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THINGS WE HATE: Hormel Compleats
Posted by Jillian Madison

…how bad are these things? I’ll put it to you this way: I cooked it over a week ago, and the pungent stench that it left behind in my kitchen still lingers in the folds of my memory, and haunts my sleep in the night.

hormelcompleatsAt first, I was quite excited by the premise of the Hormel Compleat. “Wow,” I thought. “A 90 second meal that is low in calories… AND has a clever name!” Ah, I was so young and naive then. My excitement started dwindling as soon as I started struggling with the packaging. The actual plastic food bowl is encased in a thick cardboard that is really hard to remove. And after giving the product a second look, I couldn’t help but wonder just how many preservatives it takes for a meat product to NOT REQUIRE REFRIGERATION (the shelf life of a Hormel Compleat seems to be around 8-10 months).

The directions on the package told me to poke a hole in the plastic film, and I complied. Honestly, I hardly got the knife out of the container before THE STENCH started filling the air. I had no idea such a putrid, rotten, intense smell could emit from such a tiny hole.

I took a deep breath, and proceeded. Hormel is insistant the meal will be “complete” in 90 seconds – however, that must only be true if you’re on the core of the sun. I had to cook mine for 3+ minutes. And here’s where it got really scary – I removed the film entirely, revealing a murky, grainy pool of gravy and a portion of mashed potatoes that literally looked like the brain of an unidentified farm animal. The potatoes were dry and thick and the overall presentation was like “an english muffin sitting on top of a brown cesspool.” Even worse, once you try to stir the potatoes into the gravy, you can kiss ‘em goodbye. They dissolve into the gravy and cause the mixture to ooze over the bowl sides.

AND THE SMELL! To think I thought it was bad when I had only poked a small hole in it! Let me tell you a story: with the entire film removed, it smelled like my kitchen was suddenly transformed into a factory that produced Purina Wet Dog Chow. It reeked of dog food, mixed with the stench of a bloated trash bag in a dumpster on a hot summer day. Unfortunately, I’m not exaggerating.

The meat bits are cut and processed into cubes (I counted a whopping 3). Hormel also threw in a few bonus pieces of slimy mushrooms that were so thin, I could see light pass through them.

So how did it taste? Don’t ask. I took two bites and was unable to continue. I couldn’t swallow it without gagging. Your mileage may vary. I thought I detected hints of teriyaki and curry powder. What’s actually in it? I have no clue. Hormel only lists “flavoring and spices” in the ingredients. Hmmm. Your guess is as good as mine.

Bottom line: I would not eat this if it was the only thing I could eat all day. The smell is worse than dog food and garbage, and it looks as aesthetically pleasing as a plate of fresh brains. Do people really eat this and enjoy it? Wait – was I just punked?

Please enjoy the following bonus video – it contains ACTUAL FOOTAGE of our experience with the Hormel Compleat as described in this review.

Hormel Compleats from pophangover

Other posts on Food Network Humor:

---THINGS WE HATE: Barefoot Contessa’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix
---Famous Foodies By The Smell (Part 2)
---Why I Hate Rachael Ray
---Hungry? The Neelys’ Smashed Potato Salad Really Satisfies!
---THINGS WE HATE: Paula Deen’s Nuts

    44 Responses

  1. Biff Hooper says:

    Please make this a regular feature. So many shit food products are out there.

  2. tobaccoflower says:

    ha! i loved this… reminds me of something i saw on “the onion” w/ a hamburger in a can. i agree w/ biff, make this a regular feature (although i would have loved to see a facial expression as it was actually consumed – hehehe… evil!)

  3. Darius says:

    If I ever caught someone eating one of these dogfood bowls at the office, I am going to castigate them until they get some culinary sense into them. Hormel should face prosecution for putting such a vile product out on the market. This shit kills people.

    Think of all the freakin chemicals needed to maintain a shelf life of 10 years.

  4. Mark K. says:

    I’ve bought one of these ungodly creations, the “meatloaf” with mashed potatoes. I also was looking forward to sampling this product, but alas, it was definitely too good to be true. I should have known when I found this product in the un-refrigerated aisles.

    There was a unique dog food/cat food aroma that got worse upon heating. Thankfully I was alone in the office lunchroom so no one would witness my bad judgement in attempting to eat this crazy thing.

    I’d rather eat year-old Spam with a side of urinal cake. I congratulate Hormel for my Compleat Nausea.

  5. Ang says:

    why is complete spelled “Compleat”? i don’t get it…

  6. Tatiana says:

    It’s really an incorrect usage of the word. Compleat is the archaic way of spelling complete, but in modern English is is usually used to describe someone or an object with exceptional proficiency or knowledge. Thus you might have a book titled “The Compleat Guide to Food Network Humor”. But Hormel has decided to use the word as meaning “complete” in that it is completely inedible..

