Holiday workload and Xmas shopping have conspired to make me a busy boy, with the result that I have nothing to write about today. Happily, my sweet and gorgeous girlfriend has stepped to the plate with a review – she writes about the estimable Tasti D-Lite, scourge of food critics, ice-cream lovers, and organic-ingredient advocates everywhere. Save me some Cake Batter, hon!
They say a girl always remembers her first time, but I honestly can’t remember my virgin voyage on the S.S. Tasti D-Lite. Suffice it to say, it was a few years back, and I’ve been hooked on this frozen dessert/smack ever since. Like, sometimes I NEED to have it more than once a day.
While the company’s web site touts the product as “the first all natural, lower calorie, frozen dessert,” the irony is that it’s Tasti’s synthetic greatness that keeps me coming back. It might be sicko, but I get a kick out of the fact that flavors like Pumpkin Pie and Dulce de Leche not only exist but also manage to taste more like coconut than anything else. Remember those Dum Dum lollipops your doctor used to give out? Tasti-D can be kind of like the mystery flavor, and that’s part of the fun.
Also, you never know which of the tens of Tasti flavors will be in a given store at a given time, beyond the ever-present standard vanilla and chocolate – a treasure hunt of fantastic fake flavors. I find myself scanning through the windows even when I don’t plan to stop – it might come in handy later, and if a certain flavor is in stock (say, for instance, Cake Batter), it might necessitate an impromptu visit. At any rate, taste before you buy – not all of the more esoteric flavors are thrilling. Insider tip: Most locations will only give you one sample, so it’s a good idea to go in with someone who you don’t mind swapping spittle with and have them try a flavor too. [ed note: Yes, this means she’s tricked me into liking Tasti-D. For this, she is the envy of all of her friends.]
There’s also the fact that I nutritionally equate eating a mammoth-sized portion of Tasti-D to eating air. The flavors are sorted into 3 different categories that range from 11 to 17 calories per oz. (In general, anything with the word ‘nut’ in it rates a category 3, while more bland flavors like vanilla are category 1.) So it’s not quite eating air, but even category 3 Tasti is certainly a far cry from the caloric hurricane of most desserts. And if it’s a damn dirty lie (we all saw that Seinfeld, right?), I just don’t want to know.
A brief aside: I once had a friend on the Upper West Side who swore that the Tasti in her nabe was the best — it actually tasted creamy. So, one night she’s chatting with the guy behind the counter and asks him what the secret is. He holds up a huge container of what I imagine was some sort of heavy whipping cream and starts cackling. Allegedly one girl ran outside and puked on the spot. Awesome.
OK, so the flavors have funny names (one my personal faves, “Milky Weigh”…ironically, also sort of coconutty), and you can con yourself into thinking you’re eating an air sundae. Another contributing factor is price. As long as you stay away from toppings (Mike swears they’re always stale anyway) it’s a pretty cheap, if slightly anorexic, meal-substitute. At most locations (read: not the new Houston Street store), a jumbo-sized tub will run you less than 5 bucks, if you aren’t too embarrassed to order it. (But prep yourself, they’ll probably put two spoons in the bag…)
Despite potential embarrassment, you’re the real winner here. You get frozen goodness in the form of a filling but nutritionally void treat for next to nothing — in a city where you can’t be too thin or too rich, this is the jackpot, baby. No wonder the Olsens love the stuff. Maybe even more than they love THE STUFF.