Donettes vs Mini Donuts

Mmmm, donuuuuuts. There’s nothing like a good fresh donut. These aren’t them but at least resemble the spirit of a donut and if this is all you have available and you’re in a donut state of mind, you may find yourself giving one of these a shot.

I don’t really have a history with these but Ethan said he used to eat them when he was in High School and liked them. We were both surprised that these didn’t really taste like anything. The only thing “donuty” about these is the shape. The powdered sugar doesn’t even taste like sugar and the dough is just flavorless, dry cake.

Cafe W:
Walgreen’s version actually had some taste to it. The powdered sugar tasted sweet and the cake had a slight lemon flavor that complimented the sugar. These donuts were also not quite as dry as hostess and we found ourselves enjoying these more.

Wrap up:
We have to give it to Cafe W for making a donut that tastes like something, not really like a fresh donut but at least it’s something. Hostess just seemed void of anything and was all about texture. Dry, powdery texture. It’s interesting that so far Cafe W has been up to par or better than Hostess. I’d be interesting in trying more of Cafe W’s products in the future.

Hostess Donettes vs Cafe W Mini Donuts?

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Nutri-Grain vs Fruit & Grain

A few days ago we went to the beach with my sister (Steph) and her family. As you may have notice (maybe not) Steph usually opts out of any taste testing but this time she said she’d partake. Her husband Rick is a fan of junkfood and always up for an evaluation, we also got their 3 1/2 year old son Kyle to help too.

These have a grainy texture which at least gives you the illusion you’re eating something mildly healthy. I felt like there was a slight chemical taste to them. Rick and Ethan said they were a little dry but really liked the fruit filling. Steph changed her mind didn’t try these saying she knew she liked the other brand better. We asked Kyle if he liked these and he just nodded his head.

Fruit & Grain:
Fruit & Grain was slightly different because of the swirled icing on top. I didn’t really notice much taste from that but Steph said that’s why she likes these bars better. She also said she likes how moist they are. We all agreed they were more moist but to me the extreme softness seemed “un-natural” like it was a doughnut or something. There was also a checmical taste to these like with the Nutri-Grain.
When asked, Kyle said he didn’t like it but ate the whole bar.

Wrap up:
Ethan and I liked the Nutri-Grain bar better for it’s texture and tastier fruit filling. Rick liked the texture of the Fruit & Grain bar better but preferred the fruit filling of Nutri-Grain. Stephs stand by Fruit & Grain even without trying the other one and Kyle kept changing his mind I think just because he liked being asked questions, but he did eat both bars.

Nutri-Grain or Fruit & Grain?

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Snyder’s Pretzel Sticks vs Bachman’s Pretzel Stix

I used to hate pretzels. They weren’t even a snack options to me, I couldn’t stand even smelling an open bag and being on a plane only serving pretzels for snacks was torture to me. Then one day a couple of years ago I was really hungry, for some reason there were only pretzels around and I gave in and found they weren’t as repulsive as I remembered. I don’t know exactly what caused the change but I’m glad I have another option for snacks and as a bonus they’re not too bad health-wise.
That being said, I don’t have a history with either of these brands but they were the only two at the store that I could find in the same shape and size.

Snyder’s of Hanover:
These had a nice crisp crunch. I expected more of salty taste from the amount of seen on them but it was pretty mild. Ethan said the salt was well balanced and the prefect amount on each stick. I thought these had some sort of weird after taste to them but Ethan didn’t detect that at all.

Bachman’s was a teeny bit thinner but had just as good of a crunch. This time Ethan thought there was a weird taste which he could only describe as “tastes like how Barnes and Noble smells”. It wasn’t a good or bad thing, just what came to his mind. I thought these had a nice toasty flavor to them and tasted a little saltier, which I liked.

Wrap up:
Split decision. Ethan preferred the balance of the Synder’s sticks saying the salt seemed to be part of, not just on the pretzel. I couldn’t get over the weird taste that I experienced and actually like the toasty taste of the Bachman’s, which works out because now we each have our own bag ?

Snyder's Sticks or Bachman's Stix?

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Egg Roll Battle: Michelina’s vs La Choy

I love getting egg rolls when I go out for Chinese* food.  Especially at my all-time favorite restaurant that I’ve been going to since I was a little egg roll myself, Pago-Pago in Milford, MA.
My sister was a fan of the La Choy egg rolls when we were teenagers, realising we didn’t have to listen to my pseudo-kosher dad and we could eat whatever we wanted.  Whenever we ate something like this he’d shake his head and say “all those years of Hebrew school down the drain”.  Somehow the guilt never stuck with that one.

Michelina produces more Italian style frozen food but for some reason she decided to don a pointy straw hat and take a swing at making egg rolls.
La Choy by the way, makes one the best “Glad there’s only one of” products, which is Chow Mein in a can and I will get to that eventually.

(*I just want to say I am very well aware that American-Chinese food is not what you get when you go to China and I like it for what it is).

