Review: The Branding Expert Checks Out Brandless

Yeah, products are great and all, but I’m not really buying that my toilet will soon be reminiscent of a summer breeze.

If you’ve been identified by Zuckerberg as a “frequent shopper” (read: easy target; check your settings), you’ve likely recently been served up an ad for Brandless. Touted as organic and GMO-free, the big selling point is that every item is priced at only $3, offering, ostensibly, big savings over your favorite name brands.

Note: The Brandless name has been trademarked, as has their tagline, “brand-tax free,” so, yeah.

As some recent changes have required me to refill my pantry, and drawn in by the beautifully simple packaging and promised $3 price point, I decided to give Brandless a try.

The site is simple to navigate, divided into food, home and personal care sections. There are tons of food items and a much narrower selection of wares in the other two categories.

79 items later, I checked out, only about $220 lighter in the wallet. I ordered a variety; a list of sundries that featured everything from sweet potato tortilla chips to sugar-free natural peanut butter to pasta to cucumber melon moisturizing hand soap.

About three days later, my order arrived in three ridiculously large boxes. Kudos to my very strong postal carrier!

The amount of packaging made my trees cry, but everything arrived intact. No cracked, leaky jars of purple jam or open bags of stale hummus crisp-flavored dust.

Even all five bottled salad dressings were unharmed.

Did I mention I love, love, love the packaging?

I set about getting everything organized, and was struck by two drawbacks right away:

1) Yes, everything is $3, but sizes vary quite a bit. Lemon verbena disinfecting wipes come in packages of 35, two-ingredient peanut butter is in an 8 oz. instead of a 12 oz. jar, and a box of all-natural squash soup looked like a miniature. Other items, like pastas and marinades, came in in typical sizes.

2) Some of the shelf lives were very short. Duck crackers (think goldfish crackers with a quack) had an expiration of six weeks from my order date. Even pretty stable items like jams and rice didn’t go further than 6 months out. I suppose this is the downside of the all-organic approach, but had I known this I likely would not have placed such a bulky order.

So how did things taste?

I identified the first item I wanted to try immediately. I’m coco-nutty, so I didn’t wait too long to tear into these:

The bag didn’t hold a whole lot, so it wasn’t really a super bargain at $3. The thins resembled Nilla wafers:

And that’s what they tasted like, too, with a little added tropical essence.

Good, but not mind-blowing.

Since, I’ve also tried the sweet potato tortilla chips, the gochujang sauce and the brown rice. All were tasty and the rice cooked up quickly. My son liked the lemon cream cookies quite a bit, and they didn’t last long once opened.

Overall, I RECOMMEND Brandless. As long as you’re mindful of near-term expiration dates, and if you pay attention to sizes, there are some good items to be had.

And the branding is great. I heart this MadLibs inspired referral postcard.

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