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Sunday, January 23, 2021

I can’t tell you how surprised I am to find out that ripple, that supposedly generic ghetto libation often referenced in “Sanford and Son” and other 1970s sitcoms, was actually real:

Quite the marketing angle, placing this wine (product) “in the same crowd” as beer, while simultaneously showing upscale consumers imbibing the recreational rotgut. All white people, I might add.

I assume this was the last-gasp attempt to push Ripple-with-a-capital-R, before putting it out of its snub-nose-bottle misery. I’m guessing the modern-day E.&J. Gallo Winery is denying and disowning any association with this bygone beverage.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/23/2011 07:19pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Comedy, Food, TV
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Thursday, January 13, 2021

cooked
I miss having regularly-scheduled reruns of “The Odd Couple” on TV. For no other reason than the chance to re-experience this culinary exchange:

As Oscar serves up the mess, Felix asks in horror, “What do you call this mélange?”

Oscar says, “Well, I was going to call it Goop, but I like your name better. Goop Mélange.”

The recipe for Goop Melange died with the show, but I recall it contained some combination of sardines, pickles, sauce, and a potato-chip topping. And people kept asking Oscar if it was supposed to look the way it did. Bon appetit!

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/13/2011 10:38pm
Category: Comedy, Food, TV, Wordsmithing
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Monday, January 03, 2021

There are a gazillion eateries surrounding New York’s theater district, but none of them have the distinctive ambiance of Joe Allen Restaurant. Said ambiance is delivered by The Flop Wall: A decades-old collection of theatrical posters from some of Broadway’s most spectacular/overhyped flops.

I’ll have to drop into Joe’s for lunch sometime, to see the wall art for myself. The online slideshow is fine, but not particularly user-friendly. It does include the poster for 1972′s “Via Galactica”, a seven-performance sci-fi musical flameout that seemed doomed from the start:

For a moment the show was to be called “Up,” but when posted next to the Uris [Theater] name on the marquee, it sent an unfortunate message. Once again, the title became “Via Galactica.”

Hopefully, Joe Allen’s has reserved some wall space for the next sure-bet addition to this rogues gallery, the body-count building spectacle that is “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark”.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/03/2021 08:57am
Category: Creative, Food, New Yorkin'
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Sunday, January 02, 2021

Let’s review a dictionary definition of the word “brunch”:

[noun] a meal eaten late in the morning, combining breakfast with lunch

Pretty straightforward, especially that “late in the morning” part. Heck, that in-between time, from about 10am until noon, is what underlies the portmanteau created from br(eakfast) and (l)unch.

So, to all you New York restaurants and patrons touting “brunch” well after 12pm, to as late as 3 or 4: Stop it. You’re not brunching by that preposterous hour of the day. I don’t care how many eggs benedict and mimosas you’re scarfing down — if the sun is starting to set, you’re either late-lunching or (God forbid) supping. And really need to get more of a move-on to your day, frankly, especially considering that brunch is already intended to be a leisurely ease-in to the day.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/02/2021 01:35pm
Category: Food, New Yorkin', Wordsmithing
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Wednesday, December 22, 2021

leggo my logo
Just to be clear: It’s okay to toss hats, and even 23,000 teddy bears, onto the ice in hockey arenas. But waffles are a no-no, at least in Toronto:

A 31-year-old man charged with mischief after throwing waffles on the ice at a Toronto Maple Leafs game says he did it out of frustration at the underperforming team.

“I’m just a normal Leafs fan and love them to death,” Joseph Robb of Oakville, Ont., said Wednesday in an interview…

His love affair will be from a distance, however, after being barred from the Air Canada Centre, as well as other Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment events at BMO Field and Ricoh Coliseum. Further punishment could follow from a January court appearance.

I’m wondering if the raw, frozen waffles are really an optimal rink-projectile. After all, studies have shown that Detroit’s famed NHL octopus-tossing works better when the cephalopod is first boiled, for a better bounce. Follow that learned Red Wings expertise and toast those Eggos before you fling them, Leafs Nation!

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/22/2010 10:50pm
Category: Food, Hockey, True Crime
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Monday, November 29, 2021

When you attempt beekeeping in New York City, you have to expect the bees to pick up some less-than-natural local color:

A fellow beekeeper sent samples of the red substance that the bees were producing to an apiculturalist who works for New York State, and that expert, acting as a kind of forensic foodie, found the samples riddled with Red Dye No. 40, the same dye used in maraschino cherry juice.

No one knows for sure where the bees might have consumed the dye, but neighbors of [Dell’s Maraschino Cherries Company factory on Dikeman Street in Red Hook] reported that bees in unusually high numbers were gathering nearby.

