A martini glass in black and white

Black & White Apron: Overview

2024-02-17 // IOTM Overview

It was a little later than usual, by TPTB's (rather high) standards, but the 2024 IOTY dropped in late January, and it's a pretty interesting one. Now that I'm back from work travel to Australia, it's time for me to talk about it! Welcome to Black & White Apron, a meal delivery service for weirdos who like eating things that are better than garbage.

Irrelevant, Skippable Rambling

Black & White Apron is a correspondence item. Because it's a relatively simple IOTM, I'm going to do what all my favorite online recipe writers do and add a mostly irrelevant anecdote to the front matter of this analysis. And nobody can stop me! I'm my own editor, baby!

In KOL, correspondence items are under the "Eudora" tab within the character options. Which raises the question: what the hell is a eudora?

Eudora (with a capital E) is an email client. Well, was. It was introduced around 1990, in the "tossed salad & scrambled egg" days of the internet. It lasted from then until 2006, at which point Eudora was mildly deprecated by Qualcomm in favor of Mozilla Thunderbird, and eventually fully replaced. I am old enough to have used both Eudora and Thunderbird; I preferred Thunderbird, personally, but have some small nostalgia for even Eudora in favor of the the Gmail/Outlook nightmare we live in now. (Even modern Thunderbird kind of sucks, man. Life's rough in the mean streets of the internet.)

Eudora (the app) was named after Eudora Welty, an American author that passed away in 2001. Specifically, the developers of Eudora named it after her due to the 1941 story "Why I Live at the P.O.", a short story about a woman who becomes estranged from her family after a series of increasingly weird lies and starts living at the post office. It's a very strange story. The fact that this is actively what the engineer behind Eudora named the program after is, to me, pretty wild.

From a KOL lore perspective, correspondences being placed in your "eudora" options implies three things. First, it implies that TPTB also used the Eudora email client at some point in their lives. (The powers that be: they're just like us!) Second, correspondence happening via Eudora implies that all player characters in Kingdom of Loathing are using very old computers. This is backed up (to some extent) by the June 2016 IOTM, the Source Terminal, which is the closest thing to a computer the game exposes as an item. Third, it implies that Eudora Welty's "Why I Live at the P.O." story does exist within the world of Kingdom of Loathing. Which means she does, too! Incredible stuff.

Unfortunately, Ms. Welty passed away in 2001, well before the first ever correspondence item (May 2011's My Own Pen Pal kit), so she was never able to realize the joy of existing within a niche online stick figure game. But if I ever visit her headstone at Greenwood Cemetery in Jackson, I'll be sure to let her know.

General Summary

OK. Now that I've gotten that out of my system, let's talk about the IOTY. The Black & White Apron Enrollment Form enrolls your character in a daily meal kit delivery service. You'll receive one Black and White Apron Meal Kit every day.

The meal kit allows you to build a food item that gives 12 adventures for 3 fullness, alongside level * 100 substats to the stat of your choice. By default, it will give you a seeded "main ingredient", which grants 100 turns of a buff of some value. Listed from best to worst, options you may roll from include: +50% items, +100% meat, +100% init, +3 prismatic resistance, +10 familiar weight, and +3 stats/fight. Pretty nice, and in unrestricted, the +10 familiar weight is even better!

In addition, the kit will give you five optional ingredients. These are, like the main buff, seeded -- your given class/path and # used combination will always give you the same set of eligible ingredients and buff. You don't have to include any of these ingredients; you can bypass them and simply take the 12 adventures, 100 stats per level, and the 100 turn buff. Some of the ingredients are relatively easy to find in a speedrun, while many are nearly impossible. Going over the whole list here would be silly -- you can find the list on the wiki page for the meal kit!

Speedrun Applicability

For a once-per-day food item, there are three value vectors to consider.

First, is the turngen high enough to be worth using? And the answer is, hesitantly, yes. 4 adventures/fullness is pretty much fine. It isn't -great- but it's better than much of the crap you'd eat in a run, and on par with most basic Pastamancer food (though behind many saucy dishes, and notably lagging Cookbookbat food).

