Tuesday, August 20, 2013

They're soft, chewy and can stain your clothing

New at my Costco Wholesale in Hackensack: Whole, farm-raised branzino from Greece for $8.99 a pound. The fish, also known as European sea bass, is widely served in restaurants in North Jersey and New York. 

Editor's note: A new Kirkland Signature item at Costco Wholesale isn't an improvement over a competitor's product. Today, I also discuss IKEA Paramus' expanded food section, and a couple of sale items at the Paramus ShopRite.

By Victor E. Sasson

I knew something was up when I couldn't find my favorite Kashi Trail Mix Chewy Granola Bars on two visits to Costco Wholesale in Hackensack.

I'd carry a few with me as part of my weight-loss strategy: 

Eating a good breakfast and dinner, and skipping lunch.

Then, I saw the reason: 

Costco began offering its own Kirkland Signature Soft & Chewy Granola Bars.

But the Costco bar is smaller and has chocolate chips, not the whole almonds that were my favorite part of the Kashi bar.

Chocolate isn't part of my diet, but I bought a box of 60 Kirkland Signature bars for $8.69 anyway.

Even though the Costco chewy granola bar is cheaper than Kashi's, it has cost me far more in other ways.

The chocolate chips in the Kirkland Signature Soft & Chewy Granola Bars can fall off while you are eating one and stain your clothing, especially if you are sitting down.

I commend Costco Wholesale's effort to develop "a more ethical and sustainable cocoa supply," according to the label of its Soft & Chewy Granola Bars. But the company should go back to the drawing board with this product.

The chocolate chips and other ingredients can fall off as you are eating, and if you are in the car, they can stick to and stain your clothing, as I discovered on 3 occasions.

This is another, fairly rare instance where a Kirkland Signature product isn't an improvement over a competitor's.

On Monday, I returned a half-empty box of the Costco granola bars for a full refund, and bought a new, more expensive Kashi product: 

Berry Lemonade Chewy Granola Bars (with chia), which contain no high-fructose corn syrup (35 1.2-ounce bars for $12.79).

I ate one standing up at the kitchen counter, and nothing fell off. It tasted good, but there are no whole almonds in it.

Another item I picked up at Costco was Ready Pac Gourmet Fruit Bowl -- 4 pounds of preservative-free melon, strawberries, blueberries, mango and pineapple from Mexico and Costa Rica for $12.99.

IKEA in Paramus has expanded its selection of prepared and frozen foods, above and below.

Salty herring

On my annual visit to IKEA in Paramus today, I discovered an expanded food section filled with unusual items you don't see elsewhere.

I picked up bottles of Rosehip Drink and Blueberry Drink at $1.99 each; carbonated Pear Drink for $1.99, and Blueberry Jam for $3.99.

IKEA has a wide selection of refrigerated, bottled herring, but many contain prohibitive amounts of sodium.

To confuse matter, different serving sizes are listed (3 or 5 pieces).

I bought Herring in Mustard Sauce for $2.49, because it had the least sodium per serving, and  small jars of Seaweed Topping and Herring Roe at $1.99 each.

And I was delighted to find frozen Salmon Lasagna with Spinach for $9.99.


On Monday, I picked up 2 pints of blueberries at ShopRite in Paramus, on sale for $1.49 each, but these are from Michigan and Canada, not New Jersey.

Arm & Hammer toothpaste was on sale for $1.99, reduced from $3.34, and I had a $1-off coupon on 2 of the 3 tubes I bought.

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