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Taste test: Vanilla sandwich cookies

It has been four years since we tried vanilla sandwich cookies while in search of a nonchocolate lunch box treat. In our previous tasting, judges preferred a honey-graham cookie and a couple of name brands to the generic cookies on grocery store shelves. Maybe it's the declining economy, or a new realization that paying more doesn't always mean getting more, but this time the Taster's Choice panelists picked a couple of lesser-known brands as their favorites. Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/ScoreHow'd it Look?judges' commentswould they buy?shopping info
Smart Option Vanilla Creme Sandwiches/89FamiliarThese cookies got high marks from our panel of teachers because of their overall goodness. They weren't too sweet, or too crunchy, or too creamy. The balance between cookie and filling was just enough to satisfy a sweet tooth without giving judges a sugar high. The Smart Option cookies had a shortbread flavor and texture, which judges adored. The filling had a slight lemony taste. "This is an excellent combination that is not too heavy on vanilla flavor," one panelist said.

All five

judges said yes.
$2 for an

18-ounce package from

Sweetbay.
Country Choice Organic Sandwich Cremes/87DarkWe found these cookies in the health food aisle at Publix. They were part of the sampling four years ago, but they didn't make our Top 3 list that year. Since that time, though, I have had to stock these in the pantry for our babysitter, who loves them. Admittedly, it is hard to keep my paws off them as well. Judges said they liked the smooth texture of the filling and the brown sugar flavor. One described the cookies as having a classic or Old World look. "They taste almost homemade," he said. Another panelist said she would have been afraid to try these because of the "organic" label. "But it was surprisingly tasty," she said.Four of the five judges said yes.$3.99 for a

12-ounce package from Publix.
Thrifty Maid Vanilla Cremes/76PrettyWinn-Dixie sells this brand in a 32-ounce pack. Judges liked the larger size of the cookies and the large number in the bag. "These have an attractive swirl design on the front and they remind me of school lunch cookies from the 1970s," said one judge. The flowerlike cookies were easy to open and stuffed with plenty of cream for our panelists.

Four of the five judges said yes.$2.50 for a 32-ounce package from

Winn-Dixie.
Also Sampled: Famous Amos Creme Filled Sandwich Cookies ($2.18 for a 14-ounce package from Walmart, 75 points); Milk Mates ($2.50 for an 18-ounce package from Winn-Dixie, 64 points); Great Value Vanilla Twist & Shout Sandwich Cookies ($1.77 for an 18-ounce bag from Walmart, 61 points); Family Size Vanilla Creme Sandwich Cookies ($1.67 for a 25-ounce package from Walmart, 58 points); Hannaford Golden Creme-O's ($2.19 for an 18-ounce bag from Sweetbay, 58 points); and Golden Oreos ($2.45 for an 18-ounce bag from Walmart, 56 points).

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: Vanilla sandwich cookies 08/31/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 2:27pm]

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