Gourmet Select Party Mix (Big Lots)

A terribly small stock image of Gourmet Select Party Mix, from Big Lots
Ladies and gentlemen, how not to design your packaging: Exhibit A.

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you how not to design your packaging, and exhibit A is the set-up for Gourmet Select's Party Mix, which just looks so cheap and uninviting that my first instinct was to run far away from it. The only thing that calmed me down and assured me things might be okay was the price tag ($1 for a 6 oz. bag, which isn't bad at all), and the knowledge that I'd tried a couple Gourmet Select products in the past, and they were actually pretty good. Besides, how can you really screw up a party mix?

This proves that you really can't, although it tries its damndest: there is just WAY too much salt. Like, an ungodly amount. I understand that a lot of party mixes are loaded with sodium, but when it becomes the only thing you can taste, then there's a big problem. This is a big shame, because all of the individual pieces themselves, from the corn and wheat cereal bits, to the rye chips (my favorites!) taste nearly identical to the national brand. It's just that it's all so overwhelmed by the saltiness that it makes it really hard to enjoy.

The other big drawback: 1 gram of trans fat. I don't think most people would even think to check the label for “the worst of all fats” on a snack mix, because it just doesn't seem like a product that would have any; a national brand of snack mix also has the one gram of trans fat, which I happened to notice a while ago, so that's the only reason I tend to check when I pick up a bag. I thought the rye chips were the culprit, but there are also other brands of snack mix that still have rye chips, but no trans fats (like Clancy's Party Mix, available at Aldi stores), so it must just be a matter of how the different brands are processed.

Getting this package for a dollar is pretty solid deal...or is it? I'll admit that I didn't research things, as I sometimes do, before purchasing because I was pretty sure that I had found a good value. But it's not quite the cat I thought I had in the bag. This package is 6 oz. for one dollar. Clancy's Party Mix, which tastes much better and closer to the national brand, in my opinion, retails for around $2.89 per 15 oz. package. Add it up, and yes, technically Big Lots is delivering you an extra 3 oz. of snack mix for just $3. Are those savings really worth it considering that Aldi's is much better? To me, not at all.

In the end, this is a snack mix that just doesn't deliver. Will I finish off the whole bag? Absolutely. I really enjoy having salty snacks once in a while, and while this contains way too much of it, the upside is that it will force me to stop before I've had too much. But now for the real question: Once this bag is gone, will I ever get another one? Unless I happen to have an incredibly strong craving for snack mix while shopping at a Big Lots store, that answer is a resounding no.

Overall: 4.5/10. I want to give it a higher score, because it's not THAT bad on its own, but when everything comes together, it's pretty below-average. To get the positives out of the way, all the individual pieces (cereal bits, rye bread, “breadstick” thingies) all taste nearly identical to every other brand, and are made up of the same pieces that you've come to know and love. Unfortunately, there's so much seasoning in each bag that salt becomes the main flavor in every handful; I like salty snacks, and realize all snack mixes are loaded with it, but this just takes that idea way too far. There's also not much in the way of value: at first glance, $1 for a 6 oz. bag might seem like a winner, but considering Aldi's is $2.89 for a 15 oz. bag, yet tastes infinitely better, getting an extra 3 oz. for roughly the same price doesn't seem like such a big win, after all. I wouldn't be against getting it again—that is to say, if I ever found myself in a situation where I had to have snack mix and this was the only one available—but I would never intentionally seek it out. It's edible, but nothing of note in any regard.


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