Thursday, August 28, 2014

Make Your Own Ecto-Cooler II

Boys and ghouls, pull out your Proton Packs because today is National Ghostbusters Day!  Yep, believe it or not, 2014 marks Ghostbusters' 30th Anniversary and I'm here to celebrate with one of my favorite drinks of all-time... Ecto-Cooler!!  If you're a fan of The Holidaze, you may remember when I first concocted my own version of Hi-C Ecto-Cooler using the Ghosbusters Chicago recipe.  It was difficult finding all the necessary ingredients, but worked out wonderfully and got me through the dark times of Hurricane Sandy.  Ecto-Cooler, known for creating so many childhood memories, provided me with another in adulthood as my family and I sat in pitch black darkness drinking the batch of Ecto-Cooler I had put together before Hurricane Sandy knocked our power out and left us cut-off from the outside world.  For so many reasons, it's special and means something different to each of us who remember when Slimer was prominent in our lunch boxes.

Today, to honor one of my favorite films or all-time and it's 30th Anniversary, I wanted to do something that truly stood out and, in the process, would bridge the gap between Summer and Fall as the re-release of Ghostbusters will do tomorrow night in theaters.  Although I've made my own Ecto-Cooler in the past and it was featured on the official Ghostbusters Facebook page, I wanted to do it again in an easier fashion.  Plus, unlike last time, having a refrigerator keep it cold without losing energy would make for a more enjoyable week of green slime.

The key to creating Ecto-Cooler in today's day and age is finding a way of taking Orange and Tangerine flavors and mixing them to perfectly recreate the taste and flavor we all know and love.  Last time, that wasn't easy.  I had to order Tangerine Kool-Aid on Ebay and hunt down a slew of products that I could only hope would bring out the Ecto-Cooler flavor or, at least, come close to the classic.  But now, thanks to Juicy Juice Orange Tangerine, all the hard work is already done for us!  All wee need to do is pour in a little green food coloring and..boom.. Ecto-Cooler!

But before we get mixing, Juicy Juice isn't the only brand offering us Orange Tangerine flavoring.  Market Pantry, which is Target's orginal brand, now has an Orange Tangerine liquid water enhancer.  I'm a big fan of these juicy drops, from Kool-Aid to Crush flavors, and was pumped to find Orange Tangerine on the same day.  Plus, the flavor's name is colored green.  Hmm.. Coincidence?  If I were a Market Pantry executive, I'd probably go with an orange color scheme.  Unless, of course, I'm looking to invite fans of Ecto-Cooler to give my product a whirl.  Regarless of the case, they lured me in and we now have two Orange Tangerine options.  Until Hi-C wakes up and brings back Ecto-Cooler, I'll go with the competition.

Orange Tangerine Juicy Juice goes from an ordinary, everyday, drink to Ecto-Cooler in a mere matter of 8 drops.  Once the green food coloring is mixed...

Ahhhh... Now how's that for a beautiful green color?  If you remember my first go-around with an Ecto-Cooler recipe, the flavor was on-point but the color was disgusting.  It was more of a sewer brown than a Slimer green, but it was all we had and it did the trick.  But this time, because we have less ingredients and the Juicy Juice is more diluted, the green food coloring shines through and pops much more significantly than we had before.  It's a gorgeous color and much closer to what I remember as a kid.  You can play around with the impact by dropping more or less food coloring into the juice, but I'm happy with this shade.  It's not only perfect for a refreshing Halloween drink, but does Ghostbusters and Hi-C Ecto-Cooler justice.

Sure, on a 90 degree day, you'd think this hits the spot, but all it did was attract bees and wasps that attempted to attack me, once again, as I photographed the custom Ecto-Cooler.  If Halloween wasn't enough reason for Fall to make an early arrival, these nasty bugs leaving for 6 months surely is!  As I ran away, screaming more than any man ever should, I successfully pulled of 6 new Karate moves you've never seen before.  It was embarrassingly impressive, but I'm much more of a Ghostbuster than I am a Bugbuster. Those flying pests quickly chased my inside where I finished mixing my Ecto-Cooler.  But don't focus on my inability to handle creatures the size of my finger nails and put that attention on the gorgeous green color of this Ecto-Cooler.  That's much more important than my defeat.

