360 Vodka Gift Set

By: McCormick Distilling

Suggested Retail Price: $26.99 for a 750-milliliter bottle and a CFL light bulb

Taste: 3stars

Marketing: 1stars

Who buys vodka because it’s “green”? McCormick Distilling is aiming to find out with its aggressively marketed World’s First Eco-Friendly Gift Set, which includes a 750-milliliter bottle of vodka, an energy-saving Philips CFL light bulb, and a “100% recycled 360 Vodka Guide to Going Green.”

The guide contains factoids and musings that range from the useful (many energy providers offer the option of switching to green energy if consumers ask) to the innocuous (wear organic cotton!) to the insidious: A section titled “We don’t want to drop names about who’s involved in the green movement … oh yes we do” goes on to praise Starbucks, Unilever, General Electric, and (drumroll) Dow Chemical, which it describes as “formerly a target of environmentalists.”

Do they mean formerly as in throughout this spring when protesters targeted Dow over the ongoing fallout from the Bhopal disaster? Or maybe formerly as in this March when the company came under fire for its slow cleanup of dioxins dumped into Michigan waterways?

There’s a word for this shit: greenwashing.

That said, the savings you obtain from the enclosed CFL light bulb will (in theory) pay for the entire cost of the gift set over the life span of the bulb. If you’re looking for a way to rationalize buying more booze, it’s hard to beat “It’ll pay for itself … and then some!”

And the vodka? I’m not sure what’s green about it. It’s not organic, and it’s got a harsher bite and more of a discernable alcohol smell than Reyka, which I sampled it against. Better yet: Drink Square One, which is a certified organic vodka.

Taco Filling and Nature’s Burger

By: Fantastic World Foods

Suggested Retail Price: $2.29 for about six burgers or five tacos

Taste: 4stars

Marketing: 3stars

If you enjoy the hearty flavor of formerly living muscle tissue and/or fat, vegetarian substitutes can be off-putting. But, despite the odds, the Orwellian-sounding Fantastic World Foods has taken a stab at two great American classics: tacos and burgers.

The faux ground beef of the Taco Filling has a pronounced smoky, oniony, savory flavor that—thanks in part to its eerily authentic pebbly texture—comes very close to the experience of eating a Midwestern, mom-made, ground-beef taco. Moreover, it lacks the grease so often associated with the real thing. When served with lettuce, Frank’s RedHot, tortillas, and shredded Cojack, this stuff makes a taco that is, for lack of a better word, good.

While the Fantastic World Taco Filling succeeds by being faux authentic, the Fantastic World Nature’s Burger succeeds by being completely unlike what it’s supposed to evoke. It starts as a pile of powdery stuff that looks suspiciously like instant oatmeal. Once this mix (which contains brown rice, dehydrated veggies, and whole oats, among other things) is introduced to boiling water, you let it set up and cool, make it into patties, then fry them. It’s delicious. Nothing at all like a hamburger, mind you; the resulting patty takes a sear OK, but it’s sweet and almost nutty tasting, evoking lentils far more than cow flesh.

See more articles