A Trip to the Dollar Store

By Justin Rybinski

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Everyone likes dollar stores. They're in most every city, packed to the brim with bargains for the economically unfortunate and laughably pathetic items for the lower middle-class and up. It's one of the few places today that seriously transcends age, race, and income level. Buffalo is horribly racially segregated, yet any dollar store in the area will have close to an even ratio of persons of different nationalities.

Me? I don't need to shop there to save $.09 on macaroni and cheese; I go to buy imported toys and expired candy. About once a month, I'll take a few friends/roommates along and hit up every dollar store in the area. The last time we went, we found a bucket-load of hilarious and inedible items. Here is an illustrated guide to what we purchased.

Our first stop was Dollar General, a store I prefer to skip, as it is usually lacking in hilarious and/or interesting items. However, I decided since it was only a few blocks away from where I live, I might as well give it another chance. Good thing, too, because we found some amazing stuff. The first thing we noticed when we walked in was a display of Valentine's Day stuff marked down. I wouldn't touch the candy with a sterilized pole, but the actual valentines themselves were great. We couldn't pass up the Aaron Carter valentines for 25 cents. They originally sold for a buck, then were marked down to 50 cents, then once more to four for a dollar.

Much to our delight, the package also included stickers and a mysterious "bonus offer." I was so interested in the stickers and valentines, I don't remember what the bonus offer was. I may have to come back and provide an update. There's something for everyone in this valentine pack. If you want a photo of a patriotic Aaron wrapped in an American flag, you've got it. If you want extremely poor grammar, you've got that, too.

"I gotta crush on you"? Are you going to hurt me, Aaron? I certainly wouldn’t want to be accosted by our nation's most charismatic young heartthrob. I think what he's trying to say is "I got a crush on you," or, if he really wanted to be grammatically correct, he'd say "I have a crush on you."

The other item we bought at Dollar General was this really bootleg drink mix from an even bootleg-sounding company name—Clover Valley. We have yet to actually make this stuff, but judging from the rest of the food at this particular Dollar General, it will be expired and cut our life span in half. Ten for a dollar…it's hard to pass that deal up. All in all, we spent under 50 cents at Dollar General.

Total so far: $.49

Next on our stop was Dollar Tree. I like this place, as they get new products in quite frequently and once sold Pez-flavored popcorn (more on this in a later story). This is a great place to go for bizarre or extremely expired food. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you can purchase a food item that is both bizarre AND expired. But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. First up is a generic box of Spaghetti O's called Quick 'N Tasty Macaroonie Dinner.

I can't say no to a smiling, talking, cartoon dinosaur. I really can't. They could package up cat shit with the SARS virus in a box with a cheerful dinosaur saying "Buy me!" and I'd be sold. Yes, I actually made this stuff, and yes, there will be pictures of it below.

When you think of specific peanut butter brands, you typically think of Jif, Skippy, Planters, Smuckers and so on. Most people don't think of the Peanut Corp of America. I am one of those lucky few now. This stuff looks terrible, more so than any words or photos can portray. You can't really tell from the pic, but this jar isn't even full! The seal isn't broken, so it hasn't been tampered with. All of them for sale were about 1/8 of the way empty. Is there money trouble at the Peanut Corp of America? I certainly hope not, because that would just crush me.

The final food item we picked up at Dollar Tree was Kraft Zesty Burger Sauce. Ordinarily, Dollar Tree doesn't carry name-brand food items, which Kraft certainly is. However, in all my years of shopping in major (and minor) supermarkets, I have never ever ever seen Kraft Zesty Burger Sauce. Surprisingly, it's not expired quite yet; it still has a few months before it passes on to the land of wind and ghosts. As of yet, I haven't tried this stuff, but I might, as it isn't old. I don't eat burgers as much as I'd like, either, but I may have to go out of my way to remedy this, just to try the Zesty Burger Sauce.

This toy scares me. Why doesn't he have a mouth? Hell, the major question is why would a random centaur toy be for sale in the middle of a non-toy aisle? Either way, he has a happy home on top of my television set.


Finally, the last items we picked up at Dollar Tree were these videos. Those of you who know me are aware of my addiction for retarded and unnecessary VHS videos and movies. These two vids are equally retarded and unnecessary. The first one is an extremely bootleg Pokemon video from 1997. It supposedly teaches kids how to play the game and collect the cards. I predict the main points will be "Buy more Pokemon cards" and "Ask mom to buy you more Pokemon cards." I haven't watched this one yet, so look out for a review of it in the near future.

The next vid is "Magic Star Traveler," a frightening kid's movie from 1978. It stars a terrifying Canadian (Jerry Lane, for those who care) and his gay puppet friends Luster, Moonshine and Imagination as they go around and watch birds. I am not kidding. In an hour's time, they look at and review two different kinds of birds—the puffin and the stork. How the hell they manage to kill AN HOUR with two birds is beyond me. Like the Pokemon tape, I haven't watched this one, either. It will be discussed further sometime soon once I do.

Total for Dollar Tree: $5.94
Total so far: $6.43

Now we hit my favorite and the most dangerous part of the trip: 99 Cent City. This place is amazing. It's owned and operated by a Japanese family, and a large portion of the products are imported from Japan. Even though every single item is 99 cents here, it's still amazingly simple to walk out of this place minus 20 dollars. Let's start out with something innocent.

I don't know what it is about these bunny hooks, but it disturbs me if I stare at them for more than a second. I don't know if it's their Japanese eyes and expressions, or their clothes, or the fact that it's a hook set with animated, potentially Hentai, bunnies on it. This is nothing compared to the rest of the stuff we got.


