I hate Twinkies.
I don’t like how they feel, kind of soft and squishy, but springy. They smell strange. Not like any cake I ever baked. When you first rip open the plastic, you get an overpowering whiff of…sweet. And then its gone. The filling could almost be tasty. Maybe. But the aftertaste is bitter, like you’ve just chewed a bunch of aspirin, (All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.) And the feel is kind of oily, like it coats your mouth and then hangs around. So it’s really not tasty at all. And what’s with the shape? Like a strange tail-less and head-less whale.
So it wouldn’t really mean anything to me if they disappeared. I’m not sure what all the fuss is about, really. I mean people are going a little nuts over this whole thing. They’re just chemically altered over-processed food products, right? I mean, it’s an almost completely synthetic, 39 ingredient, artificially flavored and derived icon of golden squishiness. So is it the principal that they are supposed to last forever and now they might vanish before we get the chance to test the “Twinkies will outlast the nuclear war” theory? Because I’m not even sure I’d want to test that theory. Yeah, I just decided, I definitely don’t.
But, If I’m looking for the moral of the story here, I suppose it would be that life is too short, so don’t let opportunities pass you by and go get those “Twinkies” while they’re still around to be gotten. Because apparently, nothing is guaranteed.
Not even Twinkies.
Ok. Losing all of your frozen and refrigerated foods to a hurricane makes you do crazy things. Like think its a great idea to go to your local BJs by yourself on a Sunday morning. A few weeks before Thanksgiving. After lots of other folks in the area probably lost their food too. Here are some things I observed, as well as some tips I have gathered, at my expense, for you to review before your next trip.
1) Make sure to carefully peruse the coupon booklet you get in the mail to judiciously select the coupons for ONLY the things you need. Ignore unnecessary coupons such as those for the big tub of biscotti. Unless its a really good deal and you remember what happened the one and only time you tried to make biscotti and some spatula throwing ensued. So if that’s the case, cut those coupons out, but put them in a separate pocket in your purse, or coat and don’t look at them again.
2) That reminds me, make sure you bring your biggest purse. This will ensure you maximize the interior space for your coupons to get lost in.
3) Make sure you grab a cart with a sticky wheel. Its not hard, because they all seem to have some sort of wheel defect. This will make sure you not only get exercise walking, but you will struggle pushing the cart and work out your arms as well.
4) Park at the bottom of a hill in the parking lot.
5) When you walk into the store, make sure you stop and grab the coupons they have up front. There might be something you didn’t know you needed there.
6) Get excited when you see the coupon for what I call the “Turkey Scavenger Hunt”. I’d almost forgotten about this! You get a flyer with a coupon for a free frozen turkey, 9-14 pounds, if you buy 4 of the items pictured on the flyer. The scavenger hunt begins as you to hunt through the store to find obscure items like frozen bread loaves. Which, after 10 minutes of searching, you realize your store doesn’t carry. And you can’t ask anyone for help. That’s cheating. The equally elusive frozen biscuits doesn’t seem to exist in my store either. But the big block of cheddar you can get instead will do wonders for your mac n’cheese.
7) If you spend the extra time to do the turkey scavenger hunt, don’t be foiled by the fact that they label all of their frozen turkeys $13, and don’t list the weight on any of them. Its a mind game. Only the weak will pick the first turkey they see and run. The savvy consumer will stand there for 10 minutes or so eyeing the size of the turkeys, and lifting them in turn to compare. And then lifting some more, making sure you use the same arm to lift each, since you might be used to carrying your 30 pound son in one arm and not the other and therefore not feel the weight difference. Finally, a careful selection is made. Ignore the folks giving you funny looks as they grab their turkeys, hey, you deserve the best and biggest of the bunch for your effort. Which reminds me, I need to weigh that thing.
8) Make sure you have a good system for your coupons. When you get something pictured on a coupon into your cart, put that coupon in a specific pocket. Then 15 minutes in, forget which pocket was which and mix them up. It will give you something to do as you’re waiting in the long line at checkout.
