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Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Good & Gather Sugar Cookie Granola

Sugar cookie granola, eh? How they gonna pull that off? Crumble sugar cookies all through a bag of regular granola? Will it just be extra sweet? Hmmm. It's worth buying a bag just to find out...

And it does seem sweeter than regular granola. There's definitely a sugar cookie vibe here. But a quick glance at the ingredients will tell you they didn't throw chunks of traditional wheat flour-based sugar cookies into the mix. They pulled it off with rice.

Kind of an interesting choice, but it works. There's rice flour and brown rice syrup in addition to the rolled oats and cane sugar you might have expected. I like it. 

Simple, sweet, and not too far a cry from any type of classic granola cereal you have on a regular basis. The rice makes the whole thing a little lighter and crispier than typical dense, chewy granola.

There's a recipe for a holiday parfait on the back of the bag. It basically involves putting this granola on yogurt. Gee, I never could have thought of that myself, Target. But in the spirit of the holidays, I'll tone down the sarcasm.

It's a good product. I'd buy it again next year, although it may be repackaged by then under the Favorite Day brand. What ever happened to the Wondershop at Target? $4.49 for the 11 oz bag.

I give this cereal 8 out of 10 Christmas stars.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Favorite Day Santa's Sweet Tooth Indulgent Snack Mix

We've got the first snow of the season here in the upper midwest today. It's a nice start to the Christmas season, but the sky is very gloomy and overcast and it's difficult to get a decent picture of the jar since I rely on natural lighting for most of these product pics.

It also doesn't help that the sticker putter onner guy was slacking and left a bunch of creases and bubbles when he slapped on the label. Oh well. Quiet quitting is a thing now.

Note: this is a snack mix rather than a trail mix. It is not expressly intended for consumption while hiking or biking on trails or doing anything active. This product is for shoveling down your gullet while your fat butt is glued to the couch as you watch Christmas movies and guzzle egg nog.

At first glance, there appear to be four or five elements in this trail mix, er...excuse me, snack mix. However, there are only three. The "white chocolatey-covered cookie balls" are colored both red and know, for Christmas. The green ones look very similar to wasabi peas. And they're okay. They taste cookies n' cream-ish enough. They're smooth on the outside and crunchy on the inside. They're good for a handful or two every so often.

The "chocolate cookies" are my least favorite part of the mix. They're like generic mini Oreos without the filling. Who wants Oreos without the filling? Nobody, that's who. They're super dry. They make me want to cough. These cookies would be like "gifts" you stick in a bad kid's stocking.

And finally, there are "cookies and cream flavored white chocolaty covered almonds." Holy crap. Favorite Day finally brought out the big guns. These things are delicious. And as far as I can tell, they constitute about 2% of the whole jar. Seriously? You give us just enough of these things to know what we're missing out on? Sad. Target, you're stingy.

Make a pack of the cookies and cream almonds ONLY, Target, and we'll talk.

Eleven bucks for this slightly disappointing jar of Favorite Day Santa's Sweet Tooth Indulgent Snack Mix.

I give this mix 6 out of 10 stars. It would have been 7 or 8 if there had been more of the almonds.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Favorite Day White Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Popcorn

It's still fall, so it's still pumpkin spice season. It's ubiquitous. It's inescapable. I do get sick of it each and every year, but I have to eat my fill of pumpkin spice first in order to get a big enough fix so that I don't crave it at all until next September. It's like intermittent fasting...except with pumpkin spice, and it plays out over months instead of hours. Okay, that's probably a bad analogy.

Anyway, I'm pretty close to my 2022 PS tipping point right now. Will the score of this product suffer as a result? Quite possibly.

The popcorn is pretty typical caramel corn in terms of texture, although it's a little on the stiff side. I think it's a result of the coating, but the product winds up feeling a little stale unfortunately.

The white chocolate is totally unevenly distributed. There are many pieces with no white chocolate at all. But other parts of the bag are nothing but enormous globs of white chocolate with a few popcorn pieces stuck to them. You can even see one of those globs in the photo, right in the middle of the see-through window on the bag.

