Errata

I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong. I’m not eager to do it, and I’m certainly not going to go out of my way to announce every little misstatement. But some errors are so egregious that they can’t be allowed to stand.

On July 4, 2017, I said “It’s also probably the simplest recipe I’ll ever post here.”

What was I thinking? That recipe has three ingredients and five steps! A simpler one was inevitable.

You ready for a really simple recipe? I’m not going to claim this one can’t be beat–I’ve learned that lesson–but I can’t think how.

Normally, at this point I’d give credit to the originator of the recipe and explain how we’ve modified it. But in this case, variations are all over the Internet and very few of them are credited. If you want to trace the history, please let me know what you learn.

Slow Cooker Salsa Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs – Don’t use breast meat: it gets dry and doesn’t soak up flavor well.
  • One jar, bottle, or other container of salsa – Whatever variety appeals. Chunky and smooth both work well. Just check the ingredient list before you buy: an unexpectedly high bell pepper concentration can ruin an otherwise delightful salsa.

Steps

  1. Dump the chicken in your slow cooker.
  2. Slop the salsa on top of the chicken.
  3. Cook on Low for 8-9 hours.

The salsa cooks down and combines with the chicken juices to produce a rich liquid that tastes great over rice, and leftovers work well as a chili base. Be aware, however, that the mingling and cooking does reduce the spiciness. If you prefer some kick in your chicken, a mild salsa is not your friend.

The chicken itself can go into the rice along with the salsa liquid, or anchor a burrito. It makes great sandwiches–try it with some pickled carrots or onions–and stuffs into baked potatoes well (don’t forget to add some bacon as well).

This is, by the way, one of those recipes that reheats well in an Instant Pot: pressure cook on low for zero minutes, shut off the cooker, and vent the pressure manually.

There you go: a mindless recipe for taxing times.

And, rest assured that if I find a two-ingredient, two-step recipe, I’ll let you all know.

Worst Good Eats

Or should that be “Good Eats, Bad Cooks”?

I am thrilled and intrigued.

Which is just what They want, of course. But that’s fair enough. It’s nice to see some evidence of competence from time to time.

What I’m talking about is the upcoming season of Worst Cooks in America.

There are no major changes in the offing. Still sixteen bad cooks competing to improve their skills. Anne Burrell is still the face of the show. And a few minor variations to keep the whole thing from devolving into an unwatchable photocopy of the last half dozen seasons.

But, oh, those minor variations.

Foremost among them: Anne’s competition in training up the contestants this time around is Alton Brown.

This is going to be fascinating to watch.

Alton’s on-screen persona isn’t competitive. Despite the years hosting Cutthroat Kitchen, he still comes across primarily as an educator.

Which is, naturally, what the Worst Cooks participants need.

But will there be room for a few patented Alton historical and scientific digressions? There must be a lot that never makes it to the screen. I’m sure the competitors get plenty of one-on-one coaching from the instructors, and Alton’s methodical approach should be very helpful for whatever subset of the group who are capable of following directions.

But still. Entertaining as it might be to see how the gang takes a discourse on the chemical properties of gluten or the history of saffron, will it help their cooking?

And, given that entertainment is the name of the game here and the overall story arc of the competition between Anne’s and Alton’s cooks, are we going to see a few well-placed items from the Cutthroat Kitchen archives show up? How would Anne’s cooks manage with a corkscrew-shaped skillet?

Even if Alton plays it straight, though, his sense of humor may be the only thing that gets him through the season. And, if this season’s selection of cooks are truly as horrible as in years past, we may all need to play the Alton Drinking Game to survive.

Here’s hoping for a season of golden Brown deliciousness. We’ll find out on Sunday.

Not Quite Instant

Maggie and I have succumbed.

Not to the lure of another cat. Please don’t tempt us with the thought.

No, what we’ve given in to is the latest kitchen fad. Maybe not the latest-latest, but at least the latest long-lived.

