This is just a sampling of the items that I have received from BzzAgent over the years.
A program that I have mentioned many times and holds a special place in my thrifty heart is BzzAgent so it's about time (or very past due... either way) that I do a proper write up on it. I have been a BzzAgent since 2007.
The Main Program:
BzzAgent is a word of mouth (WOM) product testing program. They send you a product (often full size) or a coupon to get the product free in store in your "BzzKit". You try the product then spread your honest opinion online and in person. Sometimes your kit comes with samples or coupons to pass out to friends, family, or even strangers. After doing this, you report back on how you spread the word. The methods of doing this seem to change every few months. It used to be that you would just do a BzzReport. You would explain how you shared and what was said. Those are still available but there are other ways of sharing that vary from campaign to campaign. Some campaigns have the options to post a photo or write a review or tweet about it on Twitter. This sounds more time consuming and laborsome than it actually is. The reporting/sharing is not work at all as you are usually so excited to share that you got the item free that you want to talk about it. The actions that follow take anywhere from a minute to about ten. My husband actually joined during 2013 and joined at a great time for guys because they were the target demographic for several campaigns in a row. He got to test razors (free razors are never turned down by a military man), Dr. Scholls, some toys for the kids, etc.
Your BzzKit is the main reward and point of the program. I have gotten anything from three packs of gum (5 gum was one of my first campaigns) to an $179 Sonicare toothbrush for free! If you are near a Kroger (or affiliate) store, you are VERY lucky as they do Kroger exclusive campaigns frequently. Unfortunately I am no longer near one :(
When certain actions are approved or when you take certain surveys, you get points for the Mypoints program. This site I have been through even longer than BzzAgent. The points that you earn can be turned in for gift cards for many different stores, restaurants, and more. While I don't shop through MyPoints (I use Shopathome almost exclusively as explained here), it is an option. You can also earn points for surveys (I usually don't bother on this site), taking quick polls, printing and using coupons, and "reading" (really just clicking the link) emails. I have gotten many restaurant gift cards to treat the family to a night out.
--Patience is key with this program! You might get lucky and get a campaign offer within a week. You also might have to wait a few months to get picked. It's worth the wait. You don't do much while you are waiting. Make sure your surveys are up to date (once you get through the ones that are there when you join, there are very few throughout the year) as this is what they use to pick people. Even after you work your BzzScore up to a high number, you can have some months where you have multiple simultaneous campaigns, then go several months without any invitations.
--Quality over quantity when you are doing the actions. A few actions scored "excellent" is better than many marked "fair". Do try to do at least 2-3 actions per campaign though.
--Your actions expire after one year. This will affect your overall BzzScore so if it drops and you check that all of your surveys are done, there is nothing to worry about.
--While most campaigns are free, there are occasionally ones that are just for discounts. You do NOT ever have to accept a campaign that you do not want to do (no matter the reason). It will not affect your future eligibility (as long as you didn't accept it then not do anything for it).
--You really are encouraged to be honest. Your job is not to sell the product, it is to spread the word and provide useful feedback. You will not become ineligible for future campaigns by providing negative feedback. The only personal tip I have is to do it in a tactful way. Instead of saying "I hated product Z and would never buy it!", you might find something you liked about it as well or something that they could change to make you like it. For example, "While I liked the size and shape of product Z, it's performance did not live up to my expectations because of ____" or "I did not like how product Z performed but I think that if they made the lid wider, it would have produced better results".
--Along with keeping up with your surveys, make sure that you link up your shopper reward cards for any grocery stores that they offer like Kroger, Ralph's, etc. It expands your chances of campaigns.
Sorry in advance for the time stamps. These are actually from my camera before I turned it off in the settings.
