Van de Kamp Crispy Haddock Filets Review

Van de Kamp Crispy Haddock Filets Review

Van de Kamp Crispy Haddock Filets Review

"TV dinners" (frozen, pre-cooked, heat and eat meals) have been around for more than 70 years.  In all that time, very few manufacturers seems to have mastered having fried food emerge from the oven or microwave with any semblance of "crispiness."  Why is that? Van de Kamp's brand has been around since 1915 and started as a potato chip stand on the streets of Los Angeles.  Today it's own by ConAgra, and is one of the largest producers of frozen seafood in the country.  No doubt you have had many ConAgra products in your kitchen at one time or another.  Their diverse portfolio includes Slim Jims, Hunts, Duncan Hines, Redi-Whip, Vlasic, Birds Eye, Orville Redenbacher and many more. Couple months back I reviewed Young's brand frozen fish and chips, and I was quite happy with it.  You can read my review here.  I was looking for Young's the day I purchased the Van de Kamp product, but in retropsect the only place I have seen it is WalMart and I wasn't about to make a special trip.  Young's has nailed the crispiness factor and the fries are pretty good as well. Van de Kamp's is an adequate substitute.  While not as crispy as Young's, it's pretty good, and the fish is flaky with good flavor.  Some of the breading does come up when removing it from the pan. Incidentally, if you're a new reader, any frozen product that gives you the option of conventional oven heating or microwave, my reviews will always be based on conventional oven results. Call me old-fashioned. Anyway, I have VdK filets left over, think I'll go grab a couple!“TV dinners” (frozen, pre-cooked, heat and eat meals) have been around for more than 70 years.  In all that time, very few manufacturers seems to have mastered having fried food emerge from the oven or microwave with any semblance of “crispiness.”  Why is that?

Van de Kamp’s brand has been around since 1915 and started as a potato chip stand on the streets of Los Angeles.  Today it’s own by ConAgra, and is one of the largest producers of frozen seafood in the country.  No doubt you have had many ConAgra products in your kitchen at one time or another.  Their diverse portfolio includes Slim Jims, Hunts, Duncan Hines, Redi-Whip, Vlasic, Birds Eye, Orville Redenbacher and many more.

Couple months back I reviewed Young’s brand frozen fish and chips, and I was quite happy with it.  You can read my review here.  I was looking for Young’s the day I purchased the Van de Kamp product, but in retropsect the only place I have seen it is WalMart and I wasn’t about to make a special trip.  Young’s has nailed the crispiness factor and the fries are pretty good as well.

Van de Kamp’s is an adequate substitute.  While not as crispy as Young’s, it’s pretty good, and the fish is flaky with good flavor.  Some of the breading does come up when removing it from the pan.

Incidentally, if you’re a new reader, any frozen product that gives you the option of conventional oven heating or microwave, my reviews will always be based on conventional oven results. Call me old-fashioned.

Anyway, I have VdK filets left over, think I’ll go grab a couple!

"TV dinners" (frozen, pre-cooked, heat and eat meals) have been around for more than 70 years.  In all that time, very few manufacturers seems to have mastered having fried food emerge from the oven or microwave with any semblance of "crispiness."  Why is that? Van de Kamp's brand has been around since 1915 and started as a potato chip stand on the streets of Los Angeles.  Today it's own by ConAgra, and is one of the largest producers of frozen seafood in the country.  No doubt you have had many ConAgra products in your kitchen at one time or another.  Their diverse portfolio includes Slim Jims, Hunts, Duncan Hines, Redi-Whip, Vlasic, Birds Eye, Orville Redenbacher and many more. Couple months back I reviewed Young's brand frozen fish and chips, and I was quite happy with it.  You can read my review here.  I was looking for Young's the day I purchased the Van de Kamp product, but in retropsect the only place I have seen it is WalMart and I wasn't about to make a special trip.  Young's has nailed the crispiness factor and the fries are pretty good as well. Van de Kamp's is an adequate substitute.  While not as crispy as Young's, it's pretty good, and the fish is flaky with good flavor.  Some of the breading does come up when removing it from the pan. Incidentally, if you're a new reader, any frozen product that gives you the option of conventional oven heating or microwave, my reviews will always be based on conventional oven results. Call me old-fashioned. Anyway, I have VdK filets left over, think I'll go grab a couple!

