FRESH FINDS DIPPABLE TORTILLAS
|Not even the right goddamned brand, but the chips look similar. I'm just about over this photo shit.|
I went to both Dollar Tree and Aldi one day, and completely forgot to buy chips at both of them. This wouldn’t be much of an issue, had my wife not made (literally) three pounds of pineapple salsa the night before; if you’ve never had fresh pineapple salsa, then you have not lived a complete life.
Not wanting to make the five minute trek back to Aldi, nor the roughly ten minute journey back to Dollar Tree, I instead opted to take a three-minute drive to Big Lots, figuring they would have some form of tortilla chips. I had only two rules, laid on me by my picky wife: No yellow corn chips (fine by me, as I don’t like them, either), and no round chips (also fair enough, as I tend to equate those with cheap gas station food anyway). I was really hoping Big Lots would have another option, as I was not going to make a trip anywhere else.
After scanning the chip aisle for a few seconds, I started to get nervous, as I had not seen a single bag of tortilla chips. Of course, there was the usual collection of misguided chips, and failed experiments, but nothing so straightforward and plain as a tortilla. Then, right in the middle, I spotted the small section of tortillas. My options were either a small bag of round tortilla chips, for a dollar, or a larger bag of “dippable” tortilla chips, with the large crater in the middle to hold a generous helping of whatever you‘re going to dip them into. Since that was the only kind that met my wife’s stringent criteria, I “scooped” up a bag of Fresh Finds Dippable Tortilla Chips, Fresh Finds being, as far as I can tell, Big Lots’ own house brand.
I’ve been pretty impressed with the small handful of Fresh Finds items I’ve tried before, but these chips have to be their best product yet. They’re surprisingly light and crunchy, with a corn flavor that’s not too strong, but not too light, either. Even more importantly, they’re not doused in a heavy helping of salt, something that tends to happen with many bargain brands. Because of this, the chips actually fed off the salsa surprisingly well, by allowing the sweetness of the pineapple to really shine, only throwing in a little bit of sodium to create the perfect counterbalance. My wife also enjoyed them, to the point that we declared these to be our new go-to tortilla chip. If that doesn’t say it all, well then I don’t know what will.
Overall: 8/10. Fresh Finds products are Big Lots house brand, and the handful that I’ve had have all been at least good. But these are the best of the bunch: They are surprisingly light, yet crunchy, and don’t compromise the taste of your favorite dips or salsas with an overabundance of salt, like some brands have. And for the standard Fresh Finds chip price of $1.90, it’s light on the wallet, too. Give them a try!
HARVEST ROAD FLAMIN' BAKED CRUNCHY CURLS
|Can't find the actual fucking photo of these anywhere. Similar product, only redder.|
When it comes to private label foods, Big Lots is only a couple notches above Dollar Tree for me--that is to say, I don’t have a lot of confidence when picking up a food item from a brand I’ve never heard of before. But a man’s gotta eat, and when I saw Harvest Road’s Flamin’ Baked Crunchy Curls for $1.50, I jumped at the chance to give them a shot, even though in the back of my mind, I knew that I was potentially purchasing a bag full of failure.
Well products like these are the reason why I try to go in with an open mind, instead of judging a book by its cover: These are pretty much exactly the national brand, for a fraction of the cost. Now, I might be missing some slight differences in taste, namely because my mouth goes numb a few pieces in (I love hot foods, but I do not have the mouth for it), but right before I lose all feeling in my tongue, I do get a strong dose of cheese flavor. In fact, to me it’s virtually indistinguishable from the national brand, so it gets heavy marks for flavor.
The one problem I have with this, and many other similar products, is that the packaging is so weak that it easily falls apart. This lead the first bag I bought to go stale within three days, simply because I didn’t realize the bag had torn so far down from me just eating a few pieces. Even Aldi’s version of this product did the same thing to me. Would it really increase the costs that much to have decent packaging? For a product that’s mainly corn, one of the cheapest and most-used ingredients in the world, I doubt the cost of the stuff in the bag even approaches $.50, so I’d like to think a couple extra pennies could be used to solidify the packaging.
Other than that, though, I was heavily surprised by the quality of this product, at least in terms of being compared to the national brand. I can’t say for sure if this is something that Big Lots will carry all the time going forward (I’ve never seen them before), so if you see these in your local store, and enjoy the national brand, then you can definitely satisfy your craving while simultaneously saving a buck or two.
Overall: 8.5/10. I’m really astonished at how “accurate” the flavor is, when compared to the national brand. There’s a heavy dose of cheesiness, and the exact same amount of heat, which always causes my mouth to go numb just a few pieces in. Even its appearance is pretty much exact, with cheese curls heavily coated in the daunting red powder. At $1.50 per bag, there’s also a decent amount of savings over the name-brand stuff, so it’s definitely worth your while to grab a bag. I’m not sure if this is a product Big Lots carries all the time, or if it’s part of their rotating selection of closeouts, so I’d recommend getting to your local store quick!