We held out against the sous vide apocalypse, but we’ve accepted the Instant Pot into our lives (and our kitchen).

Seriously, given how often we use our slow cooker, the Instant Pot was a no brainer. A six quart IP takes up about the same amount of counter space as our three quart crockpot–maybe even a bit less–and that’s important in our one-and-a-half-butt kitchen.

Is it going to revolutionize our existence? Not likely. But that extra elbow room from the doubled capacity will be very nice when we do a fauxtisserie chicken. Might even be able to do it faster. Must experiment one of these days.

Though it may be a while. We’re still learning its quirks. Heck, we’ve only used it three times so far.

Braising a hunk of cow big enough for two dinners in ninety minutes–including heat-up time and extra time for the potatoes–was nice. More work involved than in using the oven, but the savings in time and electricity make up for a lot.

The pasta dish turned out well. I’m not certain we’ll do that regularly–for one thing, it actually took longer than the traditional stovetop approach–but I’ll admit that not having to drain the pasta was nice.

The Instant Pot “one dish meal” method is not the way to go if you’re looking for a bowl of sauce with noodles swimming in it. The goal seems to be to balance the ingredients so the liquid from the sauce goes into the pasta, leaving the sauce solids bonded to the outside of the noodles. Tasty (though we’ll definitely tweak the recipe next time–more oregano at the very least) if a bit disconcerting at first.

And it does function well as a crockpot. We did chili as our first slow cook experiment. Yes, there are plenty of quick chili recipes for the Instant Pot out there and we’ll probably try some eventually. But for this test we wanted to see how it handled a known recipe.

It seems as though Low Heat is a bit lower than our crockpot’s “Lo” setting. The onions were a bit crunchier than we expected, and the meat not quite as soft was we’re used to. It’s probably as well that we used thin fajita-cut meat instead of cubes. Next time we’ll set the pot on Medium, and that should improve matters.

Our slow cooker let us set a timer–cook for some amount of time, then either turn off or, if it was on “Hi”, switch to “Lo”. We never used it. The thought of coming home to either room-temperature food or excessively-cooked food didn’t appeal. The Instant Pot, on the other hand, can be set to switch over to a “keep warm” setting after the cooking time runs out. That might just be worth a good chunk of the admission price right there.

Speaking of warming things, I hadn’t realized just how many people believe microwave ovens are tools of the Devil.

Okay, I exaggerate slightly. But only slightly. I started researching how to reheat the chili in the Instant Pot, instead of using the oven as we normally do. Nearly every site I read warned about the unspecified health hazards of microwaves–and especially reheating food in one–though none actually stated what the risks are. I conclude they’re the same risks one runs by not eating “organic” foods.

Several sites said–and I’m not paraphrasing–“Thank God for my Instant Pot!” I’m not sure how much Hephaestus had to do with the creation of the Instant Pot, but I’m sure he appreciates their gratitude. Or maybe they were addressing Hestia–a goddess of the hearth might be a more appropriate vessel for cooking-related thanks.

But I digress.

Are there Instant Pot recipes we’re not going to try? Absolutely.

As a typical example, consider lasagna. I admire the dedication and determination of all the people who’ve created Instant Pot lasagna recipes, there’s no way I’m going to try them. Every one I’ve seen requires even more effort than traditional oven-based recipes do, most of them take longer, and a significant percentage call for finishing the cooking in the oven. Why bother?

But our initial experiments with Instant Potting (Instant Pottery would be something else, I think) have been successful enough to encourage us. I don’t think this will be the sort of kitchen gadget that gets used once or twice, then shoved in a drawer, never to be seen again.

And, as soon as the weather cools off a bit further, I intend to see how the Instant Pot handles our favorite hot spiced cider recipe. I’ll report back if we figure out how to reduce the cooking time without compromising the flavor.

Chicken!

Why didn’t anybody tell me?

Long-time readers know of my love of Alton Brown and his TV shows. Some may even recall my sorrow three years ago when Cutthroat Kitchen went off the air.