It is over a year since I was supposed to post this so I'd say "late" would be the understatement of the year. But hey better late then never right? I got this little beauty from a limited time program that BzzAgent was doing in fall of 2011 (I didn't end up getting it until around New Years last year) called the Daily Bzz. I had tried for a few of the Daily Bzz campaigns because they had some really neat ones. This is the only one I got into but it was perfect for me as I had been wanting an immersion blender for a while. My oldest son helped me win it by starring in my video entry. He was just as excited as I was when I found out that I had won one of them. Then came the daily questions on whether it was here yet. The answer was no for a few MONTHS as they had gotten very backed up. I was squealing with glee when I opened the package though. To add to the excitement, BzzAgent sent me the "brushed chrome" color! I had assumed they were going to send the white because it is cheaper than the colored line but I was pleasantly surprised as this color matched my other small kitchen appliances much better. Also included is a handy, dandy measuring cup that you can blend in. It works great for doing protein shakes and smoothies in. I used it a lot for that when I first got it. Since then I have gotten a Vitamix that takes care of all of my smoothie needs (and beats the veggies to a pulp).
My first projects were applesauce and apple butter. I washed the apples and cut them off the core. Then I just tossed them in a pan with a little water, cinnamon, and nutmeg. After cooking on low until they were soft, I took them off the heat. Next, I blended with the Smart Stick right in the pan until smooth. After separating the amount I that I wanted for the applesauce (it was done), I added more of the spices and continued cooking on low until it thickened into apple butter. I love this cooking method since it requires no dicing or peeling. This saves me time as well as leaving the nutrients from the skin in the food. And lets's not forget that there is not an ounce of added sweetener so it is healthy! Below is the applesauce (which didn't last until it cooled all the way) and I didn't get a photo of the apple butter as it was later when I finished that. The boys scarfed both things down though and I thought it was pretty good too if you ask me.
The Smart Stick saved time and dishes. Without it, I would have had to spoon it into a blender then back in. Cleanup was an absolute breeze. The bottom portion pops off with the press of a button and rinses clean very easily. Thank you BzzAgent, you have made my life easier with this campaign <3
Above is a photo of our Meatless Monday dinner. I have recently (a about 5 weeks now) become a vegetarian. It actually had nothing to do with the MorningStar Farms campaign though I know the timing looks suspicious. The MorningStar Farms Bzz campaign introduced me to a lot of foods that I thought I would have to give up though. I have already done a post on the burgers. Today I am going to go through some other foods that I have tried afterwards. I have really been impressed with the taste and texture of everything that I have tried. The only thing that really disappoints me about the company is that they still use GMO ingredients. When many competitors out there such as Gardein and Lightlife (I hadn't even heard of these brands before coming a vegetarian) are supporting GMO labeling and all of their products are non-GMO. This will not stop me from buying MorningStar Farms but it will make me eat it much less than I probably would have. Anyway, back to what I tried. Tonight I made sesame, "chik'n" noodles w/ mustard greens, water chestnuts, etc. It was delicious! Since it was my first time using the Chik'n Strips, I decided to try a small piece by itself (was cooked in a little bit of sesame oil) before adding it to the rest of the dish. It was actually good. Not exactly like chicken but the first meatless "meat" that I actually liked alone. In the dish, it picked up the other flavors and really did taste like chicken. My son actually thought it was chicken until he saw me eating it then he said it must be fake chicken since mom is eating it.
When I went back to the commissary to use my $1 coupons, I was very excited that MorningStar Farms products were on sale for $2.50! Score! I actually used my free coupon on the Three-Bean Chili w/ Grillers Crumbles. My husband is a chili addict. He is not a chili snob at all and likes almost every chili he has ever tried. Of course he has had some favorites but I don't think I have every seen him say that he didn't like chili. He was very skeptical when I told him I was heating this up for him. I don't know why. He has tried so many meat replacement products now (and like them) that he should just treat it like any other new food. The verdict? He liked it (big shocker). I actually heard him talking about it on the phone to his brother. He likes to complain to anybody who will listen that I have become a vegetarian in hopes that they will "take his side" and try to convince me to give it up lol. But I overheard him saying "but some of the fake things she gets are actually pretty good" and he went on to talk about how he liked the chili and the burgers and the chicken patties. HA! This was one of my least favorite products that I have tried thus far And actually it was not the crumbles (the fake ground "meat") that I didn't care for, it was just the seasoning. I am pretty picky when it comes to chili. Even when I did eat meat, I was never fond of Wendy's chili which so many people rave about.
