First, a friendly warning: I am not affiliated with Grocery Outlet in any fashion. Do not act as if I am a Grocery Outlet representative. Okay that was easy.
Grocery Outlet is the place you go to buy strange groceries from places you've never been or even from large supermarket chains in your distant home state that have travelled thousands of miles to expire on a pallet right in front of you and your stupid cart.
This place is like a slot machine, most of the time, depending on how you treat it. If you have your standard brands that you buy every time you go, that's good for you. But what I like to do is sample from the "random weirdo" column, stuff that shows up sporadically, some times only once. A mysterious pallet shows up, people swarm it, it's gone forever.
Lately, though, Grocery Outlet seems to be solidifying their inventory ... there are less random products now. Perhaps it's a cycle. I am not a grocery logistician. Sometimes I walk in, do my rounds, walk out. Sometimes I buy a dollar's worth of something. Sometimes a certain iced coffee is available at 50c a pop and I am wheeling out a cart full of cheap delicious caffeinated beverages while taking some baseline heart readings to prepare for the month ahead.
Let's look at the products now. C'mon! [FX: motions you to products]
Goldfish Colors [2018jul; 34c 2oz]
It is Goldfish crackers. I like Goldfish crackers. It's exactly the right size as well. I want all snacks to come in 2oz portions. [FX: exponentially increased packaging demand collapses capitalism] [FX: bows]
Sir Bananas(R) Monkey Mates(tm) Lowfat Milk with Real Bananas [2018jul; 50c 8oz]
The desire for a lively banana-based milk is strong. I'm not really sure what that should taste like. I have had several varieties of banana milk. This one is pretty good, it has that natural banana taste so it automatically leaps to the front of the bananamilk pack. It's a Tetrapak(R) with the standard two-stage semi-useless straw; I just pour everything into a mug after I remember to. 22g of sugar, way too high.
The Good Bean Cheesy Nacho Bean Chips with Sweet Potato & Quinoa [2018jul; 99c]
These are pretty good bean chips. Bean tortilla chips have their own structural identity that is very close to an actual tortilla chip. Still not sure what quinoa is, honestly, same with my spellchecker.
Nature's Bakery Peach Apricot Fig Bar [2018jul; 59c 28g x2]
The varieties I've had of this fig bar are very good -- reg'lar, lemon, blueberry, apple cinnamon, strawberry etc ... unfortunately there's only one Grocery Outlet I rarely go to that actually sells single servings, the rest sell ten packs only. I don't buy desserts in bulk. It is a bad idea. "Know thyself," as the famous statue bust once said. The brownie double chocolate is ridiculously rich w/flavor. Fuck the pomegranate one, though. Fuck it.
Marca El Pato Salsa De Jalapeno [2018apr; 50c].
Hello my friend. This royal duck sauce is important because each can tastes a little different. I like that. This is my standard salsa. I have purchased many, many cans. I get no complaints from the bridge club. We talk about bridges.
Secret Squirrel Premium Sweet Vietnamese Cold Brew Coffee [2018jun; $1.42ish]
Okay, I don't know what is Vietnamese or Secretese or Squirrelese about this coffee. It tastes like Regularese non-Squirrel/Secret coffee. Yes okay it's a reference to the poor 1960s cartoon everyone has forgotten about already ... or maybe even the founders have no idea there's a cartoon called "Secret Squirrel," who cares (helpful Wikipedia page: "Some people call him the James Bond of the rodent world" wait ... Paul Frees was Morocco Mole? TO THE UNNAMED VIDEO CLIP WEBSITE SEARCHMOBILE). In a 2010 Lilith Fair interview, international recording artist SIA said "I like the idea of being the 'secret squirrel.'" I think everyone has forgotten about Secret Squirrel. That's not such a bad thing. There are winners and losers in the pop culture collective memory race. Star Wars? Archaeologists will be picking officially Star Wars-branded hair trimming nanobots off the bodies of dead royalty in the year 3179. Secret Squirrel? "What, that was a show? No, that's just an expression. You know, like how squirrels are so fucking secret. Hiding nuts, dynamite, what-have-you."
