Sunday, March 10, 2019

Main Street Kitchen White Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon (Dollar Tree)


Appealing packaging on a frozen product at a Dollar Tree store? I'll bite...
It’s sad, but all you need for a product to stand out at Dollar Tree is to have packaging that doesn’t look like it was designed by a fifth grader, and a brand name that doesn’t sound like it's the result of a translation error: enter this White Cheddar Mac and Cheese and Bacon combo from the bland-but-at-least-American sounding Main Street Kitchen. 

My first impression hit me immediately as I saw the otherwise-appealing packaging: Why do companies always feel the need to put bacon in their macaroni and cheese products? I would have been more excited for just a white cheddar mac and cheese, and you would think that would be even cheaper to make. They must have had some leftover bacon at the factory and just decided to throw it in.

The cheese sauce is pretty thin and watery, though that could have been because I didn’t let it sit in the microwave for very long after cooking (I was at work, and in a hurry). The bacon bits (which, according to the packaging, are actually real pieces of bacon, with smoke flavor added) look about as sad as you’d expect in a frozen meal, though they are larger chunks than I was expecting, in line with the size that's promised on the packaging. 

Am I in a hospital cafeteria?
Tastewise…it’s about what you would expect from a frozen meal from a supermarket—and that’s honestly not meant as a negative. I’ve had far worse from Dollar Tree’s frozen section, so for these to taste like you got them from somewhere other than Dollar Tree is at least mildly high praise. The thin sauce is a small notch above “bland” on the taste scale, conforming perfectly to what a mass market cheese product “should” taste like: perfectly balanced between “boring” and “bold” to safely appeal to the masses. It’s not at all spicy, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your preference (and some heat might actually do it a little good by giving it a slightly more “complex” flavor profile). The bacon, which is actually closer to the texture of ham, adds some weird chewiness to the soft texture, but you really can taste the added smoke flavor, so at least it serves a slight purpose besides throwing everything off. I still would rather it be left out altogether, but we can’t always get what we want. In short, it's edible...what more could you possibly want?

Of course, we’re looking at a lot of sodium (40% of your recommended daily intake) and cholesterol (12%), which is standard for this kind of meal, and probably expected. There is a lot of protein in these, however (something they push in their advertisements for the product), so at least there's a decent amount of something good!

A quick internet search reveals a potential reason why it’s a notch above typical Dollar Tree fare: It’s made by Kraft-Heinz, a company who certainly knows how to water down taste for mass consumption. I initially thought this line was specifically made for Dollar Tree stores—after all, the company's sales are slumping, so trying to enter a “lower end” market to help build up sales wouldn't be an unheard-of business tactic--but a quick search of the internet reveals that doesn't seem to be the case, as they are carried at other grocers. I'm not sure if they are just available here as a “closeout”, or if Dollar Tree will just be carrying them oin addition to other grocery store chains (something we've seen out of Michelina's and Banquet products) so I guess only time will tell. In the meantime, if you want to try them, err on the side of caution and get there now before they are possibly gone for good!

Overall: 5.5/10. It's nothing to write home about, but at least it's not offensive! The watery white cheddar sauce lacks any complexity whatsoever, with a main-line taste that gives off no heat, nor strong flavor, whatsoever. The bacon bits, which are larger than I expected, have a soft, chewy texture that's more akin to ham than bacon; at least you can taste the smoky flavor, which gives off about the closest thing to “flavor complexity” in the whole dish. However, there are worse ways to spend $1 on food: the 9 oz. size is filling enough for small or unhungry folk, and a good “snack size” for most others, and there's a good amount of protein inside. I doubt I'll ever grab one again, but I'm not mad for trying it.

2 comments:

  1. Just tried the creamy rigatoni with chicken and broccoli, I have to give it a similar review lol lots of noodles, a fair amount of a thin, mediocre sauce, a fair amount of "chicken" for added protein and 2, yes 2 broccoli florets. Which I was ok with, because usually in frozen dishes like this you find a handful of broccoli stumps, which I cannot stand! 5/5 as well, not the worst way to spend a buck and it was a decent size for a quick work lunch! Love your blog!

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    1. Thank you very much! I always enjoy hearing kind words, especially since I don't promote it much (hate being "that guy" that's always begging his friends, family, and followers for views, so I don't, haha). Nice to know that people are still finding it, no matter what they think of it...but no doubt it's much better when people do like it!

      And thanks so much for stopping by!

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