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Home » Culture and Criticism

The Nause-AA: Round of 64, Flight Spew

Submitted by on August 17, 2012 – 1:21 PM76 Comments

Today’s write-ups by Sarah D. Bunting. To vote, scroll down; to see the bracket, click here. We’ll leave these open a few days, so tell a friend (or queasy enemy).

Remember: This time, you’re voting for the food or taste you like the least. Against, not for, Survivor-style.

1 raisins vs. 16 tomatoes
I freely, proudly admit to cooking the rankings on this match-up — but I don’t know what y’all expected. As I told Joe R on Twitter yesterday, “Ain’t called ‘Raisin Nation,’ ain’t gonna be.” However: 1) while I believe many of you share my exhaustively documented hostility towards the dried grape, I believe just as many of you find them inoffensive or even enjoyable; and 2) really really a lot of people hate tomatoes, and I completely understand it. That seed glurge is quite disgusting, and it’s my opinion that there are few more heavenly bites on earth than a good Jersey tomato…but there are few more miserable bites than a grainy, pale pink, midwinter tomatoid that comes apart in your mouth like a handful of (Mon)sand(o).

In other words, you know I had to rank them this way – but I actually don’t know who’s going to make it out of this showdown alive. We may have an upset on our hands. An upset Sars, that is. BECAUSE RAISINS ARE HORRIBLE.

1 raisins vs. 16 tomatoes

  • raisins (69%, 617 Votes)
  • tomatoes (31%, 277 Votes)

Total Voters: 894

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8 cooked carrots vs. 9 eggplant
I like eggplant when it’s cooked properly, but that can be a challenge for a lot of people, and I should probably admit that my definition of “properly” involves a rollatini preparation that makes the eggplant almost an afterthought to the big old wad of ricotta. Eggplant also has a slime factor, although that doesn’t bug me that much. Cooked carrots, however: feh. I don’t loathe them, but they make the house smell like feet for hours afterwards, and they’re total filler. Proof that a given restaurant doesn’t know squat about Italian food = carrots in the primavera. I dislike them more, but I think eggplant carries the day here.

8 cooked carrots vs. 9 eggplant

  • eggplant (61%, 555 Votes)
  • cooked carrots (39%, 351 Votes)

Total Voters: 906

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5 fake cherry flavoring vs. 12 banana
(I did a poll once, I think, that proved fake banana is more loathsome to the general population, so if you want to include fake banana in your banana vote, feel free.) I hate fake-cherry stuff. Hate it, hate it, hate it. All the sourness of a real cherry, but none of the balancing tastes or textures, and it’s always so violently pink, too. But I can sympathize with the banana hate – they smell quite strong; they have gacky strings clinging to them; there’s a mushiness happening that texture-phobes can’t cope with (I like mine medium rare, so I get it); and listening to someone else eat a banana is untenable. This will be a closer race than the rankings suggest.

5 fake cherry flavoring vs. 12 banana

  • fake cherry (66%, 607 Votes)
  • banana (34%, 314 Votes)

Total Voters: 921

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4 squash vs. 13 mushrooms
Another match-up that may give us an upset. People have so many reasons to skeeve ‘shrooms – soil-y taste, fungal status, the squeaking on the teeth, the resemblance to penis heads – but I love ’em, and as a reluctant vegequarian, I’m grateful for the portabella’s portability as a meat substitute. Squash, meanwhile, has no reason to exist. It’s a serious hassle to prepare, requires pounds of seasoning to make tolerable, and has an onomatopoetically accurate name. Squaaaaashhhh. No thanks! Trying to cut down on stringy, seedy orange things that are gross! [“All I have to add is that prepping squash turns my palms orange and makes the skin peel off them. Oh, and that childhood trauma I detailed in Suffering Succotash. Yeah.” — Keckler] But that’s just me. Mushrooms grow in poo. We’re probably done here.

4 squash vs. 13 mushrooms

  • squash (59%, 511 Votes)
  • mushrooms (41%, 352 Votes)

Total Voters: 863

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6 dates/figs vs. 11 beets
My father hates one food. Beets are that food. I never had them growing up as a result, and when I finally tasted one, it was like, “…And?” I’m not going to put on shoes and a bra in the middle of the night and run out for one or anything; I just don’t see the big whoop either way. Dates and figs look like testicle sacs to me and do not taste good enough to merit the metaphorical tea-bagging.

