s favorite chip dips used to be a New England clam dip manufactured by a local cheese company named “Heluva Good” of all things (see photo). For some reason, Heluva Good stopped making its clam dip in the early aughts (2000s). Some said it was in response to tightening FDA regulations.

Unable to purchase clam dip, my hankering grew and grew until I finally started searching online for a clam dip recipe that was similar to Heluva Good’s. I found the one below several years ago. It’s a pretty close facsimile and very easy to make. Any time we serve it to guests they always rave about it. I could eat a whole bowl of clam dip with wavy chips in a single sitting all by myself, but my arteries clog up at just the thought of it.

p.s. Heluva Good was headquartered in nearby Sodus N.Y. but was bought out by food conglomerate HP Hood in 2004 and like most things in New York, production was eventually moved out of state. It’s also interesting that the slang term, “one hell of a…” is used to connote something that’s either very good or very bad. The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms says the phrase (or “one Devil of a…”) has its roots in the second half of the 1700s.


Heluva Good New England Clam Dip Recipe

  • 6.5 oz. can chopped clams
  • 6.5 oz. can minced clams
  • 8 oz. package Philadelphia brand cream cheese – allow to reach room temperature
  • ½ tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 and ½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 dashes Red Hot or Tabasco sauce
  • ¼ tsp. paprika
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  1. Drain clams, reserving ¼ cup clam broth. Put drained clams aside.
  2. Mix cream cheese with hand-held electric mixer until smooth while adding clam broth, garlic, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, paprika, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Add clams and mix together with a spoon or spatula.
  4. Cover and refrigerate for three hours
  5. Sprinkle the top with some additional paprika before serving.

Serve with Lay’s Wavy Potato Chips. Enjoy!

It’s back! The return of Vanilla Coke!

Back in November, I published a post (see here) about my favorite soda pop varieties and bemoaned the fact that my #1 favorite, Vanilla Coke, and several others had disappeared from the grocery store shelves early-on in the pandemic. Single 16.9 oz bottles of Vanilla Coke were occasionally offered in the pop cooler near the store’s pizza/prepared foods section, but it was missing in the soda aisle for an entire year.

Well, a few weeks ago, Vanilla Coke made an unexpected comeback at the grocery store. First came six-packs of 16.9 oz plastic bottles. Yahoo! I stocked up not knowing if the return was a temporary blip. A week later came the more-convenient twelve-packs of 12 oz aluminum cans (see photo above). Fantastic! Yes, friends, Vanilla Coke is back and I’m indulging, but don’t tell my MD!

Papa Al’s Hot Sauce – It’s back!!!

Back in December 2018, I wrote a post bemoaning the discontinuation of Papa Al’s Hot Sauce, which had been locally-made here in Rochester, New York. See that post here. Boy, I loved Papa Al’s sauce and enjoyed it for forty-years. I’ve periodically thought about the sauce, wishing I could once again drive over to Southtown Beverages in Henrietta, New York to pick up a couple of bottles as I used to, but that ship had sailed for good. Or had it?

A few weeks ago, a fellow-blogger came across my post and inquired if I had ever tried to reproduce the sauce and asked for my recipe. Well, that got the old brain neurons firing. Referencing the list of ingredients from my last bottle of Papa Al’s sauce – ketchup, cayenne pepper sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, salt, black pepper, and celery powder – I attempted to recreate the sauce by guessing on the ingredient proportions. The initial result? Hmm. Not bad. But there was touch of sweetness present that the original sauce did not have. I assumed that the sweetness came from the regular ketchup. The next day, I went to the grocery and bought a bottle of Heinz low-sugar ketchup. With this second attempt, I also simmered the sauce for one hour to blend the flavors as per our youngest son’s suggestion. He’s also a Papa Al’s Hot Sauce connoisseur and aficionado and we texted back and forth throughout this re-creation experiment. I put the new batch in the fridge overnight for it to “rest,” and sampled it in the morning. Pretty good. I judged the flavor to be around 85% authentic in comparison to the original. I then tinkered with some of the other ingredients (less vinegar, more celery salt) and the flavor of the third batch was in the proximity of 95% of that of the original. Excellent!!! Without any further ado, I present…

Papa Al’s Hot Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup low-sugar or non-sugar ketchup
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce (cayenne pepper sauce)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. vinegar
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan. Use a whisk to thoroughly dissolve ketchup. Heat on warm for one hour, stirring occasionally. Do not boil. Put in sealed container and cool overnight. Voilà! An extremely close facsimile of Papa Al’s Hot Sauce. Enjoy!