I had a small hope in the back of my mind that this Orange Tangerine mix was going to be green.  That colored text had me thinking that maybe, just maybe, Market Pantry truly was attempting to make their own version of Ecto-Cooler.  I knew it was a long shot, but I can't deny that the thought was present and quickly eliminated once I snapped open the cap.  It's obviously orange and, of course, that makes sense.  Once mixed with the water, the scent was much stronger than that of Juicy Juice.  Based on aroma alone, this seemed to resemble Ecto-Cooler much more than Orange Tangerine Juicy Juice, so I was excited to drop in some food coloring and give this a taste test.

On the left, we have the dyed Juicy Juice while, on the right, we have the dyed Market Pantry Orange Tangerine.  Obviously, the liquid enhancer gives us more of that sewer color than the Juicy Juice, but the flavor is much stronger.  Believe it or not, the Market Pantry enhancer is the closest thing I've had to Ecto-Cooler since I first put together the Ghostbusters Chicago recipe.  What's cool about the water enhancer is that you control how much, or how little, you actually want in your bottle.  I added a lot and I think that makes a big difference.  On one hand, you're losing that bright green color but, on the other, you're adding more flavor.  If you remember Ecto-Cooler, it was tasty, it was sugary, and it was delicious.  While Juicy Juice looks great and is certainly verrrrry close to the original, Market Pantry Orange Tangerine comes even closer.  But, the best news?  Regardless of which one you choose, you're getting Ecto-Cooler.  There's no doubt in my mind that slimy green memories will instantly start flooding back!

It's been 30 years since Ghostbusters first graced the big screen!  In 1984, I wasn't even born yet, but my Parents exposed me to the animated series where Slimer really blew up in popularity.  From there, they let me watch the movie and I remember being terrified by Gozer.  I was probably between 4-5 years-old and I don't think I slept for days.  But, as I grew older, I came to appreciate the film, the series, and the characters.  Today, they're a huge part of my nostalgic life and I love going back to relive and enjoy the franchise in as many was as possible.  Whether it's through cinema, animation, video games, merchandise, or drinks like Ecto-Cooler, I love the fact that Ghostbusters is still alive and well in the minds and hearts of those who lived through the time and those who are living it for the first time!

If you want to make your own Ecto-Cooler, these are the easiest ways of pulling off the recipe and enjoying the legendary Hi-C drink.  If you're anything like me, you'll be pouring this into a bottle and sneaking it into theaters to watch the first Ghostbusters film as it flies back into theaters for a limited-time only.  Enjoy!

Who ya gonna call?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies

You may heard the news that there's a brand new Caramel Apple flavored Oreo cookie hitting shelves as we speak.  That's absolutely amazing and, believe me, that limited-edition flavor will soon be a Fall favorite on The Holidaze, but I'm not quite ready to roll out September and October just yet.  We still have a few more weeks of Summer left and, really, let's not rush it if we don't have to.  It hasn't been the hottest Summer on record, but we'll be shoveling snow and cranking up the heat before we know it so, in the meantime, let's kick back with something cool and refreshing.  

What do I have in mind?

Ohhhh yeahhh, baby!  There aren't many drinks that symbolize and represent hot Summer days on the boardwalk than an ice-cold Root Beer Float.  Man, when I was a kid, my Dad would take me to Dairy Queen on those scorching 95 degree days and we'd both end up choosing a giant Root Beer Float.  It's classic!  We'd take them back to the car, turn up the AC, and enjoy the time together.  My Dad was always more of an Ice Cream fan while I preferred the Root Beer.  There's something about the Ice Cream that makes Root Beer, and soda in general, taste so much better when together.  It's brain-freeze cold, soothing, refreshing, and delicious.  There's a reason why it has stood the test of time and still remains a favorite of all ages.  I haven't had one in a long time, but Nabisco is doing their best to get in on the action.

Root Beer is a popular flavor when it comes to replicating it in other products.  I've had Root Beer flavored jelly beans, vodka, bubble gum, ice pops, milk and cookies.  So, this concept really isn't anything new and was already done by Nabisco before with their Root Beer flavored Chips Ahoy cookies.  However, new or not, it was only a matter of time before we saw Root Beer Float Oreo cookies.  When it became clear that Nabisco was dedicated to continuing their line of limited-edition flavors, I knew we'd eventually see this flavor come to fruition.  Personally, it was one that I'd been waiting for and was happy to finally see come to life.  At this point, Nabisco is becoming predictable and that's making it even more fun.  Caramel Apple was one I assumed we'd see and, I'll go on record right now, Pumpkin Spice won't be too far behind.  I put 5 Holidaze bucks on it!

