Kirkland Signature Clear Trash Bags: Product Review

Another beautiful, colorful fall, another millions leaves on my yard, another interminable chore of gathering up said leaves. One of the joys of being a homeowner. Every year, my wife and I – disclaimer: mostly my wife – start the task of raking up the leaves with less than full enthusiasm. We gather them in monster piles, which are fun for the kids. After they’ve had their fun, we shove the leaves in bags and leave them on the side of the road for the Fall Fairy to collect as an offering to ensure her bounty. Either that or the city collects ’em. Whichever is first, I guess.

For that task, I am happy to use Kirkland Signature Clear Trash Bags. They are available at Costco, in one size only, in a box of 60 bags, that cost $12.99. This translates to a per-bag cost of 21.65 cents, or between four and five bags to the dollar. Considering that I need about 20 bags per year to complete the operation, this is a pretty good deal.

Kirkland Signature Clear Trash Bags

Kirkland Signature Clear Trash Bags

Now, on to the bags themselves. They measure 31 inches by 45.5 inches, which is a standard size for garbage bags. They are completely transparent, letting the city (or the Fall Fairy) know that you are not sneaking in some household garbage along with your leaves. Naughty boy.

In terms of resistance, drum liners they are not, but will hold up to leaves and the occasional twigs. Bigger branches will poke through the bag, but it is resilient enough not to tear further if a whole has been poked in it.

The Kirkland Signature Clear Trash Bags feature the ‘Smart Tie Closure’ system, which means that the bags are really easy to tie shut. I don’t understand why every garbage bag doesn’t offer this functionality. It’s not much, but it makes a massive difference in regards to how much you can pack the bag before having to close it, saving me time and money.

Since this is a Kirkland Signature product, you can only get it at Costco, but I honestly don’t understand why you would shop anywhere else for that kind of products. Just buying this kind of stuff – all the essentials, really – at Costco more than pays for your membership.

Mont Brule Electric Fondue Set at Costco: Product Review

When my parents got married in the early 1970s, receiving fondue sets as wedding gifts was the thing, so you can see that I inherited quite a few of them when my parents downsized and decided to get rid of junk they hadn’t used in 30-plus years. As you can imagine, I never used them, either. They are gross things made out of copper that is incredibly stained by non-use, and require the use of burning stuff to keep hot.

Fortunately, Costco was there for me when I needed it, providing me with a nice fondue set that has none of the hassle of the previous ones, and all the convenience of modern life, such as working with electricity. I bought the Mont Brulé 9-piece Electric Fondue Set at Costco for $49.99, and I’ve already used it more than the sets I’ve owned for decades, because it’s actually fun and requires very little prep and/or maintenance.

Mont Brulé Electric Fondue Set

Mont Brulé Electric Fondue Set

I bought this electric fondue set for $49.99 at Costco. It wasn’t on special, but I’d wanted it for a long time, so there you have it.

So far, I’ve only used it with cheese – one of my favorites – but I’ve no doubt that it works equally well with chocolate and broth.

What I really like about it is that it heats up in no time; it’s extremely quick. The drawback of this is that you really have to be careful when you put cheese in there, because the cheese will cook on the bottom rather than melt if you’re in a hurry, which is a *huge* pain to clean up. The electric connection is magnetic, and easily disconnected, which can help prevent accidents. The heating element is removable, so you can easily stick the pot in the dishwasher. It says it’s dishwasher-safe, but I’ve not tried it yet. Elbow grease works great, and I was afraid I would simply cake on the burnt cheese.

For $49.99, you get the pot, the heating element and the electrical cord, as well as 6 little fondue forks and the ring you put on the top, which acts as a splash guard and somewhere to rest your forks as your stuff is cooking in the broth. The Mont Brulé 9-piece Electric Fondue Set is a great purchase, and a great way to receive your guests. I find that cooking at the table, such as with Raclette, is really convivial and fun. Have lots of wine on hand. That also helps! Don’t drink and drive.


Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa at Costco: Product Review

I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m not the baker in our house. This honor belongs to my wife, so she is much more familiar with baking ingredients than I am. That being said, I have gathered her thoughts about this product, and I can confidently write a product review! I’m talking, of course, of the excellent Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa, which is available in many places, but which we buy at Costco, because it is dirt cheap there, and it helps us maximize our membership and our Executive 2% Cash Back.

Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa

Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa

First, let’s talk about price. This 700 gram container of Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa, when purchased at Costco, costs $8.99. This may not seem significant, but you can buy the exact same thing on Amazon for anywhere from $25 to $35. If you need baking cocoa for cakes, hot chocolate, brownies or anything else where cocoa is needed, then just buying this twice a year can cover the costs of your Costco membership!

Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa Nutrition Facts

Rodelle Gourmet Baking Cocoa Nutrition Facts

My wife uses this cocoa in just about anything, but what she uses it most of all is when making hot chocolate. Using cocoa and sugar, as opposed to a prepared mix, really allows you to control the taste. You can get it as sweet or as bitter as you like it. She likes it bitter, I love it sweet, so we can both get our wish quickly and easily, and for a fraction of the price or prepared hot chocolate.

The baking cocoa is also incredible in brownies and chocolate cakes, which are my wife’s specialty. She doesn’t make them too often, because we would just eat cake until we explode, or eat a whole tray of brownies in one sitting.

Now that I’m saying it like that, and reading over what I wrote, it’s a wonder we’re not both severely overweight.

My dad, who is well into his 70’s and a lifelong fan of decadent chocolate cake, declared a few years ago that my wife made the best chocolate cake he’d ever eaten. It might not sound like a big deal, because you don’t know him, but it is.

When it comes to nutrition, just have a look at the nutrition facts above. I’m not going to bother going through it with a fine-tooth comb, because there is no point.

This is cocoa, not a chocolate bar.

Similarly, the list of ingredients can be summed up in one word: Cocoa. There you have it.

The Rodelle Gourmet Baking Chocolate is not only delicious, it’s also a great deal, if you buy it at Costco. As a bonus, I’m happy to include a picture of the official Rodelle Fudge Brownies recipe, as printed on the side of the cocoa container. Enjoy!

Rodelle Official Fudge Brownies Recipe

Rodelle Official Fudge Brownies Recipe

Planters Smooth Peanut Butter at Costco: Product Review

Hey everyone! I know it’s been a while since I posted a review, but here you have it, better late than never. Lots of stuff going on in my life, which had to take precedence over my blog. But now I’m back, and back in style with some delicious ‘new’ Planters Smooth Peanut Butter. I bought this at Costco a few weeks ago, on the principle that it was a half-dollar cheaper than the Kraft, and I’d never tried it. It’s a new addition at my Costco, although I’m sure it’s been around for a while.

Planter's Smooth Peanut Butter (Costco size)

Planter’s Smooth Peanut Butter (Costco 2-kilogram size)

When it comes to taste, and after a week trial, I’m happy to say to I like it – so far – more than the Kraft, and more than the Skippy, although it’s always a tough to call a ranking on such products without having both side by side for a comparison.

What I found most noticeable, and my wife concurs, is that it tastes less sweet and has a much more pronounced peanut taste, a little reminiscent of natural peanut butter, without the astringent factor.

As far as the ingredients go, while sugar is still in second place, it’s good to see that it’s just regular sugar and not high fructose corn syrup or some other insanely addictive garbage. Here are the ingredients, in decreasing order of appearance:

  • Roasted peanuts
  • Sugar
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oil (cottonseed, soybean and/or rapeseed oil)
  • Salt
  • Fancy molasses
  • Peanut oil

I bought this jar on October 18th, 2015 for $7.49, and it contains 2 kilograms of peanut butter, for a per kilogram price of $3.75, or $1.70 a pound, which is pretty cheap, as you can normally find peanut butter at the supermarket for around $4-5 per 500 grams (pound).

The nutritional facts are completely identical to those of the Kraft Peanut Butter, 90 calories per serving, 12% fat daily value, 4% sugar, et cetera.

