Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I've always found it weird that most products sold in the Dollar Store (or any other value store) that are made by external companies (as opposed to some hellhole in China then imported by Greenbrier International, Inc.) have actually been around for several decades. It seems that the value stores have only been at full force for about twenty years. My assumption has always been that these seemingly lower quality products (and possibly the companies themselves) were a byproduct of value stores.

Ameriplus' is the only bio I've ever read while researching their Mister Plumber drain opener product. Ameriplus' has been around since '59 as Crest Chemical Corporation, and in the '90s they decided to expand new household products directly to supermarkets and other stores. If I recall correctly, not only were the '90s the launch pad for value stores but that's also when store-brand products were introduced. The only "store-brand" products I remember before supermarkets plastered their logo on them were the ones that came in all white containers with black letters on the front indicating what resided within. If you read the back for ingredients the label read, "Read the front!"

As I’ve reviewed products that actually have ingredients (excluding edible goods), I've noticed that most of the products are comparable in quality to their brand-name counterparts. This is the case with the ingeniously named “Mister Plumber”. Apartment living, especially in my community, comes with “amenities”. One such “amenity” is an easily clogged bathtub, which is exasperated by the fact that I have mid-back length hair and I shed like a fuckin' dog.

Because my bathtub would fill up to nearly overflowing when I showered, and draining took what seemed like hours, I ended up with nasty crust around the bed of the tub and hair all over the place.

Against Becky's advice I decided to try out Mister Plumber in an effort to update the blog and pretend that people actually read this crap. The bottle comes with 32 oz. of product and you must use half the bottle the first time and, depending on the severity of your mess, potentially repeat the process. So ultimately you will probably not get more than two uses per 32 oz. bottle which seems to be the standard size for name-brand products as well.

I've honestly never had to use liquid chemicals to clean a drain but the Dollar Tree came through again. I used the entire bottle but the drain was clean as a virgin's honeypot afterward. I took a shower and barely half an inch of water pooled near the drain.

I found and compared Mister Plumber's Material Safety Data Sheet(MSDS) to Drano's MSDS. I found the product to be identical with the only minor differences being the percentages of the liquid's two main ingredients; Sodium Hypoclorite and Sodium Hydroxide. Mister Plumber contained less than 3% of Hydroxide where Drano had less than 2%. On the other side, Mister Plumber contained between 1 and 5% of Hypoclorite where Drano put less than 10% of the chemical which turns out to be just bleach. I really don't know what any of this shit means but I thought it would look interesting on the blog. Below is the label I found online... just for kicks.

click to enlarge

At $1 per 32 oz. bottle compared to the $5 average that a brand name bottle of the same size runs you this is a great find and one that, should the need arise again, I will revisit.


Thursday, November 19, 2009


I am not very picky about what I put in my mouth… Wait, that came out wrong. I am a rather adventurous eater (yes, that’s better). Aside from beer, gastronomy is one of my biggest passions. With that said, I am also very reluctant ingesting ANYTHING that comes from the Dollar Tree (or any other similar merchant). I am not entirely sure why, since I know that it can’t possibly be any worse than the street vendor tacos and hot-dogs I used to eat in Mexico or, for that matter, any weirder than bear meat chili, deer soup or the variety of bugs I’ve eaten disguised as delicacies.

Going against my common sense, I finally decided it was time to give the Dollar Tree’s frozen food section a try. And what better way than with one of my favorite snack-sized treats: Stuffed Jalapeños. I’ve had several variations of this Mexican/Southern Fried dish, finding, by far, Skyland Restaurant’s to be the best.

Today’s tasty treats come to us from Snapps Snacks and Appetizers in their Cream Cheese and Mild Jalapeno variety. For some odd reason their splash page welcomes the inquiring user with a pretty cool country-meets-Saturday-morning-cartoon (for those of us who remember those days) jingle. All I learned from the page was that SNAPPS is a compound of SNacks and APPetizers. As their page clearly states:

“SNAPPS™ are delicious, restaurant quality SNacks and APPetizers. The best ingredients...perfect flavor combinations, ready to serve hot from the oven.”

And that for some odd reason my box of fried gold came with 4.25 oz. of product when all their products come in 5.5 oz. I don’t know much about calorie intake given that I’m pretty much a lazy fat-ass, but all in all I consumed approximately 400 calories out of my 1866 calorie per day allowance with about 250 coming from fat. I also ingested, per serving (2 pieces) so multiply by 3 and a half servings (plus the blue cheese):

3.5g of Saturated Fat
15mg of Cholesterol
190mg of sodium
3g of Protein

According to Becky, a serving of the Jalapenos have almost as much fat as a whole Snickers bar - and a Snickers bar has more protein, iron, calcium and fiber, and less sodium. So, if you’re looking for nutritious eating, skip this product.

