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Doctor Dreadful Food Lab
Gruesome Goodies that look gross, but taste great!
In the nineties, I worked at a video store in our local mall. One day, a new store opened there that changed my spending habits: a Kay Bee Toys Clearance Store. Everything in the store was heavily discounted, and if you frequented it, you could scoop up the best deals. I visited there almost every lunch break for about two years, and most of the time walked out with a deeply discounted toy or playset.
The low prices meant I was free to try all sorts of unusual things. One toy that captured my attention was the Dr. Dreadful Food Lab. It was a "gross toy" where you took ingredient pouches and turned them into gobs of gruesome grub. While I had the original Food Lab from 1994, they made new playsets, variations, and accessories over the years. Sets like the Ice Scream Machines, Demented Drink Lab, and Monster Medical Center added some new twists, but the idea remained the same. The food needed to be slimy, foamy, and gross-looking, but also sugary tasty.
Even after all these years, I can still remember the texture of each of the foods that came with the original set: The Monster Brains, Monster Skin, and Chewy Creatures. I was older than the target audience, so you might think I would do a more thorough job in my food preparation, but everything I made with these sets was always a little off. It was gritty or uneven in taste. I liked the making of the gruesome goodies, more than I liked the consuming.
That is probably why, even after my original set was long gone, I found an unopened Food Lab refill buried deep in a box. It is still in its shrink wrap, and I am going to open it and take a look inside.
As you can see, the box is in pretty good shape. It matches the branding on the original Food Lab, so you can see right on the cover what you will be making. The rear of the box though goes into greater detail and shows the finished product and suggestions on how to eat them.
I LOVE the images of the kids eating what they made. Useful just in case you were not sure how you were supposed to eat Monster Brains or Skin. Something I didn't notice at the time, but I find interesting now, is the ingredient listing for each creation. Of course, the first ingredient is sugar.
This product expired in 1997, so I doubt I will be sampling anything inside
While this might not be the full kit, let's open this up and see what's inside.
Okay, not bad. All the packages are still intact and appear to still be in powder form. I forgot how well-labeled this product was. You could picture them trying to test this at Tyco and having to add more and more text as adult and kid alike struggled with the recipe. I am not complaining. I really like all this labeling. Not only does it help one play with the lab, it also is another opportunity to show off the Doctor Dreadful branding.
Opening them up and putting them on a white background, you can see that not only did they stay in powdered form, but they also retained their color. Impressive. I am almost tempted to taste them.
I decided to "activate" the powders by adding water to them, so you could see how brilliantly colored they become. Not only do they look great, but the sweet candy smell really takes me back. Those foil packages really did their job. I didn't smell any of these until I tore them open. Look at these colors! They still pop over a quarter of a century after they “expired.”
Alright, I admit it, I tasted some of this stuff. I couldn’t resist those bright colors. It was just a small amount and I regretted it afterward. Not because it didn’t taste okay, it was moderately sweet, but because I couldn’t help but think that something might have gone wrong with it after all this time.
What I forgot is that some of these concoctions harden pretty quickly. So cleaning this bowl was more of a challenge than I expected. Still, I think it was worth it.
Back in the day, I enjoyed playing with my Doctor Dreadful Food Lab, but not enough to tap into this refill kit. So I wasn't sure what I would find. The thing that impressed me the most is the instructions. They include a full copy of the Food Lab's instructions. They are really well-done and nicely themed.
The Doctor Dreadful product line had a good run. Sadly, like many food-based toys that required refills, once they stop making the product, you don't get to play with it much anymore. Right now, lots of New Old Stock food replacement kits are available online on eBay. So if you have an original lab and want to do some experiments, you have some options. Although, I wouldn't try eating this stuff; that is something only the maddest of mad scientists would do.
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