The Grilled Cheese Burrito doesn’t redeem Taco Bell, but we’re eating there again

The Grilled Cheese Burrito was introduced at Taco Bell back in like, July, and it wasn’t until now that we’ve decided to review it. It’s not like we hadn’t had it since it came out – we’ve eaten it several times and, spoiler alert, find it really good. We’re just still bitter about the Taco Bell Menugeddon that happened around the same time period. We don’t want to give Taco Bell much attention right now.

But like a siren, the Grilled Cheese Burrito calls to us. We hear its song. The promise of crisp cheese on the outside of the burrito, and a filling almost but not exactly like our old favorite, the Beefy Fritos Burrito. We cannot resist. We must, must have this burrito. And so we did. And we had it again, and again, and again.

We broke our own oath over this thing. We pledged that we would stop eating at Taco Bell, that they had hurt us for the last time. But we knew we couldn’t stay away. It’s too, too hard. Hit the jump and you can find out what makes it so irresistible for yourself. 

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Homemade Dole Whip fills a void in my life

If you’re a long-time follower of this blog, you’re amazing, and also you may remember the Dole Whip Saga. In short: I really, really want to try Dole Whip, a pineapple-flavored soft-serve ice cream treat that can only be found in Dole-sponsored locations, the most prominent ones being Disneyland and Walt Disney World.

It has been over two years since the first installment of the Dole Whip Saga. I am going to be honest with you, dear reader, that things have not gotten much better for me since then.

A few months ago I got a chance to try Taco Bell’s Pineapple Whip, which satisfied the primal desire to taste a pineapple frozen beverage, but brought me no closer to enlightenment. Other than that, the chances of me ever obtaining a Whip have drastically lowered in light of the pandemic. In fact, Walt Disney World is now probably one of the worst places in America that I could go to for any reason, and it will probably remain that way for a long time. Going to Disney would be a moral crime, not only to myself, but to my loved ones and everyone around me. It is unthinkable.

Other things have changed since that fateful July of 2018. I’ve gained a better understanding of what Walt Disney World even is. For some reason when I wrote the original article I was sincerely convinced that the mascot characters talked. I also have a short list of rides I would like to go on (mostly Haunted Mansion), none of which my wife shares my enthusiasm for, because I think my wife would be a lot happier if I did not want to go to Walt Disney World in the first place.

Since I love my wife and do not enjoy causing disdain, I tried to refocus my goals into more realistic ones.

It turned out that the Minnesota State Fair serves Dole Whip! Holy crap! I’ve been to the fair multiple times and I’d never even seen it before. That was very achievable, and that became the new plan. I would go to the Minnesota State Fair, a place I associated otherwise with pain and sweat and resentment, and I was going to enjoy myself. I even started exercising with the hopes that I’d be able to fit on the fair’s admirable selection of rides.

And then, you know, literally everything happened.

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Cheetos Mac ‘n Cheese is okay.

When does irony stop mattering?

Advertisers understand that irony has been a powerful marketing force for years now. Just look at the state of many products: marketers no longer try to assure us that their products are superior, or quality, or even good. They openly and unabashedly embrace the idea that their goods are bad, strange, and comedic. “Honesty” is valued above anything else – so what if the product is garbage? You know you want it, you slob!

And we – I specifically mean food reviewers, including us here at Eggware.XYZ – fall for it every time. There’s almost nothing we can do to keep ourselves from eating these awful foods, talking about how bad they are, how absolutely awful these things are, what were they thinking? The companies that produce this garbage love it when we do this. There’s no way to actually and accurately communicate something is bad anymore. “No such thing as bad publicity” has been actively weaponized. The more we mock them, the more we insult them, the more we bemoan their terrible practices, the stronger they get.

So it’s with a heavy heart that we have decided to review the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos Mac ‘N Cheese today. We know just by acknowledging this product’s existence, we’re letting Frito-Lay score a win over us. We don’t care anymore. To paraphrase Allen Ginsberg, you can’t win, you can’t break even, you can’t even leave the game. The world has to know how awful this stuff is.

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Wayback: Tomba!

Tomba! is a rare case of a ‘cult favorite’ game that I sincerely feel like had no good reason to not be popular.

It was produced and directed by Tokuro Fujiwara, already known for producing and directing games like Mega Man, Ghosts ‘n Goblins, and even creating the survival horror genre with his NES game Sweet Home which was later adapted into the goddamn Resident Evil franchise. Tomba! is built wholly from the same good game design concepts, with RPG elements that innovated the platformer genre without taking up too much space. It’s funny and cute, while still having a sizeable spooky side. As far as 2D platformers go, it’s the total package.