Since the nutritional value is the same, I must remain happy that the taste is better, with a richer peanut taste without the dryness that comes with natural peanut butter. You’ll notice that I mostly refer to the bottom half of natural peanut butter containers. The top half is disgustingly oily. I know you’re supposed to mix it, and I do. Still gross.

I’m not so crazy about the Planter’s Smooth Peanut Butter that I now need to have it *all the time*, but as long as it’s the same price or cheaper than the competition, I’ll always pick it. Tastes great, excellent value.

Bick’s Garlic Premium Baby Dill Pickles at Costco: Product Review

A nice short little review for you guys today, for the simple reasons that I’m reviewing one of the simplest, most amazing products ever sold, at least according to my wife, who is pickle-crazy: Bick’s Garlic Premium Baby Dill Pickles, which can be picked up at Costco or at a million other places. Until researching for this review, I had no idea what an absolute great snack pickles are, so there you have it.

Bick's Garlic Premium Baby Dill Pickles

Bick’s Garlic Premium Baby Dill Pickles

One of the first thing I noticed about this product is that besides the fact that pickles are quite solid, and if dry, would certainly be sold by weight, they are here sold by volume. The jar indicates that this is a 2-liter container, and thus contains a total volume of 2 liters, including both the pickles and the liquid and everything else.

This 2-liter jar cost $4.99 at Costco, and is blessedly free of taxes. This price is very much lower than the competition, as a quick Amazon search will tell you. Of course, shipping charges on a jar of pickles are going to be expensive, so better make sure you want them. They are still much cheaper then the brick-and-mortar competition, and Bick’s is a name you can trust for crunchy, tasty pickles. Like Vlasic.

What about the pickles themselves? This is where the review gets short and to the point: they are delicious. They have just the right amount of crunch, just enough garlic to taste without ruining everyone else’s day, and they are not too salty, which is often the problem with pickles, or other marinated, pickled goods.

One thing I find incredible about these pickles is how low calorie they are; sure, the package says “Low Calorie!” but really, how low can you really go?

How about 3 calories per pickle? That’s right, 3. Three, not thirty, not three hundred. Three.

They might as well say zero, because I get the feeling that if you ate only pickles, you would die of hunger, eventually. You’d probably suffer from high blood pressure by that time, too, since every pickle contains 11% of your daily sodium intake, or 270 mg. Don’t look for vitamins or minerals in there, either, because they have simply been omitted.

But damn, they are tasty!

As long as you don’t go overboard, they really are the perfect snack. They taste amazing, have no calories to speak of, and no fat. Just a bit of salt, like any self-respecting snack should.

Since this is an in-depth review, I will include the ingredients that go in making Bick’s Premium Garlic Baby Dill Pickles. Here you go, in order of importance:

  • Cucumbers
  • Water
  • White vinegar
  • Salt
  • Dehydrated garlic
  • Calcium chloride
  • Polysorbate 80
  • Seasonings – I guess this is where the ‘dill’ resides

These pickles are made in the USA, and imported into Canada by Smucker Foods of Canada, from Markham, On.

Despite the fact that the jar is huge, and will take a lot of room in your fridge, these baby dill pickles are too good a deal to pass up. Stock up and make sure you always have them on hand for burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, or just as a relatively healthy afternoon snack for the kids, or yourselves. I’m going to each one or three right now.

Utz Specials Sourdough Pretzels at Costco: Product Review

Gotta love Costco. I mean, I do, but I’m always amazed at the kind of stuff I’ll find there. There’s always something that’s too big, a little outrageous, or just a bit coming out of left field. For example, the 8-foot tall, $230 teddy bear they trot out every year around this time. Today, the catch was this enormous bucket of pretzels; I mean, it’s not a jar any longer. It’s a bucket. Introducing the 1.47-kilogram, ginormous bucket of Utz Specials Sourdough Pretzels, made in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Incidentally, I have today learned that Pennsylvania is the heart of the American pretzel industry, thanks to this overly informative Wikipedia page.

