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Accept no substitutes




Evening Times Editor

I’m not a big “brand loyalty” kind of guy. I know for some people they treat Chevy vs. Ford or Coke vs. Pepsi like it’s the 1980s and it’s the U.S. vs. The Soviet Union. Not me. I’m a “cheaper is better” fellow, so while I will admit to preferring Heinz ketchup over Hunts, I usually just end up with “Great Value” or “Always Save” because it’s usually a dollar or more less expensive.

But I will admit to being willing to fork over the extra cost of a few brands. I will, for example, always get Peter Pan peanut butter. I will, in fact, simply not buy peanut butter if there’s only Jif or Skippy on the shelves (as evidenced during the great Peter Pan recall of 2021). I’m also not buying those off-brand Pop-Tarts, thank you very much. You can keep your Posty Toasties or Toaster Pastries or whatever. That’s a dollar’s worth


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f flavor I’m willing to pay for. I also now always buy namebrand cereals after years of fighting with my family over it. Frosty Flakes and Magic Charms taste exactly like their more expensive counterparts from the high-end part of the cereal aisle and you can not convince me otherwise, but after finally getting tired of throwing away stale, mostlyuneaten boxes of cereal, I realized that was more wasteful so I gave up.

But here is where I will make my stand. My hill I am willing to die upon is… Velveeta.

By coincidence, this happens to be the 100th birthday for that melty, yellow cheesy concoction. For most of its existence, Velveeta was a relatively cheap, long-lasting alternative to regular old cheese. it didn’t even have to be refrigerated. It came is a carboard box and you could just slice off however much of it you needed at any given time. But then, sometime circa 1980, someone figured out you could combine it with Rotel (or in my case Great Value diced tomatoes and chilies) and voila! No hassle cheese dip…

Cool, sure, but over the past 10 years or so, the price of Velveeta has skyrocketed to the point that a single “brick” of it is now going for around $8.00. That… is… insane.

So, what do I do? You got it. I buy the off brand, which depending on where you get it is either Eazy Cheez, Cheez Wow!, Melt-N-Dip or some form of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Velveeta” in a box.

My wife pitches a fit every time, to which I invite her to go to the store insrtead. “It’s not the same,” she says, and I agree… I’ts $4 cheaper!

A few months ago, we signed up for Walmart+. It seems everyone has a “+” these days, or a perks card, a rewards membership, or club or whatever. Just pay a little extra for some “free” benefits. Well, Walmart+ is a few bucks a month, but with it you get discounts at the gas pump, free TV streaming from Paramount+ (hey, another “plus”) and my personal favorite perk, free home delivery, often same-day if you order early enough.

The thing is, sometimes what you want is out of stock, so they will instead send you a reasonable substitute. Like once, they didn’t have the 10pound bag of sugar in stock, so they sent two 5-pound bags, or the time I got Frito’s Scoops when they were out of regular Frito’s.

Those all make sense. But this morning, my wife placed an order and in that order was a jug of CoffeeMate creamer.

Actually, it was two jugs of CoffeeMate creamer — one Mocha and one French Vanilla. Well, the delivery driver arrived later in the afternoon, put our stuff on the porch and drove off. I went out to get it and there was all our stuff… well, sort of.

The dishwasher pods, cat food, Mountain Dews and air freshener refills were there, as well as the Mocha Coffee-Mate… and a 18-inch frozen cheese pizza.

No, really… I can’t even begin to grasp the thought process behind substituting a giant frozen pizza for coffee creamer. Tide for Gain? Sure.

Yellow mustard for dijon?

Makes sense. Pepsi for Coke?

Yuck, but at least that has some logic behind it.

I don’t get it. But hey, free delivery… I’d like to be mad but you’ve at least got to admire the creativity.

It did, however, make the coffee taste terrible…

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