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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Archer Farms Jingle Blend

I wasn't paying much attention when I reviewed the Rudolph's Mix. Like this indulgent trail mix, it contains actual name-brand M&M's. And I couldn't even tell that they were the real thing. I just assumed they were a store-brand ripoff like the "milk chocolate buttons" found in other grocery store candy items.

Most of the ingredients in this mix are so big that you'll only want to eat one at a time, so there's not much mixing and matching here. You're only tasting one element in any given bite. But that's fine by me, since each ingredient stands alone just fine.

Like the Rudolph's Mix, this trail mix comes in a very small container. And I mean, like, that picture of the product on the side there...that's the entire contents of the package—only two nonpareils in the whole shebang. It's barely more than a single handful. There's a larger jar available too, for about ten bucks. But in both cases, I only purchased the small box.

Also worthy of note—in just the couple of weeks since the Rudolph's Mix review, the price on the smaller containers has fallen from $2.99 per box to $1.66 per box. Maybe they weren't selling as quickly as Target had hoped.

They're both pretty tasty. I feel like this one is just a tad more wholesome since there are more nuts and raisins, rather than just sweet bready things and chocolate—however, there is plenty of chocolate here as well. There's both milk and white chocolate covered elements, although a fair number of the nuts are completely naked, save for a dusting of salt.

In the end, it's a decent little pick-me-up snack, but there's nothing particularly Christmassy about it except for the packaging and the little green and red doodads on the nonpareils—in fact, there's nothing very memorable about it at all.

But since it's near the holidays and they did drop the price a bit, I'm feeling like another 7 out of 10 is in order here. I wouldn't be upset if Santa stuffed my stocking with another pack of the Jingle Blend on Christmas morning...but I wouldn't be super thrilled either.

7 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Archer Farms Rudolph's Mix

I would have thought reindeer needed leafy greens, veggies, and fruits to fuel that Christmas Eve trek around the globe. Turns out those eight tiny fellows—or at least their red-nosed ringleader—gorge themselves on sugar and chocolate-laden trek mix for energy. Who knew?

Seems like this snack might be better for fattening up those antlered animals for use in some kind of venison burger, rather than for priming them for an aerial expedition pulling a fat man's sleigh loaded with innumerable toys for many thousands of miles across vast mountain ranges, plains, and countrysides. But hey, as long as you're burning the calories one way or the other...

It's truly an "indulgent" mix, as the box plainly states. For nutrition facts, please click here. I don't want to put them up in this review because I don't want to think about all the calories I just consumed.

Was it worth it? Yes, for the most part.

The components of this mix, in order from my least favorite to most favorite, are as follows:

Generic M&M thingies*: Meh. We've all had these before. Chocolate with a candy shell.

Graham bites: Better than just plain old graham-flavored cereal, these bites are fairly thick and crunchy. They make a good base for a sweet, desserty trail mix.

Peanut butter cups: Everybody's had peanut butter cups before, but these are pretty good. Quality PB and chocolate can't hurt a mix like this.

White chocolate-covered generic Cheerio thingies: I don't think I've ever had white chocolate-covered Cheerios before, but they're actually really tasty. I wonder what a bowl full of these with milk would be like.

Puppy chow Chex-type pieces: You ever had puppy chow? Or muddy buddies? These things are just like that, right down to the powdered sugar. They don't strike me as being "chocolate-covered" exactly. They're just like Chex cereal squares with a sugary glaze over them. Anyway, they're tasty.

All the components work together reasonably well, although I'm always wishing there were fewer of the M&M's and more of the grainy elements. There's a really big jar of this stuff available at Target for something like $11. I guess that would be good for a Christmas party or something like that. We just got the little $2 sampler-type deal. I don't think I could eat any more than that anyway.

I give this trail mix 7 out of 10 stars.

*They're actually name brand M&M's, not generic.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Archer Farms Holiday Drizzle Pretzel Rods

For a minute, I thought these pretzel rods were covered in a type of peppermint bark. Much to my delight, they're not. Not that I have anything against peppermint bark or peppermint bark-covered pretzels, but sometimes I just want a snack that doesn't remind me of that "just-brushed-clean-feeling."

I've always been a fan of white chocolate/white fudge and chocolate-covered pretzels. The salt from the pretzels sets off the milky sweetness of the white chocolate very nicely. These pretzel sticks are no different. They taste and feel exactly like white chocolate-covered pretzels should.