At the time, Alton was talking up his plans for a Good Eats successor. It was supposed to be an online-only show and would tackle subjects the original wasn’t allowed to address.

As best I can tell, that show never happened.

And then. A couple of days ago, Maggie and I were watching Kids Baking Challenge and a little blurb popped up in the corner of the screen. This is something Food Network does with great regularity, and it never fails to annoy me. Normally I do my best to ignore such mini-ads, but this one caught my eye. “Up Next: Good Eats Reloaded

Picture my face with exclamation points replacing my eyes.

On second thought, don’t. That’s a rather creepy image. But you get the idea.

It turns out that Food Network has been running these shows for the past year or so, and I completely missed it. They’re not new content either. They’re reworked and updated versions of some of the original Good Eats episodes.

We’ve seen two of them so far (or most of two of them: Sling’s DVR functionality has issues). Updates on broth are well and good, but the updated pasta show may be useful, given the amount of noodles we go through.

But the really good news is the reason Food Network moved Good Eats Reloaded to a better time slot: Good Eats: The Return is coming. Three weeks from today, in fact. Not quite close enough to set the DVR, but near enough to smell the garlic.

The blurb on Food Network’s website sounds a lot like what Alton was talking about for the never-happened online-only show.

I can’t wait. Well, I can–I have too–but I can’t wait patiently.

To celebrate, I’m going to do something I haven’t done for a while: post a recipe.

As with most recipes I post, it’s not a family recipe or something original. Credit where credit is due: this is stolen and modified from Sara Welch’s Slow Cooker Whole Chicken as posted on “Dinner at the Zoo”.

We’re suckers for crockpot cookery, especially recipes that require very little actual effort. If we can throw some stuff together, turn on the pot, and go to work, we’re in. When we saw this one claimed a five minute prep time, we had to try it.

And, of course, we had to tweak it a bit to our tastes.

Ingredients

  • One five pound whole chicken. Note: a bird this size fits almost perfectly into a three quart slow cooker.
  • Your favorite spice rub. Sara’s suggested mix is tasty, and does largely replicate the flavor of a store-bought rotisserie chicken. But it does require a minute–maybe even ninety seconds–to assemble. We’ve had good results with commercial BBQ rubs. Laziness FTW!
  • 4-6 small potatoes, washed. Keep ’em whole; you don’t want them to cook too quickly.

Steps

  1. Spray the inside of the cooker with cooking spray.
  2. Place the potatoes on the bottom of the cooker. They’re going to serve as your rack so the chicken doesn’t get submerged in its own juices. Soggy chicken is no fun.
  3. Rub your spice mix all over the bird. Be generous. And don’t forget to rub some inside the body cavity.
  4. Put the chicken into the pot on top of the potatoes, put on the lid, and turn the cooker on on High.
  5. After one hour, turn the cooker down to Low.
  6. Ignore it for at least five hours. We’ve gone as long as ten without harm to the result. Be safe: if you’re not letting it cook all day, use a meat thermometer to confirm the thickest part of the thigh has hit at least 165.
  7. Crispy skin is a must. Put the chicken in a baking dish and shove it under your broiler for five minutes.

Yes, you do serve the potatoes too. Why wouldn’t you? They’ve soaked up plenty of chickeny goodness. And save the liquid that’s accumulated at the bottom of the cooker. It freezes well and makes a great base for soups and stews.

Out, Out, Damned…You Know

Since we were talking about commercials…

Unlike last week’s example, this is not a good one. Quite the contrary. But it is instructive. Warning: once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it.

I can’t embed it, so you’ll have to go here to see it. And, of course, once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it.

I feel a little odd about complaining about this commercial, since it dates from 2013 and hasn’t aired since. But criticism knows no statute of limitations. And I really don’t know how this commercial got made.

