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Saturday, 30 July 2011

Morrisons marshmallow squash

No one asked for a marshmallow flavoured squash drink, but Morrisons have made one anyway.

Here it is:

Do you think this will be:

a) refreshingly thirst quenching, bursting with the pure goodness of nature's own flavours, or
b) horrible?

(Clue: it's b) horrible)

It tastes a bit like someone has melted down seven pounds of pic 'n' mix and added water.

But apparently NO artificial flavours or colours were used to make this squash, so i can only assume REAL marshmallows were squeezed for their natural juice.

Let's check the ingredients:

The put SO much acid into this, that they needed to immediately balance it out with a load of acid regulator. At least they chucked in some sweet potato and a radish though.

Morrisons have also invented Rasberry Ripple flavour (not avaliable in my Morrisons) and this, Sherbert Lemon flavour.


It was c) undrinkable.

(thanks to @JenTip)

Morrisons Marshmallow Squash, 67p
Gobble Monkey says: 3 out of 7

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

A Trip to the Shops: Part Two - M&M's World

One of my least favourite shops in London's "trendy" West End is M&M's world.

Whoever built M&M's World seems to have forgotten that m&m's are just chocolate. They are not an internationally loved figure like, say, Mickey Mouse or Mr Blobby. There's no Jaffa Cake World or Rowntree's Randoms World. But someone somewhere thought that M&M's were deserving of a garish FOUR FLOOR 'theme world' filled with men dressed as giant m&m's, an m&m recreation of the cover of Abbey Road and a life-size London bus BEING DRIVEN BY A MASSIVE M&M.

While other 'worlds', like Disney, have actual rides and things, M&M's World is just a massive supermarket designed to flog cheap tat with the letter M written on it. Twice. (Except much actual chocolate, which is pretty much the only thing I want from a shop called M&M's World.)

Anyway, let's have a look around!

Do you like m&m's? Then you've come to the wrong place. Because even if you LOVED m&m's with a passion, and ate them EVERY DAY for breakfast, this hell-hole would still bore the pants off you. For instance, who in their right mind would want this:

or this:

I counted FIVE different types of m&m themed spoons for sale:

Not into spoons? What about chopsticks?

Or maybe give the guys in the office a chuckle with this on Monday morning:

Stuck for a Xmas gift for your grandmother? M&M World has it covered:

No idea what the hell this is:

As you go up to the top floor, you pass these masterpieces:

I was just about to feel them to see if they were real oil paintings, when i saw this.


While I was in the shop, a teenage girl picked this item up, and genuinely said to her father "It's only ten pounds."

I don't even know what it does. I think it's just an ornament...

Anyway, what if you're a bit of an m&m fan, but you're a damn cool dude and want something a little more subtle? Yeah, sure, you love m&m's, but maybe you don't want to shout about it?
Well, M&M's world has this for you:

Downstairs, you can watch actors pretending to work in some sort of silver m+m laboratory, where laughing m&m 'technicians' pour m&m's into bottles. Some how I doubt it is an accurate representation of what an actual m+m factory really looks like. Outside "The Mix Lab" there's a sort of weird m&m version of Tiffany's, showcasing treasures kept in high security glass cases, such as this, for the classy lady in your life:

A snip at £135.99

And look how a keen m&m collector gazes in awe at this rare m&m chess board:

So by now you could be forgiven for forgetting that m+m'S are actually edible confectionery. Well, hidden away in a corner on floor 3, there are some chocolate m&m's to buy! But by then, you will NEVER WANT TO SEE A M&M AGAIN.

P.S. Please can someone build Twix World.



A Trip to the Shops: Part One - Cyber Candy

FOR PART TWO: Click here

One of my favourite shops in London's trendy "West End" is Cyber Candy.

They sell imported chocolate bars, sweets and cereals from all over the world. The first time you go in this shop I guarantee your eyes will be unable to understand what they are seeing. It's like going into Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory - only these sweets are REAL. 

With everything from crazy variants of popular brands, like the Snickers: Cruncher, to unheard of curiosities, like this "ZAGNUT", in Cyber Candy you'll be like the proverbial kid in a sweet shop. ONLY LITERALLY. (Unless you are an adult)

Let's take a look around! It's a small shop, but they've packed it out to the max. (Sadly the downstairs CEREAL section was closed a few years ago. I don't know why, it was amazing!)