They're individually wrapped, so they stay nice and fresh even after opening the box. They'd make perfect stocking stuffers or favors for co-workers and that sort of thing. The red and green icing adds a nice festive touch.

$5.29 for eight sticks seems a little steep to me. But I guess you're paying for all the packaging and pretty snowflake design on the box, etc. Plus, I can't complain about the size of each pretzel rod. It was just about perfect to curb the munchies without making me feel like I had overindulged.

If you're interested in the nutrition information, please click here.

I'm'onna give these pretzel sticks 8 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Archer Farms Hawaiian Style Pizza

I really wanted to like this pizza. I really did.

I was very hungry when I ate it, which usually helps a product's score. You know, I'm less critical when famished. A slice of plain bread seems pretty tempting when my belly is growling.

But this pizza was still disappointing. Many of you know I'm not a pork, ham, and bacon kind of guy, for the most part. However, even I like a good Hawaiian pizza every now and again. But this was not a good Hawaiian pizza.

This thing gives our 50th state a bad name. I mean, I'd still like to travel there some day—it's not our southernmost state's fault this weak excuse for a pizza has its name on it.

Unlike many other Archer Farms pizzas, this offering actually looks pretty good. One might ask for a tad more cheese, but there's a surprising amount of Canadian bacon and pineapple on it. Unfortunately, none of the toppings are particularly flavorful.

And the crust was the worst part. It was cardboard-esque—both in texture and in flavor.

Don't believe me on this one? Check out Target's own website, complete with unanimous one star reviews. Even I didn't think it was that bad. But then again, I might have found this product edible because I was extremely hungry when I tried it.

For nutrition facts, just click here.

I'll go with a 4 out of 10 on this one.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Archer Farms Red Velvet Cupcake


Hmmm. An individual red velvet cupcake for $1.29? Worth a try, I guess. And much less of a commitment than purchasing a half dozen of them...you know, in case it's not very good. On the other hand, it's a more expensive cost per unit...

I've had one other red velvet item from Archer Farms and it wasn't the greatest. Granted, those were cookies, not cupcakes or actual cake—which, I believe, are slightly less risky than cookies, since red velvet's natural state is super cakey.

Upon first peeling back the liner, I was surprised how moist the cupcake was. But it was also very crumbly. It totally disintegrated right in my hand. I quickly discovered there's not only a very large glob of icing on top of the pastry, but there's also a cache of creme filling in the middle—the cake surrounding those two areas of sugary confection were the only two areas not completely falling apart.


Taste-wise, it's good for what it is. The frosting on top is very rich and almost cream-cheesy, while the filling in the middle is just more sugary sweet like the filling of a Twinkie. When you get a bite with both types of frosting, it's a bit overwhelming, although individually each icing is fairly pleasant. The cake part is my least favorite. It's not as rich and flavorful as other red velvets I've had in the past. Not terrible, just not great.

All in all, I'm glad I tried it, but I probably wouldn't buy this particular flavor again.

I give this cupcake 7 out of 10 stars.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Simply Balanced Organic Sweet Chile Rolled Tortilla Chips

I never thought of or heard of this idea before: rolling tortilla chips into little straw-like tubes. Kinda cool. Novel, at least.

Like traditional tortilla chips, these are crunchy and corn-based and great for dipping in salsa or queso, although with less surface area to scoop up the condiments, they tend not to pick up as much as regular flat chips. But they'd make an excellent addition to any southwestern-style soup or even chili.

They're not super flavorful on their own, but the heat level is nice. There's definitely a bit of spiciness that's not particularly well-advertised on the packaging. Good thing I like my tortilla chips with a little bit of a kick.

They are Simply Balanced, so they're somewhat more "healthy" than regular old Archer Farms selections. I'm not really sure if you can call them "health food" per se, considering the calories, fat, and sodium present, but one must concede they are organic, and they do pack a considerable amount of fiber per serving. Plus, I swear that spicy foods raise my metabolism and help me burn fat naturally. I'm not sure if there's much hard science to back that up, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

These resealable bags are uber-convenient and helpful. Even as quickly as the wife and I can go through a bag of tortilla chips, it's always a bummer when that last little bit at the bottom of the bag has turned stale. At $2.99 a bag, they're a pretty decent value, too.


