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Test Pattern: Weird new foods

Spiced Pepsi? Printed Pringles? Who’s hungry? By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
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Five-link Friday: Weird foods

This week's Five-link Friday has a theme: Weird new foods. Inspired by, of course, Jones Soda's announcement of their Thanksgiving-themed beverages, otherwise known as item #1. Bon appétit!

• Starting off the whole tasty parade: Having turkey and gravy soda last year just wasn't enough for Seattle-based Jones Soda. green bean casserole soda (I don't even eat the non-soda version), fruitcake soda (ditto), mashed potato soda and, the only non-vomit-inducing one, cranberry soda.

• Remember Dixie riddle cups? Pringles is attempting a similar concept with Pringles Prints, in which they actually print trivia questions and other things right on the surface of the chip itself (). How do they taste? According to the great snack-food review site, they taste ... .

• Now this new food product is truly a great idea, especially for chocoholics and bakers, both of which I am. (Of which both I am? Of both which I am? You get the picture.) Anyway, the chips , making for a surreally beautiful cookie.

• I linked to these before, but they fit the "weird food" theme so well I had to mention them again: .

• And for a limited time only, you can now buy . The company's site says that Holiday Spice Pepsi "gets its festive flavor from a hint of cinnamon and ginger." that, while it's probably suitable for mixed drinks, "it only takes one taste to finger the [spices] as cinnamon and an awful concentrated pine essence." Ho ho ho!

Seen an oddball new food product? Send it in for future linkage.

Sunny day, sweeping the clouds away

A friend of mine turns 35 today. You know him, too, and if you have kids, or have had kids any time in the last three decades, they know him well.

Happy 35th birthday, “Sesame Street.” The show debuted Nov. 10, 1969, on what later became PBS.

The cast of \"Sesame Street\" poses in this undated publicity photo. \"Sesame Street Presents: The Street We Live On,'' a retrospective of the show as it enters its 35th season, airs on most PBS stations Sunday, April 4, 2004 at 8 p.m. EST, and also serves as the season opener the next day. (AP Photo/PBS, Richard Termine)Richard Termine / PBS

I beat “Sesame” into existence, but barely. And I can’t remember any part of my childhood without the show.

TV was different back then. We didn’t have 500 channels, with Noggin and Boomerang and Disney and Nickelodeon all catering to kids. You were lucky if there was one program a day on that appealed to you, and naturally, there were no VCRs and DVD players, either. “Sesame” shook things up in the best of ways.

It showed us a different world, too. Growing up in suburban Minnesota, I had never seen a world like the one on the show. City streets, no grass, neighbors living so close to each other, a store you could walk to, front stoops…it might have been old hat to kids in New York City, but those of us in the ‘burbs were entranced.

Not to mention the diversity of this world, which shocked some viewers when the show first was introduced. I remember reading that some channels in the South refused to air it because it showed black and white children playing together. As a suburban white kid, I ended up having my very first crush on the show’s Gordon, an African-American man. The issues of the great big world outside “Sesame Street” were dealt with thoughtfully and lovingly on the show, and in later years, it continued on that path. Many young viewers first dealt with death when the show’s beloved shopkeeper, Mr. Hooper, passed away.

I tuned in to “Sesame Street” yesterday just to see how things were going on the ol’ street. Ernie and Bert were still there, dancing around with some sheep. (I don’t know…) A diverse crowd of humans were dancing and playing music in front of a familiar-yet-updated street sign (Whoopi Goldberg, was that you?). Elmo, who came along after I grew up, was boogeying with some cartoon furniture. Maria and Luis, two faces from my childhood, didn’t seem to have aged one bit. And one of my favorite Muppets of all time, Oscar the Grouch, was still hanging out in his trash can, with his worm, Slimey.

I was also entertained to see “Sesame” respecting its own past, showing clips from old shows marked with street signs showing the year the segment first aired. The times, the times we’ve come through. C3PO and R2D2 from “Star Wars” visited in 1978, Mr. Hooper died in 1983, Snuffleupagus was revealed to be real in 1985, William Wegman’s weimaraners visited in 1993, Tony Bennett sang “Fly Me to the Moon” in 1997,  REM visited in 1999 (changing the lyrics of one of their songs to be “Furry Happy Monsters laughing”), Big Bird’s home was destroyed in 2001 (paralleling the Ground Zero attacks), Elmo met a New York City fireman in 2002. The show adjusts for the times, but it never really changes, and that’s the best part.

It was worth tuning in just to see the famed “Mahna Manha” song playing under the credits. (But now I’m going to need a brain operation to get that catchy tune out of my head…mahna manha…dee-dee, dee-deedee…)

Think you know “Sesame”? Take their and see how much you remember. I got some of them right (Host of Monsterpiece Theater? Why, that’d be Allistair Cookie, of course!) but on others, I was clueless. (When did Oscar the Grouch get a pet elephant?).

Happy birthday, "Sesame Street," and many, many more.

Entertainment to look forward to

There's a great comic strip where Charlie Brown gives his definition of happiness. He says "Happiness is having at least two things to look forward to and nothing to dread."

The little round-headed kid knew what he was talking about. Especially in the entertainment world, it's easy and fun to make little mental lists of upcoming things to look forward to. Here's some of what I'm excited about:

TV• "The Amazing Race" returns to CBS on Nov. 16 for its sixth season. Here's a . My only fear is that viewers could burn out on this high-quality reality show, considering that the fifth season (hi, !) ended less than two months ago, but the show is so good that I'm not too concerned.

• The well-constructed preview for   has had me jonesing to see the Liam Neeson film for months now, and it finally opens Friday. There's a great scene in the preview where Neeson addresses the audience, explaining how important it is to have an accurate survey of American sexual habits, then uncorks his pen and says "Let's begin." Then the movie cuts to a great montage of nervous-looking post-war Americans answering various questions (we don't get to see the questions, just the answers, which makes for a funny bit). Neeson and co-star Laura Linney look excellent, and I know so little about Kinsey that I'm hoping for a little education.

BOOKS may have been unfairly dogged with that whole "voice of his generation" label after "Generation X" and "Microserfs," but he's still one of the few modern writers that I will buy anything by. His next book, won't be available until January in the U.S., but already Kirkus Reviews is calling it his "weirdest and most accomplished work to date."

• Being a true-crime buff who admittedly was kind of disappointed in latest hardcover ("Green River Running Red"), I'm still looking forward to Rule's next book, a paperback in her Crime Files series. "Kiss Me, Kill Me" will be available in December.

• I've written before about how excited I am that the ... in Trapper Keeper format! Not sure if I'm more excited to see them again or to give them as gifts to like-minded grown-up 1970s kids.

• I won't have to wait long for my next DVD pick: "Gone With the Wind" has been reissued on DVD as of today. There are two other DVD editions already, but the says "they finally got it right this time." The film has been beautifully restored and has a bunch of goodies, including screen tests and an Olivia de Havilland interview that's been heavily touted in TV commercials.

MUSIC• Musicians die, but their music lives on. Ten years after Kurt Cobain killed himself and we're still getting Nirvana songs we've never heard before. On Nov. 23, the Nirvana box set will be released, featuring 68, count 'em, 68, previously unreleased tracks. Here we are now, entertain us.

What are you looking forward to? Send in your picks.