Editorial Cartoon of the Day: November 25, 2012

John Cole, Cagle Cartoons

Born in Rochester, New York, and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, John Cole's interest in cartooning took root while drawing for his junior high newspaper, a downward spiral that accelerated both in high school and at Washington and Lee University where he doodled comic strips and cartoons for the student newspaper.

Upon graduation he was advised by a journalism professor that no one would pay him genuine U.S. tender for "drawing funny pictures." Taking the good professor's words to heart, Cole tried his hand at reporting, photography and editing for newspapers in Greenup and Danville, Kentucky. These ventures proved mercifully short for both Cole and his readers, and in 1985 he landed a gig as news artist and sometime cartoonist for the Durham Morning Herald (later The Herald-Sun) in Durham, North Carolina.

Exploiting the town's robust political mix, he eventually convinced his superiors to name him the paper's fulltime editorial cartoonist. He went on to claim honorable mention (1994) and first place (2004) in the John Fischetti Editorial Cartoon Competition.

His work has been published in various newspapers and magazines worldwide and featured on the Web and national television. A collection of his cartoons, "Politics, barbecue & balderdash," was published in 1995.Cole joined the editorial department of The Times-Tribune in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in April, 2005. He draws five to seven full-color cartoons there weekly, and is syndicated nationally by Cagle Cartoons.

John, his wife Kate, daughter Caroline and son Woodson currently live in Waverly, Pennsylvania.

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The Green Panini: Hot Food Truck Goodness

Photo courtesy of Chuck Briese

If you frequent Houston inside the loop, you can run across someone serving upscale lunches, dinners, and desserts over 70 food trucks, including Bernie’s Burger Bus, The Waffle Bus, The Pink Taco, The Rice Box, St. John’s Fire, Oh My Gogi, Monster PBJ, The Haute Frog, and Frosted Betty. Many of these  mobile food establishments have a great number of devoted followers. They server solid-to-gourmet food at a reasonable price.

In South Montgomery County, the food truck presence has largely been the run-down taco trucks that frequent constructions sites. The food is not bad (I had one stop in front of my house this week) and the price is relatively low. But we really haven’t had the pleasure of our very own upscale food truck in South County.

Until Now. Sondra Kerr has opened up The Green Panini, a gourmet food truck specializing in – you guessed it – paninis at 1810 Rayford Road. They are right next to the Cupcake Shack there on the south side of Rayford, not far from the various Milstead businesses.

And are the paninis good? They are Oh-My-Gosh good. I tried the Chicken Alfredo Panini with roasted herbed chicken and Alfredo sauce on French bread. I have no idea how many calories it has, and I really don’t care. It was deee-licious. So much better than picking up a Whopper or Big Mac for lunch. The Chicken Alfredo Panini has proven to be the most popular, but they also have one with meatballs and marinara, another with tomato, Mozzarella, and pesto, and finally the PB&J panini, which I probably have to try.

They also have three desserts: a strawberry, banana, and nutella panini crusty, country style bread, a marshmallow cream and chocolate panini (with some peanut butter) also on country style bread, and upscale strawberry shortcake, with fresh strawberries and smooth whipped cream on homemade pound cake. I opted, of course, for the marshmallow cream and chocolate version, which indeed tastes like a warm chocolate chip cookie. I highly suggests napkins for this one. I may or may not have dripped some of it on my shirt.

The Green Panini offers strawberry and banana or tropical fruit smoothies for those looking for healthy alternatives. And they will often have some gourmet soups and salads to choose from.

While I am always in favor of folks in our area supporting our local-owned businesses, I highly recommend you try out The Green Panini. You won’t go there just once.

For more information, give Sonya a call at 832.381.4118.

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Nest Fest 2012 Turns Out Bigger Than Ever

Photo courtesy of Chuck Briese

Nest Fest, the annual fall festival put on by York and Irons Junior High schools, was a huge success on Saturday. Hundreds of folks turned out for the food, the entertainment, the bounce houses and rock wall, the face painting, and to see all the cool things on display.

