Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Saturday, May 05, 2021

I liked this turn-of-the-20th-Century advertising placard (which I used for my post about the abundance of pig imagery on Suicide Food) so much, that I’ve gone ahead and uploaded it to my phone. It’s now doing duty as the digital wallpaper for both the front/exterior screen, as well as the larger screen inside the clamshell.

The few comments I’ve solicited tell me it’s unsettling for a cellphone to feature a picture of a pig slicing itself into sausage. My Eurotrashy counter of, “but it’s French!” doesn’t seem to assuage those feelings.

I guess it’s not the cheeriest image to use. But I must point out: The pig is smiling as he puts himself under the knife. And the background is a nice, cheery green, which is my favorite color (and really, the chief reason why I went for it).

The translation of the language in this picture, according to the source:

“You’ll eat with pleasure, and… without fatigue [i.e., without boredom/getting tired of it]: the good sausages of the BOUNTEOUS PIG!

Sausages from Auvergne. Absolute Alimentary Purity.”

Not that it matters as far as my phone goes — the screens are too tiny to read the text.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 05/05/2021 06:30:47 PM
Category: Tech, Food, Creative
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Saturday, April 21, 2021

The premise behind Suicide Food — highlighting imagery used by restaurants and packaged foods that comic-tragically features the animal being eaten as its own pitchman — is absurd enough.

What’s even more enlightening from this blog: The number of examples wherein the pig pimps itself as a tasty treat: Thirty, far ahead of its barnyard (and other) brethren. And “bbq” is right behind it at 25; since those two go hand-in-hand, it points to a preponderance of barbecue joints using a porky character to drive business.

Why the pig is so hell-bent on tooting its own immolation is a mystery. Maybe a re-read of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” would unearth a clue.

(Via adfreak)

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/21/2007 03:24:09 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Food, Creative
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Sunday, April 15, 2021

Eric Gower is a “breakaway cook”. Not sure what that really means, other than that he’s parlayed that status into getting a couple of cookbooks published.

I’m sure that cred has something to do with him eschewing knife-and-fork and using chopsticks for his everyday dining.

Only rarely are knives set out at my table. I do not wish to cut or saw anything when I am sitting down to eat. All cutting, slicing, and carving takes place in the kitchen; I don’t want to pick up a big piece of meat with chopsticks and begin gnawing away at it-I cut it into bite-size piece before serving it. In fact, I don’t want to mess with or manipulate the food in ANY way. I just want to eat it, not mess with it. Knowing beforehand that the meal will be eaten exclusively with chopsticks can change the meal’s whole dynamic.

I’m assuming he breaks down and uses a spoon for soup — albeit a wooden or plastic one, owing to his aversion to metalware.

I share his preference only in the most narrow of instances: When I eat East Asian food like sushi or General Tsao Chicken. In fact, I’m at the point where I can’t really partake in those dishes unless I use chopsticks; it just doesn’t seem right to use a fork on them. Call it an aesthetic quirk.

Naturally, such foods are optimized for the twin-sticks. Accordingly, I find I can eat them faster when using chopsticks as utensils — which is probably the opposite intent.

What I can’t figure out, though, is why the Chinese places in my area never automatically provide you with chopsticks with you order. From the Village up to Columbus Circle, whenever I order takeout, I always have to remember to ask them to include a set of chopsticks for me. Why? Do they just assume that, unless you’re physically sitting in a Chinese restaurant dining area, you don’t want to bother with the traditional eating implements?

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 04/15/2007 11:32:36 PM
Category: Food, New Yorkin'
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Saturday, April 07, 2021

This morning, I breakfasted on a toasted low-carb bagel with butter.

Or at least, I attempted to. But a couple of bites in, I found that the bagel had a distinctly old-sponge-like texture to it. Pretty disgusting. So I trashed it, and made a note to never indulge in such an Atkins-inspired culinary abomination ever again.

It’s not like I’m even looking to cut carbohydrates. It was the last of a batch of bagels I bought a few days ago; I picked it up because it looked like somewhat whole-grain, so I’d give it a shot. Live and learn.

