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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Archer Farms Caramel Apple Caramel Corn

Ah, it's just about harvest season here in the northeast. Temperatures drop, colorful leaves paint the countryside with red and yellow accents, corn mazes and haunted houses open up—and last but not least, store shelves abound with pumpkin and apple-flavored treats.

And this is our first fall-themed product of the season as far as Target goes. So far, so good.

Just in the past twelve months, I've seen cranberry caramel corn, mango coconut caramel corn, and recently, pumpkin spice caramel corn. Not all from Archer Farms, of course, but still, it's an interesting trend—and one that I can appreciate.

I was never into caramel corn before, but now, it's fun to try all these different versions of it, infused with various fruits and flavors. And this new caramel apple flavor is absolutely on par with all the other fascinating varieties of caramel corn I've tried.

We already know that apple and caramel go hand in hand, in the manner of a traditional caramel apple. It's also a no-brainer that caramel and popcorn can work together. So by the transitive property of deliciousness, all three ingredients must necessarily blend well together, too.

The apple flavor is definitely there, but not overpowering. If anything, I'd want more apple taste in this product. A few bites contained surprisingly large slices of actual dried apple. Those particular bites were adequately applicious, but in general, I could always go for more.

The product is sticky and sugary, similar to traditional caramel corn. Likewise, the dried apple pieces are pretty much what you'd expect—and again, some dried apple pieces are huge, while most of the others are small. In general, that's my biggest complaint. More of the larger apple slices could really improve this product.

As it is, it's still worth a purchase, particularly if you love the taste of caramel apples. Thumbs up from me.

I give this snack 8 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Simply Balanced Thai-Style Curry Chicken Soup

I'm definitely not an expert on Thai foods. But I have had curry from legit Thai restaurants. And I've had pretty decent curry and curry-laden foods from other stores.

This "Thai-style curry" selection doesn't strike me as being particularly authentic. It's nothing like any of the other curries I've had. But I suppose there are many different types of curries from Thailand, and this dish could be modeled after one I've never tried before.

That's not to say there isn't something Thai-esque about it. There is a spice that's definitely not American hot sauce or anything jalape├▒o-based. It's a spicy Thai pepper for sure. And there is a subtle, but noticeable coconut cream taste present. But nothing else seems curry-ish to me—or "curry-ous," if you will. The heat level is nice. What might have been a very boring meal definitely has some kick to it, thanks to that Asian peppery flavor, but not to the point of pain.

Otherwise, it's basically a chicken and rice soup with a few chopped veggies. And unfortunately, it's mostly rice. There's a decided lack of vegetables, and I only discovered a handful of (maybe four or five) tiny pieces of chicken in the whole container.

The carton the soup is packaged in is novel and convenient. It's shelf-stable and relatively easy to open. Although this product has a nice big chunk of your daily sodium intake, it's much less fattening than other curry dishes I've seen. For the full nutrition information and ingredients list, please click here.

I give this soup 7 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Archer Farms Old-Fashioned Cruller Donuts

I've had crullers in the past, but I never really looked into their history before now. Wikipedia states that they've been eaten in New England since the time the Pilgrims lived there.

Although, perusing the photos on that page, this Archer Farms offering seems to most greatly approximate the "French cruller," as have all of the previous incarnations of crullers that I've tried. In fact, I think most of those former specimens were actually labeled as "French crullers." Why Target doesn't directly credit our amis les Fran├žais in this case, I can't say.

Aside from the obvious braided look about them, there doesn't seem to be a substantial difference between these and traditional glazed donuts. They're slightly less puffy, and thus, seem a little more dense than other common donut selections.

They've got a lovely, sweet flavor, with perhaps just a tad more sugary glaze as I would have preferred. There's also a nice taste to the dough, and I think a little less sugar on the outside might have brought that flavor out more. But all in all, they're very good, flavor-wise.

As far as the texture, they're a little stiff on the outside and softer on the inside. I think they're supposed to be that way, but that's just a layman's guess. I'm certainly no pastry aficionado.

When I hear the word "cruller," I can't help but think of that awful 80's sci-fi movie Krull, featuring a young Liam Neeson. Wouldn't the inhabitants of the planet be called Krullers? Even the swirly throwing-star type weapon on the cover art seems to echo the twisted braided look of the cruller donut. I'll take "Science Fiction Films Inspired by Pastries" for $1000, Alex.

Please forgive my digression.

I give this product 8 out of 10 stars.

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