⚠️ WARNING: This Papa Al’s Hot Sauce facsimile has a good degree of spiciness and heat. Keep out of the reach of children, pets, and those with delicate palates.

Soda? In Rochester, we call it “pop.”

When I was growing up back in the 1960s, there weren’t as many concerns about nutrition, and soda was a staple of the American diet. Here in Rochester, we referred to soda as “pop” and generally still do. When out-of-towners asked for a “soda” back in the day, we thought that was very strange.

Every weekend, our Dad and a few of us kids would hop in the station wagon and take a short drive to the cinder block building at 625 Shelford Road (photo below) and buy a case of large bottles of “pop” from a local manufacturer, “Fiz Pop,” which was a lot cheaper than the national brands. They had many flavors and it was fun to pick out my favorites as we filled the case. Fiz eventually moved out of that location and my Dad began buying six-packs of Coca-Cola at the big grocery. One of my sweetest high-school-era memories is sucking down ice-old Cokes in the summertime while watching my little black-and-white TV late at night in my hot, un-air-conditioned bedroom.

These days, health experts strongly discourage drinking soda. There’s 39 grams of “sugar” (i.e., high-fructose corn syrup) in a 12 oz. can of Coca-Cola, which translates to 9.75 teaspoons of sugar per can. That’s A LOT of sugar.

I don’t drink a lot of pop/soda, but I do like to crack open a cold one on Saturdays after doing the yard chores. I definitely have my favorites. I have a small stockpile of my favorite varieties with samples in the above photo:

From left to right:

  • Dr. Pepper & Cream Soda – Great combo! Was on the grocery shelf for a limited time during the Summer, but didn’t see it for awhile. It’s now back in six-packs of 16.9 oz. plastic bottles.
  • Coca-Cola, Orange Vanilla – Haven’t seen this Coke variety on the store shelves lately.
  • Vernors – A very gingery-tasting ginger-ale that originally hailed from Michigan. Wikipedia states that “soft,” full-flavored ginger-ales like Vernors were popular before Prohibition, but afterwards, less-flavorful “dry” varieties like Canada Dry caught on.
  • Coca-Cola, Vanilla – Haven’t seen this Coke variety on the store shelves lately.
  • A&W Cream Soda – Hard to find. Stocked sporadically.
  • Coca-Cola, Cherry Vanilla – Haven’t seen this Coke variety on the store shelves lately.

The only Coke on the local grocery shelves lately is Classic Coke and Diet Coke. Has Coke given up on its specialty varieties or have the purchasing agents at our two local grocery chains just gotten lazy? Articles on the internet state that Coke has NOT discontinued its specialty flavors, but that it’s had a hard time keeping up with the high demand during the C-19 pandemic.

What’s your favorite flavor of pop…er, I mean soda?

Above: The Fiz Pop brand was was eventually bought by the Petix family, owners of College Club Beverages. That’s brothers Louie and Joe Petix in the photo above.
I also occasionally like to pick up some bottles of Jarritos-brand Lime and Tamarind flavored soda from Mexico in in the imported foods aisle.
Above: The former Fiz Pop building at 625 Shelford Road, now subdivided into multiple apartments.

Argh! What have they done to my favorite grape pie from Naples, N.Y.?

Did you ever have grape pie? It’s an annual tradition at our house. Just about every year (we missed last year), at the peak of the Fall foliage colors, my wife and I make the one-hour trek from Rochester to the village of Naples (pop. 2500) at the southern tip of Canandaigua Lake to buy a few grape pies. Wine-making is a big industry in the Finger Lakes region because of the clement “lake effect” upon the weather and there are many, many vineyards situated on the hills between the long lakes. Folks in Naples gained some notoriety for their picturesque community by taking some of those Concord grapes and making pies with them. Many Rochesterians make the trip to Naples in the Fall for the scenery and the grape pies.

On Saturday, October 17th, my wife and I began our journey southward to Naples. It was a sunny day and the farther south we drove, the more pronounced were the flaming red, yellow, and orange colors on the trees. The high hills of the region were awash with the bright colors. Stunningly beautiful!