Apparently, perfecting the edible baked good is a low-carb holy grail. I can say that the bagel portion of that quest is a dead end.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 04/07/2021 01:26:38 PM
Category: Food
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Wednesday, March 21, 2021

I’m not familiar enough with Nescafé’s usual advertising strategies to know if the above Web banner is typical of their messaging. I came across it on a food industry website earlier today, and if you pay attention, the ad copy speaks to coffee-drink retailers instead of customers:

Specialty coffee drinkers are always willing. But it’s up to you to make the first move. Drink Up — Nescafé

Naturally, the opening frame shot of that busty model, sporting a t-shirt reading “If it’s available, so am I”, grabs the eyeballs. I guess the average cafe owner is a breast man?

Of course, I hate coffee. But I did like this ad enough to post about it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 03/21/2007 09:50:55 PM
Category: Internet, Advert./Mktg., Food
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Tuesday, March 20, 2021

As a signoff for my recent St. Patrick’s Day post, I offhandedly mentioned that I would seek out a McDonald’s Shamrock milkshake to cap off the holiday.

In fact, I did venture out to McDonald’s later that day, specifically for a green shake (I have no other reason for stopping into said establishment). I also hit another store on Sunday. Both times, to no avail, because there was no Shamrock beverage to be had — by design:

“New York region no longer stocks the Shamrock Shake,” Jennifer Nagy of McDonald’s regional marketing told me. “Our branches can vote region by region,” and in New York City, the five boroughs and surrounding areas, they’re not voting green.

Not so outside the Empire State. “We have it,” a worker at a Boston McDonald’s told me when I called. “We’ll have it for the whole summer!”

“Oh yeah,” said a rep for McDonald’s in Philadelphia. “And our area extends into southern Jersey.”

Based on an extensive telephone survey, I discovered that New York is the only dry spot on the Northeast coast.

What kind of fool decision is that? Are New Yorkers so averse to mint-flavored dairy products that every franchisee figured no one would miss this seasonal treat?

I know they had them last year; I loaded up on four or five in the days immediately before and after St. Patty’s. I probably would have done the same this year too. Heck, on the day itself, I might have even indulged in a spiked mixture. It would have been an improvement over the traditional green beer.

Anyway, here’s my shout-out for St. Patrick’s 2008: Re-stock that Shamrock Shake, New York McD’s!

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 03/20/2007 08:55:08 PM
Category: Food, New Yorkin'
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Saturday, February 24, 2021

I first came across the Kill Divil many moons ago:

* Several pinches freshly-grated ginger
* 1/2 oz. honey (or to taste)
* 1 1/2 oz. light rum or gold rum
* 1 oz. brandy

Mixing instructions:
Stir all ingredients with a little water until honey is dissolved, add cracked ice, and stir again until cold. Pour into a chilled Old Fashioned glass and add additional ice if necessary.

Despite all the sweetness suggested by the rum and honey, the ginger counters the sugar perfectly. It does burn like hellfire, though, so this is not a drink for the faint of heart (or palate).

Good luck getting them to make this in some average bar. Your odds are better if you ask for it in Manhattan, where the barkeeps generally have a chef-like depth of cocktail knowledge. Just don’t order one within walking distance of Spuyten Duyvil Creek; the confluence of Dutch names might make you want to take a drunken dive into the water!

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 02/24/2007 02:23:05 PM
Category: Food, New Yorkin'
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Tuesday, February 20, 2021

Yesterday was President’s Day. You probably got a day off from work — big deal. Did you actually get the full-on Presidential experience, like getting to sit in the Oval Office or fly on Air Force One?

I didn’t think so. Some holiday!

Now, when International House of Pancakes throws a day of observance, it puts some teeth in it. So it is that today, for National Pancake Day Celebration, you can roll into your local IHOP restaurant and have them serve you up a short stack of buttermilk griddlecakes, for free.

Such a deal! Now that’s bringing the holiday to life.

Unfortunately for me, there doesn’t appear to be an IHOP in my vicinity. I guess those oddball blue roofs don’t pass the building-code muster in New York. And I sure ain’t going to New Jersey or Long Island for a plate of fried batter. I guess I’ll just have to lay out some cash for my pancakes, in some greasy spoon. But I’ll celebrate in spirit.