6 dates/figs vs. 11 beets

  • beets (56%, 491 Votes)
  • dates/figs (44%, 380 Votes)

Total Voters: 871

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3 okra vs. 14 cauliflower
We had a family friend who used to bring us okra from her garden, and my mother heroically tried every possible non-fried variation because she didn’t want to be rude, or lie about it to our friend — until Mr. Stupidhead literally ran to the kitchen sink and garked up the mouthful he’d just forced down, then muttered over his shoulder, “Ma, I can’t do this anymore.” This is not an isolated reaction, I feel. Cauliflower can smell like an armpit when it’s boiled, but you can put cheese and mustard on it and bake it; you can puree it with a shit-ton of garlic; you can dip it in ranch dressing. Love it. Also, it’s a cruciform vegetable, and that’s just fun to say/show off with at the table. Okra wins easily.  [“Everyone who votes against okra has a standing invitation to have it at my house any time to experience a conversion. I love both these veggies, but have a soft spot for okra and how it won me over, as well as became my three-year-old’s most-requested vegetable.” — Keckler]

3 okra vs. 14 cauliflower

  • okra (79%, 693 Votes)
  • cauliflower (21%, 184 Votes)

Total Voters: 877

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7 prunes vs. 10 sweet potatoes/yams
Is anyone else kind of sick of sweet potatoes with booze in them? Yeah, me too. I like sweet-potato fries, though, and a roasted yam with red onion is quite delish. Prunes…I don’t know, you guys. Even if the prune is unbelievably awesome – and I’m okay with dried prunes, but “awesome” is off the table – the association with constipation is just too much for me. Prunes move ahead here.

7 prunes vs. 10 sweet potatoes/yams

  • prunes (85%, 751 Votes)
  • sweet potatoes/yams (15%, 131 Votes)

Total Voters: 882

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2 turnips/rutabagas vs. 15 onions
I had a really good turnip side dish the other day, but I’ve never reached a détente with the rutabaga, which remains resolutely unresponsive to, well, anything. Cheese doesn’t help, garlic doesn’t help, acids don’t help, sugar doesn’t help…I give up. It has a bitterness that somehow is the more off-putting for its faintness (see also: radishes). If anyone has a strategy, let’s hear it, but in the meantime: ixnay. I think the roots beat the onion handily, but enough people hate either raw onions (too “spicy”) or cooked onions (too slimy/mealy) that they could make a horse race out of this.

2 turnips/rutabagas vs. 15 onions

  • turnips/rutabagas (85%, 754 Votes)
  • onions (15%, 135 Votes)

Total Voters: 889

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  • Anlyn says:

    Prune juice – a WARRIOR’S drink!

  • Anlyn says:

    Beets is a vegetable that never occurs to me to cook for dinner. They’re just kind of…there.

    I can eat turnips in a salad, but only a very few, and they have to be sliced very thin. A thick turnip slice is just too strong.

    Love okra…pickled, fried, baked, it’s all good. Never had it raw, probably never will. Don’t know anyone who would, now that I think about it. But love pickled okra.

    I like cooked mushrooms, but not raw, unless they’re very tiny and hidden in salads.

    And finally, raisins are the devil’s food, and a fresh garden tomato is heaven’s.

  • Jesse says:

    This whole bracket is a mystery to me — there has been one easy matchup for me so far, and that’s because eggplant is disgusting. Most of the rest are delicious! Not gross at all!


  • JC says:

    Beets vs. dates/figs – Hmmm. I grew up loathing beets, due to my first and only experience in my first twenty years on earth with it being in it’s utterly loathsome pickled form. Then for some reason, I decided to make borscht with roasted beets and I loved, LOVED it.

    Figs can fuck off and die. Even the freshest ones I can find in the store are always mushy and grainy I couldn’t describe it’s flavor beyond “blandly, boringly sweet” if you put a gun to my head. I detest dried figs because in dried form those hideous, texturally-offensive crunchy seeds they have are front and center.

