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What's In Your Cart, Bill Oakley?

Welcome back to What’s In Your Cart, where we ask noteworthy readers and followers on @KinjaDeals and @ItsTheInventory about their favorite products, their shopping habits, and their deal hunting acumen. This week, we’re chatting with Bill Oakley, a television writer who gifted steamed hams to the world on The Simpsons. These days, he’s best known for his Instagram fast food reviews, which have earned him the title of “the Gordon Ramsay of fast food.”


What’s the best deal you’ve ever gotten?

At the Rose Bowl Swap Meet in Pasadena, California years ago I found the first two years worth of “National Lampoon” magazines in absolutely mint condition and they were only one dollar each. Of course I bought every single one and now store them in protective plastic bags and never let light or air touch or human fingers touch them.

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What’s your favorite place to shop online? How about in person?

Because I am lazy, my first click is always Amazon because I don’t have to type in any information or start an account or get up from my chair to go find my credit card. The only site I regularly visit besides them is Goldbelly.com which sells an incredible assortment of food from famous (and not-so-famous) restaurants around the country.

My favorite place to shop in person is Providore Fine Foods in Portland, Oregon, which has several little mini-stores selling incredibly fresh meat, seafood, packaged goods, wine, and so forth. That, and Cosmic Monkey Comics.

If you had to pick one food item, what’s the first thing someone should buy from Goldbelly? 

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BBQ with Alabama white sauce from Big Bob Gibson BBQ.

Second choice: Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza from Chicago.

What’s the biggest purchase you’ve ever made online? Was it worth it?

It was an Optoma home theater project that cost nearly a thousand dollars combined with the speaker I bought with it, and, due to my extreme impatience, I had to have it that very night and ordered it with Amazon Prime Now so it would be delivered within two hours. It was definitely worth it, as I use it all the time, it works great, and I have played most of “Red Dead Redemption 2” projected 6 feet tall and 8 feet wide and it makes it even more immersive.

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What other accessories are you using in your home theater?

1) Bose SoundLink Bluetooth Speaker III

2) VonHaus 100 Inch Projector Screen

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This is not so much a “home theater” as a retractable and hideable occasional addition to the living room.

What’s something you bought recently that really exceeded your expectations?

I bought a box of Edison light bulbs that was on sale, I think on BoingBoing.net. The light is so much richer and warmer than any normal lightbulbs and they have lasted a very long time.

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On the flipside, what was the worst purchase you’ve made recently? Anything you had to return?

I bought a quarter of a cow. I think it’s called a split-half. It came from a ranch in Oregon and I had to buy a freezer to store the over 100 pounds of meat. This was a humanely- raised grass-fed cow. So it turns out that (some) grass-fed beef has a different taste than what I, and many of us are used to, which is FAR more gamey than what conventional grocery store beef — gamier even than venison. My whole family (me included) finds this taste quite off-putting, but I found that it can be somewhat reduced by soaking the meat in buttermilk for several days before using it. But even then some cuts are still reeking of gaminess so strong you can smell it throughout the entire house when it’s cooked.

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What’s the best gift you’ve received recently?

My daughter gave me an air fryer last Christmas. It has totally changed my (already- good) relationship with foods like tater tots, Totino’s pizza rolls, frozen burritos, Hot Pockets etc because it makes them crisp like they’d be from deep frying, but without the huge hassle (and calories) of actually frying. Also it’s the best way to reheat pizza, and I have tried every way known to man.

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What settings do you use to reheat pizza in the air fryer?

370°F for 5 minutes.

As an expert in fast food, what would you say are the best fast food chain sauces and condiments? Have you ever ordered any online?

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This year I have really like Wendy’s S’Awesome sauce and Popeye’s Bash Sauce, both of which are spicy sauces for dipping chicken nuggets. I have ordered a lot of exotic hot sauces online, my favorites this year being Zombie Cajun and Char Man, which are very hot, but not so hot that they can’t be used on regular food without rendering it inedible.

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Do you like to collect credit card points when you shop? What are your go-to cards?

I do and, for me, it’s all about Alaska Airlines points. Because I live in Portland but work almost exclusively in Los Angeles, I fly between those two cities a lot and Alaska is the go-to airline. I have both a personal and business Alaska Airlines credit card.

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Do you subscribe to any physical subscription services? Amazon Subscribe & Save? Meal kits? Wine of the month?

I have an Amazon Subscribe & Save Subscription for disposable cat litter boxes but the less said about that, the better. For almost a year I subscribed to Blue Apron which I liked but gradually grew annoyed by, because every recipe took me twice as long to cook as they estimated (I never want to mince garlic again in my life) and after all that time cooking, there was rarely a dish that more than two people in my household liked (kids!).

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What are three items that you couldn’t live without?

My iPhone, the aforementioned Air Fryer, and the aforementioned box of mint condition “National Lampoon” magazines

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What’s something you buy for your work that might seem strange to an outside observer?

Final Draft. It’s the software that is the coin of the realm in TV and movie writing. It has been around for a long time, yet it’s still very frustrating and still occasionally crashes, costing you pages of unsaved work. The fact that we all still use it DESPITE this should rightly baffle any outside observer.

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Are there any items that you want to buy, but just can’t pull the trigger on? Anything you keep abandoning in your cart?

The $600 Sperti Vitamin-D Light box. Been in my cart for years. It’s apparently one of the only such light-boxes proven to give you vitamin D. Many people in Portland, including me, are on a constant quest to remedy their Vitamin D deficiency (cause by our famous nine months of yearly overcast gloom) and buy lightboxes, fish oil, etc but none of those have worked for me. This may be the cure, but for that price I’m still wary.

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What are the last three items in your Amazon order history?

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(NOTE: since my family members all use the same account, I am just including the screenshots of the things I personally ordered)

1. The Old West Cookbook

2. Knit Sew Outdoor Full Face Cover Thermal Ski Mask

3. Nature’s Miracle Disposable Litter Box, Jumbo, 2-Pack

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What are the last three items in your Amazon browsing history that you didn’t end up buying?

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1. Cowboy Chuckwagon, by Monett Mason

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2. Nine pounds of Hot Tamales

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3. Deli Express Chuckwagon sandwiches

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About the author

Zach Custer

Senior Director, Affiliate Partnerships & Commerce Strategy

Shep McAllister

Senior Director of Commerce | Send deal submissions to deals@gizmodomedia.com