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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice Instant Oatmeal

Other than the extremely unique pumpkin salsa, we've had a difficult time finding pumpkin products and other seasonal treats at our two local Target stores. This is only the second one we've discovered. And trust me, we've been looking. Just check out the dozens of pumpkin reviews we've done on What's Good at Trader Joe's?

This product isn't particularly complicated. There are no bits of pumpkin or chunks of pumpkintacular spiciness floating throughout the product. It looks just like regular oatmeal.

And it only tastes slightly more pumpkinny than it looks. There's just a hint of pumpkin and very little, if anything, in the way of traditional pumpkin spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or allspice.

On one hand, that could afford someone a golden opportunity to add his own spices and tailor the flavor to his own taste buds, but on the other hand, lazy dudes who can't cook like me would like some "expert" to add the spices in for me in logical proportions before I even open the box. Lo and behold, the ingredients list doesn't mention any spices. I just think that's weird not to throw in a little cinnamon at least.

But on the plus side, there aren't many ingredients at all, and that means it's good-ish for me, right? Also, it's sufficiently sweet to make it palatable, regardless of its low pumpkinosity levels. Furthermore the sweetness comes from "sugar," not from HFCS or weird chemicals. And the texture is, well, you all know what the texture of oatmeal is like. The box adds these words of wisdom: "For thicker oatmeal, add less water OR more water for thinner oatmeal."

Well, duh!

I give this product 6 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Simply Balanced Sparkling Cranberry Cherry Juice Beverage

A short while back, I looked at the Grapefruit Juice equivalent of this stuff. In my opinion, it's pretty amazing.

This cranberry version isn't too far behind. It stands to reason that if you prefer cranberry juice over grapefruit juice like my wife does, you'll actually like this one a little better. I, however, prefer grapefruit juice. Furthermore, I think the aforementioned Grapefruit Juice Beverage approximates an actual citrus soda more than this drink approximates any previously-established beverage.

That is to say: it is its own thing...and that's not a bad thing. But if I had to compare it to something I've tried before, I'd say it's similar to Cranberry Ginger Ale, but like its citrusy sibling, the thing that really makes it stand out is that there's absolutely no high-fructose corn syrup. In fact, these drinks are only sweetened with fruit juice.

And don't think it tastes exactly like cranberry juice either. It's much sweeter than that, thanks to the white grape juice and apple juice. And of course, it's carbonated like a soda.

I've now tried 3 out the 4 flavors I saw available at my Target. They're all highly-drinkable, but this is my second-favorite one so far.

I give this product 8 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Archer Farms Raspberry Crème Brûlée Granola

Target figured out that people were buying those 99 cent bags of cereal to try all the delicious-looking new flavors, so they discontinued them apparently, and are now forcing people to invest something in the ballpark of $3.50 to find out if a flavor is good or not.

Fortunately, this one is. As was the case with a previous selection or two, we basically just have granola dressed up with a few fixin's and bells and whistles, but somehow, in this case, it wasn't as much of a let-down.
It really wasn't a let-down at all, in fact. It actually tastes like raspberries because there are those freeze-dried cereal raspberries all through it—in fairly decent numbers, I might add—and if you try really hard, you can actually detect a distinctly crème brûlée-esque flavor. To use some wine critic terminology, the crème brûlée is most prominent in the finish of the cereal, while the attack is distinctly raspberry-ish. It's "sensual, yet cerebral." Not really. What the heck does that even mean, anyway?

The raspberries felt less like styrofoam than cereal box fruit usually does. The granola was sweet, yet otherwise run-of-the-mill, the same as every other fancy AF cereal we've seen so far. There were a few massive clusters of granola, particularly at the top of the box, and farther down, the chunks were smaller.

Sonia was a big fan, too, so I know it's not just me. I can more confidently recommend this cereal than any other we've looked at so far.

I give this granola 8 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Archer Farms Sesame Teriyaki Lunch Bowl

I almost gave up on the lunch bowls. They've been really bad. I took a long break from reviewing them because each one I tried grossed me out.

But after months of avoiding them, I decided to give them another whirl. I saw this happy little morsel staring back at me from the shelf at Target, the price was right ($2.29, though prices may vary), and I snatched it up for one of my lunches this week. And for the first time since we started this blog, I don't regret it. This is hands down the best lunch bowl we've seen from Archer Farms thus far. See also Bacon Carbonara, Kung Pao Noodles, and Southwest Couscous.

But saying this product is better than the other lunch bowls we've tried isn't really sayin' that much. This bowl still left a little to be desired. It was far too salty. And it could have used some add-ins or little herbs that float around in the broth or something to give the texture a bit more oomph.

I do have to say, though, the taste was very good overall. It tasted like teriyaki. Granted, it's pre-packaged, cheap store brand, dehydrated powdered teriyaki—but it's passable teriyaki nonetheless, and it comes closer to quality than most of these shelf-stable noodle dishes do. You can taste sesame, and there are plenty of noodles. I poured them in a ceramic bowl and ate them with chopsticks to cut down on the cheapo factor. It actually kinda felt and tasted like a civilized meal. Considering the price, I have to say this is worth a try. It definitely beats Top Ramen.

I give this product 7 out of 10 stars.

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