    I never cared for dates much either, due to that scene in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” involving a cute monkey’s date-induced death (yeah, I know, EVIL NAZI monkey – I was five). Then I made sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream and it was gastronomic heaven. I was UTTERLY devastated when Haagen-Dazs discontinued their sticky toffee pudding ice cream because that stuff is what angels eat on binge night.

    So, HATE figs but LOVE dates. However, borscht is an infrequent craving and peeling roasted beets turns my hands purple every time I make it. Beets move on.

  • attica says:

    This is a good flight. Super fun face-offs.

    I found a terrific recipe for cooked carrots that has reinvigorated their presence on my Thanksgiving table. Nuked just enough to be warm but without losing the snap, and coated in a lighter-than-it-looks-in-print rosemary/brown sugar/mustard sauce. It really does lighten up the heavy whiteness of the T-G fare, without the oversweet of the candied yam. And eggplants have to be breaded and fried into unrecognizability for me to enjoy them, so: on into the next round with you, my aubergine friend.

    I’m recently less offended by ‘shroom texture than I used to be, but squash is good in soups and to add to mac and cheese. That’s the closest race in this flight for me, but I’ll antivote for the orange one.

    As much as I like the idea of sweet potato fries, I never actually enjoy them. Too sweet, and the salt doesn’t help.

    Onions are tough. I do not digest them well. I do not enjoy their flavor, either raw or cooked. But as a base aromatic ingredient in lots of dishes, they are indispensable. I do better to let others cook ’em for me; I have no talent for it. Turnips/Rutabegas don’t offend me in anyway near as much, but if I never ate them, I’d never miss them.

    The best place for a raisin is enveloped in good dark chocolate. Other than that? Glfloothle. Tomatoes are required reading. That is all.

  • Meghan says:

    Ok, I’m never going to eat a fig again in my life!

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    Heh, anybody else go to the Rifftrax show last night? TWO glasses of prune juice!

    Prunes are just–they’ve just…stopped. Prunes are sold at the snack kiosk alongside the River Styx. If you ever want to tell someone “I’ve given up on life and so should you”, give them a box of prunes.

    Had to go with tomatoes over raisins because I quite like tomatoes once they are converted to a delicious sauce. Raw, however… and raisins, well, in granola or oatmeal cookies, fine. But quit trying to convince me they can stand on thier own. No. They can’t. They are the C- students of the fruit world.

  • Liz G. says:

    Once you threw in “fake banana” with banana, it became a whole different match up.

  • Tracey says:

    I unabashedly love prunes. I’m probably the only one.

    This flight was a toughie. Except for one item*, I’ve eaten all of these things and enjoyed them at some time. In some cases, preparation is key – for example, I prefer not to eat raw onions, but caramelized onions are the food of the gods, and I therefore can’t vote against them.

    *The One Item, is, of course, fake cherry flavoring, which is disgusting at all times and must be eradicated.

  • Rinaldo says:

    Keckler, I fear you’re destined for failure with that promise of okra-conversion. Many have tried with me, none have come close to succeeding. I rather think that okra may win the entire competition in the end.

  • Nanc in Ashland says:

    A warrior’s drink indeed! True confession: I love prunes and eat them for my afternoon snack every day. Sweet potatoes and yams make me barf. I love just-past-green bananas; if they’re too ripe I can’t handle the texture. Hate raisins but I loved the mini-series Fresno and I met the 1970 California Raisin Queen at the county fair, she was so pretty and nice that I took that mini-box of raisins despite the hate.

  • ferretrick says:

    I don’t have near the investment in this round-there’s nothing I really hate. Some fake cherry flavoring is horrible, but Cherry Coke rules, and my favorite ice cream of all time is UDF Cherry Cordial. OTOH, I have nothing against the banana. If you’d made it FAKE banana flavoring vs. fake cherry flavoring, then we’d have a matchup.

    I thought I hated sweet potatoes, as I hate most Thanksgiving food and the Thanksgiving holiday itself, but then I tasted my mother in law’s and realized that it’s because my mother can’t cook that I always hated them. Done properly, they are really good. Also, my dear husband can’t cook them right either, and was most insulted that I loved his mom’s. Heh.

