They're back. Twinkies, of course. The yellow, spongy cakes returned to store shelves after an eight-month hiatus on Monday, although Walmart jumped the gun a few days, probably because employees couldn't resist.
If the new Twinkies seem a bit smaller, well, they are — about 10 percent and 15 fewer calories. They also have a shelf life of 45 days instead of 26, which is supposed to be a good thing. I guess.
I'm more of a Ho Ho girl myself but considered it a coup when I was able to cajole my mother into buying Twinkies, which wasn't often. A co-worker said her mom used to cut two in half to give to her four kids as a treat. Now that's portion control.
Babies and cheese. It's not an obvious pairing.
Except for Whole Foods. The speciality grocery store has birthed a new cheese celebrating the upcoming arrival of England's royal baby, due any day now.
The Westminster William and Kate Royal Addition Cheddar cheese is on sale at Whole Food Markets nationwide for a limited time. The all-natural, white cheddar comes in 10-pound wheels and sells for $9.99 per pound. Made on a English farm, the cheese is aged for 12 months — a trimester longer than the royal family's pending bundle of joy.
This weekend, Whole Foods hosts Local-palooza at its stores in Tampa and Carrollwood, where shoppers can sample products made in Florida. Items include Joe's Oat Patties, Brimstone Original Hot Pepper Jellies, Bavarro's Pasta Sauce, Aramouni Hummus and Cosi Duci cookies.
The free event runs from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Tampa store, 1548 N Dale Mabry Highway, and from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Carrollwood store, 3802 Northdale Blvd.
Another restaurant is joining the mix along Boy Scout Boulevard. McAlister's Deli opens at 10 a.m. Monday at 4410 W Boy Scout Blvd. Big perk alert: The first 50 people will receive a $25 gift card, enough to cover a few meals.
McAlister's sells sandwiches, stuffed baked potatoes, soups, salads and desserts for dine-in or takeout. Its sweet tea supposedly makes Southern folk swoon.
The Mississippi- and Georgia-based chain has more than 315 restaurants in 23 states, but just one locally, at 11402 N 30th St., near the University of South Florida. Brayton Knotts, the Boy Scout franchisee, plans to develop 10 other locations in the Tampa Bay area.
McAlister's will likely be a hit among the area's many office workers and residents looking for a fast, less expensive alternative to the more upscale restaurants along Boy Scout. The new fast-casual Lime Fresh Mexican Grill next to the Container Store on Spruce Street has been attracting a line out the door at lunchtime.
Nation's Restaurant News recently named McAlister's to its annual list of Top 100 restaurants.
After hunkering down during the recession, Evos is finally expanding. The Tampa-based chain is opening its seventh Florida restaurant on Wednesday at 10205 Lake Carroll Way in Carrollwood.
The restaurant's design reflects the company's earth-friendly attitude with recycled wood panels, zero VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint and Made in America furniture, fixtures and equipment. Its salads contain certified local organic ingredients, and its burgers are made with hormone-free, grass-fed beef.
Because summer isn't summer without ice cream, the Museum of Science & Industry is offering free scoops of Blue Bell Ice Cream from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday for National Ice Cream Day.
As a bonus, MOSI will do a cryo freezing demonstration using liquid nitrogen. Not sure how appetizing that will be — it sounds a little Ted Williams-ish — but, hey, it's all in the name of science.
This party isn't to be confused with National Vanilla Ice Cream Day two days later, on July 23. In honor of the even more obscure holiday, Blue Bell is giving away free vanilla ice cream from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. with any purchase at the original Outback Steakhouse at 3403 Henderson Blvd. in South Tampa.
Susan Thurston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 225-3110.