Smart Balance vs Newman’s Own

There are a variety of popcorn brands to choose from, but last night I was feeling like getting something a little healthy and picked the only two brands offered at my local grocery store that didn’t have partially hydrogenated oil in it.   So you have your Smart Balance (which I am a fan of their buttery spread) and Newman’s Own.

We started off with Newman’s Own:
This was okay, nothing too exciting.  Just your average tasting popcorn.  We felt it just barely had enough butter and salt to give it any flavor but of course it dd say “light butter” on the package so we weren’t expecting huge flavor anyway. 
There was an odd smell that I couldn’t really find words for but Ethan said it had a slight kettle corn quality scent when we first opened the bag.  In the end we agreed that this popcorn was “acceptable”.  Nothing great but not bad either.

Smart Balance:
This was also light butter flavor but it tasted like no flavor and started to leave a waxy taste in my mouth after a couple of handfuls. 
I was surprised from the lack of flavor since their butter spread is so good,  but Ethan and I both felt like it was just plain popcorn and it made Newman’s Own seem like it had movie theatre butter on it.

Wrap up:
We chose Newman’s Own because it  had more detectable butter and salt.  Which was very light but compared to Smart Balance it was just enough to taste like something and SB was void of any flavor, plus left that waxy film in my mouth so we wouldn’t get SB again. 

Smart Balance or Newman's Own?

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Mama Celeste vs Mr. P

Pizza seems like a hard thing to mess up: dough, sauce, cheese – maybe a topping or two. But as we all know pizza CAN be messed up and the chances of this is greater when you’re buying a pre-made, frozen pizza.
My experience with frozen pizza started and stopped with Mama Celeste and the last time I had that was as an after school snack with my sister so…it’s been a while. I will do an evaluation at some point with a couple of the next generation like DiGiorno to see how frozen pizza has evolved but today we’re kickin’ it old school.

Mama Celeste:
This doesn’t look like anything any mama would make, never mind the sweet old lady on the package. Ethan and I found this to be pretty tasteless. I felt the only ingredient that had any flavor was the pepperoni. Ethan was more disappointed by the lacking crust.
As unimpressive as this was we did both agree that the distribution of ingredients were well balanced and I have to admit, I did like that it smelled like the pizza at rollerskating rinks, which brought back fond memories of skating around with feathered hair and playing video games, which was worth the $1.20 for the pizza.

Mr. P:
For all that Mama Celeste isn’t, Mr. P is less. Ethan found the dough kind of gummy, even though we cooked it according to the directions. The entire thing just lacked flavor all over and didn’t have enough cheese, although I’m not sure of that would have improved the product. No wonder he doesn’t show his picture like Mama does.

Wrap up:
Mama wins by a shred. It’s funny though how bland we thought that was and then after we tried Mr. P, we ate another slice of Mama’s just to leave this evaluation tasting some sort of flavor. But really, I think it’ll be another 20 years until I have Mama Celeste again, I don’t care how bad the recession gets!

Mama Celeste or Mr. P?

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Nesquik vs Hood

Chocolate milk was always a treat growing up.  Not that we weren’t allowed to drink it but it’s just so good that no mater when I had it, I always savored it.   I always just made it at home and rarely found the same satisfaction when I bought it in a bottle.  It’s been awhile for either home-made or bottle so we compared a national big boy brand with the beloved Hood brand of New England.

Nesquik had a great chocolatey aroma which I was hoping hinted at the intensity of chocolate flavor.
For me the just tasted like milk with a hint of chocolate.  Ethan felt it wasn’t lacking any favor and enjoyed it.  I thought this had an artificial taste to it but Ethan didn’t think it was bad.  There was just something off about the consistency to me, like I could tell it was made from powder even if I didn’t already know it was.

Hood didn’t have a sweet chocolate smell like Nesquik did but we both found the taste was a more sincere chocolate flavor.    Ethan said it tasted like when you ignore the suggested amount of powder to add to make chocolate milk and add an extra tablespoon (or two).  I liked that this didn’t taste as chemically and would like to think that it was a more pure form of this drink.