These Root Beer Float Oreo cookies smell and taste like Root Beer, but they're just not as good as I had hoped.  The flavor is present, but it's dull.  In my opinion, it should be a bit stronger and make more of an impact.  Previous editions have always gone above and beyond in terms of flavor strength.  I think the fact that Oreo cookies are traditionally harder than the soft, chewy Chips Ahoy, it makes them more difficult to appreciate when it comes to this specific flavor.  This one is weaker than what we're used to from Nabisco, but that doesn't mean they're bad.  Don't get me wrong, these are delicious and I put another X in the win column for Nabisco and the Oreo brand.  They're a great snack, just not one that I'd eat a lot of in one sitting.  They're no Fruit Punch Oreo, but they're tasty!

If you're really in the mood to bring your taste buds on a ride, keep your eyes open for another Root Beer flavored product - A&W Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum.  I'm a huuuuge fan of anything soda flavored and I'm all for a Coke/Orange Soda/Dr. Pepper flavored Oreo cookie, but bubble gum has always been soda's tag team partner.  Root Beer bubble gum is nothing new, but it's something I haven't seen in some time and was happy to find.  Unfortunately, it pales in comparison to the Dr. Pepper and Crush flavored Hubba Bubba, also in stores.  However, I do rank the gum higher than the Oreo cookies so take that for what you will.  Regardless, you're not going to go wrong with either of these Root Beer products.  I know I may have painted them in a bad light, but don't take it the wrong way.  These are delicious and the cookies, especially, are worth trying.  If you're a fan of Root Beer and Root Beer Floats, then this is surely something you want to jump all over.  You may not get everything you want from them, but you won't be disappointed!

Get them while you can because, like I said, we only have a few more weeks of Summer left.  Believe it or not, the Fall season begins one month from tomorrow!!  Whoa...

Thursday, August 14, 2014


This past Tuesday, my friend Sean and I went down to Red Bank, NJ to visit Yestercades on Broad Street.  Sean had been there before and raved about just how awesome it truly was.  We planned on going last year, but plans fell through and we never got around to it.  To hold me over, I stayed local and stopped by Barcade in Jersey City.  That place is great, especially because its geared toward adults who like to drink while playing classic arcade games, but Yestercades promised so much more for people of all ages.  Between the reviews I received from my buddy and the positivity online, I knew this was going to be a much cooler experience than I first thought.  We were on our way.

There are two locations in New Jersey - Red Bank and Somerville - and each offer a different variety of games, but the purpose remains the same.  Yestercades is designed to bridge the gap between yesterday and today.  Not only can you play the vintage arcade games that we all grew up with, but you can also sit back on a leather couch and pop in the latest Xbox game to play with friends.  That's right, along with the famous cabinet arcade games, retro and modern consoles are available to you on large-screen TV's.  And the best part?  You can leave the quarters at home.  For merely $8.75 and hour or $25 for the day, unlimited access to every game is literally at your fingertips.

Everywhere you looked, there were vintage arcade cabinets.  You were surrounded by them.  If the retro sounds weren't enough to bring you back to a simpler time, that familiar arcade smell we all know and love will surely do the trick.  I don't know if it's old plastic, dusty screens, or sweaty palms, but arcades have always had that same aroma and I wouldn't have it any other way.  It's a whiff of nostalgia that can only be inhaled at places like Yestercade.  For a nostalgic nut like me, that's something I wish I could bottle up and bring home with me.  It's a reminder of my childhood and when I think of the Jersey Shore, three scents are synonymous:  the food, the ocean, and the arcades.  Hey, Yankee Candle, figure that one out!

There was no doubt about which game we were going to play first.  In my opinion, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is THE greatest arcade game of all time.  I've said it before when I visited Barcade and I'll say it again - TMNT stands high and above the rest in the world of retro arcade games.  Yes, there are many that have come close and have revolutionized the genre in their own right, but nothing quite like TMNT.  Off the top of my head, I can think of a few.  The Simpsons Arcade Game is surely a fan favorite.  Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat changed the way we viewed fighting games.  And, of course, games like Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, and Pac-Man (all of which were at Yestercades) paved the way for the games of my generation.  But, at the end of the day, there's nothing I'd choose over TMNT besides, maybe, Turtles in Time.  I know.. The last few posts have me painted as a biased Turtle fan, but I swear I'm being objective.

