Product Reviews – April 2012

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Bacon Soda by Bacon Freak

Bacon Freak
Bacon Soda
Baconfreak.com
Offering a wide array of all things bacon, baconfreak.com has everything from bacon coffee and bacon jerky to bacon cookbooks. One of the coolest things I found was the Bacon of the Month Club, where you get two different flavored packages of gourmet bacon delivered to your door each month. You can also get a “BACON IS MEAT CANDY” shirt and a recipe book. Bacon and soda are two of my favorite things. Naturally combining them would be awesome, right? My roommate and I reluctantly shared this fantasy beverage next to the sink, just in case it didn’t live up to our dreams. After popping the top and pouring two glasses, the dream of  pork-flavored soda started to dwindle for the both of us. It smelled like cheap beef jerky and the color was a brownish pink. Hesitantly, I took the first sip only to find no more than a light sugar flavor followed by its overpowering odor. My roommate was in agreement about the lack of any noticeable flavor, let alone the taste of the king of breakfast meats. I took more sips off my glass hoping to find bacon nirvana, but I didn’t. Nauseated and on the verge of losing my lunch, I poured what was left down the drain. This is purely a novelty soda and definitely not something you would drink willingly. Water and Bacon Bits would have tasted better than this soda. Join the Bacon of the Month Club instead and you won’t be disappointed. –Eric Granato

Blender Bottle
Classic Blender Bottle
BlenderBottle.com
When I first started working out, I was given the advice that in order to build my muscle tone fast, I should have a protein drink within 30 minutes of getting my ass kicked by a heavy workout. The premade protein drinks made me want to puke in my mouth, so I knew I was going to have to start mixing my own with a portable shaker. It was cheaper and easy to mix protein powder with water, but I always hated the fucking clumpy globs that would settle in the bottom on my shaker. So I gave up the portable protein drinks until I was handed this 28oz orange dandy for review. I gave the Blender Bottle the mobile test, and even tried adding in some of the items recommended on the neck tag (fruit juice, yogurt). Its BlenderBall© worked pretty damn well. It whipped up some good protein shakes that didn’t have globs. However, the Blender Bottle is not perfect. It claims to have a leak-proof design, but I think this is one of its obvious flaws. The StayOpen™ flip cap is awkward and difficult to secure tightly. I didn’t have problems while shaking, but I think I was holding it closed with my index finger. I ended up with a damp gym bag that smelled like ass (have you ever smelled liquid whey protein that has sat in a hot car for several hours after it was intended to be consumed?). Nasty shit, and I was displeased to find my entire car reeking like it. –Olivia Newton John

Earloomz
Bluetooth Headset
Earloomz.com
I tend to geek out on gadgets, so I was psyched to review these Earloomz. First of all, the design on this particular headset is a Patrick Nagel design, Rio. Yes, that Rio, as in the cover of the Duran Duran album of the same name. So, I’m a kid of the ’80s—sue me. There are about 30 different designs to choose from on the website. Once the headset was freed from its packaging (and like most small gadgets, the packaging is excessive) it took about two hours to charge the headset with the included charger. I was easily able to pair the headset to my phone. This Earloomz headset is very simple to use, with only one button to call/answer and redial. The volume is controlled by your phone. The headset was quite comfortable to wear—it features a thin, clear plastic arm which hooks over the top of your ear (it can be worn on either ear). This headset also has an ear bud-like component that fits comfortably into your ear. Other headsets that I’ve tried in the past didn’t have this feature, and they felt as though they were flopping around on my ear. Regarding how the headset performed, even when my phone was at the highest volume, I was wishing that I could increase the volume a little bit more, especially when I was on the road. The Earloomz Bluetooth headset will set you back around $60.  –Diane Hartford

Fanny Wang Headphone Co.
On-Ear Wangs
Fannywang.com
Shit you not, these headphones are called “On-Ear Wangs.” If you don’t think that’s rad, you need to re-evaluate your adolescence. The Wangs are super modern looking: The exterior design is streamlined with a textured wave pattern on a matte finish, available in six different colors. I know the whole retro look is still in right now, but I really dig the futuristic design of the entire Fanny Wang collection—especially the bold colors. Aesthetics isn’t the only thing putting this company five steps ahead. Fanny Wang has a patent-pending “DuoJack” that comes with every headset. What does this mean for you? Well, keeping up with the nostalgic, middle school trip, your friend can plug directly into your audio cable and listen to the latest pop-punk album you downloaded off Napster on the bus ride to the planetarium! Seriously, though, this DuoJack would’ve made 13-year-old Esther the most popular bus-seatmate in the history of field trips. Of course, your friend isn’t going to get the same top-notch listening experience you are if they’re not rockin’ a set of Wangs as well. Oh man … What if your friend had some Wangs, and their friend had Wangs, and their friend had Wangs, etc., and they were all plugged into each other?! I better get credited on your future ad campaign, Fanny. –Esther Meroño

Hi-Tec
Sierra Mid
Hi-Tec.com   
Rising temps in the valley give way to the spring-thaw downtown, and it becomes prime trekking weather. The new Hi-Tec Sierra Mid is a classically designed crossover piece that has versatility built in. Starting from the ground up, the Sierra Mid offers superb traction with its tacky Vibram sole. For the urban dweller that likes to venture down a dusty trail, this shoe keeps you on top in most conditions. Cruising around the streets of SLC is comfortable in the supple leather upper, and the side vents keep the feet at an even temp. Its smooth styling makes it eye-catching and the transition from trail to sidewalk is seamless. The Sierra Mid also grips pretty well on a longboard and further proves it has a variety of applications. –Sean Zimmerman-Wall

