Friday, October 25, 2013

Specially Selected Strawberry Cheesecake Dessert Cheese Bites (Aldi)

They aren't lying...these things do kinda bite.
I’m still not really sure what to make out of these things.  When we purchased them, we expected a bite of strawberry cheesecake rolled up in crushed graham cracker bits, which sounded delicious.  Instead, it’s a bite that almost resembles cheesecake, but at its peak another flavor interferes that tastes just like…butter.  Sure enough, “butter cheese” is second only to “cream cheese” on the ingredients list, which definitely makes some sense.

As I admit I’m not really into cheeses, a quick internet search has revealed that “butter cheese” is a slight variation of a cheese known as “butterkase” (which translates, literally, to “butter cheese“), a soft cheese generally made in Germany and Austria.  The American version is often made by the Amish, and is prevalent in the Midwest, namely Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana.  It gets its name because, even though it contains no butter, it tastes very similarly to the dairy product.  Hmm…fascinating.  Since Aldi is a German company, I’m assuming it probably uses the “butterkase” variety, though I guess it would also make sense if they used an American supplier for their U.S. stores.

Wherever the cheese comes from, it seems to be the overwhelming flavor in this dessert, to the point that it’s very hard to detect a taste of strawberry at all (though you can smell it somewhere in there).  While the inside is rich and creamy, the graham cracker pieces the “cheesecake” is rolled in have a similar consistency to Rice Krispies that have been left to sit out for a day…that is to say, they are very soggy.  The main problem with this is the graham cracker adds so little to the overall flavor that their off-putting texture becomes more of a hindrance than a help.

If you are a huge fan of cheeses, you may enjoy this product a lot more than me (although I will say that my wife is a pretty big fan, and hated these way more than I did).  Or you may appreciate them more if you understand what you’re getting--and as the problem for us was, what you‘re not--as we just picked these up spur-of-the-moment expecting a delectably-sweet cheesecake treat.  As the title suggests, the focal point is the cheese, rather than the “cake”, so while there’s definitely some sweetness in the bite, it probably won’t be enough to satisfy a full-on sweet tooth. 

Overall: 5/10.  As the title suggests, this is cheese as a dessert, so don’t go in expecting something that‘s going to satisfy a craving for something really sweet.  You can pick out the taste of cheesecake, but there’s an even stronger taste of butter that ends up overpowering this small bite, while the strawberry is nowhere to be found.  Might be worth a shot if you are in the mood for something different, but not recommended if you’re in the mood for something that strongly resembles actual cheesecake.

Clancy's Wavy Potato Chips (Aldi)

A stock photo of Clancy's Wavy Potato Chips.
Can we talk about the price of potato chips for a second?  I don’t know how something made largely of potatoes, something I can buy in multi-pound bags for under $5, can be so damn expensive.  Adding insult to injury are the bags, which seem to just be puffed full of air to give the illusion that you are getting more than you are actually getting.

Enter Clancy’s Wavy Potato Chips from Aldi, which are just what they sound like.  The chips have a satisfactory crunch, a delicious potato flavor, and consist of only three ingredients: potatoes, sunflower oil, and salt.  But best of all?  They’ll only set you back $1.29 for a 10.5 oz. bag.  You usually can’t even find name brand chips for that price on sale!

There is one drawback, though it’s one that seems to effect most chips:  They are pretty darn salty.  You may not notice it if you just pop a few in your mouth as a snack, but the more you eat, the more the taste becomes apparent.  I’m kind of surprised they don’t offer these in a lower-sodium version, as I feel cutting back on the sodium would not only lead to a healthier snack, but also a tastier one.

You can believe what you want about “private labels”, and discount grocers like Aldi, and their inferiority in product quality compared to similar products found in supermarkets, and I definitely agree that there are some national brands that are so good, they cannot be touched.  However with that comes brands, and products, that are marked-up simply because the public purchases them for inflated prices without problem.  Potato chips are one of those categories, and places like Aldi prove you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg just to get a satisfying snack.

Overall: 8/10.  These chips deliver in spades in value and flavor, proving you don’t have to pay inflated prices for some dried, salted potatoes in an over inflated bag, as a 10.5 oz. package is only $1.29.  However, these chips are still pretty salty, something that becomes more and more evident as the snacking session goes on.  They are excellent for dipping, especially in Aldi’s own ranch dip, which I previously reviewed.  If these were to be offered in a reduced-sodium version, I honestly feel this would be pretty close to the perfect chip.