Monday, June 29, 2009

Alexia: Crunchy Snacks Onion Strips, Savory Seasoned

Brand: Alexia
Style: Savory Seasoned Onion Strips
Origin: USA
Type: Onion Snacks
Flavor: Very similar to a Bloomin' Onion, but without the stupid name.
Verdict: Approved!

Do you like that delicious, heart-stopping appetizer known as a Bloomin' Onion? I know I do, but I also know that I hate steakhouses, and that's where those are usually served. Lucky for me, Alexia came out with this new product line with the amazing, to-the-point name, Crunchy Snacks. They have several different varieties, but today, I chose the Savory Seasoned Onion Strips. Let me tell you, I made the right choice.

They taste just like a crunchy, take-home version of the real deal. They're like onion petals, and they actual onions inside! (Spanish ones at that. I'm not sure why that's special, but the bag assures me it is.) They're seasoned well - a little spicy, a little peppery, a little salty - just enough to toe the line of overwhelming without crossing it.

Now that I've had these, I'm anxious to try the rest of the line! They had jalapeno onion strips, then several flavors of waffle fries (!!!), including ranch, spicy BBQ, and cheddar. If any of you devoted readers out there in Snackland try these out, let me know how they are, please!

Bonus: Chinese Cherry Blood Clot Candy

I feel nauseous right now. If you'd like to know why, try one of these strange cherry Chinese candies. It looks like a Tearjerker; one of those gumballs with the sour coating on the outside that we used to eat by the pailful as kids, but it's not. It's so, so not.

The outside is actually a medium-sized layer (slightly thinner than a hollow gumball) of barely cherry-flavored, sickly sweet sugar. Okay, a little gross, but I could handle that. However, unlike a gumball, this sucker ain't hollow. No, it's full of actual cherry. Some kind of horrifying, brown, mushy blob that was once a beautiful red cherry. I have no idea what these are or what they're called, as the label is entirely in Chinese, but if a stranger tries to give you one, run far, far away. In fact, run all the way to China and punch the dude that came up with these in the face for me, please!

Onion Strips purchased: Whole Foods, Portland, OR and Chinese candy purchased: Aji Ichiban, NYC

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Utz of Hanover: Baked Cheese Curls

Brand: Utz of Hanover
Style: Baked Cheese Curls
Origin: USA
Type: Cheese Puffs
Flavor: Like cheesy manna from heaven! Very similar to the old Planters Cheez Balls.
Verdict: Approved!

In the days of yore, there was once an amazing line of cheese snacks put out by Planters, the peanut people. I'm not sure exactly why they made cheese snacks in addition to nut mixes, but it was the best idea ever. They came in a blue can with a yellow lid, and those cans contained the best cheese snacks know to mankind. There were curls and balls, and my favorite was the balls, because you could have contests to see how many of them you could fit in your mouth at one time (37 is my personal record).

Why, you might ask, am I reopening the wound left after finding out that Planters discontinued this snack line some years ago? Because the Utz Cheese Curls are the closest cheese snack I've found to those Planters ones. They're terrible for you, despite a creepy girl on the bag claiming that they give you a cozy feeling with every bite, but they have that perfect slightly tangy and strong cheese taste that only Planters Cheez Balls could provide for me in the past. The texture isn't quite as pleasing as the balls, it's similar to any cheese puff product, but the taste is out of this world. It makes me sad that I can't purchase these in my hometown, although I'm sure my butt is thankful for that.

An added bonus: Thai Pizza Candy of Love!

My friend that sent me the box o' snacks also included a giant bag of assorted Asian candy. Most of it is in languages I don't speak well or at all, and some isn't even labeled. However, I'm determined to eventually get through all of it and let you all know the best of the best and the worst of the worst.

Today's choice is entitled Thai Pizza Candy of Love. It's a hard candy with one of my favorite wrappers I've ever seen. There's a stereotypical Italian chef declaring this Pizza Candy of Love in English and (what I can only assume is) Thai. It's mango flavored, as indicated by the wrapper and the ingredients list, which informs me that this contains "natural identical flavor (mango)". I'm not sure what that means, but this little pizza-shaped delight is pretty tasty! It has a sweet flavor that is definitely identifiable as mango. The triangular shape is a little weird on the soft palate as it's rather pointy, but that's my only complaint. I'd be interested to try other flavors of this candy and I'm hoping there's more buried in the candy bag.

