Sunday, July 17, 2016

Pueblo Lindo Rice Pudding (Aldi)

Same as the Senor Rico rice pudding, only with a private label name.
Prior to trying Senor Rico's rice pudding, I had never tried that particular dessert before.  Well, maybe I’ve tried a couple spoonfuls at some point in my life, but it wasn’t enough to have any sort of profound effect on me; when I saw Aldi started carrying it at their stores, I shrugged and went on about my day.  My wife, on the other hand, is a huge fan of just about any kind of pudding (chocolate, rice, bread, etc.), and jumped at the chance to try it.  I will say, it was her extremely positive reaction to taking her first bite that initially piqued my interest; I tried a bite myself, likened the texture to tapioca pudding (ironically, one of the few puddings my wife has never tried) and that was that.

A couple weeks later, after sending her to purchase just a couple things from Aldi, she of course came back with a bag full of extra things that were not requested: chief among them, were several more cups of this rice pudding. At first, I was annoyed; after all, there were several more useful things that our money could have gone toward, besides six cups of dessert.  However, I calmed down because I knew, unlike the vast majority of things my wife buys and then lets sit around for several months, she wouldn’t let these go to waste.  Sure enough, that evening, she cracked one open.  And once again, I asked for a bite…and then another.

Another view of the private label version, which is cut by a full ounce and still retails for the same price as the Senor Rico brand...
Only with this batch something was a little different. It wasn't the flavor, which was pretty much exactly the same as I remember it, but rather the brand name: Pueblo Lindo, which is Aldi's private label brand name for their Mexican line of food products.

Outside of Senor Rico's, which this rips off to a "T", I‘ve never tried another kind of rice pudding, but this one perfectly matches the name brand's texture.  Sure, you get plenty of rice bits, which are kind of weird to me, but the pudding itself has a ridiculously milky creaminess that stops just on the edge of sweetness.  But if you like sweet, like I do, don’t worry, because that comes in the form of a generous sprinkling of cinnamon that sits on the top.  Once you mix that in, this becomes an almost perfect dessert, as the cinnamon adds a much-needed dose of sugar that makes the whole thing absolutely mouthwatering.

I must say that the standard 8 oz. cup is too much for me. At the expense of sounding like a whiner, I must confess that I get sick of it by the time I reach the bottom; the excess I either save for later, or pass on to my wife, who‘s always more than willing to finish it off for me.  But this is definitely a sweet dessert that doesn’t disappoint, and one that I’m highly recommending to just about anyone with a sweet tooth.  And at 89 cents a cup, which seems kind of steep upon first glance, there's really a lot more in here than you think.

The main drawback, is that these used to be carried at Aldi stores under the Senor Rico label, which is a national brand distributed by Lakeview Farms (and based out of my home state of Ohio).  Now, they are carried under the Pueblo Lindo moniker, which is Aldi's new private-label line of authentic Mexican snacks and foods.  Okay, so there's nothing new with the idea of the national brand making a private label version specifically for Aldi--that's the case with a lot of the products in their stores.  What I have difficulty grasping, however, is that these are being offered for exactly the same price ($.89 per cup, up from $.85 earlier in the year) as Senor Rico's was, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.  Why not just keep offering it as Senor Rico if you're not going to be able to lower the price any?  Maybe it's some kind of business agreement, and somewhere down the road we'll see some savings, but as of now, this whole switch from national brand to private label just seems completely pointless.

Another casualty of the change is apparently one whole ounce.  Apparently, Senor Rico cups are 9 oz., while Pueblo Lindo's tip the scales at 8 oz., making it even more questionable that it's being offered for the same price as Senor Rico, even while being shorn of an ounce.  What's here is good, don't get me wrong, but it almost has the curious feeling of a bait-and-switch tactic, coming from a company that usually presents itself as being more open and honest than others. And that might be the biggest disappointment of all.

Overall: 8/10.  In terms of the product itself, this is closer to a 10, but recently, Aldi started offering this under the Pueblo Lindo brand name, its private label umbrella for authentic Mexican products.  It replaced the same product available under the Senor Rico moniker, which was also available in Walmart stores nationwide.  Yet during the switch to Pueblo Lindo, the cup size was dropped from 9 oz. to 8 oz., and yet the price remains the same ($.89), making the switch seem doubly-bizarre.  Outside of that, though, this is a fantastic treat.  Unlike American puddings, or, to be more specific, popular American puddings, this isn’t really sweet at all on its own, with a taste that I can only best describe as “milky”.  But for those that are looking for some extra sweetness, it comes in the form of a generous sprinkling of cinnamon that sits at the top-- simply mix it in for a perfectly-balanced taste that quickly becomes addicting!  Aldi's bait-and-switch tactic, odd and uncharacteristic as it is, only slightly detracts from my overall enjoyment of it...these are absolutely fantastic, and a delicious treat I like to have on hand more often than not.

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