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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Archer Farms Cranberry Caramel Corn Clusters

"You had one job!" yelled the packaging engineering specialist to the sticker-putter-onner guy. You can see in the pic there that the label is a bit goofed. Maybe that's why we got these holiday treats on special. I don't remember how much they were, but the price was under $3, marked down from about $4.

Which was a pretty good bargain, because they're actually quite tasty. I've never been a huge caramel corn person, but I think the addition of cranberries is all I needed to really get into it. Any other dried fruit would work, for that matter. The tartness of the berries really balances out the sweetness of the caramel, and it blends way better than I ever thought it would.

Just add cranberries to anything to make it more Christmassy. I'm not sure who came up with that rule, but I'm pretty sure it's a thing now. Exhibit A. Not convinced? Exhibit B. Still not convinced? Whatever, just take my word for it.

My main complaint about this product is that there simply aren't enough cranberries. I found myself wanting at least one cranberry in every bite, so I'd seek them out the way a kid might seek out the marshmallows in a Lucky Charms-esque cereal. This method works wonderfully until you're left with a bunch of caramel corn and no cranberries—or a bunch of weirdly-shaped oat things and no marshmallows, whichever the case may be.

But other than that, I really can't think of a reason not to check this stuff out. It's pretty good quality caramel corn. If anything, it's better than that gigantic tin drum of caramel corn Aunt Edna gives you every Christmas time. Plus the alliteration in the name is fun to say: "cranberry caramel corn clusters." Try it.

I think I'll go with 7 out of 10 on this one.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Archer Farms Pumpkin Streusel Breakfast Bread

I guess pumpkin season is over already. But I never got around to reviewing this tasty bread. Better late than never, right?

But wait a pumpkin season over already?? I mean, pumpkin pie is legit for Christmas as well as Thanksgiving, so it would logically follow that all pumpkin and pumpkin spice items are fair game at least up until Christmas Day. Furthermore, if we define pumpkin as a "fall flavor," then technically we have until Tuesday, December 22 at 4:48 Coordinated Universal Time to enjoy it. Either way, we still have a couple of weeks. Anyway, I'm gonna do this post regardless of whether it's still "pumpkin season" or not. And nuts to all you pumpkin haters.

Because, as I mentioned before, this is some tasty bread...if you like pumpkin-flavored stuff. And I do, for the most part. I know it's not super masculine to get all excited about pumpkin products, but who cares?

This stuff is very similar to the delicious Blueberry Streusel Bread we reviewed back in August. The pumpkin level is just about what I was hoping it would be. There's some actual pumpkin puree as well as traditional pumpkin spices like cinnamon and brown sugar, and you can taste them just fine, but they won't overwhelm your tongue or take anything away from the sweet bread part of the product.

This bread definitely wants to be toasted and tastes great when served with a little butter on top. All things considered, I liked the blueberry flavor a little more, but for a seasonal treat, this streusel is nothing to complain about. Another sweet, successful, autumnal goody from Archer Farms.

I give this product 8 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Archer Farms Apple Cider

I really want to like everything Archer Farms puts out, but this stuff was just a little sub-par in my opinion. It wasn't bad. But I expect more from Target and Archer Farms. This seasonal beverage tasted like store brand apple juice with a little bit of...something? in it. Oh—that special something was apparently just "natural flavors." A little vague, no?

And again, the flavor wasn't terrible. It just didn't feel like they did anything special here. At all. It's passable as apple juice I suppose, but calling this stuff cider is a bit of a tease. No cinnamon? Nutmeg? Cloves? Allspice? Unless those are some of the unnamed "natural flavors" mentioned in the ingredients. It's hard to say whether there were any spices in it or not. And sure, you could add them yourself if you have a decent spice rack at home.

I guess I shouldn't complain. It's pre-packaged, shelf-stable (until opened) 100% juice from concentrate at a reasonable price—if memory serves me correctly, it was about $1.99 at our local Target.

I just like my apple taste more like cider. Or I want something unusual, like pear cider. Or cider-flavored tea. C'mon Archer Farms, you can do it. We expect more from you. You're not just a run-of-the-mill store brand, so don't act like one.

