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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

Berger's Bites:

By Andrew Berger

Behind every bite of late night, half-cooked Ramen and store brand fruit snack may be the desire for something more fulfilling. One would not indulge in such a snack every week unless one values guacamole over books; thus, these are examples of dorm room delicacies: sushi, guacamole, ginger ale, cheese, smoked fish and frozen taquitos. My goal was to determine which Grand Avenue grocer to turn to when you have an incurable craving for dorm food that will excite your taste buds. In order to determine which store delivers a better value on dorm room delicacies, I purchased $25 worth on snacks from both Whole Foods and Kowalski’s, making an effort to buy as many store brand foods as possible. I pitted foods against each other in three different categories: prepared foods, drinks and munchies. I rode down to Whole Foods, where I began my shopping spree by buying the most enthralling Whole Foods store sample item: guacamole. I filled my basket with a bag of blue corn chips, raspberry yogurt, regular hummus, ginger ale and sushi. All of these were made by the Whole Foods 365 store brand and totaled $24.90. I then peddled to Kowalski’s where I bought a similar smattering of snacks: guacamole (Yucatan brand), raspberry yogurt (Weight Watchers brand), chips (Kowalski’s), salsa (Kowalski’s), ginger ale (Vernor’s brand) and sushi (Kowalski’s), for a total of $27.86.

Back in my dorm I spread out the food and ate, first comparing the sushi. Whole Foods’ Spicy Tsunami Combo features four rolls and four pieces of sushi, half spicy tuna and half spicy salmon with avocado. Their sushi is made fresh daily, but was on the dry side. Whole Foods made these rolls with brown rice and coated them in with sesame seeds, a surprisingly nice touch. Kowalski’s Shorline Combo also includes four rolls (two tuna and two salmon) and four pieces of sushi, two salmon and two BBQ eel. Kowalskis sushi is also made fresh daily, and tastes a little more like restaurant quality sushi than packaged store sushi. Both servings of sushi fell somewhere in between Café Mac “sushi” and an authentic order from a sushi bar, but for a dollar less, Kowalski’s offers better taste, more careful packaging and more variety for the money. Kowalski’s takes the lead, but only before we taste the pride of the Whole Foods collection, their guacamole.

This stuff is delectable. With a perfect balance of avocado, onion, tomato and seasoning, the top competitor from Kowalski’s fell far short. Yucatan Guacamole claims to be 95 percent avocado, but it has too many tomatoes that hide the creamy texture of the avocado. Tied up at one apiece.

The chips were $2 less at Whole Foods, and equally as crispy, salty and air filled. The winner of the yogurt battle may be the most subjective decision I made, as I am no fan of fruit pieces under the yogurt. While it is obvious that Weight Watchers, the cheapest brand sold at Kowalski’s, uses artificial sweetener, the yogurt is tasty and features premixed fruit and yogurt. Worth one point on the diet plan and one point in the game, Weight Watchers yogurt wins, and again it’s a tie game.

Kowalski’s fails on the hummus front, where they only sell overpriced Holyland hummus. However, the store brand salsa at Kowalski’s delivers more dip for your dollar than the Whole Foods 365 salsa, which I had previously tasted. The dips balance out, and it comes down to the ginger ale.

A surprisingly large number of people are skeptical when it comes to buying Whole Foods’ soda, but do not underestimate the 365 brand name. Vernon’s Ginger Soda is the oldest American soft drink, but it is overwhelmingly fizzy and artificially sweetened. Whole Foods’ ginger ale is made with 100 percent cane sugar and at $2 less, we have a winner.

Whole Foods’ bulk food section adds to their appeal, as Kowalski’s only offers overpriced prepackaged ‘bulk’ foods. While Kowalski’s won in my sampling of prepared foods, Whole Foods offers a wider range of prepared food, with a salad bar, pizza oven and three soup bars. Factoring in the shorter travel time, the better drink and the better munchies, Whole Foods is crowned the greater grocer for dorm-room delicacies.

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