Monday 19 November 2012

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Replacing the Twinkies

Twinkies and Swiss Rolls
There's a bit of a hole in my travel world this week with the news that Hostess is shutting down and stopping production of Twinkies. Everywhere we've gone Twinkies have been one of our go-to snacks, filling our need for both golden spongy cake and delicious vanilla cream filling, but since I'm not willing to tap into our emergency stash that we keep hidden in the basement (gotta be ready for the zombie apocalypse you know) I'm now faced with the task of finding another snack that we can take on the road with us. Fortunately one of my friends, probably tired of hearing me whine about the loss of my favorite breakfast food, pointed out to me that there was a snack expo on at the Kelowna rec center this weekend, and suggested that I could probably find a replacement for my beloved Twinkies there.  

I now have an opening in my circle of friends if you're interested.

What my ex-associate actually sent me to, was the Rancho Vignola seed, nut, and dried fruit sale. I remember the lady at the door who welcomed us to the event using those words clearly, although probably not as clearly as she remembers me since I'm sure I was the only person all day who had the color drained out of his face at the mere mention of the exposition's name. The hostess seemed sincerely concerned for my well-being as a kind of dazed look spread across my face, yet when she asked if there was anything she could get me I refused, as all I could picture was her throwing handfuls of bird seed at me in an attempt to snap me back to reality. I began to turn my daughter around to leave when I overheard one of the other hostesses explaining how the event worked to another couple, and then she used those two magic words that always stop me in my tracks...."free samples".

Alright, let's give this thing a shot. I grabbed the clipboard and with the list of everything that was available for sampling, Neve and I joined in the line of people making their way along the tables. It didn't take long to realize that we were a little out of our element however. The first place the line bogged down was over a discussion as to whether the dry roasted organic soy nuts were better in salted or unsalted form. The second involved something about unsulphured crystallized chunks of ginger. After that we decided to cut out of line and go in search of samples covered in chocolate.

Fortunately, they weren't that hard to find. In fact, it was the only space in the tables where there wasn't a crowd, suggesting again that perhaps my daughter and I weren't exactly the target audience for this exposition. That was OK with us though, and we appreciated the extra space while we were enjoying our samples of chocolate almond bark and white chocolate covered cherries. 

Don't try these if you've already consumed any form of caffeine in your day!
Eventually though, possibly out of a desire to not be seen as those people who haven't moved from the chocolate station, we began to stretch our sampling into the dried fruit area. This is where the true revelation of the day really hit home to me - dried fruit is yummy. Like really good. In particular, the dried pineapple rings were amazing! I found myself sampling piece after piece from this one container before I bothered to read the label - "Pineapple Rings, natural, unsulphured". Wow! I'm not really sure what those words mean, but they sound really healthy. Looking around I noticed that right beside the container I'd been eating from was another one labeled "Pineapple Rings - sweetened". I practically plunged the tongs through the bottom of the sample container, figuring that obviously the sweetened version of the pineapple rings must be even more incredible than the unsulphured ones I had been enjoying.

Hmmm...I just can't taste the sulphur...
Not really. It seems that sulphur isn't one of the things that makes dried pineapple rings taste better, as I couldn't really tell the difference between the two samples. They were both equally delicious, and this revelation started to send my mind into overdrive. Perhaps I'd been missing out. Was there really something to this whole "natural food" thing? Could I actually become a convert and change into that guy who wanders up to strangers in the mall to ask them if they'd like to try one of my organic, unsulphured pineapple rings? My mind was reeling with the possibilities when Neve tapped me on my shoulder and pointed at the clipboard:

Pineapple Rings - Sweetened - 2lb bag - $10.00
Pineapple Rings - Natural, Unsulphured - 2lb bag - $22.60

Rancho Vignola Pineapple Rings
Neve with our bag of Sweetened Pineapple Rings
So it seems I'm too cheap to become an organic food junkie. I did, however, discover that healthy sounding food can taste just as good as food without all the adjectives attached to it, and that dried pineapple rings are a fantastic treat. Will they be replacing Twinkies in our road based snack bag? Probably not. At least not until somebody finds a way to inject some vanilla cream frosting into the pineapple rings. There's a certain amount of sugar that we need to consume to be able to coexist with each other in tiny hotel rooms. When we're at home though, I think I'd be happy to keep a bag or two around. If you apply for the open position as my new friend, I'll be sure to have some available at the interview for you to try.
Written by Steve Pratt