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!