Wordless Wednesday: The Pie Pizzeria

the pie pizzeria
The Pie Pizzeria on Yelp

Facts About Sweethearts Conversation Hearts

Awesome Things About Sweethearts [infographic]
Via: DegreeSearch.org

Conversation Hearts

Those cute little chalky snippets of confectionary sentiment. Who doesn’t love looking at the cute messages on a conversation heart?

Did you know that NECCO (the New England Confectionery Company) began producing stamped candies in 1866? That’s one year after the Civil War ended! An invention from 1847 called the lozenge cutter by Oliver Chase revolutionized the candy industry in the United States. NECCO printed messages on their candies over the next 2 decades, and the earliest candies were different shapes back then: baseballs, watches, postcards and horseshoes. NECCO started printing the Sweethearts conversation hearts (as we know them) in 1902.

conversation heartsA lot has changed since then, including the way people communicate. Sweethearts with classic sayings like “SWEET TALK” and “MARRY ME,” have been replaced with sayings like “TWEET ME” and “CRAZY 4 U.” At one time, NECCO distributed Sweethearts with outdated sayings like “DIG ME” and the cheerful “YOU ARE GAY”, but they have been discontinued. NECCO says that creating text for their candies can be tricky. The new sayings can’t be “offensive, distasteful, or too wordy,” according to Walter Marshall, retired NECCO vice president.

I’ve always loved Necco candies, especially the wafers. This is in part that I grew up with Necco as a nickname for Nicole. Yes they’re chalky, and I know that not everybody likes them, but both Necco wafers and Sweethearts hold a sweet part of nostalgia in my life.

Do you love (or despise) conversation hearts? And do you like this infographic? With my sentimentality for conversation hearts, I urged my creative director at work to produce this graphic. Pretty awesome, right?

Thanks, Joseph, for humoring me.

Thanksgiving “Pie Chart” – And How It Was Made

Thanksgiving Pie ChartsHappy Thanksgiving! 2012 has been an amazing year for me. After so many years of tough trials, health problems, financial woes, and other worries, it’s been so wonderful to have a lovely, fun and successful year.

This year I began working as the social media manager for Degreesearch.org, a website that helps prospective students make informed decisions about their education choices. Not only is this job a great fit for me, but I have a lot of fun with it. Although our site is higher education focused, we also like to have a good time for holidays and other seasonal events. We work on creating content that is not only engaging, but is also shareable. Joseph, our creative director, decided to make a really fun “pie chart” infographic about Thanksgiving pies.

It turned out fabulous, didn’t it?

Pie Charts [infographic]

Via: DegreeSearch.org

If you look closely at the pictures in the infographic, you can see…it’s made with real pie!

Infographics have become a popular marketing tool in the last few years. It’s a great way to make visually-appealing data representations, and can bring in new audiences to your website if done correctly. For as many infographics that are made well, there are just as many that are made poorly. For this infographic, Joseph used data from a recent survey from Pillsbury revealing that 94% of Americans plan to eat pie over the holidays, and two-thirds of Americans prefer holiday foods over gifts. He took the percentages from a Schwan’s survey (the makers of Mrs. Smith’s pies), where Americans were asked what their three favorite pies were.

20121122-060231.jpg 20121122-060522.jpg Joseph made lots of phone calls to local bakeries and pie shops to see where he could buy the pies he needed for the infographic. After realizing all of the photography and footwork would be hard with one person, he recruited me to be his assistant for the day. We started out the day by driving to Marie Callender’s, which was halfway across the Salt Lake Valley from us. Marie Callender’s had all but one of the pies that we needed for the infographic. We purchased traditional apple, apple crumb, chocolate cream, key lime, peach, pumpkin, pecan, lemon meringue, and blueberry (which used up our November “creative budget” for the department).

20121122-060547.jpgAt first, the plan was to get all the pies, then do the photo shoot back at the office. As the pies were being boxed up, we realized that they may be too damaged if we waited to take them in the car (especially the lemon meringue). So we asked the manager if we could set up the camera and tripod in the back of the restaurant at a table with the best natural lighting. Dozens of pictures later, we boxed the pies back up and carefully arranged them in his trunk. I held the lemon meringue pie in my lap (with the box open) to make sure that it survived the drive back to the office. We drove a few blocks over to Granite Bakery, which was the only place we found (after many phone calls) that had a cherry pie in stock.

