The Surprise Bag That Time Forgot

Surprise bags have been a part of Torrential Equilibrium ever since its inception, and they will likely keep coming back again and again as long the site exists and as long I keep visiting dollar stores in other towns. They’re just so easy to review, they cost like $1.50 at most, and there’s always something interesting inside. Of course, I use the word “interesting” in its most literal sense, because the objects are curious and draw your attention. They are never in any way good, useful, or tasty. With the Nintendo Surprise goodies being the only exception to this rule.

The other great thing about surprise bags is that it’s always fun to try to find the oldest one. Now, I was pretty excited about the Nintendo Surprise, and as far as I can remember, they were about a year and a half old when I found them. Since then, finding old surprise bags has been my raison d’être, and you can imagine how happy I was when I came across Dick Turtle. I never found a year on those things, but forensic evidence, carbon dating, and some other impressive-sounding things have proven that eating the candy they contained was probably a bad idea. The last type of surprise bag I reviewed was wasn’t too old. Hell, it probably hadn’t even reached the year-old mark. But I had a whole bunch of them, and you know how it is here – quantity over quality.

So anyway, if the opening spiel, the link you clicked to get here, and that totally fancy title graphic that I spent way to much time on didn’t tip you off, I’m reviewing yet another new species of surprise bag. I’ll tell you now that based on age and disgusted reactions, this is by far the best surprise bag yet. It’s going to be hard to top, because it’s provided me with tons of material and I’ve got myself so hyped up about how great it’ll be that I worked extra hard on the title banner and put a huge amount of effort (in comparison to how much effort I usually put into an article) into the bonus that will be featured at the end.

I think I’ve prattled on for long enough. So now I present to you the oldest, most generic surprise bag I’ve seen in my life:

Oh yeah. Paydirt. It’s no more than some white paper folded up and stamped with clipart and some vague words. I would have loved to be the guy who designed this bag, simply because he got paid for literally doing something a three-year-old could do better. Or at least that’s how I imagine it went down. For all I know, it could have been made by a whole pack of slaves who tried their damnedest to prove that they should be paid for their work. The one thing I am sure about is that we’ll never know anything more about this surprise bag, because it doesn’t bear a single mark that could help distinguish where it came from. No company name, no date, no trademark or anything. For all we know, this could have been put together by some meth chefs during the off-season. Though now that I think of it, is there a meth off-season? I mean, it’s not like when dope farmers have to close up for the winter. Unless they have a greenhouse, I guess. But that’s all besides the point. I think. I’ve kind of forgotten what my point was.

Considering the cheapness of it all, I’m pretty impressed at how different those question marks are. They’re different colours, slightly different fonts, and they’re filled in differently. To tell the truth though, I can’t remember at all why I took this picture. It doesn’t show anything different than the big picture did, and there’s nothing to really read there either, so it’s a mystery to me.

I do find it a little sketchy that it says “candy or toy” on the bag. The interesting part being the “or.” Dick Turtle and the more colourful generic clown bag suggested that you’d be getting some of both in every bag, but this one is all about getting one or the other. Is it an accurate statement, or will we be surprised to find both toys as well as candy in the bag? Only time will tell, and if it proves wrong, I’ll have one more reason to hunt down the people who made these. Bad grammar cannot go unpunished! Unless it’s a typo in one of my articles. We can let those slip.

Do you think they just printed out every ingredient that’s ever been in anything, just so they could throw anything in there and their asses would be covered? That’s my theory. I’m pretty sure the only other place I’ve seen some of these ingredients is on shampoo bottles, so I’m kinda hoping that it’s gonna be just the toys this time around.

Also note that back of the bag features just as few noteworthy marks as the front. Unless you can trace objects by their barcodes, it’s like they wanted to make sure that we’d never be able to find them. And there would be good reason for that too. You’ll understand once we get in a little further.

Now do you see? It’s all candy! There are some cards too, but they don’t really count as toys or candy, so we’ll just write them off for now. After considering how ratty and uninspired the bag it, I wasn’t overly thrilled at the thought of how old the contents could be. I’ve never heard of any of these candies, but I guess that’s not so different from the situation presented by the other surprise bags. Well, that one other clown one did have a Chupa Chups lollipop in it, and that’s a brand that’s pretty easy to recognize. This one is all stuff that even the most prolific candy know-it-alls would likely be hard-pressed to identify. Hell, some of it doesn’t even have proper packaging. I was truly frightened by the prospect of putting some of these things in my mouth, and I’m still a little shaken by the whole experience. Fortunately, I didn’t have to suffer through it all on my own, but more on that later. Let’s have a look-see at what’s here.

