I had never had rice pudding, until I stumbled on a Mexican-themed brand – that roughly translates to “Mr. Ricardo” – at Aldi a few years back. Why, you may be wondering? It probably has a lot to do with the name: while I like pudding, I don’t particularly like rice (except with Chinese food), and so the combination of those two rather disparate things just didn’t sound like a winning blend in my book.
Then my wife bought a container of it from Aldi…and I fell in love. Well, “love” might be a rather strong term here, as it’s not something I can eat all the time (I learned that the hard way), but it’s certainly leapfrogged a few other dessert items to hold a place somewhere in my esteemed list of “Top 100 Desserts I’ve Had”. (To be clear, it would be closer to 100, but it would probably be in there.)
Then I noticed a container of rice pudding at Dollar Tree, under the Margarita’s banner, and even though my brain was telling me to put it down and run away, I gave into the other half of my brain (it’s slightly more of a risk-taker). I mean, there’s just something so janky about that ridiculous font, in red letters, that clearly clash with the rest of the packaging…only in a dollar store would you see packaging so blatantly awful that it’s virtually telling you to stay away
I have to say, peeling back the top wrapper revealed something that put my mind at ease quite a bit: a layer of cinnamon, which is the mark of good supermarket rice pudding (I think…I’ve still only had Senor Rico’s and an Aldi brand, which I’m pretty sure was just Senor Rico in a different disguise).
These containers are rather large, at 8 oz., meaning you get a half-pound of delicious ricey goodness for the price. And who can argue with that? In fact, if anything, I would say this is almost too much of a good thing: as much as I like the stuff, I usually find myself struggling to put away the last couple bites, simply because it’s so creamy and rich that a little bit goes a rather long way. But it’s so good, I just can’t put it down.
I’m pretty sure Senor Rico makes this one, too, because they seem to have a monopoly on rice pudding here in the States: there just don’t seem to be too many suppliers for that here in America. But the container’s the same size as SR products, the packaging type is the same (peel-off foil lid) – and in evidence I would consider to be the kickers – it looks like it (down to the layer of cinnamon on top, which seems to be the same amount contained in SR products) and tastes like it, with a rich creaminess that is so smooth going down.
The only real “drawback” is that, from a value perspective, the price on these isn’t really all that great. In fact, it’s pretty much the MSRP from the name brand rice pudding, and is even $.12 more expensive than Walmart (where, to be fair, they are currently sold out). However, it also tastes like the name brand, unlike many other food products inside Dollar Tree, so I’m not really complaining all that much.
If you like supermarket rice pudding, don’t be afraid to scoop this one up. It won’t really save you any money (and might even cost you a little more, since they never go on sale here), but it’s about as delicious and accurate as a Dollar Tree food item can get, so you certainly won’t be disappointed.
Overall: 8/10. This is your standard pre-packaged, mass-produced rice pudding…which if you’re anything like me, is actually more of a good thing than a complaint, because you pretty much know exactly what you’re getting into. It’s rich, and creamy, and strikes the perfect textural balance between being too thick, or too thin, while the cinnamon topping really adds an added kick to flavor to the experience. It’s basically the same price for the same size cups that you get everywhere else, including the national brand (who I’m pretty sure, for the record, also manufactures many of the nationally-available private label ones), but considering how good it is, that’s more of a moot point.