Out of box frozen

"TV dinners" (frozen, pre-cooked, heat and eat meals) have been around for more than 70 years.  In all that time, very few manufacturers seems to have mastered having fried food emerge from the oven or microwave with any semblance of "crispiness."  Why is that? Van de Kamp's brand has been around since 1915 and started as a potato chip stand on the streets of Los Angeles.  Today it's own by ConAgra, and is one of the largest producers of frozen seafood in the country.  No doubt you have had many ConAgra products in your kitchen at one time or another.  Their diverse portfolio includes Slim Jims, Hunts, Duncan Hines, Redi-Whip, Vlasic, Birds Eye, Orville Redenbacher and many more. Couple months back I reviewed Young's brand frozen fish and chips, and I was quite happy with it.  You can read my review here.  I was looking for Young's the day I purchased the Van de Kamp product, but in retropsect the only place I have seen it is WalMart and I wasn't about to make a special trip.  Young's has nailed the crispiness factor and the fries are pretty good as well. Van de Kamp's is an adequate substitute.  While not as crispy as Young's, it's pretty good, and the fish is flaky with good flavor.  Some of the breading does come up when removing it from the pan. Incidentally, if you're a new reader, any frozen product that gives you the option of conventional oven heating or microwave, my reviews will always be based on conventional oven results. Call me old-fashioned. Anyway, I have VdK filets left over, think I'll go grab a couple!

After baking 

"TV dinners" (frozen, pre-cooked, heat and eat meals) have been around for more than 70 years.  In all that time, very few manufacturers seems to have mastered having fried food emerge from the oven or microwave with any semblance of "crispiness."  Why is that? Van de Kamp's brand has been around since 1915 and started as a potato chip stand on the streets of Los Angeles.  Today it's own by ConAgra, and is one of the largest producers of frozen seafood in the country.  No doubt you have had many ConAgra products in your kitchen at one time or another.  Their diverse portfolio includes Slim Jims, Hunts, Duncan Hines, Redi-Whip, Vlasic, Birds Eye, Orville Redenbacher and many more. Couple months back I reviewed Young's brand frozen fish and chips, and I was quite happy with it.  You can read my review here.  I was looking for Young's the day I purchased the Van de Kamp product, but in retropsect the only place I have seen it is WalMart and I wasn't about to make a special trip.  Young's has nailed the crispiness factor and the fries are pretty good as well. Van de Kamp's is an adequate substitute.  While not as crispy as Young's, it's pretty good, and the fish is flaky with good flavor.  Some of the breading does come up when removing it from the pan. Incidentally, if you're a new reader, any frozen product that gives you the option of conventional oven heating or microwave, my reviews will always be based on conventional oven results. Call me old-fashioned. Anyway, I have VdK filets left over, think I'll go grab a couple!

Cross-section

 

“TV dinners” (frozen, pre-cooked, heat and eat meals) have been around for more than 70 years.  In all that time, very few manufacturers seems to have mastered having fried food emerge from the oven or microwave with any semblance of “crispiness.”  Why is that?

Van de Kamp’s brand has been around since 1915 and started as a potato chip stand on the streets of Los Angeles.  Today it’s own by ConAgra, and is one of the largest producers of frozen seafood in the country.  No doubt you have had many ConAgra products in your kitchen at one time or another.  Their diverse portfolio includes Slim Jims, Hunts, Duncan Hines, Redi-Whip, Vlasic, Birds Eye, Orville Redenbacher and many more.

Couple months back I reviewed Young’s brand frozen fish and chips, and I was quite happy with it.  You can read my review here.  I was looking for Young’s the day I purchased the Van de Kamp product, but in retropsect the only place I have seen it is WalMart and I wasn’t about to make a special trip.  Young’s has nailed the crispiness factor and the fries are pretty good as well.

