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During a recent return to Smuggler's Notch, Vermont, the fact that many of my personality traits are indeed genetic became even more clear.  If you weren't paying attention, Smuggler's Notch is where the much lauded Cool Pack came from.  Smuggler's Notch is a truly wonderful place that has things for everyone and every age.  For children, it has all sorts of activities.  The trips to Smuggler's Notch as a kid were some of the most memorable I've ever been on.  

Unfortunately, many times things that held your interest as a kid no longer entertain you when you grow up.  I personally can't speak from experience, since I still love most of the activities, movies, food, etc. that I loved as a child.  However, I assume that for a normal person, you grow out of most of your childhood things.  

Luckily, Smuggler's Notch has a lot of activities to hold the interests of adults.  From mine and my family's experience, these activities seem to mostly be walking around, swimming, overeating, and drinking alcohol.  This trip, my mother wasn't going to be able to come; she claimed she had "work responsibilities".  Although I assume she just felt that sending my dad across the country would be more than enough of a vacation for her.

I won't get too much into the details of our week.  It can be summed up pretty much in two ways, the first being the shopping trip.  When we arrive in Vermont, we go to the supermarket to buy food for the week.  This usually winds up in three carts full of food.  Actually, that's not even true.  One of the carts is usually wine and beer.  This trip was much more reasonable: only two and a half carts.  Besides the fact that there were less people, this was mostly due to the fact that since this was the first year my dad flew in, he wouldn't be able to take the leftovers home with him in the car.  Every year, we buy WAY too much food.  This isn't too much of a problem, since we wind up just taking the 5-10 boxes of cereal and countless cans of food home.  The real challenge is using up all the perishables.  As a result, the last night before we leave winds up being this gloriously gluttonous challenge.  Can we eat these containers of ice cream, boxes of ice pops, TV dinners, and the rest of the crap?  One way to find out!

The other example of our high cuisine and mature taste buds would be our first trip to the Smuggler's Notch market.  Amy was making dinner this night, because we figure that not eating out every night somehow cancelled out the overabundance of food we took in when we went out.  In order to not delve completely into the realm of dirt bags, we needed fabric sheets for the dryer.  So, my dad, my brothers, and I went down to the market.  And what we came back with was this:


We got the Bounce sheets, and my dad even picked up some cheap shampoo, so it was almost a legitimate shopping trip.  However, the remainder of the trip consisted of buying:

Ritz crackers, chocolate covered cherries, grape soda, Bit O' Honey, fruit Tootsie Rolls, and a box of donuts.

Keep in mind, this was AFTER we got a load of junk food from the supermarket.



The final items on this receipt caused a bit of controversy.  My brother Eric and I got some watermelon Laffy Taffy, because they're awesome.  However, while eating them, they had no chocolate chip seeds!  Is this a common occurrence?  I've had one of these recently, and they had the seeds.  Every candy site still lists them with the seeds, yet none of our three packs had them.  The watermelon taffy is still good, but it's just... not the same.


Now that I have painted a picture (I'd say if it was a literal painting, it would be watercolor) of our truly American pig out week in Vermont, it's time to burn off those calories.  And what better way to burn calories than by getting outside and having a Boy's Play Day?



Despite the fact that the name of this bagged collection just sounds strange and/or creepy, it does get you pretty pumped up.  When's the last time you've had a good play day with the boys?  I wait, it's "Boy's", not "Boys'", so it's meant to be enjoyed by those who have no friends or don't like going outside.  I've had plenty of those play days.



The name gave me high hopes for the excitement within.  Not to ruin the surprise, but this collection did not live up to the glorious promises of its title.  The bag looked jam packed with fun.  After all, it is "King Sized".  However, once the bag was opened and emptied, you realized that most of the space was taken up by this big purple thing.



The "Super Sonic Disk" promised a wild adventure filled with spinning plastic, lights, and sounds.  It sort of delivered on two of the three.  Basically, you grab the handles, and flip the disk around until the cords get wound up and tightened, then you pull away and the disk spins.  That does happen, except in order to make the disk get any sort of legitimate spin, you have to flip the disk for like three minutes.  This play day is exhausting!



The "sound" comes in the form of little slits cut into the plastic, so when the disk is spinning, it whistles.  This high-tech feature has been seen before, like on those Nerf balls with the huge tail, that you could throw for like forty blocks, and it would whistle the whole time.  I loved those footballs, since I couldn't actually ever throw a real football more than ten feet.  Which I guess is why I am here playing with the Boy's Play Day collection.


