December 31, 2010

Third Annual Golden Spork Awards: The best foods of 2010

Button up your tux or zip up the back of your fanciest gown! It's time to hand out some of the most highly sought-after awards in affordable food: the 2010 Golden Spork Awards.

All you historians out there have no doubt noticed that this year's ceremonies have been moved back to their original date of New Year's Eve after 2009's festivities were experimentally held in early March 2010 to piggyback off the popularity of the Oscars. That scheduling, really just a shameless attempt to gain some cheap traction on search engines, never really panned out. Apparently readers searching the web for movie awards don't eat.

The jostling schedule for the Golden Sporks leaves list fans in luck. You get two food critique awards in the same calendar year! Mazel tov!

In a desperate attempt to keep some continuity, the awards handed out this year will feature the same categories as in 2009. To be eligible, a food had to be reviewed during the 2010 calendar year. Anyone who wishes to look through the candidates can do so by following this link. Those of you looking for previous Golden Spork Awards can find them here.

A quick rundown of the awards: We start with the worst of 2010, the "Put a Spork in Them" list, before moving on to the Best Free Food, Best Sub-$1 Food and Best Seasonal Food. Things start to heat up with the prestigious Best Snack/Candy award and Best Supporting Beverage honors, then turn into an all-out food fight as contenders duke it out for Best Dessert in a Leading Role. Finally, we wrap it up with the honor of all honors, the top food of 2010, the Best Picnic trophy. To contend for Best Picnic, a food had to have received five sporks out of five in its initial review.

In an effort to cover as much ground as possible, foods aren't eligible for more than one award. So if a 99-cent burrito wins Best Picnic, it cannot win Best Sub-$1 food.

2010 was a year dominated by high-profile food news: The KFC Double Down grabbed headlines while Mountain Dew and Vitamin Water waged crowd-sourced competitions for new flavors. But the low profile flavors were just as noteworthy, as Chocolate Pop Rocks and new Taco Bell sauces, Verde and Fire Roasted Border Salsa, deserve their fare share of attention.

Which foods take the cake as the best of 2010? Without further ado, let's find out!

Put a Spork in Them: 2010's foods to forget

Cinnabon Cereal More sugar than a grocery store's baking aisle and a flavor that could have been taken straight from Post Waffle Crisp made this cereal a blemish on breakfast. Parents, don't let your children try this Molotov cocktail in a breakfast bowl, lest they become sugar junkies like the title character in Calvin and Hobbes.

Vitamin Water Connect Facebook may have inspired a successful movie this year with "The Social Network," but the site's Vitamin Water stepchild fell far short of expectations. Touted as a combination of black cherry and lime, this drink was the pits with an overpowering citrus flavor. If ever there was a reason to call for a "Dislike" button, this is it.

Golden Spork Awards: The top foods reviewed in 2010

Free Food: Burger King Seattle's Best Coffee The King rolled out a partnership with Seattle's Best Coffee this year and celebrated by handing out free coffee every Friday in November. While Seattle's best isn't the most bewitching brew, no other handout came close to matching four straight weeks of something-for-nothing bliss.

Short Payment (Best Sub-$1 Food): Taco Bell's $5 Box Sure to be a controversial pick, the $5 Box managed to win a category for which it didn't even appear to be eligible. Worse, it received a paltry two spork rating on initial review! That low rating stemmed largely from the fact that the $5 Box was handed to me in a bag, but it didn't reflect the value of the meal, which packed a Cheesy Gordita Crunch (to munch), a Burrito Supreme, a Crunchy Taco, Cinnamon Twists and a drink. That's a ton of food for $5, and it was enough to propel the $5 Box to an oxymoronic victory in a category for foods priced less than $1.

Seasonal Food: Starbuck's Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha The next best thing to dipping a white-chocolate-coated candy cane in espresso, this rich drink packed enough Christmas flavor to have even the biggest Scrooge singing "Jingle Bells."

Snack/Candy: Pretzel M&M's A near-perfect take on the classic combination of chocolate and pretzels. You'll be tongue twisted as you try to come up with adjectives to describe these delectable nuggets.

Best Supporting Beverage: Mountain Dew White Out A tasty citrus soda should always find room on the shelf, and an online vote affirmed the supremacy of this flavor. While the opinion of the interweb masses was way off when it came to Vitamin Water Connect, Mountain Dew White Out is evidence that democracy really can work.

Best Dessert in a Leading Role: KFC Double Down The Double Down defies convention, and we're defying convention today by awarding it the title of best dessert of 2010. While it's served as a main course and has none of the traditional sweetness of dessert, the Double Down qualifies for this category because it truly is the icing on the cake of a memorable year in food -- not to mention the fact that it didn't fit any other category but definitely deserved some sort of award. As excessive as some of the most over-the-top desserts, this chicken concoction will live forever in our memories as one of the most brazen dishes to ever hit a fast food menu.

Best Picnic: Milky Way Midnight Only two foods pulled down the five-spork rating necessary to qualify for this year's Best Picnic Award: Wheaties Fuel and Milky Way Midnight. While both stars of this year waged war as worthy contenders, the Milky Way just edges out Wheaties Fuel with a stellar combination of dark chocolate, vanilla nougat and caramel working together with enough force to topple empires. This is what candy bars were meant to be, and eating one will pull anyone over to the dark side.

Congratulations to all of this year's award recipients. The real winners, of course, were those of us eating these delicious foods. We'll see you in 2011!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous5:26 PM

    I object to the award for Taco Bell's $5 Box. It was patently ineligible to be considered for, let alone actually win, the award! This is a travesty that can only be solved with a systematic reworking of the categories.

    A rework is further supported by the surprising occurrence of the double down winning for Best Dessert in a Leading Role. While it is undeniably true that savory desserts have had a recent renaissance of popularity in the food world, at best, it is a stretch to claim the double down as a spiritual successor to the bread pudding family.

    I submit that a reworking of the award categories be undertaken before the next year of sporks bite into food.