I give this "cider" 6 out of 10 stars.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Archer Farms Pumpkin Spice Granola

There must be some unwritten rule somewhere that says pumpkin cereals can't taste too much like pumpkin or even pumpkin spices. I mean, technically, pumpkin is a type of squash. And nobody wants to eat squash-flavored cereal. But I think in this case, they could have added a bit more of the pumpkin spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. The nutmeg flavor is there, but it's subtle.

Other than a slight lack of pumpkin spice flavors, I really don't have any complaints. The flavor is quite pleasant. It's like good quality, sweet granola with a hint of nutmeg.

I liked this better than other pumpkin granola I've reviewed. And I liked it much better than certain other pumpkin cereals. It's pretty much on par with the other Archer Farms granolas I've taken looks at—most notably the Coconut Macaroon and Raspberry Crème Brûlée varieties.

And like those other granolas, this cereal stays very crunchy in milk—even after extended periods of time. I wouldn't know that if not for my lovely wife, who takes about an hour to eat a single bowl of cereal. She lets it sit on the table or the counter for ever and ever while she goes about her business. When I eat a bowl of cereal, it's gone in 30 seconds. It's not that I'm always that hungry, it's that I don't multitask well, so I just complete the job that's in front of me.

But anyway, this stuff is good. I just think it could use a little bit more nutmeg and cinnamon—especially cinnamon. It would go well with yogurt...maybe even pumpkin-flavored yogurt...a double dose of pumpkin. Then you might be able to taste some pumpkin flavor. 

I give this granola 8 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Archer Farms Pumpkin Scones

From the very beginning, Sonia and I have had a difficult time finding Archer Farms brand pumpkin products at our local Targets in the PA, DE, NJ region. We've found pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin salsa, and pumpkin coffee so far—which isn't bad, but we see TONS of other Archer Farms pumpkin goodies on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. We figure it's just a regional thing. Or maybe our Targets sell out of things like Pumpkin Spice Monster Trail Mix very quickly.

At any rate, Sonia was delighted to discover these scones at a Target near her workplace. I pretend I'm too manly to get excited about pumpkin stuff around this time of year, but on the inside, I start giggling and quivering with glee when I see things like pumpkin scones. Granted, not all pumpkin products are super tasty. But most things we've found at Target are pretty decent.

And that's definitely the case with these. The taste is great: a sweet, bready, pumpkinny flavor. It's got a decent amount of pumpkin in the ingredients, and you can actually taste it. And no, I don't mean pumpkin spices. There's, like, actual pumpkin in here!

But my favorite part of these things is the texture. There's a freshness "sell-by" date sticker on the front of the package, and you can absolutely tell these haven't been sitting on the shelf for weeks or months. They're nice and soft—almost to the point of a "melts-in-your-mouth" kind of vibe, with a slightly-firm sugary shell on the outside. The only thing that could be better would be fresh-made scones from scratch, homemade or from a bakery.

As long as you like pumpkin—and I mean, you actually can taste some real pumpkin—I think you'll like these. Granted there's plenty of traditional wheat flour and sugar taste in there, too. But it blends well with the moderate levels of pumpkinosity.

I give this product 8 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Archer Farms Sea Salt Caramel Cookie Snack Bites

I'm not sure how to put this delicately...

But these sea salt caramel cookie snacks are just not as good as their peanut butter and chocolate cookie brethren.

There. I said it. I wanted them to be good. I tried to like them. We've seen other tasty sea salt caramel snacks from Archer Farms. And we've seen other delicious salted caramel treats from other brands. But these just weren't up to par.

They weren't awful, but they certainly weren't delicious either. The flavor seemed "forced" to me, if that makes sense. It's like these cookies wanted to taste like something else. I can't tell you what, exactly. But they were slathered in a strange tan substance—not unlike peanut butter, texture-wise—and flavor-wise, like a strange, fake butterscotch substitute. It wasn't like normal caramel. I mean, they would have been crazy messy had it been traditional, gooey caramel...but it probably would have improved the flavor.

The overall shape and texture of these "snack bites" is very similar to the above-mentioned Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookie Snack Bites, but these lack the added texture of the little Reese's Pieces-style candies. They're still fairly crispy and are a convenient "bite-size."