Van de Kamp’s is an adequate substitute.  While not as crispy as Young’s, it’s pretty good, and the fish is flaky with good flavor.  Some of the breading does come up when removing it from the pan.

Incidentally, if you’re a new reader, any frozen product that gives you the option of conventional oven heating or microwave, my reviews will always be based on conventional oven results. Call me old-fashioned.

Anyway, I have VdK filets left over, think I’ll go grab a couple!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Van de Kamp Crispy Haddock Filets Review

Van de Kamp Crispy Haddock Filets Review

 

Johnsonville Italian Meatballs Review

Johnsonville Italian Meatballs Review

 

Johnsonville Italian Meatballs Review

Johnsonville Italian Meatballs ReviewMy Johnsonville Italian Meatballs Review – they are pre-cooked and run about $6 for 28.  That’s very competitive pricing.

They are pretty flavorful for a mass-market product.  Maybe Johnsonville could come up with a “sweet” and “hot” version like Italian sausage?  I heated them in my own sauce and served over pasta.  They are a finer grind and denser than ones I make at home.  (Recipe).

Ingredients are straightforwards,  pork, water, bread crumbs (bleached wheat flour, yeast, sugar, salt) and less than 2% of all those usual things that we have no idea what they are. Usually, mostly salt derivatives.   Happy there are no “corn syrup solids” in these guys.

This product is not in a resealable bag if that’s a consideration for your purchasing power.

Johnsonville’s balls come in a variety of styles in addition to Classic Italian, you’ll find “Homestyle,” and “Cheese Italian Style.”

You can quickly bring the balls to serving temp on the stovetop, oven, or microwave, in most cases, less than twenty minutes, shorter if thawed.

These are manufactured for Johnsonville by a Chicago based value-added protein processor OSI Industries, one of the largest privately held companies in the United States.   They boast 65 facilities and over 20,000 employees in 18 countries. They started in 1909 founded by Otto Kolschowsky as a family-owned meat market and butcher shop in the Chicago area as Otto & Sons, USA.  In 1955, they were named the first fresh beef supplier to McDonalds. They are also one of the co-manufacturers for Impossible Foods plant-based protein items.

To find a local outlet that stocks Johnsonville balls, use the company’s product locator.

I’d buy them again.

Inside the ball

Johnsonville Italian Meatballs Review

 

 

 

 

 

Johnsonville Italian Meatballs Review

Johnsonville Italian Meatballs Review

 

My Johnsonville Italian Meatballs Review – they are pre-cooked and run about $6 for 28.  That’s very competitive pricing.

They are pretty flavorful for a mass-market product.  Maybe Johnsonville could come up with a “sweet” and “hot” version like Italian sausage?  I heated them in my own sauce and served over pasta.  They are a finer grind and denser than ones I make at home.  (Recipe).

Ingredients are straightforwards,  pork, water, bread crumbs (bleached wheat flour, yeast, sugar, salt) and less than 2% of all those usual things that we have no idea what they are. Usually, mostly salt derivatives.   Happy there are no “corn syrup solids” in these guys.

This product is not in a resealable bag if that’s a consideration for your purchasing power.

Johnsonville’s balls come in a variety of styles in addition to Classic Italian, you’ll find “Homestyle,” and “Cheese Italian Style.”

You can quickly bring the balls to serving temp on the stovetop, oven, or microwave, in most cases, less than twenty minutes, shorter if thawed.

To find a local outlet that stocks the balls, use the company’s product locator.

Inside the ball

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

Gino’s East is a downtown Chicago restaurant that specializes in one of the versions of “Chicago Deep Dish.”  They opened just off the Ginos East Frozen Pizza Reviewmagnificent mile in 1966.  They subscribe to the version that is “crust, cheese, toppings, sauce.”

Other versions  in the same segment are more focused on the amount of cheese, and can be labeled either “Deep Dish” or “Stuffed.”

Gino’s has opened other outlets around Chicagoland and out of state with mixed results.  They have, however, been very successful in capturing a sizeable portion of the frozen pizza market, both in the deep dish and thin crust categories. (Crack thin crust, square-cut pizza, often called “Tavern style” is also very popular in the Chicago area.

