…exemplary specimen of proChristination.
I have shit to do. Instead I’m gonna do this.
Warned, you have been. To wit:
A friend posted this on the Facebook today. My response: Stop judging my lunch!
And it was no lie, nor exaggeration. I had indeed had Mac & Cheese for lunch that day. A box of it. Keep in mind, while I may lose points for my seven year old’s palate in your mind, I require bonus points for making lunch at 10 AM while on a conference call and then using my actual lunch at 1 PM to exercise and shower.
Juke the system, did I.
Also, this was all in the name of “research”, too, since the Silver Fox had sent me an article a few weeks prior ranking the top 10 store bought boxed Macs and Cheeses.
Obviously, I needed to sample the brands that had never crossed my razor-thin white-ass lips.
Especially since one of them was crowned #1! I felt I had a moral obligation to fulfill and don’t understand how you could possibly see that any other way.
I’m not going to waste your time airing out the scoring system and this particular food writer’s bonafides. But I will tell you that they were both extensive and his Mac and Cheese pedigree rivaled my own – although he never mentioned any enhancements like my very own ripped off from my mother White Trasherole.
Imagine how stupid my dumb face looked when I read that the #1 title went to…belly-drumroll, please…Walmart’s Private Label!
And their boxed Mac was only $.34/box!
I spent the week after I read this trying to happen into the vicinity of a Walmart to drop $10 on this experiment. Mind you, before college, I’d never been into a Walmart. And then I think I only went in once. Turns out there’s better things to do in Manhattan than go to a Walmart.
Even if the Manhattan in question lies in Kansas. I’m not counting the two-on-one gay bashing I got in that Manhattan as better. More of a draw.
After that, I wasn’t in another Walmart until 2006. Which would be two decades, depending on how you count the years between 1987 and 2006. I count that as 20.
And believe me, that 2006 occurrence was under duress and orders from my then-boss, a very barely hinged person named Susie. And she may have spelled that one of the crazy ways with a Zed versus the normally accepted basic version.
After that, I wasn’t in a Walmart until…2012 or 13. I wasn’t pleased with the trajectory my Walmart visit’s half-life was taking. But that visit was in a bumpkin-town outside of St Louis booze emergency situation while Rib and I were at his sister’s wedding,
I’m not saying we accidentally started the whole People of Walmart thing, but I will say that I’d never heard of it until after my wedding reception rant about the experience later that same day.
Are you going to call that a coincidence?!?
So I was back in the decade-plus club for time elapsed – lapsed? Phil will tell me! – between visits and was for the first time in my life willingly looking for a Walmart. That’s not a brag, but it’s certainly humbling.
I just had to know!
I mean, this guy had the credentials, but that’s never stopped someone from being a shill, right?
Well, you know what they say about cops, right? Same with Walmarts. Never one around when you “need” one. For research purposes only.
One thwarted week into my research search and I decided to…<gulp> download their app.
By that time, my Mac and-chemically-powdered-cheese-addled brain was desperate to know the answer. I could get free delivery two days later – I think – but I couldn’t wait! I had to know!
Plus, I was starving and had no food in the house, because: bachelor.
There was one delivery window for that baleful day. Same day delivery is $10, so I went for it.
But, being the shrewd consumer that I am? I made that $10 charge scream. But all in the interest of research, right? To that end, I went all in on my experiment. The guy who makes a living writing specifically said he didn’t deviate from the box instructions, in the interest of judging the purest intent of the manufacturer.
I one-upped him and bought all of the ingredients required in the Walmart Private Label brand.
Then I rounded out my cart with other non-essentials (read: things I usually bogart from the Silver Fox when he’s not looking) like trash bags, light bulbs and the like. I mean, it was $4.50 for the 10 boxes on Mac and Cheese – maybe the article was 15 years old, I dunno. Still…$.45/box is pretty good, and on just what I saved on 10 of Walmart’s private label boxes over the $1.89 for Kraft these days, I’d pay for the delivery charge in savings. Then a buck and change for the half-and-half and I think the butter was less than $4. So a $10 delivery charge for $10 in groceries seemed a little nutso. Realizing I was unencumbered by any consistency for the sake of fairness rigamarole like the author, I added in several bags of Walmart frozen peas and cans of tuna so I wouldn’t face limits in concocting meals with my 10 boxes of Walmart’s best.
This was all before I realized there was a hefty tip added in – and I swear, I look for that crap, so I don’t think it was there until afterward. I noticed it when I got a message from the app saying, “thanks for tipping your driver $7”.
Sounds suspect, but wudevs. I’m certainly not stingy with tips, but this just seemed like a shady situation. Plus, it was the Walton family…you can’t honestly think they respect or value their customers any more than their employees. That $7 tip was probably a 70/30 split with the family.
But that’s neither here nor there, really.
What’s both here and there?
Foundational snobbery shooketh.
Before reading this article, I wouldn’t say I had an opinion about boxed Mac and Cheese so much as an awareness for what I was in the mood for. Did I want an unadulterated experience? If so, that meant a splurge on the Velveeta cheese sauce in the box variety. If I was shooting for more of a White Trasherole meal, a box of the powdered cheese stuffs would do just fine.
I was enough of a snob about it to know that was a line that didn’t blur much. I might add peas to the Velveeta but never tuna. But that was the end of my snobbishness.
I had also sampled enough to know that the Amy’s brand organic was pretty lackluster, yet ran about the same price as the Velveeta counterpart. For powdered cheese! Who do you think you are, Amy?!?
Any of the GF varieties I’d ever tried were flat out hot garbage. The reviewer shared my views on this…or at least bore them out with his rating system.
Given that level of situational awareness on the topic, I have to admit to my surprise on the Walmart brand. If I had to find a point of dissatisfaction, it would be…appropriately esoteric. Something like their frozen peas stayed too crunchy, with almost a dryness inside – regardless of how long I cooked them. That or, more specific to the key component, the pasta seems starchier than other boxed pasta.
How much fucking Mac and Cheese do you have to prepare to know how the starchiness manifests while cooking?
Well, I don’t know. I just know two things: A) I’ve cooked a lot of this stuff; and B) starch content affects the bubbles in the boil – the more starch the pasta releases, the bigger the bubbles get in the boiling water.
Oftentimes, this manifests as a slimy film around the waterline of the pot that dries kind of like sunburnt skin. But with the Walmart brand, it’s more like a paste around the waterline. In a People of Walmart level of appropriateness, it’s kind of the same level of repulsive as talking to someone with an eye booger or that white film in the corners of their mouth.
Given those visuals, I usually rinse my pasta, since my body doesn’t have the best reaction to pasta or gluten or starch or something. But I’m an intrepid non-gourmand, so I’m not letting that stop me! And, lest any of that mental imagery curb your enthusiasm around trying this, well…feast your eyes on this lil parting gift again and go forth:
It’s worth the…adventure? Go ahead, save a buck!
Now, if someone writes an article about Walmart having good wine? I don’t wanna know! I’m happy enough with my Trader Joe’s and Grocery Outlet wines that I have yet to explore what Rib swears is a good selection and pricing paradigm at the Costco. Stay in your lane, Walmart.
Call me backlogged. Or more of a problematic Mac and Cheese consumer than drinker – bet ya didn’t see that rationalization coming.