Review: Alexia Sweet Potato Puffs
Check out Adam’s new blog, Option Pitch and Waffle Crisp: How Faith, Breakfast Cereal, and College Football Explain the World.
So, how are those New Year’s Resolutions comings? Fallen off the “eat healthy” bandwagon already because of the release of Burger King’s new Bacon and Cheddar BK Toppers burger? Missed out on that chance to be a nicer person by yelling at the guy in front of you holding up the Subway line while he orders the Chipotle Chicken and Cheese? Personally, I’ve been trying to resolve to spend less money eating out, and definitely less money on mediocre fast food. I already do a lot of cooking on my own, but sometimes a guy just wants that fast food ethos without having to actually get in the care and open the wallet every day. That, and using ones own restroom should the need arise is highly prefered. Fortunately, this is why they invented the freezer section.
Any decent grocery store will likely carry its own line of frozen tater tots. But few, if any, carry a Sweet Potato Tater Tot. Think of sweet potato tots as the holy grail of fried potato by-product if you will. Proliferated by the sort of “my cousin’s boyfriend’s dog-sitter saw these in the store” exchanges that inevitably take place at the office water-cooler when people are trying to avoid the uncomfortable discussion of “damnit, what happened to your NFL team on Sunday?” If nothing else, they’re a product to seek out for the sheer novelty of the idea, and seeing whether taking two of the most beloved versions of fried potatoes — sweet potato fries and tater tots — will produce a sweet and crunchy convenience or a mushy mutt.
Alexia’s Sweet Potato Puffs have gotten rave reviews from freezer junkies and health food fans alike, but I found them to be more mushy mutt than crunchy convenience. Don’t be fooled by the claims to a “crispy outside” and “soft inside” by the Alexia website. While certainly sweet, they fail in being convenient to make as well as having a crispy outside, while their soft interior dissolves into more of a coarse sweet potato paste rather than a soft grated, starchy interior.
I bought these for $3 on sale, although their retail cost of $4.99 puts them on the most expensive end of the frozen potato spectrum. Given the novelty of sweet potatoes and appeal of all natural junk food these days, it’s an understandable price to pay, but not worth it when you consider the end result. The first major issue encountered were the cooking directions — which, if you follow word-for-word — will leave you with an end result of half burnt tots and half collapsed mushy tots, some of which stick to the pan and have to be scraped off. From the texture angle, both the surface moisture and interior moisture are more than ideal, and border on complete failure. More oil than I expect rubs off on my fingers (3.5 grams of fat per serving), while the insides remind me more of a halfway blended sweet potato soup than grated potato. Clearly, Alexia has not mastered the chemistry of sweet potato starches. They are not anything mind-blowing in terms of flavor, either. I guess I should have seen it coming when sweet was the only adjective used in the packaging. No spice accompanies the tots, but there’s no earthiness here either. Balance has not been achieved.
70% of your Vitamin A for the day? Awesome, but I can get that in a slice of pumpkin pie for 50 cents at McDonald’s. Clearly I ate them all, seeing as though sweet potato fried anything is still better than nothing and the chemistry behind Heinz ketchup remains timeless and fail-safe. I won’t be buying these again, and would remain skeptical of Alexia products in general. If personal health concerns give you the peace of mind to eat these over other versions of frozen tater tots (which, in most cases, are low in saturated fat and have no trans fat) then be my guest. But I’ve learned my lesson otherwise. I may not have a Sonic nearby, but the next time I take to the road near one, I know where I’m stopping.
Overall GrubGrade: 4.00/10
lexia Sweet Potato Puffs
Total Fat: 3.5 grams
Sat Fat: 0 grams
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Sodium: 230 mg
Potassium: 170 mg
Total Carbs: 23 grams
Fiber: 2 grams
Sugars: 8 grams
Protein: 1 gram