Leaf shaped sprinkles? There really aren't many sprinkles to be found here. I guess it's possible most of them were shaken off the popcorn and wound up at the bottom of the bag. Even out of the few sprinkles I do see only one or two actually look like leaves. The others are just nondescript random shapes. Oh well. I mean...the idea was cute.

Flavor-wise, it's just too sweet. I like white chocolate in general, but it has to be in the right context. Neither the white chocolate sweetness nor the pumpkin spice elements shine the way I'd want them to. I'd also want the popcorn to be a little more salty in this instance to balance out the sweetness.

I like the idea of this product in theory, but the execution is just a tad sloppy in my professional opinion. $4.49 for the 7 oz bag. It's too expensive, as well. Although...what isn't these days?

I give this popcorn 6 out of 10 stars.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Favorite Day Pumpkin Spice White Chocolate Espresso Beans

Not long ago, I looked at Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Espresso Beans. All things considered, the wifey and I liked them quite a bit. We were thinking about picking up another pack or two but before we could get back to TJ's, the wifey spotted these little morsels at the local Target.

It's the same deal pretty much: crunchy espresso beans covered in a candy-esque shell, flavored with typical pumpkin or pumpkin pie spices. But there was definitely something working in the Trader Joe's version that isn't working here for some reason.

I think maybe the candy coating in this case is a tad too sweet and the pumpkin spice elements are out of balance. There's a bit of that scented candle effect. Somehow the natural flavor of the coffee bean isn't as rich in this case. Part of that could be that these beans are significantly smaller than their Joesian counterparts.

I can't eat more than one or two of these beans before my mouth tires of the flavor. Definitely don't think this will be a repeat purchase. I might have been a little more lenient on these if I hadn't tried a superior product from a different store brand so recently. Plus, at $4.49 this product is four and a half times the price of the other version. Granted, it's a bigger bag, but I think small and cheap is the way to go with a product like this. Not like you're going to be eating these by the handful in either case. My wife agrees this product isn't nearly as good as Trader Joe's bag of pumpkin-flavored espresso beans, but she'll probably not have too tough a time finishing our package.

I give these espresso beans 6 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Favorite Day Apple Cinnamon Pecan Trail Mix

Okay, now this trail mix looks somewhat familiar. Have I tried it before? Yes and no. I had it when it was called Archer Farms Apple Cinnamon Trail Mix. The ingredients were remarkably similar. Both contain(ed) dried apple, dried cranberry, pretzel balls, and pecans. Now the pecans in the old version were "apple pie-flavored pecans" and these are merely "apple-flavored pecans." A quick perusal of the ingredients would suggest they are indeed the same product, or extremely similar at the very least.

It's yet another overly indulgent, sugar-laden trail mix from Target. At least it has some fruit in it, right? Let's dive in.

This one's somewhat similar to the last one we looked at also, but this one's much better. What makes this one a success as opposed to the other apple-based trail mix?

First of all, the apple-flavored pecans are delicious and plentiful here. No searching necessary. There are a couple in every handful. They're crunchy, sweet, and full of autumnal spices. Delicious.

The pretzel balls here are larger, creamier, and more flavorful than their apple bourbon counterparts. They taste like cinnamon and sugar, as well as yummy salty pretzel bread.

The apple chips in this trail mix are thinner than the apple chunks in the last mix, but in this case, there are more of them. Sweet little bites of real apple make any fall trail mix better.

Like the apple bourbon mix, the cranberries here are unnecessary. At least in this case, they don't taste like smoke and there are way fewer of them in the bag.

Once again, we're looking at a price point of $4.49. I'd reach for this trail mix over the apple bourbon or the scarecrow crunch any day of the week.

I give this trail mix 8.5 out of 10 stars.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Favorite Day Caramel Apple Bourbon Trail Mix

Apple harvest is right now. I know because there are a couple apple trees across the street and their fruit is falling on the sidewalk and passersby often pluck a ripe specimen from the branches.'s definitely apple season. Is it bourbon season? I don't know. Is bourbon ever out of season?