    Figs gave us the Fig Newton, which is the world’s perfect cookie. Seriously, Jesus, why the hate?

    Are we talking acorn or butternut squash? Because I’m with you on the butternut, but acorn is delicious cooked, with cinnamon sprinkled on top and maple syrup. Try it.

    Finally, raisins are fine, and a well made Oatmeal Raisin cookie is delicious. Yeah, I said it.

  • Anne-Cara says:

    I confess: I voted for both tomatoes and onions. Cooked tomatoes are just…glorpy, raw tomatoes are slimy, and onions in general have that awful squeaks-between-your-teeth texture. Ugh.

  • Pam says:

    @JC: I cried the day that I bought the last 6 containers of HD Sticky Toffee Pudding out of the store’s freezer case, and sobbed big wet tears when I downed the very last spoonful. As my limited supply dwindled, I hoarded it and refused to share. I even wrote on the HD website for a while imploring them to make it again. Yes, I am pathetic, but damn, that stuff was like crack for me.

    Everyone in my hubby’s family loves pickled beets. Can’t even watch them be consumed… but I do get a slight kick out of the purple teeth my in-laws sport afterwards.

  • Judy says:

    Okay, so, the onion thing? I hate them. I like the flavor cooking them gives to things, but I hate the texture. And they’re in EVERYTHING. I literally put onions in cheesecloth when cooking pot roast, so I get the onion flavor but then I throw out the cheesecloth and the vegetation that’s left, THAT’S how much I hate it.

  • LizzieKath says:

    If fake cherry flavor doesn’t win this whole thing… fake cherry makes everything worse, and people try to pair it with good things! A hex on all chocolate ruiners, pairing horrid fake cherry to destroy all deliciousness!

  • Jenny says:

    Well, these comments are enlightening. I would have bet money that no one besides Katniss Everdeen actually enjoyed prunes for non-poop-related reasons.

    Squash vs mushrooms was a heartbreaker. Can’t I have both, stir fried with soy sauce over rice?

  • Jinxie says:

    HA! Suck it, raisins! Ain’t nothing sadder than taking a bite of what you THINK is a delicious oatmeal chocolate chip cookie (because oatmeal chocolate chip is truly the cookie of the gods) only to discover, after your first bite, that the wee chocolate nugget (hew) you thought you spotted is really an old, dessicated grape. GRAPES DO NOT BELONG IN COOKIES, GUYS. They just don’t.

  • SarahS says:

    Where to begin? ALL of my least favorite foods are in this flight. Cooked carrots, turnip, MUSHROOMS (they are like chewing on an ear lobe to me), and of course dreaded beet.

    Sars, I was tricked into eating a beet at a farmer’s market just last week, and know why? It was coated heavily in a red goo that I mistook for cherry goo. I was not sure why anyone would be handing out samples of those big sickly sweet goo-covered pie-filling cherries, but I love me some cherry pie. So that’s what I thought it was, and I popped it in my mouth and began to chew.

    It was a beet. GAAAAAACK, hork, splat, etc. I may never recover. I still don’t know what the red sauce was, but it sure as hell was not cherry in flavor.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Oatmeal BUTTERSCOTCH chip cookies are the jam. It’s the only kind of oatmeal cookie my mom made. …Shitfire, it’s 90 degrees here today but I still want to bake up some of those little happinesses right now and have a snack. While sweating.

    Also, Gen subs Craisins in for chocolate chips in cookies all the time, and I love those. Go figure.

  • anotherkate says:

    I love cherry flavored Jolly Ranchers, but I have had multiple dentist appointments this month featuring the toxic pink slime they use to numb you up for the big needles. Just “cherry” flavored enough to identify, nowhere near strong enough to cover the foul chemical burning-ness that is topical benzocaine.
    A nice unbruised still-green-at-the-top banana, on the other hand, is half of a good breakfast, or a perfect any time snack. Banana Runts can crawl into a corner and die, though.

  • Lis says:

    Onions are from the devil. The ruin everything they come in contact with raw. Cooked, the slime and squick factor make me want to hurl. Meanwhile? French Onion Soup is my favorite soup (I only eat the bread, cheese and broth. Nary an onion enters my mouth). I have issues. I know.

