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Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Good & Gather Mexican Street Corn Inspired Trail Mix

So I've had real Mexican street corn—eloté—a few times and know what it's all about. My wife grew up with the authentic stuff in Los Angeles and even makes her own from time to time. It's basically corn on the cob with mayo, tangy cheese, lime juice, and chili powder.

Trying to recreate the taste of Mexican street corn with a trail mix is a tall order, even for those snack mix masters at Target. How did they do? So-so, in my humble opinion.

What works: the chili lime-seasoned corn kernels, AKA corn nuts. They taste like corn, lime, and chili. They're spicy and flavorful and very crunchy. 

Cheddar-seasoned corn sticks are fine. Cheddar isn't the cheese you'll find on Mexican street corn. They would have done better with cotija-seasoned corn sticks, but then again, they might not exist or might be very hard to find. 

The seasoned peanuts don't belong in an eloté-flavored trail mix, but the wife and I both agree they work in this mix just the same.

I'm fine with the corn chips with flaxseeds, but the beautiful wifey says they don't work. She thinks they could have added generic Doritos for a bit of nacho type flavor. They're the only ingredient we don't agree on.

And finally, the seasoned almonds are the weakest part of the mix. I can't put my finger on why I'm fine with peanuts here and not almonds, but they just don't add anything and kind of clash with the overall vibe somehow.

Not a terrible purchase, but not the best either. $4.49 for the 8 oz bag. Another middle-of-the-road score for GAG.

I give Good & Gather Mexican Street Corn Trail Mix 6 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Good & Gather Strawberry Shortcake Granola

While male children of the 80's were watching G.I. Joe and Thundercats, our female elementary school classmates were watching Strawberry Shortcake, a popular cartoon about a redhead that wore fruit-themed clothing and tended berry vines. So I always associated the term "strawberry shortcake" with something excessively feminine.

But years later, I realized that the dessert know as strawberry shortcake is completely delicious and certainly not just for girls. So now, from time to time, I'll buy berries, shortcake, and whipped cream, and have that for dessert or a special occasion instead of regular cake or pie or what have you.

Or, as is the case here, I'll try something strawberry shortcake flavored. I mean, it's really just a sweetened strawberry flavor, but if you add milk, I mean...that's creamy, right?

I think the product could have used more strawberry bits. You can always add your own freeze dried strawberries or fresh ones if you have them on hand, but by itself, this cereal is pretty decent, regardless. It's crunchy, berry-esque, and is mostly whole rolled oats sweetened with real cane sugar.

The missus liked it much more than I did and will definitely purchase again. I'll help her finish the bag, for sure, but I don't know if I think it stands head and shoulders above other Target brand granolas. We've looked at quite a few of them throughout the years. Just type "granola" into the Search This Blog bar above, and voila, there are at least seven other Archer Farms and Good and Gather whole oat cereals to read about.

I'd probably give this breakfast food about 7 out of 10 stars, all things being equal, but the beautiful wifey would give it more like a 9, so we'll split the difference.

I give this granola 8 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Good & Gather Organic Strawberry Banana Instant Oatmeal

This is some good oatmeal overall, but it needs more of the fruit flavors—especially strawberry. Fortunately, we had some freeze dried strawberries on hand, which improved the taste significantly. It's organic, which is good. No pesticides used on these oats.

There are teeny tiny little bits of dried bananas and dried strawberries in the mix. There's also "strawberry juice" listed, but both of the strawberry elements appear in the "2% or less" part of the ingredients list. In my humble opinion, sweeteners don't get better than "organic cane sugar," which is what we're looking at here. Also, it's the second ingredient rather than the first, falling just after "organic whole grain rolled oats." So...pretty darn healthy by my standards.

I'm starting to wonder if Favorite Day is replacing Archer Farms and if Good & Gather (GAG) is replacing Simply Balanced. The beautiful wifey pointed out the other day that most of GAG's oatmeals are certified organic and have pretty healthy ingredients, while Favorite Day is specializing in things like "indulgent trail mixes" that are loaded with calories and sugar and generally aren't organic.

$2.99 for 8 packs of instant oatmeal. The wife likes it more than I do, and she's made repeat purchases of this product. I'd probably steer the score toward 6 or so, but she'd definitely put it in 8 or 8.5 territory. For her sake, I'll split the difference and throw out 7 stars.

I give this organic oatmeal 7 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Favorite Day Valentine Crunchy Clusters

Dental warning! If you have dental work or any kind of fixtures in your mouth that you want to keep in place, you might want to sit this one out. The caramel in between these pretzels feels like semi-dried super glue. To say it's hard to chew or that it's "sticky" are both understatements. I'd recommend just sucking on them, but that doesn't really work with the pretzels here.