    • naturegrl says:

      or more simply, a combination of complete and eat. They’re considered complete eats (what hormel thinks is complete anyways) all wrapped up into one clever word, Compleat! if you ask me, Hormel’s Compleats are Complete Bullshit!

  7. Jake Stone says:

    I had no idea such a putrid, rotten, intense smell could emit from such a tiny hole.

    Just, wow.

  8. Just Me says:


    I suppose if you are used to Fine Dinning at the worlds most Famous Restaurants, you could find the Hormel Completes a bit shy. However, for us Normal Folks, I find their meals to be Delightful, in Cost, Taste, and Convenience.

    I must admit I am not crazy about their meals the include Mashed Potatoes, but the Chili, Beef Stew, and Spaghetti are magnificent.

    It is extremely easy to Trash a product just because if fails to meet YOUR particular taste. That does not mean there is anything wrong with the product, other than YOU don’t care for it.

    I think they are a Bargain and a Value.

    Thank you.

    • PC says:

      Actually these meals are not bad…they are like any other meals or food. You either like them or not and what may smell like “dog” food to some may be heavenly to another…so, It is all relative. The portion is nice for the price and who needs all that food anyway. They are cheaper than cooking and bringing leftovers to work for lunch if that isn’t normally what one might do. If I were wealthy this wouldn’t be something I would care about, but in this day and age I appreciate meals such as these. They are great for single people who have one income and not much else….and to those who say the meals tast like feces, I would hesitate to take their opinions seriously as how on earth would they know, unless…well, I needn’t go further with that thought.

      Thank you.

      I recommend the roast beef and mashed potatoes. And to the OP of the article…”struggling with the packaging?” Seriously? If you have hands and fingers these packages are the most simple to maneuver. Really….go eat your dog food… : ) Now that packaging can be a struggle….

      • Alp1000 says:

        I believe for a single person with little time( little money ) they are great A person who can afford to have a personal chief or Adkins delivered. I quess not

      • christine says:

        These are also great for college students like myself who cannot afford a grand meal and have a dining hall with no food by 7 pm so these are last resorts, or ramen.

  9. dan man says:

    I just have to interject here. I happened across this searching for other stuff, but this is just another case of an ignorant fool. I just wish people could use a tiny bit of their brains.


    1. I counted more than 3 pieces :]

    2. Most of these are quite “acceptable”, for what they are. Although, they should be cheaper. Oh wait, I forgot, people like these think everything should taste like it comes from Gordon Ramsay’s magical hands.

    3. Most of these people making these comments are pure pathetic human beings with no intellect or common sense , which sadly constitutes the majority of the population.

    4. You can store cooked meat unrefrigerated for years with NO preservatives, if done properly. Research it, it’s not hard.

    5. I hope someone reads this, and gets a clue.

    6. I suppose there is a one in a million chance you got a bad one but, I bet you never considered that or called the company and tried another.

    7. Keep beLIEving everything you hear and see without thinking about.

    • Catpower says:

      thank you Dan Man for your comments. My parents are in their early 90′s and Mom still cooks, but because my dad has dementia it’s challenging for her to find food he will eat. I was very concerned about this product being on the shelf – had to wonder about the preservatives (have just started to research it), but he ATE IT ALL! and believe me, that’s very unusual. Mom is sick unto death of having grilled chesse sandwiches and tomato soup every day for lunch, so this was a real find.

  10. Buyer BEWARE says:

    It doesn’t matter how you cook it. Hormel Compleats are Compleat SH*T, and any person with a brain can figure that out. Also, there is nothing normal or healthy about a food with 1,000s of miligrams of sodium and CHEMICAL preservatives. To each his own, but buyer beware! If you’re gonna waste your money on sodium laden food… don’t buy Hormel dog food. Buy Maruchan ramen noodles or Michelinas frozen entrees for the same price!! I promise you’ll be happier.

    • Buyer BEWARE says:

      Oh, and thank you to the authors of this article for the truthful and informative video!! :)

    • Randy says:

      It does not contain 1000′s of mg of sodium. A big mac has 1000 mg of sodium. Hormel Compleats Cheese & Spinach Ravioli contains 500 mg of sodium.

      • Morgan says:

        Dear Randy,

        The meal described in this review does really have 950mg of sodium (I just checked, literally in my workplace) – Just 50mg shy of 1,000!. Glad we’ve worked hard to tighten our accuracy.

  11. mark says:

    like dawn the package looks good but once inside smells like dawn bad bad bad , definite no eat, unless you wanna puke for years to come. a made up fake , actual looks like ti smells

  12. it made me shoot from both ends , the so douse jerry

  13. jerry says:

    dawn the biggest whore around, meth 75 dollor perm bank .

  14. Randy says:

    In the video there was a lot more than three pieces of meat and the potatoes didn’t “dissolve” into to the gravy. I think this was a very inaccurate review of this product greatly exaggerated for humorous value. Because these meals are sealed and pasteurized, they require no refrigeration and less preservatives than regular frozen meals.

