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TGI Fridays Should Not Be Selling 'Baked' Snacks

A restaurant chain known for its fried food should, well, fry its damn food.

For the life of me, I can't figure out why the hell TGI Fridays sells baked cheese puffs. Baked! Like this company isn't synonymous with log-like mozzarella sticks, boneless Buffalo wings, and Loaded Southwest Potato Twists. It's the restaurant we visit when we want deep-fried food, not air-fried, low-sodium snacks.

Actually, Fridays isn't the restaurant I visit for anything. Is that snobbish? Sure, but in my current life, I really just don't know what circumstances would see me sitting down at a Fridays and enjoying a meal, that's all. Short of maybe my car breaking down near a suburban strip mall, it just wouldn't happen. Regardless of how often I eat there, however, I do know that Fridays specializes in fried stuff. When it tries to sell a baked version of these Mozzarella Sticks Corn Snacks, the result tastes like an identity crisis.

The companies that produce our favorite snacks should stop trying to deny what these snacks really are. You're junk food, Fridays, so be junk food already. (You certainly seem to have embraced that identity with your new Big AF Burgers menu, at least.) Moreover, if Fridays is going to label these cheese puffs "mozzarella sticks," the puffs need to be incredibly fatty and cheesy, not baked and therefore light and crispy.

I wasn't optimistic that these were going to taste any good before I bought them, but Big Lots was absolutely loaded with them, so I had to give them a try. Hats off to the Big Lots and TGI Fridays partnership—somehow these two businesses feel like a natural team-up.

What do TGI Fridays Baked Mozzarella Sticks Corn Snacks taste like?

These snacks taste mid as hell. The cheese-shaped curls are crispy and airy because, again, they're baked. They're adequately salted and have a faint cheese flavor. That's it. My main complaint? Yep, you guessed it: They aren't fried. Frying the puffs infuses way more rich, fatty flavor, the likes of which we expect from actual mozzarella sticks. That fried-in-oil feeling helps highlight the cheese flavor, too. As it stands, these baked snacks don't taste anything like actual mozzarella sticks. I much prefer Herr's Jalapeño Popper Cheese Curls, as imitations go.


The ingredients list isn't very inspired, either. Cheese cultures, MSG, buttermilk powder, a ton of binders and fillers, Yellow 5, Red 40. A lot of nonsense. These could really stand to include some bitey Romano flavor, or maybe even a little blue cheese to bring out a bit of the funkiness you get from a memorable mozzarella stick. There's just a whole lot more that could have been done here, but wasn't. What's left is an uninspired snack that isn't worth your money.