I’ve yet to come across someone from my generation that doesn’t know what Kid Cuisine is. Whether recalling the penguin mascot on the box or the icy blue plastic tray it came in, others recollections of it are surprisingly fond. And with so many iconic childhood brands going the way of the dodo, it’s remarkable that you can still find Kid Cuisine nestled comfortably in your local freezer section.
I know this because I just bought one from my local freezer section.
No, I didn’t buy it because I had a hankering for soggy cardboard cheese pizza. Nor did I get a craving for soupy slimy mac and cheese. I didn’t yearn for spongey chicken nuggets and a “brownie” so hard it could break a kitchen window. I bought it because it featured the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And anyone that knows me understands you can slap a Ninja Turtle on anything and I’ll buy it. Case and point: Kid Freaking Cuisine.
I was never particularly fond of Kid Cuisine. I think I just felt, as a kid, it was my duty to eat Kid Cuisine. It’s right there in the title after all. This time around after a nostalgic conversation with my girlfriend I found myself in the “frozen dinner” section for curiosities sake. Lo and behold, towards the bottom of the freezer they be for a mere $1.97. The presence of Ninja Turtles coupled with the diarrhea the meal would surely cause reinforced my purchase. And to bring everything full circle I realized I could write about this on my virtual tumbleweed of a website. Now as I put this in writing I realize it is very sad.
I put my tray in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. I crushed the activity on the back of the box in about 25 seconds. Writing the Turtles names and weapons down? Please! I scoffed confidently. I pondered why I was doing this exactly. That took some time. Before I could come up with any discernible answer my food was about ready. And here it is…
For anybody who wants the details it’s Cowabunga Popcorn Chicken with fries, corn, and Shell Shocked Chocolate Cookies. You’d think a Ninja Turtle themed meal would contain PIZZA. But at this point I realized I was giving too much thought to my frozen children’s meal. I mean, I probably have the longest review on a Kid Cuisine out there right now. And if that’s true, it’s an accomplishment I’ll relish to the grave.
Now, I’m no food critic. I don’t have sophisticated tastes (I took pictures of a Ninja Turtle doll next to a frozen dinner). I grew up on Happy Meals and think Taco Bell is high culinary art. But I do like to watch Gordon Ramsey television shows. So I have some training in that regard.
The tray is blue. Which is fun. Most trays are not blue.
The Cowabunga Popcorn Chicken could be kindasorta maybe passable with a decent dipping sauce.
The Ninja Turtles were on the box. And their logo was on the “cookies”.
Everything tasted like the packaging it came in.
Corn tasted like packing peanuts. The fries were bland mush. The cookies were literally a bag filled with nobody’s favorite part of an off brand Oreo.
I felt sad eating it.
To be frank, it was awful. But it was just a microwavable kids meal for $1.97. And when you’re a kid…you’re picky and your taste palette sucks. So maybe this would be passable to the average 5 year old I don’t know. Taking what I remember about previous Kid Cuisines, I would’ve had a pizza, that weird brownie thing (with some green “ooze” icing) and maybe a Ninja Turtles sticker/trading card/temporary tattoo in the box.
In conclusion, I can’t believe I’m writing about this much more posing it for pictures. I guess it adds to the eccentric charm of my website. I’m not going to recommend this to adults or children. And with the “clean and healthy” eating angle my generation pushes, I’m sort of astonished that these are still around. I’m not saying that because I think you shouldn’t feed trash to your kids, I’m simply saying there’s much tastier trash you could be feeding your kids.
This is just the consequences of being a shill to a brand you love. A slave to my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Cowabunga, dudes. Cowabunga.
Are toys as fun as they used to be? Would the modern kid rather have a touchscreen instead of a Stretch Armstrong? Years of experience as an expert man-child led me to realize that toys have sort of “grown up” alongside me. Trading “Glow In The Dark!” and “Oozing Action!” features for “collector friendly packaging” and “high articulation and detail”.
Yet sometimes you long for a toy that wants to be played with. It’s a wild concept, I know. So my 25% off coupon and I ventured to a Target toy aisle this holiday season in search of adventure. And I think I found it…in the form of a plastic capsule holding what looks like an aggravated cucumber.
Enter the TREASURE X ALIEN.