Despite all this, Tomba! never sold enough to qualify for a Greatest Hits reprint, and copies now regularly go for over $100 on eBay. I just really don’t know why, even trying my best to approach this from an objective perspective. Games with less production value have successfully been spun off into entire TV franchises, while Tomba! languished with a single sequel and some very obscure merchandise.

Even with my history in the video game industry, the whims of the market are completely opaque to me. I don’t really feel like it’s my place to speculate on if the game was marketed well enough or what-have-you. Still, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at what the official promotional material was like.

Today we’re using the Wayback Machine to look at a whole 4 sites: Tomba! on the US PlayStation website, the independently hosted Tombi! site, the official Whoopee Camp site, and the very first official Tomba! site. I can’t give precise timestamps, but most of these are around the year 2000.

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NEWS: Thanksgiving Is Also Cancelled

It’s that time of year again: Thanksgiving! And you know what that means? Thanksgiving has been cancelled this year! There will be no Thanksgiving this year, because going to Thanksgiving is probably the most lethal thing you could possibly do. 

How is this possible? Well, earlier this year you might have remembered a little something called Coronavirus happening. But what’s that, you say? You thought that ended back in June, and you’ve been licking each others’ eyeballs like old times? Well, you stupid little moron, you’re completely wrong and also an idiot. Coronavirus never went away. It has always been there and now is going to get worse than ever, due to it getting cold and everybody will start wanting to sit inside by the fire and cough and sneeze and breathe really hard towards the fire, causing huge numbers of coronaviruses to fly around in the room and kill them. This is unacceptable.

So, in our authority ordained by all living kings, we are banning Thanksgiving. This has been a long time coming – let’s be frank, Thanksgiving is a holiday commemorating genocide in a buckled hat, so there wasn’t much good reason to celebrate it in the first place. But now, Thanksgiving has moved past “merely” being offensive and distatestful, it’s outright lethal. We have to take action. It falls on us to make the decision that others were too afraid to do. There will be no more Thanksgiving. Ever.

What about next year, when the virus crisis has hopefully cleared up? Nope. No more Thanksgiving. We gave you all the chance. You could’ve washed your hands and wore the masks. And even if you did, did the government do jack shit to help? Nope. Two hundred thousand people are dead and we are taking Thanksgiving away from everybody to give you all some time to think. 

We hope you will learn an important lesson from all this. Don’t kill your grandparents. Wash your hands and wear a mask. And seriously, do a little research on American holidays. A lot of them are celebrating genocide in one way or another. Look it up.

Surveying the Vaults of Vaarn

In case you aren’t keyed into the broader tabletop RPG universe, there’s something of an Old-School Revival or Renaissance (henceforth OSR) going on. Many RPG gamers are looking towards the past, to the RPG heydays of the 70s and 80s, to draw inspiration for the future of tabletop games. And what, exactly, does this imply? Well, the members of the OSR aren’t always sure themselves, but it’s typically a broader focus on player agency and dungeon crawling, increased risk of character death, and reduced focus on pre-written plots. The gamemaster of an OSR game is once again an impartial referee, whose role is to simply mediate the world that the players explore in a sandbox style. “Rulings, not rules” is a common refrain – instead of having granular rulesets that explore every possible corner-case, OSR games prefer lighter and simpler rules, giving the gamemaster the final say on what is and isn’t permissible. 

But what I like about the OSR scene is the incredible bulk of content for it. There’s a lot, and I mean a lot, of really fantastic OSR blogs, zines, and books out in the world filled to the brim with imaginative and wild settings. One of these settings is Vaults of Vaarn, a pay-what-you-want zine by author Leo Hunt A.K.A. graculusdroog on itch.io.

I downloaded Vaults of Vaarn on a lark, looking for more interesting RPG content to consume, and found myself blown away. Hunt emphasizes strongly his influences, naming Dune, Hyperion, and The Book of the New Sun, as well as the art of Moebius. He says it’s fine if you’re not familiar with these works, because it’ll “make his theft seem original.” Well, I’m not familiar with any of these works (aside from the art of Moebius), and Vaarn seems pretty damn original to me. So original, in fact, I thought I’d do a little review of it, just because it’s got me so jazzed.

