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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Simply Balanced Grapefruit Sparkling Water


I may have mentioned this previously, but I used to be heavily addicted to soda. When I was just out of college, jobless, paying off student debt, and not yet living the dream that I am now, I did all my grocery shopping at the nearby Walmart. Now I only do 85% of my shopping at Walmart—and the rest at Target, obviously. Walmart Supercenter groceries are dirt cheap. A flat of 32 Dr. Thunders was just around $3 and some change. Each can was less than ten cents. I did the math. It was actually cheaper than water. Okay, maybe not cheaper than tap water, but tap is bad for you anyway.

Long story short: in those days, I drank more Dr. Thunder than water because it was cost effective.

But then I got obese and my digestive system no longer functioned thanks to high fructose corn syrup overload. So I slowly switched to diet sodas. I was slightly less fat, but the beverages were still wreaking havoc on my system—all that aspartame lowered my IQ a few notches and gave me chronic headaches.

I knew regular old water wasn't going to take the place of my nasty soda habit, so I tried sparkling water. I'd sampled my parents' Perrier as a kid and didn't mind it, so I started checking out all different brands. Now I'm a connoisseur of fine sparkling mineral waters. Aside from the fancy stuff like Perrier and San Pellegrino, I highly recommend Polar brand, too. Trader Joe's also carries some good sparkling water. So how does this offering from Target compare?

It's in the middle somewhere. The grapefruit flavor comes through nicely, but I feel like it leaves a slight unpleasant aftertaste. The cans are very convenient (eight 12oz cans) but I feel like the packaging is overly "girly." In general, the Simply Balanced line tends to give off a feminine vibe, but whatever. I keep telling myself I'm comfortable with my masculinity. I just wish their stuff were a little more gender neutral sometimes.

But I digress. I paid $2.50 for the box. It's not a bad value at all, but I think they were on clearance or something. Not sure what their original price might have been. Ah, look at that. $2.99 on Target.com. What score shall we bestow this refreshing beverage with today? A seven, methinks.

Final score: 7 out of 10.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Market Pantry Banana Fudge Soft Baked Breakfast Bars


It's been forever since I made a Target run. There just aren't many Target locations convenient to this part of South Jersey. In fact, our closest Target is in another state. I'd even go so far as to say that both Delaware and Pennsylvania have Targets that are easier for us to get to than our closest, most convenient location here in the Garden State. Of course, crossing the Delaware River involves a toll, so every once in a while, we brave the chaotic Camden/Cherry Hill traffic and head up towards Deptford or Sewell.

But this fun little breakfast find came from Christiana, Delaware. There's something odd about the food section of the Target there. No matter how crowded that mall gets—and it gets hella crowded on weekends—the food section there in Target looks like a ghost town. I mean, there's always food on the shelves, and as far as I can tell, nothing's expired. There's just something uninviting about it that I can't put my finger on. Nevertheless, I popped in and zig-zagged up and down the quiet aisles looking for something to snack on/review on my last adventure in The First State, and I found these interesting "soft-baked" bars.


In case you haven't figured it out yet, they're basically off-brand Nutri-Grain bars with banana fudge filling. We've seen something similar from Target in recent memory. Why that previous selection was "Simply Balanced" and these are "Market Pantry," I'm not quite sure. Maybe fudge is too indulgent for the "Simply Balanced" moniker..? Also, there's a pretty significant price discrepancy. The Simply Balanced offering was $2.99 a box. This product only cost me $1.39. They might have been on some kind of mark-down, but I didn't notice a special price tag next to the item. $1.39 is pretty cheap for something like this. I've never seen Nutri-Grains come close to that, even with coupons.

The bars are indeed soft. There's a good bit of fudge in the middle, too. I'd prefer a little less breading and a little more banana. As it is, there are just teeny-tiny little wads of banana hiding among the chocolatey center of the bars. The breading, though soft, makes the product seem drier than it really is. A bit less of the grain and a bit more of the fruit would go a long ways for both the flavor and texture of this product. As it is, it's not bad, and I'd absolutely consider a repeat-purchase—especially if they stay at that low price.


I give these breakfast bars 7 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Archer Farms Cinnamon Hot Cocoa Mix


If you've never tried Mexican hot chocolate, please go do so immediately. It's worth checking out. One brand to look for would be Abuelita, available pretty universally in the US nowadays. I think it's even available at Target stores.

I mean, this offering is pretty close flavor-wise, but it's less spicy and more sweet. That combo might appeal to many of you, but I'm partial to the original—although this stuff is nothing to complain about.

This is one of the few hot chocolates that actually tell you to "add milk." I mean, we always use milk or almond milk anyway, but the instructions generally say "just add water" as if milk is too fattening or expensive or scarce that most people simply don't have any on hand. I appreciate the honesty here. What kind of person adds water to his hot chocolate?


But milk is perfect here. It yields a creamy, flavorful mix, with a detectable amount of cinnamon. It's not overly or unpleasantly sweet, but I'd say it's nearer the sweet end of the hot chocolate spectrum. It's definitely not a "dark chocolate" type flavor here, and that's just fine with me.

The wifey grew up on Mexican hot chocolate, and she'll still take Abuelita over Archer Farms brand in most cases, but she thoroughly enjoyed this product as well. It's a great Valentine's treat—or perfect for keeping warm on a cold winter day. We both just wish it had a bit more kick from cinnamon and spice.


$3.99 for eight packets. Fifty cents a cup, plus the cost of milk isn't too bad at all.

I think this product is worthy of 9 out of 10 stars.



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