They're not a complete disaster, by any means, but as someone who generally enjoys sea salt caramel and salted caramel products, I found these a little disappointing. Without knowing my opinion beforehand, Sonia remarked that these were also not her favorite, especially after trying the comparatively successful pb & chocolate cookies first.

We'll go with a 6 out of 10 for these cookie bites.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Archer Farms Blueberry Streusel Breakfast Bread

My wife and I must have checked half a dozen Targets, but for some reason, the areas we've lived in and traveled through never seemed to have this or any of the other Archer Farms loaves of bread. In fact, one Target told us that they had completely stopped carrying Archer Farms bread products. At the time they told us this, we assumed they meant that Target had completely discontinued these products. We looked online, and it certainly appeared that other regions still had Archer Farms brand bread and dessert products like this one. So we never gave up hope. We kept up the search. Every Target we set foot in for a year or two, we'd check the food section just to see if they had any breads or streusels.

Finally, our long search has paid off. In a Target near Sonia's workplace in Moorestown, NJ, she discovered this Blueberry Streusel Breakfast Bread hiding on the shelf. And man, I tell you, it was almost worth the wait.

It's like really good cinnamon raisin bread, but with blueberries instead of raisins, and streusel instead of cinnamon. It goes great with butter or cream cheese, and one slice fits perfectly in a toaster. It's shaped exactly like traditional sliced bread. Sonia LOVED it. I was definitely a fan, but Sonia wouldn't stop talking about it. Even after the entire loaf was consumed, she kept saying she wanted more.
I don't blamer her. It's sweet, soft, satisfying, and full of pieces of actual blueberries. It definitely wasn't just for breakfast in our house. It's a perfect, convenient snack food, if perhaps a bit heavy and indulgent. I think we finished the whole loaf in two days.

It's better when toasted, but it's certainly not bad when eaten straight out of the bag, sans toppings. We're both huge fans. We'll be trying the other flavors (apple fritter and cinnamon raisin) as soon as we get the chance.

I give this bread 9 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Archer Farms Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cookie Snack Bites

Leave it to The Impulsive Buy to spot new and exciting things on Target's shelves before I do. In my defense, many of the Target locations in my area seem to not carry a lot of their interesting newfangled items, such as Cupid's Crunch or Bunny Bait trail mixes. In fact, the employees at the stores I checked hadn't even heard of them (and sort of implied in a nice way that I might have been making them up or that they weren't real). But as you can see, if you follow the links above, they did, in fact, exist. However, I must admit I've been slacking and not paying much attention to new stuff at Target lately. I've just been taking it for granted that our sad local Targets won't get any intriguing new stuff.

Fortunately, they carry several varieties of these cookie-esque snack bites in resealable bags. I've tried two of them so far. This is the better one of the pair, and I'll get to that other one on this blog in due time.

First of all, if you like peanut butter cookies and Reese's Pieces type candies, you'll probably like these snacks. It's like someone took peanut butter candy shell treats and traditional cookies, smashed them up into bits, and then re-shaped them into little mounds of cookie crumbs and candy fused together with peanut butter.

They're a bit more messy than traditional cookies, but if you take fairly large bites when you're eating a cookie, you can probably just pop these "snack bites" into your mouth whole, thus avoiding some of the mess. They're slightly crispy, and they have a nice "mouthfeel" resulting from the combination of at least three distinct textures (cookie pieces, candy pieces, and the "glue" that holds them all together).

They're a far cry from the health-conscious Simply Balanced line of foods that Target has pushed so vigorously these past few years. It seems like Archer Farms might be the purveyor of tasty junk food now that Target's lighter fare has found a different identity. Not only is the second ingredient a partially hydrogenated oil, but there's a fair amount of saturated fat here, too—especially considering a "serving size" is only four bite-size pieces. If I took nutrition info into consideration—or, perhaps, if I valued my own life just a little more—I should probably have given these a lower score.

But they're tasty enough in my book to deserve 8 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Simply Balanced Coconut Granola Bars with Ancient Grains

My wife liked these more than I did. If it were up to her, these would have gotten 8 or 9 stars. I didn't really think they were all that special, as far as granola bars go. But they weren't terrible, either.

