Ken Hoffman on Houston's real favorite ice cream flavor, a Coke Zero refresh, and a CVS receipt jackpot
I had one of those weeks.
Saturday night, I didn’t win the Texas Lottery, but I did land a windfall that will keep me in the lap of luxury for years to come.
I went to CVS to pick up a big jar of cashews — the Cadillac of nuts. I’m worth cashews. I don’t know why, but cashews are really inexpensive at CVS. I paid and stepped aside as the register printed my receipt with coupons for $3 off any vitamin purchase, $5 off Hallmark cards, $3 off cold/cough/flu relief, etc. About four feet of receipt.
The answer to why CVS receipts are so long: it’s still a cheaper way of distributing coupons than direct mailers.
Every once in a while, one of those coupons includes an “ExtraBucks Reward” — free money you can spend on anything in the store. The coupons are usually for $1 or $2. Occasionally I’ll get an “ExtraBucks Reward” for $5. That begins a shopping spree. I tell the cashier that I’ll be right back.
The biggest “Extra Bucks Reward” coupon I ever got was $7.
I looked at my receipt this week and there it was: an “ExtraBucks Reward” coupon for … $0.01. A penny! The receipt was mocking me.
What evil algorithm in CVS’ home office decided that I’ve spent enough on Diet Pepsi and lightly salted cashews to deserve a one-cent discount on my next purchase?
A Zero sum game
When CVS is out of Diet Pepsi, my runner-up soda is Coke Zero. Last week I read that Coke is tinkering with the formula of Coke Zero to make it taste more like regular Coke. Translation: sales of Coke Zero ain’t good. The revamped soda will have a new color scheme to its cans and bottles — total red instead of the old red and black labels.
The new Coke Zero Sugar reportedly is slightly sweeter than old version. This changes everything at Chick-fil-A, one of the few fast food places that carries Coke Zero.
It's all about image
I had an MRI last week — you ever have one? It’s torture. I’m claustrophobic. When I travel on an airplane, if I can’t get an aisle seat, I’ll wait for tomorrow’s flight. When I go to a concert or sports event, I need the aisle. I’m not that unusual, according to the National Institute of Health: 12.5 percent of Americans have a fear of closed places. An MRI is welcome to my nightmare.
There’s no aisle seat in an MRI machine. They got me on a table and slid me into a tube tighter than a Ronco home sausage maker. They don’t let you wear headphones so you can listen to music or a podcast. No, you’re going to lie in there and listen to the machine make loud banging noises. Enjoy your anxiety attack.
“How long is this going to take? Thirty to 40 minutes? Get me outta here!”
I survived the MRI because I have the strength of 10 men, the courage of a lion ... and also because I took enough Xanax to stop a freight train.
A couple of days later, I was talking to my doctor who said 25 percent of his patients can’t handle an MRI because of claustrophobia. I said, you know, they need to invent an MRI machine that isn’t like a coffin that’s two sizes too small. He said, “There is a place near here that has an open MRI.”
Wait, what? So why? Next time, I’ll just pay someone to touch up my X-Rays.
Our *real* favorite ice cream
I got an email from DoorDash with results of its poll: what are Houston’s favorite flavors of ice cream? According to DoorDash, Houston’s top five flavors are:
1. Ice cream with churros
2. Ice Cream Float
This survey is insane. “Ice cream with churros” and “ice cream float” aren’t even flavors. And it didn’t help that DoorDash misspelled our city (‘Houtson”) in the email subject line. (Editor’s note: Nicely done, DoorDash.)
You want to know what the Top 5 flavors of ice cream in Houston really are?
1. Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla
2. Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla
3. Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla
4. Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla
5. Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla
According to a Forbes article in 2004, Blue Bell owns 60 percent of all ice cream sales in Texas. Today, although Blue Bell is sold in only 22 states, it’s the third-biggest ice cream company in America.
Homemade Vanilla is Blue Bell’s most popular flavor by a country mile. Homemade Vanilla has its own case in many supermarkets. In fact, Forbes still ranks it as the best-selling single flavor of ice cream in America.