  • slices says:

    How’s this for a sick little twist. My favorite Thanksgiving side dish that my mom makes is turnips and carrots mashed together with lots of butter and salt and pepper. It’s actually a really pretty color and has that root-vegetably deliciousness which I am partial to. In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t think this dish would make either veg more palatable to those of you who hate one or the other…

  • Tarn says:

    “…listening to someone else eat a banana is untenable”

    Aaaand that was the decider right there, in a tough matchup for me. I can eat and enjoy a banana that is exactly in the just-ripe zone, but otherwise blecch. And the sound…gah, the slimy smacking sound…”thanks” for reminding me of that Sars. Banana gets my vote. [Chugs a Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi just for good measure]

    I love cauliflower, but my best friend, the foodiest foodie I know, won’t go near it because she’s convinced that it looks like a wart. I sort of have to overcome that visual when I eat it now. “Thanks” bestie.

    Beets are probably my least favorite food of all time. They are vile clods of bloody dirt. They should not exist. Beets FTW.

  • Janie says:




  • A says:

    Wait, what kind of squash are we talking about? You’re describing icky orange blech, and I’m imagining happy little zucchini and summer squash. Do I need to change my vote?

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I was putting the “butt” back in “butternut,” but any other squorshy pestilence may also be assumed.

  • MaryBeth says:

    @Lis, I am with you on onions. Seeing a raw one in my potato salad makes me barf inside my mouth, as does tasting a cooked one that sneaked in on the underside of a fork full of pot roast. But I adore french onion soup, with its gooey bread and crusty cheese. If not for the onions that I leave in the bottom of the bowl, it would be a near-perfect food.

    As for beets – am I the only one who fed them to a baby and then had to change technicolor diapers for a week?

  • frogprof says:

    You put turnips and rutabagas but left out parsnips?

    I know, I know. Americans don’t EAT parsnips. Well, this one did, and it was the biggest waste of calories I think I’ve ever experienced. No taste, very little texture [these were roasted] but enough like a turnip that I probably dropped most of it on the floor for the dog to snarf.

    Except my English cousins — at whose home I was spending Christmas and thus eating their Christmas dinner — don’t HAVE a dog.


    Oh, and I truly love fake-cherry-flavored anything. And okra, as long as it’s cooked in “vejetibble gumbo,” as my great-aunt used to call it. Or fried. Mmmmm, fried okra.

  • Delia says:

    This is a great bracket. There used to be 2 foods I hated as a child. 1 Mushrooms, and 2.Beets. Then I married someone from Poland, and guess what foods are staples in Polish cuisine? Mushrooms and beets, for goodness sakes. Bad karma much?

    The third “food” or flavor I hate the most is fake cherry flavor. Cherry pies are almost never natural, and they are so sticky and nastily red.

    If I could vote these three “foods” out of existence, I would gladly do so.

  • Krissa says:

    The hated fake cherry flavoring is the only cherry anything I’ve ever had. I refuse to even try actual cherries, even though they are beautiful, because I cannot get the mental taste of the fake flavor out of my head. Cherries taste like sweetened motion sickness with a little barf after-taste, I’m sure of it.

    I make a BOMB bisque that is (butternut) squash-based, and all of you – ALL of you, would love it.

    I think the problem most people have with sweet potatoes is that 1) they are overcooked, and 2) they are prepared with sweet things. Spicy sweet potatoes are so much better! Get those mini-marshmallows away from my root vegetables.

  • Sherry says:

    Lots of foods here that I like, or don’t actively hate. LOVE onions and tomatoes! Tomatoes are my go-to summer food; I don’t eat them with breakfast (my dad does), but they’re a part of every other meal.

    Other than fried okra, the other way my family makes them is boiled in tomato juice (or home canned V4 juice, which is even better) with chopped onions for added flavor. That would probably be a no-go dish for any number of people posting here.

  • Anlyn says:

    Tarn, I refuse to eat guacamole because it looks like green vomit.

    I like the flavor of dried cranberries, but I hate the texture. Whereas I hate both the flavor AND the texture of raisins.

