Gardein looks like white meat chicken and, in my opinion, tastes like what I remember of the original: somewhat dry, bland, a little rubbery, with a slight aftertaste. The coating seemed only to add a light pepper taste and, overall, there wasn't anything about them that made me think, "yum, can't wait to eat these again". Instead, it was a good excuse to use up some condiments that had been languishing in my fridge. My hypothesis is that in the same way that people like the seasoning and not the actual taste of meat, I simply did not like the seasoning/coating/preparation of these tenders. That and I don't really miss meat. But do I think they would fool an omni? Absolutely. Additionally, I think these would be great for kids: very convenient and as authentic as I can vouch for, having not eaten meat for decades.
Red Bamboo. Because they were on sale I got both. The first glaring difference between the tenders and the classic style buffalo wings is that with the tenders you can cook as many as you're planning to eat, but the wings come packaged in such a way that you kind of have to cook them all at once. This isn't necessarily a problem since there are only eight 2" wings in the package (2 1/2 servings according to Gardein!).
Once again, I cooked the wings longer than suggested; thankfully, they seemed to retain the heat a bit more than the tenders. I tried the sauce first: while I didn't find it buffalo-y, I was impressed that it did have an impressive amount of spiciness.
Unfortunately, none of this mattered after I took a bite. Way too meaty! Even though the tenders tasted like chicken, if I hadn't prepared the wings with my own hands I would have thought I was being duped. Tender and moist, I literally could not take another bite. For someone who likes nothing about the taste, texture, and mouth-feel of meat these are extremely gag-worthy. And you know what that means: omnis will not only be fooled, but will love it. So where did the rest of the wings and tenders go? Omni Dad. Did he enjoy them? Most def. Did he know they were vegan? Not a chance. Does he read my blog? No he doesn't.
I still enjoy the occasional treat of the uber-flavorful Red Bamboo drumsticks, as well as a new favorite from Foodswings. There is something inherently faux about them that I indubitably prefer over these way-too-authentic-for-me Gardein meat sticks. That being said, I know plenty of ethical vegans who love Gardein for compassionately replacing the taste of something they've missed; they are simply not for me.
I would like to note that Gardein's marketing approach is definitely "meat-free", boasting themselves as "plant-based meat-like foods" as opposed to
The bottom line is, I don't like the taste of meat. So, if I don't like the meaty taste of Gardein products, I think that's saying something positive about the authenticity. And, if Gardein gets more meat-eaters to go faux I'm all for it. Frankly, this leaves them with no excuse.