Nest Fest organizers Kim Tomlinson and Christine Rosas, along with all of their school volunteers, put on a terrific event.

My only regret was that we didn’t have more adults getting in on the Gangnam Style action on the dance floor. There is a lot we can learn from our high schoolers and junior high kids. Maybe next year.

If you weren’t able to make it Saturday, here are a few photos of what went on: 

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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The Eagles? They Have Not Yet Said “No” to Nest Fest 2012

Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and the rest of The Eagles have been invited to perform at Nest Fest 2012. They have yet to respond.

Those autumn temperatures are now upon us – OK, not really – but they should be by Saturday, October 13, when York Junior High and the new Irons Junior High combine forces to put on Nest Fest 2012 (formerly Yorkapalooza).

Nest Fest is a community event designed to promote family, community and school spirit for the residents and students throughout the Oak Ridge feeder zone. There will not only be student participation in the event from the junior high schools, but also from ORHS, Cox and Vogel Intermediate schools, and Broadway, Kaufman, Birnham Woods, Ford, Oak Ridge, and Houser elementary schools. Yes, everyone who is anyone is going to be there.

There will be all sorts of festival-type activities, including inflatables for kids (and very small adults), a dunking booth, face painting, craft vendors, a raffle, pet adoptions, and of course, York and Irons spirit wear.

There will be food and beverages, including Mexican food from Margarita’s, award-winning BBQ from Grillz Gone Wild, gourmet fare from private chef Candice Flanagan, and burgers, pizza and all sorts of baked goods. You won’t leave hungry.

No festival is complete without fine entertainment, and there will be performances throughout the day, along with a DJ. Finally, because it’s Nest Fest, the iconic band of the 70′s, The Eagles, has been extended an invitation to perform (really). No word yet on whether Don Henley, Glen Frey and Co. will be able to make it (but Nest Fest does fall between tour dates).

Nest Fest is still seeking vendors and sponsors for this extravaganza. Sponsorship fees range from $175 for a Bounce House to $800 for the rock wall. Vendors can get inside or outside tables for $50 to $75. Current vendors include Scentsy, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Keller Williams, and Silpada. Vendor spots are available only through October 3, so sign up now – contact Christine Rosas for more information.

As the Eagles say, take it easy until it’s time for Nest Fest. Or take it to the limit. Take a break from life in the fast lane. Know that one of these nights (specifically Saturday, October 13) you’ll have that peaceful, easy feeling, even if you happen to be the new kid in town.

[Editor's note: if you have a suggestion on more Eagles-themed references, let us know on Facebook]

 

 

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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Farm to Table Caucus Advances Local Food Movement

On a mission to advance the local food movement, a Democrat from Austin is finding common ground with Republicans and rural Texans.

When Republicans hear a Democrat saying there’s “too much regulation, their ears perk up,” state Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, that Democrat, said with a smile. He founded the Farm to Table Caucus, the nation’s first bipartisan legislative caucus focused on advancing the local production of healthy food. Ultimately, Rodriguez says, the caucus could help address health issues in Texas like obesity and the scarcity of healthy food options in poor urban neighborhoods.

While their large-scale counterparts receive agricultural tax relief, urban and small-scale family farms do not qualify under many county appraisal districts’ definitions of agricultural land use. And a lack of consistency in local health regulations makes it difficult for farmers and chefs to know what is permitted, what requires a permit and what is off-limits when selling or distributing locally produced foods.

“I can’t have someone try one of my cherry tomatoes, that’s a violation,” said Glenn Foore, owner of Springdale Farm, a nearly five-acre urban farm in Rodriguez’s district. “All we’d like is to get some scrutiny on the old established laws.”

