Cheap Eats at Bloglander

[ Currently Eating: NOT dog food ]

Hartford House BS - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I’m not going to lie to you. I like the word “Kibbles.”

It just rolls off the tongue nicely, like a bottle of Albertsons vodka mixed with OJ (not Simpson). It also rhymes with Tribbles, which is handy in case I’m ever writing a Star Trek limerick. Finally, it goes along nicely with the word “Bits.” This gives you the canine culinary creation: Kibbles ‘n Bits.

What does Hartford House Beef Stew have to do with Kibbles ‘n Bits?

Come on, Eileen. You can do the math yourself…

Truth be told, this can of stew was part of my earthquake food supply kit. But seeing as how the date on the can was getting a little close to the expiration date (really, 1/13/11 is coming up way faster than you think), I thought I’d crack it open and have some stew on a cold, windy day.

Thank god I opened it now, because if I had to eat this after an earthquake, I might throw it up. Now I can go and replace it with something tame like Spam or Vienna Sausages.

Do you know the buttery, fungus paste that grows between your toes if you don’t take a shower for a few days? Oh no, it doesn’t taste anything like that. Not that I would compare it to something like that, on penalty of being banned for life from the Dollar Store by the cabal of food manufacturers that puts out this crud. I smell libel, I smell suit.

No, this was probably not as bad as I’m making it out to be. But after eating luxurious frozen food for a few weeks, it was rather disturbing.

Hartford House BS - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

On the surface, this is your typical canned beef stew with potatoes, carrots, and “meat”. Speaking of “on the surface”, when I first wrestled the can open (note to self: make sure to include high quality can opener in emergency earthquake supply) there was about a 1/4 cup worth of orange blobbity on the top of the can. Oh cool, I thought – some pureed carrots to thicken the stew. Not so fast, Bugs Bunny.

I dunno what it really was – probably a combination of lard, grease, oil, tomato paste and spices. I mean, I see a bit of that inside the top of nearly every can of Chili or soup I open up. But there was just gobs and gobs of that orange stuff, and it was harder than Ronald McDonald’s arteries after ingesting 55 Big Macs.

But you know what they say – if you’re going to play with fire, you might as well stick your whole hand in. Uh, any 10 year old kids, disregard that last sentence. I scooped most of the orange goo back into the can and just heated it up. Once I got it all mixed up, the orange color wasn’t as noticeable. The stew took on the consistency of glue, or maybe some of that Fix-All that we use to fill up holes in the wall. At least it wasn’t gritty like spackle.

Hartford House BS - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

I guess the potato pieces were pretty standard, and the carrot pieces, while small and pasty, were at least unremarkable enough that I could eat them. The sauce had a strange flavor, somewhat like buttered popcorn mixed with coagulated blood. I think it has something to do with the “tin can” effect, where you get foods picking up a metallic taste. It was VERY noticeable. I tasted it in the sauce and meat mostly.

Now, that meat – here’s where we get into the Kibbles part. It was like eating dog food. I’m not claiming that Hormel Chili or any of those other cans of stew have superb chunks of meat. But these little beef shmears were like the tiny hairball gems that my cat upchucks every so often. I just could not get past the taste and texture. Maybe if they were larger, or if they stuck some more spices in it to fake out my taste buds. Anything else, please, anything.

Would I eat this if I was starving? Sure. Last I checked, eating bad stew is an excellent alternative to starving. But I think I’m going to have to go back to the dollar store to get something else. Sorry, Hartford House (I seem to have liked your Corned Beef Hash better). It’s probably unfair to compare this to Kibbles ‘n Bits. I don’t even have a dog. But if I did, I think I would trade him his Kibbles for this stew.

Price: $1
Found At: Dollar Store
Cheap Eats Score: 1/10

17 Responses to “Hartford House Beef Stew”

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  1. John Says:

    Did you finish it? If so, I’m impressed. That stuff looks terrible!

  2. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    @john – I wasn’t able to finish it, half of it went down the disposal. Hate to waste food, but i think i’ll be excused for this one =)

  3. Andrea (Off Her Cork) Says:

    Oh man the pic on the can alone looks like vomit. I have no idea how you were even able to take a bite! LOL You are very brave! How did it smell?