As well as the obligatory Jelly Belly jelly beans, there's unusual sodas like Pepsi: Wild Cherry and Vanilla Coke. Along side the more well known brands like Mike + Ikes, Tootsie Rolls and Hersey's, there's a section for all the mental Japanese sweets, like these worryingly named "CREAM COLLONS" and the unsurprisingly buy-one-get-one-free "MANJA" bar.

Then there's some European nonsense like this:

Over in the North American / Australian section you will find yourself repeating the phrase "WHY DON'T THEY HAVE THESE OVER HERE?!?" quite a lot. Check out these delicious looking Oreo variants.

The American's have managed to ruin their best invention, the Twix, though, with these horrible looking PEANUT BUTTER and COCONUT versions.

Nearby I found this "BAR ONE" bar which claims to actually extend your day by one hour. A bargain at £1.35.

Even more exciting is the "ZERO" - check out the ingredients: Caramel, Peanut and Almond COVERED IN WHITE FUDGE. Then there's the brilliantly named "CHOKITO" containing Chewy Caramel Fudge, Crunchy Balls and LOADS OF CHOCOLATE.

Now, quickly - close your eyes and imagine the best chocolate bar ever invented in your mind - my bet is it would probably be Marshmallow and Caramel covered in Dairy Milk. Bet you wouldn't have named it Pinky though.

This is a much better name:

I've NO idea what this is:

Here's a brown Mars Bar:

Pop-Tarts were sensibly banned in the UK in 1994 for being completely useless. But here at Cyber Candy they have contraband Strawberry Milkshake and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavours:

There are some cereals left over from the cull (now kept safely behind the counter) including Gobble Monkey's no.1 placed cereal of all time, Lucky Charms (no longer for general sale in the UK) and these Reece's Puffs which are guaranteed to stink of peanuts.

One downside, import prices means everything's a tad pricey - a box of Lucky Charms and a white Mars Bar will probably set you back £7 - but even if you don't buy anything, it's a happy place to spend half an hour.

For PART TWO (click here)
For PART THREE click here

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Swizzels Matlow PIG'S MUGS

oh my good lord. what the hell are these?

I thought the Percy Pig rip-off's had reached a new low with Children's Farm here. But jesus, look at these bastards.

Any packet that features the word ‘Loadsa’ TWICE can’t be allowed.

Despite the price and garish appearance, these aren’t some Pound Land rip-off – this is Swizzels Matlow – makers of classic brands like Love Hearts, Double Dip and Refreshers.

They also make the world's most hated sweet - the soap-flavoured Parma Violets. I thought they could go no lower than that - but this, my friends, is worse. I take back everything I said about Children’s Farm. Come back Eric the Elephant. At least they could be bothered to think of some different animals or use some alliteration.

Check out the haunted floating pig heads dotted randomly around the packet –inane grins frozen in rigamortis and staring madly at you with a twisted mixture of cold fear and ecstasy - like there's a gun to their head, forcing them to welcome you with a smile, whereas in reality, they know full well the terrible horrors that lie within.

And what does lie within? Remember that bit at the end of Silence of the Lambs where Hannibal Lector slices off a man's face and wears it as a mask? That's what these sick pigs have done to poor, poor Percy.

Does that even have eyes?

Here's the new line up:

And the name! Pig's Mugs sounds like something from a horrible East End butcher's shop:

‘Roll up roll up get yer Pig’s Mugs ‘ere! Loadsa Pig’s Mug’s for a pound!’

Or worse, like something Ronnie Kray would threaten with a cockney whisper from a dark alley:

‘Oi, Pig Mug, come ‘ere. You been squealing. Now me and the boys are gonna give ya a Pig Mug!’

Why stop at 'Pig's Mugs' Swizzels Matlow? Why not try Hog Mush? What about Oink Features? Snout Pouts? SWINE HEADS?

Or my favourite, just simply 'Pork Faces'. Swissets Mattlow’s Pork Faces. Loadsa them. For a pound.

There's just one problem. Pig's Mugs are DELICIOUS. Chewier AND fruitier than the Percy, they hit you with an intense strawberry flavour that'll have you reaching for your next sweet. Before you know it, the bag's finished, and you'll never go back to Percy again. It's with great regret that I have to award Pig Faces the full 7 out of 7.

Swizzels Matlow's Pork Faces, £1 (Loadsa value)
Gobble Monkey says: 7 out of 7


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

McVitie's Quirks

This is a Quirk.