I buy a rando brand of coffee from Grossout once every two months or so (unless Gevalia Flavored Iced Coffee tiny tetra-paks show up at 50c/ea, then it's "load up the cart" time which is how I learned that a good daily caffeine dose is 220mg) so you shouldn't read this review at all. Usually there's some sort of me-energy emergency that happens almost immediately afterward buying coffee and hey look who's got coffee. I'm not a coffee expert, I'm not going to be talking about bean sourcing or milk scolding or whatever. It's coffee. I avoid coffees that have sugar as the second ingredient (usually) and this one is "whole milk (RBST-free), filtered water, organic coffee, condensed milk (milk, sugar)." Points for RBST-free. Sugar is still a bit high for a tiny 12oz bottle at 16g. Nice packaging, but unfortunately Secret Squirrel was infected with the Point-Of-Sale Personality Virus: they've trademarked "Power Your Passion" (REGISTERED trademark) which is followed by blathering: "A COFFEE UNIQUE AS YOU. OUR CREAMY (creamy?) VIETNAMESE COFFEE HAS A DISTINCT STYLE ONLY SECOND TO YOURS. IT'S POWER FOR YOUR PASSION." I am creamier, I'm glad they acknowledged that. Oh it's not done. "WARNING: THIS DRINK MAY CAUSE YOU TO BREAK THE RULES -- AND WRITE YOUR OWN." Immediately after imbibing this squirreldrink, I disbanded capitalism and gave everyone their lives back. [FX: bows] Just like it said on the package. But CREAMIER. (Pure Steeps Beverage LLC Anaheim (ANAHEIM.) California) squirrelbrew.com. PASSION-POWERED RULE-BREAKING UPDATE: I also bought some of the "Chicory Coffee" flavor ("NEW ORLEANS STYLE") in November -- the price had gone up to just over two bucks and the size had gone down to 8oz. I liked the Vietnamese one better.
Starbucks Salted Caramel Mocha [2018jul; $2.10 14oz]
I went back to Grossout to get another cute li'l bottle of Secret Squirrel two weeks later and they didn't have any but they did have some more heavily-sugared Starbucks products for two bucks. The problem with Starbucks is that it's not not Starbucks, but I'm also excited to feed this new, erratic coffee-based desire of mine. This didn't taste anything like "salted caramel." I'd talk about mocha notes but I don't think I'm qualified yet. Don't listen to me. Don't listen to me. I am, however, qualified to say 38g of sugar for a 14-ounce bottle is fucking nuts. Lately I've been missing red flags like that, because I'm going off the board and into new territories. But you have to take the good with the buttocks cleaved in twain if you want ADVENTURE [FX: ADVENTURE!]!
Starbucks Frappuccino Chilled Coffee Drink [2018jul; $2.10 13.7oz]
I don't think you can make a valid claim to be "chilled" if you're sitting on a shelf at room temperature and the instructions read "Chill, shake, serve."
"SERVED ON THE MOON!"I was first introduced to the Frappuccino brand while doing construction work in Arizona in 2004. One of the bosses would buy a bunch for the crew every few days or so, wind us up and watch us go. Then I never had it again for the most part, except during road trips when I didn't want to drive into a wall and happened to have a gift card from well-meaning co-workers back when people worked (seriously, why is all the street parking full all of the time now everywhere does everyone own four cars each). It is not coffee; it is a candy drink that is coincidentally lightly dusted with specks of coffee. FORTY SIX GRAMS OF SUGAR. Candydrink.
"Instructions: Go to moon. Serve."
Helados Mexico Paleta De Crema [2018jul; $1.00]
The Helados brand is strong and worthy. I usually get the Cookies & Cream, because they never have the right coconut one. There are two coconuts. "Coconut Water Fruit Paleta" and "Coconut Cream Paleta." I get the former, just two ingredients I think.
