The flavoring that almost got me skinned

My fellow inebriates,

I got caught trying to get the vanilla extract bottle open today. I thought it would be an inexpensive alternative to the zero booze we currently have in our house—it’s 35 or 40 percent alcohol, so I thought: Why not? cheap substitute, right?

Wrong!

My mother almost skinned me alive when she saw me with the vanilla. Apparently that teeny tiny bottle we have in our cupboard is worth almost 20 bucks!

Vanilla

$18.49 at our local grocery store

Vanilla prices have tripled in the last three years because supply is way down. Between 2005 and 2014 it was so overabundant that farmers in tropical countries burned down their vanilla vines to make way for other crops. The upshot is a vanilla shortage that’s hitting everybody’s pocketbooks.

So, my bad. It’s not like I managed to get the bottle open anyway, with my nubby little paws. And Miss V, who has sampled the vanilla, says it tastes more horrible than almost anything, so oh well.

Scarybear and Blackie Bear are a bit concerned about the cookie situation though.

Stay tuned as I hunt for more alcohol substitutes, my friends.

Open letter to HERSHEY’S—Part Deux!

While I was writing a rant to Hershey’s Canada on Friday, my mother was writing a tediously polite letter. She received the following reply:

Hershey's response

Not reading that bit at the end, my mother did send a reply, which no doubt has gone into the void. How, then, to contact Natalie of Hershey’s to say what we really think of coupons (which, far from transmitting goodwill, keep us on the hook for more product)? Who knows. So we’re escalating things at LBHQ. When you want something done, ask Liquorstore Bear, right? And he’ll do it, unless he’s passed out.

016

OPEN LETTER PART DEUX

Dear Hershey’s Canada,

Thank you for offering my mother coupons to buy more of the product that caused my “Homemade Canadian Kahlua” project to be aborted, and resulted in an inedible cheesecake that offended the foodies in our house so very much.

I’ll be straight up with you. Personally, I didn’t care about our Christmas dessert. Neither did the kids, who prefer to binge on Wagon Wheels or other laboratory food. And the Kahlua wasn’t a big deal, because I got to drink a mickey of vodka instead. But coupons? OMG, Hershey’s, we struggle with the whole idea of coupons here. Heavy coupon use is a socio-economic marker we actively resist, living as we do in a demographic pocket of crazy-ass creationists and Honey Boo Boo devotees. We simply cannot embrace coupons, even if they save us money.

Now, Hershey’s, I don’t expect you to be sensitive to our squeamishness about couponing (it’s a verb if you have a basement full of toilet paper and cream rinse). You’re a gigantic company caroming around like a veritable galaxy absorbing smaller companies in hostile takeovers—who can blame you, with your surely rabid shareholders, for attempting to make a coffee-flavoured product without including any coffee in it? Not to mention, your administrative staff probably has its hands full quelling Urban Dictionary–style “word outbreaks” involving your brand. I can’t imagine what it does to your Twitter feed when someone coins a new Hersheyism.

HErshey highlighter

Lastly, I totally understand the “do not reply” response letter you sent to my mother. If she did want to reply (and idiotically she did)—I mean, if she wanted to reply and know that someone would receive it—she would have to fill out a dozen or more fields on your customer log-in screen, then type her message into one of those little boxes that go to a person like Natalie whose job it is to mollify angry bakers at the least expense possible. If I received as many hate letters as Hershey probably does (especially, I would imagine, from seedy, grungy hotel owners), I’d hire a nice person like Natalie to mail out coupons as well.

What am I trying to say, Hershey’s? Bottom line: I’d be happy with some vodka, and my mum would probably be tickled to receive some good old milk chocolate Chipits (she’ll probably just pour them into her mouth). Or, if you have any other weirdo flavours, you could send us those. Do you have Bailey’s-flavoured ones? We would probably like those, unless they happened to be made without Bailey’s.

I’ll let you get back to your Twitter feed, my Hershey friends. Over and out.

LB

Hershey hair

CANADIAN KAHLUA—Doomed by Hershey’s!

OPEN LETTER TO HERSHEY’S CANADA

Dear Hershey’s,

Last year I made my very own cream liqueur, combining full cream, cheap Canadian rye whisky, and melted Hershey’s Chipits. The recipe was a grand success, and even if it did languish in our fridge until clumps collected at the bottom of the jug, it was only because my parents/co-chefs could not conceive of the cream staying fresh long enough for us to consume it at a moderate rate rather than binge-drink it before the cream’s “best before” date. (I know, right? How could they not understand that whisky kills EVERYTHING?)

I was so proud of our homemade booze.

I was so proud of our homemade booze.

My homemade liqueur’s label may also have played some small part in its relegation to the back of the fridge—you be the judge, as I don’t have a marketing degree; I’m just a small bear with two brain cells. But whether or not anybody deigned to drink it, I considered our Canadian Cream a glorious concoction, worthy of a second act.

In other words: Liquorstore Bear’s Homemade Kahlua Knock-Off.

Now, Hershey’s people, if you’ve ever had this particular hooch, you know it’s coffee-flavoured. So my mission this Christmas was to combine coffee-type ingredients with, well, any kind of hard alcohol.

004My first impulse was to use actual espresso, brewed in a stovetop Bialetti. But my mother, who is lazy, instead presented me with a bag of coffee-flavoured Chipits. These, she said, we could melt the same way we’d melted regular Chipits for our Canadian Cream. It would be faster, the melted chips would impart a creamy mouthfeel, and no one would have to bounce off the walls after drinking the leftover espresso.

“Awesome,” I said, and got the vodka ready. This involved beating a plastic mickey against a table until the cap broke off. (I don’t have any thumbs.)

Meanwhile, my mother melted the coffee-flavoured Chipits. (I am not allowed to use the stove because I am irresponsible.)

Chocolate chips melting copy

As your product melted (correctly, in a double boiler), a most offensive odour began to drift through our kitchen. “That,” I said, “does not smell like coffee.” Yet, in a weird way it did. But in an even weirder way, it really did not. I peeked at the ingredient list:

sugar

hydrogenated palm kernel oil

cocoa powder

natural and artificial flavours

dextrose

modified milk ingredients

soy lecithin

OMG, Hershey’s! Notice anything? Like…pssst! There’s no coffee in these coffee-flavoured Chipits! Not a bean!

How in the name of all that is furry can I make my own Kahlua with these weird little palm kernel oil pellets that contain no coffee? Holy crap, Hershey’s, it’s a Christmas miracle that there’s even COCOA in them!

So here’s what happened next: My Kahlua knock-off project got aborted! Which left me with a bottle of vodka to pound. In other words, it was a win for me.

Not so much for my mother, though, who foolishly used the melted Chipits to make a cheesecake for Christmas dessert. Go figure, she thought those freaky little coffee-fakers would blend into the other ingredients and perhaps mellow out. But OMG, no. They did not mellow out at all. In fact, just one cup of those wretched little coffee-flavoured Chipits ruined dessert—every single guest left it uneaten! Not even to be polite would they eat that cake.

Those coffee-flavoured Chipits are an abomination.

So anyway, Hershey’s, you kind of wrecked Christmas dessert for us, which meant we had to get drunk instead. Which, in all honesty, I didn’t mind, but my family thought it kind of sucked.

Yours truly,

Liquorstore Bear