Store-bought food expectations vs. reality


In today’s day and age, people are busier than ever before. Between working full-time jobs, running errands, being a parent, being a student… etc., it is often hard to find even a moment of free time. So if there are easier ways to make dinner, then why not? Now more than ever, food is becoming easier and easier to prepare. The frozen food section alone takes up multiple aisles in most grocery stores. It seems like there isn’t anything that you can’t put in the microwave these days. From pizza, to breakfast sandwiches, to enchiladas, to full course roast beef meals; the options are endless.

Let’s face it, we have all been there. After a long day at work with hungry children at home, we need a quick meal, and sometimes a “TV dinner” is the perfect solution. After all, it only takes a few minutes to heat up and requires little to no preparation or mess. Plus, the picture on the box look so tempting, so how bad can it really be?


Although in some cases, the frozen cuisines turn out okay (and by okay we mean edible), more often than not, we are left feeling disappointed and maybe a little queasy. The picture on the box or package typically promises a hearty, filling, gourmet-style meal that looks too good to be true. Unfortunately, as this list will prove, if it looks to good to be true, it probably is.

The customers in this list have taken the responsibility of letting the world know the truth about store-bought food. And let’s just say… the results are appalling and might make you lose your appetite.

Of course, frozen entrées aren’t the only ones guilty of false advertising, many of the snacks and meals on this list are from some of the most famous fast food restaurants out there. Even reputable brand-names that we are usually quick to trust are guilty of lying to their customers.

So why do we keep buying store-bought or ready-made food if we know that nine times out of ten our expectations will be crushed? Shouldn’t we know better by now? Perhaps we are so frequently flooded with fake advertisement that we have just given in to the fact that what we purchase will never actually look like it did in the commercial.

After seeing some of these sad attempts at food, chances are you will think twice before heading to your nearest fast food restaurant, convenience store, or frozen food aisle.

Chicken chipotle pasta

Who doesn’t love a nice mildly spicy chicken chipotle pasta? According to the package, this Hormel microwavable dish is supposed to have “linguini pasta with grilled white meat chicken in a spicy creamy chipotle sauce.” If we can have all that for a few bucks in a few minutes, then we are totally down. Apparently, the customer who bought this agreed, but unfortunately, he was let down when he opened the box to find this brown, mushy, mess of a meal. Bon appétit!

Bacon-wrapped dogs

Hot dogs can be delicious… and it’s true that bacon does make everything taste better. So the idea of a bacon-wrapped hot dog isn’t so peculiar. However, what this customer purchased in no way resembles the juicy hot dog covered in crispy baconthat we see in the advertisement. Instead, he got a sad excuse for a dried up hot dog on a cheap bun with, what we think, is a small piece of overcooked bacon on top… but we can’t be sure.

Panda ice cream

What better way to cool off on a steaming hot day than to hop by your local air-conditioned grocery store and head straight to the freezer to pick out some nice ice cream. This panda ice cream popsicle may seem like a good idea, that is until you open the package and find this odd thing. We aren’t sure what on earth this is, but it definitely is not a panda. At least it probably (we hope) still tasted alright!

“Two Scoops” Raisin Bran

No false advertising is getting past this guy. Although anyone who has ever eaten Raisin Bran can relate to feeling skeptic about the lack of raisins in each bowl, despite what it says on the box, it takes a true hero to get to the bottom of it! We aren’t sure how long it took for this customer to pick out every single raisin, but we’re guessing it was like looking for a needle in a haystack, considering there isn’t even one full scoop of raisins in the entire box.

Toaster strudel

Don’t get us wrong, we love a good toaster strudel just as much as the next guy, but let’s be real… the flaky crust seen in the picture is just not realistic. Also, no matter how hard we try, we can never get the frosting to look like the ad with those tiny little frosting packets they give you. However, despite the not so attractive appearance, we cannot deny the fruity deliciousness and crispy delight of a toaster strudel.

Turkey and broccoli “stuffed” sandwich

This “healthy” version of a hot pocket claims inside the box lies “turkey and broccoli florets in herb-seasoned cheese sauce, wrapped in a bakery-style crust.” That description, along with the picture, could make anyone hungry. However, don’t trust a book by a cover… or a ready-made sandwich by its package. It seems like whoever “made” this sandwich forgot some pretty important ingredients such as… everything besides the bread. Well, that was a waste of five dollars.

Chili spaghetti

You have probably heard of chili hot dogs and chili french fries, but have you ever heard of chili spaghetti? Yeah, we didn’t think so. On the box, we see a full plate of fresh spaghetti that is perfectly topped with a layer of ground beef in a chili sauce and thinly-grated cheddar cheese. But the reality is… some weird looking noodles floating around in a brown, mysterious, sauce. Also… where on earth is the cheese? Maybe stick to chili dogs for now on.

