The Golden Toilet Bowl rating system just seemed to evolve naturally, after several unfortunate episodes and/or close encounters with items described in detail on the Gastronomical Curiosities page. Each 'food product' is rated from 6 Golden Toilet Bowls down to 1, taking into consideration the likelihood of its causing severe gastrointestinal distress, inducing the gag reflex, causing momentary vertigo when you catch a whiff after opening the can, brain damage, etc., etc.
- Get ready for a rush, but not necessarily the adrenaline kind. The coveted 6-bowl rating only goes to those products that produce some kind of immediate, and usually unwelcome, reaction from unwary consumers. Extremes in color, odor, or appearance (sometimes all at once) are the hallmarks of a 6-bowl nightmare-in-a-can.
- A solid alternative dining experience awaits you. Be prepared to have your senses taken on a ride as your mouth decides exactly what it was you just put in your mouth, and your brain tries to work out whether it wants to fight the intruder off or run from it (the ancient 'fight or flight' response).
- Food in only the loosest sense of the word, which is what your bowels may become after consuming anything at this rating or above. Extremes in texture and/or smell characterize awardees at this level, as does a lack of even vague nutritional value.
- Middle of the road in ratings only, choices at this level are guaranteed to give your lower digestive tract a thorough workout and make you 'feel the burn' in a whole new way, especially if you overindulge in the number of servings. If you're feeling adventurous, or really lucky, try combining two or more for an unforgettable eating experience.
- Close, but not dangerously so, to something that might at some point have been edible. A good choice for breaking into the ever-expanding world of canned mystery meat and other bottom-of-the-shelf convenience store delicacies.
Wimp. You probably think eating an MRE* is living dangerously. Go chug
down a bottle of Tabasco sauce and get back to us.
|Armour Star Treet||Holds together very well, but has a texture reminiscent of heavily-waxed particle board and enough hardened fat around the perimeter to make a small but useable candle.|
|Armour Star Potted Meat Food Product||At one point the standard bearer for just how gross things in a can could be, this dining icon still rates a solid 5 bowls for its imaginative use of various dead animal parts.|
|Armour Star Vienna Sausage||They just don't look very dangerous, hence the low rating, but rest assured, they are a solid alternative to real food.|
|Hormel Spam||Pigs aren't square in nature, but Hormel has taken care of that little problem. Just be sure to thoroughly wash your pig-in-a-can before you eat him/her/it. Open the can (slowly!) and you'll see what we mean.|
|Hormel Spam Spread||There's just something ... wrong ... about being able to spread Spam. Especially Spam that has something other than pig parts mixed in with it.|
|Libby's Corned Beef||It's not cat food - it's more like dog food (having a really bad day) in texture and smell; it does, however, come out of the can as one solid lump. Here you go, boy, fetch!|
|Armour Star Dried Beef||The resemblance to dried cold cuts is uncanny, but at least most of those have some flavor. This has none, really, unless you like salt. Lots and lots of salt. Did we mention the salt?|
|Underwood White Meat Chicken Spread||The taste is ... OK ... but the texture makes you wonder what exactly this stuff is, and what they put in it to enable it to hold such a rigid shape when you glop it out onto a plate.|
|Sweet Sue Chicken Breast||Pretty tame, it actually looks like it used to be a viable animal. Emphasis on 'used to be.'|
|Penrose Polish Sausage||Not so much the sausages themselves, but all the little 'bits' floating in the pickling water may give you pause. Or not.|
|Hormel Pigs Feet||None needed, the name says it all. Strong contender for the 'Lifetime Champion' Golden Toilet Bowl award.|
|Hormel Roast Beef||Very resilient slices of meat - almost too resilient. It almost makes you wonder if it's really meat at all ...|
|Banner Sausage||Products like this are why we need the USDA. No, wait, they approved this ...|
|Reese's Sardines||At least these fish are dead when you swallow them whole (chewing not recommended).|
|Morton House Sliced Beef||There is meat, swimming in all the gravy, but you have to hunt for it. Maybe that was the idea - hide the main course under enough oozing brown goo to frustrate the potential diner into just bolting it all down.|
|Brunswick Kippered Herring||Size does matter. These fish are too big to just swallow, so you have to chew them up, or risk choking, and that gives you a very full-flavored experience.|
|Vietti Pork with Barbecue Sauce||The chunky, granular appearance of the meat has a lot to do with the rating, as does the overwhelming odor of the sauce. You could always use it as a weapon - the full can, that is.|
Just to clear up a lingering question, none of these delicacies were bought at a corner Chinese grocery, some weird foreign food shop, on-line at www.thingsthatmakemebarf.net or anyplace other than the locally-owned or chain grocery store (although we do admit that some 'field research' was done in numerous convenience stores). These are all things the grocers of America think people will actually pay money to later gag down in the sanctity of their own homes. There must be something to that thought, or there wouldn't be 7 varieties of Vienna sausage, for starters. No wonder the United States is the greatest nation on Earth!
Now that you've got all this vitally important information under your belt, and hopefully heading for your stomach, it's time to return to the Gastronomical Curiosities page for another delicious bite.
*MRE - Meal, Ready to Eat, acronym for field rations consumed by U.S. armed forces.
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This page was last updated April 1, 2004