As with any product-promotional gimmick, IHOP’s hoping to snag customers who might never otherwise step into their stores. It would have worked on me, as I think I’ve been to an IHOP maybe once in my whole life. Guess I’ll have to wait for a future edition of this flapjack festival.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/20/2007 08:26:46 AM
Category: Food
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Thursday, February 15, 2021

Courtesy of The Flowfield Unity, the recipe for The Catholic Guilt Cocktail:

Take one glass
Add two shots of whiskey
And fill to taste with holy water

Yeah, holy water definitely is an underrated mixer…

One crucial piece of advice: When you reach for that whiskey bottle, don’t defeat the purpose of this holy drink by using a spirit of the wrong (i.e., Protestant) denomination.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/15/2007 10:52:30 PM
Category: Comedy, Food
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Sunday, February 11, 2021

final count
One of the casualties from my recent monthlong blog outage was the conclusion to my series of posts testing whether or not energy drink Enviga really did burn calories with regular intake.

As it happens, the blog went kaput with just a couple of days/posts to go on my experiment. So I actually did wrap up my 3-cans-a-day diet of Enviga back in December. I haven’t touched the stuff since.

That’s not necessarily an indictment of the product. I got used to the taste of it after putting away 90 cans of the stuff (3 a day for 30 days, which I figured was more than enough for my unscientific testing). But given that I rarely imbibed energy drinks before starting this madness, I definitely overloaded on Enviga during that period. And so it’ll take a while before I feel the urge to pop another one open. In fact, one can remains in my fridge — a Peach flavored one. I think it’ll stay there for a while.

Anyway, on to the results: Did I burn more calories with all the Enviga chugging?

Based solely on weight levels, which to me is a fair indicator of calorie churn, the answer is: No.

By the end of the monthlong trial period, my weight was exactly the same as it was at the start of all that Enviga-ing. I went through period of weight loss and weight gain, some of which are noted within this category of posts. But I can’t see anything that points to the energy drink being an active agent in this. I regularly go through minor (5-10 pounds) weight fluctuations; it’s a regular part of my physiology and metabolism. Had I not been doing the Enviga, I’m pretty confident that I’d have gone through the same deal.

So, for what it’s worth: My personal Enviga experiment yielded no evidence that it’s really a “calorie burner”, as marketing for the drink somewhat obliquely puts across. Since Coca Cola and Nestlé are now being sued over misleading claims to that effect, I only hope that I don’t get called on the stand as a trial exhibit!

Beyond that, it seems to me — strictly anecdotally — that Enviga isn’t particuarly catching on. I’ve seen a decided decrease in ads for the stuff around New York. It’s still on store shelves, but I’ve yet to spot it out in the wild, i.e. in the grips of passerbys on Manhattan streets. Doesn’t bode well for the longterm prospects. Enviga might not be long for this consumer realm.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 02/11/2021 08:39:08 PM
Category: Science, Enviga
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Friday, February 09, 2021

The atmosphere in Kobe Club is described in a recent restaurant review as “part samurai fantasia, part torture chamber and packed with chunky guys on expense accounts”.

But that’s only if you look around you. Slide your eyes upward, and you get the real show:

Hanging upside down from the ceiling in the nearly pitch-black dining room are sharp, gleaming samurai swords, about 2,000 of them. The server volunteered that number, appended with an assurance that the blades, firmly anchored, shouldn’t cause any concern.

Maybe it’s this unsettling Sword-of-Damocles ambience that contributed to all the lousy reviews. Or maybe it’s just another grossly overpriced eatery, from the same restauranteur who brought you Rocco’s on 22nd (the setting for the contentiously short-lived reality show, “The Restaurant”).

It just so happens that Kobe Club is a block away from my office. I would try to get in there some time, just to see this spectacle for myself. I doubt it would be worth the bill, though.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 02/09/2021 04:23:10 PM
Category: Reality Check, Food, New Yorkin'
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Monday, February 05, 2021

Know what I love about New York?

It’s not that you have to overpay for the privilege of eating at the hoitiest of the toitiest restaurants. It’s that you have to pay $35 to a table scalper just to get your spot at the trough (at a reasonable dining hour).

[Pascal] Riffaud is somewhat secretive about how he builds his stock of reservations, which varies from day to day. (He often makes the reservation under a false name, then later changes it to a member’s name. For reservations made through PrimeTime Tables at Babbo, however, diners must use the name under which Mr. Riffaud booked the table.) Most reservations, he said, are acquired through persistence and by knowing how and when to call. In some cases, he said, he can secure tables through his longstanding relationships with several restaurants, some of which he cultivated over the past 12 years while running another business, Personal Concierge International. Before that, he was a concierge at the St. Regis Hotel in New York and the Ritz in Paris.