When the recession hit in 2009, Foore and his wife, Paula, started a garden on the site of their landscaping business to keep their crew busy and their families well fed. Now, Springdale Farm is a full-fledged small business, producing more than 5,000 pounds of tomatoes in the summer, stocking produce for farm-to-table restaurants and hosting an onsite farmers’ market twice a week.

Springdale Farm is in one of the fastest-gentrifying neighborhoods in the country, and because the property does not qualify for agricultural tax exemptions, Foore said, his property tax rate went up 800 percent this year.

Local health regulations also often prevent the farm from selling more locally produced foods. For example, a friend of Foore’s who operates a bakery out of her home tweeted one day that she would be selling pies at Springdale Farm. “Five minutes after we opened we had a city truck in here shutting us down, ‘Do you have a permit to sell those pies?’” Foore said. Although the pies were made in a permitted kitchen, the city health department said they could not be sold at Springdale Farm because they were not made there.

“We have to look at the balance of the concern about food safety versus food freedom,” said state Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, who co-chairs the Farm to Table Caucus. Although she usually favors local government control, Kolkhorst said the state should provide consistent definitions on what type of food production is allowable.

She authored the Cottage Food Law, which was passed in 2011 and allows Texans to sell baked and canned goods from home as long as they meet certain requirements.

Rodriguez has drafted a variety of ideas for the caucus to consider, such as reducing barriers to tax exemptions for urban farms, allowing onsite processing of feral hog and deer meat that could be prepared at soup kitchens, and expanding the Cottage Food Law.

“Right now, it’s easier to get cigarettes than to get milk the way God made it,” state Rep. David Simpson, a Longview Republican and caucus member, said of restrictions on the sale of unpasteurized milk.

To ensure freshness and safety, farmers can only sell unpasteurized milk to customers at the location where it is produced. But farmers say that makes it difficult for customers to access unpasteurized milk.

Simpson and Rodriguez backed an unsuccessful bill last session to allow licensed farmers to sell unpasteurized milk at farmers’ markets or approved locations.

“I just support freedom, and it’s a shame that government is often in the way of farmers,” Simpson said.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/texas-legislature/texas-legislature/farm-table-caucus-advances-local-food-movement/. Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.

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Becca Aaronson, The Texas Tribune

Becca Aaronson, The Texas Tribune Becca Aaronson reports on health care and develops data interactives for The Texas Tribune. After an internship in fall 2010, she was hired by the Tribune. Becca is a native of Austin who graduated from Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., with a bachelor's degree in cultural theory.

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Nutritional Adventures on the Isle of Blueberry Bagel

My frugalness many times precedes me, but no more was my penchant for penny-pinching most prevalent than the other morning when I dined alone on a blueberry bagel in my kitchen. As I sat there pondering the questions of modern-day science one question seemed to befuddle my brain the most.

What would happen if I ate an ant?

The subject of consuming an insect is not one I take lightly, though perhaps an explanation is in order.

Every time around this year my homestead is attacked by small armies of ants that seek out sustenance in the form of sweet tasting things. Despite my best efforts of extermination the ants continued marching one by one. No amount of Raid could curb their lust to propagate their ranks.

So a few weeks back I awoke only to have my morning ruined by some more ants. Out of the bread drawer I produced a brand-new bag of blueberry bagels, but then my look of hunger turned to one of sheer disgust.

Inside the bagel bag were some rogue ants — probably several dozen — darting around in an insect frenzy. I had to make an adult decision. I threw the bagels away since the baked goods were a lost cause and ripe with ant feces, ant urine and other sickening ant by-products.

Except there was one blueberry bagel in the bag that only had a few ants on it — probably a few dozen — and I decided to salvage this lucky bagel. Throwing an entire bag of food away seemed so wasteful to me once I considered that children in other parts of the world were starving this very moment without any insect-ridden food to eat.

By this point I was no longer in the mood for breakfast. Nonetheless I knocked the ants off of the lone rescued bagel, packed it in a plastic bag and sat the baked good inside the refrigerator so it would not be subject to future ant interference.