Double chalupa

Oh, the joys of Taco Bell, where you can buy your favorite Mexican dish for like… two dollars. Most people who have ever purchased something from the fast food restaurant know that what you get never actually looks like the commercial. However, in this case, with Taco Bell’s famous Double Chalupa that promises you “double the beef,” most customers were displeased, to say the least. Is there even any meat at the bottom of that shell? Because all we see is some soggy-looking lettuce, a few pieces of cheese, and a couple tomatoes.

Five cheese lasagna

We have to admit that this “lean” five cheese microwaveable pizza looks promising in the picture. All this for only 280 calories? However, if we have learned anything from this list so far, it is that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! After this customer heated up his dinner, they found this dried up slab of pasta with a few patches of cheese here and there. Well, they weren’t lying, it is certainly a “lean” looking lasagna… taking away the cheese can definitely result in less calories.

Pizza for one

Celeste pizza is one of the best-selling microwaveable pizzas on the market. Many of us can recall coming home from school as kids, and heating up this easy meal. Now that we are adults, we might be wondering what we were thinking. Let’s face it, the crust was always squishy and the cheese never stayed on the actual pizza. Pretty sure we are safer sticking to oven-baked pizza for now on.

Beef ‘n’ cheddar

The classic Arby’s Beef ‘n’ Cheddar sandwich has been gracing mall food courts for years. However, we aren’t sure exactly what the appeal is, especially since we have no clue how much meat is actually in the so-called “roast beef.” Although it does look pretty scrumptious in the advertisement, the flattened pathetic version that you get in real life is slightly less appetizing. We think we will just go home and make our own roast beef sandwich.

Waffle taco

We love waffles, and we love tacos… but combining the two seems a bit odd. Nonetheless, it doesn’t look so bad in the ad. However, this customer was sadly disappointed when they realized that the waffle taco they just ordered from Taco Bell is actually just a reheated frozen waffle with some scrambled eggs and fake bacon bits and cheese sprinkled on top. Maybe they should rename it to something more realistic like… waffle, bacon, and eggs? Just saying…

Cheeseburger pizza

Another unique food combination is Pizza Hut’s cheeseburger-ringed pizza. Let’s face it, how can you resist a crust made of adorable mini cheese-topped burgers? However, when this family received their long-awaited delivery and opened the box, they were a bit confused. What happened to the cute little burgers? Although this pizza just looks like a big mess, and doesn’t look anything like the picture, we are still going to eat it because… why not?

Steak and cheese

Who says you have to go to Phillie to get a good steak and cheese? Okay, maybe you don’t have to buy a ticket to Philadelphia, just please don’t go to Taco Bell. Instead of a flat bread filed with big juicy chunks of steak and an abundance of cheddar cheese, they got this – a stale-looking piece of bread with a few pieces of mystery meat stuck in the center. Maybe Taco Bell should just stick to tacos and burritos for now on.

Big AZ

Nothing screams gas station food more than the Big AZ “Kickin’ Jalapeño” burger. While the oversized hamburger topped with American cheese and spicy peppers does look promising in the picture, the reality is well, less appealing. With a couple poorly-placed jalapeños and a slab of dried up “meat,” you might be safer grabbing a bag of chips and a drink than risking your life on this to-go burger. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Roast beef and mashed potatoes

With a trustworthy name like Weight Watchers, you can’t go wrong right? Well, this customer proved that, despite the low calorie count, this meal is one you should leave in the freezer where you found it. Although it promises “seasoned roast beef in gravy with portobello mushrooms and mashed potatoes” what you actually get is a sad excuse for insta-potatoes with four rectangular-shaped pieces of meat. Pretty sure meat is not supposed to be shaped like that…

Hamburger Helper

Don’t be fooled by the cute red-nosed, spoon-holding white glove on the box. Yes, it looks like he just wants to “help” but trust us, you are better off googling a simple recipe than buying this powdered beef pasta mix. The customer of this particular three cheese Hamburger Helper thought they were making a nice, quick, and simple meal for their family – little did they know it would turn out to look like this disaster.

Breakfast sandwich

Although breakfast is known as the most important meal of the day, many of us are too busy to actually take the time to make a good, hearty breakfast on our own. So it is understandable why this sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit sandwich could sound like a good idea at the time. However, the squished, unorganized mess of a sandwich that this customer actually got does not resemble the perfectly-stacked, freshly-baked biscuit sandwich that is on the menu. Better luck next time!

Double Down

Why use bread when you can use fried chicken? KFC thought of this genius idea, and based on the picture in the commercial, we are not against it. Two pieces of crispy fried chicken with cheese and bacon inside? Yes please! Unfortunately, just like this customer found out, the reality does not quite meet the expectation. Is that bacon even cooked? What happened to the golden brown fried chicken? Talk about a major disappointment.