Another of of my all-time favorite arcade games is WWF WrestleFest.  Wow, if I had every quarter that I ever put into WrestleFest machines as a child, I'd have well over $200.  I spent countless hours playing this classic and, to this day, it never gets old.  The gameplay wasn't all that special, but the characters and the way they were designed always drew me in.  My favorite Superstars of that era were cartoony and colorfully vibrant.  In a lot of ways, that represented the time and maybe that's why I've always loved WrestleFest so much.  Unfortunately, this cabinet was 2-players only and we were unable to team up in an attempt to battle the Legion of Doom, but we did have a blast in the Royal Rumble.  In the end, the Ultimate Warrior took out Sgt. Slaughter to be victorious.  Sorry, Sean..

Like any great arcade, Yestercades had a wide variety of pinball machines.  Growing up, my Dad owned an arcade in Bayonne, NJ and we housed The Addams Family Pinball Machine for well over a year.  I usually played the beat 'em ups, but I could always count on Gomez and Uncle Fester to save me from boredom when my favorites were overrun by the older teenagers.  My Dad and I always had so much fun playing The Addams Family Pinball Machine and he was really good at it.  I don't know how much of it was skill as opposed to luck, but it created many memorable moments.  Yestercades actually had The Addams Family and I was looking forward to giving it another shot after all these years, but it was broken and being repaired while we were there.  But just seeing it from afar was cool enough for now.  When I head back, it's certainly on the list of things to do.  Until then, there were plenty of machines to choose from and all of them were a lot of fun.

Here's what separates Yestercades from every other arcade I've ever been to.  Although the vintage arcade games may be great for people like me who grew up with them, the kids of today are used to everything on-demand.  Technology has taken things in a different direction and going to the arcade to play a video game is, sadly, a thing of the past.  It takes more time and money to get there than it does to simply sit back and download an emulator or game via console stores.  It's something we dreamed of as kids, but the new era of gaming is issentially the Redbox to an arcade's Blockbuster.  So how do you avoid going out of business, becoming a crane-based establishment, and lure in kids and adults alike?  You offer every video game console ever created.  It's absolutely genius and, believe it or not, it's an idea I offered my Dad years ago to the sound of laughter and rolling eyes.  This changes the game.  Pun intended.

Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Sega, Nintendo 64, Sega CD, Dreamcast, Playstation, Xbox... You name it, they had it.  Now, why is that special?  Kids today probably own either an Xbox or Playstation, if not both, and can play with their friends online.  We all know that and it's awesome, but how many own the classics?  Personally, besides the OUYA, I no longer have any of them.  But to be honest with you, consoles like Sega and Nintendo 64 still stand the test of time and instead of kids coming over after school and parents having to watch over everybody, Yestercades welcomes 10-20 kids to sit back and play against each other in person.  Imagine that, in person?  In today's day and age, that's almost unheard of.  Why see each other when I can text, chat, or snap?  Imagine that..

Not only does Yestercades offer so many vintage gaming options, but the games are available to you as well.  Do you know how awesome it was seeing Wrestlemania 2000 and WCW/NWO Revenge for N64?  That brings me back to skipping track practice to play my cousin in the battle between Sting and Han Zo Mon.  Probably not the best idea for a budding athlete, but a great idea for a kid who loved video games.  Now, Yestercades welcomes kids of today to also skip out on their priorities and obligations in an attempt to save the princess, save the world, win the championship, or eat ghosts.

Yestercades also offered board games to their customers, but I don't think I saw one person playing or even interested in that idea.  I thought it was cool, but the thought of playing one never actually crossed my mind until I got home and looked further into the photo.  That Nickelodeon Double Dare game is one I always wished I'd received as a child and would probably be a lot of fun to play with a group of friends.  Operation is always a classic and almost as nerve-wrecking as Perfection.  Candyland, for as simple as it is, can be a great time and was always my favorite as a young child.  Plus, Trivial Pursuit 80s edition is probably very challenging.  Even though I wasn't born until 1987, I'm a big fan of 80s culture and nostalgia so that would have been a blast.  I don't think these games are necessarily meant for two guys in their late 20s, but kids should take advantage of these classic board games when visiting Yestercades.  They're clearly under appreciated.

