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Spotted for the first time today in the dollar store at the end of the world, marshmallow fries.
Perhaps you have patience enough for the backstory:
Belgium’s Van Damme Confectionery is working to whip up enthusiasm among U.S. retailers and consumers. With the exception of the perennial favorite campfire concoction s’mores and Peeps from Bethlehem, Pa.-based Just Born, marshmallows are not mainstream confectionery items to most U.S. consumers.
In Europe, however, marshmallows have a much richer history and occupy a more substantial niche in the marketplace. Now Europe’s leading marshmallow maker, Van Damme Confectionery, is working to whip up enthusiasm among U.S. retailers and consumers for the soft and fluffy confectionery treat.
...Here’s a look at some of the Van Damme offerings.
Mallow Scoops – Van Damme’s best seller, these marshmallow “scoops” in peach, strawberry and banana flavors boast a crystallized sugar coating that makes them extra-crispy. They come in an ice cream cone-shaped 5.3-ounce bag and have a suggested retail price of $1.49.
Marshmallow Fries – These flavored, pastel-colored marshmallow pieces are shaped like French fries. Targeted to kids, they come packaged in a 7-ounce stand-up bag with a suggested retail price of $1.99.
Super Marshmallows – These are high quality Van Damme marshmallows shaped like mini logs and packaged in a 16-ounce plastic tub designed to ensure an extended shelf life. The suggested retail price is $4.49.
...Chocomallows – As their name suggests, these are chocolate-enrobed marshmallows. They come packaged in a 7-ounce plastic tub with the words “from Belgium” highlighted on the package to get consumers thinking about the reputation Belgian chocolate enjoys. 12:07 AM
Friday, August 26, 2005
The Adopt-A-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather Program
NEWBURYPORT, Mass. - A young man performing court-ordered community service in a cemetery was charged with breaking into a Civil War-era tomb and desecrating remains by pulling apart a skeleton and posing for pictures with the skull and other bones. 12:22 AM
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
The United Nations of Frozen Piss and Blood
PARIS, Aug. 23 - The French sports newspaper L'Équipe charged Tuesday that Lance Armstrong used an illegal performance-enhancing drug in 1999 to win his first of seven consecutive Tours de France.
...Doctors commonly store blood, urine and other samples so they can do tests that may become necessary or available years after the samples were taken. They usually compare those tests with control samples to make sure that freezing or other storage techniques do not distort the findings.
...L'Équipe said the World Anti-Doping Agency or the United States Anti-Doping Agency could act, but that appeared unlikely even if the charges were further substantiated. The French sports minister, Jean-François Lamour, told The Associated Press that because the A sample was discarded after the initial 1999 testing, the B sample would not be enough to pursue charges and punishment.
The sample also predates the formation of the World Anti-Doping Agency, which was formed in 2000 to administer Olympic drug testing worldwide, as well as the United States Anti-Doping Agency, also started in 2000.
"If anything were found, we couldn't do anything because we didn't even exist in 1999," said the world agency's chairman, Richard Pound.
I refuse to believe Mr. Pound or his agency really exist today, let alone in 1999. And if by some wormhole-zeit-heist freak they actually are for real, Mr. Pound has my career and I want it back. That phony baloney job has my name and qualifications written all over it.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Tomorrow, Common and Somewhat Amusing Misunderstandings in Inter-State Commercial Real-Estate Transactions
From the always sexy, wet and wild world of disability insurance comes the most interesting thing I've learned (yet) today. This entire piece on the client gaming tactics of private disabilty-insurers is worth reading in a Sunday afternoon kinda way:
...Disability insurers have a huge financial interest in getting people who are seeking benefits from them onto the Social Security rolls. In effect, these insurers have come up with ways to shift much of the risk of having to cover ill and injured workers from themselves to Washington even as they continue collecting premiums.
Most disability contracts require claimants to apply for Social Security as a condition of receiving benefits under their employer-provided plan. In cases where claimants finally win Social Security benefits, the contracts give insurers the right to offset what they owe by the amount the government pays.
In fact, merely having people apply--even if their applications for government benefits ultimately are rejected--helps insurers by reducing what they have to set aside as reserves to ensure that they can pay what they owe. Documents show that in some instances insurers can reduce these reserves by as much as 30%.
As a result, many insurers push almost all of their claimants into the Social Security pipeline no matter what their medical condition, once the company has paid their claims for a few months.
Some companies take matters one step further. Having helped claimants demonstrate that they are totally disabled in order to qualify for Social Security, they then deny that the claimants are totally disabled for purposes of the insurer's coverage.
...This practice--helping people apply for Social Security as totally disabled, then doubling back and asserting that they weren't disabled for the purposes of company coverage--had already caught the eye of Richard Posner, a Chicago federal appeals court judge and conservative legal theorist. In a 1998 opinion, he wrote that an employer and its disability carrier, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., had gone too far in treating one of the employer's customer service representatives in this fashion.
The companies' behavior, he wrote, violated a fundamental principle of law, "that if a party wins a suit on one ground, it can't turn around and in further litigation with the same opponent repudiate the ground in order to win a further victory."
He ruled that the company and insurer would have to make up the difference between Social Security and what the company policy promised. 3:06 PM