Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Judging Sunflower Seeds

You can buy me peanuts and cracker jack, but I'm still gonna buy me some seeds.
As an experienced youth baseball spectator, I have split and spit my fair share of seeds. I've spent the whole summer doing it. Now that the seed-eating season is over (I pretty much only eat them at my son's baseball games), I thought I'd review my experiences with the different brands I ate.

There is some skill involved with eating seeds. Many people pour a handful in their mouths, but I'm not that coordinated. I pop them in my mouth one at a time, crack it open with my teeth, free the kernel from the shell, get rid of the shell, and eat the kernel. I prefer spitting the shell, but that only works if it's not windy (one never wants to spit in the wind) , there isn't anyone sitting really close to me (one never wants to spit on others), and I'm not too tired/lazy to stand or at least sit forward in my umbrella chair (one never wants to spit on oneself). If those three conditions can't be met, I simply remove the shell with my fingers and toss it on the ground and then wipe the slobber off my fingers on a napkin or kleenex (or my pants leg if I lack either of those). No one said that eating seeds should be done in hyper-polite company.

I do enjoy flavored seeds (particularly dill pickle flavored), but for this effort I'll stick to reviewing only the plain varieties of the brands. I wanted to give each brand a fair chance, and I didn't feel like buying every flavor of every brand. I have established my preferences under certain criteria: size, splittability/spittability, and saltiness (flavor). All three criteria are weighed equally.

Of course, the bigger the better. It's more food for the work.

Ideal seeds have shells that split easily in half. Shells that are soggy are hard to crack, and shells that shatter make it difficult to extract the kernel and spit out only shells (they also are more likely to poke your gums -- ouch). Also, shells that don't crack fully in half (a small hunk cracks off leaving the kernel encased in the larger section) are difficult to remove the kernels from. And, of course, if the shell cracks into two equal sections, it easy to move it to the front of your mouth for distance spitting (always a plus).

Since I'm only evaluating plain varieties, the only flavor comes from salt. I like salty food, but too much saltiness dries out your lips and makes them pucker.

Ok, we have the technique and we have the criteria. Let's eat some seeds!

Dakota Kid Jumboz
  • Size: Nice and big. (A)
  • Split/spit: Shell usually splits in half and easily gives up its kernel. (A-)
  • Saltiness: Good; nice flavor. (B+)
Overall grade: A-

  • Size: Fairly small; difficult to navigate in the mouth. (D)
  • Split/spit: Shatterers; wasted a lot of kernels because I often had to remove the entire works from my mouth to keep from trying to chew shell fragments. (D-)
  • Saltiness: Good; nice flavor. (B)
Overall grade: C-

  • Size: True to their name, they're nice and big (A)
  • Split/spit: Shell usually splits in half and easily gives up its kernel. (A-)
  • Saltiness: Nicely salty. (A)
  • Extra Credit: They're the Official Seeds of the Minnesota Twins
Overall grade: A

  • Size: Medium sized. (B)
  • Split/spit: Most split nicely; a few either shattered or partially split. (B)
  • Saltiness: Not very salty, kind of bland. (C-)
  • Extra Credit: It comes in a re-sealable bag -- important if you're packing it in your bat bag.
Overall grade: B

Rock Star Seedz
  • Size: Generous. (B+)
  • Split/spit: Most split nicely; a few either shattered or partially split. (B)
  • Saltiness: Moderately salty. (B)
Overall grade: B

The winner is: Giants.

I know there are many other brands of seeds out there (in fact, I tried to find Spitz seeds, but the gas station was always out of the regular ones), but these are the only brands I had this year. Do you have a favorite brand?

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