Hot town, summer in the city, my friends! Time for the yearly convenience store ice cream taste test. All Days, Family Mart, Lawsons, Kedi, 7-Eleven, Buddies, oh my. Which one of these delicious lil’ mah-fuckers will be our summer flavor for the 2K12? Which indeed. Except no substitutes. Only poisonous, poisonous preservatives.
My friends, in years previous I’ve been accused of lacking professionalism with the yearly ice cream taste test -- yes, it’s true -- like as if I have no idea what the fuck I’m talking about and it’s all just some big joke or something. Therefore, this year, in a conscientious effort to impart to the proceedings a little scientific rigor and critical accountability, I’ve devised a new ice cream rating system inspired by taxi cab advertisement wine connoisseur -- nay, guru, she’s a wine guru -- Debra Meiburg, Master of Wine.
This is her, the minx, full-bodied and just a little bit tart. Love you, Debs:
Behold: “The Debra Index”. It’s a scale, one to five, with five “Debras” denoting a perfect score -- ice cream fit for kings and gods, rulers of men, writers of history, and voices of change. Ice cream to move mountains. Ice cream… for the ages.
At the other end of the spectrum, one “Debra” means it tastes a bit shit.
So, basically, we're rock solid this year.
As always, prices are between 1rmb and 10rmb, and I don’t know their names… refer to the look of the thing if you want to try it out for yourself.
Crab Apple Guy From When “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" Came Out
Riding in on the cultural zeitgeist from, oh say, 2005 or so comes Crab Apple Guy From When “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” Came Out -- CAGFWTROTFCO -- a fruit juice-based confection, the fruit is not crab apple, but its looks like it. Actually, it's tang hu lu. See? I know what I'm talking about. Anyways, it’s a simple and consistent through and through, what you see is what you get.
You know what? Not that bad actually. Tangy, refreshing, a little bit sharp, but bracing. Although Transformers hullabaloo has ebbed somewhat in the seven or eight years this thing was sitting in the C-Store freezer, it’s not really all that worse for wear.
Much like the Michael Bay Transformers trilogy, CAGFWTROTFCO stands the test of time.
Rating: 3.5 Debras
Pizza Bro is a squat little brown number, coming at you quick and queasy with an extremely unpleasant visual presentation -- looks like frozen sewage doesn’t it? I’ve heard somewhere that commercial airplanes have this system where they freeze their toilet waste into a block of ice in mid-flight, disposing of it like that when the plane lands. Visualize that and stick a popsicle stick in it.
Was pretty nervous about this one -- looks like a piece of pizza on the front of the bag and the actual ice cream looks like frozen garbage and piss water. Fortuitous omens. As it turns out, it’s actually pretty inoffensive. Turns out, it’s tea. I think. Frozen tea, which is a bit odd at first and then why not? TIC. And then the chunks there are like dates or figs or something. It’s not entirely wretched but it’s not all that enjoyable either. Count 'em. 2 Debras. Boom.
Rating: 2 Debras
Orange Ball That Nobody Buys
Orange Ball that Nobody Buys is an orange ball that nobody buys. It’s orange sherbet ice cream, freezer burnt to taste, with hard chunks of orange gelatin interspersed throughout. You’re supposed to crack open the top and chip away forlornly at the contents inside. I think it’s also supposed to be a basketball or something.
Man, what’s going on with Kobe Bryant and these taxi cab ads. Like he doesn’t have script approval at all? Is he even sentient? The first one he’s in he’s switching jobs with an airline chef. An airline chef! Do they even exist? Is that a real thing? And, what, they just land the fucking plane and change jobs for a week? What? They meet again on the same plane a week later? Is that for real what happened?
Next one Kobe’s playing like a pick-up basketball game right in the middle of a cantopop concert because he super close friends with the lead singer of the band, who happens to be playing a keytar. A fucking keytar. And then it’s like, 'oh, hey, my good friend Kobe Bryant come and join my band' and he gets on stage and starts scratching the guitar like a he’s scratching a record. Which I think is racist. Is that racist? And then they just jam it out, with Kobe scratching on his guitar like a million dollar minstrel and it’s supposed to be a winning-at-life moment. Appalling.