This dude cost me $12.99. They have two other alien designs you can slice into, but I chose this one because I wanted the rare opportunity to own something that looks like someone pickled The Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Some research (scrolling through Amazon while eating a damp corndog) revealed that Treasure X is a line excavation toys that involve slime, sand, scalpels, skeletons, and serpents. Digging deeper revealed boards games, expansion packs, and promises of REAL (?) gold and meteorite treasure. Feeling overwhelmed and confused I longed for the simple days of baking a tray of insects using a low wattage light bulb. And using my recollection of Creepy Crawlers as a palate cleanser, I decided to (literally) dig into my discounted alien creature. You’ve come this far. You might as well finish the article.
Long story short: You cut open a slimy alien to retrieve a smaller slimier alien.
After struggling with insanely intricate packaging, I removed my oozing phallic space monster as well as several accessories needed to dissect it. The “directions” given were really creative, overall looking/reading less like directions and more like a special top secret assignment. I do not feel as ridiculous as I should I thought to myself standing in my living room dressed in Ninja Turtle pajamas holding a plastic toy scalpel.
I began to cut into the creature, eventually removing it’s rubbery skin plate revealing a bright yellow ribcage. I proceeded to snap it out because I watched The Autopsy of Jane Doe 5 times and that is what you do. That led me to discovering the alien’s slimy yellow egg-like gut sac. Gut sacs normally don’t intrigue me but I was lost in my playtime imagination and proceeded with the autopsy as directed by my top secret government files from Target.
Using my scalpel to slice open the egg-sac, it began to overflow with what I can only describe as thick dank greenooze. Feeling in the moment, I quietly exclaimed “My god…” to myself as my mutant cucumber’s innards dramatically dripped on the paper towel I laid down out of fear of my girlfriend’s wrath. I then dug my scalpel inside the snot-like region and “rescued” our dear alien adventurer. To the right of the gut-sac squeezed in tight was a “heart” bag containing more strange alien treasure. I put that to the side as I tended to the little mucus soaked creature I had just removed.
After a quick cleanup I examined the little ninja alien guy. He was a pretty cool little action figure complete with moving limbs and a blaster. I also discovered a stretchy and sticky little pink slug monster within the gut-sac. If I was a child I would have ate that for sure because even as an adult I was debating doing so. Cutting open the creature’s heart-bag revealed this a small plastic accessory that looked like a late 90s pocket planner. Kind of a let down, but I made up the story that my alien devoured some sort of Michael Douglas-esque businessman during rush hour. So it had that going for it.
That pretty much sums up the autopsy process. Think of this as those little “blind box” figures you see at the store checkout, but instead of ripping up some cardboard you have to cut into a large rubber alien to reveal your character. It’s a very creative and fun way to go about it and isn’t that what buying toys is all about? So let’s breakdown the positives and negatives of this Treasure X Alien.
–Creative and fun. From the directions to the packaging to the actual dissection. It all comes together well. I took my time and the whole process took me about 15-20 minutes.
–Affordable. For $13 you get a cool little action figure, accessories, rubber alien, slime, and a really awesome experience to retrieve it all. I could also see why Target has these dudes all over the store for the Christmas season: They are perfectly sized for CHRISTMAS STOCKINGS. Duh. Solid marketing there.
–Gross with Variety. There’s 2 other types of aliens to slice open. And about a dozen different little alien adventurer guys to “save”. And in an age terrified of gender labeling, it’s refreshing to see something that is so clearly a “Boy’s Toy”. Though anybody can dig this, honestly.
–Messy. I don’t mind gettin’ down and dirty with my alien cucumber, but the toy scalpel isn’t very sharp and it may take some scissors to cleanly open/dig into things. I understand it’s for safety reasons, but at times I felt like my alien was like cutting a Dollar Tree steak using a glorified spork. And, obviously, slime is involved. And kids, probably. So take that as you will.
–No Story. Is my alien dead? Who are these little guys I’m digging out? What are their names? Why is their treasure and why am I getting it? Imagination is a great tool but so is direction. I love that this isn’t some sort of tie in an existing property, but having some fun backstory is nice too.
–One and done. You can’t “re-dissect” the alien. And if you somehow spend too much time reassembling it, the autopsy still won’t be as fun. The whole point of these being so cheap is to buy more and “discover” more aliens. So it’s understood. It’s just kinda sad that your big oozing alien has a huge permanent hole in his chest.
