A few weeks ago, French’s, famous for those awesome fried onions (and yes, that yellow mustard too), released a curious snack mix. The product is based off its namesake dish, which you’ve probably enjoyed (or tolerated) at Thanksgiving.
Green bean casserole is super simple: Green beans, condensed mushroom soup from a can, and those frizzle-fried onions liberally sprinkled on top, all baked together in one dish. I only eat it in November, but it’s always something I look forward to. French’s new snackable version, meanwhile, includes pretty much all the exact same ingredients, but freeze-dried, seasoned, and tossed together in one bag.
Before I go on—and I hate to be the bearer of bad news here—French’s sold out of its Green Bean Casserole Snack Mix, and fast. I had to wave my big food writer stick around in the air to secure a sample, and French’s was nice enough to send me a bag to try. That’s how The Takeout does what it does. We wave sticks around! (Okay, I just asked politely.)
I was so curious about this product, and even if it wasn’t good, I thought it’d be fun to tell you about it. I love freeze-dried food, like astronaut ice cream (yes, yes, I know, astronauts don’t really eat it), any kind of fruits and vegetables, pretty much whatever you’ve got. I really like the crunchy texture that the freeze-drying process lends to the food, and the way it sort of melts away as you’re eating it.
The bag contains large pieces of green bean, entire mushrooms (!!!), and French’s fried onions, all tossed in dry seasoning. At first bite, I was caught a little off guard by that dry, sort of crumbly/melt-on-your-tongue texture you get from freeze-dried ingredients. The green beans don’t taste like much at first, but then that familiar vegetal flavor blooms as you’re eating them. The mushrooms are even more interesting, as they have the same dry-sponge texture as the green beans, but contain all the umami flavor you’d expect from cooked mushrooms. Then, of course, there are the crispy onions, which are delicious as usual. Everything rehydrates while you chew, growing in flavor as you eat it, with a seasoning of sour cream and spices, heavy on an additional dose of onion powder.
This is easily one of the most interesting snacks I’ve ever eaten. I am hoping French’s releases more of this stuff into the market, because at $8.95 for a full pound bag, it’s well worth that price. The whole thing feels like a Willy Wonka creation in the best way, and I don’t remember the last time a snack was entertaining to eat.
Of course, Curious Dennis couldn’t leave well enough alone, and I wanted to see if the dried ingredients would rehydrate well, if at all. So I heated up some water and soaked a small amount of the snack mix in a bowl. After all, lots of camping food is freeze-dried in order to be lightweight, meant to be rehydrated with hot water later for a satisfying meal.
Ugh. I highly regret this. The green beans rehydrated okay, but they tasted like fresh green beans and not cooked ones. The mushrooms rehydrated into soggy wet pieces that tasted cooked, but had retained enough moisture to be wet and gross.
What haunted me the most, however, were the soggy fried onions, which were clearly not meant to be soaked in water. They were waterlogged and broke apart sort of like wet toilet paper. I feel like I experienced something I shouldn’t have, and I’m still trying to emotionally process all of this. I wish I could take this decision back. But I can’t, and it is my burden.
So, should you stumble upon these anywhere in the wild—or, better yet, if French’s releases them as a permanent offering—pounce on them like Tom on Jerry, because they really are the most fun snacks I’ve eaten in a long time. Just don’t soak them in water.