Taste test: Queso dips

Fiesta fondue! That's what Taster's Choice judges called the nine brands of chili cheese dips sampled for the sake of Cinco de Mayo. The ready-to-serve dips make it easy to party: no need to heat cheese, slice peppers or blend spices. The favorites were familiar brands that come to mind when the tortilla chips are opened.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score (out of 100) Tostitos Salsa Con Queso/66 Fritos Chili Cheese Dip/46 EatSmart Flame Roasted Salsa Con Queso/45
How'd it look? Medium yellow, orange with tiny dots of pimiento. Beige with green chunks. Deep, thick and orange.
Judges' comments This had a nice bite with a bit of a kick. Gooey and good, said one panelist, who liked the spicy flavor. Another detected a lot of pepper in the blend. Yellow and mellow, said one judge who thought the flavor would be good for children because it was a bit flat. Another pointed to cumin and vinegar in the mix. "This has a great, firm texture like thick pudding," said a judge who loved the mild taste. Another judge said the dip was probably a bit too thick for fragile chips. It stuck to the spoons.
Would they buy? Three of the four judges said yes. One of the four judges said yes. One of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information Widely available. $3 for a 15-ounce jar at Wal-Mart. Widely available. $3 for a 15-ounce jar at Wal-Mart. Widely available. $4.29 for a 15-ounce jar at Publix.
Also sampled: Mission Salsa Con Queso ($2.88 for a 15-ounce jar at Wal-Mart, 44 points); Grande Salsa Con Queso ($3.39 for a 15-ounce jar at Publix, 40 points); Hannaford Salsa Con Queso ($2.99 for a 15-ounce jar at Sweetbay, 21 points); Archer Farms Salsa Con Queso ($2.29 for a 15-ounce jar at Target, 25 points); and Desert Pepper Trading Company Chile Con Queso ($5.39 for a 15-ounce jar at Publix, 39 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Anu You Institute; and Times food critic Laura Reiley. 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: Queso dips 04/28/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 4:30am]

    

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