As an added touch, to go along with the vintage movie posters and decorations throughout Yestercades, their display cases were filled with classic gaming consoles, handhelds, and games from over 20 years ago.  Everything is lit nicely and displayed to be visual art that acts as a tiny museum on your way in and out of the establishment.  Everything is in mint condition and, together, your mind is taken on a journey back in time through sensory overload.  Between all of it, combined with everything we've already discussed, this is a complete rush of nostalgia that only Yestercades, in my experience, has been able to offer.

If you're in or around New Jersey, I highly recommend taking a trip to Yestercades.  When Sean and I went, it was a bit crowded and we didn't get to experience half of what we wanted to but, with more time and less people, the experience could have only been better.  We had a wonderful time and I have no doubt you would too.  If you're not in the NJ area, then I suggest Googling vintage arcades in your hometown because ya never know what's out there.  If not for my friend, I would have never known about Yestercades and their vast variety of vintage gaming options.  So look into what's near you and, hopefully, you'll be just as happy as yellow-bandana-wearing Michelangelo.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) Movie Review

I remember when a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film was merely a rumor.  After Nickelodeon purchased the franchise, fans were told that a new animated series and full-length feature film were in the works and planned for the near future.  The new toon debuted to roaring reviews and brought the Ninja Turtles to a level of popularity they haven't seen since the early 90's, but the new film was still in limbo.

At first, we heard that a new film would feature live-action suits and actors with a combination of CGI.  At the time, "Where The Wild Things Are" had just premiered and that technology was said to be used in a new Turtles film.  However, all remained one big rumor before Michael Bay came into the fold and the ball really began to roll.  Suffice it to say, Turtle fans were not necessarily happy with the "childhood killer" producing a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles feature.

The first TMNT script leaked to the public and our worst fears seemed to be coming a reality.  Now, instead of mutant turtles, the fearsome four were to be aliens.  What?  Are you kidding me?  Thankfully, the uproar from fans led to a re-write, but the damage had been done.  Nobody had high hopes or expectations for this film and, from that point on, it became nothing more than a joke.  From there, we caught word that Megan Fox was cast as Channel 6 reporter, April O'Neil and Will Arnett would be playing her sidekick, Vernon Fenwick.  Fans reacted with mixed reviews, but at least there was some star power now associated with the film.  That was great, until images of the Ninja Turtles were released to the public.

For as awesome as the trailer looked, I was not happy with the Ninja Turtle designs.  I hated reading comments from people comparing them to Shrek on steroids, but even I couldn't disagree.  I've been a TMNT fan since I was a child and have countless memories associated with these characters.  Just take a look back at the last week of posts and you'll see how passionate I am about this franchise.  So, to first see these CGI turtles was an utter disappointment and I, like millions of fans around the world, wished for a change before release.

However, first impressions aren't always everything and, over time, these Turtle designs grew on me.  Sure, they were different, but they were also much more realistic.  Look, if the world somehow managed to mutate four giant turtles, this is probably what they'd look like.  For as much as I personally love the cartoon faces from the original toon and 1990 film, I grew to welcome the change in appearance and hoped for the best.  I had low expectations, but advanced screening reviews were in and I began anticipating the film more and more.  Finally, last night at 8:15pm, the wait came to an end.

Now, as I said, I'm a true Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan.  I grew up on the original toon, I've read the comics less religiously, my family and I have spent thousands on merchandise in 27-years, and I understand the story, the characters, and their personalities.  So today's review is not coming from somebody who has no passion for the franchise, it's coming from somebody who wants to see these Turtles succeed on the big screen.  At the same time, it puts a lot more pressure on this film to impress.

When I first walked into the theater, I saw two young girls dressed in Ninja Turtle merchandise from head to toe.  It made me happy to see how much of an impact these characters still have on the next generation of fans.  I could clearly see how excited they were, but it was hard to believe there was anybody in that theater more pumped than me.  I was ready to go and, before I knew it, the theater was jam packed with people and completely sold out on a Thursday night!

Without spoiling anything for those you have yet to see the film, I can start by telling you I absolutely loved the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!  I thought it was fantastic!  There is a big change in origin and fans of the original may not be happy with it, but I welcomed it.  During that scene, the actors do a great job of getting the story across to viewers and I feel as though they connected with each other in a way they didn't in previous films.  The sense of family is much more prominent in this film than ever before.

