Sometimes a food product comes along that’s just so wrong, so repulsive, that I have to eat it. It’s like rubbernecking at a car accident, except instead of just slowing down as you drive by, you yank on your steering wheel and crash into the already existing pile of mangled cars.
That is what purchasing Kroger Jelly Belly Pudding Snacks is like. You know that it is a terrible idea that you will live to regret, but you put them in your basket anyway, filled with guilt and shame as you do so. This train wreck all started when a friend of mine (I’m strongly reconsidering our status as “friends”) emailed me to tell me that he had seen some cotton candy pudding at his local store, and that I should review it. I looked it up to see if it might be available at one of my local stores, since we live in different states, and while I found little information about it, I did find that they are sold under the Kroger brand, which is Fry’s Foods generic brand.
I immediately set out to find it. Amazingly, the Cotton Candy flavor was sold out the first time I looked. Cotton candy pudding, sold out. The mind reels. The second time I looked, however, Cotton Candy was in stock, along with the other three available flavors – Very Cherry, Juicy Pear, and Watermelon. The puddings are meant to taste like the Jelly Belly jelly beans that come in these flavors, which, obviously, are meant to taste like actual foods. It is metapudding. It should not exist. However, I’m here to eat it so you don’t have to, so here I present to you reviews of four of the most eldritch puddings ever to have existed. I will go from what I believe to be least to most repulsive. We’ll see if I’m right.
The smell was sickly sweet, with a strong overtone of artificial strawberry flavoring that I wasn’t expecting. Real cotton candy has a light, sugary smell, but this was pretty overpowering. It looked somewhat harmless to me – a nice, soft pink, sort of like the yummy bubble gum-flavored medicine I took as a kid. Or Pepto Bismol.
The taste? Urgh. Not as sweet as I thought it would be, but instead, you get hit with the strawberry flavor, but with a foreboding chemical undertone that makes me wonder if I’m going to die. This tastes nothing like a Cotton Candy Jelly Belly, let alone actual cotton candy. The jelly beans do a pretty fair job of replicating the taste of cotton candy, but really, that’s not hard to do. Sugar. Boom. You’re done. If you gave this to a child at an amusement park or fair, they would cry, then later throw up.
I only took two bites, but I already feel a little unsettled. I thought this would be the least offensive of the puddings. I angrily throw the cup in the trash and curse every state fair I’ve ever been to.
At the store, I commented to my fiancé that this seemed to be the least offensive of the bunch, and he looked at me like I’d just suggested that there was a least offensive flavor of Kroger Jelly Belly Pudding Snacks. He asked me what would ever possess me to think such a thing, and then I realized that I was trying to associate pudding with Jell-o. Pudding and Jell-o: not the same thing, not the same acceptable flavors. I think my brain was desperately trying to make justifications. It fell out of favor as the potentially least offensive, at that point.
Okay, let’s peel back the cover, and…it smells like cough syrup. Encouraging. I don’t know what’s worse, the smell or the fact that it looks like compote gone bad. I never thought my life would come to this.
When you first taste it, you think everything’s going to be okay. The smell was a false alarm. Well, you are fucking wrong, buddy. It tastes like you just swallowed half a bottle of cherry Nyquil and chased it with a commercial-sized bag of Sweet’N Low. I would say sugar, but it doesn’t taste like sugar, it tastes like something that people who can’t eat sugar shudder at and then dump into their iced tea, because they have made poor life decisions and now they have type II diabetes and they’re probably going to lose all their toes even if they stop giving all their money to Hostess. It does taste closer to a Very Cherry Jelly Belly than an actual cherry, but that is because every cherry-flavored candy always tastes a little bit like cough syrup. There. We all think it. I just said it.
I can’t stop staring at it, even after I’ve stopped eating it. It glistens unnaturally. It looks like some Vietnamese dish Anthony Bourdain ate on No Reservations, where he sucks the marrow out of the bone of some unknown animal. It is not of this world.
The sight and taste of this pudding have induced queasiness. I ate almost half the cup, because I was trying to figure out just the right way to describe the vague, unnameable horror. I furiously throw the cup in the trash and write a furious letter to Cherry from Punky Brewster for being associated with this product in even the smallest of ways.