You know, these little guys look oddly familiar. I just can’t put my finger on it… Well, I guess maybe they’re not ripping off Tic Tacs entirely. After all, the sticker indicated that they came from Barcelona. Yeah. What? That doesn’t sound so bad? Do you even know where Barcelona is? It’s in Spain! Spain is a long way away. I’ve never been, but one day maybe… Anyhow, it also shows that Hit is produced by a company called Nutrexpa, so I took a look to see what the ol’ internet had to say about Nutrexpa. This is their site. But don’t expect to learn anything unless you’re fluent in their language, as you can click the English option a many times as you like, but the site will still be mainly in this “castellano” they talk about so much. I, in my infinite wisdom, was able to surf the site without any trouble, but didn’t uncover anything. It’s a nice-looking site, but there’s almost nothing there. (Actually, the site just doesn’t get along well with FireFox. If you browse it in IE or whatnot, it’s all English and there are plenty of informaciónes.)

With all that red tape cleared up and out of the way, there was only one thing left to do: eat one of them. The bag was old and shitty, but the Hit container and the Nutrexpa website seemed pretty up-to-date, so I figured it wouldn’t be all that bad. Then I noticed the little black numbers on the front of the plastic container. 30.07.02 Now, there’s no proof that it’s the expiration date. It may be the “packaged” date for all we know, but history has proven that when there’s only one set of numbers that they signify when the shit inside will go bad. And this stuff passed its prime three and a half years ago. Ouch.

With my confidence shaken, I decided that I’d bite the bullet anyway. What kind of entertainer would I be if I didn’t put my physical wellness on the line for a laugh? After convincing myself that there’s no way tiny little mints like these could go bad, I took it like a man and popped one in my mouth. At first, it wasn’t so bad. Then I started to bite down, and a horrifying chill went down my spine. I quickly spit the thing out and looked at it. These babies my look like Tic Tacs, but they’re made more like regular hard candies. Regaining my courage, I put it back in and chewed it up. It wasn’t so bad. A little more brittle (for lack of a better word) than I’m normally comfortable with, but there wasn’t anything overly wrong with it. The issue was all in my head, and now that I had a little confidence under my belt, I was ready to take on whatever else this bag threw at me.

Okay, maybe I’m not that ready. You know, I’m not sure if the fact that there are no indications whatsoever of what these are, where they came from, and how old they are should comfort or frighten me. They could date back to the American Civil War for all I know, or on the other hand, they might have been produced a week ago. Based on what we’ve seen so far, I’m not exactly overflowing with confidence. There’s nothing to really make preamble out of here, so I’ll just cut right to the chase.

As you may have guessed, they were hollow gumballs. Okay. That’s not so bad. I’m pretty sure that gumballs are like cartoon characters and never really age no matter how long they’re around for. They were almost as hard as jawbreakers on the first bite, but they ended up being just as chewy as normal gum, so I can’t say it was a bad experience eating these things. Chalk up another victory for me. This surprise bag may be outdated, but it can’t possibly defeat me. Nope. No way in hell.

At least that’s what I thought at the time. But just how dead wrong I was, even I wasn’t prepared to find out.

Enter Dubu gum. It looks pretty normal, right? Nothing overly suspicious about it. Well, that’s how it seems at a first glance anyway. Further investigation of the package reveals that this stuff also hails from Spain. No year on it, but our adventures in Spanish candy haven’t been too thrilling so far. The other notable thing is that it’s peppermint-flavoured gum. Well, it’s not really notable, but now we know exactly what it’s supposed to taste like. Peppermint gum isn’t exactly hard to come across. Sadly, this shit was anything but peppermint.

This gunk was grody. And I mean “roadkill covered in diarrhoea” grody. If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that if I have to suffer, I do my best to make sure someone else suffers with me. So since I was “blessed” with so much of this dubious Dubu, I decided the only logical thing to do was to have my family eat some too. Below are some of their comments.

-Eric: “Tastes like wax and toothpaste. Smells… Horrible.”