One aspect Gino’s is noted for is the “sausage patty” deep dish.  Instead of bits of sausage as a topping, there is a solid patty of sausage which stretches crust to crust.  Their sausage is very gently seasoned.

They use a quality cheese, with good stretch, and their tomato sauce leans towards slightly sweet and chunky.  Crust is flaky, both top and bottom.  The frozen pie weights two pounds, and I paid $5.99 for it this week.  It’s usually a bit higher.

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

Festive Foods Plant

I’ve probably purchased these 4-5 times, and candidly, I’ve never had what I would call a 100% success rate with them. I can’t get them to bake evenly. They’re in the oven for 45  minutes plus, but invariably I end up with hot/cold territories, even if I spin in during cooking.

Don’t know why.

Gino’s are made by a company called “Festive Foods” (pictured) a contract manufacturer in Waupaca, WI, a town in the north-central part of the state.

If you never get to Chicago and can’t find the pies in your local grocer, you can get a five pack shipped to you, for about $25 a pie, including shipping.  That’s about the same price you’d pay at the restaurant, not including beers, tax, and tip.

 

 

 

 

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

Ginos East Frozen Pizza Review

 

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review

 

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review. “Fish and chips” was the ‘national dish’ of England for 100 + years, starting in the mid-1800s.  It was really one of the first examples of “fusion cuisine” as both of the components were brought to the country by immigrants.  At the peak of the dishe’s popularity, there were reportedly over 35,000 fish and chips shops in the UK.

Cod and haddock were the usual fish utilized, with a semi-thick breading, and deep fried.  “Chips” (French fries) were thicker, heartier cuts of potatoes that in the U.S.

Another tradition for the industry was the take-out food was wrapped in newspapers.

I lived in London in the 1990s, and by then fish and chips shops were few and far between. “Curry” had replaced the swimmers as England’s favorite take-out food.  I had to actually hunt for fish and chips to sample.

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review

Cooked product.

Young’s Seafood has been around for over 200 years.  They were initially known for “potted shrimp” and later became the innovators to bring frozen scallops and shrimp to the public.

Young’s is England’s largest specialist seafood brand, capturing nearly 20% of the $1.4 billion fish and chips market.  Their frozen line includes a variety of different types of servings of cod and haddock.

I purchased the single serving product, which included one filet of cod and a handful of fries.  It suggested baking at 450 for 22 minutes, and I did exactly that.

I was more than pleased, and it exceeded my expectations.  The fish breading was crisp, the flesh firm and flavorful.  The fries were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.  They were not pre-seasoned, which is nice.

I would buy this product again, in the larger quantity bag, to have on hand.  It’s one of the very few selections I have had in this segment that I regard as “swell.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Youngs Frozen Fish and Chips Review

 

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

Thorntons BaconAddict ™ Colossal Cheeseburger Review

I’ve written A LOT about gas station sandwiches, burgers, pizza.  Often times, they are made by the same companies, like Big Az, which is part of AdvancePierre, which is now owned by Tyson.

Today’s purchase, the “BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger” was picked up at Thornton’s, a Midwest-centric gas station/c-store chain.  While Thornton’s has their own roller grill and other heat and eat foods, they also stock some of there refrigerated items.

While there is no USDA establishment number on this package (odd), I believe it is made by AdvancePierre, based on finding similar named and appearing products in my heavy  “research” for this piece.  This burger was made on April 9, and has an expiration date of 4/23. Whew, room to spare.

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

Frozen patty with bacon, cheese

Weight is 9.3 oz.  In addition to no USDA number, there are also NO INSTRUCTIONS for heating, so I punted based on my past experiences.  I also disassembled it prior to heating. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up with a frozen spot in the bun or meat and other areas scalding. You’d think they could fix that.

The burger uses the “circular bacon” which is commonly found on these types of items.  BTW, on the first link above, it’ll take you to a page of my other review but also a VIDEO on how gas station sandwiches are made.

