"World's best" corned beef
ViennaBeef.com
Vienna Beef claims to make the "world's best corned beef," and it better be at $10 a pound.
By Brian Tracey Business Editor
msnbc.com
updated 3/9/2006 10:14:15 PM ET 2006-03-10T03:14:15
COMMENTARY

With St. Patrick's Day just around the corner, lovers of all things Irish now can now order the "world's best" corned beef for their festivities. Just be prepared to pay a sirloin steak-sized sum for the prized pickled brisket.

Chicago-based Vienna Beef is serving up a 5-pound package of cooked, pre-sliced corned beef — the historic staple of Irish peasantry — that can be ordered onlinefor just $49.99. That's $10 a pound for something that costs about $2 a pound at your local supermarket, although you'll have to do the boiling and slicing yourself.

"Vienna Beef's corned beef pack is considered the world's best, according to the [gourmet-food newsletter] Rosengarten Report," says Peter Sload of Vienna Beef. "St. Patrick's Day is a time to celebrate with your best friends and enjoy the best food." Just be prepared to part with some of your pot of gold.
   

Not-so-bad ideas

  • Now that you've dined on the Gaelic version of haute cuisine, how do you please the palette of man's best friend? How about some lobster for your finicky Fido?

Thanks to the good folks at the Lobster Institute (your source for "information about all things lobster") now you can.

Lobster Bisque-it
The Lobster Institute
Now you can pamper your pooch with Lobster Bisque-its, but there's no word if dogs like them better with drawn butter.
It is a little-known fact that lobsters long ago were so plentiful — and so darned weird-looking — that they were used primarily as fertilizer and bait for more palatable fish. Nowadays lobster is considered a luxury food, shipped by air from the cold Maine waters to the tanks of upscale grocery stores and overpriced restaurants everywhere.

But marketers recognize that Americans love to overspend on their pets just as much as their romantic partners, so now we have Blue Seal Lobster Bisque-its (get it?) made with "real lobster meal," according to a news release.

Turns out that lots of lobster is processed for sale as fresh or frozen lobster meat, lobster tails and other lobster-ish products, leaving bits and pieces that can be ground up, dried and used in fertilizer, compost, and now, doggie treats.

"So far we've gotten great customer feedback," said Patricia Pinto, who helped develop the product as president of the commercial arm of the Lobster Institute at the University of Maine. "I haven't met a dog that didn't like it," she added, although she said the biscuits are a bit too big for the smallest and most delicate pooches.

Pinto said the dog treats are nutritious and have a distinct but not overpowering aroma of lobster. The treats, being test-marketed in New England and the mid-Atlantic states, cost $5 for a four-pound bag, in line with other fancy dog snacks. And like this those Milk-Bone biscuits of yore, we're sure you going to be tempted to try one yourself.

  • Homeowners everywhere wage a never-ending battle against a variety of vermin, but one entrepreneur has targeted one particularly nettlesome pest — the woodpecker.

"Woodpeckers cause millions of dollars in damage each year to homes and buildings across the U.S.," said Jim Tassano, biologist and wildlife-control expert.  "These persistent birds drill holes into wood siding, eaves, window frames and trim in search of food, to make nests and to find mates. We've invented a safe and cost-effective way for homeowners to combat troublesome woodpeckers."

The solution — the Birds-Away Attack Spider. "We've found that the Attack Spider saves homeowners from costly repairs and the nuisance of woodpecker noise more effectively than fake owls, snakes and other scare devices," Tassano says.  "At first glance, it might seem unusual and even comical, but customer loyalty proves that it works."

The Attack Spider is a battery-operated device that claims to scare off woodpeckers. Activated by sound, the spider quickly drops down on an 18-inch string while making a loud noise. After spooking Woody, the spider then climbs back up the string, ready to attack again.

The Birds-Away Attack Spider is available for $15, a small price to pay to frighten away all wood-boring birds, and maybe a few small children.

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