We know why Michael Ian Black is a seasoned veteran of the comic stage. He loved the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. He has more Twitter followers than Levar Burton. Even his poker face is kind of funny. So why has Black decided to analyze the wide world of snack food we live in?
“If you ever have any doubt about whether or not people care about snacks, just engage people in a Twizzler/Red Vine debate. Fists will fly. Noses will bleed,” says Black. And he’s right.
Enter “Mike and Tom Eat Snacks,” a 40-minute weekly podcast co-hosted with former Ed castmate Tom Cavanagh, where they eat, discuss and rate snacks of varying degrees of popularity, oddness and nutritional value. If you didn’t take snacktime seriously before, your world is about to evolve.
What’s a snack you weren’t looking forward to eating but ended up liking to the point of “I’d eat this again voluntarily?”
This one’s easy because they literally blew my mind: Caramel-flavored Bugles. I picked those suckers off the shelf on a whim — ON A WHIM — and thought, “These are going to be terrible,” because Bugles, okay, but SWEET Bugles? That just sounds like a disaster. But something about that de-germed corn meal combined with the delicate over-saturation of corn syrup just worked wonders in my mouth, or as I call them “mouth wonders.”
How does reading labels affect your decisions about snacks?
If you are going to read labels, you have no business eating snacks. Yes, when it comes time to select snacks for my family, I pay careful attention. That doesn’t mean I won’t occasionally buy utter crap for my kids, but I am at least aware of the fact when I do it. When it comes to the podcast, however, all health concerns go right out the window. In fact, I would say that the less healthy a snack is, the more likely I am to review it. Good old-fashioned traditional snacks — the ones that get me excited to be in the snack game — always contain terrible, terrible ingredients.
Would you like some mechanically separated chicken?
Yes. I prefer all of my food mechanically separated. If they would also invent a machine that could mechanically chew for me, I would use that too.
What’s the best weird flavor of something previously good that you’ve encountered?
There’s an Irish snack called Meanies, which basically look and taste like boogers. I don’t know if that’s the intention of Meanies or not, but I like to think that in some dank pub somewhere, a couple of blokes were sitting around grousing that there were no good booger snacks on the market and decided to do something about it.
You request that your listeners send you and Tom snacks. Get anything surprisingly good or bad?
The most surprising thing anybody ever sent us, and we actually used these on a podcast, was a box of butterscotch Tastykake Krimpets. What was surprising about them wasn’t so much that they sent them to us, but the fact that they were four years past their expiration date. Who sends somebody expired food? And then, who are the idiots that go ahead and eat that food? I can’t answer the first question, but I can definitely answer the second: We are the idiots who eat it.
Let’s talk about Jannellying. Did I spell that right?
I think you did spell that right. It looks right. Janellying is when you put food in your mouth and then while the food is still in your mouth, add liquid. The only rule is that the liquid cannot be water. The origins of Janellying come from my school days when I watched a kid named Matt Janelli drink half a pint of chocolate milk while eating a bag of Fritos. I was fascinated and repulsed and have carried that image, and that verb “Janelli,” with me for over 20 years. Finally I had an opportunity to put it to good use. To be able to enter “Janelli” into the American snack lexicon is the single most satisfying thing I have ever done.
Can you name a few choice snacks you might offer a lady companion to set the mood for a successful night?
I’d probably set the mood with a small bowl of Rold Gold Tiny Twist pretzels. These are crunchy and salty, but not too filling. Then I would move on to something sweet, perhaps some bite-sized Snickers bars. Then, when I am ready to seal the deal: BAM! I break out the single-serve Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream. No woman can resist a snack menu like that.
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