Utz Specials Sourdough Pretzels

Utz Specials Sourdough Pretzels

I’m sorry I didn’t include a specific frame of reference in the picture. Trust me when I say that this bucket of pretzels is truly deserving of the name ‘bucket’. It contains 1.47 kilograms of delicious pretzels, which translates into roughly 3.25 pounds. That’s a lot of pretzels. These will go well with my other snacks.

All that sourdough deliciousness comes at the price of $8.99 at my local Costco. It does feel weird to be buying such an obviously enormous quantity of something. I really felt strange coming out of the store with my massive tub o’ salt.

When it comes to nutrition, these pretzels are clearly not there, unless you’re low on salt, then they’ll do the job admirably. Each 5-pretzel portion (which can be consumed in 30 seconds or less, if you’re in no rush) contains an impressive 19% of your daily recommended salt intake. Just have a look at the pretzels in the picture. They are clearly covered in coarse salt. Yummy! I’m serious.

Here’s a look at the ingredients take make up those delicious sourdough pretzels:

  • Unbleached enriched flour
  • Salt
  • Palm and/or corn oils
  • Maltodextrin
  • Buttermilk powder
  • Citric acid
  • Lactic acid
  • Yeast
  • Natural flavor
  • Vinegar
  • Sodium bicarbonate

I’m always happy to see that Costco is promoting products that do not contain mountains of unpronounceable ingredients; of course, that’s what the members and customers are asking for, but it’s good to see them stepping up to the plate.

As to the pretzels, well, they are everything that a pretzel should be. Crunchy, dry but not too dry, salty with that distinctive sourdough taste. Just try ’em , they’re awesome. I don’t know how long my Costco will carry the Utz Specials Sourdough Pretzels, but I hope they last. If they don’t, well, the tub’s big enough to last me a week or two.

If you’re

Chicken Pelmeni European Dumplings at Costco: Product Review

Yesterday was a bumper crop for new Costco items; I’ll be the first to admit that as much as I like trying new things, the essence of Costco savings is replenishing your stock of existing products while making sure you get the best possible price. That being said, yesterday we bought a bunch of new things, including what turned out to be absolutely delicious uncooked Chicken Pelmeni European Dumplings. Just to give you an idea, I had absolutely no idea what ‘pelmeni’ meant until I came back home and Googled it. Turns out they’re peroguies, with a fancy name.

Chicken Pelmeni European Dumplings

Chicken Pelmeni European Dumplings

This 1.4 kilogram bag of dumplings costs $9.99 at my local Costco, and contains approximately 125 dumplings. Each dumpling thus costs about 8 cents each, and each portion of 9 dumplings costs less than 75 cents ($0.75). This is a great price for something that is so incredibly delicious.

Speaking of new things, I made video review of this product, my first ever! Check it out below, and make sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel to be notified of new reviews!

I really had no idea what to expect when I bought those, and even less when I cooked them, but I needn’t have worried. The meat is extremely tasty, meaty and filling, and the dough, soft and silky yet pleasingly chewy, a little like Asian dumplings. I made the choice of cutting each dumpling before eating it, just to check out the consistency of the filling, but they can and probably should be eaten in a single bite, as the chicken filling has a tendency to pop out when cut. It’s not a real problem.

Now it turns out that these were our main mid-day meal, rather than the appetizers they are almost certainly meant as. My wife had some soup, while I polished off some leftover pasta to go with the dumplings. I used both Oyster Sauce and Hoisin Sauce as dipping sauces. I found that while delicious, their taste were a little overwhelming for the delicate taste of the chicken, so next time I’m thinking a simple soy dipping sauce will work great, maybe with some green onions and whatnot.

One of the things I really appreciate from these little perogies is that the ingredients are really wholesome. No conservation agents, nothing unpronounceable. See for yourself:

Filling Ingredients:

  • Chicken
  • Onions
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper

Dough Ingredients:

  • Wheat flour
  • Water
  • Canola Oil
  • Salt

End of list. Incredible, isn’t it?

I go through the nutritional information in the video (see above), but in a nutshell, each serving is 220 calories, and overall, these are not really bad for you, eaten in moderation. There are few vitamins but some iron, they’re not too salty or greasy, et cetera. You could do a lot worse with something that comes out a bag in the freezer.