So I went 90 seconds on the meat, 30 seconds on the bun (separated) and it seemed to work out.  Added mustard and pickles.  If you had a ready supply of the usual burger vegetables, you certainly wouldn’t be able to distinguish this from McD or BK, other than this bun is a bit higher in quality.

The patty has good texture and the same artificially induced “flame-broiled” taste as BK, which I suspect comes from Liquid Smoke.  Or, if you remember the old Hardee’s jingle, it’s “Char-cooooo broilllllled!” (You don’t? So YouTube it).

So? Satisfactory.  Retail cost $2.99.  Wholesale cost, (according to a distributor’s price list)  $2.94 each, 10 cents off if you buy six, larger discounts if by the pallet. Uh huh.

If you’re jammed for time or location, this one will do.

 

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

Thorntons BaconAddict Colossal Cheeseburger Review

Buona Beef Meatballs Review

Buona Beef Meatballs Review

Buona Beef Meatballs Review

Buona Beef Meatballs ReviewBuona Beef is a local Chicago restaurant chain, started about thirty years ago. They have been on an expansion tear recently, and it seems like they are popping up on a regular basis. As well, they have a few of their products in the grocery stores now. The chain specializes in “Chicago foods,” Italian beef sandwiches, hot dogs, pizza, subs. I’ve previously written about having the beef sandwich in one of their restaurants, as well as having the same product from the grocer. Quality stuff.

They own their own manufacturing facility, where they not only make their products but also do private label business. Not sure if that’s for restaurants or groceries.

I spotted their meatballs in sauce, recently, and picked up a package to take home. It was around $7. The packages are hard frozen, so it’s best (IMHO) to let them thaw completely in the refrigerator before heating (they are pre-cooked).

The package weight is two pounds, and contains eight fairly good-sized meatballs and the marinara sauce. I did not weight the individual balls.

What’s in the Package?

Their own description of the product is: Authentic hand-rolled meatballs, seasoned with garlic, parsley, and Italian spices in a rich Marinara.

The ingredients listed on the package are thus: Marinara with Meatballs (Marinara Sauce {Fresh Vine-Ripened California Tomatoes, Sugar, Sea Salt, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sunflower Oil, Modified Food Starch, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Spices, Natural Flavor, Naturally Derived Citric Acid], Meatballs [Beef, Pork, Water, Romano Cheese (Cultured Cow’s Milk, Enzymes, Salt), Textured Soy Flour, Bread Crumbs (Bleached Wheat Flour, Salt, Dextrose, Yeast), Seasoning (Salt, Dried Garlic, Spice, Dried Parsley, Brown Sugar, Cottonseed Oil, Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate, Citric Acid, BHA, BHT), Ricotta Cheese (Whey, Milk, Cream, Vinegar, Salt, Stabilizers), Caramel Color]).

I was quite happy with the meatballs, they have the density, texture that I like, and great flavor. The sauce is good, but leans towards a little too much “sweet” for my personal taste, for red gravy I’m more in the heavy garlic/fennel camp.

My only real “beef” is I yearn for — say — a 24 pack of balls with no sauce. I’d be a regular. More than regular. I see their fresh (not frozen) Italian sausage in stores, as well. Haven’t tried it, but will. I go through a lot of Italian sausage in my kitchen, both link and bulk ground.

If you can’t find their products in your grocer, some of them are available for shipping on their website.

I previously reviewed one of their local restaurants.

 

 

Buona Beef Meatballs Review
Buona Beef Meatballs Review

 

Devanco Gyro Sandwich Kit Review

Devanco Gyro Kit Review

Devanco Gyro Sandwich Kit Review

As ubiquitous in Chicago as hot dogs or pizza, the gyro (however you choose to pronounce it, ”yero’, ‘jy-ro’, ‘geer-o’) is a sandwich of Greek origin consisting of vertically spit-roasted meat, cucumber sauce, onion, and tomato on a split or folded pita.

The name comes from the Greek word which means “turn” – a description of the meat roasting on the revolving vertical spit. The meat is thin sliced and placed into the folded pita with the condiments. The documented history of the sandwich dates back to the 19th century.