Anyways, Orange Ball That Nobody Buys was pretty bad.
Rating: 1.5 Debras
Picked out this guy solely to make a Joseph Goebbels joke on the name and so my work is basically done here.
But check this out: what we have here is a miniature pineapple, a real one, that’s been cut in half and hollowed out, and inside is pineapple sherbet. Pretty bizarre. When you go for ice cream, you’re thinking, ‘hmmm, what’s up, do I want a stick, cup, or cone…”, but now you’ve also got the option of walking around town with a two pineapple halves in either hand, and licking out the ice cream inside like you’re eating brains. It’s a good thing because, shit, it’s 2012 already, Mayans are coming, and it’s time we started getting the fuck real.
I was really rooting for this one because I really admire how off-the-wall it is from start to finish -- comes in a box, it’s wrapped in this thick, industrial plastic, like the kind they use to store plasma in for blood transfusions, and goddamn if it isn’t a real pineapple that’s been sawed in half. In the end, the packaging didn’t save it, and it had already exploded by the time I got it. Ice cream was re-frozen to the outside of the pineapple and there was nothing at all inside. Chipped away at the ice cream frozen to the sides of it. Wasn’t the same. Was kind of bland, with a sneaky gross after-taste.
Still giving it three Debras purely based on innovation. Rack ‘em up.
Rating: 3 Debras
Pink Slushy Missile
I’ll be honest, this was a pretty confusing little guy right here -- mystery pink ice liquid in a plastic tube. Peaches on the bag. Pretty baffling. Spent like a full 10 minutes trying to figure out how to open it. Do you crack it in half like a lame raver glowstick -- Steve Aoki tickets are now available right here -- pull off the tab at the top, or twist it off, or what -- what’s going on here? None of that worked.
In the end, I just hacked off the top with some scissors, and just started going to town on it, massaging the sides to coax out the sweet liquid into my mouth. Took a bit of elbow grease, working the shaft, but in the end I had it splashing it out the opening at the top, and I was lapping every drop, into my mouth, with greedy abandon.
You know when you’re a kid and your parents want you to do some sports or something, get you out of the house, interact with kids your age and stuff, and soccer looks like it’s an alright and easy sport to play. Kicking a ball shouldn’t be all that hard, and it’s all just for fun. No hassles. Anyways, turns out you’re not very good so they stick you on left defense or whatever that area is, which is fine, because you don’t even want to play, so whatever. So there you are on left defense minding your own business, kicking some dirt around, looking up at the clouds, thinking about what’s on TV later, and then all of a sudden the action is like right in your face, materialized out of nowhere. Some guy on the other team kicks the ball super hard and it hits you right in the thigh like ow, fuck, man, that hurts, what a dick, and you have to go sit on the bench. Your coach gives you this thing to put on your thigh called an “ice pack” which is like medical slushy ice syrup in a bag or something.
This thing tastes like what I imagine the contents of that ice pack would taste like, with a whole lot of pink dye and artificial peach flavoring. It’s a weird, gel-like, slushy consistency. I kind of really liked it actually. Was kind of fun and unique. I’d get it again.
Rating: 4 Debras
The People's Frozen Iced Confection Issued To Celebrate The Glorious Party’s Victory Over Foreign Imperialist Aggressors and Capitalist Interlopers
Jesus, here we go. It’s mung bean, or red bean, or whatever bean. Aiyo. This stuff ruins your day back in September or whenever when it’s jammed into a mooncake and, oh look, check it out: it’s summer time and red bean is all, ‘hey, what’s up, I’m back again in popsicle form. Still tasting like suck’.
As hard as The Party’s resolve. Serious. I had to bash this guy against the table like five or six times to break off a chunk of it. Unwavering. Resolute. Steadfast. And then you get it into your mouth and it tastes like a mix of nothingness and storm puddle water. Like it’s an absence of taste with a little back-end of dirty rainwater.
I would surmise that whatever this thing is supposed to taste like is currently under review and will be issued forthwith when the appropriate authoritative bodies have decreed a ruling on the matter.