These egg rolls are rectangle shaped, with a well proportioned amount of dough even though they’re not filled as much as what is shown on the package.  I thought these were a little peppery tasting and neither of us detected ant shrimp flavor.  Ethan said the cabbage took over all flavors and in general tasted very “unfresh”. This picture almost looks like it’s sticking it’s tounge out. 
Ethan added googly eyes to make it more clear:

La Choy:

These are a little smaller and have a more round shape.  Ethan said these are more eastern convincing than Michelina’s.  Although we could definitely taste the shrimp more in these they were a little too “briney”.  The dough I felt was a little too thick and could have had a little better dough-to-filling ratio.

Wrap up:
No thanks.  Ethan isn’t an egg roll fan anyway so he didn’t care for either but if he HAD to choose he’d go with La Choy.  I thought I would really like one of these more than the other but I didn’t.  I guess I’d agree with Ethan and say that La Choy at least had some flavor but it just left me wanting a “real” egg roll. 

Michelina's or La Choy?

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Rice Krispie Treats vs Marshmallow Squares Crispy Rice

Of course most of us are familiar with Rice Krispie Treats, just like mom used to make (not my mom of course, that would be too normal) packaged as individually wrapped (90 calorie) bars.
It seems kind of convenient that the competitor product, awkwardly named Marshmallow Squares Crispy Rice, is made a company called “Maxi Crisp”. I wonder if they are a company that specializes in crispy products or they chose that name because they knew this was the only product they would make.
I like that instead of Snap, Crackle and Pop they have some kid about to get wailed in the head by a soccer ball. Maxi Crisp’s package is similar with the same size box and blue and white color theme, but how similar in taste are they?

Rice Krispie Treats:
I was surprised how soft these were and yet still held the crispy rice form providing a nice combination of softness and crunch in each bite. These are very sweet and have a strong vanilla flavor. Overall these were delicious and just as good as making them at home.

Marshmallow Squares Crispy Rice:
I noticed the rice in these were packed a little tighter, providing a denser bar. They were noticeably less sweet than the Kellogg version but still delivered the same general taste but milder. Ethan felt there wasn’t enough marshmallow involved but I didn’t mind.

Wrap up:
Kellogg’s wins but just by a little bit. There was something about the intense flavor and gentle texture of the Rice Krispie Treats that earned being called a “treat” instead of a mere “square”. I will say though that Maxi Crisp makes a decent bar and will not disappoint if that’s all that’s available.

Rice Krispie Treats or Marshmallow Squares Crispy Rice?

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Iron Stomach Challenge: SPAM vs TREET

I really had to mentally prep before doing this, which meant voiding any thought of the processing plants for either of these products. I know SPAM has it’s fans and I can appreciate that, but to me it’s always been this nightmareish conglomerate of meats that isn’t really meant for eating so I had never even tried it. Today I saw the Armour product TREET and so it became the day to try SPAM and TREET.
Ethan was less than enthusiastic when I brought these beauties home but being the ever-faithful taste tester, he joined me in this canned meat adventure.

Pretty sick, a rubbery mold of smushed meat that is able to stand upright on it’s own. Another blow to the senses was the canned cat food aroma. In fact, Clyde (our cat) magically appeared in the kitchen thinking he was getting fed.
Time to taste: I first noticed how salty this was, very salty although Ethan didn’t think it was that salty. It has a very “porky” flavor. Ethan was most turned off by the texture and said it was too mushy and that his tongue didn’t want to touch this. We gave Clyde some, he ate a teeny bit and then walked away.

Same unappetizing effort just to get out of the can. This was a little darker and more uniform in color but had some disturbing fat globules dispersed throughout the “loaf”.
The taste was less offensive to me because it was more recognizable and similar to cold cut bologna. Ethan described this as “beefy” (which I agreed with) but again, was mostly turned off by the texture which he said was “spongy”.

Wrap up:
No and no. We both can’t imagine trying either of these ever again. Like I said, I know some people swear by SPAM and maybe it’s a whole different ballgame in a sandwich or in macaroni and cheese (as suggested on the back of the can) but meat in this format is not for everyone.


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Bumble Bee vs Brunswick

Sooo sorry for the lack of posting. I won’t get into the details but things have been crazy but I fully intend on keeping up with the snacks.  My stupid non-snacking life takes over sometimes.
Anyway, I’m not usually a fan of pre-made canned salads, I’ve seen  other offerings like chicken and ham salad in a can too, maybe even egg, but I hope not.
I have my suspisions that  one of these two owns the other but could be wrong, it just seems to be the trend that eventually one company will make everything. I just thought it was mildly interesting that the color and gradient on the packaging are exactly the same.

Bumble Bee:
I could get right to the point and just say gross, no more please but I’ll use a few more adjectives.  Ethan described this as “soupy” not in the consistency so much (although it applies somewhat) but the taste was like canned soup.  You know that “dead” taste of things that used to be fresh and are transformed into a bland, tasteless, shelf-stable version of it’s former self, like canned spinach, asparagus, etc..
I thought I detected some tomato flavor and assumed from the texture and taste those reddish-orange bits were tomoato but they were infact carrot.
Pretty gross all around, didn’t taste like tuna so much as mayo and transformed carrot and celery.