This particular bagel, which I eventually named Bernard, rested dormant in the fridge for two weeks between some expired pickle relish and questionable pimento cheese. I decided one morning that a pickle relish and pimento cheese sandwich was something I shouldn’t try eating for breakfast, so I opted to prepare Bernard the Blueberry Bagel instead.

That’s when I spotted an ant crawling around the inside of the bagel. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. How did this ant survive two weeks trapped inside of an airless plastic bag that was confined to the cold comforts that only a Frigidaire can afford? How did an ant survive those conditions for two weeks?

I thought the ant’s miraculous survival for a half month in the crisper was a remarkable testament of endurance and will to survive. That thought ran through my mind right up to the moment that I put the bagel in the toaster — ant and all.

I can’t imagine what it must have been like for that ant. Those two weeks must have been the worst two weeks of that ant’s three-week lifespan. Can you imagine what it would be like to be stuck on a bagel all alone for two weeks?

And all of that only to suddenly become incinerated by a toaster because some oaf has poor and unsanitary eating habits?

It got me thinking what I would do if I was stranded on a desolate island. Things like, if I was to be stranded on an island what item would I take with me?

That depends on what kind of island I was trapped on. Would it be the normal kind of uncharted island or some weird island that was shaped like a delicious blueberry bagel?

I guess it doesn’t really matter. Either way I would probably pick a boat or a satellite phone, or maybe a really cool boogie board.

Thankfully, eating the bagel didn’t kill me.

As for the ant, well that’s another story.

He is toast.

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Will E Sanders, Creators Syndicate

Will E Sanders, Creators Syndicate If he were to die today, the obituary would read: After receiving a solid C in high-school English with no college ambitions, Will E (no period) Sanders embarked in his father’s footsteps and worked at a factory in 1998.

After three months of hard labor, college sounded like heaven. Sanders then attended Bowling Green State University, where he attempted to quit smoking seven times, committed petty drunken crimes, worked at the campus newspaper covering petty drunken crimes (sometimes his own), and in his spare time managed to obtain a double degree in journalism and binge drinking in 2002.

A week later, Sanders was hired as a news reporter with a small Ohio newspaper. Since that time, he has received more than 25 Associated Press awards. In the fall of 2004, Sanders began documenting his ridiculous adventures and outrageous observations in a weekly humor column, called “The Usual Eccentric,” which quickly gained an impressive fan base of his mother.

After his wife ended their marriage over the telephone, Sanders, 30, then attempted to get his humor column syndicated to earn spending money for video games, “Dungeons and Dragons” books and his mortgage.

A professional 30-something slacker, Sanders resided in his childhood village of Laura, Ohio, with 600 other crazy people — including his clannish family members, who all live within a two-block radius.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a charity that directly benefits Sanders. Condolences may be expressed to nobody in particular.

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Along These Lines: Foods For Thought

Mmmm... turducken sandwich. Photo courtesy of Christopher Najewicz.

After the Los Angeles School District banned sodas in schools in 2004, then-governor Arnold Schwarzenergger went on to sign sweeping laws to improve the nutrition standards in California schools. Continuing that trend, flavored milk was outlawed in LA schools in 2011.  Now, New York mayor Bloomberg is proposing a ban on sodas larger than 16 ounces at restaurants and sports venues.

While those steps may sound drastic, perhaps other states need to follow these leads since obesity often follows children into adulthood. Studies have shown that this is especially true for folks in the South who seem to be losing the battle of the bulge. For instance, Alabamians and Tennesseans are now amongst the fattest in the nation, waddling in a close equal second behind the folks from Mississippi.

So perhaps we all need to get our heads out of the fridge and our tails off the couch, and re-examine our lifestyles.

We can begin by increasing our weekly exercise. For instance, instead of driving to the supermarket, I now try to walk there. I find carrying home a couple of shopping bags stuffed with glazed donuts, chocolate chip cookies, Rocky Road ice-cream, hot dogs, and frozen pizza burns off plenty of calories.