The cooking process, as recommended by the packaging, involves boiling the pelmeni and drizzling them with oil once drained, in order prevent them sticking to each other. It’s really fast and simple. The longest part really is waiting for the water to boil.

I will be buying these Chicken Pelmeni European Dumplings again; they are really good and will be great for stocking up our freezer. I hope they go on sale so I can stock up. These dumplings are also made in Canada, so you know you are supporting a local company and local jobs. Are they available at your Costco? If so, in what flavors? Let me know in the comments below!

Softsoap Soothing Aloe Vera Moisturizing Hand Soap at Costco: Product Review

I’m actually excited about writing this review, because the size of these jugs of soap is so massive that I don’t think I’ll get the chance for another couple of years! Okay, maybe *excited* is too strong a term for hand soap, but you know what I mean. Buying things like these is the real essence of Costco savings, and why I try to shop there as much as I can. I did a relatively large Costco order the other day, and it seemed like the right time to stock up on hand soap, as our supplies at home were depleted. I got the Softsoap Soothing Aloe Vera Moisturizing Hand Soap, in not one, but two massive, 2.36 liter jugs, for only $11.49, plus applicable taxes.

Softsoap Soothing Aloe Vera Moisturizing Hand Soap

Softsoap Soothing Aloe Vera Moisturizing Hand Soap

Now I don’t need to tell you that this is a bunch of soap. Combined, these two jugs represent almost 5 liters of hand soap, which is quite a bit more than a gallon, imperial or otherwise. The little dispenser bottle I fill up contains 340 ml, which means that I can refill it almost 14 times before running out. This means that each refill costs me about 83 cents. If you compare that with buying a new dispenser at the pharmacy, like countless people do, every time they need more hand soap, you’ll realize that the savings are incredible, in all likelihood in the range of 75% to 90%, depending on the specials in your area.

But what about the soap itself? Is it any good? Well, it washes my hands without drying them out, and is certainly appropriate for all but the most compulsive hand-washer. I wash my hands an appropriate number of times during the day (without going into details), and have never experienced dry excessively dry hands, except maybe for a few days in winter. I’m certain that you could find hand soap that is marginally better than the Soaftsoap with Aloe Vera, but not at this price, that’s for sure.

Here are the ingredients of the Softsoap Soothing Aloe Vera Moisturizing Hand Soap, in decreasing order:

  • Aqua (that’s water, with a fancier name)
  • Sodium C14-16 Olefin Sulfonate
  • Laureth-3
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine
  • Glycol Stearate
  • Sodium Chloride
  • DMDM Hydantoin
  • Perfume
  • Polyquaternium-7
  • PEG-18 Glyceryl Oleate/Cocoate
  • Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice (that’s the Aloe Vera)
  • Citric Acid
  • Tetrasodium EDTA, Glycerin
  • Poloxamer 124
  • Hydrolyzed Silk

As you can see, the list is heavy with chemicals and unpronounceable ingredients, but that doesn’t mean much. This is hand soap, not chicken soup. You’ll notice, however, that the Aloe Vera, which features prominently in the name of the product, is quite far down the ingredients list. There’s not that much in there, and the Softsoap hand soap relies partly on hydrolyzed silk for its silky, smooth feel. This hand soap is manufactured and distributed by Colgate-Palmolive.

In closing, I’ll mention something that is often overlooked in reviews such as these: the containers themselves. They are made of recyclable plastic, and are easy to squeeze, but not *too* easy. You don’t want to make a mess when you refill your little bottles. They are easy to grasp and hold, and the lid easily snaps open and shut (see picture), making for a convenient pour. Overall, I must say that I’m quite happy with my Softsoap Soothing Aloe Vera Moiturizing Hand Soap, on all levels: the price is right, the quantity convenient, the soap cleans and the containers are recyclable and easy to use. Five stars. So far I’m two on two with my Softsoap products!

