Thursday, August 20, 2020

Benton's Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies (Aldi)

Okay cookies, but the cute packaging gets high marks.
Well, it looks like it’s time to raid our three-year-old’s snack stash again! I’m usually pretty fair, waiting at least a couple weeks and targeting snacks that he has clearly forgotten about before stooping this low; this time, I targeted these right after grocery day. Hey, that's one of the perks of being a parent!

I don’t usually care about packaging all that much, but I have to give some solid props to whoever designed the artwork on the box for these (along with the “alphabet cookies”, which are part of the same "line"): they stand out. The sea green-ish base color is eye-catching, and really pulls our eyes toward the product; I’m so used to certain styles of packaging and branding that it’s just gotten to the point that I’ve become accustomed to tuning almost everything out. This, though, almost forces me to look at it every time I walk by it, whether or not I want or need it.

Anyway, pleasantries aside, let’s crack open the package, shall we?

I was hoping these were going to be more on the chewy side…instead, they’re like the name brand pirate-themed cookies (“Ahoy, mateys!”) that are crunchy instead. I guess I should have known this based on the appearance of the cookies on the front of the packaging, which look very much like the name brand in question; admittedly, I just kind of saw what they were and grabbed a pack without much premeditation. One question though: who in the world likes crunchy cookies? Apparently the answer is millions, because these kinds of things seem to sell well, but I personally know not one single person who prefers crunchy cookies over soft ones, which is kind of disappointing right off the bat.

Anyhow, these look just like a typical cookie, with chocolate chips jutting out from the basic cookie base. Just like the national brand that I’m assuming these are a knockoff of, these are very messy, with little cookie crumbs falling all over the place the moment you open the package, clinging to full-sized pieces, and a little pile of them lying in wait in the bottom of the bag, sprinkling the table and floor at the slightest tip. These are issues that virtually fix themselves in soft cookies, giving you one less thing to worry about, but what do I know?

The taste, once again, is just like the national brand, with a pretty good cookie foundation that reminds me of shortbread, but definitely doesn’t taste like it. Instead, it’s a sweet flavor all its own that you’ll immediately be familiar with if you’ve had the “Ahoy!” cookies in the past. Meanwhile, the chocolate chips peek through, offering up an additional dose of sugary sweetness on top of the cookie itself. Also, even though they are crunchy cookies, they are at least pretty “soft” in that the pieces crumble away easily when you’re chewing; they aren’t hard like burnt cookies that threaten to break your teeth every time you take a bite.

Thankfully, the flavor is there to make up (somewhat) for the crunchy texture of the cookie. Now we’ve got just one thing left to look at: value. How does this stack up against the competition? The answer: fairly well. A 12-count box of these cookies goes for $3.15 in my area; a similar product at Walmart goes for $2.98. So while it might not be the cost leader overall, we’re talking a difference of less than a quarter here, which is forgivable. (The national brand, meanwhile, is pushing close to $5 for the same thing, so either one is still a good deal versus that.)

Overall: 5.5/10. I know it’s part of the national brand’s “image”, or whatever, but these would be loads better if they were chewy, instead of crunchy. Still, the shortbread-style foundation blends well with the chocolate chip cookies to form a pretty decent combination that should be familiar to many who grew up with the “Ahoy!” brand of cookie. Value is also pretty good, with a 12-count box (each individual pack is 1 oz.) going for $3.15, which is about $1.50 less than the national brand. They’re nothing special and, like the brand they're emulating, they aren't a great cookie, but they can fill a small craving for sweets, and are perfectly packaged to take with you on the go (or, as their packaging suggests, for kids). If we end up getting them for our son again, I’d steal another pack or two, but they aren’t so good that I’d never need to buy a box for myself for any reason.

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