Consider what goes on here. We’ve got the mother who’s totally incapable of managing her family. We’ve got the large family (and, let it be noted, the large minority family at that) of uncivilized brats, intent on the total destruction of the house. We’ve got the tired father who has to call in help to fulfill the basic function of his role (literally bringing home the bacon–or equivalent. What did you think I meant?)

Am I reading too much into the commercial?

At least the Jimmy John’s delivery man isn’t white. On the other hand, there is that wink. Because we all know that [insert minority of choice] are wildly promiscuous, right? (I could go on in this vein–consider the shape of a submarine sandwich, for example–but I’ll spare you the rest of it.)

What make the spot so vexing is that it has many of the attributes of a good commercial. It gets its message across. It’s not gratuitously insulting–the insults are there, yes, but as part of the message, not a separate attention-getter. There’s even a story there. A clean, simple story, much easier to follow than Casper’s tale about goat hooves.

And yet.

I can’t help but wonder if the current occupant of the White House has seen this commercial, and how he feels about Jimmy John’s food. Probably not greasy enough, given his apparent preference for burgers.

But I digress.

To the company’s credit, they have stopped running the commercial. They make a decent sandwich, too.

But the ad does too good a job of getting its hopefully unintended message across. I haven’t willingly eaten Jimmy John’s since I saw the commercial, nor do I plan to change that policy. I’m not militant about it. I don’t shame anyone for eating there. I don’t urge anyone to boycott them. I’ll quietly eat the food if it’s served to me. I just won’t willingly spend my money on any company tone deaf enough to have approved this ad.

SAST 13

Hello and welcome to the latest edition of Short Attention Span Theater. Lucky Number 13! For those of you new to the blog, sometimes I do an SAST because I literally don’t have enough mental focus to write a full post on any subject. More often, it’s my way of clearing the blog’s to-do list of ideas that aren’t worth an entire post of their own.

I’ll leave it to you to decide, based on the internal evidence, which category this is in.

Ready? Too late, here we go anyway.

Perhaps you remember my handy theatrical guide to long-running news stories. For the record, the Bay Bridge Bolt Botch stayed in Act One for an incredible length of time before zipping through Acts Two and Three, bypassed Act Four entirely, and is now in Act Five.

I’m pleased to see that the Transbay Terminal mess isn’t following a similarly distorted trajectory. We got out of Act One in a mere five months, and we’re now solidly in Act Two. In mid-March, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority threw all the blame for the debacle on the various contractors, individually and collectively.

Naturally, by the end of the month, two of the three contractor had responded, saying in essence, “Hey, we did everything right. Take a look at the third contractor and the designer. They’re the ones that really muffed it.”

Putting on my QA hat for a second, I’ll just note that one of the jobs of the QA team is to point out problems with the design. It’s always cheaper to fix an error before it gets built. That’s true whether you’re talking about software or buildings. If the contractors had concerns about stress on the beams, why didn’t they raise them before construction started?

Anyway, I find it interesting that, so far as I can tell, the third contractor has yet to respond to the accusations of the TJPA and the other two outfits. Clearly, we’re not quite finished with Act Two, but we’ve got clear signs that Act Three is imminent.

That being the case, we may find ourselves watching a bold theatrical experiment, with multiple acts being staged at the same time. If the gimmick works, we might even find ourselves watching Acts Three, Four, and Five simultaneously.

I expect rapid developments in the play come summer. Remember, the terminal is supposed to reopen in June; we can expect a large PR push to convince commuters that it’s safe. That’s almost sure to provoke a lot of finger pointing and the launch of the inevitable lawsuits and countersuits.

Moving on.

For anyone interested in our litter box experiments, we’ve settled on a new long-term litter plan.

We tried Sledpress’ recommendation of Dr. Elsey’s litter with the Formerly Feral Fellows, and it did work as promoted. There was some scattering, though not as much as with the Nature’s Miracle. It did well at controlling odor, and the dust wasn’t as bad as some of the reviews led us to expect. On the downside, it’s hard to find locally, and even allowing for the fact that we got an entire month out of one jug, it still comes out more expensive on a per use basis. Most importantly, though, it seemed as though the Fellows weren’t very enthusiastic about it. They used their other box, loaded with more conventional litter, more often than before we introduced them to Dr. Elsey.

