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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice Pretzels

As I mentioned on my other blog, it seems like the whole pumpkin thing has peaked. There's even a strong adverse reaction to pumpkin products now from some vocal consumers.

I admit, I've reviewed obscure products like Pumpkin Pie Mochi and loved every bite. But I certainly don't think it's a bad thing if pumpkin spice slows down a bit and makes way for things like apple cinnamon, apple cider, and butternut squash products.

"There's room for all the delicious flavors of fall," he said in a forced, dreamy announcer voice.

And there are some products that are simple and basic enough that it's a wonder they didn't exist sooner. Take these pretzels, for example. I know they're not brand new, but they also haven't been around for more than a few years, either. They just possess a classic essence—like something that your grandparents might have enjoyed long ago.

It makes me think of those Werther's commercials where the old dude is like, "After walking home 18 miles in a snowstorm, we used to sit by the fire and eat Werther's Originals for dinner back in 1908." And then the kid eats one and nods agreeably and acknowledges that maybe pappy isn't quite as bat-crap crazy as he had originally thought, because the candy doesn't taste as awful as he'd assumed.

These pretzels have that vibe. Except maybe I'll be the old dude in 2060 trying to get my descendants to eat some of these pumpkin pretzels.

"Man, what is it with old geezers and pumpkin spice stuff?" they'll wonder.

They're just normal crunchy salted pretzels with a white fudge coating and some pumpkin spices thrown in. They're sweet, salty, and definitely spicy. I'm actually surprised they have as much nutmeggy kick as they do. I would think that would drive away as many people as it would attract...but at least we know they're not just calling it "pumpkin spice" and then not delivering.

I think I'll tire of this flavor pretty soon and be perfectly happy with regular white fudge pretzels for the rest of the year—but just for seasonal consumption, this flavor is perfect.

Sonia and I both liked these a lot. I'd buy them again. $2.99 for the bag. Not bad.

I give these 8 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Simply Balanced Organic Cranberry Chocolate Flax Granola

It's been quite a while since we've reviewed any granola on this blog, though at one point, it was a very regular occurrence. I thought "cranberry chocolate" sounded kind of tasty, so I picked up this bag on my last Target run.

The base is the same style of granola we've seen in other Archer Farms and Simply Balanced products, but this particular flavor guessed it: chocolate and cranberries. It's fairly generous in the chocolate department, but extraordinarily stingy when it comes to the berries.

That's by far my biggest complaint about this product: a decided lack of cranberries. In fact, just look at the picture above. There's not a single cranberry in there. And I promise I didn't pick through the granola and remove the cranberries to prove my point. That picture is exactly the way the cereal poured into the bowl. There might be one or two bits of crantastic goodness hiding near the bottom, but that still isn't enough.

I've had two full bowls of the stuff and have only come across three dried cranberry halves in all that granola. I must admit that those three bites that contained cranberry were exceptional, but they're way too far and few between to enhance the cereal the way they should. Simply Balanced should either find a way to pack more cranberries into this product, or they should end the charade altogether and simply call this "chocolate flax granola."

All the many bites that don't contain cranberry are just fine, in fact, I'd consider this an above-average granola selection. But it's the principle of the thing. It's almost like a "bait and switch" tactic. They get you all pumped up for cranberries and chocolate and then make you settle for chocolate alone.

I'm torn between 6 and 7 stars. I guess I'll go with 7 since this product really is good with or without cranberries—and the bites that do contain cranberries...I'd give those a solid 8.

Bottom line: 7 out of 10.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Simply Balanced Sea Salt & Vinegar Roasted Chickpea Snack

I'm not sure if it's ever come up before on this blog, but I LOVE CHICKPEAS.

Honestly, I've always had a huge affinity for the nutritious legumes. While my childhood friends would pile up croutons and dressing on top of their salads, I remember stacking my plate high with a bed of greens and a massive tower of garbanzo beans. I'll occasionally snack on nothing but chickpeas with a little salt and pepper. In short, I'm a fan.

And recently, these dried chickpea-based treats have been popping up in different flavors from quite a few different brands. This is the second such offering that I've tried.

And unfortunately, I think this product might have scored higher in my book had I not tried a similar offering from Trader Joe's just a couple weeks prior.

The Trader Joe's chickpeas were larger, they had a much better seasoning on them, and somehow they still flaunted more natural chickpea taste. These snacks were very gritty—almost sandy, and much harder to chew than the other chickpea snacks I've sampled. This Simply Balanced product was vaguely salty, but there was very little vinegar flavor, in my opinion.

On the plus side, there's still a good amount of fiber and protein here, and the resealable bag is uber-convenient, as always. Because of my love of the great garbanzo bean, I'd give another flavor a chance in the future.

But as for this particular chickpea snack, I can't go much higher than five out of 10 stars.

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