However, there’s one food item I refuse to bring home: turducken.

Have you heard of this? It’s straight from the American calorific hall of fame, and the mere mention of this dish plunges vegetarians into cardiac arrest.

It consists of a turkey, stuffed with a duck, which is stuffed with a chicken, which is stuffed with sausage. Several Laws of Nature are broken in preparing this monolith of meat.

Credit for inventing the turducken generally goes to (no surprise) a Louisiana chef who obviously wanted to push fellow Cajuns to the top of the Fattest State in the Nation list.  And there are even some cooks intent on cramming more fat into these poultry beasts by deep-frying these mountains of cholesterol. It would be healthier to cook by just basting with high-level nuclear waste.

So how should we improve our eating habits – and our health?  We could look to other nations where traditional diets often consist of more protein and less fat.

This might include tackling a bowl of Chinese cold shredded jellyfish, sampling some Vietnamese burnt sea slug, or digging in to a plate of live Ecuadorian lemon ants (which, if you have a liking for bugs, probably taste better than dung beetles).

Asia is also home to a low-cal treat known as Baalut: fertilized duck or chicken eggs that are buried in the ground for several weeks, then dug up, and eaten “ripe.”  I believe I’d only be handling those babies wearing a Hazmat suit. Although, I might be able to appreciate their delicate flavor after some beers ‒ many, many, many beers.

Along these lines, Australians are turning to local, leaner sources of meat, too, such as plump, juicy, tree-dwelling, witchety grubs. These are huge, chunky, white insect larvae that look like bleached caterpillars on steroids. Nowadays, these healthy treats are served in the finest Aussie restaurants and they taste like ‒ you guessed it ‒ chunky, white insect larvae.

While we probably won’t see bugs or grubs turning up on LA school cafeteria menus in the near future, the California Calorie Cops don’t appear to be going away any time soon. In 2011, they gave school menus a major revision replacing time-honored school cafeteria staples like corn dogs and chicken nuggets with treats such as sushi rolls and spinach tortellini in butternut squash sauce.

Perhaps hungry, soon-to-be-healthier Californian school kids will be tempted by these new dishes, and echo their former governor: “I’ll be back… for seconds.”

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Nick Thomas

Nick Thomas has written for more than 180 magazines and newspapers, including the Washington Post, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, and Christian Science Monitor. Nick can be reached at alongtheselines@gmx.com.

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The Best, Most Disgusting Reporting on Food Safety

The recent brouhaha over pink slime (and other lovely mass meat production processes) is only the beginning. Here’s our roundup of some standout reporting about the food on your plate.

This is a multifaceted, perennial topic. If you think we missed any, we’re happy to hear suggestions. Please email a link to MuckReads@propublica.org or tweet it with the hashtag #muckreads.

Safety of Beef Processing Method Is Questioned, The New York Times, December 2009 A look at the development of Beef Product Inc.’s “novel” method of meat production that later became known as the infamous “pink slime.” Reporter Michael Moss won a Pulitzer Prize for his investigations into contaminated beef.

Our Dwindling Food Variety, National Geographic, July 2011 Our dwindling food variety, in a stride-stopping infographic. Contributed by @kleinmatic

What the USDA Doesn’t Want You to Know About Antibiotics and Factory Farms, Mother Jones, July 2011 The U.S. Department of Agriculture appears to have repeatedly removed a report by a USDA-contracted researcher that summarized recent academic work, from “reputed, scientific, peer-reviewed, and scholarly journals,” on possible links between antibiotic-resistant infections and factory farm animals. Mother Jones got a permanent PDF of the researcher’s report, dubbing it the “document the USDA doesn’t want you to see.” Contributed by @foodinteg

Asian Honey, Banned in Europe, Is Flooding U.S. Grocery Shelves, Food Safety News, August 2011

Some of the biggest U.S. honey packers knowingly bought honey of questionable quality so they could sell it on the cheap. Much of it was likely smuggled from China (honey the European Union has banned) and may have been laced with lead and illegal animal antibiotics — if it was really honey at all.