I give these chips 7 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Archer Farms Apple Cinnamon Trail Mix

Even after hearing a number of rave reviews of this trail mix on social media, I was still skeptical. Not that it didn't sound good. I guess I just tend to have my own opinions about food products, and when I hear nothing but unanimous praise about a particular item, I don't want to get my hopes up too high since they've been let down so many times in the past. I mean, let's face it: being slightly let down by the taste of any fall-themed food product is very much a first-world problem, and not one that I'm proud about even having to mention.

However, when a random, unassuming trail mix from the shelves of the local Target store not only lives up to the buzz about it, but exceeds my expectations in almost every way, I have to admit, it puts a little extra spring in my step and a twinkle in my eye. That's what this stuff did. It's friggin' awesome.

Little perfectly-seasoned and sweetened dried apple squares? Check. Cinnamon pretzel balls? Check. Sweet craisin things? Check. And I mean, not only are these things there, but they're all on point. Delicious. They blend together so well, it's hard to describe. Last but not least, "apple pie-flavored pecans." Before I actually had any of the trail mix, I chuckled at that. As if there's such a thing as apple-pie flavored pecans. Ridiculous, right? Wrong. I could seriously see someone trying these in a blind taste test and going, "Yum! It's a pecan...that tastes just like...apple pie!"

@Jesse_NER added #TastesLikeFall to his tweet about this trail mix. And that about sums it up.

I have this foggy memory of being in a candle shop with my parents at autumn-time long ago. There was a lovely blend of potpourri wafting through the air. It smelled so sweet, cinnamony, and crisp. I thought to myself, "Someday, there will be a food that tastes just like this potpourri smells. But not in a gross way. In a really yummy way." Well, friends, that day has finally arrived. $2.99 for a bag. Not bad for a quality trail mix.


I give this snack 9 out of 10 stars.



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.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Simply Balanced Crunchy Peanut Cookies

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea that these are peanut cookies, NOT peanut butter cookies. In fact, I've never heard of "peanut cookies" without the "butter" prior to discovering this happy blue box at the local Target.

But I'm glad I did discover them—or glad my wife discovered them, at least. I guess she should get the credit since she snagged them off the shelf and tossed them in our basket. I didn't actually realize these weren't peanut butter cookies until I was contently munching the contents in our kitchen a day or two after we purchased them.

They're a little less sweet than traditional peanut butter cookies. And for a guy with a sweet tooth, I was surprised how much I didn't mind that. It might seem obvious, but these cookies taste like peanuts where peanut butter cookies taste like peanut butter. It's a subtle difference, but an important one. Instead of being full of peanut butter, they're chock full of...you guessed it: peanuts!


Also possibly obvious to you astute readers and cookie aficionados, these cookies are less "buttery" than most peanut butter cookies. I've had crispy peanut butter cookies before—and this offering is most definitely crispy—but there's a decided lack of butteriness. It's a drier flavor and texture, but somehow, it totally works.

I mean, I still prefer soft cookies to crispy ones in general, but it's pretty hard to make a decent shelf-stable soft cookie without adding a bunch of scary preservatives. And these cookies have fairly simple, natural ingredients. Generally, we've found products bearing the Simply Balanced moniker have healthy ingredients.


Speaking of healthy ingredients, let's talk about quinoa. It might be one of those "fad" foods, but it does add some welcome graininess to the texture and flavor of the cookies—and maybe some fiber, too. One gram per serving is better than none I suppose.

Complaints? Well, maybe a few. It might sound like nitpicking, but I always hate crumby cookies. And these guys were super crumby. They dropped crumbs if you looked at them wrong. Also, some of the cookies were in pieces before I even opened the package. I'm not sure if that's due to some careless shipping and stocking practices or because of the inherent brittleness of the product. Also, as I've hinted at earlier in the review, these cookies aren't super indulgent. They're sweet enough to be considered dessert food, but they're not ultra-decadent at all. That's not really a complaint, but I could see some folks being disappointed if they think they're in for something other than what they're getting.

All in all, I was quite impressed with this Simply Balanced snack. Might be a repeat buy here.

I give these cookies 8 out of 10 stars.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Archer Farms Pretzel Buns

As pretzel buns go, these aren't very pretzelly. They're more like regular white bread—which was slightly stale in our case—with a very thin, leathery pretzel shell. Not particularly appetizing.