Puffs purchased: Pittsburgh, PA
Candy purchased: New York, NY

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Herr's: Heinz Ketchup Flavored Potato Chips

Brand: Herr's
Style: Heinz Ketchup Flavored Potato Chips
Origin: USA
Type: Potato Chips
Flavor: Like garlicky, oniony ketchup
Verdict: Approved!

Anyone who knows me knows my obsession with ketchup chips. They are, hands down, my favorite flavor of chips in the world. As a matter of fact, I once dated a Canadian, who did the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me: brought me 3 bags of each brand of ketchup chips available in the Vancouver metropolitan area. Unfortunately, things didn't work out between us, but I'll never forget that.

My favorite brand ever would have to be the summer Tim's Casacade did a limited edition run of ketchup chips. I think my poop was bright red for three months straight I ate so many bags of them! Second to that would be, as I discovered courtesy of my aforementioned special Canadian friend, the brand that they sell at Zeller's. The name escapes me, but they're completely covered and smothered with that heavenly tangy red powder.

The Herr's rank somewhere in the middle. The flavor is a little weak on the tomato, a litle strong on the onion and garlic, making them almost taste like barbecue instead of ketchup. It's not bad, don't get me wrong, I ate the whole bag in one sitting, but nevertheless, the USA just hasn't quite gotten a handle on the ketchup situation, I fear. I'm a little bummed, because, Heinz, you know? The ketchup experts! Maybe I'll write them an angry letter.

Dear Heinz,

Please make your chips taste more like Canada.

The Snackmaster

Purchased: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Cadbury: Turkish Delight and Cherry Ripe

Brand: Cadbury
Style: Turkish Delight and Cherry Ripe
Origin: Australia
Type: Chocolate
Flavor: Like eating chocolate covered soap
Verdict: Failed

It's always exciting to open my email at work and find something snack-related. Today, I thought I really hit the jackpot! My coworker returned from Australia with a huge bag of weird candy! I snagged a couple different kinds to try, so today you get a two-for-one review! And a lot of exclamation points! Woot!

I love it when things go from bad to worse, so I'm going to start off with the Cherry Ripe. This little guy sounded like it would be the terrible one of the two, but it actually wasn't too bad. The package describes it as, "Ripe juicy cherries and coconut in 'Old Gold' rich dark chocolate." I would describe it as, "Kool-Aid flavored, chocolate-covered blood clot." I tried to take a picture, but my fancy camera's at home and my cameraphone just didn't do it justice. All in all, this actually didn't taste like much other than Kool-Aid, and I can drink that stuff by the gallon, so this is okay by me. If I ever go to Australia, I won't be hunting it down, but I'd rather eat this than Vegemite!

However, if faced with a choice between Vegemite and my other Australian 'treat', the Turkish Delight, I might choose death instead. The Turklish Delight slogan is apparently, "The bar that is different," and I'll have to agree. Different doesn't necessarily equate good in this case, though. This thing tastes like licking the inside of a poorly sanitized bathroom in a train station. In fact, it was so terrible that I only was able to take one bite before throwing the rest away. Trust me, that's quite a feat, because I'll eat just about anything. I've been referred to as a goat on more than one occasion.

In conclusion, from what I've had so far from Australia, their snacks suck. It makes me never want to go there. I propose a challenge to you all (all 2 people that read this, ha ha): Someone send me something Australian and delicious! Please! I have friends there I'd love to visit, but I need to be convinced!

Purchased: Sydney, Australia

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Snyder of Berlin: Cheddar Jalapeno Kettle Cooked Chips

Brand: Snyder of Berlin
Style: Cheddar Jalapeno Kettle Cooked Chips
Origin: USA
Type: Potato Chips
Flavor: A perfect marriage of mild jalapeno and sharp cheddar.
Verdict: Approved, approved, approved!

Upon first glance of these chips, I thought that they were an offshoot of Snyder's of Hannover, a brand we have here on the west coast, but the back of the bag has informed that these are not affiliated with that company. It also informed me that these chips are made with Pennsylvania Pride, and upon eating these, I can say they have definitely been crafted with care. I am all about these chips.

