Taster Test: Chocolate chip cookies in 100-calorie packs

Snack manufacturers all seem to be offering treats in 100-calorie bags, an attractive convenience that can be good for your waistline but bad for your wallet. Taster's Choice invited the high school cooking club at Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg to help sample prepackaged chocolate chip cookies. The students decided the cookies would be a good idea for those tempted to eat an entire box of cookies, but they said they would prefer to pack their own cookies for lunch. Students gathered in five small groups to taste and score the four brands in our sampling.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score (out of 100) Keebler Chips Deluxe/61 Great Value Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies/48 Nabisco Chips Ahoy/45.5 Pepperidge Farm Chocolate Chunk/20
How'd it look? Flat, oval, egg shapes. More like crackers than cookies. (14 cookies per pack) Itty-bitty chocolate cookies. Like Famous Amos dumplings. (9 cookies per pack) Like hexagonal crackers. Very crunchy with flat chips. (15 cookies per pack) Like the cookies in Cookie Crisp cereal. Real cookies with bigger chocolate chips. (15 cookies per pack)
Judges' comments Judges wanted more chocolate flavor. The cookies tasted more like oatmeal cookies, sugar cookies or Nutri-Grain cereal bars to some tasters. They were sweet but a bit too crunchy for most tasters. Several detected an unidentified aftertaste. These cookies tasted more like graham crackers to all of the judges. They were good on the first bite, but the pleasing flavor didn't linger. A few tasters described the taste as "papery." These were delicate and sweet with lots of chocolate. Judges also tasted a strong mixture of butter and salt. "These actually taste like cookies," one judge said. Panelists said the cookies almost dissolved in their mouths, leaving them wanting more. "That wouldn't be good on a diet," said one student. Strong chocolate taste but no cookie flavor. The company famous for big, tasty cookies did not deliver in these tiny packages. Judges described the cookies as bland and stale.
Would they buy? Two of the five groups said yes. Three of the five groups said yes. Two of the five groups said yes. None of the groups said yes.
Shopping information Widely available. $2.38 for a box of six .74-ounce packs from Wal-Mart. Exclusive to Wal-Mart. $2 for a box of six .74-ounce packs. Widely available. $2.50 for a box of six .81-ounce packs at Sweetbay. Widely available. $2.50 for a box of five .74-ounce packs at Wal-Mart.
Product/Score (out of 100) Keebler Chips Deluxe/61 Great Value Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies/48 Nabisco Chips Ahoy/45.5 Pepperidge Farm Chocolate Chunk/20
How'd it look? Flat, oval, egg shapes. More like crackers than cookies. (14 cookies per pack) Itty-bitty chocolate cookies. Like Famous Amos dumplings. (9 cookies per pack) Like hexagonal crackers. Very crunchy with flat chips. (15 cookies per pack) Like the cookies in Cookie Crisp cereal. Real cookies with bigger chocolate chips. (15 cookies per pack)
Judges' comments Judges wanted more chocolate flavor. The cookies tasted more like oatmeal cookies, sugar cookies or Nutri-Grain cereal bars to some tasters. They were sweet but a bit too crunchy for most tasters. Several detected an unidentified aftertaste. These cookies tasted more like graham crackers to all of the judges. They were good on the first bite, but the pleasing flavor didn't linger. A few tasters described the taste as "papery." These were delicate and sweet with lots of chocolate. Judges also tasted a strong mixture of butter and salt. "These actually taste like cookies," one judge said. Panelists said the cookies almost dissolved in their mouths, leaving them wanting more. "That wouldn't be good on a diet," said one student. Strong chocolate taste but no cookie flavor. The company famous for big, tasty cookies did not deliver in these tiny packages. Judges described the cookies as bland and stale.
Would they buy? Two of the five groups said yes. Three of the five groups said yes. Two of the five groups said yes. None of the groups said yes.
Shopping information Widely available. $2.38 for a box of six .74-ounce packs from Wal-Mart. Exclusive to Wal-Mart. $2 for a box of six .74-ounce packs. Widely available. $2.50 for a box of six .81-ounce packs at Sweetbay. Widely available. $2.50 for a box of five .74-ounce packs at Wal-Mart.
Panelists: Brittany van Gelder, Danielle Sheppard, Laura Littlefield, Marcus Hutchinson, Sierra Almengual, Christian Mandula, Nikita Birkbeck, Theresa Harteneck, Joelle Jahn, Chris Partenheimer, Hayley Jayson, Tanja Gromadzki, Alex Nunnelly, Kathryn Kass, Sami Levin, Maegan Carlson, Kate Cherven, Chelsea Sherma, Ciara Kazmierski, Carson Kohler, Chantal Jahn and Matt Walker. Cooking club faculty advisers are Jan Robison and Ron Heller. 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.

Taster Test: Chocolate chip cookies in 100-calorie packs 03/24/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 24, 2009 4:30am]

    

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