-Mom: “It smells like pee!”

-Dad: “Smells like somebody peed on a mint. I’m not putting that in my mouth.”

-Patrick: “I like it. Tastes good.”

I kid you not. Those quotes are verbatim. Down to the punctuation. As for what I thought? Well, have you ever had one of those Christmas tree ornaments that are supposed to smell like candy canes? I do, and if you haven’t ever seen/smelled one, I’d be glad to show you sometime. Anyway, the gum smelled almost exactly like that, except slightly more rancid. I can’t believe that after smelling that thing that I actually put it in my mouth, but I did. Almost without thinking. As soon as I bit down, I spit it out all over and almost vomited. But, you know, that would have been alright. Vomit tastes way better than old Dubu gum. It was probably the worst thing I’ve ever tasted. Ever. And I’ve eaten oysters (By accident. I’ll tell you the story some other time). The consistency was… well, since one of my brothers actually liked the stuff I guess it was like that of normal gum, But I didn’t have it in my mouth anywhere long enough to know for sure.

On the upside, that’s one more lesson learned for me. If I ever see Dubu gum again, I will hold onto it and offer some to anyone who angers me even in the slightest. It would be a great – and relatively harmless – form of revenge. And maybe torture too…

Sensor chewy candy. Oh, hey! It’s strawberry-flavoured! How could this go wrong? This is how. It’s got approximately a year on the Hit candy. I’m not gonna be putting a very large bet on this horse. If there’s anything I’ve learned from this experience so far, it’s that candy has an expiration date for a reason. It may seem timeless, but the shit does worsen with age. Maybe not as fast as say, milk, but it happens.

Being me, I was enticed by the claims of “chewy” and “strawberry” all over the package, so I popped one in. You’d think I would have learned by now.

Now, maybe it’s just me, but I can’t remember the last candy I ate that was advertised as “chewy” that was not dissimilar to chewing on a rock. You see that image above? It’s a little blurry, but you should be able to tell quite well that it’s split very finely in two. Why do I point this out? Chewy candy does not split in two! I hurt my teeth when I clamped my jaw down on that little sucker! You could probably take a hammer and chisel to one of these things and find fossils inside. Needless to say, there wasn’t a whole lot of strawberry present either.

I’m kind of a slob, so when I was done with the stuff I just left it sitting on my floor (I got the bag and took the pics about a good week before I started writing this article). A couple days later, my dogs wandered in. Poor little guys didn’t seem to like the stuff either, as one of them came out with a piece in his mouth, gnawing desperately at it in hopes of putting a dent in it. The other one ate the leftover red gumball. It was funny at the time, but then I realized that since I’m the one that stays home with them all day that I’d likely be cleaning up the resulting doggy vomit. As luck would have it, that’s just what happened.

Well lookie here! These not only look contemporary, but they also seem to be North American-made. Things are finally starting to look up! Upon closer inspection, it turns out they’re actually produced in Hamilton, Ontario. That’s the best news I’ve gotten all day! They even advertise their website on the package. In an unlucky twist of fate, said website is currently broken. Or something like that. Maybe they’re just doing maintenance right now and by the time you read this it’ll be back up and working. God knows that I’m not going to be trying to get there anymore.

Sadly, that wasn’t all the information listed on the package. They also included a “best before” date. That date reads 30.01.03. Yeah, just over three years. But, at least it says “best before” and not “expires.” There is a difference between the two.

There’s actually an interesting note about the gum here. While most gumballs are round or oval, these ones are shaped more like fat barrels. And by that I mean they’ve got two parallel flat spots, rather than being entirely round. I’m not sure if they were meant to be this way, but considering that all three gumballs in the package are shaped the same way, I’m willing to bet that it was intentional. But now I’m just trying to drag it on. Let’s see how they’ve stood up against the test of time.

To start, they smelled like dust. A bad omen if I’ve ever smelled one. But I put the Dubu gum in my mouth after smelling it, so I have no excuse to chicken out on these things. It came as a bit of a surprise that the one I “ate” actually tasted like dust as well. Dust with a hint of lemon. The sourness was definitely gone many a year ago, and they actually managed to taste like old. Keeping in mind, of course, that I don’t know exactly what old tastes like. I’ve never licked anyone’s grandma. Not surprisingly, the gum was pretty damned hard. Not as hard as rocks like those red gumballs, but hard enough to deter me from continuing to try to eat one. If these guys were best before January in 2003, they likely expired two months or so after.

