Iâ€™m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Nowhere, Oklahoma.
Greetings from Nowhere, Oklahoma
N 35Â° 9.5535â€™ W 098Â° 26.5368â€™ Elev. 1345 ft.
It was shortly after 3 a.m. when Skippy came unglued: â€œStop! STOP!!â€
The blood-curdling panic in his voice was more than a bit disconcerting, erupting as unexpectedly as he did. Prior to this explosive outburst heâ€™d been mindlessly fumbling with his sextant and quietly mumbling to himself for hours, stuff like â€œI think itâ€™s …â€ and â€œMaybe itâ€™s …â€ and â€” always a bad sign â€” â€œIf north is up ….â€
My first thought was that Iâ€™d suffered yet another momentary lapse in concentration and the SS Me So Hungry had flattened yet another parish van piloted by yet another elderly nun ferrying yet another group of preschoolers on yet another outing to yet another Childrenâ€™s Museum. I always think that. But we hadnâ€™t seen another vehicle for hours.
â€œDo you know where we are?â€ he asked. Yes, Skippy, I do. Thanks to your breathtakingly incompetent navigational skills weâ€™re lost, again, and now weâ€™re in the middle of freakinâ€™ nowhere. â€œExactly!â€ he said, cheerfully. â€œWeâ€™re in Nowhere.â€
All I had to do was peer out the bridge windows into the impenetrable darkness to see that. Hell, a lot of Oklahoma looks like nowhere, even in daylight. In fact, much of Oklahoma could be fairly described as nowhere, as in â€œthe middle of.â€
â€œLook,â€ he said. And damned if it wasnâ€™t true. We were actually in Nowhere. Nowhere, Oklahoma. I wouldâ€™ve thought â€œWhat the hell are the chances?â€ but, well, it was the SSMSHâ€™s crack lead navigator Skippy who got us here.
So what does one do in Nowhere? Well, not much. Somebody really pegged it when they named the place. Thereâ€™s nothing in Nowhere. And the nearest somewhere, the big city of Chickasha, is nearly 40 miles away.
Being in Nowhere elicited only one thought: Whatâ€™s up with Jackâ€™s Links?
I guess I should explain: I had a Facebook chat recently with my faux nephew-in-law, husband of my not-niece. He had one pressing question for me: â€œWhereâ€™re the beef sticks?â€
My adoptive nephew-in-law is in the Army. When he was deployed to Iraq a few years back I sent him a couple of 2.1 lbs. bags of Jackâ€™s Links .93-oz. Beef Sticks. His missus and I also included various other goodies in his â€œcareâ€ package, like Mike and Ike candy, a couple of puzzles, and whatnot.
Now heâ€™s deployed again, this time to the nowhere of nowheres thatâ€™s so nowhere no one can know. Itâ€™s Top Secret. The only thing I can divulge about his exact whereabouts without running afoul of military intelligence, the State Secrets Protection Act and Ã¼ber-masochistic rock hounds is that heâ€™s in a real nowhere. Nowhere, Oklahoma is a verdant paradise by comparison. So letâ€™s just say heâ€™s overseas. And he wants the Jackâ€™s Links Beef Sticks I promised him.
Jackâ€™s Links Beef Sticks are available on counters next to the cash register in many convenience stores. Theyâ€™re found in plexiglass display boxes with a pull-out, one-stick-at-a-time drawer that doesnâ€™t always work; if desperate, open the top.
They regularly sell for 59Â¢ each or 2 for $1. I kind of like them. The 6-inch sticks have a satisfying â€œsnapâ€ when you bite into them, a mildly smokey flavor, and go great with Cheese Nips, the far superior competitor of the markedly less-cheesy tasting and pricier Cheese-ItÂ® crackers. The best part of that pairing, by the way, is that both the Beef Sticks and the Cheese Nips are easy to hold while blissfully barreling through traffic in, say, a 40-ton land yacht.
When I first bought Jackâ€™s Links Beef Sticks for export to Iraq they were pricey; about $25 per 2.1 lbs. bag, plus shipping. Jackâ€™s Links didnâ€™t sell direct to the public at the time and you could only buy them in bulk on Amazon. All told the adventure ended up costing somewhere around $60-plus, and that was without the additional shipping cost to Iraq; the seller wouldnâ€™t ship to FPOs (Field Post Office), the military mail network.
When I ordered the Jackâ€™s Links Beef Sticks this time (directly from Jackâ€™s website) they were on sale for $10.44 a bag (36 count) and $4.99 for shipping, regardless of the weight/order. I bought 3 bags â€” two for him, one for me. With shipping it was $36.31 or 29Â¢ per stick.
It was such a great deal that a week later I decided to get some more. But now they wanted $19.99 a bag. Add $4.99 for shipping and each stick is now 69Â¢ apiece (if you buy one bag). Thatâ€™s more than Apu Nahasapeemapetilon charges for them at the Kwik-E-Mart! Whatâ€™s up with that? Is it Minong marketing? Some peculiarly Wisconsin thing? Seriously. Whatâ€™s up with that, Jack?
I called Link Snacks Inc., the makers of Jackâ€™s Links, and talked to Brian in Customer Development. He told me that I got the bags of beef sticks so cheap because the product was nearing its expiration date. â€œItâ€™s a perishable product,â€ he explained. Bummer, man. So does Jack give military discounts?
â€œLink Snacks is the largest supplier of snack foods to the military,â€ he said. I could feel where this was going. â€œWe donâ€™t give discounts because we donâ€™t want to undercut our retailers. Your best bet [for discounts] is to go to CostCo or Samâ€™s Club. Or you can watch our website.â€
In short, the incredible deal on the Jackâ€™s Links Beef Sticks was a fluke.
Although Iâ€™d rather grant Sgt. Grantâ€™s wish to come home where he belongs, Iâ€™m glad I was able to fulfill at least one soldierâ€™s meager request. The Jackâ€™s Links Beef Sticks and a boatload of theatre-size boxes of assorted flavors of Mike and Ike are on the way to his super-secret undisclosed location. I also threw in a box of both Red Hots and Hot Tamales for good measure.
I hope the sugar rush he gets from all the candy wonâ€™t cause him to engage in any aberrant behavior(s) that could lead to â€œmisunderstandingsâ€ with whatever short-tempered corporate mascots that may be lurking thereabouts.
If life (read: the military) fails us and his deployment is extended, I think Iâ€™ll next try to get Sarge off the cow and onto the fowl. Itâ€™s healthier, right? Maybe send him some Imam-approved poultry that â€œContains no pork.â€ Of course, thatâ€™s just an idea straight out of Nowhere.
And so we roll.
Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.