They didn't ruin our burgers by any means, but they didn't really enhance them much either. We'd have been better off with regular white bread buns or potato rolls or something like that.

The buns were soft enough on the inside, they just didn't taste particularly fresh. The slightly-firmer pretzel-esque exterior was a step up from the lackluster innards of the buns. It was somewhat reminiscent of a decent, lightly-salted pretzel, but again, it was just too thin a layer to redeem the rest of the bread.

It's possible we just got a bad batch. I felt like this product had potential, so I'm almost tempted to try it again hoping for some redemption. We'd love to hear input from others on this one. Let us know your experience in the comments below.

One of our pics didn't turn out great, so if you're interested in the nutrition information for this product, please click here. Surprisingly high in calories if you ask me.

I can only give this pretzel bun product 6 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Archer Farms Dark Chocolate Raspberry Dessert Sauce

We haven't looked at many dessert sauces here on this blog. In fact, I think this is the first.

Spending part of my childhood in Hershey, PA, I got used to milk chocolate growing up. I mean, I didn't have tons of chocolate, especially when I was very young, due to some unfortunate food allergies. But the chocolate I did have was virtually never dark chocolate.

As an adult, I can appreciate the richness of dark chocolate, but I still usually prefer sweeter types. Don't get me wrong, this product is plenty sweet, but it's also dark and rich. Any flavors that get mixed with dark chocolate need to be fairly pungent in order to punch through the boldness of the cacao flavor. And the raspberry puree here does just that.

The texture is thick and creamy, similar to caramel toppings I've tried. It's actually too thick to use as a topping unless it's heated a bit. If you want to just grab a spoon and dig in, however, it's supple enough to be scooped out at room temperature, although it's not really malleable enough to be spread on anything. I did try a spoonful plain before I put it on anything. It's sweet, rich, and tasty, although it's clearly not meant to be consumed by itself.

There's a decent balance of raspberry and chocolate flavors, but this product isn't particularly versatile, in my opinion. It needs a very neutral host in order to shine. Vanilla ice cream seems to be the only logical thing this would go on. Maybe I'm just not being creative enough, but I can't think of much else to eat it with.

It's a yummy product, but it's just not my personal favorite in the end.

I give this topping 7 out of 10 stars.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Archer Farms Chai Spice Multigrain Oatmeal

Along the same lines as the Apple Streusel Walnut Multigrain Oatmeal, this convenient breakfast cup looks like any other run-of-the-mill oatmeal once you remove the lid and prepare it with hot liquid.

I almost always use milk, or some mixture of water and milk, and this product was no exception. I had actual cow's milk on hand this time, and it worked pretty well. And like I said, it looks just like ordinary oatmeal. But it certainly doesn't taste that way.


It tastes surprisingly like good-quality, spicy, milky, creamy chai tea. When one considers the thickness of the oatmeal made with milk, I suppose it's more like a hot chai latte than just regular tea. But it actually does taste like that.

The barley, rye, and flaxseed add a little to the flavor, of course, too, but the dominant taste was most definitely that of the black tea and its accompanying spices. The diverse grains create a nice hearty texture, and it blends together in a really pleasant way.

I really didn't expect chai-flavored oatmeal to work at all. I thought this product would be a total bust.

But I think this product is worthy of 8 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Archer Farms Peanut Butter Ice Cream Bites


Finally! Something that's been spotted on shelves recently and apparently pretty buzzworthy showed up at one of my local Target stores. And for that, I'm quite grateful, because these things are delicious.

A few years back, I looked at Archer Farms Peanut Butter Fudge Ice Cream—a close relative of these ice cream bites. To put it bluntly, I was underwhelmed with the quality of that ice cream. But this time, Archer Farms set the bar a little higher in terms of taste and quality.

This product is a peanut-lover's dream. The chocolate shell isn't bad either, but peanut butter ice cream, peanut butter swirl, and dry roasted peanut bits steal the show here. The ice cream is rich and smooth, and would make a great dessert all by itself. The peanut bits in the shell add some crunchiness and complexity to the texture of the product, as do the peanut butter ribbons—although I wish there were more of them. In fact, that's my biggest complaint: I'd ask for thicker swaths of peanut butter in the core of these tasty bites.

