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Purchased At: Target
Price: $4.49

Before I get on with my actual review, I’d like to apologize for disappearing for almost three months. I had a crazy summer and barely had any time to sit down to eat a meal, let alone take the time to taste anything or write an actual review. But I’m back! I’ve settled into my usual college routine (doing the bare minimum, skipping as many classes as possible, and catching up on TiVoed reruns of “According to Jim”) and should be good to go. Anyway…

Back in the early 90s when I was a youngin’, trips to the mall meant two things: playing on giant plastic breakfast foods set up across from Hudson’s and warm, delicious cinnamon-roasted almonds from a little cart. Now, nearly 20 years later, trips to the mall mean clothes shopping and blowing money I don’t have. The plastic breakfast food playplace is still there, but now I see it as a germ-infested nightmare. And sadly, the almond cart is gone.

These honey cinnamon almonds from Target’s Archer Farms line of food products are the closest thing I can find to those sweet, sweet almonds I remember from so many years ago. They’re sugary and sweet (which is unsurprising, considering 3 of the first 4 ingredients listed are sugar, corn syrup, and honey powder), but not overpoweringly so. The outside is crunchy and brittle and adds a nice texture against the almonds. I definitely taste the honey, but the cinnamon is a little more subtle. For $4.49, you get a 12-ounce jar of these bad boys. I have to pace myself when I eat them because they’re so awesome. If I’m not careful, I’ll eat them all at once.

5/5

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Purchased at: Target
Price: $1.94
According to the box: Enjoy a taste of Italy with this classic dish. Made from only the finest ingredients, our fusilli is topped with a creamy four cheese sauce. Pair with grilled shrimp and a fresh herb salad for a guest-ready dinner. A gourmet meal is only minutes away with Pasta Sides by Archer Farms.

I love pasta, but I’m usually too lazy to cook pasta AND make sauce on my own, so I resort to boxed pasta sides like this quite often. While I was walking around Target the other day, this one caught my eye. The picture on the front of the box looked awesome, and the box proudly boasted using four cheeses, spinach, and sundried tomatoes. What’s not to love?

A lot of things, apparently.

The fusilli pasta cooked very nicely and the sauce clung to the curly noodles. The problem with this? The sauce is bland. The box promises a flavorful cheese sauce made with parmesan, cheddar, gouda, and fontina, but that’s not what I got. The sauce wasn’t thin, but it didn’t taste like much – the only word I can think of to describe it is “watery,” which is strange considering it was pretty thick. There was also a strange aftertaste – the sauce didn’t taste like much, but the aftertaste was similar to American cheese, which is weird, because it’s not even in the sauce. The sundried tomatoes were a nice addition, but that was one of the only redeeming qualities. I also didn’t see (or taste) any spinach anywhere in the dish.

I usually love Archer Farms products, but this one was a swing and a miss for me. I won’t be buying this one again (and I didn’t even bother to finish the leftovers. Those were fed to my garbage disposal.).

Overall rating: */*****