Perhaps. What I can tell you for sure is that this trail mix absolutely bursts with the smell of bourbon from the moment you open the bag. Like...maybe don't even eat this at work because your cubicle buddies will think you're hitting the sauce on the job. Caramel and apple? Yeah, they're there. But bourbon is the dominant scent and flavor here.

The pretzel balls are pretty much just pretzel flavored. Little crunchy, salty round pretzels. Meh.

Honey bourbon cranberries. These little guys are a tad on the leathery side. I've had plenty of dried cranberries aka craisins aka Ocean Spray® Craisins® to know these are not the best in taste or texture. They don't taste like honey at all. They taste like salt and liquid smoke.

The salted caramel cashews are good. And there were about five of them in my bag. Total. Five or six in the whole bag. Not exaggerating. Okay maybe I'm exaggerating. But not that much. You'll easily go through half a dozen handfuls of the mixture without a single cashew. Boo.

Dried sweetened apples. There aren't enough of these, either. You'd think there would be plenty of apple pieces since they're kinda the centerpiece of the mix. There are way more smoky cranberries than apple bits. I do like them, though. They actually taste like apple.

Honey bourbon-seasoned almonds. These actually taste like honey bourbon and there's definitely more of them than the cashews, but they're not nearly as plentiful as the pretzel balls or craisins.

All together, the mix is unique and fun. It doesn't taste bad, but it's nowhere close to the best trail mix at Target. It's not even close to the best fall trail mix. I wouldn't buy it again, but I'm glad I tried it. $4.49 for the bag.

I give this trail mix 6 out of 10 stars.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Favorite Day Scarecrow Crunch

No squash. No pumpkin. No apple. No maple. Not even nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and clove. Nothing fall-ish about this product but the name. I mean, I guess the colors are there. Orange, yellow, and brown are vaguely autumnal.

Nevertheless, it's a tasty indulgent mix. Quite a few of the ingredients are the usual suspects as far as Target trail mixes are concerned, although there's a surprise or two as well. Let's break things down.

Peanuts. Good-quality whole peanuts and in some cases, halves. Can't go wrong. The quantity of them in the mix is just about right by my estimation.

Peanut butter candies. AKA generic Reese's Pieces. I've always liked Reese's and these store-brand gems are a pretty tasty knock-off. No complaints here.

Milk chocolate-covered cereal squares. You know, like from "puppy chow"? Except there are so many PB ingredients in the bag that these might as well be covered in peanut butter too. They taste like chocolate peanut butter puppy chow. Pretty good.

White chocolate oat cereal. So basically...generic Cheerios with orange-colored white chocolate on them. I'm a fan of white chocolate, and I'm a fan of Cheerios, but these don't really do much for me. Meh.

Milk chocolate marshmallow bits. Alongside all the peanut butter, these little do-dads bring something fluffernutteresque to the equation. Despite my fondness for fluffernutter sandwiches, I don't think these were necessary in this Scarecrow Crunch bag.

All things considered, I'm glad I tried it, but I doubt I'd purchase it regularly. If you want sugar shock after taking a hike, then this is the trail mix to reach for. At least there's peanuts and peanut butter in there, so you'll get a bit of protein. The ingredients list reads like a novel...a very long, very boring novel. Also there should be at least one real fall/autumn ingredient.

I give this trail mix 7 out of 10 stars.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Favorite Day Sweet & Salty Nut Topping

Peanuts, cashews, and almonds. I love each of them separately, and I love all three together in one bag. They're salted and sweetened sli
ghtly, so that makes them even better.

I wouldn't say any one nut dominates the combo, flavor-wise. It tastes like all three at once, and at the same time, it doesn't really taste like any existing nut. It's just a generic nuttiness, you know. It's super nutty, but the flavor is not distinctly peanut plus cashew plus almond.

Also the nut bits are very tiny, so they don't look or feel like any of the three constituent nuts. They're great for topping a bowl of ice cream or yogurt. I'd even add them to oatmeal or certain types of cereal. 

It's also good for turning creamy peanut butter into chunky peanut butter, in case you live in a house divided over the whole chunky/creamy peanut butter debate. You can just let those creamy weirdos have their way and simply add a topping of these nut bits when you make your PBJ's.