Above: Fall foliage and one of the Finger Lakes

As we pulled into Naples, I contemplated which one of the many vendors we would purchase our grape pies from. We had always bought our grape pies at Cindy’s Grape Pies on Academy Street, but a couple of years ago, we saw on the Rochester news that owner, Cindy Trzeciak, was retiring and closing the business. I drove down Academy street for nostalgia sake, but was surprised to see a line of people in front of Cindy’s. Huh? We parked the car and eagerly stood in line for our two grape pies, so happy that the bakery hadn’t closed after all.

After securing our pies, we had a nice, leisurely lunch at the Redwood Restaurant down the road. Nothing fancy at the Redwood, just good, simple food. I chose a jalapeno burger and fries while my wife had sliced roast beef on kimmelweck, a Western New York favorite.

Full and content, we drove back towards Rochester with the beautiful Fall foliage once again gracing our way. We stopped at the Wegman’s grocery in Canandaigua for our favorite toppings to go along with our grape pies; whipped cream for my wife and vanilla ice cream for me.

We finally made it home and immediately served ourselves a generous helping of grape pie. Huh? Uh oh! With the first bite we both noticed that something was terribly wrong. One of the best features of Cindy’s grape pie was the thick and very flaky crust. But, the crust on this pie was very thin and soggy. Smelling a rat, I googled “Cindy’s Pies” and discovered that Cindy T. had sold the business to new owners back in September 2019 (see here). Hmph. The new owners had promised “not to change a thing,” of course, but that obviously was not the case. My wife and I were very disappointed. The second pie was exactly the same way. Next year, my wife and I will have to try the other prime, grape pie-seller in Naples, Monica’s Pies.

We thank and praise God for His beautiful creation and for good food and for good cooks who know how to prepare it.

Postscript #1: In case you’re curious, grape pie tastes somewhat similar to blueberry pie.

Postscript #2: When there’s not a pandemic going on, Naples hosts its annual Grape Festival the last week of September. See here.

Rochester meat hot sauce: Part 2 and comprehensive ranking

A few weeks back, I introduced another one of Rochester’s delectable contributions to haute cuisine; Rochester meat hot sauce. See here. Just about every local burger joint and hot dog stand in town serves up its own version of the meat hot sauce and you can even buy jars of it at the local grocery stores. Last time, we sampled Momma K’s, Coach Tony’s, and Don’s Original brands. Today, we’re going to try three more varieties: Uncle Timmy’s, Zweigle’s, and Steve T’s.

Uncle Timmy’s: This sauce is very similar in taste and consistency to Coach Tony’s; a very hamburger-y taste, but with a stronger cinnamon accent.

Zweigle’s: Rochester’s maker of the USA’s best hot dogs (see here) offers its own version of meat hot sauce, not in a jar, but a combination of spices in a plastic package. The process involves browning up a pound of fresh ground beef, adding water and the package ingredients, and simmering for half an hour. Voilà! A very tasty meat hot sauce.

Steve T’s: Steve T. is the nephew of Nick Tahou (d.1997), the former proprietor of Nick Tahou’s Hots, home of the original Garbage Plate (see here). Steve has his own hots and burgers joint, but isn’t allowed to use the Tahou name, which is trademarked. This sauce is disappointingly bland and has noticeably more grease than any of the other jarred offerings (note the grease sludge at the top of the jar in the above photo). Steve allegedly follows his Uncle’s Nick’s original meat hot sauce recipe, which makes the case for refinement; the first is not always the best.

It was quite an undertaking to eat my way through these six offerings of Rochester meat hot sauce in order to put together this two-part special post, but my readers’ “need to know” comes before my health.

Let’s sum it all up by ranking the six Rochester meat hot sauces that we’ve reviewed, from best to worst:

Zweigle’s: Excellent flavor with a good degree of heat. Has an unfair advantage due to the add-your-own fresh ground hamburger.

Don’s Original: Delicious. Easily the best of the five jarred varieties. Leans towards a chili flavor with its inclusion of tomato puree and a heavy dose of chili powder.

Coach Tony’s: A bit “rough around the edges,” but a decent alternative if you can’t get Zweigle’s or Don’s Original.

Uncle Timmy’s: The strong cinnamon accent drops it just a notch below the very-similar Coach Tony’s.

Momma K’s: Unadventurous. Tastes just like Sloppy Joe sauce. Strictly for small children and adults with delicate palates

Steve T’s: Ach. Very bland and and very greasy. Tastes like liquid lard with a slight hamburger flavor.

