was a time in the land of Big Box stores when Wal-Mart reigned
supreme. Not yet mired in labor violation controversy, its smiling
faced mascot strode the land, leaving a ruin of mom and pop stores in
its wake. It seemed like the golden orb would rule unchallenged, but
then from the south a contender arose. Armed with a red and white
bullseye and more upscale goods, Target met the mighty Wal-Mart on the
field of battle to end the great beast. From sunrise to sundown the
behemoths exchanged blow upon bloody blow, ultimately grinding to a
standstill and reaching an uneasy truce. For years this pact held, but
now Target has fired a new volley with the introduction of the Market
Pantry Nacho Kit.
If you’re like me, a reasonable human, you may wonder how microwavable nachos could possibly be any good. While I may never solve the mysteries of the pyramids or stonehenge, this was one enigma I could put to bed, so I bought a box. I’ve found that a good rule of thumb is to never buy food that comes in a frozen cardboard box, and it holds true here.
The contents of the box weren’t 100 percent pathetic, more like 60, 70 percent tops. There was the sealed bag of chips, nothing out of the ordinary other than them being frozen. There was the entirely ordinary bag of cheese, just like you may have in your freezer right now. And then there was the meat brick.
When Indigestion has a nightmare, this is what it dreams of. Microwaving it for the suggested time turned this frozen chunk of meat into a simultaneously freezing and boiling mass that Jim Gaffigan would be familiar with. After cooking you are required to squeeze this charnel goo out of its pouch, covering yourself in oily grease as your hands are being both frozen and burned depending on which part of the meat bag you’re touching. Such kitchen trauma would destroy a lesser man or woman, but in the name of nachos I continued.
So now you have a cardboard bowl of frozen chips covered in taco meat that’s either a million degrees above or below zero, all covered with a thick layer of frozen cheese. Indeed, the amount of cheese they give you with this is enough to cause even me to think twice about using it all, but ultimately every shred was placed before back in the microwave it went. I imagined that the microwave was a cocoon and what would emerge would be a beautiful butterfly. Definitions of “beautiful” may vary.
This is your end result. Notice that lovely mottling of melted and entirely unmelted cheese, a definite sign of a quality microwaved product. The good news is that there are a few good things about this dish. It is made with real shredded cheese, which is better than the possible packet of cheese sauce that I expected to come with it. Everything was also warmed all the way through, which is really the best thing you can hope for when microwaving frozen food. Utterly free of hyperbole, an iceberg of uncooked food hitting your tongue is a tragedy as great as the iceberg smashing into the Titanic.
The bad news is that these babies are greasy as hell, salty as hell, and taste like hell. Between the cheese and the meat runoff, the excess grease permeates the chips and turns them to a soggy, near liquid mess with a sodium content close to that of the Dead Sea. Without the meat these are just slightly classier concession nachos, but with the meat it turns them into something else, something not good. There’s a reason most concession nachos don’t come with microwaved taco meat, because for the price it’s not going to be good. This kit was nearly $6, which is practically enough to get an order of nachos at a restaurant. I’m sure the bowel movement I’ll have later will be worth that few dollar difference.
Is Target’s microwavable nacho kit a game changer? Not in the least. Have I had worse nachos? Yes, but not by much. Almost any food made in the microwave is inferior to any food not made in the microwave and this definitely holds true for nachos. I’d say that it would be easy for Wal-Mart to make a better microwavable nachos, but it’s Wal-mart, so probably not. Spend the extra money and go out somewhere, or better yet, just make your own.