And of course you can eat the stuff straight from the bag, but I prefer whole nuts to these tiny little chunklets. You really need a big handful to make a single satisfying bite, and their diminutive size means they get stuck in between teeth easily.

$1.79 for the bag. I'd buy 'em again.

I give this topping 7.5 out of 10 stars.

Friday, July 15, 2022

Good & Gather Organic Apple Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal

Let's face it: oatmeal has never been the sexiest food in the world, but because of its convenience, affordability, and nutritional value, it's still a part of most people's diets. It doesn't take much to make it palatable: some milk, a sweetener, and maybe some mix-ins of some kind, and you're in business.

Now if you've got instant oatmeal and the manufacturer has already made the mix tasty for you, then that's even better. And that's exactly what we have here. There's your usual whole grain goodness, plenty of apple cinnamon flavor with little bits of real apple, and the sweetness level is just about perfect, too. Just add water or milk.

Of course I add milk. It makes it much thicker and richer. About two minutes in the microwave, and presto: quick, easy breakfast. $2.99 for eight packets. 

How many other products are out there that will provide eight meals for three bucks? Not many. Not these days. Of course the milk is a little extra, but if I had to use water, I could live with it. I've had a lot of flavors of instant oatmeal in my day, and these are probably toward the top for a lot of reasons: taste, value, convenience. Would purchase again.

You ever met one of those people that refers to oatmeal as "hot cereal"? What's up with that?

I give this oatmeal 8 out of 10 stars.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Favorite Day Peanut Butter Chocolate Trail Mix

So this is basically like Reese's trail mix, right? Sounds delicious. I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's pretty hard to screw up peanut butter and chocolate. Let's hope Favorite Day didn't do anything silly here. We'll break it down piece by piece.

First: mini peanut butter cups. That's logical. The base for a peanut butter and chocolate trail mix should obviously be something that contains both peanut butter and chocolate. It's a bit hot out and these little guys want to melt fast so we've been keeping the bag in the fridge while not in use. Good quality. Sweet, nutty, and scrumptious, plus there are plenty of 'em. Thumbs up.

Second: chocolate covered cereal squares. So they're like Chex, but they're the Chex squares in "Puppy Chow" or "Muddy Buddies" rather than the Chex squares straight out of a cereal box. These squares are plenty sweet, very chocolatey, and plentiful as well. They always leave a residue on your hands, though, but that can be remedied with some Wet Ones or Moist Naps.

Next: peanuts. If not for this ingredient, I don't think they could legally call this "trail mix." They're just plain peanuts, and they help to offset the ridiculous amount of sweetness from the other elements. Nutty. Peanutty. Salty. Heck, you all know what peanuts taste like.

Moving along: chocolate chips. Totally unnecessary here. Plenty of chocolate without these. Fortunately, there aren't many of them.

Finally: peanut butter chips. Also somewhat unnecessary, but without them this mix might too heavily favor chocolate over peanut butter.

The verdict: this is a ridiculously indulgent blend—more of a dessert than a snack you'd eat on a hike. I wouldn't take this mix outdoors in the summer heat. All the chips and cups would melt and it would be super messy.

That said, the flavor is extremely tasty and is pretty much everything I'd want in a peanut butter cup type mixture. I like washing it down with a glass of milk. Would buy again.

I give this trail mix 9 out of 10 stars.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Favorite Day Blueberry Shortbread Cookies

I've always liked blueberries and blueberry flavored things. It might seem weird, but if I ruled the world, the default fruit flavor would be blueberry. Like when you go to get ice cream or milkshakes, instead of vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate as your only three choices, there would be vanilla, blueberry, and chocolate as the only three flavors. Actually, it might be more like cookies n' cream, blueberry, and peanut butter in my magical utopia. But I digress.

The shortbread here is good. Nothing special. It's relatively fresh, buttery, and crumbly. I like it. But I really love those blueberries. They add a lot. There's a fair amount of them, too. A few little tiny dried blueberries in each bite. I only wish they were bigger.

I'd still prefer blueberry muffins or blueberry breakfast bread, although I'm sure both of those would have a shorter shelf-life than these cookies. On that note, there's a bag inside the outer box, and it's not resealable. You can re-close the outer box by slipping a tab from the one panel into a slot on the other, but it's not airtight of course. Not sure how long these will last after opened.