  4. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    @andrea – it actually smelled much better than it looked. if it didn’t taste so much like metal can, I think it’d get a higher score.

  5. adam barnett Says:

    It’s not that I’m a food snob…. I mean, I’ll eat almost anything from Sav-A-Lot or Aldi’s, and I’ll try the house brand of nearly anything at Wal-Mart, but I’m just not brave enough to eat anything that came from a dollar store. I’ll buy gum there, but nothing that is supposed to go down my gullet :-)

  6. Cheap Eats Editor Says:

    @adam – well, they sometimes have a good selection of name brand stuff at dollar stores, none of it expired. I’d actually be more willing to buy stuff at the dollar store than at Wal-mart. Mostly because Wal-mart is too far away. And the workers there are so rude.

  7. Brenda Welch Says:

    I haven’t laughed so hard! I had a similar experience with our “hurricane” emergency supply food, only it was a can of Chicken and Dumplings. Thanks for the good laugh.

  8. christi Says:

    i used to work at a certain dollar store (think a DOLLAR doesn’t grow on TREEs) and i never could force myself to buy anything that came to us in a can. i liked most of the cookies and chips and stuff, but the cans….. nope, not that brave.

    i’m glad you survived.

  9. tracylee Says:

    LOL, I used to work in a pet supply store, and the ‘gourmet’ canned dog food with vegetables came back to me in a flashback the first time I opened a can of corned beef hash! Yikes!

    I sooo feel for ya.

  10. sydney Says:

    Heeey, I like the taste of this Stew, I also like Dente Moore as well, sometimes DenteMoore tastes alittle too spicy for me, this stew, if spices added, does taste good, always look at ingredients, before purchasing, then choose to try it , or not, its a great stew, for a fast meal, at lunch, dinner, I would suggest tryin it…Most of your “processed foods look like “dog food” , or “dog poop”, thats just the “processed look”, other than that, give it a shot…;)

  11. jenne Says:

    Every brand of canned stew is like that…I’ve tried them all… but since I love beef stew but don’t like to take the time to make the real thing, here’s what I do… add some beef gravy from a jar, can, or mix, add some ketchup, hot sauce, butter (trust me on this one), a can of corn, frozen peas and carrots (cooked). Let it simmer for a little while and you have something more approximating people food.
    Funny you should liken it to dog food….when I was a very small child, I used to have my gramma serve beef stew in a bowl on the floor and I would pretend I was a doggy eating dog food..

  12. Greg Says:

    Did it liquify your intestinal contents for a few days?

    It didn’t make me feel sick but with this stuff you don’t have to worry about that stuff one comercial warns you about building up in your intestinal walls like spackle or paste.

    I have finally determined that it was doing that to me and probably their chili as well.

    You are right on the money in you descripition but I thought it tasted like most beef stews I have tried. I actually liked their chili and beans.

    Oh well I guess you get what you pay for.

  13. David Says:

    I tried it. It isn’t bad. I’ve had worse when I was in the Army.

  14. Jan Says:

    This review was a hoot. I have never laughed so hard. Thanks for telling it like it is.

  15. Ben Says:

    On a tight budget, and not so delicate of a palette… this stew ranks high on my standards of food. AND it is given out at most food pantries! I will not say I love this stew out of the can, but with a little help with spices, fresh veggies, and a little beer. It makes a wonderful lunch, or dinner! Bud Wiser (lol) is best! As for corned beef hash… I remember my school lunchroom serving this up on bread, and gravy…. now that looks, smells, and if you can brave it tastes like dog food!! I have not had corned beef anything since then… YUCK!

  16. Susanna Birks Says:

    I got a can of the beef stew at the food pantry to day. I have ate lots of other brands. Thsi was the best I have ever had over the years and I’m 80. Have tried lots of them.
    I see some say can get at the dollor store, I’ll check it out.I really got to watch my money.

  17. BRIAN Says:

    Man i have to TOTALLY Disagree….
    I Liked it…
    Maybe I have the taste buds of a DOG “Woof”
    But too me it was Good!!!

    I’ll have another helping!!!



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