America’s Dangerous Food-Safety System, The Daily Beast/ Newsweek, September 2011 A shortage of inspectors in the U.S. food-safety system exposes Americans to the risk of illness and death. Contributed by @StepShep

Nation’s Food Anti-terror Plans Costly, Unwieldy, Associated Press, September 2011 An AP investigation into the United States’ $3.4 billion food counter-terrorism program found that progress had been slowed by a complex web of bureaucracy. Contributed by @joannalin

On The Menu, But Not On Your Plate, Boston Globe, October 2011 A Globe-organized DNA test revealed scores of mislabeled fish in Massachusetts restaurants, grocery stores and seafood markets. Often, “local” fish was actually hauled from thousands of miles away, and while some chefs and store owners seemed to have no clue, others admitted to knowingly selling mislabeled food to boost profits. Experts said it reflects a nationwide trend that causes diners to unwittingly overpay, may make people sick and results in overfishing.

Contributed by @JoeYerardi

Dispute Over Drug in Feed Limiting U.S. Meat Exports, MSNBC, January 2012 The controversial drug ractopamine has sickened or killed more pigs than any other livestock drug on the market, leading the EU and China, which together produce and consume about 70 percent of the world’s pork, to refuse meat imports raised on the additive. The U.S. pork industry wants to change their minds. Contributed by @NaomiStarkman

How Washington Went Soft on Child Obesity, Reuters, April 2012 The food and beverage industries have more than doubled their spending on lobbying in Washington in the last three years. And now Congress has declared pizza a vegetable. Contributed by @mariancw

A History of FDA Inaction on Animal Antibiotics, ProPublica, April 2012 Everything you ever wanted to know about the Food and Drug Administration’s actions, or lack thereof, to keep antibiotics out of your food.

As Beef Cattle Become Behemoths, Who Are Animal Scientists Serving? The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 2012 A growing number of animal scientists employed by public universities are accepting payouts from pharmaceutical companies. They’re often hired to persuade farmers to use antibiotics that fatten up cattle but haven’t necessarily been proven safe. Some have been banned in the E.U. and China. Contributed by @MelodyPetersen

Bonus points: In 1968, Nathan Kotz of the Des Moines Register and Minneapolis Tribune won a Pulitzer Prize for reporting on unsanitary conditions in meat packing plants, which, according to the Pulitzer site, helped ensure passage of the Federal Wholesome Meat Act of 1967. Anybody have an online copy?

 

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Blair Hickman, ProPublica

Blair Hickman, ProPublicaBlair Hickman is ProPublica's social media producer. Previously, she led online editorial and outreach strategy for Dowser Media. Prior to that, she was a multimedia assistant for the PBS series "Women, War & Peace" and a writer for Mediaite, focusing on news and emerging media. She's contributed content to a range of publications, including Jezebel, the New York Daily News and Patch. Hickman is a graduate of NYU's Journalism's Studio20 and Brown University's Nonfiction Writing program.

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Attack of the Snack Food Giants

For years, a steady anger grew within me as I watched one candy bar manufacturer or snack food company after another slowly decrease the size or quantity of their product, but the price remained the same or rose.

If you don’t believe me, look at a Cadbury Egg the next time you’re at the store — they are so small that I could take them like aspirin. Or a Snickers bar. When I was a kid, they cost 50 cents and seemed as large as diving boards. And don’t even get me started on bags of anything, especially chips. Sometimes I wonder if I’m buying a bag of snacks or pre-packaged oxygen.

But something happened recently that sent me over the edge. I noticed that family-sized bags of Combos went from 8.5 ounces to a slim 7 ounces, yet the price stayed exactly the same. That’s right, the fat cats over at Combos are ripping us off, America!