General Mills Girl Scout Thin Mint Cereal [2018aug; $1.50].
I watched the price on this go down, down, down. The box was so big. The sugars ... only 9g, and then the price hit $1.50. Okay. This cereal was now official my "assistant cereal," the sidekick to the usual hemp-based cereal I get at Trader Joe's. The power went out so I had an excuse to eat this for dinner. I opened the bag and it smelled EXACTLY like thin mints. But the taste was not there. Expiration date December 2018. There's 1% mint taste, and this middling/weak chocolate taste. After my first bite I just looked out into the hellscape my immediate community had turned into without electricity and thought: "what an amazing thing that could have been, a cereal that tasted like thin mints. Instead: this." Maybe that's what's missing from the world. A high-end chocolate cereal. Or maybe it can't be done. UPDATE: Now (November) it's selling for $1.00 a box.
According to the General Mills twitter feed: "The Vitamin D3 is sourced from lanolin, which is from sheep's wool." Hurrrrrghhhhhhhh
Koia Vanilla Bean Plant Powered Protein Drink [2018aug; $1.49 12oz].
I am a fan of futuredrinks, though I am not sure how healthy they are for me. I don't mean they're deleterious, I mean I have a sneaking suspicion most of them do nothing for you ... just flow in, flow out. This bottle is 12oz with "only 4g sugar" and, as usual, is overly-chatty/chummy. "SHAKE IT you gotta shake it like you mean it." It contains brown rice, peas, hemp, almonds, nutmeg, vanilla, etc. The taste is strange, but somewhat interesting. Sort of like Vruit. Anyone remember Vruit? Vegetable-fruit drink. Completely odd. "Wow, that was an avoidable experience." [FX: next time shopping] "Gotta get that nasty Vruit." [FX: a month passes] Now it's $2.49. That's odd. $1.50 is my experimental drink price ceiling.
Outsiders Pizza Company Something Something BBQ Recipe Pulled Pork + Bacon Bullshit Detroit-Style Pizza [2018sep; $3.99].
I kind of knew that the frozen Detroit-style pizza product wasn't going to get close to being a Detroit-style pizza but I wasn't expecting it to also fail at being a pizza. Grocery Outlet offered the Pulled Pork variety, I had the three-cheese variety purchased at your local US second-largest department store retailer. Do I need to explain Detroit-style pizza? I don't have the time, here's a link to Detroit-style pizza. I have had Detroit-style Pizza from many, many places many, many times. Turns out a cardboard liner and frozen ingredients don't bridge the gap. The half that was leftover the next day tasted more interesting because it was more like a strange thick pudding. "Huh, ain't that a fucky." Like a broken-down car surprising you a week later by being something closer to a boat. Not what I wanted either day. They also claim to make a Milwaukee-style pizza. They are located in Ohio. Outsiders.
Sorbabes Gourmet Sorbet Coffee Almond Sorbet with Espresso Bark [2018sep; $0.33]
These are tiny little containers of sorbet and they are thirty-three cents each. You can't even buy a candy bar now for less than a dollar. I liked it, and also again thirty-three cents. It even has a little plastic spoon attached to the underside of the lid. These are nice people and I will invite them to the next garden party I host unless they turn out to be a division of a petroleum conglomerate or some such. I didn't even make an obvious "sore babes" joke, my therapist will be pleased at my progress. "You are empathizing with these theoretical babes, this hacky grammatical construct derived from an intentional misreading ... I'm so proud of you."
Rise Nitro Cold Brew Coffee (Black) [2018sep; $1.49]
Guh? Just really coffee coffee with this screamy undertone that I do not like, but I don't like coffee coffee in general. I have mentioned it before. It's like dark chocolate v. milk chocolate. My palate is a general underachiever. "COULD DO BETTER"