Once we were back at the office, Joseph began working his creative magic. Because most of the fruit pies had a pastry crust, it was hard to see the fruit inside. Joseph used a sharp knife and commenced in crust excision and pie surgery to remove the tops of the pies. He cut the pastry tops on 4 of the pies to the percentages that he would use for the bottom half of the graphic.

20121122-071154.jpgOnce all of the photography was finished, Joseph uploaded the pictures into PhotoShop and began creating the layout of the graphic, and editing, formatting and resizing the images. The finished product published on our blog, and we’ve been promoting it since it was complete.

Oh, and are you curious about all the pie we had? After all of the pictures had been taken, all of the pies were taken into the break room for employees to eat. Ten pies, twenty employees….you do the math.

What do you think? Do you like how it turned out? Does it make you want to try making your own infographic?

Wordless Wednesday: Wall of Cheese

beehive cheese utah

For the best cheese you’ve ever had, check out Beehive Cheese!

Tweet And Eat At Rodizio Grill

rodizio grill beefAnyone want to meet and eat and tweet…with meat?

Oh wait, can meat tweet? Maybe if it’s chicken.

What I meant to say is, come join in on the Rodizio Grill Tweetup! This Monday evening, May 23rd 2011, the Salt Lake City location of Rodizio Grill in Trolley Square will be hosting a #RodizioTweetup. From 7-9 pm, enjoy a specially priced 4 course meal with dessert for only $19.99 per person. Dinner, without dessert, is regularly priced at $24.99.

Rodizio Grill LogoRodizio Grill was my first experience with Brazilian churrascaria. I went on date date with a boyfriend, and it was my first time meeting his parents. I struggled with the inner turmoil of eating everything I wanted, and acting sensible and eating like a lady. At first the thought of giant slabs of meat being carried around with a big knife sounded a little strange, but one bite of Linguiça and I was a believer. The Abacaxi grilled pineapple was one of the most glorious things I had ever put in my mouth. Top it off with some Guarana Antartica, and you’ll have a meal you’ll never forget!

rodizio grill gauchosIf you want to follow the event on Twitter, follow @rodiziogrill and the hashtag #RodizioTweetup. In order to get this special deal, let them know that Cuteculturechick/@cuteculturechic sent you! Offer is only valid this Monday night. Bring a date, bring your kids, and enjoy a night of good food and good company. Because really….do you want to pass up a dessert like this?

rodizio grill dessert

Rodizio Grill

600 South 700 East -Trolley Square 2nd Floor

Salt Lake City

Phone 801-220-0500

#PDReview – Battle of the Diet Cokes

Proper drink run #PDROver the last two years, I’ve become a total Coke junkie. I could lay blame on many different factors, but I recognize that I was hooked when I moved to Atlanta. I worked for a university that received a significant amount of funding from the Coca-Cola company, which allowed the vending machines on campus to be subsidized. When you’re thirsty, it’s hard to say no to a $.75 20oz bottle of Coke! And thus my almost-daily habit began.

Although my tastebuds have changed to prefer Coke Zero, Diet Coke is much more readily accessible. And from much trial and error, I have found that not all Diet Coke is created equal. The sweetness, bitterness, and level of carbonation can vary drastically, depending on whether it’s from a can, bottle, or from a fountain.

A #PDR is a Proper Drink Run. Whenever you check in for a refreshing beverage,add the #PDR hashtag. The type of drink can be anything from soda to juice to milk to beer, according to the official @properdrinkrun Twitter page:

@ProperDrinkRun Wherever you drink Out 'N About & need something to quench your thirst? Whether Soda, Coffee, Tea, Juice, Beer, White Russian, etc. # your Proper Drink Run #PDR, whatchya drinkin? http://foursquare.com/user/properdrinkrun

I was asked by the mighty @paco_belle, keeper of the #PDR empire, to do today’s #PDReview. Even though @ThomAllen‘s review last week was for Diet Coke, I decided to go in a different direction. I decided to determine which fountain in the Salt Lake area provides the best tasting Diet Coke. I got fountain drinks from the following locations:

McDonalds – 7200 S and I-15 – 32oz for $1.08
Holiday Oil – 7200 S and 700 W – 32oz for $.86
Maverick – 7800 S and 700 W – 52oz refill for $1.38
Sonic – 12300 S and 300 E – 44oz for $1.50 (with Sonic VIP sticker)

diet coke reviews

Battle of the Diet Cokes

I also purchased a 20oz bottle of Diet Coke to use at the control for the taste test. Although there are Coca-Cola bottling plants all over the world, the bottled product tends to have a consistent taste. In comparison to the bottled Diet Coke, here are my findings:

McDonald’s – The most similar to the bottle. Sweet, well carbonated but did not sting my throat. Just a hint of bitterness.