Robert Frost liked blueberries so much, he wrote a poem about them. Here's one stanza from it:

You ought to have seen what I saw on my way 
To the village, through Mortenson's pasture today: 
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb, 
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum 
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!         
And all ripe together, not some of them green 
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!

I'd probably buy these again. I need to find some blueberry ice cream, and I'd eat these with it. $2.99 for about 20 cookies.

I give these shortbread cookies 8 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Favorite Day Spring Shimmer Almonds

Well this looks like Easter candy to me. I mean, it does have "spring" in the title, I suppose, to keep it non-denominational like that. I mean, everybody celebrates spring, right? How inclusive of Target.

Interestingly enough, we saw a very similar candy from Trader Joe's released just recently, too. Theirs looks very much like bird's eggs, while these are just shiny pastel colors. TJ's version was coated in dark chocolate, while these are coated in white chocolate. If you've been reading my posts for a while, you might remember that I generally prefer white or milk chocolate, although dark chocolate definitely has its moments.

And I'm glad Target went with white chocolate here. The nuttiness of the almonds goes well with the sugary sweetness of white chocolate. There's actually more white chocolate content in the product than actual almonds, according to the ingredients list. Not even sure how that's possible. The candy shells don't really add much other than color, and that's fine with me.

In summary, these candied almonds are snackable enough, and I always appreciate the resealable bag to keep them fresher longer. $6.49 for 12 oz. I mean I know there's inflation and all, but six and a half bucks for a bag of almonds is getting a little steep. The Trader Joe's product was only about four bucks, but I think their bag was a little smaller, too.

It's a limited time offering. Says so right on the bag. In the words of Fuel:

All that shimmers in this world is sure to fade

I give these festive almonds 7 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Good & Gather Sweet Cajun Trail Mix

Now this is Tex Mex Trail Mix...or rather Tex Mex as it was meant to be...

I might have been a little too harsh on the Tex Mex mix I reviewed many years ago. I know a lot of people love Tex Mex trail mix and Target's offering wasn't bad at all. I just wasn't vibing with it back then for some reason.

But this stuff? This stuff is as addicting as it gets. I think it's the sweet element that really keeps me coming back for more. And I think I enjoy the cajun spices a little more than the southwest spices in the Tex Mex.

This mix could use some more nuts and maybe fewer sesame sticks, but other than that I don't really have any complaints. Both this and the original Tex Mex trail mixes have spicy peanuts as one of the primary ingredients. This one also contains butter toffee peanuts.

They both have sesame sticks, too, although the ones here are both "cajun" and "honey roasted." While Tex Mex trail mix has almonds and pepitas, neither of which are present here, there are roasted salted corn kernels which add an extra bit of crunch and nuttiness.

The overall effect is sweet, spicy, and salty—in that order, by my estimation. I've plowed through the bag every time we've purchased it, which has been at least three times now.

As an aside: I can't detect any rhyme or reason why some of these Target brand foods are still Good & Gather and others have moved on to become Favorite Day. As far as I can tell they aren't changing recipes or suppliers, they're just changing the name. I hope this one sticks around anyway. Favorite Day Sweet Cajun Trail Mix, I'll be waiting for you...

I give this trail mix 9 out of 10 stars.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Favorite Day Neapolitan Sundae Trail Mix

Well if this doesn't fall under the category of "decadent or indulgent" trail mix, then I don't know what does. Target is trying to imitate the flavor of Neapolitan ice cream...with nuts, berries, and chips? This I gotta taste. Shall I break things down ingredient by ingredient?

The best and most unique elements by far are the "dried sweetened strawberries." I thought they'd be like super dehydrated berries with that weird, almost styrofoam-like consistency. Nope. These are whole strawberries, and they're actually chewy and moist, despite being "dried." They're also candied a little bit, so they're even sweeter than regular strawberries. I've never had a dried fruit anything like this before. They get a big thumbs up from me. It's worth trying the mix just for the strawberries.