Chicago’s Devanco Foods is one of several large suppliers of gyro sandwich fixings; they supply to both restaurants and package in retail for purchase by consumers at groceries. The kits are “heat and eat” affairs, weighing in at one and a quarter pounds, and priced in the $6-7 range, for the smaller kit.

What’s Inside

The company makes two sizes of these kits. Contents in the smaller one include three pitas, 6 ounces of tzatziki (cucumber) sauce, and 8 ounces of gyro meat, which is beef, lamb, breadcrumbs, flavoring, and spices.  The kit is supposed to make three sandwiches, which comes out to about two bucks each, considerably less than restaurant pricing. Consumers may add tomatoes and onions to their sandwich, which they must supply from their home pantry.

The product is sold frozen (hard) and can be thawed overnight in the refrigerator. Or not. Further instructions allow for heating the thawed product in the microwave or in a skillet on a stovetop. The box further directs consumers to place ‘about’ 5 slices of meat in each sandwich. ( went with four), but was overly generous with the sauce.

Devanco Gyro Sandwich Kit Review

Assembled, prior to folding

Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, I wasn’t aware of gyros until the advent of adulthood, and later, when work took me to the Middle East, the variations became a favorite. The sandwiches were also quite plentiful when I lived in Paris, in the 10th, as our neighbors were primarily Turkish and there were a lot of shawarma/gyro shops in the neighborhood.

In addition to gyro fixings, Devanco makes other Chicago favorites, including Ditka’s Italian Beef (review), Italian Sausage, Barbecued Beef, frozen burgers from Chicago’s famous Billy Goat Tavern, and various types of Giardiniera, a pickled vegetable mix Chicagoans enjoy on hot dogs and other sandwiches.

As always, I went with stovetop prep, believing “slow and low” the key to success in the kitchen, most of the time.  I did add tomatoes and onions to my pita, which are not included.

Will you notice much of a difference between these heat and eat versions and ones you’d purchase at a shop?  Not really.  One exception would be at a shop you can ask for ‘crispy’ bits of meat, and some shops add lettuce, which I eschew on any sandwich. Devanco’s meat is tasty, they include an ample amount of cucumber sauce, and their pitas are about as good as any anywhere. Funny, near my old house in Portland there are some hummus shops, and the one that specializes in hummus has the worst pita and chips I’ve ever consumed anywhere.

Would I buy the kit again?  Absolutely!  Tasty food, great value.

Devanco Gyro Sandwich Kit Review

Included ingredients

 

Devanco Gyro Sandwich Kit Review

Devanco’s Suburban Chicago Factory

 

 

 

 

 

Devanco Gyro Sandwich Kit Review

Devanco Gyro Sandwich Kit Review

 

Lloyds Barbecue Company Review

Lloyd's Barbecue Company Review

 

Lloyds Barbecue Company Review

Lloyds Barbecue products are part of the line of Austin, MN based Hormel Foods.  I can’t say whether they started it organically or acquired it, just haven’t found that info.  The product is made and distributed out of a modern facility across the Missississippi River from the Minneapolis St Paul airport.

Lloyds Barbecue Company ReviewThey produce three different types of shredded meat in sauce – pork, beef, and chicken; and six different styles of a full slab of ribs in two different sauces, original and “Kansas City, Style.”

The product line can be found in the refrigerated section of your grocery, usually near the deli or alongside other “heat and eat” products, for both of these products are fully-cooked, and need only heating, with instructions included for your choice of heat source, microwave, stovetop, or grill.

I tried the shredded pork and the original ribs and found really no fault with either one, despite not being the world’s biggest barbecue fan.

The ribs come fully sauced, some people would probably prefer that the sauce was included but set aside so they could apply as desired.  The pulled pork is also sauced, and very finely shredded, more so than you would find in most barbecue restaurants, I suspect, or how you would prepare it at home.  The taste is fine. Again, probably pre-sauced is not the best idea.

The ribs required an hour in the oven, wrapped in foil.  The pork I did in a saucepan on the stovetop, which is really overkill, you could just pop the entire container in the microwave and it would be just fine.