I wonder if this guy could get me in for a plate of that $55 macaroni and cheese.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 02/05/2021 11:46:41 PM
Category: Food, New Yorkin'
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Sunday, January 28, 2021

Who knew that bananas were a strong sleep-inducing food?

They’re practically a sleeping pill in a peel. In addition to a bit of soothing melatonin and serotonin, bananas contain magnesium, a muscle relaxant.

Magnesium? Does this mean eating two or three ‘nanners right before bed amounts to mag loading?

I suppose if you really want to hedge your bets, you can kick in that old reliable sleepy-timer, tryptophan, and whip up a turkey-and-banana sandwich before head hits pillow. Assuming you think a good night’s sleep is worth such culinary larceny.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/28/2007 11:01:57 PM
Category: Food, Science
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Saturday, January 27, 2021

Like being loaded with sugar and fat isn’t enough, donuts are about to get even less healthy: A molecular scientist has invented a tasty way to bake caffeine right into them.

Bucking those annoying “healthy diet” trends, Dr. Robert Bohannon applied his skills and devised a way to combine caffeine and baked goods “without the bitter taste of caffeine,” according to news agency reports. Pastries imbued with the kick-start compound would deliver the same jolt as two cups of coffee.

Naturally, he’s pitching the formula to the usual suspects. But I wonder how receptive they’d be to buzzed-up donuts; seems to me they’d undercut their beverage sales, which are a lot more high-margin than the food offerings.

And here I thought that the whole-grain donut I bought at Starbucks last week represented the ultimate in baked-treat technology.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/27/2007 08:35:14 PM
Category: Food, Science
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Wednesday, January 24, 2021

I’ve seen promotions for Dunkin’ Donuts White Hot Chocolate for weeks now. Other than noting the uniqueness of the product, I didn’t think much of it.

But tonight, after seeing a TV commercial for it, it suddenly hit me: “White Hot Chocolate” is an oddly-structured phrase. While you can comfortably assume it describes the flavor of the chocolaty beverage, the sequence of “white hot” could give you pause.

Not to worry, though. Just as white chocolate isn’t really chocolate at all, neither is this drink served up truly white hot.

At least, let’s hope not. Otherwise, Dunkin’ will have a lawsuit coming that would make the McDonald’s scalding coffee case look like a cakewalk.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/24/2007 10:21:00 PM
Category: Food, Science, Wordsmithing
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Monday, December 11, 2021

I downed my third daily can of Enviga mere minutes ago. Nothing like that pre-bedtime buzz…

Actually, let me refute both components of that above statement, instantly. I’ve been drinking the caffeine-calcium fluid for near a month now, so the jolt it would normally inflict is now very much within my tolerance level (as long as it’s one can at a time). And regardless, I’ll be awake for a couple of hours more, so “pre-bedtime” is a very loose way to describe my current biorhythmic state.

Anyway, as long as I’m in self-confessional mode: I’ve neglected to mention how much fun I’ve been having with the Enviga cans, after emptying them down my gullet. Their skinny-can design makes them quite easy to twist into a mangle of used aluminum. I can’t resist doing so every time. It could be an urge to show off the energy burst that Enviga gives me. Or it could be a manifestation of my underlying resentment over keeping to my three-a-day schedule. Either way, it’s a fun little distraction.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/11/2021 10:52:29 PM
Category: Science, Enviga
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Saturday, December 09, 2021

The Enviga continues to flow through me, to the tune of three canfuls a day.

I think I’ve developed some level of tolerance for it. Whereas before, I couldn’t handle drinking more than one can every few hours — necessitating some scheduling of my required three-a-days — I’ve managed to squeeze that down to a few hours, both yesterday and today. I didn’t wind up overly-caffeinated or perceptionally impaired. Must be a good sign! We’ll see if the caloric burn and resultant weight loss follow.

Speaking of which, I’m kicking myself over not dreaming up the “Less Than Zero?” headline used by the Los Angeles Times for its article on Enviga and similar “negative calorie” drinks. It’s an obvious reference to the Bret Easton Ellis novel (if not the ill-fated film adaptation), made all the more fitting by the LA connection.