Because he claims to use his Uncle Nick Tahou’s recipe, Steve T. boasts that his hot sauce is “Rochester’s Original Meat Sauce.”

All of the Rochester meat hot sauces mentioned above can be conveniently ordered from NY Style Deli via the link below:

Delish! Rochester meat hot sauce: Part 1

Today, we’re going to take a break from serious, theological discussions with some Rochester-style frivolity.

In some previous posts, I wrote about Rochester, New York’s unique contributions to haute cuisine; the delectable Garbage Plate (see here) and the indescribably delicious Zweigle’s brand, pop-open hot dogs (see here). In Rochester, one of the mandatory accoutrements to a “plate,” a burger, or a Zweigle’s hot dog is Rochester meat hot sauce. Nope, we’re not talkin’ chili, folks. We’re talkin’ meat hot sauce.

It’s reported that Rochester meat hot sauce originated with local greasy spoon diner, Nick Tahou Hots, home of the original “Garbage Plate.”

My first experience with Rochester meat hot sauce was back in the late-1960s when our family would pick up burgers to-go at Don & Bob’s (see photo far below) on Monroe Avenue. I witnessed other customers asking for hot sauce on their burger and was curious enough to try it myself. Are you kidding me?!?!?! So delicious! Absolutely NO ketchup or mustard for me on my burger or Zweigle’s white hot. Just meat hot sauce and chopped onions.

Every Rochester burger joint has its own version of the meat hot sauce, some are better than others. The common ingredients are finely-ground, ground beef with cayenne pepper, a little cinnamon, and lots of other spices and seasonings. Some use tomato paste or sauce, others don’t. The hotness meter varies widely from joint to joint, but I like hot, spicy food so that’s never a problem. Savvy Rochesterians avoid local McDonald’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s franchises because they don’t have meat hot sauce for their pre-fab burgers.

Some of the Rochester burger joints sell jars of their meat hot sauce over the counter. You can even buy jars of Rochester meat hot sauce at the local supermarkets. Put a few spoonfuls in a cup, heat it up in the microwave for 15 seconds, and voilà, it’s just like being at a local burger joint. Pictured are jars of Momma K’s, Coach Tony’s, and Don’s Original meat hot sauce. A few thoughts on each one:

Momma K’s: No zing to this one. Tastes like “Sloppy Joe” sauce. Strictly for the ladies…er, I mean for more delicate palates.

Coach Tony’s: Has a real meaty, “hamburger-y” taste with LOTS of zing. May be too overpowering for meat hot sauce novices.

Don’s Original: Delicious flavor. My favorite of the three. Takes me back to my introduction to meat hot sauce at Don & Bob’s. More of a tomato-y base than Coach Tony’s and a slightly less-powerful kick.

Also available around town are Steve T’s, Zweigle’s, and Uncle Timmy’s versions. We’ll sample those three in our upcoming part two installment.

Click on the link below to view the various Rochester meat hot sauces available online from NY Style Deli:
https://www.nystyledeli.com/cgi-bin/deli/search.html?fi=products&st=db&se=toppings&op=rm&tf=dl_location&nu=0&ml=50

If you google “Rochester Meat Hot Sauce” you’ll also find many make-at-home recipes.

Postscript: Other local greasy spoon diners owned by Greek families in the area serve their version of meat hot sauce as a breakfast and lunch accoutrement. My perfect breakfast: two eggs, sunny-side-up, rye toast, home fries, and a small bowl of meat hot sauce on the side. I understand that the idea of meat hot sauce over eggs at 8:00 a.m. in the morning can be a little daunting for the uninitiated, but trust me on this one.

Disclaimer: This post is for entertainment and informational purposes only. I take no responsibility for any subsequent, health-related issues. 🥵

Screenshot 2020-08-19 at 11.10.34 AM

Above: An original “Garbage Plate” served at Nick Tahou Hots is comprised of two hot dogs or burgers over home fries and macaroni salad, all smothered with a generous helping of Nick’s meat hot sauce and chopped onions. For calorie counters, that’s 1700 calories and a whopping 88 grams of fat.

Screenshot 2020-08-19 at 1.12.41 PM

Above: Don & Bob’s at 2545 Monroe Avenue, circa 2001. Rochester’s one-time premier burger joint opened in 1954 and finally closed in 2001.