The characters and their personalities are spot on.  The writers and actors did a wonderful job of making sure each Turtle was represented as they should be on the silver screen.  Michelangelo is your young, fun-loving, care-free Turtle with a major crush on April.  Donatello is your typical genius with new abilities that enhance what the Turtles can do as a team.  Raphael is your bad ass New Yorker who always seems to have a chip on his shoulder and something to prove.  Leonardo is the leader who takes control of situations with common sense, logic and, when possible, peace.

Besides the Turtles, we have Splinter who is much more of a tough guy than he's ever been in the previous films.  Splinter reminds me of what he was in the original toon.  He's a father who will fight for his sons, both physically and mentally, even if it means battling to his death.  In turn, the Turtles love him as any sons would love their father.  There is a deep connection between all 5 and it's showcased perfectly.

April O'Neil is more of a focal point than she's even been before and, with Megan Fox playing the lead, that makes a lot of sense.  Fox does a decent job of portraying the Turtles' link to the outside world, but I do believe they count have done a better job casting.  While Fox is not the greatest actress in the world, she did surpass my expectations of her and I'm pleased with her performance.  At times, she seemed dull but, at other times, she was invested in the story and appeared to bring the family together.  I'm sure she was cast for her looks and, believe me, I'm not complaining about 2 hours worth of Megan Fox, but Emma Stone would have been the perfect April O'Neil.  With that said, I truly hope Megan Fox returns for a sequel.

April's sidekick cameraman, Vernon Fenwick, is played by Will Arnett for comic relief.  Now, this isn't the annoying dweeb we remember from the original toon.  He's not looking to steal the spotlight from April, he's looking to take April out on a date.  While I don't think this Vernon was all that necessary in this film, I do think his character will work greatly in a sequel.  Assuming we'll see the return of Casey Jones, his crush on April could come into play and I wouldn't be surprised if he joined forces with The Shredder or becomes mutated in one way or another.  Personally, I hope they don't go that route, but it wouldn't shock me.

Speaking of Shredder, his character brought me my only disappointment.  Personally, I didn't like his armored suit.  I didn't like the face that he could throw knives from his arms and have them magnetically return to their holster.  He didn't look like Shredder to me and it really turned me off.  Changing the Turtles in appearance still managed to stay true to their character, but Shredder's look was completely changed from what we all know and love.  He no longer has a face shield, but rather an entire head shield that acts as a helmet to guard his entire face, including his eyes.  His character is still that of a fierce villain and definitely gives the Turtles more of a fight than ever before, but this is where I really would have liked to see some change.

Overall, without giving away any spoilers, this film was incredible and I plan on seeing it again.  I know reviews are mixed, but I can't imagine why Ninja Turtle fans wouldn't love this movie.  Between and awesome story, great characters, and a few radical nods to the original toon, you should come out of the theater with a smile on your face and that anticipation for a sequel.  Does it beat the 1990 original?  Of course not.  Does it beat "Secret of the Ooze?"  Ask me again in a year or two.  But when it comes to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III and TMNT, this blows them out of the water, no questions asked.  Seeing these four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back on the big screen is an awesome sight and one that I treasure as a fan.  I may be a bit biased in my opinion, but I think that also put more pressure on the film to impress me and that it did.  Yes, there are a few cons and things I would have changed, but everything can be corrected in the sequel and I expect the next to be even better than this!

If you were on the fence about this film, I hope this review brings out the "Cowabunga" in you and pushes you to go see this film in theaters.  I know reviews are mixed, but I'm a die-hard fan and I was far from disappointed.  Oh, and for whoever said "Shell Shocked" didn't play as credits rolled, they lied!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Pizza Hut - TMNT Cheesy Bites Pizza

Earlier today, we talked about the perfect Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles breakfast - the recreation of a classic - TMNT Cereal : Reborn.  With the new movie being released in certain areas tonight and nationwide tomorrow, it's only right that we dedicate each one of our meals to our four beloved Ninja Turtles.  TMNT Cereal requires some time and creativity, but the Turtles' favorite meal is probably one of yours, too... Pizza!! I can't think of a more appropriate dinner to celebrate the new film and, even better, Pizza Hut has teamed up with Paramount and Nickelodeon to bring us specialized pies to represent each turtle!

