Taste test: Nutri-Grain Superfruit Fusion Bars, Nutri-Grain Strawberry Yogurt Bars, Dole Real Fruit Bites, Quaker Chewy Chocolate Swirl Bars, Kraft Melt Downs

For every good new food idea making its debut these days, our panelists find a few that just don't work. That was the case this week when our guest panel of teachers tried five new products. We were disappointed because some that promised to be healthful just didn't taste good. A piece of fruit is a better choice. — Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

ProductHow'd it Look?judgeS' commentswould they buy?shopping info
Nutri-Grain Superfruit Fusion Bars

Healthy.We tried these in cherry pomegranate as well as strawberry acai flavors. At first, judges were intrigued by the healthy coating on these bars, complete with signs of whole grains and oats. But the smooth coating was a cover for a pastelike filling that did not appeal to the panelists. "I don't think my students would eat these," one teacher said. "Parents might pack them, but I think we'd see these being tossed out at lunchtime."

Two of the five judges said yes.$2.89 for a box of six from

Sweetbay.
Nutri-Grain Strawberry Yogurt Bars

Dry.The golden coating on these bars definitely overpowered the yogurt flavor. If consumers prefer the cookie flavor to the yogurt, they might like these better than our panelists, who were looking for a creamier, more yogurtlike texture and taste.

One of the five judges said yes.$3.49 for a box of eight from Publix.
Dole Real

Fruit Bites
Like

Pebbles cereal.
One judge described these as "yogurt-covered raisins." We tasted mango-flavored chunks, but they also are sold in pineapple and apple flavors. We were hoping they would be a great way to sneak some fruit into otherwise carbohydrate-filled lunches. But, again, the taste was disappointing. The fruit flavor was present, but the nuggets were hard to bite and kind of gritty. The little packages also were hard to open. One panelist thought the macadamia-nut-sized chunks could pose a choking hazard for smaller children. "I'd rather just have fresh fruit," he said.One of the five judges said yes.$3.19 for a bag of six .75-ounce pouches from

Sweetbay.
Quaker Chewy Chocolate Swirl Bars

Chocolatey.Panelists were lukewarm on these bars, but my teenage son has been enjoying them for breakfast for the past few days. They are kind of a cross between Cocoa Krispies and a candy bar. Chewy and chocolatey, these tiny bars would make for a quick sugar fix or midmorning snack for a teacher or student. They are dotted with small, dark chocolate chips and have a good chewy-to-crunchy balance.

Two of the five judges said yes.$2 for a box of 10 from Walmart.
Kraft Melt DownsProcessed.The concept of these seasoned, processed cheese slices makes sense. They would spice up a sandwich and make an easy pizza bagel or a zesty quesadilla. We tasted pizza and nacho flavors. Judges enjoyed the strong tastes but questioned whether younger children would eat them. "I think the nacho-flavored slices would be great in a grilled cheese sandwich," one judge said. Another said her teenage sons would like the kick in the nacho cheese. "It would turn boring cheese into a spicy meal." Taste was okay though the nutrition factor is questionable.Three of the five judges said yes.$2.48 for an 8-ounce package

of 12 slices

from Walmart.
Panelists: Mindy Artze, fifth-grade English teacher at Shorecrest Preparatory School; Beth Griffin, teacher of gifted education at Lakeview Fundamental Elementary; Erin and Mark Nelson, fifth-grade teachers at Lutheran Church of the Cross Day School; and Steve Sims, theology teacher at Tampa Catholic High School. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or e-mail them to jkeeler@sptimes.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to food.tampabay.com.

Taste test: Nutri-Grain Superfruit Fusion Bars, Nutri-Grain Strawberry Yogurt Bars, Dole Real Fruit Bites, Quaker Chewy Chocolate Swirl Bars, Kraft Melt Downs 08/24/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 24, 2010 4:27pm]

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