Why hello there, my delightful Catastronauts, a name I’m still not a huge fan of, despite being its only user. And welcome to another Edible Adventure! Which is my half-established name for whenever we do a tasting on the site. If you’d forgotten, I don’t blame you. It’s been at least six months since we did any kind of tasting, since back when I did weird fruits.
That’s my fault: I ended up doing three tasting posts within five weeks, and whenever I stack up similar content like that without PLANNING to do so (like a few weeks ago with the Diet post and the Allergy post the next week) it irritates me in a very profound way. It makes me feel repetitive and cheap. So I tend to veer away from that subject for a while. (That’s also why there was a big gap in Meandering America’s Menus posts for a while: I was forming a habit of doing them immediately following Culinary Compendium posts, and I didn’t like continuing that precedent.)
BUT ENOUGH OF SITE BASED MINUTIAE: This tasting post’s topic will already take some tactful elaboration and organization. So, let’s continue the them established on Monday, and discuss my terrible eating habits.
If You Are What You Eat, it’s No Wonder I Feel Like Crap All The Time
Look, I’m a D&D-playing, overweight nerd who lived alone in a dorm and had a guild in WoW. OF COURSE I’ve even a shit ton of pre-packaged foods, typically with soul-destroying quantities of sodium: Top Ramen, Hot Pockets, Totino’s Pizza Rolls, Mountain Dew, Funyuns, I’ve eaten them all, with gusto. As I’ve frequently said in the past: I am a gourmand, not a gourmet.
Though you can keep those red-shelled little bastards away from me, Henri Brispot.
And sure, all of those above statements were true, but they weren’t the only things that motivated me to products like those. For every time I drank Mountain Dew and ate Funyuns during a D&D session, I had a day where my only meal was a microwave burrito as I stopped at home between two jobs. I’ve eaten meals based on what was available at the vending machines in the theatre building I had entered 10 hours ago, and was still 4 hours away from leaving. I lived for roughly 3 years in a complex where I was on-call, 24/7, to respond to an alarm tied to every room. At multiple points, I would be deciding on dinner, and within 30 seconds be sprinting down staircases in case someone had hurt themselves. And when I get on track with writing, I don’t stop. It’s not uncommon for me to look up from a project and learn I’ve lost 3-4 hours.
Life gets busy. Sometimes, I don’t feel like investing time in cooking. So I’m constantly investigating and testing food products that are quick to make, easy to eat, and not going to cause new kidney stones to leave me screaming into pillows at 4 AM. And recently, I found one that I’m pretty pleased with: Boomerang Pies.
I think I first saw them at a Costco, but I’m also pretty sure I first bought them at a Fred Meyer’s. What are they? Hand pies. Now, hand pies aren’t exactly a common cuisine here in America. Well, except, you know, the market-dominating hand-pie that’s served at basically EVERY place cheap foods are sold, and is the purview of bachelors, college students, and the economically disenfranchised nation-wide.
The Cheap Man's Calzone. The Poor Man's Pasty.
Yes, the Hot Pocket, America’s unlabeled and preferably un-discussed culinary juggernaut. Once you remember that America’s had hand-filling savory pastries for decades, it makes our lack of recognition of the hand-pie quite confusing. But, in keeping with our culinary Illuminati’s wishes, I will now pretend I never brought up the hot pocket, and instead return to hand pies.
A Pie In The Hand Is Worth Two in The Bush
That’s maybe the most subtle Australia pun you could have made, Title Jon. Well done.
Hand pies are, as I’ve alluded to in a previous paragraph we can never again acknowledge, basically fancy Hot Pockets. Another way to think of them is smaller, cleaner, pot pies. They’re quite a popular snack in England, Australia, and the very middle of America.
The Boomerang’s pie company is an American produced pie following Australian pie “designs”, for lack of a better word, based on the founders’ trips to Australia, and their infatuation with the pies there. Personally, I went to Australia myself roughly 14 years ago, and I still occasionally wish I could find Solo soda in American markets, so I understand their plight.