The result is red bees, living in red hives that are filled with a decidedly unhoneylike metallic-sickly-sweet red nectar. Kinda gross. But at least there’s an aesthetically pleasing side effect:

“When the sun is a bit down, they glow red in the evenings,” [beekeeper David Selig] said. “They were slightly fluorescent. And it was beautiful.”

I guess that visual showcase lessens the sting of failure.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/29/2010 11:19pm
Category: Food, New Yorkin', Science
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Thursday, November 25, 2021

It’s the Thanksgiving holiday today. As is tradition, my mom’s hosting at her house, and I’m helping out staying out of the way as much as possible. Pretty much just tweaking the food and the place settings in the couple of hours until the guests arrive.

Also as is tradition, I’ve been rebuffed on my annual offer to contribute a cooked dish. The family meme has it that I can’t cook worth a lick — something to do with being a single male, mostly. Or possibly, that I don’t load up my culinary creations with the requisite overdoses of salt, olive oil, and similar flavoring agents.

So be it. But I have brought a contribution to this year’s table: A bottle of Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey.

Why not? Booze always helps these familial gatherings go more smoothly. With the incoming drama that’s sure to come, I know I’ll need it. Plus, the turkey theme and the quintessential American heritage of distilled rye spirits makes for a fitting addition to this holiday.

No, I’m not going to get completely plastered, and the family dysfunction won’t be as acute as I’ve hinted. Regardless, with plenty of food and ice on hand, I’ll be having a satisfying Thanksgiving.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/25/2010 09:27am
Category: Food
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Tuesday, November 09, 2021

I’m sure someone could make a killing from selling ice cream bread by the slice:

Essentially you combine your favorite ice cream with a few cups of self-rising flour and the rest is magic. Two of our favorite things, bread and ice cream, come together in a fabulous marriage to create a light, sweet bread.

Funny, when I first heard of this culinary marriage, I thought it would be some variation on a baked Alaska. If not a flaming baked Alaska! Ice cream bread sounds much less complicated, and probably more satisfying, to boot.

I’m not much of a cook, and exponentially less of a baker, so I’m not brave enough to try this. But I’ll gladly scarf down someone else’s oven-fresh creation of, say, chocolate-chip mint loaf. I expect to see a street cart selling this stuff by next summer, directly jostling with the established cupcake kiosks-on-wheels.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 11/09/2021 09:20pm
Category: Food
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Monday, November 08, 2021

For some reason, the notable thing I saw on today’s E Train wasn’t the Rastafarian’s video-playing iPad, nor his Rasta-colored Skullcandy headphones, nor his indescribably-dyed dreads.

No, it was the beer-bottle-like container of saké, hanging from his pant pocket, that caught my interest.

Call me clueless, but I didn’t realize they even sold recreational single-serve bottles of rice wine. Only in New York! Oh, and I’m guessing all of Japan, too.

I tried to get a cameraphone photo of this scene, if for nothing else to snag a clearer image of the bottle’s label. Unfortunately, the frame I surreptitiously snapped was way too pixelated/blurry to make out. Now, I’ll never know what brand saké is favored by New York’s Jamaican tippler community…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 11/08/2021 10:58pm
Category: Food, New Yorkin'
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Thursday, October 07, 2021

Somehow, Esquire Magazine and I are in accord this month when it comes to whiskey:

A few days ago, I was browsing the liquor store shelves when I came upon a bottle of Paddy Old Irish Whiskey. I’d never heard of it, but I bought it on a hunch, given my affinity for Emerald Isle firewater. Plus it was on sale, with a fifth selling for twenty bucks. It’s turned out to be a pleasant surprise — silky smooth with just enough of an alcoholic kick.

Little did I know that Esquire was featuring the same obscure brand in its monthly liquor roundup:

Take Paddy’s ($30), for example, which blends not two kinds of whiskey but three: grain whiskey, malt whiskey, and a pot-stilled whiskey made from mixed grains. It’s grassy with angel-food-cake barley sweetness. You could sip it all day long.

It’s rare that I’m ahead of the curve when it comes to trendiness in fashion or food. So I’ll take this minor coup to heart.

As for a repeat purchase of Paddy: I stopped by the liquor store again today, and see that they’ve jacked up the price of a bottle to $35. They must have gotten wind of the Esquire endorsement. I may or may not validate the increased price-point, once my current bottle gets emptied out…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 10/07/2021 09:21pm
Category: Food, Publishing
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Monday, September 20, 2021

We all joke about getting buzzed off the coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks we chug throughout the day. Maybe we should cut back on that juice, before we wind up killing somebody:

Woody Will Smith, 33, admits to killing his wife in 2009, but claims in pre-trial filings that he was ingesting the pills and caffeinated drinks at the time to stay awake to keep his wife from leaving him, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports…

The Associated Press says a legal strategy involving caffeine intoxication is rare, but was used successfully last year in Washington state to clear a man charged with running down and injuring two people with a car.

