The 5 Worst Grocery Items Of 2023

Not every new product is a winner. These flops came from Coca-Cola, Hidden Valley, and beyond.

Truly this was such a great year for snacking. From spicy, cheesy Cheetos Pretzels to pretty much everything we ate at the annual Sweets & Snacks Expo, 2023 offered up one inspired edible after another, and there were very few misses between all those hits; indeed, we're thankful that this year's best grocery products outnumber the worst releases two to one. And yet, the flops must be called out all the same.

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What follows are the five worst new grocery products we tasted this year. They might not have had us doing a cartoonish spit-take, but they each left us underwhelmed, skeptical, disappointed, or otherwise put off. It's fair to consider these items the casualties of innovation—the debuts that tripped and fell face-first onto the ground so that products like Hostess Kazbars could spread their wings and fly. So let's get to it: the grocery failures of 2023.

Totino’s x FaZe Clan Orange Chicken Rolls

In August, Totino's, maker of iconic Pizza Rolls, Stuffers, and Party Pizzas, announced the release of a non-pizza version of its snack rolls: Orange Chicken Rolls, a collaboration with esports organization FaZe Clan aimed at capturing the hungry gamer market. The product was tantalizingly described as "chicken in a sweet and spicy orange sauce, all wrapped in the famous golden crust fans know and love." However, while the rolls do smell somewhat like Chinese takeout after heating, the filling is so sparing that you're smacked in the palate with the flavor of dry crust. Moreover, the "orange chicken" filling primarily contains tomato puree, lending the whole snack a sort of weak barbecue sauce vibe. These are permanently available in the Totino's lineup, but you're better off sticking to the classics. Read our full review here.

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Coca-Cola Move

After 137 years of innovation, Coca-Cola apparently no longer wishes to create flavors that evoke anything edible; instead, the company has entered its vibes era. Coca-Cola Move, released in early 2023, was meant to "[offer] fans a taste inspired by transformation" and "capture the spirit of change and movement." What that amounted to was a bottle of Coke with both vanilla and strawberry notes, and maybe some coconut ones, too—interesting enough in theory, but these elements were overly perfume-like, bordering on bitter, and the beverage didn't garner many fans. Read our full review here.

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Post’s Sweet Dreams Cereal

In February, Post released Sweet Dreams Cereal, a product with the ambitious goal of opening up a whole new day part for cereal consumption: bedtime. "Sweet Dreams cereal is made with delicious and wholesome ingredients, a nighttime herbal blend of lavender and chamomile, and curated vitamins and minerals like Zinc, Folic Acid and B vitamins to support natural melatonin production," the product description reads. But the Washington Post reported this with some skepticism, speaking with nutritionists who doubted the benefits of such a product. And on a snacking level, the cereal just isn't anything special: While the extra-rough texture is nice, the Blueberry Midnight flavor has too high a concentration of super-sweet dried blueberries, and the Honey Moonglow is too blandly sugary to be craveable, especially right before bed.

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Reese’s Plant Based Peanut Butter Cups

The announcement in March 2023 that The Hershey Company would release a vegan version of its Reese's Peanut Butter Cups was an exciting one, and everyone was abuzz about it—that is, until they tasted the candy. While it's unquestionably a good move for Hershey to invest in plant based innovations, this candy tastes like a first draft. The oat milk chocolate used to create the cups is too firm to blend with the peanut butter in each bite, and its flavor is so earthy that you're left with a mouthful of stiff, unmelting chocolate whose dusty notes outshine the filling, which should be the star of the show. Read our full review here.

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Van Leeuwen x Hidden Valley Ranch Ice Cream

For two whole months this year, Walmart customers were treated to this collaboration between Van Leeuwen and Hidden Valley Ranch. The New York–based Van Leeuwen is known for its bizarre flavor combinations, but this one was less pleasant than the rest, full of unsubtle garlic and onion notes that plowed right over the silky, high-quality vanilla ice cream and lingered on the palate way too long. It felt like a lot of great ice cream wasted on a momentarily funny stunt, and we can't imagine too many customers polished off their pints. Read our full review here.

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