Friday, July 10, 2009

Odds and ends

Courtesy of my beautiful little sister:

"I feel like I just found out my favorite love song is about a sandwich." Jane, "27 Dresses"

I'm assuming she means that she feels amazing.

Second, someone working for the f'REAL milkshake company contacted me and asked me to review their products. I thought, "Sure, why not?" They sent me two free vouchers and a list of places near me that have f'REAL machines. I waited until July 5, when I was going to the beach with my girlfriend. We walked into the Circle K on Vine street in Willoughby and there, nestled among all the drink machines, was the f'REAL machine, sitting on top of a freezer.

It's a simple idea: you take a cup out of the freezer. You pull the foil top back from it. You put the cup in the machine and press a button based on how thick you want your shake. The machine uses a mechanical arm to move the cup up into the machine, then blenders (or something) mix up the stuff to the desired consistency. Then, the arm brings the cup down, and you get a straw and eat.

I got the Cookie Dough and my girlfriend got the fruit smoothie. Mine was infinitely better - it tasted creamy and moderately delicious. Hers, on the other hand, was overly sweet - the ingredients included more high fructose corn syrup than any of the fruit "purees" it boasted in its ingredients list.

Three things bothered me about it otherwise. First, it was $2.49 for a single f'REAL, which to my old mind is expensive. Second, it is like an "ATM" of milkshakes, but to me it unnecessarily takes the human element out of the serving. It's like it's made for people who don't want others to know what they're eating so as not to judge until you pay for it. I suspect there's some sort of psychological principle stating that when the human element is taken out of serving unhealthy food, people are more likely to consume it - especially when they know the food is not optimal for their health. It also might be that children are more likely to consume when they don't have to have interactions with "adults" while making their consumption choices. Conspiracy theories, perhaps, but I just don't know why one wouldn't go to a fast food place and get an equivalent milkshake or smoothie for less. Perhaps there is a massive demand among late-night truckers for milkshakes that I didn't know about, and they have been demanding them at 24-hour convenience stores? Or perhaps the business model is based on spur purchases?

Third, about that smoothie: it had a LOT of sweetener. I'm not sure if it had more than my milkshake, but it was so sweet that my cheeks hurt and I could only sip a little. Frank went back in to get little coffee creamers to mix in because it was so ridiculously sweet, and the coffee creamers were an improvement. IN A SMOOTHIE. Then, she pointed out that it's likely that people get the smoothie thinking that it's healthier than the others; looking at the nutrition information, it seems that it doesn't have more good stuff - it only has less bad stuff, like cholesterol and fat. I'm sure that Circle K has healthier options like juices, muffins, etc. She finished it, somehow, but said that she wished she'd gotten mine instead. Thus, if you do get a f'REAL, avoid the fruit ones.

They offered me a few more, so I'm going to take them up on it and try the Cappuccino ones. I'm optimistic. Oh, but one thing: there aren't any around my house. I have to drive at least ten miles into the outer suburbs to find one. I'm sure there's a marketing reason for it, perhaps related to the above points. Anyway, addendums will be added to this post.


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