Liberty Bottleworks
Custom Water Bottle
Libertybottleworks.com
This Liberty water bottle is like the mag light of bottles. The most impressive feature of this 100-percent-recycled aluminum container is the click-in lid that indubitably ensures that the cap will not only stay on, but will not leak. A little peg in the bottle locks into a hole in the cap by way of a groove in the cap. Only the force of a human hand can lock or unlock it. In a way, it actually makes you realize how much you fuck up: If I drop the water bottle and it leaks, lo and behold, I didn’t tighten the cap, so its click-in feature didn’t take effect. When I made sure that the cap was clicked in, though, I threw the damn thing all over the place. Not a drop splotched my mom’s carpet. The cap has arc-like extensions that are easy to hook onto a carabiner or some sort of strap while you cycle through the city or rock climb or whatever. What’s more is that you can customize your own Liberty bottle online, or you can pick from one of their artist’s designs or choose from a seasonal design such as this month’s theme for Earth Day. What really surprised me was the price: Generally speaking, $16 for a 24 oz. bottle and $18 for a 32 oz. bottle. I’m fairly certain that the bottles at Whole Paycheck (Foods) cost more, so get onto their site and get your drink on as spring takes full effect. –Alexander Ortega

RIPT Apparel
24-Hour Printed T-Shirts
RIPTApparel.com
The latest geek-fueled fashion craze to catch national popularity has been the 24-hour T-shirt websites. A design is put online for a day to purchase and ship cheaply, but once that clock runs out, those designs are never sold there again. I’ve been purchasing these shirts from various websites for the past year, so imagine my joy when four were sent our way from RIPT Apparel. Like many designs, some of these have a double meaning, like the union symbol shirt pays tribute to the Evil Dead film series with a prominent shotgun and chainsaw: the “Kremlins” shirt features the cute and cuddly Gremlins wearing communist hats, and the “Sons Of Eternia” shirt pays homage to He-Man with a parody of the Sons Of Anarchy logo. The great benefit is that the designs change daily, which means if you find something you love, chances are you’ll be the sole owner in your group, and you only paid 50% of the cost of a shirt at Hot Topic. The downside: They’re mostly made of various thin fabrics, like ringspun, notorious for shrinking in the wash. An added bonus: There’s always someone who’s never seen the shirt and will get the joke instantly. –Gavin Sheehan

Sanuk
Standard Streaker
Sanuk.com
I take a lot of flack from friends of mine about how I usually eschew real shoes for the more comfortable flip-flops, even in bad weather. “Comfort is comfort,” I argue, as my feet get cold and wet. So imagine my joy at a pair of slip-ons that don’t feel constraining or clunky. Sanuk makes a lot of shoes, from sandals to heavier, hippy-looking slippers, but the Standard Streaker is perfectly balanced in the middle. There’s an awesome, mesh sock liner that provides for my needed comfort, and a sturdy rubber construction that feels like it won’t fall apart in the first week like some similar shoes (cough, Vans, cough). Add that they come in a few great color combinations like my sexy, navy blue and orange, and I have the perfect shoe for almost anything. These are robust enough that I can ride my bike in cold weather, but light enough that I won’t get sweaty feet doing the same thing in the summer. Nice work Sanuk—I’m hard to satisfy. –Rio Connelly

Udi’s Gluten Free Foods
Udisglutenfree.com
Udi’s is delicious. No doubt about it, they have accomplished their goal—“We bake for taste,” it says right on the package. The problem I have, though, is with the quantity and sometimes questionable quality of ingredients listed on this same package. As an individual with various food sensitivities, and therefore Udi’s target audience, I am a compulsive ingredient-list-reader, and usually, the less I see on that list, the better. Now, in their defense, a couple of the products do alright, like the Au Naturel Granola, which is a nice, simple granola made with gluten-free oats, honey and oil. When it comes to the baked goods, though, these gluten-free replicas can be just as bad if not worse than some of their counterparts. Ingredients ranged from corn syrup (Cinnamon Rolls) to xanthan gum, a grody, non-nutritive ingredient found padding a lot of processed, gluten-free food (it’s made from the same bacteria that causes black rot on certain veggies–yum!) With 28 ingredients in the Omega Flax & Fiber bread, I was a little creeped out before I ate some of this stuff. Still, I ate way more of the Double Chocolate Muffins and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies than I meant to, because they were delicious. Unfortunately, I did have a stomach ache the next day, so gluten-free or no, I still felt like shit after eating it. –Ischa B.

Vew-Do Balance Boards
El Dorado
Vewdo.com
Vew-Do specializes in making high-end balance boards, elevating them from a fun retro toy at Grandma’s house to cross-training tools for athletes. The El Dorado is an advanced model that features a skate-inspired deck that comes fully grip taped, ensuring your feet stay right where they should. It also has a track with stoppers on each end so your ill-balanced ass doesn’t end up on the floor—sounds funny, doesn’t feel funny. This balance board is awesome for honing your balance skills with minimal risk so you can perform at your peak in any sport that calls your name. After knee surgery last season, I was left with extremely sub-par balance—I fall over while walking straight and standing still, and snowboarding has become a whole lot harder than it used to be. I would like to think I was once fairly competent in the snowboarding department, but now my lack of balance causes my upper body to randomly flail, making me look like the special kid who wandered away from the bunny hill. But Vew-Do will change all of this. The El Dorado provides more challenge than a typical balance board, due to the radial taper on the rock that creates a reduced riding surface. I’ve spent a few minutes every day on it, and I can already tell my balance is improving. Plus, it’s actually really fun. By next season, I shall have my shred prowess back, all thanks to the guys over at Vew-Do. –Katie Panzer

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