On the surface, Hy-Vee grocery stores are useful, welcoming places to stock up on everything you normally eat at low, low prices. But there are also some individual foodstuffs to make the mind boggle lurking in the aisles.
Here are 10 of the strangest, weirdest, but still-edible things we found. Some of them were delicious, others not so much, but all were beautifully unique, each and every one.
Here they are, ranked.
10. Bob Evans Creamed Chipped Beef
Many men return from military service with a love/ hate relationship with creamed chipped beef, coined with the dubious appellation “S.O.S.” But have you tried this archetypal classic? I hadn’t, but now I have. Verdict? Truth in advertising, through and through. Dry cow chips immersed in a disconcerting milky substance almost made us yearn for its detestable nickname instead. Most definitely an acquired taste.
9. Brownie Batter Hummus
Everything has to be hummus or brownie batter these days, so it was just a matter of time before these two overdone foodie genres coalesced in one tub. It's made with a base of garbanzo beans, so it's technically hummus – flavored with cocoa powder and sugar. While not outright disgusting, the better term is probably “wrong.” Chocolate and beans don’t go together, right? Still, this will eventually get eaten, teaspoon by teaspoon by the desperate light of the fridge, in the wee hours of the depressing night, until the final chocolatey bean cries out: “Why?!”
8. Extra Strength Pickle Juice Shot
The benefits of consuming brine, pickle-y things and electrolytes are well documented, but someone actually had the stones to bottle, label, and market the very thing that you have in over-abundance in your refrigerator this very moment. And so does your mom and your neighbor, and so will everyone, forever. So naturally, we bought it. It’s pickle juice and very little else, and it tastes as advertised. The fact that we prefer to put it in our mouths above the last two items should speak wonders about chipped beef and brownie hummus.
7. Nabisco Cheddar ’N Bacon Easy Cheese
The charms of Easy Cheese aren’t a mystery to many Americans, but did you know you can get bacon in it? Well, not really bacon, just some kinda liquid smoke thing that sort of tastes sulfurous – like my grandpa lighting a match for his cigarette while I was sitting on his lap as a kid. Not altogether unpleasant, but not great. Stick with the more-classic Cheddar, or better yet, American, and you’ll be a much happier cheese squirter, by far.
6. Idris Fiery Ginger Beer
Anything labeled “If you dare,” you know we gotta dare. On the palate this ginger beer is lighter and more refreshing than many we’ve had, with a pleasant, clean, almost candy-like sweetness. While we have to knock off points for false advertising – it’s not fiery and nor does it warrant a dare – we’re happy to have discovered this vintage British soda brand dating from at least a century ago. Available in Hy-Vee’s small, but sweet, imported foods “boutique” in the center of the store.
5. Hy-Vee Spicy Breaded Pickle Slices
Can’t wait for the State Fair to get your hot pickle on? Hy-Vee to the rescue. While these don’t quite stack up to the real deal, these warm pickles coated in deep-fried stuff are pretty good. The coating kinda wants to slide off the pickle like it’s wearing a sweater on a hot day. But with enough manual dexterity, you can tuck it back in, envelope style, and get an intact bite. Hy-Vee has wisely branded its own ranch dressing too, so grab a bottle for dipping and feel whole.
4. Annie’s Organic Grass Fed Mac & Cheese
The discerning 6-year-old deserves not just organic, but organic and grass-fed macaroni and cheese. Precious-seeming though it is, the commitment to detail here is commendable. When prepared with (what else?) but grass-fed butter (but not milk, we didn’t have any) the end result is ultra-grassy, and depending on how you feel about that, you’ll either love it or hate it. For an adult indulgence, it’s a pretty good bargain for $3.99. Your kid may shun it, though.
3. Lays Wavy Fried Green Tomato Potato Chips
In 2017, goofy potato chip flavors are a dime a dozen, and might have jumped the shark with Cappucino. But these ones are legit delish, with flavor subtleties that scream, “I didn’t even know I knew what fried green tomatoes tasted like!” Meaning, they actually taste like the real McCoy, and we like them during summer, which is now, next to a burger off the grill. They’ll be a hit at your next cookout or Instagram post.
2. Doritos Loaded Nacho Breaded Cheese Snacks
In the “Things That Make You Go Hmmmm" category, see Doritos Loaded Nacho Cheese Snacks. You shake your head, but your hand simultaneously pulls it from the freezer and drops it into the cart. Basically crushed-up Doritos coating a blob of cheese goo approximating the shape of a giant, fat Dorito, it's clear that everything is wrong about these. And oh so right. Drop a hot plate of them in front of at least three friends plus a cheap bottle of wine and watch it all disappear like hot, crunchy, gooey magic.
1. Biscoff Cookie Butter
When Nutella came along to give peanut butter the old heave-ho, we thought the “butter” category had pretty much reached its pinnacle. But no. Not by a long shot. Nutella is still made with stuff from nature – hazelnuts and chocolate. Here, Biscoff cookies (also known as “airplane cookies” to frequent fliers) have been whipped into a paste and called “butter.” But then that also surely was not enough. Added horrible-for-you (and the environment) oils like palm and prolific extra sugar make this what has to be the junk food of 2017, if not the decade. Garnering it a resounding number one placement in our ranking. A category, way, way, unto itself.
Happy Hy-Vee shopping, adventurous eaters.