My favorite product? The Italian Herb Chik Patties! Talk about amazing! When I made us some "chicken" patty sandwiches, they were devoured too fast to take a photo. We had them with sliced tomato, lettuce, a little mayo, and swiss (though provolone or mozzarella would have been fantastic as well) cheese on toasted potato bread because we didn't have buns. They were very delicious and as usual the texture was very chicken patty-ish. I actually liked them so much that when I went to the store last week, I picked up another pack even though I had no coupons... shocker! Sorry I could only take a photo of the box for you but you have to admit, their photo on the box is yummy looking. Have you been entering the meatless monday giveaways on their page every week? No luck yet but I have been entering every week and you get an extra entry for entering a upc code. This week is a 17 piece Pyrex baking set. Next week is a Cuisinart Electric Hotdog Roller ... ok a little weird lol. Enter here :)
What is a Com Dev you ask? Well that is what BzzAgent calls their Communications Developers. Simply put, it is the person(s) that reads, rates, and responds to all of the Bzz that you send in on the site. I think it is great that they are adding more as it has been taking quite a while to get your Bzz approved lately. Apparently you get paid per "job". Even if it's a small amount, this would be perfect for me! I'd love to work for BzzAgent even in a small capacity. If you are interested in "applying", check out their facebook page here
for details. Apparently, you will only hear back if they are interested in you so if you don't hear back, take it as a no. I haven't heard back yet (it has only been a few hours) but there were a lot of people who emailed in. I am crossing my fingers and toes to get this one.
The burger looks bigger than it is. That is actually a small dessert plate that it is on :)
Well as I had previously mentioned, I was very skeptical about trying the MorningStar Farms products. In the past I had tried Boca burgers and I think other brands and thought they were just awful. They tasted nothing like meat and worse, they had an awful aftertaste. And Tofu? ... Yeah that doesn't happen unless it is cut small and cooked in something else or blended into something like pudding (so basically any method that covers the flavor!). However, I am not one to turn down free food unless it were something really unhealthy that we wouldn't like. I figured that if my husband and I didn't like them, I could at least mask them with cheese and get my boys to eat it. Before I got my Bzz kit, I got an email from BJ's that new coupons were available (we have a free 2 month membership) and one of the coupons was for $3 off any MorningStar Farms product. As soon as the Bzz kit got here, I headed to BJ's to see what they had and how much it would be. The cheapest item they had was a big box of the "Grillers Vegan" burgers. They were $10 ($9.99 or something like that) so after the $3 BJ's coupon and one of my $1 coupons from the kit, they were $6.
One of our favorite burgers is a mushroom swiss burger and we were too scared to try a veggie burger plain anyway. So I grilled up an onion with a can of mushrooms in a little bit of olive oil and minced garlic. I prepared the burgers in the same skillet since I was using that anyway though you can microwave them as well (and I have tried this since when only making one for myself). They actually smelled good! As they were cooking, I sliced some swiss cheese and tomato and got the plates and buns ready. I put the cheese in between the burgers and hot toppings so it would partially melt. I put a little mayo on mine. The above photo is the result. Doesn't it look good? Surprise!... they WERE good. They tasted just like a regular burger. I did taste a small bite of the patty by itself so that I was a proper product tester. While it was not gross, I can't say that I would ever eat it by itself. But the texture was so close to a real burger that I was very impressed. And when eating on a bun, no aftertaste! The biggest surprise though was that my husband liked it. I had been trying to make them for a few nights but he didn't want to try them so he kept being sneaky and starting dinner before I could. I finally caught him one night and said "NO! I am making the veggie burgers tonight and you ARE going to try them!" at which point he whined something. The end result was that his burger was gone and he, along with the kids were annoyed that I only made one per person! I did this so that if we didn't like it (I told you, I was not confident going into this one), I could cook them in a different way the next time.
My breakdown of the product we tried:
Color: very close to the cheaper burger patties that you can buy.