That's right, it's not a rabbit dropping - it's one of McVitie's hilarious new biscuits.
Quirks are so quirky they just HAD to call them Quirks! It was the only name that truly summed up just how quirky they are. The quirkiness of Quirks basically comes down to this:

under the biscuit shell, there's a layer of chocolate paste.

OR more accurately:

Please excuse me the Quirk-o-meter just exploded.

'crunchy' is in a bold font and 'smooth' is in italics! What bold packaging!

It's just a suggestion, but isn't that a bit unquirky? Wouldn't it have been slightly more quirky if it was the OTHER way round? 'crunchy' in italics and 'smooth' in bold. Missed a trick there McVities.

ALSO what is this about 'Double Choc' - surely that is the whole quirky point of a Quirk? Wouldn't a 'Single Choc' Quirk just be a boring chocolate biscuit with no filling?* WHAT'S SO QUIRKY ABOUT THAT?

Let's see if Victoria Gregory, McVitie’s marketing controller, can explain.

"With its bold packaging, interesting name and unique product positioning, this quirky new range will attract new, younger consumers to the everyday treats segment, currently worth £317m."

VICTORIA, listen - just by saying your new biscuits are 'quirky' does NOT make them quirky. We already understand you think they are quirky. YOU CALLED THEM QUIRKS. And what does 'unique product positioning' mean anyway?

She continues:

“We recommend that this deliciously different range should be stocked alongside other everyday treat biscuits such as McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes, to help attract new shoppers to the biscuit fixture and grow sales. Retailers should stock up now to take advantage of the excitement generated by this new and unusual launch.”

Oh OK that's what 'unique product positioning' means - just stick 'em next to your other massively popular best-selling biscuits and hope idiots will accidentally knock them into their shopping baskets while reaching for a Jaffa Cake. STOCK UP NOW RETAILERS!

Sadly Quirks are rubbish. The soft, crumbly biscuit tastes like it's past its sell-by-date and the filling reminded me of a cheap chocolate spread, like the kind you get at a Continental Breakfast in a budget hotel in Brussels.

Have a close look at it:

McVitie's Quirks, £1.53
Gobble Monkey says: 2 out of 7

*I found out later that a 'Single Choc' Quirk has the same filling as a 'Double Choc' Quirk but with a plain biscuit. Sorry. It's still not quirky though.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Gobble Monkey vs Adam Richman

Adam Richman is the host of the Good Food channel's Man Vs. Food, in which he visits different cities throughout the USA and tests himself against their 'eating challenges', ranging from a 72-ounce steak to a gigantic pizza to a plate of the hottest curry on the planet...


GM: Adam, some people have accused Gobble Monkey of having somewhat of a 'sweet tooth' - I don't know why. You don't often do dessert challenges in the show, is that because you haven't got a sweet tooth?

I can think of three that had a dessert component - I did a milkshake challenge in St Louis, a sundae challenge in San Francisco and in Anappolis I did a sandwich accompanied by a milkshake the size of a small building. It was terrifying. I did a pancake challenge in Hawaii, which was very sweet.

But I don't have a big sweet tooth, and these dessert challenges don't exist as much as the savoury ones. It's also such an undertaking for a restaurant to make one too - if a restaurant wants to do a wing or a burger challenge they just need to find a bun big enough. I think that sweets don't tell us much of a story either. The milkshakes will be just me on screen doing this [holds glass up to mouth and glugs].

GM: I like the sound of a milkshake that's the size of a small building! So if you were on a desert island, and had to eat just one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?

My cop-out answer is a chocolate lifeboat! But I would probably do something like.. well, maybe that's the time to eat a few deep-fried Mars Bars, at least that would put you out of your misery!

GM: Sounds like some Magic Choc would come in handy! OK so, what's your favourite food then?

A good pizza, a salad and a cold beer or a cold glass of white wine. Simple stuff.

GM: Us Brits have a bad reputation when it comes to our food. What British grub are you a fan of?

Fish and chips, full English. I love curries too. I love the bangers over here; any of the sausages I've tried over here have been delicious.

GM: Sadly we don't have many 'eating challenges' here in the UK, but would you ever do a 'World Series' where you travel to other countries and take part in their challenges?

I'd love to go to Cornwall and have a pastie, or go somewhere else to have a proper Shepherd's Pie. I'd like to demystify food from around the world to my American viewers. So when they go abroad, rather than go find a Subway or whatever, they'd go and try bangers and mash or mushy peas. Even I, a man who presents Man Vs. Food, have a hard time with a chip butty, I have to tell you. I'm not sure even I could handle that.