Holiday Oil – The most bitter of the group. Hardly sweet at all. Very carbonated but tasted watered down.

Maverick – Kinda flat. Darkest color. Average bitterness. More expensive refill price than Holiday.

Sonic – Sweetest of the fountain drinks. Slightly carbonated. Not bitter at all. Best ice.

nicole bullock drinking diet cokeOut of the group, it was a toss-up between Sonic and McDonalds, which are the two places I typically grab a #PDR. I have the Sonic VIP sticker which gives you any drink, any day, at any time for $1.39 + tax. Because I like to have vanilla syrup in my Coke, I’ll choose Sonic over McDonalds if they’re right next to each other (like they are in Ft. Union and in Draper). And if you go to Sonic during Happy Hour (between 2pm-4pm), you can get all your drinks for half price.

But the tiebreaker for me is “leftover appeal.” I usually grab a big drink and sip it for several hours. After 3 hours, the McDonald’s Diet Coke tasted much better than the others. It actually tasted a little sweeter without the ice. So for today’s #PDReview, the winner is McDonald’s. Or as I like to call it, my “McDiet.”

What is your #PDR drink of choice?

Chocolate Banana Bread

Nicole’s Chocolate Banana Bread Tutorial

3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 T. Blue Agave Nectar
2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
Several shakes of cinnamon and nutmeg
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 small packet of chocolate pudding mix
2 cups water
2 cups brown sugar
3 cups flour
1 t. baking soda

1. Mix bananas, agave nectar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg in large bowl

2. Add in eggs and vegetable oil. Mix well, but do not overstir.

3. Stir in chocolate pudding mix and water.

4. Add brown sugar, flour and baking soda

5. Pour into greased glass baking dishes. Bake at 375 degrees until toothpick comes out clean (could be anywhere from 15-40 minutes, depending on the pans you cook with and altitude)

6. Lick the bowl at your own risk.

Variations I also make:
Butterscotch pudding with butterscotch chips
Vanilla pudding with white chocolate chips
Banana pudding with brown sugar cream cheese drizzle

Winner: $10 Restaurant.com Certificate

Amanda, aka @akean81, of Food Exercises is the winner of the $10 Restaurant.com gift certificate code. She said:

“I would pick Phillips Seafood because I have never been there before and love seafood. I was looking at the menu and looks like they have some healthier options which is a huge plus for me.”

Congrats, and enjoy your dinner!

Trader Joe’s Bread Pudding

Trader Joe’s Bread Pudding

1 loaf sliced White Bread
1 c TJ’s semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c Coarsely chopped dried apricots (optional)
—OR coarsely chopped Uncrystallized Ginger OR dried cranberries OR cherries OR. . .
1 pint TJ’s heavy cream
½ c milk
½ c sugar
3 whole eggs plus 1 yolk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly butter an 8” sq pan.
Whisk together cream, milk, sugar, eggs & yolk and van lla. Set aside.
Trim crusts from 12 slices of bread, and cut slices diagonally into 4 triangles.
Place bread triangles haphazardly in pan with points sticking up; doesn’ t need to be neat.
Sprinkle with chocolate chips (and fruit) – work chips between the slices with your fingers.
Stir the cream mixture & pour over the bread;
use fingers or a fork to work the liquid down between the bread.
Bake for about 45 min. or until the bread pudding is dark golden brown and the center no longer jiggles but is not quite hard.
Allow to cool forabout 30 min. before “breaking through.”

-from traderjoes.com

HiChew Heaven

One of my fellow food blogger friends tipped me off on an Asian Market in Hacienda Heights, CA called Nijiya Market. They have a wide variety of HiChew flavors that I’ve been looking for (and have gotten impatient waiting for J-List’s 6 week shipping delay) Reviews to follow on my other blog, Nicole Rates It.

What’s your favorite HiChew flavor? Mine is now cotton candy. HOARD IT IF YOU FIND IT. I also love mango, yogurt, and melon. Chewable bliss!