A Bitingly Weird V-Day Gift Round-up

When searching for any Valentine gift, weird or otherwise, it’s hard to avoid the culinary component. We’ve already established that there’s a chocolate representation to be found out there for just about anything, and a Valentine representation for all sorts of foods: pickles, jerky, and ketchup among them.

But the annual Weird Valentines Gifts post has never been fully food-themed, so here we are — with two items inspired by snacking, one designed to help get the nosh on, and a fourth that spotlights a new entree to the global dining table.

I Love Cheesy Poofs, You Love Cheesy Poofs

Who wouldn’t love this multi-purpose plushy? It’s a pillow. It’s a toy. It’s a village of adorable Cheesy Poof People. You can’t go wrong, and could pair the puffs with an equally cute plushy boba tea for double the awwww.

Spotted at: Angleliu

Loafing Around

These bread slippers come in baguette, butter, and “bread b,” which looks like challah to me, so missed bread-branding opportunity there.

The perfect gift to keep toes toasty on a February night, loaf pillows and tortilla blankets are also options for the carb-obsessed couch potato in your life.

Spotted at: The October Elf

A Whirlwind of Emotion…

A clear mug with hot chocolate in it and a black and white cow spotted sleeve is over half of it - a black lid is next to it

This self-mixing, portable mug swirls your chocolate milk for you, which is adorable and unnecessary—just like any self-respecting Valentine gift should be.

Perfectly paired with a hand-made Nesquick tumbler.

Spotted at: The Science Toy Store

…and Edible Manchurian Scorpions.

Since the world is slowly ending and we’re moving toward eating bugs anyway, why not make it fancy? The Entomarket — just one leg of Entosense LLC in Lewiston, Maine — is a clearinghouse of culinary-grade creepy crawlies that extends far beyond your standard chocolate-covered grasshopper.

In addition to the Manchurian morsels, which incidentally glow naturally under a black-light, the Entomarket also offers Cotton Candy Crickets, Pizza-flavored Superworms from Thailand, and the very impressive-sounding Chapulines Sazonados from Mexico (grasshoppers with lemon, salt, garlic, and chile flavors).

Spotted at: Edible Insects

2021 Weird V-Day Round-up

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Stephen King’s Family Friendly Apple Orchard

Growing up, trips to Maine in October consisted of weekends at my parents’ f
‘Maine House,’ the Fryeburg Fair, and marathon apple-picking sessions at McSherry’s Orchard in the town of Sweden.

I’d run through the trees, plucking macs, red delicious, and cortlands from low-hanging branches and gradually gaining confidence on the ladders, reaching higher and higher with every tree for bright, red fruit on the highest boughs.

I revisited the orchard on Columbus Day weekend; today, it’s known as Pietree, and there’s another Octobery aspect to it in addition to the apple harvest. In danger of being razed and turned into condos a few years ago, a certain horror-writing duo stepped in and bought the orchards, making a slew of improvements along the way.

Some betray my memories:  bare flatbeds towed by tractors that we used to run and jump on to as they passed have been replaced with wagons with benches, stairs, and regular stops. The ladders have given way to hand-held fruit-picking poles. And the wooden bushel boxes we used to fill are now $18 plastic bags.

Others, though, are welcome additions: the rocking chairs in the front yard, the IMG_8865warm cider donuts, and the hand-painted outdoor murals, to name a few.

After picking far too many apples for two people to consume without gastric distress, we moved on to a tiny Fall Festival at the Lovell Historical Society, where a dollar donation bought you all the treats you could eat, fresh-pressed apple juice, and a tour around the society’s collection of antiques and displays of how Maine life treated the locals in the 1800s.

It was all very bucolic … and a nice dose of nostalgia, harkening back to the days when life was as simple as staying put on a wooden ladder and filling a box with apples.

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From Maine to Mini-series – Stephen King keeps popping up

I’ve always been a fan of Stephen King’s work. His books and short stories are enough to fill a library, and he’s done more work in television and film that any other novelist I can think of. I’d love to sit down and have a cuppa with him one day, and it’s not entirely implausible; he lives in Maine not far from where my parents have an old brick schoolhouse they converted into a home, and frequents the same diner counter my dad loves. They’ve sat together over fried eggs and hash browns to shoot the breeze before — trust me, the unlikely and cool are not uncommon to JaxDad’s life.

My parent’s home in Maine is at the top of a hill with a relatively steep slope, with a small reservoir at its base. A beaten and broken, virtually antique truck used to lie near the reservoir, and King once penned a story about it. My parents took a photo of the truck as though it were a celebrity, framed it along with the story, and placed it next to the big blackboard they preserved in the schoolhouse’s main room. A few years ago, JaxMum had the photo copied, enlarged, and framed for JaxBro and I, who liked to climb on the truck and peer into its glassless windows.

My copy is hanging in our library, not far from several King tomes — It, The Dead Zone, Salem’s Lot, Four Past Midnight, Thinner – which was originally written under the name Richard Bachman.

King inspired movies can’t be discounted, either. Misery, The Shining, Dolores Claiborne, Carrie … all classics of cinema, not just horror flicks.

I’m also a fan of the 2002 TV mini-series Rose Red, the tale of a ravenous mansion and the psychics trapped inside. King wrote the screenplay for the film, and appears in a hilarious cameo as a pizza delivery guy. It’s also supplemented by a cool fiction-reality cross-over endeavor. A companion book — The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer, (referencing one of the movie’s main characters) — was published as written under the name of yet another character in the film, Dr. Joyce Reardon.

rose red

Confused yet? You’d think The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer was written by King, but nay. It was actually written by Ridley Pearson. It’s a good read (and a great October Book), a sort of prequel to Rose Red; so naturally, it served well as a follow-up made-for-t.v. movie.

Like King, Pearson, too, made a cameo appearance in the flick, and challenged fans to e-mail him with the total number of times he appeared on screen. I shot him a line, and a few weeks later, I guess my horror-nerdiness paid off – I received a signed, hard-cover copy of The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer (I’d already read it in its soft-cover version, so the new book went right to the signed-copy shelf on my bookcase for preservation).

Toast, coffee, and bacon with Stephen King at the diner next to the general store, it was not. But another interesting wrinkle to add to the King influences in my family’s life? Sure.