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Despite the fact that my two previous vending machine disasters should have taught me to stick with what I know, I had no say in the matter.  There were only two possible reasons for what was happening to my thought process: someone had a voodoo doll in my image, or Loki himself was trying to make my work life even worse than usual.  These two theories, and these two alone, are the only plausible reasons for the tragic downturn I had taken.  For as questionable as my last two decisions had been, they were about to get far worse.

In most circumstances, I have no problem buying a store brand, unless it is America's Choice (Waldbaum's brand, for any non-northeasterners) version of Frosted Mini-Wheats.  They decided to use the recipe for Post's mini-wheats, as opposed to the FAR superior Kellog's version.  Come on!  Point being, I am not a food snob.  Well, I kind of am.  I'm just not a snob about things worth having an arrogant opinion on, such as wine or steak.  My snobbishness is reserved for more low-brow consumables such as soda or cereal.

The main reason for buying store brand food is, obviously, to save money.  This oftentimes is a good alternative, since store brands are usually the exact same thing as a major brand, or close enough to be acceptable.  Not every store brand item is good, however, such as the aforementioned frosted shredded wheat.  Store brand cat food also tends to look as bad as it tastes.  Buying cheap food can sometimes do more harm than good.  If you follow the advice of the guy in the Malt-O-Meal commercials, you will indeed save money.  However, walking in his bizarre crouch in order to see the bottom shelf could do permanent damage to your knees, and at the very least it could give you bad posture.  All to save fifty cents on a bagged cereal?  Well, you've got to take the good with the bad, I suppose.

The fact of the matter is, I am not averse to swallowing my pride and swallowing the occasional "Circus-O's", or some other lacking-in-creativity named store brand product.  These are perfectly reasonable purchases to make, when it will save you money.  What doesn't make sense is purchasing store brand-quality items, when they cost exactly the same as name brand items.

It seems that one day I was in the mood for Starbursts.  At the same time, I didn't want something that tasted as good.  If only there was some way to get a candy that was similar in taste, texture, and packaging to Starbursts, yet at the same time it should be of noticeably inferior quality.  No, I did not purchase Mamba, and you would be a fool for thinking Mamba to be an inferior candy.  It is only inferior when the random assortment you get in a Mamba package includes lemon instead of raspberry.  Despite my mood for bad fruit flavors, I was not quite ready to get a candy as terrible as Jolly Rancher chews.  Unfortunately, I wound up purchasing that was far worse than even those lowly Jolly Rancher chews.  

Apparently, the name of the candy is "Intense Fruit Chews!".  Normally, that is the description of a candy, placed just below the logo.  Instead, that horrible choice for a name is, in fact, the actual name of the candy.  I don't know what possessed me to buy them.  They don't look very appealing, the name is suspicious, and the packaging is rather garish and unattractive.  Making my choice seem even worse is the fact that I had my choice of regular, Tropical, or Baja California Starbursts.  Sadly, I had not yet begun to notice my pattern of terrible candy-related decisions, so my guard was not up.

On a related note, the blue Baja Dragonfruit California Starburst is the best flavor of Starburst... period.  Suck on that, Strawberry.

Looking more closely at the package, things were quickly going from bad to worse to worst thing ever.  While examining the abstract fruit illustrated on the side, the symbols were forming some sort of pagan message, delivering an artificially flavored monologue of the untold pain and suffering that was soon to be an overwhelming part of my day.  The first fruit I spotted was watermelon, and that was more than fine with me.  As previously mentioned, watermelon is always in the top echelon of candy flavors.  The next flavor, cherry, was a sign of things to come.  I very rarely like cherry flavored candy (cherry Starbursts are vile); oddly enough, probably my favorite cherry "candy" is Luden's cough drops ("The candy you can eat in class!").

The very unfortunate fact is that despite my usual dislike of cherry candy, it was not the worst flavor.  For as I looked at the next crude drawing of fruit, I spotted an apple.  A green apple.  My emotions were equal parts sadness and rage.  Now, at the very least, 25% of the candy would find its way into the garbage.  As bad as the situation seemed, it was about to reach the apex of tragedy, as that 25% was about to double.  The last, and final flavor, was banana.  Dear God.

Oh... phew.  It wasn't banana, it was lemon.  They should make that distinction much more clear.  If you're going to draw a lemon on your wrapper, make it look as little like a banana as possible.    Hell, list the flavor as "Lemon (NOT Banana - We Swear!)".