The Battle of the Ages: Cheese Nips vs. Cheez-It

I have several post ideas backing up in the queue, so here’s a frivolous post for Sunday, a day that I normally use to take a blogging break.

capture30

Back when I was a kid in the 1960s, there was an iconic battle going on in the snack aisle of the local grocery store with “Cheese Nips” and “Cheez-It” cheese crackers vying head-to-head for the consumer’s dollar. Cheese Nips (introduced in 1955) was produced by cookie and cracker powerhouse, Nabisco, while Cheez-It (introduced in 1921) was made by also-ran, Sunshine Biscuits. I can remember my parents buying both brands, probably determined by which one had provided a coupon in the Sunday paper that week.

Fifty-years later, you can’t even find Cheese Nips at Wegman’s, where we do our grocery shopping here in Rochester, but the shelves are FULL of various flavors of Cheez-It. Cheez-It definitely won the battle in the grocery aisle, hands down.

Recently, I was walking through Tops, the other grocery chain in town, and noticed they still stocked Cheese Nips, although they only had a few boxes compared to their large offering of the various flavors of Cheez-It. For old times sake, I bought a box of Cheese Nips along with a box of regular Cheez-It and brought them home for a comparison taste test.

Cheese Nips boasts on its box that it “has real cheddar cheese” and that “original Cheez-It doesn’t” while Cheez-It lamely boasts that its “made with 100% real cheese.”

Okay, time for the taste test comparison.

[Drumroll]

Hmm. Both of these crackers are pretty good, but I have to say that Cheez-It seemed to have a more robust flavor than Cheese Nips. It definitely seemed to have a cheesier taste. It also seemed to have a crunchier texture, as if it had been baked a tad longer than Cheese Nips. The winner in this contest is Cheez-It, although not by a huge margin. I imagine some would have difficulty distinguishing the difference.

Kudos to Sunshine (bought by Keebler in 1996 and by Kellogg in 2000) for winning the cheese cracker contest by turning Cheez-It into a snack dynamo. However, turnabout is fair play. Over the decades, Nabisco thoroughly trounced Sunshine’s original chocolate wafer and cream cookie, Hydrox (introduced in 1908), with its own version, the vaunted Oreo (introduced in 1912). Sunshine/Kellogg eventually gave up on Hydrox altogether. As a kid, I thought the name, “Hydrox,” was very off-putting/unappealing, sounding more like a science experiment than a snack cookie. A very strange brand-name choice by today’s standards, but I know that the marketers of that era were trying to link science to everything!

Where’s the beef? In Buffalo it’s at Schwabl’s!

About seven weeks ago, I published a post about our road trip to Buffalo to eat at a restaurant featured on Guy Fieri’s cable TV show, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.”  That experience didn’t turn out anywhere near as well as expected (see here). As we disappointedly began our drive home to Rochester, we passed Schwabl’s on Center Road. Ah, Schwabl’s! THAT’S where we should have gone. We have eaten at Schwabl’s maybe ten times over the past fifteen years and its my wife’s FAVORITE restaurant, bar none.

After our disappointing experience, my wife was absolutely jonesing for some Schwabl’s, so a couple of Sundays ago she twisted my arm to make the 60-minute trek after church. It was a cold, rainy, and windy day in Western New York and a treacherous drive to Buffalo along the New York State Thruway, but we made it to Schwabl’s in one piece.

Schwabl’s doesn’t have an extensive menu. It’s known for its roast beef and when people visit Schwabl’s they generally go there for the “beef on weck;” sliced roast beef on a salted kümmelweck roll (photo below), a Buffalo favorite.

As we settled into our chairs and defrosted, my wife and I purveyed our menus. I usually order the beef on weck, but the salt and carbs didn’t appeal to me that day, so I ordered the roast beef plate; sliced roast beef (medium rare for me), and my sides were cole slaw and french fries topped with gravy. Not to be outdone, my wife (never a cheap date) ordered the fried shrimp and scallops plate AND ALSO a full plate of sliced roast beef!

The roast beef at Schwabl’s is indescribably good. It almost melts in your mouth. With my wife’s itch finally scratched, we contentedly drove back to Rochester. If you ever get to Buffalo, Schwabl’s is a MUST.

Home

Capture13
Above: Most of Schwabl’s customers order the beef on weck

Thank you, Lord, for enjoyable food and for all of your many blessings! Temporal blessings pale in comparison to salvation in Jesus Christ and spiritual blessings.