The more conventional litter we tried out is SmartCat All-Natural Clumping Litter. It’s grass-based, clumps very well–I’d even say “frighteningly well” given the size of some of the clumps we’ve found, and does a decent job of controlling odors. We are getting more scattering than I’d like, but it’s at a manageable level. No litter is perfect, but this stuff seems good enough that we’ve converted all but one of the indoor boxes to it.

The exception is currently using up what we expect to be our final bag of World’s Best Cat, and we’re finding that the gang would rather use the SmartCat boxes than the one with WBC.

Finally, there’s this.

Regular readers are already aware of my feelings about the devil’s condiment.

I’m delighted to note that we now have scientific evidence to support my purely logical reaction to that stuff. Forget HoldThatMayo, Bon Appetit, and JSpace. While it’s nice to see fellow travelers, one can’t help but note that their appeals are based on paranoia, emotion, and prejudice.

That’s why it’s great to see the word from Popular Science that there’s well-grounded, firm scientific support for the contention that mayonnaise is eeevil.

Take cheer, my brethren. The battle will be long–I expect the pro-mayo forces to be at least as persistent as the anti-vaccination loons–but with Science! on our side, we’ll win in the end.

There’s Always One

As Thanksgiving approaches, the neighborhood gang is out in force.

They do it every year; a kind of ongoing, silent (usually) demonstration of solidarity with their domesticated brethren.
02-1

Not everyone is with the program, though. Did you notice Tom? Here’s a better look as they continued down the street.
02-2

Yeah, up there at the top of the picture. There’s always one guy who goes his own way.

Maybe Tom is in a world of his own. Maybe he figures he’s got enough problems of his own, staying out of the jaws of the local coyotes; who cares what happens to a bunch of domestic turkeys he’s never met? Or maybe he’s a Wild Supremacist, actively promoting the elimination of lesser sub-species.

Regardless of his motivations, he does eventually join back up with the rest of the gang.
02-3

At which point, of course, they all give him the ol’ hairy eyeball and break the silence of the march. As best I can tell–I’ve forgotten most of the Turkeyish I learned in school–the commentary boils down to something like, “Geez, Tom, you are such an effin’ turkey!”

To which Tom, of course, replies maturely, “Takes one to know one, guys.”

Duck!

Who knew?

Well, not me, for one.

I’ve got fond memories of Arby’s restaurants. When I was a kid, their roast beef sandwich was (arguably) the healthiest fast food main dish going.

And, in the era Before Spices–yes, youngsters, this was in the days before mainstream America had even heard of Thai food–their Horsey Sauce was an amazing alternative to ketchup and mustard.

To this day, horseradish is my preferred condiment on roast beef sandwiches, and I have to wonder how much Arby’s influenced my tastes.

But it’s been at least twenty years since I last ate at Arby’s. It’s not a matter of changing tastes or disdain. Fast food is all about convenience, and when the closest outlet is more than twenty minutes away even without traffic, well, you explore other convenience options.

Lately, though, the chain has started advertising more heavily–I’ve been seeing at least a couple of commercials during each MLB playoff game, for example–and pushing the heretical idea that they sell other things than roast beef sandwiches.

What I completely missed is that they’ve been intermittently wildly experimental. According to Thrillist, in recent years they’ve tried limited runs of deep-fried turkey, lamb, elk, and venison.

Not at all what I’d have expected from any fast food restaurant, much less one so iconically linked to cow meat.

And Arby’s latest experiment–aimed, as many of their limited runs have been, at their fanbase in parts of the country where hunting is popular–is a seared duck breast sandwich. With smoked cherry sauce. Arby’s.