Scooby-Doo pop

Just picture it…It’s a sunny, hot, beautiful summer day, you are at the playground with your kid, when suddenly you hear that familiar tune playing in the distance – it is the ice cream truck! Obviously, your kid begs you for an over-priced ice cream popsicle, which you can’t refuse. However, when your child finally opens it up, his excitement suddenly diminishes when he sees this pathetic attempt at Scooby-Doo. Sure, it probably tastes alright, but this frightening face may appear in your nightmares.

Canned ravioli

Chef Boyardee has been selling their famous canned beef ravioli for longer than we can remember. How easy it is, to open a can of ready-made pasta and heat it up. In just a matter of minutes, you can have some delicious Italian cuisine. Don’t be fooled by the ad, it doesn’t always look so perfect. This customer was in for a surprise when this pasta and tomato sauce clump slid out of the can he purchased.

Hot Pockets

Hot Pockets were pretty much the after-school snack throughout the ’90s and early 2000s, and are still found in nearly every grocery store in America today. These microwaveable stuffed sandwiches come in a variety of flavors, but their pepperoni pizza is probably their trademark. However, the Hot Pocket on the cover of the box which is stuffed to the max with pepperoni slices and mozzarella cheese, is actually just pasty sauce and cheese stuffed in bread with a few pepperonis.

Chocolate chip cookies

Store-bought chocolate chip cookies are usually a pretty safe bet. Yes, they are typically not anywhere as delicious as your grandmother’s home-baked cookies, but they aren’t horrible. Unfortunately, these Cadbury cookies that are supposed to have “double chocolate” look so sad that we want to cry. These dried up, dull, boring, lifeless chocolate chip cookies are a disgrace to chocolate chip cookies everywhere. Note to self: learn to bake or stick to Chips Ahoy!

Nacho box

Another one of KFC’s brilliant ideas, a nacho box topped with fried chicken nuggets, cheddar cheese, tomatoes, and ketchup. While the idea sounds pretty innocent, the result is actually quite frightening. It just looks like a bunch of stale nachos, fake shredded cheese, and some kids meal chicken nuggets all randomly thrown into a cardboard box. Maybe KFC should stick with what they do best, fried chicken, and leave the nachos for Taco Bell.

Chocolate Santa

Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without getting a traditional chocolate Santa in your stocking. When unwrapping this piece of holiday candy made by Russel Stover, one might expect that the chocolate would actually resemble Mr. Claus himself. Unfortunately, as many young children discovered on Christmas morning, this is just a strangely-shaped lump of chocolate dressed up like Santa. Is this some sort of practical prank? What did they do with Santa?


This classic cream-filled Hostess snack cake has been taking over shelves in grocery and convenience stores for many years. Despite their fame, it is a known fact that there is never enough cream filling inside. However, they continue to sell off the selves because come on, who doesn’t love a good Twinkie? However, things got too far when this customer noticed how different the cake on the box looked to the one he was eating.

Cheese enchilada

Who can resist a cheese-filled enchilada? The Mexican cuisine consists of a corn tortilla rolled around a filling such as meat, cheese, beans, vegetables, etc, usually making for one scrumptious meal. Unfortunately, in this case, the hungry customer who took a risk with this sad microwavable-version, was left disappointed. Although the contents in the box don’t match the picture-perfect enchilada shown in its picture, it couldn’t have tasted that awful considering someone actually took a few bites.

Chicken flatbread sandwich

To be honest, we are not usually one to turn down a Subway sub, but in this case, we are going to have to say pass. While the picture of this buffalo chicken flatbread sandwich on the fast food restaurant’s menu looks like it is fit for a king – the reality is, well…just sad. This so-called buffalo chicken sandwich is actually just a lettuce and tomato sandwich, with maybe a couple pieces of chicken hidden inside. We expect better from you, Subway.

Cherry berry pie

Baking a pie can be extremely time-consuming and not to mention, a challenge. Although many of us crave that home-baked pie taste, not many of us have what it takes to make a diner-ready pie. So when Banquet came out with this frozen cherry berry pie with a “freshly baked taste” all the non-bakers out there rejoiced. Unfortunately, most of them were in for an unpleasant surprise when they pulled this catastrophe out of the oven.

Thin crust pizza

Just when we thought that Celeste pizza topped the list of disappointing microwavable pizzas, we see this. This BBQ chicken thin crust pizza is just all wrong. The crust looks like a piece of cardboard and there is just a mess of sauce, cheese, and about three chicken cubes all pushed to one side of the pizza. Yes, we get that it is only seven Weight Watchers points but come on, is this even a pizza anymore?


“Now that’s a tasty burger!” said Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction… We have a feeling he probably wasn’t referring to the burger on the right of this image, however. Imagine ordering what you think is going to be a big, juicy beef burger, only to be presented with this – complete with tentacles! We like our seafood, don’t get us wrong, but there is nothing appealing about sticking some squid in between a burger bun and calling it luxury cuisine.