Different but the same.  Very slightly better in the way that this tasted more like “normal” tuna salad.  Same deal with the texture but we found this less offensive enough to not make a face when we ate it. This also had considerably less carrots and no tomato-like taste.

Wrap up:
Brunswick wins for being less disgusting, although not by much.  Needless to say I’m not feeling very good right now and drinking a Tab to hopefully burn away any funkiness going on in my stomach (that’s what I’m telling myself).

Bubmble Bee or Brunswick?

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Alouette vs Rondele

 Ethan and I went to at our friends’ (Mark and Sara) house and in addition to my retro Marushka cake, we brought over a tub of Alouette and Rondele (I know they both don’t use capitalization but I can’t help it) both in the “garlic and herbs” variety.  It’s kind of funny that Sara also had “Pub Cheese” in this flavor too but we realised it’s made by Rondele so we just kept the evaluation down to these two.

This cheese spread was very fluffy and as titled, very herby and garlicy.
We liked the light, airiness of the cheese and we all agreed it was very creamy.  Ethan described it as having some “zazz”.  I forget why now but I would think it’s because of the amount of garlic.  The cheese on it’s own seemed very mild and just a springboard for the herbs and seasoning.

Rondele was even softer and creamier.  Mark commented that it was almost “buttery” and Sara felt it had a little sharpness to it like a cheddar.  It was interesting that this was both mild and sharp at the same time.  I liked that it wasn’t as garlicy and we all agreed it was “herbier” than the Alouette.

Wrap up:
While we all thought these were both good but Mark ended up voting for Alouette while the rest of us went with Rondele for the mild-yet-sharp, flavor and it’s fluffy consistency.  Alouette was very good but ultimately, we felt it had a pinch too much garlic that overpowered the spread.

Alouette or Rondele?

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Smartfood vs Cape Cod

Smartfood was created in the mid-80’s and I believe in good ol’ Massachusetts.  Before it was bought by Frito-Lay, Ethan pointed out they used to have little facts or something interesting on the back of the bag that he liked reading.  Frito-Lay just talks about how awesome Smartfood is.
I think there are a few different versions of Smartfood but the one closest to it in the store was Cape Cod’s White Cheddar Popcorn, so we got that.

Even  though Frito-Lay has taken over, I think they’ve done a pretty good job at keeping the consistency of the quality in this product.  I didn’t think “This isn’t as good as I remember!” as is the case with some products that go through a buy out or even just some companies cheap-out on their ingredients.
The cheddar powder is thick and completely covers the fluffy kernels.  The taste of the cheese has a nice tang to it and conveys a creaminess too.  We noticed the kernels are good sized and almost always round and have a nice softness while still providing a satisfying crunch.

Cape Cod:
We notcied that Cape Cod’s kernels were a little smaller, not as soft and seemed flatter when bitten down on.  The cheese powder was cheesy but not as tangy as Smartfood. Also there was a slight toastiness to the popcorn, not sure if some kernels were overcooked or the cheese powder did not coat the kernels as much. Not bad though.

Wrap up:
We’d go with Smartfood because of the little bit of sharpness in the cheddar flavor and the more substantial kernels.  If Cape Cod is all that’s available though, you won’t be too disappointed as the subtle differences aren’t enough to rule it out as a good product.

Smartfood or Cape Cod White Cheddar Popcorn?

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Honey Mustard Battle: Lighthouse vs Marie’s

One night for dinner my sister made panko-crusted chicken fingers and we had to get some honey mustard for it. I know it sounds lame but just mixing honey and mustard together never tastes the same as bottled stuff and we felt that trying two jarred honey m’s that are in the refrigerated section would be a good pair to evaluate.

This is a lighter colored honey mustard and has a creamy texture and taste. In fact it’s so creamy you might not recognize it as honey mustard but there was something about this that was addictive. Elaine described this as a perfect balance of honey, mustard and creaminess. She also really liked this because it reminds her of the honey mustard they used to serve at Houlihan’s, who had their problems with food but did have a good honey mustard.
Zac, my brother-in-law also thought this was good and I couldn’t get any more adjectives out of him.

Clearly, Marie’s was much more mustardy looking with it’s deep yellow color. This was not as creamy, yet had a slight creaminess and richness that is not found in most honey mustards. Elaine describes this as slightly creamy mustard.
Zac agreed this had a stronger mustard flavor and as he was eating this he said the taste was winning him over.

Wrap up:
While Elaine and I appreciated Marie’s we preferred the Lighthouse version. This is something just SO good about it, a great balance of ingredients and it’s creamy taste. Marie’s ended up claiming Zac’s tastebuds and he would choose it over Lighthouse because of the stronger mustard taste. We did find it interesting that mustard came before honey on the Lighthouse ingredient list and honey came before mustard on Marie’s even though the opposite had a stronger taste. So basically if you like a little more mustardy taste, go with Marie’s but I really think there is something about lighthouse that make it a little more special.

Lighthouse or Marie's

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