Right out of the box they look like any other battered and fried frozen product I’ve ever tried. They are shaped kinda like frozen mini drumsticks, and left behind the expected frozen fried crumbs on my cookie sheet.

Preparation is also pretty standard; heat oven, insert frozen goodies, turn halfway through cycle, remove, cool-off, enjoy.

After I flipped them in the middle of their cooking cycle, I was not particularly thrilled with the look of things. I noticed a thin crisp mark running down the middle of my otherwise uncooked Jalapenos. For a split second I considered just putting my hunger aside, and opting for a less threatening bowl of Basic 4.

Fortunately, when I removed them from the oven after the full cooking cycle they had cooked to a beautiful golden brown with a split down the top where the cream cheese and Jalapeno stuffing were deliciously oozing out.

With renewed faith I slopped some bottled blue cheese dressing on a plate and anxiously sat down to try my first Dollar Tree meal.

Breaking the first nugget of fried goodness in half the filling smelled incredibly good and was still bubbling, as I’ve found most good stuffed Jalapeno dished to do right before consumption.

Sadly, the first bite I took was extremely bland; I was only able to taste the blue cheese dressing I’d dipped the critter in. The texture was as expected, crunchy immediately followed by the melted smoothness of the cream cheese, but without any real taste. The heat of the Jalapeno was definitely present and I was pleasantly surprised that it packed enough of a punch to make me notice.

I tried the second bite without any blue cheese and there was absolutely no flavor to them. At this point, since my taste buds were still a little tingly from the first bite, the heat from the Jalapeno was barely traceable.

In the 4.25 oz. box you get 7 pieces for a buck, which is ultimately not bad when you’re just trying to get a quick snack (and don’t give a rat’s ass about nutrition) while watching a game or your favorite CSI soap opera. On the flip side, the product is too bland to consume alone, so make sure you get a lot of your favorite dipping sauce as well.


Friday, October 23, 2009


Well, hello there. It's been a while so let's get right down to it.

Even though I live in a relatively small apartment (roughly 1,200 sq. ft.) with only my two daughters (who are 6 and 5) half of the week, it is nearly impossible for me to keep it clean when they are around. Thankfully, both are past the age of writing on the wall, which has helped me keep my standard issue off-white paint relatively clean. That was until recently, when I had the bright idea of putting two barstools in front of the bar facing the kitchen where the girls could eat breakfast.

I've found that for the most part cleaning products from the dollar store perform fine. A while back you were able to buy Mr. Clean name brand magic erasers at the Dollar Store. So when I ended up with the wonderful Pollock-inspired stains below on the bar's white wall, I rushed to my local Dollar Store to pick some up.

The first stain was definitely a "N00BIE" stain when Larissa dropped a couple of blueberries and then smeared them with her feet on the wall. The second was a true challenge; red spray primer caked on the wall when Fabianna swung on the swivel chair and scraped the side against the wall.

It seems that the Dollar Store either ran out, or has decided to stop selling, name brand Magic Erasers and instead I found the only available product; Greenbrier's own Scrub it Quick Erasers.

The box comes with two 5x3x1" pads for, obviously, a buck - compared to the name brand stuff which usually runs for a little over $5 for a 4-pack. I snipped about a third off one of the pads as I felt the stains were not big enough to waste the entire pad (and honestly, the whole single dad with two little girls thing makes you cut corners everywhere) and gave it to Larissa because she wanted to help.

culprit #2

Unfortunately, even for the blueberry stain, Larissa did not have the "oomph" to get the stain out so I took over.

And as expected, the blueberry stain came off without any problems whatsoever.

(that's just a wet spot above, when it dried it was as good as new)

The other stain I knew as going to be a challenge, and a challenge it proved to be. The first time around I didn't even tickle the freakin' stain.

I really wasn't expecting it to work on the primer but something told me to try it again and, as I've heard many folk here in the South say, "give it hell". I applied extra pressure (I guess I really applied a helluva lotta pressure) and eventually i was able to "erase" it off!

Above is Larissa's triumphant smile as she realized she would not have to go in the corner for 5 minutes since the stains came off.

After both stains were successfully removed all that was left was the bi-colored, used up carcass of the Quick Eraser which to my surprise performed above all expectations. This is definitely something every household should have, and for a buck it beats the hell outta Mr. Clean.


