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Brandless: Is it as Great as a Facebook Ad Says it is?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Kenyon chapter.

There are two things every college student has in common: a junk food craving and an empty wallet. This is a gross oversimplification, but it rings true for me, even though I have two jobs and unlimited access to a dining hall. I like to think that I am a good bargain hunter for snacks. I also have limited access to places (what with being in the middle of nowhere), so I try to look for snacks online.

Just my luck, a company was willing to seemingly provide everything I wanted.


Brandless, the “non-brand” brand, has been getting advertised to me via Facebook for the past few months, but I hadn’t had the need for snack food over the summer, when P-Chem wasn’t breathing down my neck and I could get good snacks by going three blocks up the road to my favorite sandwich shop. After my curiosity got the better of me, I went on the site.

Immediately, I got excited, because every item was priced $3.00, and if I bought enough, I could get free shipping. Brandless also sold more than just food: ingredients, spices, home goods, even mouthwash. I usually don’t fall for advertisements on Facebook, but I was pretty hungry after class.

Twenty minutes later, and my stomach compelled me to click purchase on 16 unique items (One was free!) for a grand total of $45. I realized that this was a lot of food, and immediately had post-purchase regret. Before I could cancel my order, the lovely email team alerted me that my order was being processed and that cancellations were not available. I was sent my tracking number thirty minutes later, from a distribution center in Kentucky.

After that FedEx notice came in, I decided to do some serious digging. Contrary to my suspicions, Brandless is not owned by Amazon, and considers Amazon to be a top competitor in terms of price, but seems to have mixed reviews on a lot of news sites. Most cited that the prices were not as good as Trader Joe’s, and that Trader Joe’s products tasted better. In addition, Trader Joe’s offered a wider selection of stuff.


I didn’t let this deter me (mostly because I couldn’t cancel); if the snacks were good, it was still worth it to me. The closest Trader Joe’s to me is in Columbus, which is about 45 minutes away (not including the amount of time I would have to wait in the line at Trader Joe’s, since it’s always packed). In addition, Brandless donates a meal to Feeding America for every purchase you make. I also got free applesauce pouches. So… how bad could it be?

Here is my official review of Brandless.


The Items I purchased:

For reference, I bought:

4 bags of popcorn (2 for $3): 1 White Cheddar, 2 Pepper and Black Truffle, 1 Olive Oil.

1 package of Peppered Beef Jerky

2 packages Baked Cheese Bites: 1 Gouda, 1 Cheddar

1 package of Caramel Cookie Thins

1 package of Shortbread Cookies

1 box of Almond Cranberry Bars (x3)

1 box of Applesauce Pouches (x4)

1 bag of Jalapeno Lentil Crisps

1 bag of Tomato Basil Hummus Crisps

2 small spice bags (Turmeric and Garlic Salt)

1 bottle of Mouthwash

1 bag of “Soothing Hard Candy” (Lemon and ginger candies)


Fast Shipping, Good Packaging.

I was pretty stoked to see my 2 boxes worth of food on their way by Thursday, and in my dorm room by early Monday (my first good experience with FedEx). The boxes were well packaged, too; each one containing a little envelope with a brochure about the company and two blank postcards (to send to a friend, I guess). Inside one of the envelopes was my order sheet, and I was reminded of the mountain of food I had just bought.

Each snack’s package was very minimal: Just the Brandless logo and the Item description/ weight. The Nutrition Facts were clear (each item includes a section for added sugars) and the Ingredients list for every item was pretty small. The one home good i ordered (Mouthwash) had a broken cap, but it did not leak; even still, the person who packed my things put the mouthwash in a separate plastic bag.


Taste ranged from suspicious to addictive, but most were subpar.

I sampled everything but the Hummus Crisps and the spices, and found a lot of hits and misses.


  • Both the Shortbread Cookies and the Caramel Cookie Thins were disgustingly addictive, albeit crumbly. I had my roommate take both packages away from me, because I was dangerously close to eating all of them in 5 minutes.

  • The Applesauce Pouches were free, but I think I would buy them anyway. I ate all 4 pretty fast.


  • The Hard Candy was advertised as soothing, but the taste gave me serious anxiety: the lemon was barely there, and the ginger was awful. I like a really spicy ginger candy (or ginger anything), but these didn’t even taste like ginger at all.

  • The Mouthwash was awful, and now I have an entire bottle of it; if the cracked cap caused the bottle to leak, I wouldn’t be disappointed.

  • The Cheese Puffs (both Gouda and Cheddar) were practically tasteless; what I could taste was not edible. I was the most let down by these.


  • All of the popcorn (not including the bag i didn’t try) was okay. For the most part though, it was lackluster in flavor. I think homemade popped popcorn with sprinkled pepper/cheese would be better.

  • The Almond Cranberry bars were only good because they had 15 grams of added sugar. I felt really guilty eating them. Also, they tasted solely like cinnamon: it was very odd.

  • The Jalapeno Lentil Crisps get points for being interesting, but lose them for being mild in taste. Like the popcorn, they were not very flavorful.

  • The Beef Jerky was on par with every other brand I’ve had. I enjoyed it, but it was a pretty small serving. I wouldn’t rave about it, but I would probably eat it again.


Even though everything was $3, the amount of food (and the quality of most of the food) was probably not worth that price.

Each cranberry bar was $1. The small <2.0 oz package of beef jerky was $3. The lackluster popcorn was more expensive than the delicious popcorn at Trader Joe’s. The Caramel Cookies were good but in a small package, and crumbled pretty easily. A lot of the food was pretty bland or only OK. Shipping was free, but only after I had bought 13+ items ($39+).


Conclusion: It’s well branded and convenient, but probably not worth it in the long run.

The site really really seems like a good deal, but I am not sure that it’s revolutionary. The advertisements made me believe that was the case, but I bet similar or better deals can be found elsewhere (Trader Joe’s, Costco, Walmart, ALDI, etc.). Business Insider has done some taste comparisons between Brandless and Trader Joe’s, and Trader Joe’s came on top.

It’s worth noting that adding the price of gas to get to my nearest Trader Joe’s is high enough to make the cost of the groceries equal to the cost of my Brandless purchase. In addition, the cheaper option at Costco may be unhealthier; organic products will always cost a bit more. Even still, the Trader Joe’s food is going to taste better and, as a college student who isn’t concerned about her health during study sessions, I’d rather go for the tastier stuff that Kirkland offers.

I think that the donation element of Brandless is a really nice touch, but the price and flavor deters me from making any more purchases right now. I’d rather donate the money to Feeding America directly. So after I wrote this article, I sent the charity a few bucks. Here’s the link if you’d like to donate as well.

If you’re gonna buy something from Brandless, make sure the taste is worth it. Otherwise… I’ll see you in the Trader Joe’s checkout line.

Image Credits: Feature, 1, 2, 3

People call me Suz.
Paola is a writer and Co-Campus Correspondent of Her Campus Kenyon. She is an English major at Kenyon College with a minor in anthropology. In 2018, she won the Propper Prize for Poetry, and her poems were published in Laurel Moon Literary Magazine. She loves her friends and superheroes and the power language can hold. Mostly, though, she is a small girl from Texas who is trying her best.