GM: So why do you think the US has so many of these restaurant challenges? Why has it become part of the culture over there?

First of all I think it's a great gimmick to bring people in the front door of a restaurant. In fact, the number of challenges has gone up since Man V. Food became popular! Everywhere I go to film, I ask them why they do the challenge and the most popular answer is: 'to get you guys to come and film here'

Then, I think guys in general... why do they have guys at fairs trying to hit a bell with a hammer? Why do they have guys trying to knock over a pin? These are intrinsic male activities that we do to test our mettle.

But take the 72oz steak challenge in Amarillo, there was an actual story behind that. There was a bunch of ranch hands and one of them said that he could eat a whole cow, the owner said 'the hell you can' and he told him to keep bringing him steaks. In the course of that he had a baked potato, a salad and some fried shrimp. So to this day the challenge is a 72oz steak, a dinner roll, a baked potato and three fried shrimp. So I think there's this whole thing of when dares someone to do something - I dare you to eat this. So every state fair has a pie-eating contest, a jalapeno-eating contest. We all can't play tennis like Djokovic, or play football like Wayne Rooney, but we can all eat... and we can eat a lot if we put our minds to it.

GM: For a man who eats for a living, you're in pretty good shape. How do you prepare for a big eating challenge?

If it's a quantity challenge I'll generally stop eating the day before, and I'll do a natural cleanse, which means lots of hydration and keep my electrolytes up. Then I do leg and back workouts to excess, because that is supposed to stimulate your metabolism. I'll jump rope on the morning of the challenge to get me revved up. After the challenge I'll do another cleanse with insoluble fibers, Senna, psyllium husk and probiotics, and work out that night. That sucks because the rest of the crew is out drinking and gallivanting with nice waitresses!

It's like the Bhutan death march on the treadmill for me. But it's because I'm able to keep my metabolism moving that all that beef or cheese or sauce... well I try to make sure no dust settles on moving parts.

GM: What about the spicy challenges?

For those, you really need to know how your body reacts to something. So for instance the Habanero, a 300,000 Scoville unit pepper. My body has a borderline toxic reaction to that. I also had a toxic reaction to the Four Horsemen burger, which had Ghost Chilli on it. That was the hottest pepper on the planet.

One million Scoville units.

So hot they tie them to fences in India to ward off wild elephants.

So hot they use the extract in hand grenades. Ghost extract is an awful thing.

That was one of the challenges I lost. What happens is that the hairs of the back of your neck go up, you flush and then go cold because everything inside of you is so hot. Then you start to involuntarily hiccup. You can't help it. Your heart starts racing. But if you can ride out the unpleasantness, you can experience a level of euphoria. The problem is that it's such a full-body thing; it effects you for a long time. And in terms of your mouth or throat, the pain is unlike anything - your throat swells, your lips hurt, your tongue swells. Everything hurts.

If I know I'm going to be eating extract I try to coat my insides - eating bananas is good, white rice is very, very good. I'll do Pepto Bismol to coat my stomach. If I eat the peppers themselves I'll eat breads and things like that. But no dairy. Everyone thinks that diary is the best thing to drink or eat. It really isn't. It takes the pain out of your mouth but it's lactic acid, which compounds the problem.

GM: Wowsers. Gobble Monkey is in the Guinness Book of World Records for eating the most mince pies in one minute (true!) Have you ever broken any World Records for 'big eating'?

I don't think I have... there has been a couple of opportunities for me to really bust the record, but I haven't. I always point to Hot Dog challenge in North Carolina. I did 17 chilli dogs. When I say that out aloud, I'm still, like, what?! I found room in the very last bit and could have probably done a couple more. But then it becomes about Adam and his hubris. I've never wanted to do that. It's never about 'I'm Adam Richman and I'm going to out-eat you because I'm the biggest and the baddest' because I'm not. It's just one man, and a bunch of fun. But mince pies? I've never tried a mince pie!

GM: You should, they're delicious! Thanks Adam! Man v Food: The Carnivore Chronicles is on weeknights at 9pm, on Good Food (Sky / HD 249, Virgin 260) Check it out!

Now let's quickly do this:

In honour of Adam, Gobble Monkey is about to undertake our own eating challenge:

A glass of strawberry milkshake, a LARGE packet of beef Monster Munch and an Oreo cookie. The milkshake MUST be consumed using a Twirl bar as a straw. If you complete the challenge within 7 minutes, you get a t-shirt.