Maureen, being the wonderful woman that she is, did a real nice thing for me the other day. She picked me up a bag of Cheetos. It may not seem like a huge thing, but the fact is, she knows I like Cheetos and she was at the store picking up drinks for everyone to have while watching one of Alex’s baseball games, and knowing I had probably not eaten because I tend to do that from time to time, she was thoughtful enough to pick me up a little snack while we watched the game. Being a family on a budget like so many others these days, I usually don’t buy the “real” Cheetos. We have a store near us called Meijer and they carry all sorts of those store brand items that we have all become used to seeing. Remember the old days when Jewel first introduced the generic brand? It was a white label with this green stripe across it and it just said “Green Beans” or “Diet Soda” or “Beer”. Yes, they actually made generic beer. The white and green label become so recognisable that the band Public Image, LTD put out a record with the same white cover entitled simply Record. I actually had the cassette tape which of course then had the title changed to Cassette.
Meijer uses the same concept, only the packaging is a little better these days, but the prices are still much better than the brand names. Unlike other stores that try to hide their store brand behind a fancy name like President’s Choice, which I belive is now the Jewel store brand, they just call them Meijer. In the case of the Cheetos, they are called Meijer Cheese Puffs. We take advantage of a lot of the Meijer brand items, especially pop and snack items. With the brand name pop sometime costing more than $4.00 for a twelve pack, it is nice to know that the kids will drink the Meijer pop for just $2.50 or sometimes on sale for just $2.00 a twelve pack. And they do a cool thing where they have Meijer Soda Red and Meijer Soda Blue to imitate the different taste between Coke and Pepsi. Although as a Dr. Pepper drinker, I really do not care for either. Luckily the 7-Up people who own Dr. Pepper seem to put their pop on sale quite often, and when the 4 for $10 sale is on at Meijer I make sure to stock up.
But back to those Cheetos for a minute. As I said, on this day Maureen had picked me up one of those individual serving bags of Cheetos, and although I did not eat them that day, I did take them to work with me the next day and ate them as snack. Ok, that’s not quite the truth, I ate them as a snack in the car while stuck in traffic that morning on the way to work. But that is besides the point. The point of this whole thing was that when I opened that bag of Cheetos and popped the first orange crunchy puff into my mouth, a strange thing happened. I quickly realized that I liked the Meijer Cheese Puffs better. First off, the Meijer puff is a much brighter shade of orange, which to me only says more artificial cheese flavor per puff. The Meijer puff also had a saltier taste, which then says to me, gosh I wish I had a beer to go with this. Overall, I just thought the “real” Cheetos were lacking in flavor. This of course did nothing to detour me from eating the whole bag.
When it comes to the snack foods, my kids are not too picky, and I guess neither am I. Maureen would also agree that the Meijer brand potato chips are really good. They have a Black Pepper and Salt chip that is down right good. I guess the point being that in today’s market, it just doesn’t make sense to stick with the more expensive brands. I buy Meijer peanut butter, although Maureen would disagree with me on that one, and frozen chicken breast, and even toilet paper. Yes, if Charmin is on sale, I am grabbing that and hoarding it in the master bathroom, but the Meijer brand is good enough for most of the asses that pass through my house on a regular occasion. It is not the sand paper they tried to pass off at work one year. But that was somewhat short-lived. Seems that someone higher up on the food chain found a way to increase the TP budget in a hurry.
I have tried to make my kids understand that money is not flowing through our house the way it seems to in some other household, and to that end they have come to accept the store brand items as part of their life. The “stigma” that was attached to the old Jewel generics is gone. And the quality of what the store brands produce is much better. It is not worth the savings if nobody will eat the cheaper brands, and on occasion we do find somethings that doesn’t meet up with expectation. I have from time to time tried to slip a little bit of the Meijer coffee in with the Folgers, but Maureen is a bit of a coffee snob and likes the upscale flavored coffee that Folgers makes, and to her credit she does a great job of finding it on sale. But when it come to saving a little money and still feeding your family these days, you can’t go wrong with many of the store brand items.
Meijer Cheese Puffs are great. I am eating some right now.
I just hope all this orange crap doesn’t stain the keyboard.