Goes to show that you can overdose on just about anything. But can you credibly frame Starbucks and Red Bull as murder weapons?

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 09/20/2010 09:15pm
Category: Food, True Crime
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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Deeming that the phrase “high fructose corn syrup” is too toxic to redeem, the Corn Refiners Association is going for a name change for its prized product, to “corn sugar”.

When trying to decide on a new name, the refiners group surveyed more than 1,200 consumers to see which they liked better. The other options were “corn sweetener” and “corn nectar.”

Corn sugar “best communicates that consumers understand it has the same calories as sugar, the same sweetness as sugar and about the same fructose level,” said trade group president Audrae Erickson. The decision to offer manufacturers an alternative name to use was prompted by consumers, not consumer product makers, but she acknowledged approval from the FDA would have a “spillover benefit” for food companies.

My initial thought: Does the corn industry really think that the “syrup” part of HFCS is the problem? People are shying away from sweeteners and the empty calories they bring, regardless of origin. I don’t see how calling it “sugar” (or “nectar” or whatever) is going to help.

Although I commend the trade group for coming up with a kernel of an idea for product rehabilitation. (Hey, when I write a corny post, I go all the way.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/14/2010 10:49pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Food
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Sunday, September 05, 2021

As much as I like to believe that I’m immune to alcoholic beverage marketing — chiefly though my distaste for the infinite iterations of beer commercials — the truth is that I’m a sucker for any product packaging in this space that even hints of uniqueness.

Exhibit A would be the image accompanying this post. The Kraken Rum comes in a distinctive bottle design, with those two neck-level rounded handles. I’m guessing that’s reminiscent of this spirit’s theme: The kraken, a mythical multi-legged sea monster. The label is lovingly crafted as an oldtime woodcut placard. All of this is a good tie-together for a dark spiced rum, a traditional ancient mariner type of booze that’ll knock you out with 94 proof of potency.

Of course, I bought it as soon as I saw it on the liquor store shelf. The relatively cheap $20 pricetag didn’t hurt, but really, it was the kitschy-ness that had me reaching for it. The flavor and drinkability is practically secondary.

Although my sampling found that a basic Kraken and Coke makes for a fine libation. So I guess I lucked out that my consumerist impulse netted me a quality addition to my booze collection.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/05/2021 08:31pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative, Food
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Wednesday, September 01, 2021

According to Miss Ginger Millay — who, going by her blogging/tweeting, has a better gauge for sexual proclivities than I do — food-phobics make for boring bedfellows:

@MyGingersnaps: Have I yet mentioned my theory that picky eaters are bad in bed? Won’t try new foods, won’t try new…ya know.

In other words, if they’re reluctant to put something exotic in their mouth, then they’re probably also reluctant to… um, put something exotic in their mouth. I guess you are what (or who) you (won’t) eat…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 09/01/2021 11:25am
Category: Food, Society
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Monday, August 23, 2021

What is “hogo”, you ask? It’s the historically distinctive devil’s-piss burn once associated with rum. From the September 2010 issue of Esquire (which isn’t online yet, apparently):

Derived from the French phrase for the “high taste” game meats develop when they’re hung up to mature before cooking — and by “mature,” we mean “rot” — hogo used to be a term of art in the rum trade to describe the sulfurous, funky tang that raw-sugarcane spirits throw off. For 300 years, rum distillers have sought ways first to tame and then to eliminate it: proof distillation (more alcohol equals less hogo), filtering, tweaking the fermentation, long aging in barrels — all very effective, particularly when used in combination. Perhaps too effective.

I’m liking the idea of this raw rum. I bet it would be the perfect ingredient in my much-appreciated Kill Divil cocktail — which, after all, is a Colonial-era drink recipe. I’ll have to track down a vintage-crafted bottle of this hogo-licious firewater, and start mixing.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 08/23/2010 09:54pm
Category: Food, History, Wordsmithing
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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The following message was taped to the office refrigerator today, at a client site that will not be named:

To whoever continues to take the boiled egg from my Snack Pack:

This is at least the 3rd time this has happened. I put that pack this morning around 8:30 am, it is now 10:13 am and you have already ruined the entire pack for me. This is NOT your food, this is my food. If you didn’t bring and put the food in the fridge, then IT IS NOT YOURS TO EAT.

[name redacted]

Not to say that the injured party isn’t justified in her outrage, and is well within her rights to air her displeasure thusly. Still, it’s a situation where, since it’s not happening to me, it’s funny. The funniest part being that the theft of the egg results in “ruining the entire pack for me”. Who figures that an egg is so vital to a mid-morning snack?