I’d love to try it. Admittedly, not enough to drive to the nearest of the sixteen stores that will carry it*, but enough that I did go so far as to look up directions.

* Chico, California, a mere 144 miles away, according to Google.

It bothers me a bit that they’re partnering with Ducks Unlimited on this promotion. Given Arby’s primary markets, it’s a reasonable pairing, but personally, I’d prefer not to support DU.

So, yeah, another argument against popping up the road to Chico on Saturday.

I’ll note here that despite its Midwest, red state core constituency, the chain’s political contributions are moderately balanced: per Ethical Purchasing, Arby’s falls into the “yellow” category. Other yellows include McDonald’s, Jet Blue, Whole Foods, and Dow Chemical. Make of that what you will.

No great insight to close out this post, I’m afraid. Just a reminder that things change, even fast food restaurants.

Pie

Google startled the tech world yesterday by releasing Android P. Many techies were unprepared for the news, not expecting the release to happen until the twentieth.

Naturally, the surprise didn’t stop anybody from playing the name game. Now that we know Android P, aka Android 9, is officially named “Pie,” the just-released OS is ancient history, and everyone is speculating about the name of next year’s release.

Let’s face it, there just aren’t a whole lot of foods beginning with “Q”–and most of those aren’t sweets by any stretch of the imagination. Quesadilla? Quiche? Quinoa? Goddess preserve us. Pun intended, because the most likely choice I’ve been able to come up with is Quince, which is frequently found (to the extent you can call it “frequent”) in jams, jellies, and preserves.

But you know, there is a dark horse candidate.

Quisp Cereal
(Image copyright Quaker Oats.)

It’s a sweet. No more so than any other sugared cereal, I suppose, but yeah, there’s a lot of sugar in those boxes. It wouldn’t be the first time Google has done a corporate tie-in for an Android release. And really, wouldn’t Android’s robot mascot look great with a propeller mounted on its head?

Android Robot
(Android Robot owned by Google, naturally.)

Come on, Google, make it happen.

If you think I’m pulling that idea out of my rear end, you’re partly right. But there is a possibility that Google is prepping us for a bit of MTV-generation nostalgia.

Consider: Why did they choose yesterday, August 6, to make the Android Pie release? 8/6 is hardly a date of significance to pie. But it starts to make more sense when you consider that news reports citing Google’s announcement started appearing around 9:00 (US PDT).

I can’t find the actual press announcement from Google, but… Allow reporters a bit of time to pull up their stories and add last-minute details. That would imply the release came out around 8:00. Might it have been 7:53:09? Just saying.
Counter-arguments that yesterday was three months after Google I/O will be cheerfully ignored. Secret conspiracies are much more fun. And besides, why do you think they chose the date they did for I/O?

Joking aside, there aren’t a whole lot of surprises in the release. Google revealed most of their plans at I/O back in May. And, of course, developers and the incurably brave have been using the public betas for the past three months.

Perhaps the biggest surprises are those of omission. Two big pieces of planned functionality–“Slices,” which will allow apps to export content to other apps and the “Digital Wellbeing” initiative, a set of features designed to make you put down your phone and interact with humans–aren’t included. Google says they’ll both be released “later” this year.

That’s a little disappointing. I was looking forward to seeing Digital Wellbeing in action; some of the announced bits of it sounded useful.

I guess I can spend the intervening time getting the hang of the new navigation. The changes to the Back button should be simple enough–either it’s there or it isn’t–but when it is, it should work more or less as it has in the past.

Doing away with the “Recent Apps” button will be tougher. I use that one a lot. Sure, I’ll eventually retrain my muscle memory to swipe up from the “Home” button and to swipe left/right through the apps instead of up/down. But the whole thing smacks of change for the sake of change.

Unless, of course, Android Quisp is going to introduce some startling new functionality behind a button located where “Recent Apps” used to be. In that case, getting the button out of the way now, in order to give sluggards like me a whole year to reprogram their brains, is an excellent idea.