He tasks me, Mr Starbuck. He tasks me, and heaps me, and I SHALL HAVE HIM.
Unlike me, however, the founders of Boomerang’s Pies had, you know, capital, and actual motivation. The kind of motivation that doesn’t wait FOURTEEN years before suddenly suggesting: “Hey, if we want sparkling lemon soda so bad, couldn’t we just…make it?” to my slowly growing rage, glee, and horror at the years I’ve lost. So they started up a pie company in Austin, TX, to make their dreams a reality.
Now, to be on the up-and-up here: this is the first taste test I’ve…actually asked permission to do. Like I said, I found these pies a while ago, and have been eating them as no-fuss lunches for months. Right after my kidney stone incident in December, I ended up buying myself some of their Macaroni variety, and, following a few bites, immediately decided I had to finally talk to you guys about the product. So, I’ve reached out to Boomerang’s and…they’re pretty damn rad, guys. I mentioned I wanted to do a review of their pies, and they offered to send me free-pie coupons! A post I don’t actually have to pay for!
Tragically, I actually conducted the first taste test before talking to them, so I already paid for the three pies we’re covering today, weeks ago. On the plus side, the coupons they’ve offered means I can come back to the topic, JUST LIKE A BOOMERANG, and cover the other 6 flavors once I’ve received the coupons, and rubbed them against my face as tangible evidence of my growing internet powers.
It will look like this, but with more money, and less neck.
So, maybe I’m a little biased toward them, as I am biased toward everyone who gives me pie for free, but, honestly guys, Boomerang pies might have the most friendly website I’ve encountered in my admittedly non-scientific pursuit of culinary company web domains. You can do a survey for a chance to win free pies, and if you want to try their pies, they offer you free coupons for a dollar off. Just print them off! I don’t know why, but something about the way they made those offers really struck me as genuine. Like, sure, “Fill out a survey for a chance to win” isn’t exactly new territory for websites, but I like how it’s kept roughly the same size as the coupon offer: a dollar off being just as important as a chance of free pies.
But enough gushing over their website, I’m a food guy, not a graphic designer. (As everyone who’s ever seen the posters I’ve made for shows knows.) So how do the pies work?
The Basics: Easy as Pie
First, let’s talk fundamentals. Each pie is made basically like a pot-pie: the crust is a firm pastry dough for the bottom/side, topped with a flakier, more “puffed” pastry lid. The shell is filled with one of 9 different fillings (Technically, their website says 10, but I’ve been told by their Marketing Manager that they’re phasing the 10th, Curry Veggie, out.) You cook them either by microwaving them for around 3:30, or baking them for around ...10 minutes? 15? I don't know, man, read the box. If you screw it up, that shame is on you.
And You never can run from
Nor hide what you've done from
Calorically, they’re not gut-busters, but neither are they dainty: their lowest calorie count is 310, and their highest is 480.
Breaking my Illuminati-imposed silence, let’s quickly compare it to a Hot Pocket again: A Pepperoni Boomerang’s Pie versus a standard Pepperoni Hot Pocket. The Boomerang is firstly, just simply heavier. It’s 6 ounces to the Hot Pocket’s 4.5. That’s an important fact, because it makes some of the pie’s ‘issues’ a little more understandable. For instance, it’s got more fat and calories than the Hot Pocket…roughly 30% more, in a product that’s 33% larger, implying that, per ounce, it has a little less fat than the HP. A 50% protein increase, on the other hand, is less impressive given the increase, but still equates to something like 13% more protein per ounce. It has TRIPLE the fiber, and actually LESS sodium, in a product that is mostly cheese and cured meat. That’s no small accomplishment.
So, it’s pretty hefty, pretty healthy, but is it pretty tasty? I forced Joe, my friend and host who had recently gone vegan, to help me eat two meat-based pies, and one cheese one, for our analysis, and to tempt him away from his moral stances, as is my offhanded duty as an officer of Gluttony.