Size: It is a small (don't remember exactly how many ounces each patty is) patty that fits well on a store bought bun. They would kind of drown if you were using the fancier burger buns though. I actually think the size is perfect. I think that if they were bigger/thicker, it would be noticeable that it was not meat when you bit into it (taste wise). They also do not shrink since they are not meat.
Texture: Very much like a real meat patty. By looking at the pictures of some of the other varieties, I think that they might have a different texture (and very different color) so this only applies to this variety.
Price: Pretty expensive to my cheap butt. Veggie products are not cheap to begin with and this line is quite a bit more than the Boca line, though they also taste a lot better. The bigger boxes at BJ's were $10 and over. The smaller boxes (which are quite small... less than a half pound) were $3.18 at the Commissary which means that at regular stores they were probably $4 or more.
Variety: Amazing! This is just what I saw (have looked at BJ's and the Commissary)... Burgers (Grillers Original, Grillers Vegan, Grillers Prime, Garden something, Black Bean Chipoltle, Spicy Black Bean), "Chicken" Patties (I think I saw two kinds), "chicken" nuggets, "chicken" (chunks of unbreaded grilled chicken looking stuff), breakfast sausage patties, breakfast sausage links, hot dogs, corn dogs, "meat"balls, chili, and riblets! That is a LOT! And this is not all, its just the products from those two stores, they have MANY more at other stores.
I was hoping that I would have tried another variety by the time I did this write up but we have had a pretty busy week so I hope to do another post within the next week. Today at the store we bought the chili with my free coupon and will use it tomorrow for our Meatless Monday meal with some cornbread and veggies. My husband wants to try the black bean burgers (either variety) and maybe the riblets. I might use my other BJ's coupon (with a $1 coupon) to get a box of the chicken patties or nuggets since my kids liked the burgers so much. Bottom line... These will not replace the occasional thick juicy beef burger. But they do make a nice quick guilt-free snack.
The MorningStar Farms site has a sweepstakes going on right now where they have a giveaway every Monday in honor of Meatless Monday. Tomorrow they will be giving away 10 nice looking Cuisinart Toaster Ovens. I will be entering, will you? Go here
to check it out.
Let me just tell you, Sears customer service is awful. I love the deals that I can get from Sears, Sears Outlet, Kmart, etc but only if I don't end up having a problem because they stink at fixing them! After over a month of back and forth via email, live chat, and over the phone, I finally filed a report with the Better Business Bureau. We'll see if they fix it. I sincerely hope they do.
On another note, I went running with my boys the other day. Granted it wasn't far. I am not nor have I ever been a runner. But we went for a short jog down the gravel/dirt road and finished off with a sprint down my grandma's long driveway. It's a start.
My husband is really bummed about not getting into the SodaStream Houseparty. Making and uploading videos supposedly increases your chances of getting chosen. He made 3 (2 of the 3 were in the top 5 rated videos) that were way more creative than most of the rest so he really thought he had a shot. As for me? The only new product test that I have to do as of yet is MorningStar Farms. I received my coupons yesterday from Bzzagent and hope to use them by the weekend. I'm a bit skeptical. I love meat but would like to cut down on it. I know that these products will not taste like meat but hopefully they will at least be good enough that we like them.
My latest Bzz campaign with BzzAgent is the new Blast Flipstick from Covergirl. There are two shades of lipstick with every purchase. One side is a darker, creamier color. The other is a lighter, shimmery color. The idea is that you can use the darker, use the lighter, blend them together for a third color, or use the lighter to accent, highlight, or create the new ombre look. The ombre lips is not my thing. To be honest, I think they look a little strange. I received the product in Stunner, Vixen, and Minx. So far I have tried both the Stunner and Vixen and like both. The Minx is not a color that I would be able to pull off with my skintone so I am giving that one away (see giveaway below). The lipstick itself is not anything special. It is just lipstick. The fact that you are getting two shades in one stick that coordinate beautifully is what sells the product. Will this replace the products I usually use? No. I like the colors but I really am a lipgloss/liquid lip kind of girl. If the product had a little bit of sheen, it probably would be my one stop lip shop. However, because of the unlimited blending option, I will definitely add it into my lip rotation. I would really like to try the Cheeky or Perky.