Speaking of startling items, how about nodding-head dogs with Completely Wrong Heads? I dare you to pick up a glass German Shepherd figure (complete with pants) with a Dalmatian head and not laugh hysterically for two-three minutes. Same goes for the Dalmatian with the Labrador Retriever head. These are currently residing on our microwave, collecting millions of radioactive waves. I'm hoping that eventually the radiation will change their heads back to normal. If that doesn't work, I'll just have to try it on real dogs.


If you say no to Chicken McNugget and Hamburglar refrigerator magnets for a dollar, you are not American and I'd like you to step away from my website.

This might be my favorite item from our trip. Bright orange World Trade Center sandals!!!! Sadly, they didn't even come close to having them in my size, so they are merely for decoration. What does "2WIN" mean, anyway? Twin, as in "Twin Towers"? Oh, these are made in Japan. That answers my question. If you think "2WIN" is an egregious use of the English language, check this out:

What? Easy-Wpitep Draw'n Scpape? Huh? It almost looks like the P's should be R's, because "writer" appears to make sense here. However, that makes the last word "scrare," which, as far as I know, is not a word in any language. There's no way in hell I'm taking this out of its packaging. It seems to be a generic, Japanimated version of the American Magna-Doodle. The brand name of this toy is JingJing, which, when translated, means Rubbish.

Keeping with the Japanese toy motif so far, here is a girl's toy called "Fashion Designer." After much evaluation, we determined that you are supposed to cut the mini-fabric provided and tape it around the lumpy, unattractive, middle-aged American girl. Apparently, this is what Japanese designers think all Americans look like: fat, blonde, and dressed in tight blue jeans. Have a closer look:

Attractive model or not, that toy looks fun for no one. Enough toys. Let's go back to expired, terrible food.

Just when you think you've seen enough appalling food, here is the winner, Diet Rite Lemon Sorbet Soda. I honestly didn't know they were still producing this crap, let alone selling it anywhere in the Continental U.S. Like idiot curious cats who step on a burning hot stove to get to food, we drank this stuff right up when we got home. Needless to say, this stuff was poison. Absolutely undrinkable. I think the four of us who drank it each complained of extreme stomach pains later in the day.

Wow, not even Josh liked it, and he enjoys tamarind juice. Seriously, I wonder if a place like 99 Cent City could ever get in trouble for selling stuff like this. This lemon-flavored death juice was clearly several years old and could probably do some real harm to other people with weaker stomachs. The fact that we got upset stomachs at all is amazing, considering the amount of greasy, terrible food we eat on a daily basis.

Holy shit. HOLY SHIT. My eyes lit up when I saw this at the bottom of a toy display. There was no way I was walking out of this place without my own personal Self-Adhesive Moustache Disguise. Much like smiling, talking dinosaurs, I can't say no to grinning pirates. Enough chit-chat. Let's look at pictures of my roommates wearing the disguise.

You probably can't recognize him with the disguise on, but that is Chris. Even though the plastic wrap around the disguise said Non-Toxic, this stuff burned Chris' face for hours afterward. It's worth it for that classic pic.

The eye patch didn't even come close to fitting on Chris's gigantic head, so we had to make Josh put it on. Even though he's mostly a terrible example of a human being, he makes a pretty decent pirate. Since my face has enough problems already, I refrained from joining in on the pirate fun.

I saved this item for last. For some reason, in the shampoo and hair-care aisle, 99 Cent City decided to sell Natural Arousal for Ultimate Erections. Makes sense to me. In all honesty, I couldn't bring myself to go up to the register and purchase 99-cent generic Viagra in liquid form. Thankfully, Chris has no qualms with embarrassing himself and his peers, so he did the dirty work. Just to keep things in perspective, 99 Cent City used to sell huge, framed, nude photos of Japanese girls during last year's Christmas season. My girlfriend wouldn't allow me to buy one and put it in our living room (that whore!), so I'm waiting for them to get more so I can pick one up and dump her. Anyways, here is the erection cream itself, out of the box:

These things are barely the length of my knuckle to my fingertip. Apparently you are supposed to rub the cream in to the wang (medical term: schlong) for three-five minutes. Having never been impotent, this concept confuses me. If some girl is rubbing that part of the body for three to five minutes, wouldn't you sprout wood (medical term: pop a boner) naturally? Serial gothic-gay-fetish porn lover Chris nominated himself to see if the cream really works. So far, no reports have been made. Yes, we will keep you updated on this situation.

Total for 99 Cent City: $9.62
Final Total: $16.05

All in all, we spent under 20 dollars and came out with classic stuff we'll be talking about until we die. Some items, especially the Diet Rite, will literally remain in our body until we break out the Home Doctor set and physically remove it ourselves. Be sure to look out for updates on some of the items purchased today!


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Against all common sense, I made the Macaroonie dinner mix later that day. From the minute I opened the box, it reeked to high hell. I don't know why the smiling, talking dinosaur would lie to me by saying "Cheesy Tomato Taste!" The tomato was definitely there, but cheese? No. Certainly not. It even looked disgusting when I was cooking it:

No matter how furiously I stirred this crap, it kept sticking to the bottom of my pan. This is a quality of pasta I didn't know existed. At this point, the entire first floor of my apartment smelt of this failed attempt at food. Neighbors were starting to come over and complain. The FBI called and said if I tried making this again, they'd confiscate my oven. After laboriously stirring for seemingly hours, it was finished.

As you can tell, it looked nothing like the picture on the box. It didn't even look like the same kind of food. I'll spare you the horror stories of eating this trash and simply say that as I was scooping the remaining nine tenths of the pasta I couldn't eat into the garbage can, I felt very sorry for anyone who had to actually buy this stuff to seriously eat. Well, at least for a couple of hours.