Snack Time for Lazarus

Regeneration Anti-Aging Whole Food Bar

By: Regeneration USA

I Paid: $3.99 for a 2-ounce bar (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 2stars


Marketing: 4stars

Ingredients in the new Regeneration Anti-Aging Whole Food Bar include mangosteen, açaí, goji berries, flax, adzuki beans, almond butter, chia seeds, and walnuts—for starters. It’s a mind-blowing stack of stuff. And if you believe the copious hype that accompanies the bar, it’s full of anti-inflammatory nutrients, nutritious fruit flavonoids, antioxidants, and other superfoods derived from (suspiciously unnamed) ancient Asian cultures that experience average life spans of 100-plus years.

Well, the best life expectancy on Earth is claimed by the women of Japan, and it’s a mere 86 years. The overall longest average life span regardless of gender is that of Okinawans, and it’s in the low 80s.

One thing’s for sure: The bars are not trying to look delicious; they are, in fact, superdense, dark, nut-studded, shiny rectangles that practically glower with health benefits. The outrageous concentration of miracle ingredients gives Regeneration Bars a soft-yet-crunchy and seed-laden texture, plus a cranberry-meets-plywood taste that is neither horrible nor particularly addictive. Each bar packs about 220 calories (70 of which are fat) and very little sweetness.

While these bars are tastier than the previously reviewed, downright fecal SoyJoy, your kids aren’t going to be secretly snatching them from the cabinet. Or, if they do, it’ll only happen once.

T.G.I. Friday’s Complete Skillet Meals

By: H. J. Heinz Company

I Paid: $8.99 for a 24-ounce kit (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 4stars


Marketing: 3stars

T.G.I. Friday’s is not a popular brand for people who love good food. At best, it represents clever American marketing and reliable, cookie-cutter, faux-neighborhood dining; at worst, it’s cheap food sold dearly to customers who don’t know any better. And then there’s that damned Guy Fieri. So it’s unlikely that the pulse of even ill-informed gourmets will race in response to the news that the restaurant chain has teamed up with Heinz to produce a range of complete skillet meals including Creamy Chicken Pasta Carbonara, Firecracker Sesame Chicken, Cajun-Style Alfredo Chicken & Shrimp, and two varieties of fajitas.

And yet: The damned things are surprisingly edible. The ingredients are packaged in individual plastic pouches, which are cut open by the customer and thrown into a hot skillet (not included) in a prescribed order. Creamy Chicken Pasta Carbonara arrives as a kit of chicken, pasta, veggies, a sauce packet, and some bacon bits. The final product has a creamy and peppery (if one-dimensional) sauce, sweet peas, distinctly grilled-tasting chicken, a clean red-bell-pepper flavor, and the low-key, woodsy funk of mushrooms. Only the bacon (surprisingly) gets lost. Great Italian cuisine this is not, but for $4.50 a serving it’s not a bad weeknight stand-in.

Firecracker Sesame Chicken is a little less competent (key error: naming anything as bland as this after an entertaining pyrotechnic device) but still quite nice. The lo mein noodles are spry and toothsome, the carrots mild and sweet, the pea pods snappy and fairly fresh tasting, the sauce sweet but not cloying, and the breaded chicken pieces relatively delicate. T.G.I. competently executed frozen food.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow Chowhound on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.

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