On top of that, the question mark makes it even more fitting. My personal experiment, as documented here, should reveal if that punctuation is warranted.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/09/2021 09:17:09 PM
Category: Science, Enviga
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Next time you visit Ye Waverly Inn, on Bank Street in the West Village, don’t try to cheap out by ordering the house macaroni ‘n cheese. Because it won’t work. The Waverly’s version of this comfort food comes topped with shaved white truffles, and with a pricetag of $55much to the surprise of some schlub who ordered it.

The dish is served with fresh white Alba truffle from Italy’s Piedmont region, a delicacy sometimes called “white diamonds.” They can fetch more than $1,000 a pound…

Chef John DeLucie said the mac is prepared with Vermont Cabot cheddar and imported Italian pasta.

“There’s a novelty to it, and people find the contrast interesting,” said DeLucie, who has sold out of the item three times this week. That’s somewhat understandable: It tastes pretty good.

For fifty-five bucks, it’d better taste “pretty good”. Might I suggest a “pretty fucking good” milkshake, for $5, to pair with this cheesy magnificence?

I’m sure this will result in the restaurant being beseiged with culinary thrill-seekers, who will sell out this Monday night special on a regular basis. Including me, actually — good enough reason as any to visit this hipster eatery, and probably a great date option.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/09/2021 05:40:57 PM
Category: Food, New Yorkin'
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Thursday, December 07, 2021

lawsuit brewing
I continue with the three cans of Enviga each day. In the name of nutritional science, of course.

But for how much longer? Watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest, doubtful of the drink’s negative-calorie claims, is threatening to sue Coca-Cola and Nestlé for false advertising. So conceivably, the product could get pulled off the market, or lose its “calorie burner” tag. Either way, it scotches my little experiment here.

Maybe that’s the least of my worries. What if this series of posts gets cited as evidence in a trial? Just what I need, to get subpoenaed over some weight-loss dispute…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/07/2021 11:12:56 PM
Category: Science, Enviga
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What are you going to do on that evening ride back to East Hampton if you can’t knock back a cold one? Long Island Rail Road commuters may soon face that sobering prospect: MTA board member Mitchell Pally proposes eliminating the bar carts that sell booze at LIRR terminals, citing them as hazardous for riders who often drive home after leaving the train.

On top of that, many a marriage in Mineola could be spared problems:

Still, [Babylon passenger John] Gambino recalled how a pal of his had a few drinks on the train, then got the number of a young woman he was sitting next to - which his wife found in his coat pocket. “That caused problems,” he said.

I could see a near-revolt over this. Riding the rails for an hour or two is mind-numbing enough; I doubt some folks could endure it without some liquid assistance. That, or else they might as well treat themselves to an iPod this Christmas…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/07/2021 10:48:25 PM
Category: Food, New Yorkin'
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Tuesday, December 05, 2021

Ten more days of me doing daily triple-can shots of Enviga. Not that I’m counting down or anything.

Frankly, I’m surprised I’ve stuck with the three-a-day consumption. Not that drinking it is such a chore, but it does take some level of personal scheduling to make sure I hit the quota by day’s end. The challenge comes in having each can in the spread-out timeframe I require, because there’s no way I can make up for lost time by chugging two (or, God forbid, three) in one sitting — I’d end up short-circuiting myself, per previous experience.

I’ve just weighed myself, and I’ve dropped a couple more pounds since last check. I didn’t attribute my previous weight loss to Enviga, and I won’t do so this time either. Given that I haven’t changed the rest of my diet or (non-existent) exercise routine, it’s reasonable to think that the calorie-burning drink is doing its job. But I’ve dropped a couple of pounds in the past for no seeming reason, so I can’t say with certainty that this green-tea brew is a factor. I guess I’m going with the highly unscientific premise of two times being a coincidence, and three times being a trend. If I see a third instance of disappearing pounds — say, a week from now — then I’ll be convinced.

In related news: It seems to be getting harder to find cans of this stuff in my usual stops, which tend to be Duane Reade stores. I’ve run into dry spots at a couple of stores, and when I do find them, there’s only a handful of cans in the refrigerated cases. My pessimism told me that maybe the stores weren’t reordering the stuff, due to low demand. But during my last purchase, the saleswoman commented to me, totally unprompted, that she’s seen lots of people scooping up cans of Enviga, accounting for that store’s shortage. A half-full/half-empty situation.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/05/2021 09:30:49 PM
Category: Science, Enviga
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