Pie 1: Southwest Chicken
Is this the best picture I've ever taken of food? No. I took it at night, in the mountains, in a kitchen that was being remodeled. I rushed it, and I feel bad. Are you happy now?
Nutritional info: 350 Calories, 11g fat, 12 grams Protein
Yeah, sorry about that pic quality: I was in such a hurry that I didn't notice I had flash on. I'm actually standing in a fairly well-lit kitchen, too, so I don't know why everything behind the pie is darkness.
JOE takes a bite. “Alright.” He takes another. “I like it. It reminds me of something I’ve eaten before, but I don’t know what. Maybe like a pizza roll?”
I’ve consumed half my pie.
JON: “It’s got a very 7-11 taquito vibe, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. My brother uses that as his highest praise for a taquito. But it’s that same “you can taste spices, but it’s not a HOT spiciness” kind of feeling.”
Joe realizes he’s about to eat 3 half-pies, and wonders if he will become fat. A quick check of math tells us that this taste test will be roughly 570 calories apiece, which is a pretty normal dinner entrée calorie load.
JOE finishes his pie and concludes: “ I wouldn’t kick it out of bed. Unless, you know, I was about to have sex.”
Pie 2: Chicken Mushroom
Seriously, the lights are ON in this kitchen. I don't know why it's a ghostly blue spectre in the background.
Nutritional info: 310 calories, 9 g fat, 10 grams protein
I immediately regret my organization of the tasting. I’ve done Chicken and Mushroom a disservice by putting it after a more distinctly flavored competitor, but before a richer one. We should have eaten this one first, a fact Joe picks up on by his second bite.
JOE: “This one’s more…bland, I guess? It’s still a good pie, it’s just got less going on than the first one.”
I note that the bottom crust of the pies is softer than usual, but that’s also my fault: Joe and I were playing The Forest while cooking these, so we’re eating them after 15 minutes of cooling, instead of the recommended 5. It’s not a huge issue, but I notice the pies are a little less structurally sound than normal. (Splitting them in half isn’t doing this issue any favors.)
Pie 3: Mac And Cheese
The first one whose structural integrity I didn't ruin by cutting it in half.
Nutritional info: 480 calories, 23 g fat, 12 protein
As you may guess from my earlier comments, this was the pie I was most excited for. I’m going to give my thoughts here without Joe’s input for a second: When I first had the Mac and Cheese pie, I was immediately invested. It may be the single best pre-made iteration of Mac and Cheese I’ve ever had. I mean, sure, I’ve had better mac-and-cheeses, but they’ve never come from the freezer section of the grocery store. I had my first one, and then bought two more for the next week. I then bought another one for the tasting. I bought 4 of these suckers in 2 weeks. That’s how into it I am. Let’s hear what Joe had to say.
“Well, you can definitely taste the extra calories here. This is…quite rich. Maybe too rich, to serve as the closer to a tasting like this. I’ve already had a whole pie.”
Our overall opinion: the pies were great. Maybe not all at once, like we ate them, but certainly at an individual level, we liked every pie we tried.
I’m not saying you’re wrong and you’re an idiot if you don’t like them. People have different tastes. I’m just saying that mine are right, these are great, and you should try them. Or don’t. Then there’s more for me.
Thanks once again to Boomerang’s for being so cool about this process, and hopefully soon we’ll come back and review the varieties we didn’t cover today! Special thanks to Janet Wenzel, the Marketing Director, who talked with me via email about this. Be sure to check out their products, and their website.
MONDAY: JON PAYS AN ANCIENT DEBT, AS WE HIT THE 100th CATASTROPHE WITH A DISH THAT IS CERTAINLY SOMETHING.
NEXT THURSDAY: I LITERALLY DON’T KNOW, I’M PREPPING FOR AN AUDITION AND A BUNCH OF COOKING THIS WEEKEND.