For those who haven’t heard of it, NQR stands for Not Quite Right and it’s a chain of grocery stores that carry discontinued items, products close to their date, excess stock and other such items that are still perfectly safe for consumption, just not quite right. It’s the kind of place you check for bargains first before doing the balance of your shop at a proper supermarket. It was on such a bargain hunt that I spied some corn chips.
Now, I don’t think there are many local variations on corn chips. Where-ever you're from and whatever brand you’re looking at, they probably come in Original (ie: plain salted), Sour Cream & Chili, Cheese, Nacho Cheese, Cheese Supreme and I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Cheese. I think that’s partly why my eye was caught by some Rositas Guacamole corn chips.
It’s a flavour that, to me, is an obvious one as soon as you see it but I never would have thought of it before. And a reason I’d never heard of it before, and was now seeing it at NQR, was probably what they look like inside.
I know it looks like they have been sitting there for three months, (mind you, if you left corn chips sitting there for three months, apart from some sogginess, they would probably look exactly the same as when you first put them there) but these are fresh out of the packet.
Did they really need to try to make them look like guacamole? I mean, that’s got to be food colouring, right? Nothing natural is that colour. Well, nothing that’s natural and edible, anyway. If you look again at the packet, you’ll see the picture is very green, but that still doesn’t prepare you for their real colour. In fact, the photo doesn’t do them justice. They really are the colour of mould.
They don’t taste too bad if you close your eyes, but green corn chips are definitely Not Quite Right.
= = = =
Another item I bought out of sheer fascination for its existence, was a 175ml bottle of Coke Zero.
For a while, I never understood why the two big cola producers made two separate sugar-free versions. It turns out that in America, Diet Coke is sweetened with aspartame, while Coke Zero is sweetened with the slightly more natural sugar derivative, Splenda. However, in Australia, both Diet Coke and Coke Zero (and Pepsi Max for that matter) are sweetened with aspartame. My guess is that they produce the Zero/Max versions to promote to men who find anything with “diet” in the name a bit too girly. They should probably call it Diet Bloke.
It might be just me, but when looking around a place like NQR, I often wonder what it is about the stock that isn’t quite right. For instance, the special pink ribbon Tim Tams are probably leftover stock from the promotion which has now ended. I’m guessing a lot of stock there was produced for export but missed the boat because it’s made in Australia but I’ve never seen it anywhere else. Then there’s the obvious stuff that’s past its best-before date and mistakes like green corn chips.
But the tiny coke really bewilders me. Here's a picture to give you some idea of the actual size. I do have reasonably big hands but not that big.
A whole bunch of people at Coca Cola, who doubtlessly get paid a lot more than me, must have agreed that producing this novelty-sized glass bottle was a good idea. Then there is all the engineering involved in producing the bottle itself. And I bought it for something like 33¢. It was somewhat heartening that the girl at the checkout agreed with me about the amusing and slightly depressing pointlessness of it all. Why did they make this thing? I know health professionals are advocating for smaller sizes but this is ridiculous. And I certainly hope it’s not aimed at small children because they should not be on artificial sweeteners. My guess is that it might actually have been intended for showbags and promotions since there’s no bar-code on the bottle. But even so, was the regular 330ml bottle too big?
By the way, I’m sorry if any of this looks like product placement. If Rositas, Coca Cola or Arnotts want to sling me a few bucks, I won’t say no.
Update: I was wrong.
The US versions of Diet Coke and Coke Zero are both sweetened with aspartame. So Coke Zero is "Diet Bloke" in all regions.