This product actually reminds me of another Covergirl product that I have gotten from Bzzagent that I still use all the time. Smoky Shadowblast has two coordinating creamy eye shadows on the same stick. I had to go look it up on the website to see what it was called because the name has rubbed off of the one I have from frequent use. Silver Sky is the color I have and I would also try Onyx Smoke or Bronze Fire. I was shocked at the poor reviews. After many, many applications, my stick has not crumbled or broken, nor have I had any problems with it creasing. I tend to have a light hand with makeup so maybe the people that had problems with creasing were doing a more dramatic look.
But for me, when I travel, I like to bring versatile things that can create multiple looks while not filling multiple bags. Because of this, the Blast Flipstick, Smoky Shadowblast, and a simple mascara are all my makeup bag needs.
The third color I got called Minx is just not a color that my skin tone would be able to pull off. Therefore, I am going to give it away to a random reader (unopened of course) along with a couple of the $2 off coupons so that you can try other colors if you'd like. Does it look like a color you could pull off? Or do you know somebody who could rock it? You can earn up to 3 entries per person. You must be in the US to win. A winner will be picked via random.org. The giveaway ends on 12/12/12 at noon (eastern time). Please use a valid email address as this is how I will contact you if you win (it will not be publicly visible and I will not use it for any other reason).
How to enter:
1- Simply leave a comment here on this post. Comments must be approved (to avoid spam) so do not worry if you don't see your comment after you hit submit. If you would like a $2 off coupon, let me know in this comment and I will send them out while supplies last.
2- Get an extra entry for liking RaeMartReviews on facebook https://www.facebook.com/RaeMartReviews then leave another comment here (on this post NOT on facebook) letting me know that you are a fan.
3- Share the giveaway on facebook then come back here and leave a comment letting me know that you did.
So remember when I promised an update on the other Private Selections desserts that I had tried? Yes I remembered too but procrastination is one of my biggest flaws as a person. Anyway, the three I tried were Northern Spy Apple Crisp, Blueberry Peach Panna Cotta, and Pineapple Upside Down Cake. The pineapple upside down cake was my husband's choice. As much as I love pineapple (and it is one of my favorite fruits), it looses all appeal to me when it is cooked in any way, shape, or form. It was very quick and easy to make. While I was not a fan, my husband said it was good and moist. He was also the one who picked out the panna cotta. To be honest, we didn't even know what panna cotta was. It looked like cheesecake to me which is another thing on my list of food to avoid (yuck!). I followed the directions with the exception of flipping it onto a plate. Since it was not for guests, I didn't really care about presentation. The taste... boy was it delicious! Apparently panna cotta is custard and it is fabulous! Let's put it this way, my husband is lucky that he got some ;)
Last but not least... the apple crisp. Like the others, it required quick and easy prep. The outcome was great. It did not taste like the sticky, gooey mess that is the apple crisp from tv dinners. The apples tasted more fresh and the crisp part was ... well... crisp. It tastes as close to a home baked apple crisp as I feel is possible with a pre-packaged frozen product can (especially one prepared in the microwave). If you find any of the desserts from this brand on a decent sale, I'd give them a try. Out of the three I have tried (I did try the pineapple cake but am not counting it since I don't like ANY pineapple cake), I loved all of them. The lava cakes are still my favorite. Seriously, they are sinfully delicious. The above three items, I didn't get free from Bzzagent but I got them on a great sale a couple months ago and tied into my campaign. I could have gotten credit for this post if I had actually posted it during the campaign... doh!
Photo from the Comforts website, click on it to go to there.
The Kroger family of stores has a baby line called Comforts. They make everything from diapers to wipes to formula and beyond. With the current campaign from BzzAgent, I got a great little BzzKit. I was sent a set of two sippy cups, a full size container of wipes, and a coupon for a free package of diapers or training pants (as well as some 20% off coupons to pass out). I just love seeing that bee tape in my mailbox (the BzzAgent bee not the Comforts bee above); it always means that I am about to open something great.