Wrap up:
I prefered good ol’ Hood for the reasons listed above, although I have to say I feel Hood’s expertise is in their ice cream products (I mean, what’s better than a Hoodsie eaten with a wooden spoon?) and  wouldn’t swear by their chocolate milk as a new favorite.  Although Ethan agreed Nesquik was more artificial tasting he still found something appealing about it.  He liked both in their own way and said it would depend on his mood as to which one he would buy again. 

Nesquik or Hood?

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Get used to this guy (sorry)

Not to get into the whole reason why I used geocities instead of the secondratesnacks server to upload some photos, but it was convenient when using this ancient mac laptop (with no ftp and it wouldn’t install filezilla) that I’d blog from when I was in the living room.

Geocities ended the other day and I’ve lost most of my photos on there so you’ll be seeing this lovely red X where a photo used to be. For some reason I thought they were just not allowing new accounts, I didn’t realise they were vaporising all the pages and images but in the end it’s a good thing since I’ll have to keep all my photos on one server now.

Anyhoo, I’ll try to salvage what I can but sorry about any missing images.

Sociables vs Minglers

There are a number of products that Stauffer’s seems to copy from Nabisco and Minglers seemed to be inspired by Sociables.  I did notice that they don’t offer the same flavors but I felt the closest match was garden vegetable to the seasoned flavor of sociables.  Both promote a party environment which would be interesting to conduct an evaluation at a social situation but we just tried these at home.

These were kind of bland except for the salt flavor.  We could see the seasoning but Ethan and I felt they tasted similar to Saltines.  We liked the texture though, it was light and sort of flaky.  Overall not a bad cracker.

Minglers were a bit toastier looking and much harder in consistency than Sociables.  The taste was a little more flavorful probably from dehydrated vegetable flakes but there was still an absence of any enjoyable flavor.

Wrap up:
Not that we liked them all that much but Sociables win for their flaky texture and mild flavor.  Minglers were too hard and had a weird taste to them.  They weren’t bad when used as a vehicle for dip but on their own they were kind of gross…and didn’t have the variety of shapes Sociables does, which I think suggests a social atmosphere -a variety of something all hanging out together.  Where as Minglers are just the same shape which might suggest “We only mingle with people who look exactly like us”.

Sociables or Minglers?

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Swiss Roll Re-Match:Little Debbie vs Entenmann’s


Since I saw these new Entenmann’s Swiss Rolls I thought it would be a good idea to test them with the winner of the Swiss Roll/Yodel/HoHo battle: the Swiss Roll.  I thought it was kind of ballsy for Entenmann’s to name their product Swiss Roll too but they must be lookin’ for a fight with my girl Debbie so we let them duke it out at my sister’s house with her, our mom my brother-in-law and my 3.5 year old nephew Kyle (and of course Ethan)

Little Debbie:
Everyone agreed that these were very sweet and moist.  my brother-in-law Rick really liked the cream. I like the cream and how the chocolate coating stayed on even when cutting or biting into.  Steph said she liked the consistency and mom said she thought it was okay but would like it if it had more chocolate flavor.
Kyle said he lies it because it’s good.

Despite the orange color the creme has the same vanilla flavor as the Little D rolls.  Mom and Rick though these were more moist.  The cream didn’t seem as sweet as Debbie’s but considering how extremely sweet those were that wasn’t abad thing.  Mom liked that these had more chocolate flavor, although we all noted and weren’t crazy about how easily the cocolate coating flaked off.

Wrap up:
Both were good but Rick and mom preferred Entenmann’s for it’s not-too-sweet creme, moistness and chocolate flavor.  Ethan, Steph, Kyle and myself preferred the Little Debbie version for it’s stong vanilla flavored cream, moist cake and the chocolate coating staying on the roll.

Little Debbie or Entenmann's?

