Baker's Corner Hush Puppy Mix (Aldi)

A stock image of the Baker's Corner Hush Puppy Mix box
There's enough batter in here for a lot of tasty hush puppies, if that's your kind of thing.

Hush puppies, in my opinion, are pretty dumb. They’re like an underground side dish…offered in enough places that you’ll eventually run into them and be reminded of their existence, but offered in so few that it might be months, maybe even years, before you do. My main qualm with them is that, even when prepared properly, they are completely boring, and there doesn’t seem to be many ways to dress them up (besides dipping them in sauces). This is why I go out of my way to avoid them, whenever possible.

However, one of the great things about being married, is that you will often find your partner frequently has tastes that go completely in the opposite direction of yours. Because of this, as well as the rule that married couples must constantly be in a state of “compromise”, common courtesy suggests that you will probably find yourself eating, or at least supporting the purchase of, things that you wouldn’t normally put within twenty feet of your mouth. So of course my wife, who is a huge hush puppy fan (I truthfully didn’t know such a person existed) just had to purchase a box of this from Aldi after stumbling across them (I was hoping she didn’t notice).

Seeing as how a box retails for just 99 cents, I wasn’t going to turn her down--if I did, I knew she would just end up finding something else she wanted that was twice as expensive. So I did what any loving husband would do, and tossed them into the shopping cart. At the very least, I figured, they would make a decent side dish, and I absolutely have to have a side dish with pretty much every meal (I get bored of being stuck with the same tastes over and over again, and side dishes help to break up the potential monotony of relying on a single flavor.)

For the price, I was honestly surprised at just how much batter is included. Preparation was pretty simple, too: just crack open the batter powder, add egg and water, wait until it fluffs up, form the fluffed batter into balls, and fry them in oil. That’s pretty much it. By the end, we had a whole plateful of puppies, which wasn’t bad at all given the mere 99 cent investment (plus the cost of an egg, and canola oil) that was required.

Now let’s take a look at the flavor: As a reiteration, these things are far from my favorite things in the world, but that’s mostly because all the ones I’ve had have been bland, grainy, and pretty straightforward. There’s something a little extra here in Chef Cupboard’s mix, however, with the addition of parsley, garlic, and onion, which certainly give it a flavor that’s different from any other one I’ve ever had. This certainly isn’t to say that I’m crazy about them (honestly, I could take them or leave them), and I still dipped them in ranch to give them a little extra boost of flavor, but these are the best hush puppies I can recall eating, which has to account for something. Granted, I find the flavor to be pretty dull compared to other, more popular side dishes, but as far as hush puppies go, these are pretty darn good.

They’re also not very greasy (unlike those found at certain “seafood” fast food restaurants), which is another plus. The texture was still pretty grainy, though, and even though the added spices and herbs were noticeable, they were still fairly weak, so don't go in expecting a taste explosion of any kind. For what it’s worth my wife absolutely loved these, so if you’re one of the 2% of the world’s population that remembers hush puppies exist more than two days out of the year, then odds are good that you will really enjoy these.

Overall: 7/10. I’m not a huge fan of hush puppies, and I don’t have a huge sample pool to compare these to, but the mix here from Baker's Corner makes the best that I've ever had. Now, that's still not saying a whole lot--I haven't tried many different kinds, and hush puppies would still be somewhere around my 367th choice as a side dish for any given meal--but these were a lot better than I was expecting out of a boxed batter. The texture is the same graininess you’ve come to expect, but there’s actually some flavor, courtesy of some garlic, onion, and parsley that manages to shine through. An even bigger achievement is the price: for 99 cents you get a ton of batter, so much so that the wife and I had enough hush puppies for two nights’ worth of side dishes. I would give these a 6, but my wife, who is a big fan of all hush puppies and does have a much greater point of comparison than I, gave them an 8, thus the compromised overall score.