Today we’re testing out a sampling from the BOLD lineup of mainstream food manufacturer Blue Diamond Almonds. Their BOLD line is intended as an offering for those that appreciate flavor that isn’t quite as middle of the road, and promises “They’ll kick you in the taste buds and keep you comin’ back for more!”. As we went down the list of offerings they have, the Habanero BBQ stood out as the item that sounded the most aggressive in the heat category. As far as spicy products go, I’m noticing a massive increase in all the grocery and convenience stores near me of mainstream snack items carrying separate lines of product with connotations of spiciness hidden inside, so I figured I’d catch a quick taste of what average America is getting to experience in our blooming industry of spicy foods.
I’m no food scientist type, just a guy that likes to cook, so when I think of this product, I think in the realm of needing maybe 3 items, the Almonds, my favorite BBQ sauce and some habaneros, taking the sauce and habaneros, throwing them in a blender and then tossing the almonds in the mix before I put them in the oven to roast; however, the crew at blue Diamond has me beat at 16 ingredients in total. The issue here is, Blue Diamond has a lot more concerns than I do with keeping it shelf stable over time, making sure the nuts don’t clump together when they get hot and most likely trying to keep the snack product as dry and non-stick as possible to not alienate their typical client, who is used to something more akin to plain or salted roasted nuts. To achieve this, they assembled this grouping of ingredients to get the job done: Almonds, Vegetable Oil, Sugar, Salt, Tomato, Molasses Powder, Vinegar Powder, Onion, Garlic, Natural Smoke Flavor, Yeast Extract, Habanero Chile Pepper, Mustard, Malic Acid, Spices and Extractive of Paprika.
The nuts I have in my cup are the typical shelled almonds with the exterior “nut skin” (the brown exterior ‘skin’ on the almond… screw looking up the real name for it, I make up words as I go along) still intact. There is the typical fairly earthy scent that you get from the almonds nut skin, and there are subtle tart, salty, sweet and smokey accents to that, such as what you might get with BBQ sauce, but no immediate indication that chiles are included in the mix.
Taste and Ratings:
The advertising page for the product states “Indulge your inner Texan with almonds coated in bronco-busting barbecue seasoning, laced with delicious habanero heat. For those who like to add a little challenge to getting their handful of almonds a day, our Habanero BBQ won’t disappoint.” Lucky for them, I was born in Texas, so not only do I have an inner Texan, but also an outer Texan, and that outer Texas has been nice and fattened up over the years eating BBQ, so it is now reading that and expecting these nuts to at least make par with decent BBQ. Time to get these nuts in my mouth and see how they taste. There is a quick burst of sweet and salty that hits the front of your tongue and your throat immediately, and then the earthy tastes from the actual almonds, followed by the very typical BBQ flavor for mass-produced snack items, and then just a little warmth from the habanero chiles. The peak heat on this isn’t too crazy, and is easily in the Mild category, but based on the typical stacking effect, it seems the more nuts you put in your mouth, the bigger the heat and flavor gets, but still never goes beyond Mild, so if you want any sort of heat from this you’re going to have to stick as many nuts in your mouth as you can. As far as the flavor goes, you’ve seen the notes above, and I’d give it a Nominal rating. I’d definitely eat them again in the future and tell a friend to try them if asked. Interestingly enough, you can kind of get more bang for your buck by sucking on the nuts instead of chewing them up immediately, as you’ll experience a little more intensity of the tart, sweet and smoky spicy BBQ flavor profile and then at the end you essentially have standard nuts to swallow.