Lego City 60099 Advent Calendar now at Costco

Getting kids to be excited about Christmas is not a very difficult thing to do! I find the idea of the Advent Calendar compelling, even though we are not very religious at all, as it helps crystallize in their young minds the idea of *waiting* for something. This is something that is considerably hard to establish with kids, for some reason. I’m not a huge fans of Advent Calendars that come with a bunch of chocolate inside – they don’t need any more of that – but on the other hand, you can never have too many Legos! Introducing the really cool Lego City 60099 Advent Calendar, available in a bunch of places, as well as my local Costco!

Lego City 60099 Advent Calendar

Lego City 60099 Advent Calendar

I love Legos as much as the next guy … I mean, my son loves Legos as much as any four-year-old can… and there can never be too many Legos in a house.

I love the idea of getting a little toy every day of the Advent Calendar. These are not cheap Kinder toys, or Dollarama crap. These are genuine, brand name Legos that fit with all the other Legos we own. There’s a Lego Santa, cops and robbers, a snow man and a bunch of other things.

This Lego City set is available at my local Costco for only $29.99 – $10 cheaper than on Amazon. For a set containing 278 pieces, this is a really good price, and something original to give your kids just ahead of Christmas. If you’re interested in this Lego Advent Calendar, I would encourage you to get there soon. There is a limited quantity, and Costco won’t be receiving more between now and Christmas.

Dearfoams Men’s Memory Foam Slippers at Costco: Product Review

I’ve never been a slippers kind of guy; socks have always seemed to do the job. That being said, my office in our new house is in the basement, and in the winter, it gets quite chilly down there. I figured that it would be nice to have something warmer to put on my feet while I’m updating the website in the cold winter months. When I saw the Dearfoams Men’s Memory Foam Slippers at Costco, I figured I didn’t have much to lose, and potentially quite a bit to gain.

Dearfoams Men's Memory Foam Slippers

Dearfoams Men’s Memory Foam Slippers

Since I know that Costco usually offers value, the first thing I noticed was the price. The regular price for these memory foam slippers is $13.99, which is cheap enough, but I was lucky enough to buy them with a $4 instant rebate, which brought the price down under $10, at $9.99. I figured that at the price, they’d just need to be OK – not great – and I would have more than my money’s worth, which is always the point.

Dearfoams Men's Memory Foam Slippers

Dearfoams Men’s Memory Foam Slippers

Visually speaking, and at first glance, the slippers look like they are made of some sort of coarse recycled material. which I’m sure is exactly what it is. The outside of the slipper is softer than it looks, but not by much. The soles are durable rubber, made for an outdoor and indoor use, although I would not go outside with these unless the ground was very dry – no snow. Perfect for indoor use, ideally while having a delicious coffee.

The material that covers the inside of the slippers is quite soft, and more pleasant to the touch than the exterior, and comes in a nice, homey, plaid pattern.

Now, to comfort. I’ll start off by saying that as you can see by the picture, I bought the 11-12 size, as I normally wear 10-1/2 to 11-1/2 size shoes. Unfortunately, I really need to jam my foot as deep as it’ll go in the slipper to make sure my heel isn’t over the back ridge of the slipper, which is not a deal-breaker, but a little uncomfortable. I’m sure that with use, the ridge will become softer and more pliable, making this point moot.

As far the memory foam goes, it’s there, and my feet are quite comfortably supported when I’m sitting, which I do most of the time when I’m wearing them, but when I stand and the foam has to bear the brunt of my 200-plus pounds, it bottoms out quickly, as it’s not very thick. When I walk, I feel like the ball of my foot is only a little cushioned, and that the sole is doing most of the work.

That being said, these Dearfoams Men’s Memory Foam Slippers are not uncomfortable to walk in, and do a great job of keeping my feet cozy and warm when I’m sitting, which is what I expect of them.  Walking around the house – slowly – or maybe taking out the garbage in my slippers and housecoat is about the most stress I would put on them. Bought for anywhere under $15, these slippers are a great deal. I feel like they are a little flimsy, but I only paid ten bucks for them, and time will tell. I won’t judge them on that count before wearing them through the winter. As an added bonus, these slippers are machine washable, so if you step in a mud puddle, or drop some hot coco on them, they’re easy to clean. You can visit the Dearfoams site right here.