Bumblebee Entree-Style Tuna

This is the third in an occasional series of reviews of new grocery (and other) products that strike me as interesting or unusual. See also Tiger Power and Grapple.

Bumblebee Entree-Style Tuna is one of the latest Home Meal Replacement products arriving in the grocery store. Home Meal Replacement, a lovely industry term usually abbreviated as HMR (which always sounds a little too close to HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy) for me).

The idea is to help busy families get a traditional-type meal on the table quickly, through some innovations in packaging and distribution and food design. And maybe getting people to think a bit differently about what actually is necessary to constitute a meal.

The Package
The product comes in three flavors – we tried two of them: Lemon and Cracked Pepper, and Ginger and Soy. The third was Mesquite Grilled (not so appealing for tuna). Although check out the nutritional info – maybe we made the wrong choice because that Ginger & Soy has triple the sodium of the others – 43% of your RDA. Didn’t they use to salt fish to preserve it?


The packages are the latest foil envelope gizmo, the printing technology has come along since the early days of boil-and-bag. Bumblebee of course is a company known for tinned tuna (I’d call it canned tuna, but that doesn’t ring as well, does it?), but small type indicates this is gourmet wild tuna, which presumably means that it was caught, not farmed. I didn’t know that tuna was farmed, anyway, and I also assume that you can label anything as gourmet without challenge.

The back of the pouch shows the three easy steps (1 – Tear, 2 – Heat, 3 – Enjoy), with some helpful and encouraging requests such as “Notice the firm texture and seasoning!” and pointers to the “Convenient Preparation Options – The results are all Fabulous…” (and yeah, they did capitalize just Fabulous in that sentence – does that mean we need to have a Fabulous voice in our head when we read it? Fabulous!)

Couldn’t be easier. Tear it open:
and put it on a plate (or baking dish, or skillet) – it can be heated in the oven or microwave, or on the stove-top. We opted for the toaster oven.




Whoops. A bit more goo comes flowing out of the pouch than one would expect. The picture on the back of the envelope is goo-free, and shows a much larger, thicker, and pinker looking steak than we got. And look how different the two flavors are. The Ginger and Soy (on the right) does have little sticks of ginger on top. I’m not sure what that is on the top of the other one. Let’s just say that’s spices, okay?

The instructions said a preheated-350-oven for 10 minutes. We used a toaster oven, and it wasn’t pre-heated, so I went for 11 minutes.

and served…
It wasn’t good. It wasn’t flaky, it was dry. It wasn’t enough food – look at those portions – that’s two halves on one plate (that way everyone got to try each flavor!). The rice was essential to mix in to each bit to try and stave off some of the dry tuna taste/texture.

Perhaps my 11-minute improvisation was disastrous to the end-product; I’d not expect that, but who knows how carefully they time these things in development.

Not such a good execution. Certainly, a compelling idea. Reasonably healthy and easy to prepare, just steps to a “real meal” – that definitely appeals to me. But if you are going to compromise at meal-time (and certainly that is almost inevitable) don’t set the expectations so high? At least in a new product category, if you want to survive, don’t set the expectations so high. This was not like eating fresh tuna, or even freshly prepared tuna. It was just over-flavored dry…something.


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