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Asparagus. Kid Cuisine TV Dinners:
Fat, Lard, Brownies, and a Cartoon Duck.

Matt - 2.13.02

Vincent Schiavelli: The white guy who screams 'Get off my train!' in Ghost. Gregory Hines: The black guy who looks like the white guy who screams 'Get off my train!' in Ghost.

I've always been a sucker for a good TV dinner. I really can't put the fascination into it the food? Certainly not. You'd find a healthier meal scraping for potato chip crumbs under your couch cushions. Is it the variety of things one finds in each meal? Maybe that's part of it, but I always end up leaving the vegetables and the dessert for the trash bin. I think it has more to do with the clever tray than anything else. It's not like anyone gets thrilled over the prospect of eating some lukewarm mashed potatoes or four fish sticks to the point where a TV dinner sounds like Babylon - it's the fact that we get this awesome little cardboard tray with which to toy with. It's like our own personal shitty food organizer. When we eat normal meals, we don't have the luxury of segregated chambers of recycled paper to keep the different foodstuffs apart. Instead, we've got to rely solely on our own ability to properly use the silverware - something I've never been that good at. One of my biggest fears is having to use a fork and knife in front of people who I've gotta impress. I'm certain I'd be better at archery than cutting a piece of chicken, and I haven't touched a bow and arrow in my life.

Kid Cuisine is the TV dinner for kids, by kids. Actually, it's not really 'by kids', but I thought that slogan was a more impressive selling point that the extended use of cartoon ducks featured on the box art. Either way, these meals are meant for the kiddies, and as we're about to find out - sometimes children really get the short end of the stick. Kid Cuisine seems like a great way for the Mom-on-the-go to ensure that her child's gonna get a full meal packed with vitamins and variety, but there's more to the story than that. Parents, you'd be better off feeding your kids ape heads. They do that in some parts of Africa, and you know what? I've never seen a fat African kid. You might think it's because he's from some poverty-stricken town where meals in themselves are rare, but it's not that: it's because Africans don't eat Kid Cuisine. A quick glance at the nutritional values clues us in on the primary ingredients: concentrated lard and fat-fortified devil oil. This food ain't just bad for kids - it's bad for all of us. It should be served only a punishment to people who steal cars or covet wives - not to innocent kids who don't realize that they're not supposed to clog their arteries till they're old enough to handle six Taco Bell chalupas on a daily basis.

Ironically, TV dinners on the whole weren't always so viciously awful to our bodies. In the 50s, they began their climb to popularity as simple trays - simple, empty trays. The idea was that you'd put your leftovers in 'em and save it for another day. It wasn't until years later that companies started filling the trays with mutated pig lard shaped like a drumstick or nugget.

Half a century later, and here we are. I was amazed the other day when I noticed Kid Cuisine was still being sold - I remember these things from when I was young, which granted wasn't too long ago, but common sense told me that a themed microwave meal whose mascots included an arctic hare wouldn't last too long in the supermarket aisles. How wrong I was! The secret underground market for Kid Cuisine has toppled all the naysayers and is now the only chance you'll ever have to give your kids a heart attack prematurely without insisting that they take up a smoking habit. Okay, I'm overstating things a little, I admit it. They won't have a heart attack, they'll just get obese to the point where you'll have to upgrade their faux meals to those huge Hungry Man TV dinners to satiate their unquenchable thirst for fatty food - the ones that come with a 'do not eat ever' government warning.

Today, we're going to look at two of the best meals Kid Cuisine has to offer: fried chicken and pizza. There's a lot of others out there, including chicken nuggets that appear to be in the shape of ninja stars. You've gotta figure that the chicken who was destined to end up as an edible ninja weapon ranks pretty high up there on the fowl honor society. They're just a notch below the chickens who get diced up into .5" squares for use in Cup O'Soup. With this expose, I hope to show you with complete and utter bias that Kid Cuisine might seem like a good choice for a quick meal, but in truth, are better off being fed to fat people in hospices who're gonna die anyway.

First up, Fried Chicken:

Includes: (2) fried chicken drumsticks, (2) chocolate chip cookies, mashed potatoes, corn, and a free comic book featuring a whale and a tiger making statues and eating TV dinners.

Fried chicken is probably the most popular of all types of TV dinner meals. Of course, that's because the people who buy it are expecting, you know, fried chicken. It'd be a professional insult to the Colonel himself to call this slop chicken. I'm amazed. On it's own, fried chicken has got to be one of the most unhealthy things a person can eat. But Kid Cuisine has found a way to make it even worse - not only is it bad for you, but now you can't even justify your increased waistline with the knowledge that you just ate something remotely palatable. I'll tell you more about the chicken in a bit, but for now, all you need to know is that wasps have flown down my throat with less of a fuss.

The only thing they had no chance of fucking up was the cookies, a special add-on to make the meal more child-friendly and even more fatty. On the plus side, these meals were on sale for a buck fifty a pop, so even if they're unbelievable terrible on the whole, you're not wasting a whole lot of money on your disappointment. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for anyone who bought a ticket to see Rollerball. Damn movie ticket price inflation.

I was always confused with TV dinners and microwave meals on the whole - some of them want you to remove the plastic covering entirely, others want you to do it halfway, and a few ask you to go through the annoying 'poke holes in it with a fork because it's fun' channel. Personally, I made a vow a long time ago to just disregard the directions entirely, always discard the plastic covering, and leave the cooking process in God's hands. Sure I've ruined a few burritos - but I've still got my faith.

