Kroger’s “puffed corn curls” are perhaps better known as “cheese puffs”, as you can tell from the image on the packaging. And if there’s any one item I’ve had where virtually every brand tastes and looks exactly like the others, it’s cheese puffs. Is the formula so well known that every brand just copies off an existing recipe? Or is it just one company who has a monopoly on the cheese puff market and makes every single private label brand across the nation?
The latest challenger to this concept, Kroger, only further enhances my own beliefs on the subject: these are cheese puffs. The texture is light and airy, which is probably what you’re expecting because so is every other brand. There’s a slight crunch once you bite in, which quickly dissipates once the curl starts melting in your mouth, the way all of them are designed to do. The powdered cheese coating gets all over fingers and mouths, the way it does across the board; it is also almost radioactive orange, which is further evidence that it’s a cheese puff.
It’s really just an all-too-familiar experience, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It transports me back to childhood, eating packed lunches in the cafeteria with my elementary school friends. It’s a distinct flavor that apparently has stayed with me, more or less, over the years; it’s no wonder these remain popular. This is your basic puff, through and through, so if you typically like them, I can’t see you being disappointed with these in the least. If you don’t typically like cheese puffs…well then why are you thinking of grabbing a bag of them in the first place?
The $1.79 asking price isn’t the best in the biz, but it’s also far from the worst, and still quite a bit of savings over purchasing the national brand; we’ll chalk it up as a win. If you’re just looking for a basic cheese puff (and really, are there any other kinds?), then Kroger’s version will suit you well.
Overall: 7/10. A cheese puff is a cheese puff is a cheese puff, and Kroger’s version of the snack whose name I just repeated three times is merely further proof of that. There are no variations in the cheese puff formula: its appearance is exactly what you would expect, and so is the taste, down to a “T”. That being said, it delivers what you would expect, with a soft, airy texture that melts in your mouth; a strong dusting of orange coating that stains your fingers; and a flavor that tastes like some kind of unidentifiable cheese. In other words, it has everything you’re probably wanting if you’re reaching for a bag of these.
NOTE: At some point, I may test my own theory that all cheese puffs taste the same, by doing some kind of taste test among several brands. Until then, I stand by my assumption.