Juicy Pear and Watermelon duked it out for potentially worst Kroger Jelly Belly Pudding Snack, but Watermelon won, because I seem to remember Juicy Pear Jelly Bellys being a little tastier than Watermelon. Mind you, I haven’t had a Jelly Belly in years, but I’m confident that I can still sort of remember the flavors. I’m also confident that none of these puddings will taste like those jelly beans to begin with, so the point is moot.
I wish I could have gotten a better picture of the pudding, but let me assure you, it looks like a cross between lemon custard and the ectoplasm that Slimer leaves behind. Lemon custard is tasty, and Slimer is fun, but neither of these are reassuring when we’re talking about pear pudding. Actually, nothing is reassuring when talking about pear pudding. Like a lamb with two heads, pear pudding should not exist.
I don’t even want to know what these puddings smell like anymore. I don’t need a sneak preview in pain. So I will just eat some.
HUUUUURGH. What the fuck. Who the fuck would ever, ever think that this was a good idea? It tastes like a mix of perfume made out of sweet farts and artificial banana flavoring. I am going to tie down every single member of the Kroger and Jelly Belly marketing team, feed them each an entire 4-pack of Kroger Jelly Belly Juicy Pear Pudding Snack, and demand to know where the pear is in this disgusting, slimy concoction. It is made from the tears of neglected kittens with infected eyes and the blood of baby koalas who are force-fed bananas from birth.
My stomach has tried to crawl out of my throat with each bite I have taken. For some reason, I find myself asking for forgiveness for pushing down that girl who had a lisp in the fourth grade. Enraged, I throw the cup in the trash and use a proton pack to zap Slimer out of existence.
I just noticed as I pulled the 4-pack of Kroger Jelly Belly Watermelon Pudding Snacks out of the fridge that two of them are dented. Maybe I will get a horrible case of Botulism from them and die. One can only dream.
Well, this is the last one. I feel as though I am standing before the ninth circle of Hell, after having already passed through the third, fifth, and seventh circles. There is no saving my soul now.
I have no choice but to smell the watermelon pudding, as the odor hits my nose as soon as I peel back the lid. It is…surprisingly reassuring. Just your standard fake watermelon flavor, nothing ominous hidden underneath. But then I really examine it…
Look at the way the pudding slides down the spoon, in one big clump. When I picked up the spoon after taking the picture, I accidentally tipped it to the side, but when I picked it up, there was no pudding residue left on the towel. Holy shit, Jelly Belly Watermelon pudding is The Blob! I am going to die.
Oh my god, what is happening here. After I took the first bite, I actually squeezed my eyes closed, like someone was physically flagellating me. This is…this is not watermelon. This is not even fake watermelon. It tastes like…oh god, I can’t even tell what it tastes like, which means I have to take another bite.
It tastes like melted plastic mixed with Novacaine, without the blessed numbness that my mouth is currently begging for. It tastes like decomposing animal flesh blended into a smoothie of rotten eggs and rubber tubing. It tastes like year-old Nickelodeon Slime engulfed a gag gift rubber sewer rat, slowly dissolving it into a toxic, semi-solid soup. Not only that, it looks like something they would use to cast dentures.
It is very, very terrible.
I have started hallucinating. My world is a hellish dreamscape of impossible colors and disturbing scents. Giant, malformed blob-monsters form and dissolve on the peripherals of my vision. Every surface glistens with an unnatural, slimy shine. With a cry of primal rage, I throw the cup in the trash, only to find that another one has taken its place. Gallagher suddenly appears before me, and I smash him with a large mallet, over and over, until he is nothing more than the mush that has been the fate of so many watermelons at his hands. The tiny pieces of his ruined body turn into jelly beans.
- Score: 1 out of 5 eldritch horrors for all, what were there, 400 of them?
- Price: $1.59, $0.99 on sale, I should have been paid to eat them, not the other way around
- Size: 4 3.5 oz. cups
- Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
- Nutritional Quirks: Everything