I was a little skeptical at first, seeing as I've only just begun to tread into the world of spicy snacks. Just recently, I got over my fear of jalapenos by trying jalapeno poppers, so I wasn't too nervous about these being too hot. My fears were subsided once the chip hit my tongue. These have just enough kick to feel, but the cheddar mellows it out nicely in the aftertaste, lingering around boldly. The potato taste is strong on these as well, and I almost feel like I'm eating a really crunchy baked potato. This could also be explained by the fact that these are thick-cut kettle chips, which give them more body than their thinner counterparts.

I'll claim Pennsylvania Pride for these delicious, crunchy morsels of MSG-laden heaven any day! Approved!

Purchased: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bachman: Jax Cheese Curls

Brand: Bachman
Style: Jax Cheese Curls
Origin: USA
Type: Cheese snacks
Flavor: Not quite cheesy enough
Verdict: On the fence

I've heard many tales about Jax cheese curls from my pals on the east coast. Finally, upon finding out that I'd never tried these before, a buddy of mine in Pittsburgh sent me a bag, along with a whole truckload of other snacks that will be reviewed on here as I eat them. I'm going to weigh approximately 1700 pounds by the time I get through all of this, but it will be a delicious 1700 pounds, I'm sure!

Now if I were walking the aisle of a grocery store and spotted these, I might not necessarily be drawn to them because they look like every other generic bag of cheese curls, but they claim to be slow baked for a great taste, and that's pretty darn appealing. I was under the impression that cheese curls grew on plants naturally, so the image of them being baked in a firey oven such as the picture suggests was rather shocking to me.

Upon opening the bag, I was hit with the horrendous smell of feet, but that's pretty normal for cheese snacks. I grabbed a couple and popped them in my mouth, hoping to be wowed with their slow-baked goodness, but I was pretty underwhelmed. The taste is about 70% corn, 30% cheese, and I really prefer a 50/50. One cool thing about them though, is that they are all different shapes. Some are a short curl and some are so long they're almost a spiral, giving them almost a 'homemade' feel.

There's not much else to say about these guys. Cheetos are better. Sorry, Jax.

Purchased: Pittsburgh, PA

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Eagle: CrunchFused Peanuts, Buffalo Wing

Brand: Eagle
Style: CrunchFused Peanuts, Buffalo Wing flavor
Origin: USA
Type: Nuts
Flavor: Zesty, not very spicy, not very buffalo-y
Verdict: Approved, but not firmly so

Many good things in life come from Asia, like my Mitsubishi, Ramune, bubble-eyed cartoons, peanut sauce, and hot pots. Another thing that I'm pretty sure originated somewhere in Asia (although this is purely conjecture, as I'm too busy eating snacks to do any real research) in what I've always known as "cracker nuts". Cracker nuts, or as Eagle calls them, 'CrunchFused' nuts, are peanuts with a wheat cracker coating. The odd thing about these Eagle ones, though, is that they say it's, "the crispy crunch of a chip," but I really feel that it's unmistakably a cracker. There were no potatoes harmed in the making of these snacks.

So before I bought these, I perused the ingredients list to ensure no animals were harmed either, and I'm pretty darn sure they're vegan. Ironically, there is something listed as "chicken flavor", but the ingredients after are a lot of chemicals and no chickens. There's also a "buffalo flavor", which includes no buffaloes. To top things off, there's also hot sauce powder, but these aren't particularly hot, and I've got a fairly weak tongue for spice.

The buffalo flavor is more like a mildly spicy barbecue sauce with an undertone of bleu cheese (although they definitely don't contain any cheese...creepy!). It's not that it's bad, it's just not...awesome. When I eat something buffalo wing flavored, I expect my mouth to burn, preferably to the point where it's slightly uncomfortable and I have to stop eating after a few bites. I could easily tear through a bag of these without a second thought, which is unfortunate considering the nutrition label and the ingredients list (hellooooo, MSG!).

All in all, these aren't anything you need to run to the nearest store to find, but if you're hungry and it's this or octopus chips, go for it, man!
Purchased: Safeway, Portland, OR