Flavor-wise, they tasted like plain granola bars with an essence of toasted coconut. I thought the coconut flavor could have been stronger, but Sonia liked it the way it was. She likened the flavor to macaroon cookies—not unlike the Coconut Macaroon Cereal we looked at last year. She's not wrong there, but I would argue that the cereal was just a little bolder in the taste department.

As far as "Ancient Grains" go, you couldn't really taste them independently of the granola and coconut. I think marketers like to add the phrase "ancient grains" as a gimmick these days. But hey, it's worked on me before. And it'll probably work again in the future. I just hope those trace amounts of amaranth and quinoa are working their magic behind the scenes and making me super healthy when I eat them.

Texture-wise, these granola bars are pretty much like any run-of-the-mill Quaker Chewy bar or a knockoff thereof. I feel like, if anything, these were a smidge firmer than traditional "Chewy" bars...but that could have just been my imagination. Plus, it's been a while since Sonia polished off the box, so I might not be remembering correctly.

All in all, snackable and convenient, but not particularly memorable in my opinion. I might have gone lower score-wise, but the wife loved them so much, I'll go with something a tad higher in the end. If you're interested in looking at the ingredients, just click here.

I give these Coconut Granola Bars 7 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Archer Farms Sweet Potato Chips

In recent years, I've fallen in love with sweet potato chips. They're salty, they're sweet, and they have at least as much appeal as regular old potato chips, in my humble opinion. But not all sweet potato chips are created equal.

As sweet potato chips go, these are some of the best I remember having. They're just the right consistency, just the right level of sweet, and just the right amount of saltiness. They're crispy and crunchy. Once in a while, you'll come across sweet potato chips that are somewhat "limp." They're almost soggy in a weird way. Not these. Maybe it's that resealable bag to the rescue again—but whatever it is, the texture of these chips is ON POINT.

Taste-wise, they're even more full of flavor than other sweet potato chips I've tried. My wife and I demolished the bag in just over a day—and Sonia's not even really a chip person, although she too has cultivated an appreciation for sweet potato chips in recent months.

All things considered, they're not completely bad-for-you and the sodium content is really pretty low for a potato chip. If you're interested in seeing the product out of the bag, just click here.

I give these chips 8 out of 10 stars.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Archer Farms A Handful of Everything Trail Mix

A handful of...everything? Everything? Well, they seem to have left out a few things, including pork, nougat, caviar, shredded cheese, and orange juice.

Not that any of those ingredients would have made this a better trail mix. On the contrary. I'm just making sure readers know that by "everything," Archer Farms means dried fruit, yogurt-covered peanuts, chocolate, almonds, raisins, and coconut. As it is, it's pretty tasty.

At $3.99 a bag at my local Target, this is one of the least expensive trail mixes AF has to offer. They go all the way up to $7 a bag! For that price, there had better be caviar in there...or something else really gourmet-ish.

Most of the ingredients in this bag are relatively healthy, except for maybe the chocolate chips. My wife and I agree that the chocolate really isn't necessary here, nor is the moderate amount of added sugar. There's plenty of sweetness from the banana chips, raisins, dried mangos, pineapple, and yogurt chips.

Honestly, I wouldn't have minded a few more nuts in the mix to counterbalance all of the sweetness. But all things considered, this is a delicious, energizing snack that would be great to keep one's blood sugar up if hiking or biking or what have you.

I'll absolutely be trying and reviewing more of AF's trail mixes, so stay tuned. Keep those comments coming, check out and "like" our Facebook fan page, and as always, thanks for reading!

I give this trail mix 8 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Archer Farms Apple Streusel Pancake & Waffle Mix

There's nothin' like having dessert for breakfast. It's always nice when you can dress up a sweet treat and pass it off as a breakfast food, whether it be cereal that looks and tastes like cookies or pancakes that look and taste like streusel. I guess breakfast is the best time to have those things, because you've got all day to burn off the calories.