You can’t really tell by the picture, but these suckers appeared a bit paler that usual. There’s not really anything to go on from here, unfortunately. It’s a good thing I’m close to the end. I don’t know how much more of this crap I can take.

While there was a slight hint of something I didn’t recognize, the suckers actually tasted pretty normal. Not great, but they didn’t activate my gag reflex, and that’s always a plus. I still wouldn’t recommend ingesting one, because only God knows what that little mystery taste is. It might just be old, but it could be something far more frightful. The thing about surprise bags like this is that the mysteries don’t end one you see what’s inside. The products I’ve seen so far prompt more questions than they answer, and my overactive imagination isn’t a great trait when I think about why these things taste as horrible as they do.

Wow. Just wow.

I didn’t realize the “Otoban” was popular enough to have it’s own gum. And they even come with stickers! Check it out. But why bikes? Oh well.

Upon opening the Otoban gum, I was surprised to discover that it looked exactly like Dubble Bubble gum. Except gray. Well, that’s not good. As with the Dubu gum, I had given it a try prior to writing this article, and I have some comments on this stuff too.

-Eric: “Still tastes like gum, but it’s freakin’ hard.”

-Mom: “Disgusting, vile. It’s like eating chalk.”

I didn’t get enough of this stuff to go all the way around, but three impressions are better than one. As for me, I again popped it in my mouth without really thinking of the consequences. There was no initial taste, but when I bit down I got the worst surprise. The damn thing splintered into a billion tiny fragments and I immediately spit out as much as I could. It had about the same texture as glass. It was like there were a billion shards of sadness in my mouth. It did not taste like gum, and I have no idea how my brother managed to get any flavour out of it. All I was left with was the feeling of having a thick layer of dust caked on my tongue. It was similar to eating dried-out Play-Doh, except without the unique Play-Doh taste.

The final group of items in the bag were, thankfully, not edible. The cards were a huge flashback for me, because back when I was between four and 11 years old, I collected all sorts of cards. Sports, movies, dinosaurs, video games – anything that came in card form, I would collect. But there were a couple things about these cards that stood out.

First off, I’d never even heard of the movie “Baby.” From what I can glean from the cards, it seems like something that may have influenced Jurassic Park, but of course, I only know small bits of the story. In any case, there’s a pretty good indication of why I’ve never heard of this movie on each card: it was released in 1985. That’s a year before I was even born. Before I was conceived, even. That also makes these cards the oldest dated items found in the bag. Probably the oldest items I own, too. The other thing is just a personal annoyance. On the back of every card, the assumed tagline for the movie reads “Great New Adventure Movie.” Does that sound overly Engrish to anyone else? It’s also a shitty tagline.

I did a quick IMDb search for “Baby,” but the only movie with that title that was produced in 1985 is this. Call it a hunch, but I don’t think that’s what I’m looking for. I don’t care enough to do any more searching either, so Baby will remain a mystery to me until the end of time. I don’t rightly care though.

As happy as I was to find a perfect Surprise Bag to write a review of, I can’t say I was overly thrilled to have even put some of that stuff in my mouth. It was really bad. Like, the Nintendo gum at least just tasted bad, it wasn’t vile. I had to go to some rather extreme measures to wash some of those horrible tastes and residues out of my mouth. But hey, on the upside, it got easier as time went by.

Rest assured though, that a bad experience will not deter me in my quest to find and review as many surprise bags as humanly possible. Of course, if you hate the surprise bag articles, that’s not a good thing, but you’re going to have to deal with them. I’ve got a good thing going here, and if you think I’m going to give it up, you’re dead wrong. I don’t know really how to go out here, so I’ve attatched a sweet little gallery to the end of the article. Enjoy!

Bonus! – The Baby Card Mini-Gallery

Between my surprise bag and the two my brother got, we claimed quite a few of these “Baby” collector’s cards. Seeing as they’re moderately interesting, I’ve scanned both sides of every card at a respectable resolution and put them all up in this spanktastic gallery for you to gawk at. Just look at how much effort I put into making the thumbnails! What a waste of time!


Baby Stickers
What could the big picture be?

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