9) Make sure you hungry so you can take advantage of the free samples. Realize that they don’t do many samples early in the morning. But enjoy the biscotti sample they do have. Well played sample lady, well played. Since you have a coupon, purchasing a tub of biscotti is totally justified. And besides, they’re gingerbread flavor. What?!?! Who would have thought of that?? You’ll never find those again.
10) Be prepared for your hoarding tendencies to be multiplied. By like 1,000. Bet you didn’t think you needed 25 pounds of sugar until you saw it. But its such a good deal. News Flash-you don’t really need it. I bake a lot and my 25 pound bag is still half full in my pantry. I bought it last year. Really. You don’t need it. PUT IT BACK! But go for the 3 pounds of ground turkey so you can make a batch of turkey burgers at once and freeze them to eat at your leisure. Even though the meat looks kind of grey, the date is good, it must just be your mind playing tricks on you. And it smells kinda funny when you get it home but you saw the meat guy putting it out in the case. And it smells worse when cooked but make sure you taste it. SPIT IT OUT SPIT IT OUT ITS NO GOOD!!! Call to complain about the $8 you spent and explain you can’t return the meat because you cooked it and threw them out in a small fit of rage. Plan to drive 20 minutes to the store to get your $8 back.
11) After you’ve found several things you didn’t know you needed in bulk like Scrubbing Bubbles to last you the next 5 years (COUPON!), potatoes (to replace the big bag that rotted on your counter with a bigger one) and 3 kinds of cheese, carefully maneuver your way to the check out to wait in line.
12) Sort your coupons while you wait. Realize you lost some and search through the pockets in your purse. And in your coat. Check your pants even though you never put anything in your pants pocket. Look through your purse again. Check your coupon pile and *Poof* they are magically, actually right where they are supposed to be.
13) After your coupons are secure, leave your cart in line (since you aren’t moving anyway) and go to grab some boxes. Pick through a dozen before you confirm they are all broken or just not the right size. Grab 2 that may, or may not work.
14) Get back to your cart and look for your membership card. Pull it out and realize it’s not yours, its your significant other’s. Hope it flies anyway since you just spent an hour and a half in the store (Damn You Turkey Scavenger Hunt!)
15) When the card is swiped and the cashier tells you your membership is expired do you want to renew it? Say “No, I’ll just go ahead and put all this stuff back where I found it”. Ok, don’t really say that. Pay the $50 and smile while thinking unhappy thoughts.
16) Hold back tears when the total starts climbing up over $300. Be glad there weren’t more free samples.
17) Admire the neatly packed boxes which worked after all.
18) Get past the bouncer at the door who punches a hole in your receipt. I have no idea what the hole is for. I guess its so you don’t waste time going back into the store and spending another hour and a half packing it full of the same stuff and trying to sneak out?
19) Wheel the very heavy cart with the screwy wheel through the lot and to the top of the hill. Start walking down the hill to your car. Walk a little faster. And faster. Um. The cart is really heavy. You’ re picking up speed now. Go! Go! Go! Go! STOP! Wait, I said Stop! Uh oh!! I can’t stop!
Stop just before you roll out into the lot.
20) Get to your car and start playing Food Tetris-you know, where you try to cram over $300 worth of groceries into a car that already has stuff in it? Because you forgot to take all the stuff out before you went to the store.
21) Masterfully fit in the loose stuff and tuck the first box neatly in. Grab the big box wonderfully packed by the cashier. Nothing happens. So grab it again and pull harder. It won’t move. Hmm. Brace your legs against the side of the cart and pull really really really really really really hard. It lifts about 6 inches. Which is not enough to get it out of the cart. Curse your faulty logic as you realize that 4 gallons of milk, a big bag of fish sticks, 3 blocks of cheese, some yogurt, bananas and jelly (ok, 4 jars of jelly) are too heavy for you to lift. Unpack it and throw the box in the car. Repack it. Sort of. What now no longer fits gets thrown in. Somewhere.
22) When you get home, ask someone else to unpack the car.
So, there you go. I hope this makes your next warehouse shopping experience just a tiny little bit easier.