That said, Favorite Day Valentine Crunchy Clusters are quite tasty. The saltiness from the pretzels balances out the sweetness from the white chocolate and caramel, otherwise it might be too far in the direction of SUGAR OVERLOAD​​. But pretzels are the number one ingredient, and there's a fair amount of sodium—maybe even a bit too much sodium if you're watching out for high blood pressure or anything like that.

Some of the pieces are way too big to be bite-sized, and if you try to bite them in half, the pretzel and white drizzle crumble everywhere while the thick, stiff caramel fights against your teeth and tries desperately to hold everything together. It gets messy and uncomfortable.

The clusters are slightly more agreeable texture-wise when warmed. It has been very cold here in the upper midwest and that might account for some of the firmness of the caramel. I don't mean put them in the microwave, although, you never know, that might work. I put my bag of Valentine Crunchy Clusters in front of a space heater for 5 or 10 minutes and that seems to help. The candy is still absurdly hard to chew, but at least I was able to keep my dental crowns intact.

The wifey agrees with my assessment. We definitely won't purchase this product again because of the unyielding caramel mass at the center of each cluster, but if something similar came along that was easier to chew, I'd certainly check it out.

I give these crunchy clusters 5 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Favorite Day Strawberries & Crème Indulgent Trail Mix

Isn't it weird how foods qualify as "Valentine's treats" just because they're pink or red? Strawberries are red, therefore they're fair game during Valentine season. Furthermore, anything strawberry-flavored becomes appropriate during this time of year. Throw in some heart-shaped stuff and a spiel about being "made with love" on the packaging and pretty soon you're buying your significant other bags and bags of the trail mix and you don't even know why.

There really aren't even any strawberries in this product at all. The only fruits are cranberries. I guess there's some "strawberry-flavored" elements, but do they even use real strawberry in the flavoring? Try wading through that novel of an ingredients list to find out...

Despite my rant about the lack of strawberry and gimmicky V.D. nonsense, this is a relatively yummy mix. Let's break it down piece by piece:

First up, sweet creme almonds. We've seen these before...or at least something extremely similar. They're downright tasty. Nutty sweet and actually kind of creamy, they're everything I've ever wanted in a candied almond. There's a fair amount of 'em, too, unlike the previous mix we saw them in.

Next, there's heart-shaped coated pretzels. Pretty good. Pretzels covered in a white chocolate glaze with red nonpareils. They're crunchy, salty, and candy-esque. I approve.

Also there are different pastel colors of M&M's candies. Not generic M&M's. Real M&M's. You all know what M&M's are like, so we'll just move on to the next part of the mix.

Confectionary coated sweetened cranberries. These might be my favorite part of the mix. Why oh why is my favorite element always the one they give us the least amount of? These little guys look like wads of white chocolate, but there's sweet, tangy cranberry underneath. I want more of them.

Strawberry-flavored pink shimmer coated pretzel balls. That's a mouthful. Candied pretzel balls are always nice, but there are already white chocolate coated pretzels in this mix, so I found these to be redundant and unnecessary.

Finally, there are cookies with pink and red sprinkles. These are my least favorite element in this bag. Wouldn't you know it, they're also the most overrepresented. They're like bland, stale miniature shortbread cookies. Can I exchange mine for more cranberries?

My wife liked this mix more than I did, mainly because she didn't mind those cookie bits. For her sake, I'll give this product a decent score. $4.49 for the 8 oz resealable bag.

I give this indulgent trail mix 8 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Good & Gather Organic Confetti Cake Instant Oatmeal

Ah, the never-ending battle to make plain old boring oatmeal seem exciting. Confetti cake, huh? Kinda gimmicky, but hey, it worked on me. Why not "birthday cake oatmeal," I wonder.

Well, Nathan, because you would logically only have birthday cake oatmeal one day out of the year and you can enjoy confetti cake oatmeal year-round. Okay. I'll buy it.

But you know it's pretty much nothing but rolled oats and cane sugar in there. There's a tiny bit of rice flour, potato starch, and sunflower oil in the "colored bits," but those are just the icing on the proverbial cake. 
There's a dash of sea salt at the end of the ingredients, and voila, you've got a complete breakfast.

Did I mention all the ingredients are organic? That's a plus.

They colored the bits with all-natural food products like turmeric, anatto, and vegetable and fruit juices. That's kinda Trader Joe's-esque of Target. I don't remember seeing such holistic colorings from Good & Gather or Favorite Day before. The colors in the actual product aren't nearly as vibrant as they look on the packaging, but I can live with that.

The beautiful wifey and I both like it. Good & Gather Confetti Cake Oatmeal somehow transcends its simple ingredients and tastes fun and festive. I'll throw out seven stars. Why not? The value is there at $2.99 for eight packs of oatmeal.

I give this breakfast product 7 out of 10 stars.

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