Like many reporters, I am intimately familiar with the board of fare at my local convenience store. I've eaten oily burritos, wizened wieners and untold cups o' noodles--chicken, beef, yakisoba, "shrimp," you name it. I thought I'd seen it all until a colleague turned me on to Maruchan Cheddar Cheese Instant Lunch.
Her sales pitch was less than appetizing: "It's this electric orange color that absolutely does not occur in nature," she said. "The 'cheese' powder is clumpy even after you put water on it, and I'm pretty sure it's nothing but MSG. It is sooo good."
I was skeptical, to say the least, but when I came to work and found a cup o' the cheddar on my desk—with the words "Don't judge me" written onto the plastic wrapping—I knew I had to try it.
Nuked and simmering under its paper lid, Maruchan Cheddar smells like boiled Doritos. The color is indeed an other-worldly orange, several shades deeper even than John Boehner's tan. Flecks of some unknown spice bob among the noodles which, in an "exotic" break with other varieties in the cup o' universe, are flat.
The taste of Maruchan Cheddar isn't experienced on the tongue so much as felt in the adenoids. It heats and flips the stomach like a shot of cheap bourbon, but you won't be hungry for the rest of the day.