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Wayback: Crystal Dynamics – Gex

When’s the last time you’ve played a mascot platformer that wasn’t a Mario or a Sonic? It was probably a Crash or a Spyro if it was anything at all. The genre is dead, and I miss it very much.

Gex, at least to me personally, is the iconic failed mascot platformer. He’s everything bad about the genre: he talks way too much and thinks he’s clever, his world is made of cookie-cutter tropey levels that don’t fit together, he has way too many gameplay gimmicks, and in the grand scheme of things he’s been completely forgotten. These are all the reasons that I find Gex oddly enjoyable, as a game trilogy that just doesn’t really work and isn’t very fun.

Unlike most platformer mascots, Gex was not aiming to be the face of a single console: he was the catchphrase-spitting gecko mascot of Crystal Dynamics, a video game company founded by women in 1992. Crystal Dynamics had a broad ‘a little bit of anything’ approach to making games: they had many platformer games, an action-adventure franchise, a point-and-click, a fighting game, a racing game … you get the idea. I guess they also worked on some series named Tomb Raider.

But Gex was Crystal Dynamics’ thing. He was funny, he was memorable, and he was the face of the company, especially once the substantially more popular sequel Gex 2: Enter the Gecko was released in 1998. In that way, Gex was a fixture of the late 90s, a reminder of what things were like.

And what’s more ‘late 90s’ than a terrible website for a terrible video game?

Today I’m going to the Wayback Machine to see the Gex pages on the Crystal Dynamics website from 1998 to 1999. It’s tail time, as one might say.

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Popeyes’ “Twisty” Wicked Shrimp gets it twisted on the wickedness

Popeyes is one of our favorite restaurants for limited time offers. Back in the day, we practically survived off of their amazing $4 monthly deals, all of which were interesting and completely different from what other fast food restaurants were offering.

Nowadays, Popeyes is in a pretty good position and doesn’t do “weirder” LTOs anymore. Most of their monthly offers have been more bargain oriented instead of experimental. We chalk this up to The Sandwich, a menu item that has completely changed how Popeyes does business. They’re a sandwich restaurant now, you know. You don’t need to be convinced to try their food anymore.  You go there to eat a sandwich.

That’s why when we saw their latest monthly offer was a five dollar Surf and Turf Basket, we didn’t think much of it. We were hungry, it was getting late, and some cheap shrimp and chicken sounded fantastic. It seemed like an LTO Popeyes would do nowadays. We had no idea what we were getting into. We had just ordered a basket of… Twisty Wicked Shrimp.

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Dunkin’ Donuts’ Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut: a hateful donut

“Ghost pepper” is a phrase that should not be used lightly. When you claim that your foodstuff has ghost pepper in it, we expect some serious fucking heat levels. The ghost pepper is one of the spiciest chile peppers in the world, with a scoville scale that reaches into the millions. It’s tough stuff. 

But ghost pepper has become pretty vogue in the past years. America’s love of spicy food continues to grow, and only show-stoppers like the ghost pepper can stun us anymore. We’ve looked at plenty of ghost pepper foods in the past: the ghost pepper chips from Trader Joe’s, the ghost pepper wings from Popeyes, and the Dare Devil Grillers from Taco Bell. Some of these were surprisingly spicy, and some were major letdowns, but they were all savory. Dunkin’ Donuts is introducing, to our knowledge, the first sweet ghost pepper offering.

Introducing the “Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut”, a doughnut promising serious heat levels just in time for Spooky Scary Halloween. Can the Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut scare us with its heat? Hit the jump and find out.

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The Colors of Wishbone

The colors were so beautiful.

They promised me so much. Whenever I felt sad, or lonely, or worried, all I would do is listen to the colors, and they would promise me that all things would be okay. They did things no other colors could do. Have you ever smelled a color? Tasted a color? No, not in the way somebody with synesthesia would, either. Really tasted a color, tasted it in the same way that you could taste a piece of chocolate, savoring its flavor and swallowing it and feeling it inside you, warm and pleasant. I hadn’t either, until the colors of Wishbone were revealed to me.

Nobody else can understand. The Wishbone colors speak, and they sing, and they dance, and they do so, so much for me. I cannot live without them. I will not live without them. They are everything to me. No family, no friends, nobody can compare. How could they? They cannot show me delights the way Wishbone can. They call me mad when I try to even gently describe, to convince them to look at the colors.

Maybe I am mad. But if madness is the price for happiness, I do not care. The colors are worth any price. The colors are everything.

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