Don’t Trust an Alligator Wearing Sneakers Peddling Pasta

Allergaroo Spyglass Noodles

Allergaroo Spyglass Noodles

I Paid $3.99 for an 8-ounce bag of pasta and sauce (prices may vary by region)

Taste: stars

Marketing: 1 stars

I reviewed Allergaroo Spyglass Noodles for two main reasons. One, the packaging was so completely off-putting (the sneaker-wearing cartoon-alligator chef on the bag of shelf-stable noodles practically screams, "Sketchy!") that if this turned out to be a tasty dish, the public deserved to be alerted.

Two, the product's so thoroughly tailored to be allergy friendly (it's free of wheat, milk, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, and shellfish) that if it could taste halfway decent, it'd be a major triumph and an exciting daily meal element for families struggling with any of those dietary limitations.

Unfortunately, this penne rice pasta with tomato sauce is not halfway decent, slightly decent, or decent at all. It's a flavor and texture calamity of biblical proportions. The pasta in the package I got did not look like a bunch of spyglasses (or penne, as it's generally called). It looked like a bunch of spyglasses that got run through an industrial blender: Nearly every noodle was shattered and smashed up. The noodles' texture was slimy and they had a profound rice finish, but the tomato sauce was the true villain—it had a bizarre spoiled-tangerine flavor that was strong and irresistibly terrible.

The lesson here: Making shelf-stable dishes that are respectful of people with a specific allergy is a fine idea; making dishes respectful of people with any allergies whatsoever may be overreaching. And beware of alligators wearing chef hats and sneakers.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.