Monday, June 24, 2019

Southern Grove Sweet and Spicy Cajun Trail Mix (Aldi)

Overly salty, but otherwise pretty close to perfect.

Aldi seems to have an ever-growing collection of trail mixes, ensuring that they have you covered no matter what mood you’re in. On the sweet side, they have the Indulgent variant, which is far and away my favorite trail mix of all time. It’s a ridiculously sweet blend of almonds, chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, cranberries, and more…clearly not for everyone (like those on a diet), but as a sweet treat that’s almost kind of semi-healthy, it fits the bill quite nicely.

On the opposite end of the flavor spectrum, is Southern Grove’s Sweet and Spicy Cajun Trail Mix, which is far and away my favorite of their savory offerings. This one packs in peanuts, hot Cajun corn sticks, toasted corn, and almonds, all smothered in an intensely salty and moderately spicy seasoning. Counterbalancing this heat (and sodium burn) are butter toffee peanuts, and honey roasted sesame sticks, which provide welcome blasts of sweetness that (temporarily) override the overdose of salt.

The balance between the two, at least as far as flavor is concerned, is nearly perfect, not to mention addicting—once I grab one handful, I have a very hard time stopping. In fact, this is probably one of my favorite between-meal snacks, in that it’s “filling” enough to temporarily curb my appetite and hold me over until the next meal.

The biggest drawback, however, is the obvious one: the salt. It’s to be expected, because salt has always tended to be the main flavor in most trail mixes. You could even take that one step further and say it’s even more necessary here, to give the “sweet” more of something to counter. That being said, it’s way saltier than it needs to be, with a whopping 10% of the recommended daily sodium value per 1/3 cup serving size. Considering there are a whopping 26 servings in here, it’s pretty easy to eat more than that at once (I’ve been known to polish off whole bags in a little over a week, meaning on average I’m at least doubling the serving size each time).

And it’s the kind of salt overload you can feel: “sodium burn” kicks in relatively quickly, typically (for me, anyway) after a couple of modest handfuls. Yes, part of that is the spiciness, but there’s also the lingering feeling from intense salt intake that only gets stronger and stronger the closer to the bottom of the bag you get, where a huge gathering of the salt-based seasoning settles.

Also, do not eat this any time you plan on interacting with others, unless you have some toothpaste or gum handy, because this also wrecks your breath. My wife refuses to get near me after I’ve had some, because she says the taste lingers there for a long while (apparently, it doesn't taste as good secondhand as it does direct from the bag). That’s typical of spicy foods in general, but still, having to plan consumption around the potential for social situations can be a bit of a drag.

Despite those qualms--which are fairly standard for this type of product, but no less disappointing--this is still a terrific trail mix, and at $4.89 per 27 oz. package, the value proposition is just as good, if not better than, the product itself.

Overall: 8/10. It’s overly salty, and the spiciness might prevent you from getting laid if you eat within, like, 6 hours of getting close to someone, but other than those expected issues, this is a great trail mix. The sweet aspects do a great job of counterbalancing the salty, making the flavor combination rather addictive. The $4.89 price tag seems expensive at first, until you realize you're getting nearly two pounds (27 oz.) of sweet and salty goodness: I generally keep a bag at work and munch off and on throughout the work week, and tend to get around 2 weeks out of it. (If you actually have enough willpower to follow the serving size, and only eat one serving per day, you can stretch it out to 26 days.) Aldi has a great selection of trail mixes, but this one is my go-to when I'm craving one more on the savory side.

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