But this dish wasn't the sugar extravaganza I thought it might be. It's really not that sweet at all. The "cinnamon streusel crunch" added a bit of sweetness, but it baked right into the pancakes themselves and became part of the bread. The pancakes wound up with slightly charred, blackened edges where all the topping was.

As far as apple flavor goes, there wasn't much of it. The bread part didn't taste like apple at all. There were a few small bites of actual apples baked into the pancakes, but I think this product could have used a lot more apple pieces. Once you poured maple syrup on the pancakes, the maple-flavor pretty well drowned out the apple-flavor.

It didn't taste much like cinnamon to me, either. It had neither the sweetness nor the appliness of apple streusel. They were basically just normal pancakes with a few small apple bits baked into them.

This product could have really used an apple-cinnamon flavored syrup. That might have given them just enough flavor and sweetness to warrant calling them "apple streusel pancakes."

As they are, I think they're a bit of a let-down, especially if you're hoping for something super-appley. My wife felt the same way. "They don't taste bad," she said. "They just don't really taste like apple streusel to me."

I agree.

I give this product 6 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Simply Balanced Coconut Pineapple Essence Water

In lieu of a season-appropriate product like Cupid's Crunch Trail Mix, which is unfortunately not available at any of our nearby Targets, we're going to take a look at this "essence water" today, which was on sale for something like 69 cents at a local Target a few months back.

In its favor: it's light and moderately refreshing. I think it would be better in the hot summer months—perhaps after an afternoon of grueling yard work or sports. It would make a nice, lightly-sweet thirst-quencher. It's only 10 calories, yet its main sweetener is real sugar. I think that's where the "essence" part comes in—it's mostly water, and all the other ingredients are there in just enough quantity to add a minimal amount of sweetness and flavor. It's not an overbearing taste at all.

But there are plenty of things working against this product, too. For one, this flavor, in my opinion, just didn't taste that good—and I generally enjoy anything coconut and/or pineapple-flavored. Had the taste been more than an "essence," I would have liked this product even less. I think I'd rather drink half a cup of real pineapple juice and then just chase it with regular water. Also, in addition to real sugar, there's a sweetener called "rebiana" near the end of the ingredients. I guess they used it to keep the calorie count so low. But still, there is a tiny hint of that artificial sweetener taste that lingers in your mouth just a bit after you finish drinking the product.

I'm wondering if these beverages were on sale because they're on their way out...anybody else tried them? I found a review of the blood orange flavor that's a bit more positive than this one. Maybe that flavor is just better...? Or maybe I'm just being more critical...? Either way, I think 6 stars is about all I can muster for this happy yellow beverage.

I give this drink 6 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Archer Farms Maryland-Style Mini Crab Cakes

As the packaging for this product suggests, Maryland is the crab cake capital of the world. Specifically, I'd pinpoint the center of crab cake-dom on earth to be Baltimore's Inner Harbor on the Chesapeake Bay.

I grew up just 15 minutes north of the Maryland border in central Pennsylvania, and about an hour and a half from the Inner Harbor, so I've had a decent crab cake or two in my day. And if I didn't know the difference between a good crab cake and a "meh" crab cake, I might have enjoyed these guys a little more.

But unfortunately, I found them a tad disappointing. I might have written off their blandness to the fact that they're pre-packaged and frozen, but alas, I've had relatively good, pre-packaged, frozen crab cakes.

Most disappointing was the lack of traditional crab seasoning. I didn't taste it at all. There are potato chips that taste more like real crab cakes than these things do.

Also very discouraging was the surprising
absence of the taste of real crab. I'm not saying there wasn't any crab in them, I'm just saying I didn't really taste it. All I tasted were some panko breadcrumbs and tiny bits of diced peppers—which, in this product's defense, were fairly good. Plus, a sauce might have helped enhance the flavor of these crab cakes: remoulade, tartar sauce, or cocktail sauce. It wouldn't hurt to throw a packet of sauce in there for version 2.0, Target.

For those of you who've never had a real crab cake, you probably wouldn't be nearly as disappointed with these as I was. Just don't think that these are necessarily what crab cakes are all about. They don't taste bad, they just don't taste like the crab cakes I know and love.

I'll be generous and give this product 6 out of 10 stars.

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