Thursday, May 21, 2009


Sorry, no updates. I have found no inspiration lately.

Great mention of the "Everything's a Dollar Store" in one of my favorite strips, Basic Instructions.

Monday, April 6, 2009


Most of the Dollar Tree stores have a mine of audio, video and multimedia jewels waiting for the consumer-miner to exploit. These pieces are sometimes obscure or ancient releases that bring back childhood memories or memories of discussions with my parents about shows/songs they used to enjoy. Sometimes the concepts alone make you laugh at the thought that someone actually believed that releasing some of this shit was a profitable idea!!!!

Throughout the years I've purchased many of these marvels for myself and my kids. My little girls are fascinated by the many DVDs we've bought featuring Little Lulu (their favorite so far), Popeye, Casper, Woody Woodpecker and countless others I wasn't even aware they existed like Wacky and Packy, the Josh Kirby series which included a hot raggedy-ann type doll spewing sexual innuendos every other sentence and Happo Hippo (i think that was its name) about a Hippo who was petrified of immunization shots.

I on the other hand have purchased many a classic horror flicks such as King of the Zombies, The Undertaker and His Pals/Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things double feature and others. On the audio side I've obtained such marvels (I'm serious there, no sarcasm, some of these CDs are awesome!!!) such as Oh Mickey Where Art Thou?, Killer Queen, A Tribute to Queen and Sweet Emotions: Songs of Aerosmith an eargasmic compilation of Aerosmith's songs by blues artists complete with Otis Clay's sublime rendition of Cryin'.

And it is with audio that I want to stick as this is where the product we're looking into resides. I am unsure what possessed me to purchase The Great Stars of Vaudeville since I don't know crap bout Vaudeville. The only thing I know about it is that it's part of the name of the local burlesque show troupe's name. Regardless, I purchased and actually enjoyed it very much but I would not be able to justly review a CD in a genre of which I am unfamiliar.

So with that said I am asking if anyone out there knows about this type of music and is willing to review it. I will either FTP or find a way to send you my copy so you can hear it. Below you will find a list of songs.

1. Linger a Little Longer in the Twilight by Rudy Vallee & His Connecticut Yankees. Recorded on 1/1/1933.

2. Little Curly Hair in a High Chair by Eddie Cantor with Jerry Joyce & His Orchestra. Recorded on 2/29/1940.

3. Can Broadway Do Without Me? by Clayton, Jackson & Durante. Recorded on 5/9/1929

4. Comedy Skit by George Burns & Gracie Allen; Rube Bloom at the Piano. Recorded on 6/9/1933

5. Rock-a-Bye Your Baby With a Dixie Melody by Al Jolson with Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians. Recorded on 12/20/1932

6. The Temperance Lecture by W.C. Fields. Recorded date unknown.

7. The Rose of Tralee by Morton Downey; Orchestra under the direction of Nat Brandywynne. Recorded on 4/10/1940

8. Come Out-Come Out-Wherever You Are by Baby Rose Marie. Recorded on 4/22/1933

9. Home on the Range by Arthur Tracy (The Street Singer). Recorded on 2/7/1934

10. Phonetic PUnctuation by Victor Borge. Recorded on 7/20/45

The CD was put out by Sony Special Products which is a special marketing division of Sony/BMG Music Entertainment that specializes in customizing CD compilations using their catalog to target specific demographics. I have seen similar CDs in the Dollar Tree but this is the first time I've picked one up by this divsion of Sony/BMG.

Again, if anyone is into Vaudeville and would like to review this for us we send a dollar for your efforts!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009


There isn't really much to say about this nifty little gadget but that it works like a charm. We've all seen them in stores or in some one's car. Hells, you might even have one in yours. I know I have two in mine, one from the Dollar Tree which is being reviewed now and another from a regular store which I stole from Becky.

My assumption is that "SunTropez" is a variation of Saint Tropez in an evil marketing ploy to evoke the sunny and expensive French Riviera. Thus giving the bargain hunter the false sense of gaudy American riches parading expensive possessions, such as this clip, whilst rubbing elbows with the crème de la crème in France. Or maybe it just sounded cool...

Although at first glance the clip seems like any ordinary clip I noticed that when snapped shut the latch didn't fully... umm.... latch.

I had to push the clip shut with some strenght so it would remain closed. Once closed though it performed it's job flawlessly.

It also felt a little on the cheap side with shoddy production quality obviously made somewhere in the bowels of China.

Those are my nifty sunglasses which are NOT from Dollar Tree. Well, this is a plain and simple yet highly efficient little tool worth every penny. I was unable to find anything online about SunTropez or the product but some Yahoo selling an identical clip in blue for a dollar.

