Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Spooky Store-brand Smiles? - Halloween Potato Fries

Halloween Potato Fries - Lidl

A lot of Halloween products are sweet and candy-focused, so when I see a savory item, I jump on it. 

These were in Lidl's circular and even though the bag art seems a little store-brand and no-frills, how could I resist Jack-O-Lantern shaped potatoes? 

Packaging is pretty thin, and clipart-y, so I'll just jump right into the review! 

The shapes are not as spoOky as they appear on the bag. Many of them are missing features, like an eye, and the ghosts look like knock-off Pac-Man enemies. But, like the Cereal Monster take and bake cookies, the wonkiness adds to their charm. (Perfection is no fun.)  Ultimately (with food) it isn't how you look, but how you taste that really counts, so it's time to grill these ghouls and see what they're made of. 

Since these are just potatoes that have been shaped into pumpkins and ghosts, you'd think that there'd be no way they could possibly mess these up. I mean, it takes effort to actively ruin potatoes, and while these are certainly edible, they're not great. 

Texture-wise, they are kind of fluffy, like the inside of Curley's fries from the Wildwood boardwalk, but the flavor is like instant mashed potatoes made with water. Again, totally edible, but bland, and sad, and kind of gummy. As far as fries go, these are bottom-tier along with thick-cut diner fries. 

In an attempt to salvage them I have baked in the oven, I have air fried, I have added kosher salt, and seasonings. So far, the best way to go about things is to spray lightly with oil, fry them up in the air fryer for 14 minutes, and then season liberally with kosher salt and Old Bay. It gives them a crisp outside, fluffy inside, and some flavor. 

Adding toppings like cheese, sour cream, or chopped chives would definitely help, or maybe pan-frying these with onions like giant spooky home fries, but at that point the shape would be hidden and you might as well use normal or more superior forms of potatoes. 

There are plenty of ways to make these work, but it requires more effort and ingredients than I think necessary. If these bags were like, 50 cents, and you have tons of stuff in your pantry to top them with already, than go for it. Otherwise, this is one item you should skip this season.

These days I have been shopping at Lidl more than Aldi, so today's ramble is kind of Lidl-focused

I guess, overseas, Lidl gets a lot more of these Halloween themed items with the same branding. Online, I have seen Halloween shaped chicken nuggets, bat-shaped potatoes, chocolate and non-chocolate covered Halloween-shaped biscuits (cookies), bat-shaped chips, spider and web-shaped chips, some kind of Halloween hot dogs in a jar(?), and some kind of ball-shaped appetizer? All with this same orange and scarecrow packaging. 

While I love the concept, and adore the idea of Halloween shaped nuggets, after this product being such a flop, I would be hesitant to try any of them. But I am curious, are these items popular overseas? In America we buy all these themed foods, get costumes, have parties, trick-or-treat, watch TV specials and scary movies to celebrate Halloween. I have heard that it has started to bleed into cultures overseas, like Japan, which has had all those limited edition food items and seasonal Starbucks drinks, but I don't think they Trick-or-Treat or do costume parties. 

Have other countries focused on spooky themed food and nothing else? What is so Halloween-y about Hallo-wieners in a jar? (Or did I answer my own question?) According to analytics, a decent amount of my readers are overseas, are you out there? If so, what is Halloween like where you are? 

Fans of this would also like: Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets, Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School, Lay's Creamy Bacon Potato Salad Chips, or Caramel Pumpkin Lays

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