Monday, December 14, 2009

No Discernable Difference

After rounds and rounds of rigorous scientific testing, Pipi and I are able to report that the Tim Tams and the Arnott’s Original cookies sold in the United States appear to be identical in every significant way.

There are tiny differences. One brand has a slightly higher percentage of its calories from fat, and the other has slightly more carbohydrate. The ingredient lists aren’t quite identical, but the differences could just stem from there being two ways of saying the same thing. I can’t taste any difference between the two kinds, and they both taste just like my memory of the Australian version.

The conclusion? If you see something—anything—that looks like a Tim Tam on American grocery story shelves, buy it!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Partial Explanation

According to Wikipedia (I also verified this on the Tim Tam/Pepperidge Farm site), Pepperidge Farm is distributing honest-to-goodness Tim Tam cookies in the United States. They originally had a deal exclusively with Target, but now you can find them in lots of grocery stores all over the country

That’s the good news. The bad news is that they are only available in the United States between October and March. I don’t know why. Consider it a Christmas present from our friends down under. (I’m talking about the Pepperidge Farm version; I don’t know about the availability of the Arnott’s brand cookies at Cost Plus. You can bet I’ll be looking into it!)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Sweet Confusion

In Australia, as I may have mentioned a few dozen times, they have these great cookies called Tim Tams, made by the Arnott’s company.

In the United States, you can get what seems like the same cookie at Cost Plus stores, only they aren’t called Tim Tams. They’re called Arnott’s instead.

Recently, I discovered that my favorite grocery store in the Bay Area, Farmer Joe’s, sells a cookie that’s actually called Tim Tam. Only these cookies are manufactured by the Pepperidge Farm Company. They, too, seem to be the same cookie (or should I say “biscuit”) that is so popular down under.

Can all three of these things really be the same product? What is the difference, if any, between the Tim Tam and Arnott’s cookies sold in the United States? If only there were some way to compare and contrast the taste of the two cookies, Wait, I just thought of something….

Monday, December 07, 2009

Bye Bye, Tai

I have to stop getting so attached to baby pandas. They always grow up and leave me. Pipi and I just saw this one at the Washington zoo in October.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The More Things Change….

I imagine nepotism in government is a problem many cities have. I know it has come up a lot lately in Oakland. Most recently a City Administrator was fired for allegedly putting several family members on the city payroll despite their shaky qualifications. She didn’t go down without a fight and the case has been in the news on and off for what seems like years now.

But here’s something I found on one of my walks that assures me that nepotism is nothing new in Oakland, and probably is no worse now than it ever was. Take a look at this plaque, erected in 1931. It’s posted in front of a sports facility then called the Davie Recreation Stadium, and now known as the Davie Tennis Stadium. The sign reveals that by 1931, three members of the Davie family had worked for the city of Oakland—one of them as the mayor.

Five times.

We just don’t have political dynasties like this in the East Bay anymore.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

No Block Left Behind

Before Thanksgiving I thought I had finished the area between Grand and Lakeshore Avenues. And I had, all except for two blocks at the very pinnacle of the steepest hill, and, about a half a mile away, one block of a street that is mostly in Piedmont but which starts in Oakland.

Or maybe it ends in Oakland. I guess it depends on how you look at it.

Such are the hazards of exploring the non-grid neighborhoods of the city. The Grand Lake/Lakeshore area is hilly, and the streets tend to twist and turn, seldom meeting each other at right angles. And for some reason, somebody thought it would be cute to give most of the streets names that start with the letter “W.” It can be hard, at times, to remember if you’re supposed to be on Wickson, Walker, Winsor, or Weldon. That last one ends abruptly and then begins again a few hundred yards later on the other side of a hill, making it seem like there are two different streets with exactly the same name.

Navigationally, this was my most challenging neighborhood yet, and with all the hills, probably my most physically taxing, as well. But that’s all good. I’m doing this largely to get exercise and to get better at navigating my city, so the more mountainous and confusing the terrain, the better.