Rating: 1 Debra
Ice Cream CLONE (boom)
This is the exact same as the above ice cream, it’s just in a different bag.
Yeah, oh God, yeah. Yeah, it’s exactly the same. Disqualified. No Debras. Meiyou Debras. Meiyou.
Rating: NO DEBRAS
Bought this one because it looks like seaweed on the bag and thought it would be good for a larf. Popping it out of the wrapper, it looks like it’s been frozen and re-frozen so many times, I have no idea what it was originally supposed to look like or be. It’s like Gollum from “Lord of the Rings”. Basically, this is the Gollum of the ice cream world. I still see a little bit of the original form in there buried beneath the ice freeze -- a glimmer of essence, if you will -- but for all intents and purposes, some sinister force warped this poor little thing beyond all recognition, perhaps in a figurative meditation on the nature of addiction, the loss of innocence, and the fragility of the soul.
Go find an air conditioner in your house. Take your hand and swipe it along the top of the air conditioner. Do that like two or three times. Really rub your had along the top of the air conditioner and get it in there. Then take that hand and go over to your fridge. Pop open the freezer portion of your fridge and scrape that hand along the side of the freezer, scooping up all that frost clinging to the side of the freezer.
Take that hand. Make a fist. Punch yourself in the face with it.
That’s what this tastes like.
Rating: .5 Debras
Green Tea Despair
Dark days, my friends. Dark days indeed. We’re really in a bad place here. A really bad place. This isn't an ice cream cone, this is a hate crime. Think this was supposed to be some sort of hard-shell exterior, green tea soft ice cream, but this is what it looked like out of the wrapper. Not good. Not good at all. It looks like it was actually smuggled into the Kedi Mart up someone’s ass.
Can't even chart this fucking thing on The Debra Index. Minus 5 Debras. Minus 100 Debras. Minus a trillion Debras.
I hate this thing with the passion of a thousand exploding Debras.
Purple Bean Boy
I think what’s happening here is that we’re not going to get any new ice creams unless all these old ice creams from the mid ‘70s have been purchased. Purple Bean Boy is… oh, man, I don’t know. I don’t know anymore. Why am I doing this? I went to school. I have university degrees -- expensive ones -- what am I doing with my life? I’m not a man…
Gotta make some changes. Get myself back on track. I really gotta make some changes…
You know what? There’s something a little joyous about Purple Bean Boy, like a certain “haha whatever” attitude about it. Look at that stick, just jammed into the corner. I like to think that whoever was working at the ice cream factory that day when this one went out, it was their last day on the job after working something like 15 years at the factory. Last day on the job at the damn ice cream factory, and they just got back from a two-hour liquid lunch, a bit hammered. Purple Bean Boy came down the conveyor belt, the guy stuck in the stick thing like he’d being doing every damn day for the last 15 years, and then right after that, he throws up two middle fingers, waving them around to everyone else on the factory floor, like “Fuck all you guys! I’m DONE! PEACE!” and walks out the door.
So I like to think Purple Bean Boy was the source of a little pleasure on that end of it, but on this end it was pretty lacking.
Rating: 1.5 Debra
Yeah, here we are again, with these damn Magnums. Lots of different flavors, available everywhere -- light chocolate, dark chocolate, caramel, vanilla, with nuts, no nuts – with stylistic packaging taking inspiration from the interiors of very expensive cars.
The one we tried was caramel with a classic silky milk chocolate exterior.
Pretty good, generally speaking, and really good considering it felt like my ice cream palette had been dragged across the ocean floor with a few of the last entries on this list. I don’t know. Magnum’s still don’t really have the personality for me but I will say this: at least there was no dirt on it and it didn't taste like rotten vegetables marinating in grandma's purse.
Rating: 3 Debras
AND THE WINNER… of the 2012 Ice Cream Overdone Taste Test:
Closing the convenience store freezer, turning around, going to the counter, buying as much of the hard alcohol as you can from the shelf behind the clerk.
See you next year!
Photos by Andrew Rochfort