Now some of you might not be aware of what a Combo even is, even though the thought appalls me. Combos are those oven-baked, cylinder pretzel or cracker snacks with flavored filling injected in between. And I love them. I could probably live exclusively off of Combos for the rest of my life — but only if a private party funded the experiment. In all honesty, if Combos aren’t going to be in Heaven, then I am not sure I want to die.

Are times that tough over at Combos? Has the price for a pound of pretzel gone up these days? Did crackers and cheese become an endangered species? I mean, what gives?

I decided to call Combos headquarters in Clovis, Calif., the other day to get some answers. While I was on hold, I heard a recorded message that stated the following: “If you have a medical emergency, hang up the phone and call (908) 979-XXXX.” That’s an awfully strange message. I wonder how often people incur Combos-related accidents? Perhaps, this was the reason why I was receiving a smaller amount of Combos? And what tormented soul would ever call a snack food hot line over dialing 911 in the case of a snack food related injury?

I imagine Combos has that message playing for a reason. Some idiot out there probably stuck a Combo some place he shouldn’t have, so now they need that disclaimer. Boy, I sure would hate to be that guy.

I can see it now: A guy injures himself while trying to open a bag of Combos with a pair of scissors. “Honey,” he yells to his wife, “I’ve just cut off my thumb. Where in the heck did you put that Combos snack food emergency number again?”

“Don’t you think we should call 911 for something like this?” she replies.

After I called Combos headquarters a second time, I reached a representative named Tyrell. “Tyrell,” I asked him, “why am I paying the same price for a smaller quantity of your delicious, salty treats?”

Tyrell was taken aback at the question, and I don’t blame him. “Let me look up the manufacturing history,” he replied. “Please hold.” Three minutes later, Tyrell came back on the line (and for some reason seemed like he was out of breathe, but I didn’t ask why). “It was a marketing decision.”

Now there is a marketing strategy I can stand by: less quantity, same price. As a consumer, I find the philosophy doesn’t carry much weight.

So how can Combos get away with it? Unlike most snack foods, Combos does not have a generic off-brand. If you have orange gunk on your hands, the culprit could be from Cheetos or from cheese puffs. The rich eat Fritos, but the poor eat simple corn chips. For every two Doritos I find under a couch cushion, there is always at least one exotic-flavored tortilla chip. But a Combo is a Combo is a Combo.

If you ask me, the folks at Combos have the market covered. Not to mention they operate off the simple marketing philosophy that no American can resist: food injected inside of other food. We have a holiday especially devoted to it — Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing anyone? And sure, jelly-filled doughnuts built the market, but Combos reinvented the food-within-another-food snack genre.

So, I suppose I should give Combos the credit they deserve, even if it gives a whole new meaning to the phrase of having a light snack.

 

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Will E Sanders, Creators Syndicate

Will E Sanders, Creators Syndicate If he were to die today, the obituary would read: After receiving a solid C in high-school English with no college ambitions, Will E (no period) Sanders embarked in his father’s footsteps and worked at a factory in 1998.

After three months of hard labor, college sounded like heaven. Sanders then attended Bowling Green State University, where he attempted to quit smoking seven times, committed petty drunken crimes, worked at the campus newspaper covering petty drunken crimes (sometimes his own), and in his spare time managed to obtain a double degree in journalism and binge drinking in 2002.

A week later, Sanders was hired as a news reporter with a small Ohio newspaper. Since that time, he has received more than 25 Associated Press awards. In the fall of 2004, Sanders began documenting his ridiculous adventures and outrageous observations in a weekly humor column, called “The Usual Eccentric,” which quickly gained an impressive fan base of his mother.

After his wife ended their marriage over the telephone, Sanders, 30, then attempted to get his humor column syndicated to earn spending money for video games, “Dungeons and Dragons” books and his mortgage.