  15. just me says:

    You have got to hand it to people. It is simple, if you do not like it do not eat it. I like some of them and hate some of them, so guess what, I am only going to buy and eat the ones I like. So many negative people.

  16. Smarter than you I guess. says:

    WOW. It’s really sad that you guys are that weird, you obviously don’t know how to heat food up. Maybe you should think about getting a new microwave because they always cook just fine for me. I eat them all the time for lunch because they are low in calorie and super easy. They also taste way better than a pb&j all the time. I think you need to try the others because they are honestly good. Or maybe before you do that you should try to learn how to use the microwave. Good Luck! I think you will need it in the microwaving world.

  17. barry says:

    I bought the food and I thought it tasted ok. It wasnt 5 star stuff but it wasnt bad. It did have a fair amount of sodium but so does most soups.
    I expected the worst and was pleased with what I ate.
    I dont believe most of the negative comments.I think negative people are either lying about the product or have something against hormel.
    I guess you could be food nazis.
    Get a life and dont spread lies and rumors.

  18. lohocla says:

    I was on board with this article until the writer stated, “My excitement started dwindling as soon as I started struggling with the packaging. The actual plastic food bowl is encased in a thick cardboard that is really hard to remove.” Cardboard really hard to remove? seriously? Even being a woman this should still not pose a significant problem for anyone! its CARDBOARD! My 3 yeard old daughter opens these for daddy every night. There is actually a handful of them that are yummy, albeit gross looking and smelling.

  19. Claire says:

    Some of these are nasty, but some are actually quite good. Try the spicy Italian sausage and pasta. It’s REALLY good!

  20. Dolly says:

    I just finished the beef tips & mashed potatoes, and it was fine. Left it in 1 1/2 min. potatoes were done, easy, & inexpensive. $2.18. No problem opening package…it says puncture several holes in the film, not just one…
    I think the op needs a new microwave, and needs to follow all directions. It also says to pull the film back 1/4 inch before you nuke it.
    The meat is deceptive on the cover, but I have never had anything fast food, that actually looked like the picture.

  21. Ashley says:

    The chicken chipotle one has a curry-like consistency. The taste isn’t that bad, it was the consistency that was the most off-putting. I probably wouldn’t buy that flavor again but I’m open about others. I pack them because they’re quick and easy. At first the plastic can be a little annoying to pull from the bowl because you don’t want to spill everything. Umm, ever heard of scissors if you’re having that much trouble opening them? If I had time to cook, I wouldn’t buy these but I don’t have time so these I buy.

  22. Dan says:

    After reading these reviews I could hardly believe how absolutely childish and stupid these negative reviewers were. They act and talk like they are in 3rd grade. Grow up you tools. To all the other reviewers BRAVO. I have tried several of these and either did not care for and some I really enjoyed. My 2 favs so far is the roast chicken with mashed potato and gravy and the chicken alfredo. The meatballs were a little too spicy for me and the bbq pork too sweet. But though some are better than others none are bad. I am so glad that Hormel have come out with good priced tasty easy to fix meals.

  23. Kip Wickley says:

    I typically get the spaghetti with meat sauce, chicken alfredo, swedish meatballs, and the chili versions of these to bring to eat for lunch at work and they all taste pretty good. The turkey one is not bad either. But the reviewer is an idiot. The cardboard is actually TOO thin and tears off very easily for me and it says on the back to pull up the cover about an inch before heating.

    Also if you put any 700-800 standard microwave on high temperature and set it for 90 seconds, it will be hot. If it isn’t then you did not set it to the highest temperature or your microwave is broken. If you were a moron and put it in the refrigerator then I can’t help you.

  24. Kip Wickley says:

    700-800 Watt Microwave^

  25. Nick says:

    What preservatives are you all talking about??? I don’t see any of them listed in the ingredients. Are u just assuming there are preservatives in the meat or something? Usually something is listed but I don’t see it on my beef stew packaging. Haters….no better yet, trolls!

    • Eugene Dreyer says:

      I have been eating Hormel Compleat meals for 6 years now and I have not turn into a dog because as you folks say they are like dog food. and what smell are you talking about. If you don’t like them – then don’t eat them I have bad hands from diabetic never damage and the cardboard is a piece of cake to open. I think the person that said they smelled a horrible smell thru one hole should join the K-9 corps as they need super noses like yours. They are no idiots, just preconceive thoughts

  26. Pink Tuna says:

    These meals are just as good as frozen dinners I have tried. The beef tips and potatoes are really good and filling. It turns out several reports recently released from the CDC suggest that sodium intake or over intake is not as concerning as once thought. Do some research. These are a cheap way to eat exceptionally well on a budget. Not everyone can afford to spend twenty dollars on lunch everyday.

  27. Kitty says:

    I would never eat this crap. I’ve quit eating processed foods due to the GMOs, preservatives, pesticides and other toxins they put in them. And I never cook food in plastic. This is definitely not for me!

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