Due to popular demand and the fact that we love trying weird foods and candies, The A.V. Club periodically features Taste Tests. Feel free to suggest disgusting and/or delicious new edibles for future installments: E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We first encountered Lord Nut Levington flavored peanuts—tagline: “Pardon My Flavor”—at this year’s Sweets And Snacks Expo, where their outré flavor combinations, punny names, and high-concept “flavor revolution” branding (“Levington found his mission in life—to lead the Taste Resistance and make a stand against bland”) practically screamed to us, “Please, foist us upon your unsuspecting co-workers!” This week we oblige with a blind taste test of all six of Lord Nut Levington’s flavor variations, pitting them against some of our coworkers’ taste buds to see if they could tell a “Rebel Mary” (spicy bloody Mary flavor) from an “El Chedderales” (cheddar cheese and jalapeño flavor). Reactions were decidedly mixed, ranging from begrudging acceptance of “Cinnapalooza” (apple, cinnamon, and vanilla) and “Mamma Mia” (tomato, garlic, and cheese) to outright rejection of “Sweet Miss Keet” (mesquite smoke and pineapple barbecue) and especially “Thai Dyed” (Thai curry and lemongrass). While the ambition displayed in these flavor combos is admirable—it’s getting ever-harder to come up with legitimately surprising new flavor combinations in this age of breakfast-food Combos, hamburger candy, and bacon everything—the execution is decidedly uneven, relying on vast amounts of flavor powder that coats the fingers and tongue with its vaguely chemical essence. As promised by the trying-so-very-hard packaging, which includes a “flavor meter” that ranges from “Full Speed” to “Revolt,” these nuts indeed have a lot of “flavor,” but it seems to exist more in terms of quantity than quality.
- “I was immediately suspicious of all of them. They had a heavy odor.”
- “So we’ve basically found a new item we can turn into a spice-conveyance system? How long before we just have packets of spices and corn sticks to dip in them, like Lik-M-Aid?”
- “I can’t taste actual peanuts in any of these because the flavorings are so strong. So if your life’s goal was to eat a tin of peanuts without tasting peanut, your wishes can finally come true.”
- “I like the tomato-garlic ones best. It’s like eating a pizza in peanut form, which of course I’ve long wanted to do.”
- “The Mamma Mia had a nice balance of cheese, tomato, and herb flavors. Surprisingly normal, considering the rest of the offerings. Overall favorite.”
- “The apple-cinnamon ones are particularly strange. I’m not sure peanuts should taste like pie. That’s what pie is for.”
- “Cinnapalooza sounds great on paper, but I was not won over. Sweet and definitely a hint of cinnamon, but the powdery coating washed away too quickly. Would have worked better with a brittle glaze coating.”
- “It’s the peanut version of Apple Jacks, but without the charm of being mediocre breakfast cereal.”
- “The Rebel Mary was spicy, sour, a little vegetal. At first I thought it might be Asian-based, like soy sauce or teriyaki. The dry coating did not have noticeable tomato flavor, so I was surprised it was based on a bloody Mary. Not bad, but the real thing is infinitely better.”
- “I strongly disliked El Chedderales because of its pungent cheese essence, almost like blue cheese. I give it a fail for the overpowering cheese and being not at all hot. Get me something to wash out the flavor of these nuts!”
- “It tastes like blue cheese and looks like mold, which wouldn’t be that bad if that’s what they were going for.”
- “The mesquite tasted more like a lab plant hit with a blowtorch than ‘barbecue.’ By taking the names away, I felt as if a necessary Pavlovian gateway had been locked, and I was tasting the synthetic space lobster that was meant to taste like apple.”
- “Sweet Miss Keet is smoky for sure, but there’s something not quite right. Right away, it reminded me of the bacon salt we tested previously. Also not spicy, which in my opinion defeats the point of anything claiming to be BBQ. Very one-dimensional.”
- “The mesquite barbecue one tastes just like barbecue Fritos. I don’t know if that was the goal, but it’s definitely what they achieved.”
- “There was a hospital or medicine stink to the green curry one. It went down like spiced arthropod guts or salty high-school biology dissection leftovers. I don’t know what they did to those poor peanuts besides spice them, but there was an underlying slimy quality that I did not appreciate.”
- “Thai Dyed was abysmal. Never got past the swampy, armpit-like pungency to taste the curry and lemongrass. They defiled an innocent can of nuts.”
- “They were all completely caked in salty flavoring. Your fingers immediately lost some tactile ability because of how much got stuck inside your fingertips. I believe they have perfected powdered taste technology to the point where everything is ground into an ultra-fine powder that is unpleasant to handle manually. I would have enjoyed some kind of spoon-and-drop system.”
- “Once I knew what they were supposed to be, some of them almost tasted snackable. But there was something alien and scientific about each flavor that kept it from feeling like I was eating actual food.”
- “None of them actually taste like a peanut, not even a little bit. Really, they’re just cans of dust with some added crunch.”
- “You know how some Doritos are over-coated in flavoring and you can’t eat it because you know it will just taste like chemical powder? I had that anxiety looking at all of them. Like a cult’s apothecary was trying to indoctrinate me through a handful of powdered nut.”
- “You guys are nuts—see what I did there?—for objecting to these. They’re no different from all the wasabi almonds and lime almonds and habanero almonds and cinnamon almonds on the market right now. They’re saltier, but at least they’re interesting flavors. I’d serve these to guests just for the novelty value.”
Where to get them: Check Lord Nut Levington’s website for online orders and a local-store-finder.