Kroger The Wild Side Animal Cookies (Kroger)

Opened package of Kroger The Wild Side Animal Cookies
Bonus points for actually calling these "cookies" instead of "crackers". 

I'm not a huge fan of animal crackers and I haven't been since I was a kid. I mean, I guess I ate them, but I always found them to be pretty dry, and while not completely flavorless, certainly without an inspiring flavor. Flash forward to my grown-up years, and nothing has really changed. A lot of people I know (my wife, for one) love Aldi’s version, but I find them to be way too lemony, so I never get them for myself.

I don't even know how I ended up with this box of Kroger animal crackers, all I know is it sat in the pantry for 3 months untouched before I finally decided to tear into it to see what these were all about. (That’s another joy of having a kid: Grandparents giving them all sorts of goodies that sit around and get forgotten about…there’s never a shortage of snacks and sweets around!)

One thing I just have to mention that’s actually refreshing: Kroger labels these as “Animal Cookies.” How the hell did the “crackers” designation ever become a thing? They are nothing at all like crackers; the only thing that does is potentially confuse young kids about the difference between a “cracker” and a “cookie”. They are not crackers at all by any definition, just as tomatoes are clearly vegetables. Sometimes you just have to throw out the rules and go with some common sense. (Want to argue? Put a goddamned tomato in a fruit salad and tell me how that goes.)

A terrifying image of a cracked out animal on the Kroger Animal Cookies packaging
Hope you want a side of nightmares with your cookies...

First off, we're treated to some adorable shapes including an elephant, a horse, and some animal with creepy eyes that looks like it's on crack. We're also treated to a “clever” joke on the back that should appeal to children the way all jokes on mass-produced products tend to; as in, they’ll roll their eyes, giggle for a second, and then immediately forget about it. The cookies seem to be the typical size of most brands, maybe a tad bit larger, but the texturing makes them look a little less bland than the flat, boring plains of other varieties.

Oh yeah…these are much better than Aldi's version for people like me who are off-put by the strong lemon taste. This is more akin to a basic animal cracker, but with a pleasant sweet flavor (it reminds me of brown sugar somewhat) that makes it a little more enjoyable than most others. It goes down sweet and pretty smooth for an animal cracker, and somehow avoids being the completely boring, predictable experience that I was expecting. In fact, I would go so far as to say these are better than the national brand, because these have more taste. 

They’re still not my favorite snack, but Kroger has served up an above-average version of a beloved classic here.

Overall: 6.5/10. One requirement of an animal cookie seems to be that it has to taste relatively boring. Kroger’s version does too, but it manages to pack in a lightly sweet taste that reminds me of brown sugar, and that helps it to stand out from other brands. There’s also some eye-appealing texture in the cookies themselves that make them look better than other brands (although I’m not too sure about the cracked out animal). They’re still not my favorite snack, but these are an above-average example of what they should taste like. Oh, and bonus points for calling them “animal cookies” on the packaging, considering they are nothing at all like crackers. Who started that fallacy?