The ribs were served with a side of Ore-Ida Crispy Crowns, per the diner’s request.  I piled the pork atop an “Everything Ciabatta” roll from Trader Joe’s, topped with Wal-Mart original coleslaw.  Martin’s Potato Rolls would have been a better choice than the ciabatta.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lloyds Barbecue Company Review

Lloyds Barbecue Company Review

American Made General Store Review Pocahontas, AR

American Made General Store Review

American Made General Store Review Pocahontas, AR

American Made General Store Review Tooling around the underbelly of Arkansas the other week, I was heading north on US 67, which runs from the Mexican border to the Quad Cities, in IA/IL. Pocahontas was indeed named after the Native American of renown, and not after any current political candidate.

The town sits 90 miles west of I-55 and the parallel stretch of the Mississippi River. 15 miles north of Walnut Ridge (stop there and ask about the Beatles), I did on a previous trip. It’s 35 minutes northwest of Jonesboro.

Seems a local veteran had a dream to create a store that sold only American made goods and merchandise, and he did a bang up job, opening on July 4, 2018.

While you won’t see billboards for hundreds of miles ahead of time, like Wall Drug in South Dakota, this store could easily become a destination, leading to other development in this burg. With money and marketing.  I did see at least one board, somewhere on the highway south of the city.

To a locavore crazed person like me, this store was a wonderland.  Not only are all of the products (everything you could imagine you wanted and then some) – there are a great many from the local surrounding area.  Dry goods, home canned goods, meat, baked goods, clothing, tools, decor items,old timey candies, stuff for the house, yard,  and more.  I could have spent hours here, if I had hours to spend.

Visit their website, their Facebook page, but most importantly, put it on your bucket list. In the meantime, shop the store online.

Clean restrooms.

They weren’t busy when i stopped by.  Had a nice chat with the main dude. About his Seeburg Jukebox.  1956 vintage he said.  I have a 1952.

American Made General Store Review Pocahontas Arkansas
American Made General Store Review Pocahontas Arkansas

Champion Frozen Pizza Review

 

Champion Frozen Pizza Review

Champion Frozen Pizza ReviewChampion Pizza is a frozen pizza line started in 1981 in the microdot town of Hebron (Illinois, not Palestine).

Like many frozen pizzas in the Upper Midwest, they got their start supplying to restaurants and bars before landing shelf space in regional grocery stores. They also supply products for charitable fund raisers.

About their product, they say “We pride ourselves on using only the freshest ingredients that include our own hand made pizza sauce, freshly grated
mozzarella cheese and fresh raw italian sausage, not a precooked nugget.”

You can look in the window of their “factory” – the times I have, there has only been one person making pies. They boast about making nine different varieties in two sizes.

Surprisingly, you can’t buy the pizzas direct, but you can pick some up at the gas station at the end of the block, underneath the towns sole blinking red light.

The gas station is directly across the street from the Dari, local fast food establishment (reviewed), and across the other street from “Beaners” Mexican restaurant. (Hey, I just report, you decide).

Champion Frozen Pizza Review

Packaging. Cello wrapped on cardboard

Champion is in the “value pricing segment” of frozen pizzas, clocking in at around $5 for their large, single topping pie.

The crust is cracker thin, but never quite gets to cracker crispness, except for the edges. Not sure why. Even experimented with more time than the instructions stated.

The cheese person must have been out the day my pie was made.

It’s quality cheese but doesn’t run out to the edges, and unwrapping this pie, the paper stuck to the top, and some of the cheese was a little melted, so this baby must have thawed somewhere along the line and then was refrozen.

The hand pulled chunks are good. Good flavor, good texture. Smattering of herbs.

Will I add this to my go-to list of frozen pizzas. Nah. But good for them that a small operation can make a go in a segment where two global players have about a 90% share of the market, right?

And locals seem to like it a lot.

Champion Frozen Pizza Review

Out of the package

 

Champion Frozen Pizza Review

14 mins at 425

 

 

 

Champion Frozen Pizza Review Champion Frozen Pizza Review

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