Second, how useful are the buffs? And the answer there is... mildly! One of the issues with seeded random items is that they can occasionally just roll bum seeds that aren't very good. In this shiny, the bum effect is the +3 stats, which is simply an atrocious buff -- 100 turns of +3 stats is just 150 mainstats if you snag 100 combats in that period. That's legitimately terrible. +10 familiar weight is great in unrestricted (+2 runs with bander/boots!) and terrible in standard (+30% meat drop for nuns!), but overall it isn't the worst. The resistance buff is helpful for the Smut Orc sleaze test, A-Boo peak, the Haunted Kitchen, and a few other spots in a run; not essential, but fine. Initiative is great -- 100% init is helpful to guarantee Modern Zmobies and helpful for capping the relatively high initiative thresholds in the new 8-bit realm. 100% meat drop helps you generate meat for healing and needed in-run tasks while also helping you cap the Wall of Meat and lower the turns spent on the Nuns sidequest during the war, worth a turn or so. And 50% items (over 100 turns) is super helpful across so many quests it's hard to count.

But! That's not the only source of buffs. Many of the optional items add extra buffs. A good portion of them are stat-based, with Sauceror potion effects to boost up your stats a bit. It also has a few speedster-relevant boosts that are (mildly) accessible, like:

  • Ballroom Blintz (accessible via the Haunted Ballroom) gives 15 turns of Ode to Booze (helpful for avatar paths!)
  • Blackberries (accessible via blackberry bushes & the Spring Boots) giving 50 turns of Blackberry Politeness (for +20% meat)
  • Bubblin' Crude (accessible via Oil Peak monsters) giving 50 turns of Greasy Visage (for +50 sleaze damage, for the Zeppelin NC)

Anyway. Having exhausted the buffs, we get to the last value vector: does it do anything else? And there the answer is... sort of? Sometimes? It does always give a small chunk of instant stats, which is helpful in no-trainset metas (like WereProfessor) and for those who do not own the trainset. It really is a significant chunk of stats -- 100 * level to each stat is a decent bit, enough to get you a third of the way from 10 to 11 by itself. It also, in addition to buffs, has a handful of extra features possible through its ingredients. Like:

  • Centipede Eggs (accessible via the Arid Extra Dry Desert) giving +30 familiar experience to your active familiar; Dry Noodles (summonable with pastamancery) gives you a weaker +20 familiar experience as well, sometimes
  • Cherries (accessible via Spring Boots & BOFA) giving 1.5x statgain
  • Eye of Newt (accessible via CLEESH'd monsters) giving +100 base myst stats
  • Grapefruit (accessible via Spring Boots) giving 50 turns of sleaze resistance and, bizarrely, cold/spooky vulnerability (which isn't useful right now but is weird enough that there could be some universe where a wonky IOTM makes it valuable later)
  • Spices (accessible via a spice ghost, as a Pastamancer) gives +100 substats
  • All base booze can give +75 substats, at times

The same caveat above to the 6 base buffs applies here, though -- the bulleted goodies above will not always happen, and in fact, may never actually hit while the meal kit is in Standard. That's the peril of a seeded random item; in some paths they're great, in others they're completely useless.

2024 In-Standard Synergies

There are really only two major synergies to speak of... and one cautionary anti-synergy.

  • There is synergy with the Grey Goose (2022) and this year's Chest Mimic, as both of those require familiar experience -- the fact that you can get 20-30 "free" experience from a Black Apron kit in some runs is helpful, as that represents over half of one copy from the Mimic or a few drones for your Goose. Everything helps!
  • There is synergy with this year's Spring Boots and the Book of Facts -- as noted earlier, your boots (and book) can generate fruit for you, which gives you some of the optional ingredients needed to mildly improve the meal quality.
  • There is, however, anti-synergy with the Cookbookbat (2022) -- in low-fullness paths, you need to be careful about what you fill your gullet with, and that 3 fullness you spend on Black Apron could be 3 roasted vegetables of Jarlsberg, or something similar (for 21+ adventures instead of 12 adventures).

Overall Rating

We'd rate the Black & White Apron Enrollment Form as a tier 4 IOTM. At its most optimal form, you could imagine a lovely meal that gives 100 turns of +50% item, 50 turns of +20% meat, 50 sleaze damage, 50 familiar experience, and 1500 substats as a level 10 buddy with your cherry on tap. That's pretty swell, and if you got that every day, it might be tier 3 or so. But that simply isn't going to happen -- your meal kit will, on average, hit 0-2 useful rolls and 4-6 bad ones. That's just how seeded random works! Still, it's a cute item with a lot of fun flavor, and it reminds us all of Eudora Welty's important place in the Kingdom's lore. And isn't that really the whole point of it all?

Article contributed by Captain Scotch