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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Simply Balanced Organic Mango Lemonade

This isn't really a winter item, but it's definitely worthy of a review. I could see it being a huge hit in the summer time since it's incredibly refreshing, as most lemonades are.

It's not super sugary, syrupy sweet, but it's sweet enough that it will hit the spot if you're craving something at that end of the spectrum. It's got the sweet and sourness of normal lemonade, but also the mango puree adds a bit of extra tartness.

The balance of mango flavor and lemonade flavor is pretty spot-on here. If you absolutely hate mango or mango juice, this probably isn't the product for you. But by that same token, the mango flavor isn't overwhelming either. Whenever I see "puree" in ingredients lists, there's a little red flag that raises in my mind, and I worry that the product will be full of sediment that collects on the bottom of the bottle. A little shaking normally solves the problem, but not always. Thankfully, this beverage was thin and smooth, just the way I like it.

In addition to being organic, the ingredients list is short and simple. I'm not the most health-conscious consumer in the world, but I'm always happy to see that I'm not eating unpronounceable weirdness. The Simply Balanced line is usually pretty good at keeping things...well, simple. This product is no exception. Even that bright orange color comes from beta carotene, the naturally-occurring pigment in carrots.

In general, I'm a big fan of juices and sweet beverages, but I've certainly seen my share of sub-par drinks from Archer Farms. This isn't one of them. This is exactly what a mango lemonade should be.

I give this drink 9 out of 10 stars.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Archer Farms Apple Streusel Walnut Multigrain Oatmeal

Boiling water is hot.

Just a friendly reminder for those of you who are impatient and/or stupid like me. When making instant oatmeal, I usually just half-arse it and nuke a mug of water or milk for a minute or so and put the very-warm-but-not-boiling liquid into my oatmeal or whatever so I can consume it right away, despite the instructions calling specifically for "boiling water."

In this case, I put some water mixed with almond milk in a mug and microwaved it for three minutes. That was plenty of time to send the liquid into a bubbling rage, nearly spilling up over the edges of my tall mug. I let the oatmeal sit in the hot milk mixture for three minutes, per the instructions, but then I just shoveled the first spoonful into my mouth without blowing on it or anything. Whoops.

Anyway, after my tongue cooled down a bit, I went back to the oatmeal and discovered that it's actually really good. There are real bits of apple and walnut—in fairly generous amounts—and there's just enough cinnamon and sugar to give it a streusely essence. Considering this product is shelf-stable and needs no refrigeration, the textures of the ingredients were surprisingly pleasant. Nothing felt or tasted like cardboard. The serving size is perfect: just enough to fill one person's hungry belly. This product really hit the spot on this cold January morning.

I'll have to give this product 8 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Archer Farms Cranberry Caramel Corn Clusters

"You had one job!" yelled the packaging engineering specialist to the sticker-putter-onner guy. You can see in the pic there that the label is a bit goofed. Maybe that's why we got these holiday treats on special. I don't remember how much they were, but the price was under $3, marked down from about $4.

Which was a pretty good bargain, because they're actually quite tasty. I've never been a huge caramel corn person, but I think the addition of cranberries is all I needed to really get into it. Any other dried fruit would work, for that matter. The tartness of the berries really balances out the sweetness of the caramel, and it blends way better than I ever thought it would.

Just add cranberries to anything to make it more Christmassy. I'm not sure who came up with that rule, but I'm pretty sure it's a thing now. Exhibit A. Not convinced? Exhibit B. Still not convinced? Whatever, just take my word for it.

My main complaint about this product is that there simply aren't enough cranberries. I found myself wanting at least one cranberry in every bite, so I'd seek them out the way a kid might seek out the marshmallows in a Lucky Charms-esque cereal. This method works wonderfully until you're left with a bunch of caramel corn and no cranberries—or a bunch of weirdly-shaped oat things and no marshmallows, whichever the case may be.

But other than that, I really can't think of a reason not to check this stuff out. It's pretty good quality caramel corn. If anything, it's better than that gigantic tin drum of caramel corn Aunt Edna gives you every Christmas time. Plus the alliteration in the name is fun to say: "cranberry caramel corn clusters." Try it.

I think I'll go with 7 out of 10 on this one.

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