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 07/27/2010 11:45pm
Category: Comedy, Food, Society
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Saturday, July 17, 2021

“There’s a whole bowl of granola over there, dude,” he conspiratorially whispered to me.

That’s what I get for going to Deity, a self-styled underground nightclub in Brooklyn, for a meet-and-greet a couple of nights ago. You’d have thought that the crunchy-munchy party favor was manna from some hipster version of heaven. It was mighty tasty, though — and paired surprisingly well with a vodka tonic.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/17/2010 03:48pm
Category: Food, New Yorkin'
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Saturday, July 10, 2021

If you couldn’t already tell that DateBritishGuys.com was a cut-rate dating operation just from the sight of the site, finding a stack of cheap-looking, URL-emblazoned business cards next to a grocery store register ought to confirm the shoe-string budget.

Although they’re on the right track, by advertising near food. They just need to make the association more explicit — namely, take a stack of those calling-cards and place them in the citrus section.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 07/10/2021 05:38pm
Category: Food, Society, Women
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Monday, July 05, 2021

If you think that tagging sugarwater and snack chips with “extreme” labels in their names is a silly, wholly marketing-driven gimmick, consider the experience of Hosmer Mountain Soda. This locally-focused Connecticut softdrink bottler stumbled upon the public’s attraction to potentially wild food rides:

Hosmer’s ["Dangerous" Ginger Beer] is another new release. Its pepperiness inspired [co-manager Bill] Potvin to apply the word “dangerous” to the sandwich board promoting it in front of the Hosmer soda shack in Manchester. The result: “People were whipping in — ‘What’s this dangerous drink?’ — and I realized that just having that adjective on the beverage was enough to create interest,” Mr. Potvin said.

Simply including a strong descriptor as part of the product name — as hokey as it seems — will rope in customers. I’d say it’s due to the appearance of added legitimacy: Subconsciously, you rationalize that if this drink’s “dangerous” quality is so potent that it merits this sort of permanent enshrinement, the it must be legit. It’s somewhat on par with naming rights for sports stadia and similar branding tactics.

This particular tactic that I’m sure will run its course eventually, but for now it’s a strong magnet for thrill-seeking consumers.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 07/05/2021 02:48pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Food
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Sunday, July 04, 2021

Leave it to six-time hot-dog eating champ Takeru Kobayashi to lend some actual drama to this year’s Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island. Thanks to his contract dispute with Major League Eating, “The Tsunami” found himself gatecrashing the event:

Kobayashi, wearing a black T-shirt that said “Free Kobi,” mingled with the crowd watching the contest, standing inside a police-barricaded pen just under the stage. When the eating ended, he slipped up the stage stairs.

Then, several security officers appeared and tried to usher him off. He grabbed a metal police barricade with both hands, holding on tightly as the officers pulled at him. Finally, they dragged him down the stairs, with Kobayashi resisting vehemently.

He was under arrest Sunday afternoon, charged with resisting arrest, trespass and obstructing governmental administration.

I’m not sure what’s more embarrassing: Getting arrested for attempting to upstage a celebration of competitive gluttony, or actually participating in a contest that demonstrates what a frankfurter-inhaling pig you are.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/04/2021 10:45pm
Category: Food, New Yorkin', Other Sports, True Crime
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Until recently, a “sugary beverage tax” of one-penny-per-ounce seemed destined to become law in New York State. But apparently, counter-lobbying by the American Beverage Association killed the proposed bill, and supposedly more persuasive advocacy by the industry turned the tide:

Next, this TV ad from New Yorkers Against Unfair Taxes, a name calculated to make the blood boil. A mother unpacks groceries in the kitchen as her son mixes a powdered lemonade, one of the drinks that would be taxed. “Tell Albany to trim their budget fat and leave our groceries alone,” the mother says…

It is too early for a final tally of the money spent on advertising and lobbying by either side in New York. But by most accounts, the beverage industry has outspent the pro-tax side and has succeeded in painting the soda tax as a naked money grab cleverly disguised as a health policy.

I question how convincing the ABA’s advertising was, at least with the general public. I caught their commercials a few times; frankly, I wouldn’t have been aware of the tax if hadn’t. I found the ads — including the one referenced above — to be particularly grating and transparently self-serving. In fact, I came away from them more in favor of the tax, just because the industry opposition was so blunt. I think this is more a case of the state legislators getting swayed by their corporate constituents, prompting the burial of this bill. Democracy at work, right?

I guess that’s just me, though. I don’t froth at the mouth every time a new tax is proposed. Plus, I don’t consume all that many soft drinks. So that makes me the silent minority in this arena.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/04/2021 12:06pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Food, New Yorkin', Politics
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