When I first saw photos of the sewer's set design, with all those Pizza Hut boxes used as couches, I knew there was a partnership in the works.  For as much as the Turtles love pizza, there was no way Pizza Hut was going to receive that type of product placement without joining forced with The Green Machine.  Unlike the original film, The Ninja Turtles have now ditched Domino's and kicked them to the curb for Pizza Hut.  In my opinion, they made the right move.  Don't get me wrong, I love both companies for what they are, but Pizza Hut will always hold a special place in my heart because I associate it with Halloween.  The only reason I call Domino's is because they deliver to me and my local Pizza Hut doesn't.  If it were the other way around, I can't imagine I'd ever have Domino's again.  But, let's be honest, neither of them really serve Pizza.  They're a brand of their own, much like McDonalds and Burger King don't really serve burgers.  If you want a real slice of New York City pizza, you don't go to a fast food chain.  I'm sure the Turtles are well aware of this, but somebody's gotta pay the lair's rent.

In addition to bringing back Cheesy Bites to celebrate the 2014 film, Pizza Hut has created four different pies with four different recipes to match the personality and attitude of each character.

Michelangelo's Favorite pizza comes with the following toppings: Pepperoni, Ham, Pineapples, and Jalapenos.  Personally, I think Mikey would have picked Peanut Butter and Jelly Beans, but I'm sure Pizza Hut had to talk him out of that one.  I would have tried it, but popular demand asks for something more common.

Donatello's Favorite Pizza is topped with Chicken, Mushrooms, Green Peppers, and Tomatoes.  It's a smart choice for those who want to be more health conscious and watch their diet.  Leave it to Donnie to bring you a delicious pizza that watches the pounds and provides a few vitamins.

Leonardo, the leader of the group, tops his with Red Onions, Black Olives, Green Peppers and Mushrooms.  Leo chooses a hearty meal with the necessary nutrients packed in to give him the physical and mental strength to make wise decisions before enacting out his plan of attack.  He may very well be the wise man who said "never pay full price for late pizza."

Finally, Raphael chooses a more carnivorous diet and tops his favorite pizza with Pepperoni, Sausage, Bacon, and Beef.  Of course Raph would choose a protein packed pizza with enough grams to increase his strength and muscle.  This is a manly mean meant for the strongest of warriors.  Leave the thinking to Leonardo, this is for those who work from the neck down and strive to be physically fit.

During our trip to Pizza Hut, my girlfriend and I already knew which pizza's we wanted.  We did our research and both wanted to try something different.  We sat down and I asked the waiter to confirm that he knew what I was talking about.  He had a vague idea.  He said he's pretty sure he has the recipe's in the back and remembers seeing the names "Mikey and Ralph."  Close enough, especially because those were precisely the ones we wanted him to bring out.  I wanted to try the Raphael pie and Eileen wanted to try the Michelangelo variety.  So he offered to do half and half.  Good thinking, waiter..

I was already a fan of Cheesy Bites pizza and hated to see them go, but it makes their limited-time-only return even that much sweeter.  These TMNT toppings are incredible and add so much flavor to the Cheesy Bites pizza.  I'm not a big fan of Jalapenos so I have to put my favorite Turtle second to Raphael because his meaty recipe is off the hook.  I loved it and when I head out to catch an early screening of the movie tonight, you can bet your shell that we'll be stopping at Pizza Hut for dinner before-hand.  It's a must!  For as much as I'd like to try all 4 Turtle flavors, I think I'm going to stick with Raph's because it's just that good.  If anything, we'll go half and half again because Eileen loved the way those Pineapples and Jalapeno's work together to bring that sweet and spicy ninja kick to your taste buds.  It's a win-win no matter which you choose, you just need to make sure you order a pie before this promotional run is over!

What I didn't know when we first went to Pizza Hut is that there's even a special way of having your pizza cut that pays tribute to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  If you choose to do so, you can have your pie "Katana Cut" into 4 slices, just like the Turtles would.  Man, what an awesome bonus to throw in for fans.  We all know, whenever the Turtles ordered pizza, Leonardo would whip out his Katana and cut the pie for he and his brothers.  1 giant slice each before moving on to the next.  Sure, it means Splinter was left out in the cold, but he claims he'd rather eat sushi, anyway.  Yep, the giant rat doesn't like CHEESE pizza.  Go figure..  Now, I didn't know about the Katana Cut when we first made our trip, but I'll certainly be looking into that tonight.  I'll be wearing a Ninja Turtles shirt, a Ninja Turtles hat, green sneakers, and ordering a Katana Cut Ninja Turtles pizza.  The waiter is either going to think I'm nuts or absolutely awesome.  Eh, half and half.

