Ever wonder what unscrupulous people do with old peanuts which have been lying around a warehouse in Manilla for about 5 years? They make them into some repulsive coated-nut “treat”. They also do this with past-prime: hazel-nuts, cashews, and almonds (which escape the big bag ‘0 nuts at your local supermarket). Stale nuts covered in a sweet and exceptionally hard coating touted as “cinnamon” flavored which smell more like pencil shavings than confections. When you eat these you sound like a preying mantis crunching on a particularly fat and chitinous beetle. The sound draws other unlucky family members and before you know it, the miserable melange is gone! Your burps smell like cedar for the rest of the afternoon.
The true abomination of the entire racket is the ubiquitous “summer sausage” which you never find anywhere else except in some wretched Xmas basket. There is nothing summery about this hard and greasy extrusion of offal and God knows what. It has never been refrigerated as far as you can tell, and so how do you justify the fact that “novelty meats” are still consumable after all that? Vacuum packed, that’s how. There is a smear of leaking oil trapped in the wrinkles of the plastic packaging, and usually a picture of Christopher Columbus on the front (perhaps a chauvinistic Italian reference to the physique of the typical Italian male). Eat it? What? I swear there is a hidden message there.
Getting down to the actual sausage, first you have to fight your way through the toughest plastic film this side of NASA. Once you manage to hack through it and have gained your phallic prize, it’s time to do the deed. Notice that this thing has a casing but it resembles paper rather than the gruesome natural casing (which is generally the membrane of an animal’s intestine…could be an alligator or something). In any event slicing through this bugger you are sure to find large white lumps of fat interspersed throughout some intensely red (ox blood red) “meat” (at least you hope that is what it is). Strangely tasteless but strangely oily and strangely salty…this thing has all the elements of a Bad Food Choice and men just love ’em.
Of course, all of the contents can’t be real food, there must be an abundance of cheap starchy filler, and to that end you get a HUGE and oddly shaped cardboard box with jocular images containing a much smaller foil pouch into which has been inserted The Foo-Foo Cracker. Offered to you as an exotic piece of European breadstuff, this is actually Melba toast sprinkled in garlic powder cost the giver about $13.28/oz. but adds what looks like great volume and careful generosity to the basket. The Foo Foo Cracker is meant to be “enjoyed” with the phallic salami (above) and/or the “pasturized processed cheese spread” (see below).
Sometimes you get lucky and instead of crackers you get thick and incredibly hard pretzels (with a Brinell hardness quotient of 6) and can very likely break your teeth as you chomp down on them. Soak these in a warm liquid for at least half an hour before attempting to bite them, best if you can manage to break off a small chip on the side so that the interior can soften (screwdrivers are pretty handy for this). I have had good luck with loading them into a thick plastic baggie, squeezing out all the air, and hitting them repeatedly with a shovel until they shatter (doing this on a concrete surface helps and I suggest the garage floor). Best of the pretzel group is the kind which is heavily dusted with a sharp and sweet mustard powder, which is made of I don’t know what. The calorie count on these is about a day’s worth for each 1/2 pretzel.
Well, that takes care of: nuts, summer sausage, and crackers.But Wait! How about the wonderful pasteurized, processed cheese spread? And what the hell have they done to mustard? Stay Tuned for moar, as they say on the internetz, when Part Trois of Xmas Crap appears on, where else, my blog and Facebook!