A professional 30-something slacker, Sanders resided in his childhood village of Laura, Ohio, with 600 other crazy people — including his clannish family members, who all live within a two-block radius.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a charity that directly benefits Sanders. Condolences may be expressed to nobody in particular.

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Easy Outdoor Entertaining

Whether it’s simple dinner for a few friends or a big bash for a crowd, taking the party outside takes entertaining to a whole new level. If you’re planning an outdoor get-together, don’t spend all your time in the kitchen. These quick and easy tips will help you spend more time with guests and ensure your gathering is an effortless success.

Preparation is key. Prepare any appetizers you’re serving the night before and keep in the fridge. This will allow you to focus on any last minute arrangements on the day of your party.

Think outside the box. If you’re worried that you may not have enough serving dishes for your get-together, look for cups and glasses that may double as a dip bowl or unique container for fruits or vegetables.

Embrace the idea of “family style” dining. Serve appetizers on large platters or set a buffet where everyone can serve themselves. This way, guests can take what they want and eat at their own pace.

Make sure you have music. Loading up your iPod with fun songs, both new and old, will provide a fun atmosphere for your guests.

Candles are always a quick and easy way to add ambiance and class to any space. Keep several on hand to grab when the sun goes down, but the party is still going strong.

Serve a delicious iced coffee cocktail. These cool drinks provide guests with a sweet treat that no one will be able to resist. Plus, they’re so easy to make you’ll have plenty of time to tend to all of your other host duties. Just double brew your coffee in the morning and stick in the fridge until you’re ready to mix and serve.

Try these easy, indulgent recipes below to host a party all of your friends will be talking about.

Visit www.Facebook.com/Baileys for more recipes, and videos of top baristas and bartenders from around the country making delicious iced coffee cocktails.

Tips for making the best iced coffee cocktail

  • The type of roast used to make your iced coffee is more important than you may think. Using a medium roasted coffee bean will produce the best flavor for your iced coffee cocktail. The result is a blend that offers balance, sweetness and a mild acidity.
  • Another easy way to ensure your iced coffee never gets watered down is to freeze coffee ahead of time in an ice cube tray. Use these instead of ice to ensure your iced coffee cocktail is perfection.

 

Ingredients

  • 3.5 ounces Baileys Original Irish Cream
  • 7 ounces iced coffee

Preparation

  1. Pour ingredients over ice in a tall glass.

Serves
Makes 1 serving

The Simple One

 

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce Baileys Original Irish Cream
  • 3/4 ounce cognac-based orange liqueur
  • 3 ounces iced coffee

Preparation

  1. Pour ingredients over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange peel.

Serves
Makes 1 serving

Guatemalan Spice

Ingredients

  • 3/4 ounce Baileys Original Irish Cream
  • 1 3/4 ounces iced coffee
  • 1 1/8 ounces rum
  • 1/16 ounce cinnamon syrup
  • Pinch of freshly ground cinnamon

Preparation

  1. Add Irish Cream, rum, cinnamon syrup and iced coffee to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously with ice, strain into a Delmonico or other glass of your choice, and garnish with freshly ground cinnamon.

Serves
Makes 1 serving

Fresh Guacamole

Ingredients

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

  1. Peel and mash avocados in a medium serving bowl. Stir in onion, garlic, tomato, lime juice, salt and pepper. Chill for half an hour to blend flavors.

Serves
Makes 16 servings

Strawberry Parfait

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 1 cup whipped cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Preparation

  1. Layer ingredients in a parfait glass.

Serves
Makes 1 serving

Please enjoy Baileys Responsibly. BAILEYS Irish Cream Liqueur. 17% Alc/Vol. (c)2010 R & A Bailey & Co. Imported by Paddington, Ltd., Norwalk, CT. All drink recipes contain no more than 0.6 fl. oz (14 g.) of alcohol per serving, equivalent to one standard U.S. drink.

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