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What I’m Grubbing On: Fake Diet Food, Asian Nuts, and Berry Crackers
Posted February 8th, 2011 | 8:06pm by Adam
Come one, come all, and welcome to the latest feature on GrubGrade. If you’re anything like me, you’re quite the random browser in the grocery store. You might even stop there on a daily basis after work or school to kill time and waste your hard earned money on pointless snacks and/or canned fish. OK, maybe not the canned fish, but definitely random snacks. Want to know which picks are worth it and which aren’t? Want some insight into which products to, uh, borrow, next time you’re staring into the office fridge? Look no further, cause my wallet’s taking the bullet for you on this one. Instead of our uber-complex ranking system you’re used to, I’m going to institute a simplified approach to rankings for this weekly feature.
When it comes to these products, you should either:
BEG, BORROW OR BARTER
Pass, obviously, means they ain’t worth your dime. Consider it a chance to invest in your kid’s college fund. Or don’t. Beg, Borrow or Barter means these are totally worth it, but because of some factor (price, perhaps) you shouldn’t commit to buying them, and need to find an “alternative way” to get your kicks. Buy ’em – reserved for only the best on the shelves – means you need to go all high-roller and pony-up, because these are must-have eats. Get it? Good. Enough of this tutorial nonsense, let’s get to this week’s samplings.
World Table Mixed Berry snack cracker: I’m a big fan of snack crackers, but get bored of the overly salty flavors. Unfortunately, the answer most companies have is to make something either wheat or a savory cheese flavor. Don’t get me wrong – I’m a sucker for Wheat Thins and any kind of Italian cheese flavored cracker, but sometimes I want something sweet and nutty that can complement a nice dab of chevre or stilton. And sometimes I just want a dang good cracker. Walmart’s World Table brand does just that at a really good price ($1.98). They have a nice delicate texture and definite cranberry taste that grows to a moderate intensity as you chew. They’re not super sweet though and won’t dominate anything you eat on top of them. Still, I prefer to just eat them straight from the box. I liken these crackers a lot to some of the gourmet flavors Archer Farms has, and find them exceptional. BUY ‘EM
them. What did it for me was Emerald Nuts, particularly the Dark Cocoa Roasted Almonds. I told my mom for my birthday I’d love some dark chocolate nuts, but I guess she took that to mean I wanted some dark chocolate and nuts. What she ended up getting me was Blue Diamond’s Bold Wasabi and Soy Sauce Almonds. These things are intense, I’m talking completely overpowering on first bite. If you like wasabi these will blow your mind; if not, well then you’ll probably spit ’em out. But if you can withstand the initial nose-clearing effect, you’ll enjoy the meaty and salty taste of the soy sauce, which lingers in your mouth for quite a while. I’m not a huge wasabi fan and still find myself wincing when I first stick these into my mouth, but the intense soy sauce flavor has kept me coming back for more. BEG, BORROW, OR BARTER.
Hostess Whole Grain Muffins: The only thing I like better than artificial food is artificial diet food that gets the scorn of bloggers everywhere. That’s why I love these things. The “better for you” blueberry muffins have 150 calories and 3 grams of fat each, but their 15 grams of sugar and long ingredient list will make the “in” crowd of nutrition go crazy. Nutrition aside, these things are awesome. They’re not huge but they’re not tiny either, and they have a great, moist density that exudes sweetness. Is it a fresh blueberry taste? Heck no. It’s a moist, palm-oil mouth-feel and high fructose corn syrup blueberry flavored packed interior, and it tastes like a real-life bad as heck for you packaged muffin. Hence, the awesomeness of these, especially for a product loaded with fake fiber (3 grams) and a tiny bit of whole grain. BUY ‘EM
Clif Bar Iced Gingerbread: I give Clif credit for offering to send me some bars to make up for my dislike of their Pumpkin Spice bar, but the Iced Gingerbread bar isn’t much better. The good news is that it is a little better, with a strong taste of ginger and molasses hitting you with every bite. But it still looks like your typical dog treat that’s been half-slobbered up, and the overwhelming use of pretentious “organic” ingredients does little to make up for the muted sweetness and dark fruited flavor of cane juice syrup, which just doesn’t work with what a gingerbread cookie should taste like. Likewise, it covers up the taste of white chocolate (apparently in this bar, although I didn’t taste it) and the roasted pecans and peanuts, of which I could hardly detect. Hats off to the 9 grams of protein, but man, for 24 grams of sugar I think I’d just wanna get half a Frosty or something. Cheaper too. PASS
Quaker Chewy Granola Bars: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough made with real Cocoa: Other than getting an award for the longest name for a granola bar in like, ever, I couldn’t pass on this newest flavor of the “made with cocoa line” (see a past review of the Chocolate Swirl flavor). I was hoping these would taste like cookie dough ice cream, which really is a pretty dumb pretext when you think about it, because granola doesn’t taste like ice cream. As for the bar itself, I couldn’t figure out how it was any different than a chocolate chip bar. I didn’t get any natural richness of eggs and butter that the “dough” of cookie dough has, and couldn’t find a reference to either eggs or butter on the ingredient list. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for nice, nutritious treats like this (90 calories, 0.5 grams saturated fat, 6 grams sugars) in kids’ lunch boxes, but I want a granola bar that tastes like real cookie dough. If any DIYers out there and come up with a recipe and mail me some samples, I’m sure we can work out some kind of compensation. PASS