A few years ago I got addicted to the leading David brand Jalapeno Hot flavored ones. I ordered a 12 pack online had them delivered and started giving packs out to my co-workers and they got addicted to them also. But it's been a few years since that epidemic has calmed itself.
Recently, I was just browsing my local Rite Aid drugstore and saw packs of the David brand sunflower seeds. Since they were on sale for just one dollar (normally Rite Aid without a discount has them for a bit over two dollars) I decided to buy a few packs. My choices of only two to select from are Original or Ranch. I chose all Ranch flavored.
And that begins the tale of me snacking on a variety of different sunflower seeds everyday now for the entire month of August.
I'm not alone! One day I'm snacking away and a neighbor tells me she has been doing the same. So, the next day she gives me a pack of the ones she's been snacking on. Wow! The brand she gives me is totally better off based on the first few samples I ate. I've always known David because it's the most popular brand around in the United States. I mean I've seen other smaller brands but the David brand has always been the to go to sunflower seeds.
In the photo below, in the middle are the David brand sunflower seeds (do a Google search and you can find what the packaging looks like) and on the right are the ones she gave me. The seeds she gave me in terms of shell size are almost double the size of the David brand. The difference in taste of the shell since both are roasted is the David brand is Ranch flavored with it's natural and artificial ingredients consisting of: the Trans Fat Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Buttermilk, Corn Syrup Solids, Spices, Whey, Yeast Extract (MSG replacement), amongst other ingredients, mmmmm Ranch; I guess I could have chosen Original flavor and some of these bad ingredients won't be in there? I don't know, I didn't look at the ingredients in Original.
The package for the brand she gives me is photoed below and says Mongolian Sunflower Seeds. Each pack cost about four dollars for a 408g bag. Everything else is in Chinese. The ingredients, labeling, details about the company are 99% in Chinese. I can't tell you the ingredients. 'In a nut shell' :] to compare the taste of the outer shell: David taste like Ranch flavor & salt since I chose that over Original. The Mongolian Sunflower seeds comes in two flavors: Caramel and Five Fragrances. The Mongolian brand seems to be also roasted, sweet instead of salty, has spices including what I can detect as a hint of Star Anise. Both outer shell have in their own respect a good flavored shell. Both have a good crack when split open.
Inside the kernel: The Mongolian brand is a bit bigger just like the shell compared to the David brand. The David brand is less roasted so you get a more of a whole body kernel and a softer chew but I'm not tasting much of a sunflower flavor, just a neutral taste. While the Mongolian brand has a crisper kernel, it loses it's whole body kernel sometimes on varying seeds being eaten because I guess the extra toast factor takes away that soft chew. And the sweetness on the shell seems to have infused inward to the kernel. The flavoring overshadows the natural taste of sunflower. I can't detect much sunflower flavor in the Mongolian brand.
That's it, not much except I had the pleasure of enjoying experiencing differences in sunflower seeds. And wondering, as in all grown plants, does one brand producer allow the plant to just grow longer?, use better fertilizer?, does the region they are grown in make a difference?, are there different genes?, is one brand organic without the organic label? The flavor chosen definitely impacts the ingredients in what you consume.
In the first image above, the sunflowers all the way to the left is a product of Taiwan and come from a packaging shown in the photo below. The cost is two dollars for a 7.4oz bag. The shell is longer than the David brand just like the Mongolian brand. It's shell a tad smaller than the Mongolian brand and lighter. The Mongolian brand is the darkest. I guess it's in the process in adding flavor to the raw product. The Taiwanese sunflower seeds include salt (even though it's five times less salty than the David brand), Milk Flavor, Sweetener (Liquorice Extract), MSG and Anise, that's all. The taste of the shell is bland (lightly salted), cracks open a bit more natural and the inside has a more natural sunflower taste. It's kernel is crisp but not as crisp as the Mongolian and has a whole body but not as full as the David brand. The Taiwanese brand is the second most natural tasting sunflower seed.
And last but not least and without a photo I personally took to show for it (because I ate them all before I could take a photo of them) is a brand I bought from Whole Foods. Their 365 Everyday Value brand. It is the best value for the money at two dollars for a 12oz bag. It is the most natural one of them all. And the smallest shelled of then all. The shell is a natural lightly salted flavor. And the kernel is the smallest of them all. Just like the David brand, it's a full but smaller bodied kernel with a soft chew. The 365 Everyday Value brand has the most natural sunflower kernel taste of them all. It's ingredient is simple: Sunflower Seeds (Dry Roasted), Salt. The shell is a light grey color shell sort of dusted.
According to a Google search and The Linus Pauling Institute:
"Sunflower seeds provide a rich source of vitamins E and B-1, as well as copper. Adding nuts and seeds to your diet benefits your health. Individuals who consume these foods on a regular basis enjoy a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease or type 2 diabetes, according to the Linus Pauling Institute."
And more health benefits such as Anti-Inflammatory, Cardiovascular Benefits and "...a good source of magnesium" can be found at one of my favorite vegetable and fruit benefits website: the world's healthiest foods - Sunflower seeds.
I will most definitely be sourcing other brands.
I'm curious, are there any other sunflower addicts out there?