Sunday, June 26, 2011


The Dollar Store usually doesn't disappoint but this time I'm a little nonplussed with my take home. Maybe I have unrealistic expectations but when I look for super hero candy I expect a little more effort. What we have here seems to be your common everyday sour candy with a few well know faces slapped upon the label:

A good portion of the Avengers check in with the "Marvel Heroes Sour Straws" but I can't seem to shake that "generic" feeling. I guess you could justify it by saying the colors correspond to the characters (red=Spider-Man, Green=Hulk, Yellow=Wolverine, Red & Yellow=Iron Man, etc.) but that just seems like a stretch.

It looks like a little more focus was put into the Spider-Man Strawberry Licorice Webs but not much. They'! So I guess that's something.

All in all it's not the end of the world or even the worst comic book promotional tie-in I've ever seen but it sets a dangerous precedent for half-assedness. Come on people, we can do better! But only if we demand better!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


On a recent road trip I stumbled upon the "Peanuts...Naturally" exhibit at the Sternberg Museum in Hays, KS:

The exhibit shows Charles Schulz's various interpretations of the natural world via the Peanuts comic strip. It also included quite a few interesting Peanuts collectibles from over the years. Check out some pictures:

Check out the Sternberg Museum:

And the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Mystery of the Captain America Fruit Snacks

Not surprisingly, it took a big budget movie to finally launch Captain America's fruit snack career. Say what you will about Batman, but he's at a point where he can launch a new line of fruit snacks at the drop of a hat. Movie, schmovie.

But Cap is a little newer to the grocery aisles and I say it's about time. His very first foray into the world of dextrose gum and high fructose corn syrup looks a little like this:

Eye-catching packaging and the allure of four different fruit flavors made this thing practically jump off the shelf and into my shopping cart. But the more I delved into the world of Captain America Fruit Snacks, the more I realized this is more than a superfluous grocery item. It's a Da Vinci Code-esque box of clues, riddles and misdirects, most noticeably symbolized by the the maze etched onto Cap's iconic shield. Seems easy enough...or is it?

Well ok, it is fairly easy, as most "back of the box" mazes are, but look towards the bottom:

"Can you help find the missing items?" it says. That's a lot of different stylized A's. Why so many? One assumes that you are supposed to find them there on the back (it's not like they're hidden very can see that shield with wings right there). And the answer key on the inside of the box indicates that as well.

But I'm not content to just accept easy answers. I want long, drawn out, insanely convoluted answers! That's what years of reading comics will do to you.

So I keep going back to the multiple A's. Since when do marketers want multiple logos?!? Since never! So I choose to believe that this is a clue! Not about Captain America: The First Avenger but about next summer's The Avengers!

As always, look to the candy for answers:

Check out who makes a pretty hefty appearance in these co-called "Captain America" Fruit Snacks:

Wha?!? That's Thor! And his hammer! And a lightning bolt which I assume pertains to Thor (god of thunder and all that...). Fifty percent of the gummies are about Thor. Yet he doesn't get double billing on the box. That means something! Something's going on here! But what? Trouble in Avengers Mansion?

I was so worked up by this I ate the entire box. This did not lead to any insights but rather a slightly bloated, nauseous feeling...which I assume also means something. I think it means I need to go lie down.

But I'll be back...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Fantasticakes (ugh...sorry for that title)

The 50th anniversary of the Fantastic Four was recently celebrated in some awesome ways and some horrible ways. One of the more questionable anniversary celebrations came in cake form as one of comics' oldest super teams was immortalized in fondant in an episode of Food Network's Last Cake Standing.

Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like cake. (I do. Really.) And it's not even that I don't like Last Cake Standing. It's a great Sunday afternoon distraction while you wait for whatever is coming on HBO later that evening.

The artisans who compete generally produce some amazing confectionery creations but this episode's fare was a little difficult to digest. I guess it's as hard to adapt the Fantastic Four into the medium of cake as it is to adapt them into the medium of film.

If it seems like I was a little disappointed in the FF cakes then, congratulations! You have reading comprehension skills! So instead of taking you through the painstaking process of making crappy Fantastic Four cakes we'll just skip to the end and take a look at the results.

Let's start with "Team Jason" (by the way they split up in teams for this challenge):

Sadly, this is the best of the bunch. It was complimented by the judges for including 5 figures but all I can see is four: Reed, the Super Skrull, a very tiny Ben (barely visible under Reed) and below the Skrull is Sue with this expression:

I choose to believe that she is just really, really surprised about something. I assume the flames are coming from the Skrull but I guess that could be Johnny. Let's see what the judges had to say about Team Jason's second cake.

Holy crap! Is that Tom Brevoort?!? He's one of the judges for this week's competition! That's kind of cool!

Anyway, back to the horrible cakes...I don't know if anyone saw a shoddily sculpted Sliver Surfer flying around but he must have been there somewhere to herald the coming of...Galactus!

It's hard to have that menacing, apocalyptic feeling when the city Galactus is about to eat looks like a set piece from "Cats." Also, hey look, the Silver Surfer IS there! He's not quite as well hidden as the Thing was on the previous cake but but he's definitely easy to miss. Someone get him a red and white striped shirt and a walking stick.

"The Devourer of Worlds" or just a "Grumpy Gus"? It also looks like his funky hat is broken.

So it looks like "Team Richard" (that's the other team) has it all wrapped up, right? They'd have to essentially just puke in a baking pan in order to lose, right? Right?

I really don't mean to be overly harsh. I know making cakes is difficult and so is sculpting. My question is: if you want to do an homage to the Fantastic Four then why not include the Fantastic Four? Sure we all like the Hulk (I assume that's the Hulk...or maybe Shrek) and the Hulk v. Thing fight is very iconic but very often the Hulk is more trouble than he's worth.

In the comics he constantly causes problems and it seems that in the real world he's also a headache. You can see why in this clip:

Oh, minx. Not only are you falling down on the job you are also making unwanted(?) advances on your opponent:

Maybe it was just a good luck kiss. That sounds like something the Hulk would do. I wish the rest of the FF could be here to see this. Well I'm sure they'll all be on the next cake.

Nevermind. It's just the Thing punching Dr. Doom. And it looks like the thing's head is also on top of that black box thing. In a blog entry full of assumptions I'm also just going to assume that that is a very specific comic reference. If it's not, don't tell me. If it is, don't tell me.

Man, Team Richard LOVES the Thing. And they love it when he punches people. Either that or they just don't have a lot of ideas.

Anyhoo, skip to the end and the winner was...Team Jason!

Yea? I guess?

Well, as they say on "The Next Iron Chef," even great chefs can have bad days. I'm hoping that by the FF's next monumental anniversary the world's cake making technology and techniques will have advanced enough to truly do the World's Greatest Comic Magazine justice.

(By the way, all images are property of Food Network)