Bonjour fans and frenemies, and welcome to the September edition of Backed Hard, the monthly roundup in which Rec Room’s editors, writers, and corn shirt scouters provide all the juicy deetson the best stuff we hauled home with us this month.
Last month, we popped in futuristic earplugs so that our headbanging adventures don’t mean a future of hardcore tinnitus; we slipped on chainmail garb for the Renaissance Faire while chowing down on a medieval turkey leg; and we beat our running records thanks to Hoka trainers. This month, we’re slouching our 80s-inspired socks (and pairing them with sandals), getting into watercolor painting because we need a highbrow hobby, switching to natural toothpaste that doesn’t taste like sadness, and drizzling our incoming spooky-season roasts with herb-infused olive oil. We truly believe Paris Hilton would be saying “that’s hot” if she saw our September selections—and that’s enough for us. From Thai tea spread to fancy sunscreen, this month’s editors’ picks are testament to the simple pleasures in life, like sitting in the lap of the 12-foot-tall Home Depot skeleton and letting him gently cuddle you to “Monster Mash.”
September’s winding down, and we know you’ve gotta run to that book club your friend forced you to join, so we’ll cut to the chase and lead you our favorite buys of the month.
A camping chair to match your RealTree Crocs
IDK why it took me so long to buy a camping chair—I live in LA, where I’m outdoors constantly, and a lightweight folding chair makes life better at the beach, the park, a rooftop, outdoor movies, or in any scenario where you’d normally have to sit on the ground but would prefer to feel a little comfier and more dignified. I bought this hunky camo boi before a screening of Goodfellas at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and it made a huge difference in my film-watching experience to be sitting in a state of back-friendly, blissful recline. Plus, it matches my Obituary hat. —Hilary Pollack
These shockingly tasty vegan snacks
I didn’t believe that vegan snacks could actually be so good you’d wanna eat the entire bag in one sitting—then I tried these crispy delights from Good Eat’n. Pro baller Chris Paul’s new line of plant-based snacks slap so hard I am ready to eat my words (and another bag); I will never again pre-judge vegan options. The NBA All-Star is known for being passionate about his plant-based lifestyle, and set out to create really delicious and approachable healthy options. The crowd favorite, by far, was the Big Dill Ranch Tortilla Chips—honestly, they’re at least as good as (and possibly better than) Cool Ranch Doritos, and I also loved the Hot Hot Puffs, which had a serious amount of kick you rarely find in packaged foods. —Becca Blasdel
This Thai tea spread that rivals Nutella in deliciousness
I have a longstanding obsession with Thai iced tea and was so excited to try the Umamicart x Moon Man Thai Tea Spread as soon as it dropped. I toasted a piece of fluffy, white bread and smeared on a layer of this delectable, lightly spiced sweet stuff, then made it into the best fluffernutter sandwich of my life. Check out my full review of the spread here, or just trust me and buy a jar. —Hilary Pollack
This skin-pampering sunscreen
Summer may be over, but Nécessaire’s “The Sunscreen” is the product I didn’t know I needed until it recently earned a spot in my skincare cabinet (plus, you should wear SPF every day, not just in the hot-weather months). Formulated with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and non-nano zinc, it reminds me of The Ordinary’s staff-favorite skin-clearing serum, but with SPF 30. I’ve actually noticed my skin having less breakouts when using it—a truly angelic product. —Nicolette Accardi
Slouchy 80s-inspired socks
This has to be my favorite late-summer/early-fall trend. All the off-duty fashion week models in Manhattan are wearing slouchy 80s socks with their socks ‘n’ sandals ‘fits, boots, sneakers, and dress heels, and they look so effortlessly put-together. This set from Amazon is affordable, and way softer than all of my thick athletic socks. —Mary Frances “Francky” Knapp
Natural toothpaste that actually tastes good (and works)
Recently, after burning TF out of the roof of my mouth on an errant French fry, I ended up with a gnarly canker sore a few days later—and discovered in the process that oral irritation can be aggravated by sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS. I have bratty gums that are always getting mad when I drink acidic juices or brush too hard, and in the process of researching how to help my mouth heal from the burn, I read that switching to an SLS-free toothpaste can reduce overall irritation and sensitivity. I hate the ultra-generic mint Tom’s stuff, so instead, I picked up this natural toothpaste from Dr. Sheffield’s after reading the A+ reviews—and I immediately became a fan. I know that the strawberry-banana flavor was probably formulated for kids, but that doesn’t mean I, an adult in my mid 30s, can’t enjoy it. It tastes amazing—like old-school bubble gum—and has helped my mouth heal quickly while also keeping things squeaky clean. —Angel Kilmister