Overall this is an awesome little toy for an affordable price. It took me back to the days of Creepy Crawlers and Dr. Dreadful’s Lab. It’s original, it’s gross, and mysterious. I hope these gross dudes end up in some Christmas stockings this year, because I’d love for this line to continue and even expand into more intricate sets of gross slimy dissection.
Plus when you’re done dissecting, you can jam as much goop into your alien’s head as possible, squeeze it, and watch him ooze from his eyes, nose, and mouth! Yum!
So are toys as fun as they used to be? While the innovation and creativity may have taken a backseat to collectability and intellectual properties, fun original and interactive toys are still in the aisles. You just might have to dig a little deeper to find them than, say, 20 years ago. The best thing about toys is the ability to pretend and imagine. And these types of toys are perfect for that. Like I mentioned earlier, these are toys that beg to be played with. Would I buy another one? Not for myself, but they’d make an excellent gift for kiddos on Christmas.
I hope you enjoyed reading my college thesis on pointless future trash that you don’t even care about. The thought “Why are you even doing this?” popped up several times when I was writing this article and photographing my toy. Then I seen green slime ooze out of my new rubber alien’s toy face and that’s when I knew the answer. It was all worth it in the end, folks.
Welcome back, Space Ranger, to another “stomping” edition of Ad Nauseam! It’s the only article on the web published at 12:53 PM that features old comic ads likely forgotten for a reason written by someone with arrested development!
Tonight we travel back to December 1994, a time where the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers ruled our televisions and Cookie Crisp rotted our teeth. Also Big Daddy Cool Diesel was WWF Champion and you can do what you will with that information. Among all the radical comics featuring popular antiheroes like Venom, Wolverine, and Jughead I present you with none of those characters! Instead here’s a comic I found in a dirty clearance drawer between 2 issues of Witchblade!
Fantastic Force Vol. 1 Issue 2 December 1994
Fantastic Force is a group of intergalactic heroes led by none other than Mr. Fantastic’s son, Franklin Richards. Fantastic Force ran along side Marvel’s first family, Fantastic Four, for 18 issues (1994-1996). In 2018, You can findissues of Fantastic Force‘s adventures in the 25 cent bin of any comic convention or as a makeshift rug underneath a cat’s litter box. According to the cover, this is their “2nd Stomping Issue!” which is an interesting (non)adjective to use. Not “explosive!” or “exciting!”. Perhaps they have a “3rd Sleeping Issue!”.
So join me and the little dignity I have left as we delve deep into the mysterious cosmos and spaceways of the world’s greatest fighting team: Fantastic Force! (Wait, if they’re an intergalactic team what “world” are they the greatest fighting team on?)
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Sport Pak
I’m not going to lie to you: This advertisement is the reason I purchased this issue. I mean, there’s some cool stuff advertised here but this? This is nostalgic pornography to me.
For a mere $14.99 ($1.95 S+H) you could become the baddest kid on the playground. As you’ll realize with the following ads, The Power Rangers were peak popularity and merchandise gold in late 1994. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze had faded and the PowerRangers took the preverbal ball and ran with it. Personally speaking, at the time I was completely engulfed in all things MMPR. You know that famous scene from Scarface where Tony Montana is sitting in his mansion surround by piles of cocaine and loyal henchmen? I was like that, except with Power Ranger merchandise and Kool-Aid Jammers.
I had toys, clothes, a lunchbox, and I was even a member of the Power Rangers Fan Club (I used to kiss an 8×10 of Kimberly before school). But seeing this particular ad actually gutted me with a emotional Dragon Dagger 24 years in the making. I could’ve whipped that football at my dog’s head, I could’ve gotten bored with that kickball within 5 minutes, I could’ve accidentally threw that frisbee on the roof, I could’ve chugged chocolate milk for a unique experience through that bottle, and I could’ve lost that sports bag on the 3rd day at school. Sure, it’s just a bunch of marked up dollar store toys, but that’s the point! An ad like this is why I write these articles.
Power Rangers…you mighty morphed your way right into my heart.
Sweetarts Marvel Superhero Contest
I think I’ve mentioned in nearly every Ad Nauseam article the drastic change of marketing junk food towards children in modern times. You no longer get rewarded with points, prizes, or giveaways. Eating healthy is a reward within itself and that’s the route a lot of these companies have taken as well. This isn’t a bad thing whatsoever and it does make looking back at ads like this much more interesting and nostalgic. And over the years there have certainly been some interesting and unique techniques to market these treats.