Sadly, the same God I look to for meal preparation assistance has also blessed me with the World's Most Powerful Microwave, which is capable of melting steel down even if it's set on defrost. Occasionally, this works to my advantage. I can create twisted melty statues using Barbie dolls and marbles in half the time it takes most people. But when it comes to food, I've had to become accustomed to finding burn marks palatable. Woe is me I guess. Oh - also of note - aside from never reading the instructions, I also decided long ago that the universal cooking time for every microwave meal on the planet is five minutes. If it's not done in five minutes, it has to go back in for, you guessed it, another five minutes. Hey, you live your life your way, I live mine my way. Besides, even though I haven't had anything but blackened popcorn in the past decade, at least there's never any unsettling unpopped kernels at the bottom of my bags. Choke on that you luciferian instruction-readin' siren devil hellhounds. Choke on that indeed.

Admittedly, the meal doesn't look too bad when you take it out of the microwave. Then again, a free flight to Trenton doesn't sound so bad till you step off the plane and realize your in the cesspool of the universe. Either way, the feelings of intense regret don't start till you actually bite into the chicken and realize that it's not really chicken. Instead, it appears to be strings of interwoven muscle fabrics drawn from an ox and heavily breaded. It's sort of like eating a sponge that was used to wipe up the afterbirth of a cow pregnancy fiasco, only it doesn't present to you quite as nice a story for your grandkids.

I think it's now time for me to tell you exactly how bad the meal really is. If you eat the entire meal, prepare to pack away 600 calories, 38 grams of fat, 41 carbs, 10 grams of saturated fat, and a svelte 1,210 milligrams of sodium. Parents, do yourself a favor and just pour olive oil and salt down your kids' traps instead. In all seriousness though, these nutritional stats are positively health-conscious compared to a Happy Meal or something of that ilk. Let's face it, we're a disgusting, degrading society who are destined to weigh more in our sum total than the planet we live on. Don't pass Kid Cuisine in the aisles and avoid it because of what I'm telling you, because really, half of what we eat is this bad too. Unless we live on soy burgers and watercress salads, we're doomed to wake up one day praying to the heavens that Chitosan isn't some fake fad. And I'm no paragon of virtue either - I eat crappy food like a doctor prescribed it, but take solace in knowing that the smoking will probably kill me before I have a chance to balloon up.

Rounding out the meal is the corn and mashed potatoes. I never eat the corn. I find creamed corn personally offensive. But I'll always give a good batch of mashed potatoes a go, except in cases where it takes fifteen minutes to convert them from their frozen state. You know, like these mashed potatoes. I must've nuked them forty-five times, and no matter how hard I tried, the remained solid as a rock. I guess I should've left them for their secret intended purpose - ice skating rink for plastic army men toys. Hooray!

Next up: Cheese Pizza:

I'm not sure why the pizza meal has a Peter Pan promotional tie-in, but not the fried chicken. Why does chicken always get left out of these sorts of things? Think about it - name me one time where chicken was involved in a great promotional crossover. Never. What's the deal? What is it about chicken that screams 'business only!'? Chickens take no guff from multilevel marketing malevolence - but cheese pizza sure does, as not only does it come with a Peter Pan special-offer, but also a neat secret decoder and a comic sheet that lets you decipher the answer to a secret question. (because of this, I now know that an octopus makes noise through the use of it's tentacles. Kid Cuisine - indulgent and informative!)

Includes: Cheese pizza, some weird red cranberry sauce, corn, brownie, even weirder packet of blue slime that doubles as brownie frosting, plus a coupon for half-off Kid Cuisine's special holiday-themed meals which were discontinued this past December. Glorious.

I don't know how it happened, but with the pizza meal, everything but the pizza molded together while in the freezer to form this strange mutant new food, reminiscent of baby vomit or that one canister of Play-Doh that's being used to hold all the assorted colors of clay long forgot. Either way, after we cooked it, the mess increased tenfold rendering 80% of the meal totally inedible. Even the plastic container started interweaving itself into the mass of corn and brownie sauce. It kinda took on a life of it's own. I dunno. I just kinda shrugged and diverted my attention with a rainbow-colored shoelace. Some things are better left not trying to figure out.

There wasn't anything really wrong with the cheese pizza, though. I mean, I wouldn't ever eat it again, but it's not like I feel the need to rush to a hospital because of it or anything. It tasted like a Saltine dipped in Spaghettio sauce. There's nothing too horrible about that, I just wish it wasn't covered in the tiny bits of cranberry sauce that managed to escape the mutant monster food forming on the other side of the tray. Win some, lose some.

On the plus side, it came with this packet of green sludge that you were supposed to use as frosting. Admit it - if you were a kid, you'd love the opportunity to eat sugary blue slime. So I can't fault 'em for that. I just wish the brownie hadn't mutated. Now the only thing left to spread the blue stuff on was the pizza, which isn't necessarily bad, because it gives the French bread that one minor thing it previously lacked: some degree of flavor.

Do I regret my purchases? Nah...sure they might be bad for you, sure dirty sock water usually tastes better, but TV dinners are still fun. And Kid Cuisines especially - they come in a vibrantly colored box with playful cartoon characters adorning 'em. You can't beat that for a buck fifty. That kinda wonderment is downright priceless.

Off in the distance, my chinchilla makes a meal out of some stale Rice Krispies. And I, somehow, become very jealous of his dinner.

Kid Cuisine Overall Grade: C+. They could've scored an easy A-minus if the cartoon duck on the box wasn't wearing red sneakers. Ducks don't wear sneakers. I can stand for bad food, but not false animal factoids. Finger of shame, Kid Cuisine. Finger of shame.

- Matt
AIM: xecharchar

Jabba: Fuck this, I'll stick to the brandy-soaked live frogs. Bo shoo shoo shuda!


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