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Candy Corn: Brach’s vs Zachary

It’s October and small bowls of candy corn can be found on office desks all over America. Candy corn was always one of the few exceptions of trick or treat harvesting that had some value even though it wasn’t chocolate. And it’s very shelf stable too- I’m not even sure if it has an expiration date, I’m sure it must but I think water is a bigger enemy of candy corn that time. For some reason it was hard to find a competitor to Brach’s for this but we finally found one called Zachary’s.

These were firm and had a nice yield to the bite. The flavor is sweet but nicely balanced with a vanilla overtone. At least we think it’s vanilla. Ethan said he kind of felt like it was maple but knew it wasn’t. We noticed the package said these contain real honey so I’m sure that helped give these their pleasant taste.

These were a little paler in color and it turned out in taste too. There was a lack of flavor other than just sugar/corn syrup. The texture was pretty good though since it was very similar to Brach’s.

Wrap up:
We both agreed that Brach’s was more enjoyable than Zachary’s. While Zac’s wasn’t terrible, the absence of any flavor just didn’t make the calories seem worthwhile. I never thought much about Brach’s candy corn but I have a newfound appreciation for it and feel that they really give other candy makers big kernels to fill to re-create the flavor I used to take for granted.

Brach's or Zachary?

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Nestle Crunch vs 3 for $1

I was in Walgreen today and saw a series of chocolate bars called 3 for $1. They come in 4 or 5 varieties but I picked “Double Crisp” and bought a Nestle Crunch to compare it to. Of course my dream match would be Crunch vs Krackle but Hershey’s no longer makes a full size Krackle. Although I will some day get a bag on Hershey’s Miniatures and test them against mini Crunches. I know it’s silly but I like the bars to be the same size.

I like Crunch’s thinness, I kind of compare it with getting deli meat sliced extra thin. Ethan and I agreed that there was plenty of rice crisps generously distributed throughout the bar. The only let down is the chocolate, which is lacking good chocolate flavor. Ethan said it was tasteless and I took another bite and agreed even though the wrapper claims “Now Even Richer Milk Chocolate”, it just seemed like a bland vehicle for the rice crisps.

3 for $1:
This bar was thicker and much sturdier than Crunch. The rice crisps dwelled at the bottom of the bar and seemed disproportionate to the amount of chocolate. I liked the taste of the chocolate better but Ethan said it was “gross” and “powdery”.

Wrap up:
Split. I liked the characteristics of Crunch more in every way except the bland chocolate and liked only the chocolate of the 3 for $1 however I’d pick 3 for $1 because the disappointment of Crunch mockolate was just too much. Ethan preferred Crunch despite the lack of flavor, he was really turned off 3 for $1’s powdery grossness and minimal crunch.

Nestle Crunch or 3 for $1?

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Fig Newtons vs Fig Bars

I’ve always liked Fig Newtons, they remind me of family outings at the beach. Their fruit and cookie combo always felt like a substantial snack that rally satisfies – and tastes good too! Ethan doesn’t feel the same way but agreed to taste test because he’s such a good sport.
I found these Gonzo brand knock-offs at a gas station in Bellingham, MA. I haven’t seen them anywhere else, but maybe I just never noticed them.

Fig Newtons:
Fig Newtons have a nice golden brown color on the outside of the cookie. I haven’t had these in a while but the cookie seemed kind of dry, Ethan agreed but liked the sweet flavor of it anyway. The fig filling had a nice thick texture and dense fig flavor. I think it’s the best part of the Newton.

Fig Bars:
These were a little lighter, the cookie was thicker and not as well proportioned as far as cookie-to-fig ratio. I know it doesn’t look like it but the cookie was so thick, it masked the fig “experience”. I detected a weird chemical taste too. Ethan didn’t seemed to be bothered by it and liked the sweetness of the cookie

Wrap up:
I’d stick with Fig Newtons for the fig flavor and more natural taste. Ethan felt the Newtons were more natural tasting but the Gonzo brand was better as a tasty treat. I will say I like Gonzo’s packaging though. The scalloped lines at the top looks like a curtain rising to reveal the treat inside.  Nice font for “fig bars” too.

Fig Newtons or Fig Bars?

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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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