I'd also aim for a smaller size. I'm not sure who's taking the "bites" here, but he or she obviously has a huge mouth. Each piece is somewhere between the size of an ice cream bonbon and a Klondike Bar. They wound up being 3-4 bites each for me.

Also, I'm not sure if it was entirely necessary to individually wrap each bite, but it might have helped a bit in the portion control department—important when you're looking at 6g of saturated fat in a single piece. I know, I know, it's a dessert. You've got to live every once in a while. But still. Also wasn't particularly happy to see carrageenan on the ingredients list—a substance I've become wary of lately.

All things considered, these are worth a purchase, particularly if you love peanut butter like I do. There are a few other flavors of these ice cream bites popping up on Target's shelves. I'll try to take a look at those soon, too. Leave a comment if you've tried any of them.

I give these ice cream bites 9 out of 10 stars.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Simply Balanced Lime Fruit Juice Bars

Look: I have a sweet tooth, and I know it. I like sweet things. I get cravings for sticky-sweet, candy-esque things relatively often. I'm not proud of it, that's just the way my taste buds are wired. I also enjoy sour, tangy things. These frozen juice bars are both very sweet and very sour/tangy.

But I couldn't really get into them. If anything, they were too sweetjust super syrupy. I mean, sugar was very high up in the ingredients list, second only to water.  And then right after sugar is "apple juice concentrate," which, of course, is also extremely sweet. I mean, thank goodness they didn't use HFCS to sweeten these, but honestly, I think they could have made due with the apple juice alone.

They tasted and felt like concentrated margarita mix frozen solid into popsicles. Like I wanted to melt them down and add tequila, water, and salt just to dilute the syrupiness of the product.

On the plus side, they did indeed taste like lime. Somehow the tartness of the lime juice did power through the sticky sweetness of it all. And really, 90 calories per bar isn't all that bad when one considers how indulgent they felt and tasted.

I guess I was just hoping for a light, refreshing flavor, rather than the gooey, drippy, sickly-sweet product these turned out to be. After mowing the lawn on a hot summer day, I would definitely not turn to these bars for a cool down. I'd go for something a little thinner.

I give these fruit bars 6 out of 10 stars. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Archer Farms Roasted Jumbo Cashews

Failing to find the milk chocolate cashews I was looking for, I settled for these more traditional, slightly less exciting Roasted Jumbo Cashews as a snack from my local Target.

It's almost pointless to review something as banal as salted cashews, but there are a few things that set Target's offering above other brands. First, the packaging is uber-convenient. There's a little plastic bag inside the small box, sealed for freshness, but once you open it, you can dump the contents into the box for an ultra-simple, pour-exactly-the-number-of-nuts-you-want-into-your-hand-each-time kind of experience.

Also, Archer Farms uses sea salt instead of normal table salt. And while there's a raging debate about whether sea salt is really that much better for you, I'll generally take it over table salt, if only because it's slightly more natural and contains no aluminum.

The size and quality of each nut is on par with any major brand, and really, I have no major complaints...except, maybe, that these are not covered with chocolate. So there you have it: a tiny review for jumbo cashews.

I give this product 8 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Archer Farms Glazed Apple Fritters

I found these tasty breakfast treats to be on par with any other mainstream apple fritters, particularly ones you'd find in the see-through plastic display cases at donut shops and convenience stores, alongside the bear claws and other pastries.

Each time I type the word "donut," I'm torn between spelling it the short and, admittedly, incorrect way—which is now widely accepted, by the way, even in dictionary entries—and the traditional, longer way, which kind of makes sense because it actually has the word "dough" in it. Of course, they haven't much to do with nuts, so the need for the word to make logical sense is not a particularly solid argument for the more traditional spelling, if you ask me. In the end, I usually opt for the shorter version these days, because I am a pragmatist...and perhaps a little lazy.

No such problems arise with the word "fritter." It's fun to say, and it sounds more like a dessert than a "donut" does in my opinion. Plus, there's fruit. Fruit's tasty and good-for-you, right? Right. So, anyway, at least it's a good excuse to go ahead and enjoy these pastries despite their 360 calories and quarter of your daily saturated fat.

They're yummy, moderately appley, and soft enough to pass for...well, I won't say "fresh-baked," but will opt for a slightly more vague "packaged in the not-too-distant past." Seriously, they're pretty good. 8 stars is not a bad score from me at all.

These fritters are worth 8 out of 10 stars.

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.

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