I’ll undoubtedly have further thoughts on Android Pie once I get my hands on it. I’m still waiting for it to show up on my shiny new Pixel 2 XL. You’d think Google was being cautious with the rollout. It’s not like Android ever has unexpected bugs, right?

Another Corporate Fail

Something a little lighter than Tuesday’s discussion of Google’s plans to build the first generation of our Robot Overlords this year.

Lighter, yes–though I fear no less depressing. Sorry about that. Stop back tomorrow for cat picture therapy if you need it.

Anyway, we’re going to add another item to our list* of bad reasons to make a change.

* Did you know we had a list? I didn’t until I sat down to write this post.

We’ve already got “Because we can,” “Because the schedule says it’s time,” and “Because we need to generate artificial excitement“. Now we can add “Because everyone else is”.

That’s right, it’s the Jumping Off a Bridge model of product development.

Look, I like Pop-Tarts–specifically, the frosted blueberry variety. I make no apologies for keeping a box around for the occasional weekend breakfast, and I’ll cheerfully ignore any comments expressing dismay over my pastriotic orientation.

Really, Kellogg came up with the perfect ratio of crispy to crumbly in the pastry, just the right amount of sweetness in the filling, and an unbeatable capper in that sweet, sweet sugar frosting. Even the multi-colored sprinkles, which I initially regarded with suspicion, turned out to add a nice bit of texture.

But somebody in Kellogg Sales’ Marketing Division looked at all the lovely cash Nabisco was raking in with its Oreo flavor variants, and decided to follow suit.

They couldn’t easily do wild flavor variants. For one thing, there are only so many colors they could dye the filling. For another, there are already plenty of Pop-Tart flavors.

So they fell back on Nabisco’s other trick. If “Double Stuf” could usher in a couple of generations of “innovation” in Oreos, why couldn’t it do the same for Pop-Tarts.

The result of that high-level brainstorming? A couple of months ago, my Frosted Blueberry Pop-Tarts package gained a new banner: “Now with MORE FROSTING!”

Uh-oh.

Of course I tried them. In fact, I’ve tried three boxes, made several months apart, just to be sure the flaws in the design weren’t just aberrations in a single batch. They’re not.

Yes, there is more frosting. In fairness, there’s not very much more. The additional frosting does not overwhelm the other components as I feared it would.

But, y’know, sugar is expensive. To keep the price of a box the same, something had to change. Kellogg executives were smart enough to realize that tampering with the traditional “two pastries to a pouch” packaging would be likely to cause massive consumer dissatisfaction and rioting in the streets.

They might have gotten away with reducing boxes from eight pastries to six or shrinking the size of each Pop-Tart, but that would have meant a box redesign and cost even more money.

So they decreased the amount of filling instead.

I can’t prove it. I don’t have any “Classic Pop-Tarts” handy to measure. But to my well-trained eye, it’s obvious. And, more importantly, it’s even clearer to my teeth. Less filling + same baking time = crisper pastry.

There’s more variation in texture than before the change, but even at its best, the pastry shell is crunchier than before; at its worst, they come off as more cracker than pie crust.

And, most importantly, Kellogg missed an important part of the “Double Stuf Lesson”. When Oreo introduced their “more sugar” treat, they made it optional. You could still buy regular Oreos. You still can, even if you have to hunt through the shelves to buy them.

You can’t buy regular Frosted Blueberry Pop-Tarts (or any of the other flavors that now have MORE FROSTING!)

I don’t expect a New Coke fiasco, with Kellogg recanting and offering the two products side by side. Pop-Tarts, for all their popularity aren’t an iconic American offering like Co’cola. The outcry is likely to be limited. Probably to this blog, to be honest.

But I won’t be buying any Pop-Tart with MORE FROSTING! Which means I won’t be buying any Pop-Tarts for my weekend breakfasts any more.

That’s undoubtedly better for my physical health. But is it better for my mental well-being?