  • Jane says:

    I was so sad about the beets vs. dates/figs choice. I love beets and I love dates and no one even knows what a fig looks like in Kansas, so I don’t know, but I bet I’d like them.

  • scout1222 says:

    This was a great round. I hate exactly two vegetables: okra and mushrooms, so those two were super easy. (In okra’s “defense” I’ve never had it deep fried, but really, I don’t think I need to.)

    As a vegetarian, hating mushrooms is a real pain in the ass. Oh, you’re a vegetarian? Instead of this chicken dish, how ’bout a big portobello? HAAARRFFF.

  • Maria says:

    Mushrooms are the *reproductive organs* of a fungus. SpeeYACK.

    The recent (last 3-5 years?) marketing ploy of packaging prunes as “dried plums” makes me giggle.

  • Hannah says:

    I voted tomato, because it’s something I truly cannot chew and swallow in its raw form, while raisins are slightly more edible. But now I want to change my vote, because I .want. to like tomatoes–they’re fresh veggies and they appear in .good. cooking so often, whereas raisins need not make an appearance at all in anything ever.

    But tomatoes…the second I taste a bit of raw tomato, the back of my throat seizes up and my tongue goes into emergency mouth-emptying mode.

  • ct says:

    Onions smell like a sweaty person’s undeodorized armpit.

  • Natalie says:

    Heh, one of my favorite winter dishes is roasted turnips, rutabagas, sweet potatoes and fennel. Dice ’em, toss with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Low and slow roasting makes them all sweet and just a little bit brown around the edges.

    My apologies to anyone who just horfed. If you include fennel as a licorice-tasting thing, my beloved dish is an Axis of Spew.

  • Still Another Kate says:

    “do not taste good enough to merit the metaphorical tea-bagging.”

    I laughed until milk I was drinking – because milk is awesome – came out of my nose. Snorrrrthonk.

    That is all.

  • Tarn says:

    Aww, I love guacamole! Or I did. “Thanks” Anlyn.

  • clover says:

    Nothing in today’s match-ups passes the I-would-sleep-at-the-dinner-table-rather-than-eat-one-bite-of-this-to-satisfy-my-mom test. Eggplant and turnips and cauliflower definitely wouldn’t make my short (or long) list of yummy things, but they’re choke-down-able, as opposed to mayo-drenched salads, yogurt, and oatmeal. [insert vomiting noise here]

  • Kitty says:

    This was the easiest round yet for me to vote in. Raisins are Satan’s candy and should be outlawed.

  • clover says:

    And also, I thought cauliflower was OK until my friend who wrestled in college persuaded me to Google “cauliflower ear.” Don’t do it.

  • Rachel says:

    Hit my first “cannot vote” – squash vs mushrooms. Two of my favourite foods ever! This was made up for by the waited-for arrival of a chance to vote against okra.

  • Empress says:

    Oh Krissa, your post made me sad! I haaaaaate fake cherry flavoring, but summer-ripe cherries are my favorite fruit. You can only get the good ones for a few weeks late in summer, but they’re worth waiting all year for.

  • Jordyn says:

    Man, I love mushrooms. That means I’m supposed to vote against acorn squash?? Really?? Dang that was a tough one.

    I heart cauliflower and abhor okra.

    Also, the one and only and most excellent way to eat rutabaga: boil it well and mash with boiled white potatoes 50/50, then use as a base in the bowl to pour beef (or assorted other) stew over. Generally, your stew should be thinner than the standard, with no cut potatoes in it since the potato-y goodness is underneath.

  • Keckler says:

    All dried fruit — except apples for some reason — need to eat themselves and die.

    Okay, fine, I can deal with currants BUT NOTHING LARGER. No raisins, no craisins (which I always read as “crappy raisins”), no dried cherries, no dried apricots, no prunes, no freaking banana chips.

    When a fruit dries out, throw it out. It’s dessicated, it’s dead, it’s NOT NATURAL.

    Even worse are reconstituted dried fruits — if you wanted them plump and juicy, why did you dry them in the first place?!

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Just a reminder, folks — you’re voting for the MORE DISGUSTING. Not the one you like best, but the one you like LEAST.

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