Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
Earlier this year, Windward Mall lost its second anchor tenant when Macy’s closed. Actually, Windward Mall now has lost all three of its original anchor tenants as JC Penney’s closed what seems like a generation ago, and Sears shuttered just before the pandemic. And of course, even before the old signs come down, rumors abound as to which new business will occupy the space. Especially on the “You know you are from Käne‘ohe if …” Facebook page.
When Taco Bell moved into their new location in a shared space with Pizza Hut and Kaneohe Bakery closed, the rumor was that Chick-fil-A would purchase both properties and open a windward location. Members of the Facebook group even went as far as “my neighbor’s cousin who works at the County Planning Department said they saw the Chick-fil-A permit application.” Of course, Ming Yang Construction moved into half of the Kaneohe Bakery site (the other half still isn’t rented) and the old Taco Bell building remains a graffiti-covered eyesore. So when there appeared to be construction activity in the old Sears space, the new rumor was that Costco intended on opening a windward location. Again, members of the Facebook group again said someone’s neighbor’s relative saw the permit application. Which never would work as Costco would require ALL the Windward Mall space and then some. So when Target announced several months ago that they would be opening in July, the Costco rumors died… somewhat.
Now the rumors are that Foodland is moving into the Macy’s space as a Foodland Farms and that when Foodland vacates the space at Windward City Shopping Center, Costco will move there.
Where Am I Going With This?
As I’ve mentioned before, I try to support local businesses first, even if it costs a little more than what you’ll find at the large chains. I’ll admit that I don’t shop at Foodland as much as I should since it’s the only locally owned supermarket; primarily because Safeway is just down the street. And sometimes you just can’t find the right product at City Mill or Ed Yamashiro Building Supply. So I end up going to Lowe’s (or Home Depot). We also went to Target since they were the only store that carried the Rubbermaid DuraLite baking dishes. And of course, since you made the trip to Kailua, might as well peruse the whole store to see what else you may need – a four-pack of Fever Tree elderflower tonic water for $5.99 when it’s normally $8.99 at Safeway or Foodland. Or Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner for the same price at CVS/Longs Drugs when it goes on sale? And now, instead of driving all the way to Kailua, they’ll be right down the street even closer than Safeway!
Right after Target’s grand opening at Windward Mall, I found an article posted about a year ago on the popular culinary website, The Kitchn (thekitchn.com) with the columnist waxing poetics about the Target’s house brand – Good and Gather Broccoli and Cheese Veggie Tots (thekitchn.com/target-good-gather-broccoli-cheese-tots-23395633). She said she always keeps at least one bag in the freezer as a healthier alternative (broccoli is the first ingredient and it contains 1/2 cup of vegetables per 7 tots) in place of frozen French fries or real tater tots. And because crispy tots are the perfect partner for Champagne or other sparkling wine, I just had to sample them. Plus, I exhausted my free views on the New York Times and Cook’s Illustrated websites many moons ago. So my first trip to the Käne‘ohe Target was specifically to purchase Good and Gather products.
Good and Gather
Like Costco has Kirkland products; Safeway, Lucerne; Primo Taglio and Waterfront Bistro labels; and even Foodland with its Maika‘i products, Target has its Good and Gather line of goods. Often, house labels are simply created by a “name brand” company that produces that same product under the house brand name. And to prevent watering down the trademarked name, companies that sell these house brands are prevented from disclosing the source of their house brands. Sometimes it’s obvious which company produces other store’s house brands like in the case of disposable batteries. Either Energizer or Duracell makes the house brand as the two companies account for more than 95% of the battery market. So when you purchase CVS batteries, you’re either actually purchasing Energizer or Duracell batteries. Sometimes it’s not apparent at all like with Kirkland alcoholic beverages. We know that Costco doesn’t operate their own winery or distillation facility, so it’s still debated amongst drinkers just who makes the Kirkland bourbon or vodka or Champagne. Then in some cases, it seems that the house brand is a stand-alone product forging their own marketplace.
Here’s a rundown of my review of some Good and Gather frozen foods:
Broccoli and Cheese Veggie Tots ($4.79 for 16 ounces)
Though the instructions recommended 425 degrees for 14 minutes, I used the convection setting in my ANOVA oven at 375 degrees for just 12 minutes. The tots still had a crisp outer shell and softer interior with a pronounced broccoli flavor and compared to tater tots, had slightly more fat due to the cheese but also 3 grams more fiber due to the broccoli. I would purchase these again in a heartbeat to pair with a sparkling wine.
Meatless Beef-Style Meatballs Italian Recipe ($4.79 for 10.5 ounces)
I’m always on the lookout for plant-based protein alternatives that don’t contain coconut oil as the plant-based substitute for beef or pork fat. After all, saturated fat from animals or plants both raise LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) to the same extent and coconut oil is 86% saturated fat and just 1 tablespoon has the recommended daily maximum for the average male. These “meatballs” have the texture of meatloaf with a touch of Italian seasoning. I would definitely purchase this product again.
Strawberry Banana Acai Smoothie Bowl ($3.19 for 6.1 ounces)
Pureed strawberry, banana, acai and dragon fruit topped with dragon fruit and strawberry slices with a granola topping. While this bowl was tasty, I probably won’t purchase it again as it was very small – almost like a child’s portion.
Lightly Seasoned Grain & Roasted Vegetable Blend ($3.99 for 12 ounces)
A blend of whole-grain bulgur with zucchini, eggplant, red and yellow peppers and onions that actually have charred skin and provides two nice portions of whole grain carbohydrates and 7.5 grams of fiber. Add tofu or chicken breast for a healthy meal.
Lightly Seasoned Quinoa and Garden Vegetable Blend ($3.99 for 12 ounces)
Quinoa mixed with cherry tomatoes, carrots, peas, sugar snap peas, asparagus and spinach, the veggies still having a nice crunch. Again, by itself provides a healthy lunch or with added lean protein, a full meal.
Mediterranean-Style Seasoned Quinoa, Couscous & Vegetable Blend ($3.79 for 12 ounces)
Quinoa and couscous mixed with spinach, chickpeas, red peppers and onions, the seasoning was very subtle with a hint of sweetness. Just add a can of drained beans and this bag provides two servings of a nutritious lunch for less than $5. I would purchase all three of the grain-based items again.
Frozen Chicken & Vegetable Potstickers ($5.79 for 12 ounces)
Following the preparation instructions, it only took six minutes from freezer to table. The taste was identical to potstickers from your average ramen restaurant and six pieces provided 3 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein with less than 1 gram of saturated fat. These will be purchased again.
Frozen Pork Bao Buns ($5.79 for 8 ounces/6 count)
Tasty pork filling though nowhere near the flavor of Hawai‘i-style manapua. But even with the tasty filling, I wouldn’t purchase again since these buns were about the size of small tangerines.
So does this mean I’ll be switching my purchasing allegiance from local to large, conglomerate corporation? No, but it does provide me with another shopping option that’s really close to my home. Especially when I’m out of tonic water and desire munchies to pair with that cocktail. Now if that rumor of Foodland Farms moving to Windward Mall does pan out…
Ryan Tatsumoto is a retired clinical pharmacist. However, he and his wife still enjoy seeking out perfect marriages of food and wine. Ryan is a certified sommelier and a certified specialist of wine. The Windward O‘ahu resident also writes a column for San Francisco’s Nichi Bei Weekly called “The Gochiso Gourmet.”