Laughng Cow vs Sonoma Jacks

I’m a fan of Laughing Cow light. I usually get their original Swiss flavor but at the Christmas Tree Shop I saw a brand called Sonoma Jacks that is the same concept but in the Garlic & Herb flavor.  I was happy to see this because as you may have noticed material has been hard to come by, so hooray, a decent looking challenge!

Laughing Cow:
In a nice, neat foil-wrapped wedge we have a 3/4 oz. of processed cheese goodness.  We found this to be very creamy smooth and very flavorful.  We also liked the slight tanginess and felt it provided a full-flavor cheese taste.

Sonoma Jacks:
These are a wider and flatter wedge and a slightly smaller .67 oz.
Ethan felt this was more oniony. I felt like it was more herby…almost too herby.
Ethan also said it tasted too “ripe”.  I feel like it was too much herb and the cheese was just a tasteless vehicle for the garlic and herb.

Wrap up:
We liked Laughing Cow’s pleasant balance of cheese taste and flavorful herbiness.  The emptiness of of Sonoma Just left a lacking cheese experience.

Laughing Cow or Sonoma Jacks?

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Wispride vs Merkt’s

When I was growing up my aunt used to always serve WisPride Port Wine cheese at events she hosted.  There’s something so awesome about it, my sister and I looked forward to it every time we went there.   My aunt moved to Florida when I was in 5th grade and that was pretty much the end of Port Wine cheese for a while and I have it now as an occasional treat.  It never occurred to me to try a different brand until now so when I saw Merkt’s version at the store I picked it up along with a WisPride and brought them home.

Very spreadable (as the package says) and creamy.  I don’t even know if it’s the cheddar or the port but something gives it a nice tangy taste.  There is also a nice saltiness to the blend. Ethan liked how the cheese and port isn’t too mixed so you can pick out cheese with more or less port.

This was pretty much the same but felt it was a little bit creamier but also a little sharper too.  Ethan thought the port part was somewhat better as well.
After looking at both containers we saw they were both made by the same company so that explained the similar tastes but I think it’s worth noting that Mertk’s is aged for 9 months while WisPrise is aged for 6 months.

Wrap up:
I’ll say this was a tie because they are so similar and if you’re in a store trying to decide between the two you won’t be disappointed with either. For me they were pretty much the same but I will point out that even though both of these were in the fridge after the evaluation, for the rest of the week when Ethan wanted to snack he chose the Merkt’s.

Port Wine Cheese: WisPride or Merkt's?

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Microwave Mac & Cheese: Chef Boyardee vs Hormel


One of my favorite eats is macaroni and cheese.  I love making Alton Brown’s recipe and sometimes I’m in the mood for some old school boxed kit with bright orange powder.   It’s just one of those things that really hits the spot, so  when I saw these single-serving microwave versions, I just had to try.

Chef Boyardee:
This had a cheesy aroma and although the noodles were almost mushy and over cooked, I liked this texture.  It doesn’t look it, but the cheese sauce was kind of watery and bland.  It smelled better than it tasted.  There seemed to be an undertone of beefaroni- somehow, not even in a beefy way but it just did, Ethan and I both felt that way. 

The sauce was more orange, thicker and smelled pretty gross. I wish I could describe this better but we both thought this tasted very “Hormel” which I can only describe as “industrial”. The noodles are more “al dente”. It also somehow had faint trace of meat flavor, which was gross.  Maybe they made this in the same machine as one of their meat products or something, who knows.

Wrap up:
I actually went into this hoping I might be impressed with the concept of microwavable macaroni and cheese but it turns out that this is a terrible idea.  The lesser of two evils here would be Chef Boyardee but it’s hard to actually recommend it.

Chef Mac or Hormel Mac?

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Cheese Balls: Planters vs Utz

When I did my cheese curls post I mentioned how I wish we could have tested cheese balls but Planter’s discontinued their canister snacks products (that are not nuts).  Those were Ethan’s childhood favorite he wanted to test those.
I don’t know when Planter’s cheese balls were discontinued but there is a petition to bring them back.  There seems to be something magical about the Blockbuster Video stores in Portland, OR because that’s where a reader in Portland, OR says they are the only place that sells them. I searched the Blockbuster’s around here to no avail.  Anyway, from the kindness of her heart she sent me 2 (two) cannisters of these rare treats and it made a very awesome early Christmas present for Ethan ?   Not only is she a fantastic person, but she makes very cool jewelry and the least I can do to repay this kindness is ask you to check out her site:

At last!  Ethan was pretty excited to eat these yet cautious because sometimes things don’t taste as good as you remember them (as has been the case with a few items we’ve evaluated so far).  As soon as Ethan popped on of these in his mouth he nodded his head and said it tasted just how he remembered.  I don’t have a past connection with these but was impressed by the tangy cheese flavor and excellent “meltability”.  There is also a pleasant buttery taste to these.  Ethan’s said they just taste “right” and that was pretty much all that needed to be said considering he’s such loyal fan.

These are considerably larger than Planter’s and also somewhat “rougher”.  They do not have good meltability but do have decent cheese flavor although it goes away fast, which I guess gives the corn flavor a chance to shine.  Ethan though these tasted pretty good too but recalled a time in the past where he ate too many and felt kind of sick.  Although I guess you might feel sick if you eat too much of anything. 

Wrap up:
Ethan still prefers his blast from the past, Planters, but did acknowledge that Utz was a good runner up.  They make a pretty good cheese ball, but I feel the meltability of Planters is what keeps it ahead.  Either would be acceptable for a cheese ball craving but Planters still gets the A+.

Cheese Balls: Planters or Utz?

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Easy Cheese vs Cheez-it

I’m pretty sure (though could be wrong) that Easy Cheese was the only cheese in a can before Cheez-It tried it’s hand at the can.
Both products are dispersed in the same way, are labeled as “Pasteurized Cheese Snack” and also claim to be made with real cheese. All three of the characteristics are usually a turn-off to most people.
This evaluation was conducted with Ethan and our friends Sarah and Mark and then I brought the cans into work to get my co-workers’ feedback.

Easy Cheese:
Some of the first comments on this were that it didn’t smell that great. The texture is smooth and creamy. Comments on the taste overall was that it was very mild, and some said tasted more like American than cheddar but some people liked that and thought it went well with crackers.

This had a darker color and had a cheddary smell. The texture was the same but it was unanimous that the flavor was a lot stronger. It was described as concentrated, overpowering, sharp, macaroni and cheese-like.

Wrap up:
Depends on who you ask but the strong flavor of this proved to be too much for most people but the research assistant at work and I both liked this. In fact we found that it went particularly well with pretzels.
I’d like to give Cheez-It points for having a tangy sharp cheddar taste but for those looking for a mild, but pleasant cheese flavor would prefer Easy Cheese.

Easy Cheese or Cheez-It?

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