Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Critique: Banquest's Swedish Meatballs!

Just what is it about those Swedes and their meatballs? Do those folks at Banquet know something the rest of us don’t? I’ve always thought that a good meatball was more the domain of the Italians!  Am I wrong here? OK, let’s take a gander under the hood of this creation by the chefs at Banquet.

I’ve actually been called a ‘meatball’ in the past. Not in very kind circumstance either! Truth is, growing up in a suburb of Chicago was pretty tough. My nickname, back then, was ‘Otis’, (no not that drunk on the Andy Griffith show). My friends were actually referring to Big Otis OK cereal made by Kellogg’s and which pictured a man with large biceps.
“Big Otis", Kellogg's virile, caber-tossing spokes-hunk, proudly flaunts the Scotch Tape clan tartan. I'd love to see this guy duke it out with the Brawny paper towel man.

True fact #1: Big Otis was eventually replaced by Yogi Bear, whose biceps were less intimidating to children.”

Old history aside; a good meatball, especially when combined with al dente pasta in a savory sauce is nothing to casually pass by. I wanted to see how tasty this $1 meal deal was...

First, a couple of random observations:

Has anyone ever noticed how often the makers (ConAgra) tell the consumer what a ‘Good Source of Protein’ their TV dinners are? I researched this and came up with an old movie called ‘Soylent Green’ where a somewhat dim-witted, but ‘gamey’ (tongue in cheek) populace of the future were encouraged to eat the government’s high protein wafer style offering (check out the trailer). Here’s an excerpt I doctored:

“In 2022, the population had grown to forty million people in New York City alone. Housing was dilapidated and overcrowded; homeless people filled the streets and line fire (?) escapes and stairways. Food was scarce; most of the population survived on rations produced by the Soylent Corporation, whose newest product was Soylent Green, a small square green wafer advertised to contain "high-energy plankton". Yum-yum! It was advertised as more nutritious and palatable than those other varieties; Red or Yellow, but sadly was in short supply, which lead to food riots.” (For those if you that never saw this production, Soylent Green was made from us humans)!

[Disclaimer needed here – Banquet does not use human flesh in any of its products as far as I know!]

And now, a catch-22 question. Does anyone who actually reads the nutritional label on any TV dinner really care about their health? (If they did, wouldn’t they be eating something, say more fresh or natural)? Just a thought….


If you have any concerns about your health, then I’d take a pass on this meal. Almost half of this dish is composed of fat and saturated fat at that! Also, the cholesterol and sodium amounts are pretty much through the roof! Not something you’d want to assault your body with very often.


That said; it is exactly those ingredients that make for a savory tasting, and dare I say it, addictive experience! I gave the overall taste of this product a solid 8 – it was pretty darn good. The meatballs, while somewhat diminutive in size, were very edible and who doesn’t like a little pasta in their lives! All said this ‘diet busting’ mouth watering entrée was all it could be for one measly dollar! [ Update May 2014 - still a buck a meal]

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