North County’s guilty pleasures

by Bob Reis

I have to admit that I am a very weak person when it comes to what I call Guilty Pleasures. As I drive around North County and pass various purveyors of my guilty pleasures I find myself drawn to stop and partake. Does this make me a bad person? Naw, don’t think so, just some one who can’t resist a good cheep bite.

Some of my “irresistible’s” are:

Popcorn shrimp at the Wal-Mart in Marysville. A cup is just buck or two and filled to the top with breaded crunchy bits of “shrimpy” goodness. Some may like the chicken bites, but the shrimp gets me every time. The shrimp are not large, and for the most part they are mostly breading, not too salty, with a mild shrimp flavor. I would prefer a stronger shrimp flavor but for the price I will sacrifice. I think if they offered some hot sauce to sprinkle on top it would elevate the bites to another level of guilt. I do have to be careful and not pick up the shrimp on my way in, as there would be none left by the time I reached the check out and I would end up buying an empty cup of crumbs. Maybe I should put a bottle of hot sauce in my car, that way I would have a reason to resist eating until I reached the parking lot.

Costco samples at Smokey Point. I have ruined my dinner more than once by making a quick trip to Costco. Depending on what the sample ladies are handing out, I can fill up and not be hungry when I get home (now my dinner might be “ruined”, but that does not stop me from eating, duh.) The entire overindulgence thing at Costco started when one of the sample ladies told me that there were no limits, I could have as many samples as I wanted. Up until then I thought that there was a one per person limit and I kept hearing my mother say “take only one, save some for other people.” I still hear my mother in the back of my head, but pretty much am over paying attention to her. The sample promo’s work, I end up buying products that I would never try if not for the samples. Last week they featured hot wings by the bag. Just looking at the bag in the case for about $12. I walked by them many times, until I was offered a taste. They have a moderate amount of heat, not too greasy and most importantly, not too salty.

Root beer floats at Der Weinerbarn in Smoky Point. Wienerschnizel at Smoky Point also is a Tasty Freeze outlet. Tasty Freeze was (or is) a national soft serve ice cream joint along the lines of Dairy Queen. Growing up I do not remember any Tasty Freeze’s in the northwest but on our family vacations to the mid-west they were all over. The soft serve is of excellent quality and makes a darn good root beer float for about two bucks. On a warm day it is hard to resist driving by and not stopping for this guilty pleasure. Wendy’s just down the street also offers a root beer float but in a head-to-head taste off, I think the Weinerbarns would be the winner.

Ninety nine cent shrimp cocktail at Angels of the Winds Casino. The advertising is true, Angels does offer several $.99 items in their food court. I find the shrimp cocktail impossible to resist. At first I failed to understand how they could offer the very large portion of shrimp for such a low price? But, after several trips to the casino with my wife, I have never paid less than twenty or thirty bucks for what we have ordered by the time we leave. They also offer salmon and chips, eggs biscuits and gravy, strawberry shortcake and two large chocolate chip cookies for the same price as the shrimp cocktail. What makes Angels even a better bargain is that all the soft drinks, milk and coffee are complimentary.

Free popcorn at Arlington hardware. Not a guilty pleasure, just a pleasure. Mike Jones has been offering free popcorn at Arlington Hardware for the past 20 years or so. For me it is almost mandatory to make a trip to the hardware store every Saturday, sometime just for the popcorn alone. But then there are the times when I have a plumbing project at home and the home owners plumbing rule kicks in. “Any plumbing project will require at least three trips to the hardware store.” I don’t see that as an inconvenience, just additional opportunities for more free popcorn. Thanks Mike.

Costco Hot Dogs. At one time, before Costco opened in Smokey Point I looked forward to making a trip to the nearest store, as I knew that when we were done, a good hot dog awaited me. Then the store opened in Smokey Point, the Costco trips were not once a month any longer, we could pop over for just a few items and come home. By force of habit I bought a hot dog and soda for $1.50 with every visit. I must of OD’s on the dogs as I can walk by the hot dog stand without a sideways glance now. But they are still good and one of the best lunch bargains in the area. Now if they offered a chili dog … Fast food dollar menus. At times when I am in a rush for lunch and pop in to what ever fast food joint is convenient, I have a hard time resisting the “value” menu. Just about all the national fast food outlets have a “dollar” or “value” menu, depending on my mood and what is on the side of the street I am driving on, determines what I will have.

If you have any guilty pleasures, I would like to hear about them. I might just have to add them to my list and may darn you to heck if I find that I have an unhealthy attraction to the “new” find.

I can be contacted at: BobatArlTms@yahoo.com.

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