See ya'll in Saint Tropez!



Well, one of the Dollar Trees near my house has a frozen food section. A couple of months ago Becky and I actually made an entire spaghetti dinner using only Dollar Tree products. Albeit, all the kids and Becky liked it, I couldn't bring myself to even try it. I recall that the noodles turned out rubbery and stuck together giving it an eerie resemblance to a pale-yellow brain.

As if that wasn't enough to churn your stomach, we took it a few steps further and actually purchased a meat-based product (or at least that's what the label said) to review. Unfortunately, we bought and fixed this sometime in Mid February 2009, I just hadn't gotten around to actually review it. The details may be a little hazy by now.

For some reason I still find purchasing edibles from any "Value" store a bold and brave move left to those who've no other option. I have a hard time even bringing myself to put some of these products in my mouth even though I am not an excessively picky eater. When I first saw the product below I knew it would be a great item to review. I also knew that, just like any other edible product, I would not try it myself. Fortunately Becky was around and immediately agreed to try it despite its dubious appearance.

From what little I can remember and matching the logo and barely legible name on the pic I took with my phone this culinary delight was concocted by the masters at Chef's Requested Foods who boast of taking "the best raw materials, process them with skill and precision to the highest standards, and are committed to uncompromising customer service..." in addition to being "the cook's best friend." I wonder if they fetch sticks....

At first glance, looking at it through the back of the packaging, the product itself looked very appealing. Unlike many other similar products my bacon wrapped beef steak had no discernable properties that made it a pefect candidate for the Mecklenburg County Jail (trust me, I know, I've been there!).

The meat itself looked like any other regular pre-packaged ground beef and had a nice dark reddish color which I commonly see in ground meats. The bacon also looked like any run of the mill candidate from any of prepackaged name brand types. At the time I thought that as long as my filet mignon wannabe disc looked as decent when cooked as it did now I would even be willing to try it.

Then the problems started...

The second I freed my processed-carcass-and-swine meal the whole thing practically became a failed science experiment. Obviously, coming right out of the freezer my meat-disc was frozen solid but as you can see above from the picture above, the ripples created by the plastic wrapping adhering to the meat during the freezing process gave the meat a fake gelatinous look. The once reddish meat now had a nauseating browinsh color while the bacon turned a toxic yellow.

At this point I actually wondered if what I was about to pan-fry in my kitchen was once a living, breathing organism or a scientific monstrosity created in a lab. As I turned my disc around I made a startling discovery embedded dead in the center of my "meat"-disc which sent shivers down my spine...

The sign of the Beast itself!!!! the dreaded "Dubya" was staring at me with the same hell stare I catch from Barbara Streisand every time I watch Yentl! I immediately threw on my oven mitts and the standard issued Hazmat suit that came when I bought the meat and threw into the fiery pits of Hades (aka, my hot iron skillet).

Notice, the sign of the Morning Star himself is facing downwards? Coincidence you say? I think not!

After a few minutes of frying I flipped the disc over and everything seemed to be going according to plan. Except for the faint smell of sulfur and nalpm in the air. The meat and bacon were browning nicely.

After a few more minutes my once-beautiful disc-o-meat looked more like a lump of charcoal. The bacon was nearly burnt and the meat just didn't seem to cook. I sliced it open while still in the skillet only to witness the spewing of melted fat from the center of the disc.

The sight made me jump back and shriek like a little girl with a skinned knee. I retreated to a dark corner of my kitchen and curled up in a fetal position sobbing uncontrollably... then Becky came in and made fun of me. I mustered the strenght to get back up and plate the disemboweled piece of "meat" on a place for Becky to examine. The entrails of the now-pac-man-looking disc still oozing onto my plate and all!

Upon further inspeaction Becky, ever so matter-of-factly said, "just cook it longer, it still looks raw". Voila!!! And with that revelation I threw the butchered bovine back into my iron skillet.

Finally, after another 10 minutes the disc was ready for consumption... granted, not by me, but thank God Becky was there.

Now, I am a God-a'dreadin', non-practicing Catholic but fortunately I am dating the Winged Spawn of Satan herself who was more than willing to sample the charred remains of what was once, not one, but two of God's beautiful creatures.

Becky claims the "meat" wasn't all that bad; it simply tasted like un-condimented ground beef and cheap bacon. Despite several efforts she was unable to make me join her unholy allience with Chef's Request Food and Lucifer himself by trying the forsaken cow and pig remains. I guess I just have to take her word for it.

Becky rated this product 2 out of 5.