We are past the sippy cup stage so I am going to save those for a friend. However, they looked like they were great quality and had the spill proof valves. I have read many great reviews on these particular cups. Wipes on the other had we use often. They have so many different uses. The Comforts wipes are very good quality. I prefer thicker wipes like Huggies or Pampers Thickcare (regular Pampers wipes are too thin) because you do not have to use as many. Usually store brand wipes are very thin (sometimes even thinner than regular Pampers wipes) so they have to be extremely cheap for me to buy them. I was pleasantly surprised when I opened these and found that they were thick. No odd smells were present which is a plus. Actually, I couldn't detect any odor at all which is rare even with "odor free" wipes that you usually get.
My little one who is almost four still cannot get through the night without accidents. Because of this, we still have to buy diapers or pullups. Comforts brand diapers and training pants are of great quality while being much cheaper than name brand. They are not the cheapest store brand but Kroger (and affiliate stores) to put them on sale fairly often. I would recommend them.
Overall, I am pretty impressed with the Comforts line. If you are interested in trying the wipes, formula, or baby/toddler accessories, there are ecoupons to load to your Kroger (or affiliate) card through the Comforts site. Click on the image above to check out the info and coupons.
Kroger's premium store brand is called Private Selection. I recently got into the Bzzagent campaign for their frozen foods. They sent me a coupon to try out the pizza, an appetizer, and a dessert for free. My husband was very excited about this particular one and said, "Accept it!" lol. These are the three items we got with my coupons.
Appetizer: I got the Southwestern Style Chicken Trumpets. Let me start off by saying that there is NO way we will ever buy these again. They were delicious (I'll get more into the taste and product in a minute) but way, way, way overpriced. When I say way overpriced, I do not just mean by my cheapy standards. This little tiny 6.3 oz box that contained 9 trumpets about the size of my thumb would have cost us $8.19 (originally $8.99) without the coupon. That price is simply outrageous! Now onto the product. They were great! The outsides get a nice crisp on the outside and the filling is very flavorful. I ate mine with a little sour cream like the box suggested. My husband said that they tasted like something you'd get at Chilis. The thing is, even at a restaurant, they would not have cost that much unless it was a bigger portion than the box contained. I don't know how they are selling any at that price.
Pizza. These pizza are small, thin, artisan style pizzas. Our Ralphs had four (I think) varieties of the pizza. but none of them look appetizing to me. I am more of a supreme/combination type person or Philly Cheesesteak pizza not so much bbq chicken, margherita, etc. My husband loves those type pizzas though so I let him pick and he chose the Barbeque Chicken. It didn't take long in the oven and cooked evenly. I wasn't a fan of it (like I had predicted) but again, it's because I don't like that type flavor. My husband and the boys really liked the flavor. The only criticism he had was that it was pretty expensive for the size of the pizza. He said he could have eaten the whole thing himself (though of course that would not have been the healthiest) whereas brands like Digiorno and Tombstone go on sale for cheaper and feed more people. The cost was $4.99 on sale ($6.59 regularly) for a 14.45 oz pizza. Not outrageously priced especially compared to restaurant prices but a bit expensive considering it's less than a pound.
Dessert: This was my favorite part. I got the Belgian Chocolate lava Cakes that came four to a box. They were AMAZING! Seriously, for me they could take the place of the chocolate lava/molten cakes at the restaurants. About one minute in the microwave (each) is all it took to make these rich, chocolately cakes with the most scrumptious center. I was really, truly impressed with these and would recommend them to anybody who loves chocolate as much as I do. They were $5.99 on sale ($6.99 regular price) but considering to buy one from the restaurant (that is about twice the size of these, so the box would be about 1 1/2- 2 restaurant cakes) is about $7-$8 nowadays, this is a better deal and in my opinion just as good. My husband who sadly only got one (what? I don't know where the others went...) agreed that they were delicious.
Overall, these products were very good and very easy to prepare. None of them tasted like frozen food. They all tasted like fresh from the restaurant food. I also tried other desserts which I will post more about once I try the last out of the 3 that were bought ;)