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Taste test: new snacks

Serving size One cake One bar 14 crackers One bar
Calories 160 90 140 190
Fat/Fiber 5g / 1g 2g / 2g 5g / 2g 8g / 3g
Sugars/Sodium 19g / 220mg 6g / 85mg 4g / 180mg 11g / 210mg
Carbs/Protein 27g / 1g 18g / 1g 21g / 2g 22g / 9g

Snackmakers never take a vacation, and this season is no different. Our panelists were eager to sample some of the new treats on grocery store shelves. Twinkies with chocolate; Chewy granola bars that taste like pretzels and graham crackers; spicy Wheat Thins; and the newest Luna bar were all on our plates this week.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product Chocolate Creme Twinkies Chewy


Graham Pretzel
Spicy Buffalo Wheat Thins Luna: Peanut Honey Pretzel

Hostess had us at vanilla-creme-filled Twinkies, but who could resist trying the spongy cakes oozing with chocolate? Judges anticipated this tasting with high hopes. In the end, they were mostly disappointed. The cake seemed a little drier than we remembered from our childhoods. The chocolate was tasty, but not plentiful enough. "It looks like a classic Twinkie, but the chocolate cream doesn't taste chocolatey," said one panelist. "If you ate this with your eyes closed, you wouldn't know it wasn't a traditional Twinkie." A couple said they would never complain about eating a Twinkie.These bars looked very interesting with bulges of oats, chocolate pieces and salty bits. "I like the salty pretzel surprise," said one judge who didn't expect the flavor. "This is fun and likable," said another. A couple of panelists said the bar lacked enough salt and pretzel taste for their cravings. "Actually, it's not bad if you have a craving for pretzels mashed together with trail mix," said one.All of our panelists like traditional Wheat Thins. Half of them liked these spicy ones. Judges were divided by those who enjoy heat and a kick with their crackers, and those who, admittedly, can't handle the heat. The two who didn't approve were disappointed in what they described as "a dusting of nacho cheese" on a classic Wheat Thin. "It's an unappealing mix of tangy-spicy-sweet," said one. "This is a terrible thing to do to an innocent Wheat Thin." Another said, "It's a specialized taste, to be sure. If you like Tabasco sauce, you'll probably like these. A box of these, however, might go a long way. I could only eat a few before I got tired of the combination."Ironically, the same judges who love Twinkies also are fans of traditional Luna bars. A couple said they regularly store the bars in their desks for on-the-go snacks. They liked the thin, beige layer of icing and the good balance of peanut flavor. "I think it has a nice sweet-salty ratio," said one. "It looks like a regular health bar," said another. "I really like the combination of salty and sweet tastes." One objected to the concept, saying, "It's the same ol' nuts, cake and granola bar repackaged as a 'health bar' for women."

they buy?
Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$2.28 for a 15-ounce box of 10 cakes from Walmart.$2.19 for a box of eight .84-ounce bars from Target.$2.99 for a 9-ounce box from Sweetbay.79 cents for a 1.69-ounce bar from Target.

Panelists: Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; Wayne Conery, manager of the R Bar on Treasure Island; Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Clinique of Plastic Surgery in St. Petersburg; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Taste test: new snacks 06/05/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 4:30am]
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