This celeb-approved vitamin C serum
I’ve been hawk-eyeing Sunday Riley’s CEO Glow Serum ever since I saw it used by a hot, poreless Bridgerton actor in this unintentional ASMR video/YouTube skin routine tutorial. It usually takes a week for my skin to show any differences from new serums and lotions, but I legit looked like I had swallowed the sun and spent a day in the sauna after just a few days of using it. The serum is enriched with all kinds of vitamin C-endowed ingredients, such as primrose, ginger, pomegranate seed oil, and jojoba oil—but it’s that special boost of turmeric that gives my skin a Greek-god-like glow. In the words of one Amazon reviewer, “Most of the time I wear it, I don't wear makeup. It's that good.” —Mary Frances “Francky” Knapp
Herb-infused bougie olive oil
I effin’ love olive oil. So, when Brightland released Aurora, which is an herb-infused oil blend of rosemary and early-harvest Arbosana California olives, I was very game to get cookin’. I have used it to cook eggs, roast potatoes, and drizzle on avocado toast. It’s also very aromatic—who needs scented candles? —Nicolette Accardi
The setup for a personal watercolor journey
I’ve dabbled in various forms of art from acrylic painting to ceramics, but for whatever reason, watercolor has always intimated me. I decided enough was enough—I will not live my life in fear! So I ordered everything I needed to start my watercolor journey. I first bought a small set of beginner watercolor paint and brushes., but hesitated to buy watercolor paper because I thought it was a scam (paper is paper, right?.... right???) but quickly realized that it’s actually quite necessary. The first things I painted were some poorly done bookmarks using techniques I vaguely remember learning in middle school art class. Though they were hideous, I felt nostalgic and calm while painting, so I highly recommend that everyone get a little watercolor set! —Erica Sullivan
This little gadget will save you a call to the plumber
Calling all longhairs and sink-cloggers: If you’re going through a half-dozen bottles of Drano a year (or more), I’m here to save your ass. I came back from a trip to find that my shower would not drain at all despite my numerous attempts to force-feed it chemicals that would probably make my skin melt off if I made direct contact. Nothing was working, and then the maintenance guy in my building tipped me off to just grab a couple of these bad boys, which are basically like spiky Q-tips for your pipes. Great name—the DRAIN WEASEL. It’s insane how well they work, they’re chemical-free, and you can use them in your shower, your bathroom sink, your bathtub, or wherever else you need to just get in there and pull out a Wookie dreadlock that’s formed in your drain. Peep the many harrowing photos in the enthusiastic positive Amazon reviews if you dare. —Angel Kilmister
A genuinely good non-alcoholic Champagne facsimile
I’m a drinker, but a choosy one; if it’s not a martini or natty wine, I usually stick to the mindset of “why bother?” I have water for hydration; I don’t need a mocktail. But my mind has sort of been blown wide open by TÖST’s all-natural Champagne substitute, a sparkling white tea, cranberry and ginger non-alcoholic beverage. It’s crisp, dry like real bubbly, and in a coupe, it looks nearly identical. My friend had recently ordered too many bottles for a pregnant pal and we decided to crack one open for shits ‘n’ gigs. It tastes like the fanciest glass of really good ginger ale you’ve ever had, and of course, we figured it would also be excellent as mixer, too (LOL). —Becca Blasdel
My storage hack for small apartments
No more junk drawers, mate. It’s time for some rustic, rattan Martha Stewart-esque junk baskets to hide your seasonal decor, vases, errant chargers, and whatever else you want out of sight. I made finding the perfect storage baskets my hyperfixation for weeks, and after price comparing sets on Amazon, Wayfair, CB2, Bed Bath & Beyond, and West Elm, my Da Vinci-sleuthing found this set of four straw baskets with a 4.6-star average rating on Amazon from over 1,500 reviews. They’re sturdy, fold out in seconds, and make me feel so much more organized. —Mary Frances “Francky” Knapp
Virginia Woolf now watches over me
Virginia Woolf is one of my all-time favorite authors. The first of her works I read was Orlando, and I think it changed my brain chemistry because I have not been the same since (in a good way). I especially love this photograph of her, though it looks a bit haunting. Still, I decided that I would actually feel more comfort than fear in knowing Virginia will stare down at me while I watch Love Island and eat pasta. Turns out I was right, I love her presence! Though, I must admit the photo is a bit creepy for those who visit my apartment and don't know who she is, but I’m okay with that. —Erica Sullivan
Who knows what October will bring, besides buckets of half-melted miniature Milky Ways? Can’t wait. See you next month!
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. Want more reviews, recommendations, and red-hot deals? Sign up for our newsletter.