Friday, June 26, 2009

Scary Train Rides Again

Every so often, the Scary Train comes out at our house. If you didn't see the original post, let me show you what the commercials promised this thing would sound like:

And here's what ours sounds like:

Just to see the reaction, we took out Scary Train this morning and tried it out. My daughter was not as impressed as the kids in the video. The last time, when I recorded the Scary Train video clips, she was content to sit and play in the other room. Her reaction this time? 'No! No! No! Don't like it!'

Looks like it's going back on the shelf for a while...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Glory of the Vachon Cake Part 1 - The Jos Louis

Back in the day, school lunches were pretty simple. In those days, no one was allergic to anything. Or, if they were, their parents told them not to trade their lunches for something they were allergic to. As far as I ever knew, no foods were banned from the school because of someone else's allergies. So most school lunches consisted of peanut butter sandwiches. There may have been other sandwich fillings on the go, but for at least the first nine years of school, I had a peanut butter sandwich for lunch for at least four out of five days. You could count on it. Most other people had the exact same sandwich. Only difference might be whether they had crusts and/or jam with theirs.

The variety came with the lunch additions. You looked to compare juice boxes. If you were lucky, you got a fancy-pants milkshake drink box. If you were really lucky, you got one of those candy bar milkshakes in a little plastic bottle. (Yogurt drinks are something for another discussion). You also had some kind of a recess snack. Various fruit snacks, fruit roll-ups and the like, or granola bars, which may or may not have ben covered in chocolate.

The real glory, though, was what you got for dessert. And the Vachon Cakes were among the best of the best. As a note for Americans and other aliens: Vachon Cakes are more or less equivalent to Twinkies or Ding Dongs or whatever those other disgusting-but-oh-so-tasty treats are. You know what I'm talking about: individually wrapped cakes with a lot of sugar and sticky sweet cream. Or perhaps it was creme.

The jewel of the Vachon crown was the Jos. Louis. At one point in university, a friend commented on how he hadn't had a Jos. Louis in years, and just the memory of it compelled me to go out and buy a box of them right then and there. Jos. Louis was two round chocoalte cakes, with creamy sweet white filling sandwiched between. Then the whole business was coated in chocolate. Very good eats.

The approved way to eat your Jos. Louis was thus: carefully work at splitting the two cake layers apart, as if you were splitting an Oreo. This took plenty more skill and patience, because unlike a hard cookie, the cake was likely to split and tear, leaving half the upper cake still stuck to your cream. In an ideal world, the two would come neatly apart, and you got to lick the cream off the bottom. If you had any sense, you'd eat the top half next. There's more chocolate on the bottom, and for some reason it tasted different. Eating the top half was a bit of an anti-climax after the bottom. I'm really not sure why.

From time to time, my parents would branch out and get us the other, very similar Vachon Cake: the May West. So far as I can tell, and as far as Wikipedia and the Vachon homepage can tell me, they were exactly the same, except that a May West has white cake instead of the chocolate cake of a Jos. Louis. I'm not sure, though. I think there was a different flavour to the filling, but I'd be hard put to tell you exactly how it tasted different. Does anyone else remember them?

And here's one last thing that I've noticed about the Jos. Louis. When I was nearing the end of my school days, they came out with a thing called the '1/2 Jos. Louis', which was half the size, but still covered in chocolate (not to be confused with the 1/2 (or Lune) Moon. Interestingly enough, today you can buy a box of six Jos. Louis for $3.39, or a box of 10 1/2 Jos. Louis for exactly the same $3.39! So you get much more snack for your buck buying the real thing, but if you go the 1/2 size, you get more of them, and you get to be a cheapskate while packing your kid's lunch. Why not make him share his juice box with his little brother while you're at it?!