As far as the lights go, I'm pretty sure they just made that up.  There were no lights, and I saw nowhere that even had the potential to light up.  I'm sure they figured that no one would ever call them out on their lie.  Maybe if I complained, they'd send me a complimentary Girl's Play Day. 


Wow, I really can't pull off saying the names of these collections without sounding creepy.



The next toy inside involves another sport I am terrible at: basketball.  The first sport was football, in case you didn't notice the connection.  I like to try to keep sub-themes running within these articles.  It's that kind of writing quality that people who enjoy reading about bargain priced bags of children's toys have come to expect here.


Compared to the Sonic Disk, the basketball hoop was a smashing success.  You use it exactly how you would think you do: tap on the little green lever, and it shoots the ball a foot past the hoop.  Then the second time you tap lighter and it sort of hits it on the backboard.  I never managed to get it to go in the hoop and stay.  Apparently I am as good at a plastic game of basketball as I am at real basketball.  Which explains why most of my basketball games consisted of me pushing people while they were in the air going for a lay up.  Which also explains why no one wants to play basketball with me.


Still, the basketball hoop was pretty awesome, and the backboard is bad ass.  NBA backboards should have these pictures on their backboards. 



Next we have the edible part of the Boy's Play Day.  (Ugh, stop using the name.)  First, we have a repeat from the Cool Pack, which were basically Pixie Stix in a plastic tube.  These were all solidified like the Stix from the Cool Pack, which leads me to believe these came from the same batch as when I bought the Cool Pack two years ago.


Not that I had much hope anyway, Pixie Stix suck.  Everyone thinks they're good, because they think it's funny to essentially eat just sugar.  And they're right; it is funny, to be sure.  However, the sheer laziness of the effort Pixie Stix make to taste good aggravates me.  The exception to this rule are those Pixie Stix from the ice cream man, the ones that are like three feet long, and come in a tube that looks like a Wiffle Ball bat.  Those get credit for just being ridiculous.


I was really happy for the second snack in the collection, which appeared to be a fancy Pop Ice.  Even the wrapper gave great promise: colors EVERYWHERE, essentially dizzying you if you focused on it for too long.  It had an anthropomorphized Pop Ice man playing the guitar.  This Pop Ice man was naked, except for his belt and boots.  Although in this case, does the pop wrapper count as clothes or skin?


The pop was called a Jelly Ice Bar, which did raise some concern.  Did it taste like jelly?  Were there going to be raspberry seeds in it like a good jam?  I never understand when people get jam without the seed, they make the eating experience so much better.


After the pop was frozen, I cut it open and took a big bite.  Man, I sure wish I at least took a smaller bite to test the waters.  The creepy waters.  The texture of the pop was so, so discomforting.  It was slick, like it was coated in fat, and had the texture of a gummy worm fetus.  You know that scene in X-Men when Senator Kelly is dying, and right before he turns into a puddle of water, he's just that weird blob thing?  I imagine that is the same texture as the Jelly Ice Bar.


I honestly don't know how it tasted, because I was just in utter shock and fear from the texture.  I did eat the bite, but never noticed a flavor.  It might not even be flavored.  I couldn't go on.  I dumped the rest of the bar in the sink.  And when I went back to the kitchen two hours later, it hadn't melted.  It was still completely solid, but was now curled up.  It was so disgusting.  I hate the Jelly Ice Bar.


I couldn't understand how this all went wrong.  I checked out the ingredients list, and things began to make sense.  Water... sugar... seaweed extract.... locust bean gum.  Awful.



The last toy, which oddly enough was the same texture as the Jelly Ice Bar, was a rubber blue lizard.  Honestly, there's really not too much to do with this.  I tested this out on my cat Figaro, and he was a big fan. 



Cats will go after anything anyway, but the fact that this thing was rubber was a big plus.  Since after it was moved, the legs would continue jiggling, it looked like a real lizard (well, to a cat... I knew it wasn't real).  So I give the lizard a high rating; it may not be that much fun for a person, but its cat entertainment value is high.


Unfortunately, the Boy's Play Day was a big disappointment after the Cool Pack.  Less stuff, more dumb stuff, and more Jelly Ice Bars.  I didn't even get a full day's worth of enjoyment out of it.  Luckily, I hope to have this disappointment erased with the other collection I got: the promisingly named Fun Pack.  Is it better to be cool or fun?  We'll find out soon!




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