Next, vanilla creme almonds. Nice. They're good. I think we've seen these before in another mix. Yep—in last year's Orange Creme Trail Mix. I wanted more of them in that mix. There are plenty of 'em in here. Another win.

Cashews. They're not candied in any way, but floating around with all those other sweeties, they inevitably have some sugar rub off on them. Slightly sweetened cashews = not a bad snack element.

Finally, there are three kinds of chips: chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and strawberry chips. None of them really stand out as particularly flavorful or necessary, but all together, they add extra sweetness and creaminess to the mix. The strawberry-flavored ones are the most unique. I don't know that I've had strawberry chips before. There are a good many of the chips in the mix, but they're fairly well balanced with the nuts.

Once again, the beautiful wifey enjoyed this product a bit more than I did. I was on the fence about a re-purchase, but she's definitely in the "I'd buy it again" camp. All in all, it's a thumbs up. I wish there were more of those candied strawbabies and maybe a little less chips.

I give this trail mix 7 out of 10 stars.

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Favorite Day Heart Shaped Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

Time for an obligatory heart-shaped sweets review. It's February, after all.

It's the season for American men to gift chocolate and cookies and other fattening foods to their significant others to let them know that they'll love them even if they're fat. As an aside, I will state plainly here and now that my wife is NOT fat at all which, of course, I would state publicly even if she were on the chubby side. However, she's actually in really amazing shape right now...although I would love her just as much even if she weren't.

Kudos, wifey. You deserve some shortbread cookies with chocolate chips in them. Pretty sure she likes these a bit more than I do.

They're just plain old red shortbread. The chocolate chips are a nice touch. I wouldn't have minded more chocolate chips. Sonia would have preferred perhaps a tad fewer chocolate chips. There are maybe 5 or 6 mini chocolate chips in each heart. So the chocolate content is significant, but not overwhelming. The chips are made of milk chocolate, by the way, rather than dark.

There's a "sharing suggestion" on the back of the box that mentions melting white chocolate and dipping these cookies in it. We actually had white chocolate chips on hand and we tried melting them for that purpose. Have you ever tried melting white chocolate chips? Apparently, it's not something you do in the microwave. Anyway, the white chocolate basically hardened before we could get much of it on the cookies, but we can verify that yes, these do taste good when paired with white chocolate. I'm sure vanilla icing would work, too.

Cutesy? Check. Gimmicky? Check. Edible? Absolutely.

Amazing? No. Life-changing? Not by a long shot.

$2.99 for the package of about 21 cookies. If it were up to me, I wouldn't buy these again, but like I said the beautiful wifey likes them, so I'd pick 'em up for her. Happy Valentine's, peeps.

I give these shortbread cookies 7 out of 10 stars hearts.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Good & Gather Thai-Style Coconut Curry Salsa

Happy 2022. Back to the Good & Gather stuff again. Not sure if Target is switching products like this over to Favorite Day or if they'll keep some GAG stuff around for a while. Time will tell. Items like this one could use a repackaging IMO if only because the white type on light blue background is hard to read and even harder to take a decent picture of.

This is one of the more interesting GAG products we've seen over the years. It's Thai-style curry...but in the format of tomato-based salsa. Made me raise an eyebrow when I saw it on the shelf.

As far as a chip dip, I'm not sure if I like it as much as a more traditional Mexican or Tex-Mex style salsa. It's not terrible that way, but the coconut taste is just...unusual on my palate, along with tomato sauce, tomato chunks, and jalapeño. It's almost like Thai-Tex-Mex fusion.

It works okay as a regular salsa, but it's even better when applied to food in the manner of a Thai chutney or Thai relish topping. Take chicken or fish on a bed of rice, top with this stuff before serving. Scrumptious.

It's quite chunky with veggies and moderately spicy, thanks to those jalapeño peppers. I feel like the coconut cream really helps mitigate the heat, though. Garlic, basil, and lime flavors are all present but play second fiddle to the tomato and coconut elements.

$2.49 for the jar. I'd definitely consider purchasing again in the future, but I doubt I'll eat much of it just as a salsa on plain tortilla chips.

I give this condiment 8 out of 10 stars.

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