TMNT Crush: April O'Neil Pineapple

Yesterday in my post about Raphael Strawberry Crush, I mentioned that it would be the last turtle Crush we'd be talking about.  I wasn't lying!  You may not even be aware, but Crush actually released a 5th flavor during their TMNT promotion!  It's been laying low, flew under the radar, and is extremely difficult to find.  Personally, I haven't seen this flavor in stores at all and had to resort to paying $10 on one individual can, but it was worth it to have in the collection.  This was a variety and design that I was hoping they'd include in the set, but never actually thought they would.  Then, Crush posted a photo proving that an April O'Neil Pineapple flavor was the real deal!

As I've done in the past, I was going to design my own April O'Neil can to share with all of you.  I figured Crush would stop at all four turtles and call it a day.  Who would blame them?  They're the true stars of the film and stand out to kids much more than their link to the outside world, April.  Regardless of how much I cool I thought an April can would be, I never thought Crush would agree and I would have bet money against them.  Thankfully, they proved me wrong and proved to be a hell of a lot smarter than I gave them credit for.  This is an obvious move, in my opinion.  The originally animated April was known for her yellow jumpsuit and, in the incarnations to follow, the character always wore some yellow in some type of way.  Whether it was a yellow raincoat or, in 2014, a leather yellow jacket, it's come to represent April just as much as the colored eye bands represent the four turtles.  So, of course, Pineapple soda was the logical choice for April and Crush absolutely knocked this one out of the park!

Not only did they design an awesome can of green and yellow, amazingly popping off of one another, but they included an image of the new April O'Neil played by Megan Fox in the 2014 film.  This is an added bonus because now all 5 cans feature the images of the character each can represents.  I view these cans as works of art and I appreciate the time and effort each designer put into these works of art.  You can tell a great deal of thought went behind each one and they aimed to personalize the cans to the character, rather than simply changing the color and name.  I love stuff like that!  Plus, a can with Megan Fox on it appeals to TMNT fans, women who look up to her, and weird men who just want to look at her.  I swear I only fall in the first category.  Really.

Since I only purchased one can, I wasn't going to crack it open just to pour out $10 worth of soda.  The full can is going to sit on my shelf until it's expired contents explode all over my other collectibles.  But I was able to find a 2-liter of Pineapple Crush that wasn't TMNT themed and used that for my images and taste test.  To be honest, I can't remember if I've ever tried Pineapple Soda.  My gut and memory are telling yes, but I can't be sure.  Despite that, this is certainly taste-test approved and I think, besides it's color, Pineapple soda is the perfect flavor to represent April.  It's sweet, it reminds me of a warm Spring day, and welcomes me to throw in some vodka after a long day at work.  Let's face it, April may be a helping hand to the Turtles but after countless hours at Channel 6 news and coming home to a disgruntled Casey Jones, April surely must have thrown back a few cocktails to take the edge off.  I mean, really, how many times does Shredder need to kidnap you before you become an all-out alcoholic?  So unlike the Turtle flavors, this one is much fruitier, more girlie, and represents April to a tee.

I wish I could tell you where to find April O'Neil Pineapple Crush, but it has alluded me on shelves for just over a month.  Much like in the cartoon and movies, the TMNT are doing a good job of protecting her from the weirdos at Wal-Mart.  I'm sure Megan Fox, as she climbed the ladder of success and became an international sex symbol, never thought she'd be on a can of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle soda, but it's official and nearly impossible to find.  I had to resort to eBay and throw down the cash.  If it weren't for me being a huge Turtle Nerd, I would have simply reviewed the 2-liter Pineapple Crush and used stock images for The Holidaze post, but that wouldn't have been the same.  I had to go all-out for this final can and, luckily, it arrived today just in the nick of time!

If you can't find Pineapple Crush in stores, I recommend shopping online.  If you can find Pineapple Crush in stores, I recommend throwing that bad girl on eBay so the people who can't end up paying you much more than it's worth.  The circle of commerce!

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