The best ginger ale ever, healthier chips and James Bond chopsticks

The best ginger ale ever, healthier chips and James Bond chopsticks

WBEZ brings you fact-based news and information. Sign up for our newsletters to stay up to date on the stories that matter.

Bruce Cost’s Ginger Ale (photo by Joseph Storch)

As part of my job, I get quite a few random things sent my way: oven mitts, seeds, wine and more cookbooks than I’ll ever need. But every now and then, a product or two catches my eye - and my stomach - and I want to tell more people about it. Problem is, new products don’t exactly fit with the “Hungry Hound” segment format at ABC. My solution is to occasionally tell you about some new items that I’ve found particularly intriguing, or just downright wonderful.

The Best Ginger Ale I’ve Ever Had

We begin with ginger ale. Like most of us, I grew up sipping Canada Dry’s version - especially on airplanes (?) - and I’ve stayed away from it for some reason over the past few years. Then the folks at Wow Bao sent me some of Bruce Cost’s homemade ginger ale, and all was right in the world. Cost was the culinary consultant, and driving force, behind the creation of Big Bowl. He’s been out of the spotlight for awhile, but has returned with a line of homemade ginger ales that I would want to have on that figurative desert island. The pomegranate and jasmine tea flavors are fine, but they’re just window dressing, compared with the fantastic original: utilizing pure cane sugar and so much fresh ginger that you’re asked to shake the bottle slightly before opening, it’s fizzy and tart and sweet, with a back-end jolt from the fresh ginger pieces. Bring on the jerk chicken or spicy wok-fried eggplant, please. It’s available at Whole Foods, Wow Bao, Peapod, The Bristol and The Publican, to name a few local spots.

Healthy Chips?

Pop Chips - they’re a far cry from Old Dutch

Then along came a few bags of Popchips. You’ve probably seen them advertised on billboards and buses, and despite the over-hyped marketing campaign, my family has become big fans. Neither fried nor baked, the Original flavor has 0 grams of saturated and trans fat (just 4 g total fat) per serving (they calculate a serving as 1 oz., about 23 chips). Also, sodium content is much lower than the standard fried chips: just 280 mg, about 12% of your recommended daily allowance, and a serving only has 120 calories. These are pretty guilt-free in terms of packing a quick snack for the kids this summer.

Your Chopsticks, Mr. Bond

The coolest chopstick case - ever

The “Minnesota Fats” of chopsticks

Then a few weeks ago, the PR firm that handles Japanese‚ Korin knives sent me a small steel case, no longer and wider than a travel toothbrush holder, but a lot sleeker. Inside, there were four pieces of something. When I took them out, I realized they were two chopsticks, which had to be assembled and screwed together. Can you imagine showing up at Katsu or Mirai with these? I felt like Fast Eddie Felson at a pool hall, armed with my stealth sticks that would normally be reserved for secret agents (or Nobu himself). They cost $16.90 from the company’s website, which also has some bamboo versions. If you’re into cooking, you’ll probably get sucked into their fabulous pictures of knives and other Japanese paraphernalia.