I'm not going to get into why banana candy is terrible.  It just is.  What I find most shocking is when candy companies just include banana in the assortment, like it's a normal thing to do.  If they were "Tropical" candy, my guard would be up, since tropical assortments often try to include some sort of bananic* travesty.  Tropical Starbursts are safe, since they wisely avoid any banana involvement.  Although they do include pina colada, which for some reason makes my mouth numb.

Not a real word.

With some candy, the inclusion of banana is okay, as they have a grandfather clause allowing them to proceed with this most misguided assortment.  Take Runts, for example.  You know that unless you have a friend who likes the banana flavor that you can pass them all off on, that you will throw some of the candy away.  That is okay, since the rest of the flavors are so good, that the yellow sacrifices are an acceptable loss.  Although the banana recipient will, eventually, complain about only getting banana.  Despite their love for the flavor, everyone truly desires the other flavors more.

The inclusion of banana and green apple is simply unacceptable.  Candy that contains either of these flavors should have some type of warning label, similar to the ones the UK puts on cigarette packages.  If it has both flavors, it simply should not be sold to the public.

Luckily, there wasn't any banana.  But if there was... (insert fist grinding into palm motion here).

Like a baby, I was distracted and enticed by the bright colors of the package.  However stupid my excuse for buying it was, at least it was something.  For my last mistake there was, quite literally, no excuse.

I've mentioned before that I don't like caramel.  Which is odd, because I like Rolos and caramel Twix.  Even still, caramel in general unsettles me.  Considering that, it becomes impossible to find any sort of reason why I felt it was a good idea to purchase Goetze's Caramel Creams.  They do not look appealing in the least.  Quite the opposite, in fact; they look rather unappetizing to the point of being flat out disgusting.  Rolls of thick caramel, encasing some sort of "cream" filling (another very suspicious aspect of this candy), mashed together to fit inside the sparsely designed packaging.


This was the final straw.  I had gone from making bad decisions to making potentially dangerous ones.  Were these things even safe to eat?  They look like something you would be forced to touch in a carnival haunted house.  The Caramel Creams defy any need for explanation.  Pointing out reasons why buying them was a mistake is nothing if not redundant.  

Horrible aesthetics and taste aside, the brand name itself is terrible.  Goetze?  That's unfortunate.  When eating any type of food, I don't want the subject of Goatse brought up.  This is especially true when eating soft, brown and white chewy mush.

Before I banish this candy to the Island of Misfit Dietary Mistakes, I will point out that their logo is kind of awesome.  Not the logo you see above; that is the old packaging.  I guess Google images hasn't kept up with the hot craze of caramel cream-related merchandise.  That old chef is gone.  Probably because he brought too many comparisons to that bastard Wendell from the Cinnamon Toast Crunch box.  The man who murdered the other two bakers, Bob and Quello, so he could hog the spotlight.  No, the new chef new and definitely improved.


Now the mascot is this big, fat, dumb looking chef grinning from ear to ear of his odd, misshapen head.  So, kudos for that, Goatze.  Your blissfully ignorant cartoon chef has distracted me slightly from the candy itself, improving my Caramel Cream experience from a sorrowful descent into hell, to merely a disgusting, sticky ordeal.  Although I must object to the chef brandishing an oversized wooden spoon, because we know what it is used for... to stir the cream.

Thankfully, with Halloween right around the corner, I am able to wander around and take candy from the pumpkins on my co-workers desks when they aren't there.  If I took candy when they were there, not only would I be required to talk to them, it would require extra small talk, as a form of payment for the candy.  At least then when I make a mistake, such as discovering Hershey's Pecans and Cream involves white chocolate, I can chalk it up to a lesson I learned for free.  I had a candy jar on my desk last year, but no one ever took anything from it.  I assume the reasoning behind it is that I filled it with candy that no one really likes except for me, such as Heath bars and those peanut butter chews wrapped in black or orange wax paper.  Since that didn't work out, I think this year I might just give pennies to people who walk by my desk.

I'm figuring the best case scenario involves me squirreling away other people's candy in my desk, to tide me over for a while.  Have fun at your meeting... I'll be here taking Kit Kats for the next twenty minutes.  Oh, you're taking a half day?  Awesome.  Enjoy your soon to be emptied pumpkin.  

Anything it takes to keep me away from the vending machine.


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