In the ad featured we have Sweetarts which was a personal favorite candy of mine when I was a kid. You mail away a form found on select Sweetarts packaging and you could win to a trip to New York, tour Marvel Comics Studios, and get drawn as a superhero by a Marvel comic artist. Pretty dang cool. Runner up prizes include a ton of X-Men and Spider-man merch as well. My favorite aspect of this ad has to be all the Marvel characters explaining how they became Superheroes. I’d love an alternate ad that would have The Punisher stating, “Get Your Family Murdered…”, or Ghost Rider explaining, “Make A Deal With Satan…” or Man-Thing mumbling, “Escape from Terrorists After Being Betrayed By Your Wife…”.
Perhaps the kid in the superhero garb could have a gaunt regrettable look on his face. I think it really nails the experience of eating Sweetarts: At first it’s great, then you feel bitter. Kind of like going on Facebook.
Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers on Sega Genesis, Game Gear, And Sega CD!
I never had a Sega console until the Dreamcast. I purchased it used for $60 at a store called the Music Recyclery in the early 2000s. A friend of mine had a Sega Genesis but we rarely played video games when we hung out together. I was a Nintendo kid and concerning The Power Rangers, I had rented their two video games on the Super Nintendo a number of times. I can only describe them as Diet Streets of Rage with some Dollar Store Street Fighter Megazord levels thrown in-between. But, as a diehard fan, they did the job and were passable games even till this day.
Concerning the Sega versions, the ad pictured shows screenshots of the Genesis game. This version was a Street Fighter-esque fighting game strung together by some cutscenes to present a by-the-mill MMPR story. You picked your Ranger, fought a monster, monster grew, you fought the monster as a Megazord. The Game gear version was similar except, you know, downgraded for the Game Gear. But the Sega CD version? That was interesting. The Sega CD often boasted about it’s “full motion video” which often led to “lazy boring games” and this Power Ranger “game” was no different. It was a full episode of the show. Button prompts would pop up on screen during the fights and you’d press them. Hit the right button you’d get points. Hit the wrong button you wouldn’t. But the video would continue no matter what you did. So, essentially, you paid $50 for a 22 minute episode of the Power Rangers in 240p. Sure glad I had my Nintendo.
In the video game category, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had The Power Rangers beat.
Double Dragon The Movie!
In 1993 we were gifted the Super Mario Bros. movie by cinema gods. The following year we were to be treated yet again to another game-to-film masterpiece we simply were not ready for: Double Dragon . I find the Super Mario movie to be a guilty pleasure. It’s like Dark City meets Lost World: Jurassic Park in the best and worst way possible. I wish Double Dragon were in the same category but it’s simply not. It’s just bad in a power glove type of way.
Double Dragon is based on the popular arcade game and it really blew up once it was ported to the NES. Your girlfriend gets punched in the stomach by a gang and you either pick Jimmy or Billy (they share the girlfriend?) to karate your way through the mean streets and get her back. And somewhere in time somebody thought that was 95 minute movie material. The T-1000 from T2 plays Koga Shuko, the dime store Gary Oldman villain who transforms into Bib Fortuna, Billy and Jimmy only wear their trademark outfits for 5 minutes, and production made Alyssa Milano at her peak-babeness look like a feminine Eminem cosplayer. It’s also to note that Paul Dini co-wrote this film. And if you understood what that means it’s quite shocking. I seen this film in theaters. I cannot tell you what I thought of it, but I remember wearing a Chicago Bulls windbreaker. My brain functions like Goofy’s jalopy from an old Disney cartoon.
But it’s good to know that a little over a month later we’d be given yet another gift from the cinema gods. Another wonderful game-to-movie masterpiece that human eyes couldn’t comprehend. Double Dragon may have been a financial and critical bomb but I view it as sacrificing itself for the greater good: Street Fighter the Movie. And it’s been a while since I referenced it.
We’ve reached the last page of wonderful ads straight from December 1994‘s issue of Fantastic Force: The World’s Great Fighting Team! What literary garbage will I be polluting your eyes with next time? Well, there’s just so many awful comics offered for mere shillings, how can I resist not feasting my eyes on those capitalistic endeavorers and write extremely overblown blog articles that nobody will read? You’ll always find articles on ancient comic culture right here on ChrisDoesComics. Until next time friends!