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Taste test: new foods, including a Progresso dinner and a Silk drink

The Taster's Choice panelists frequently say they volunteer to taste new food items so our readers don't have to. That was a tough job this week when they sampled four new products found at local grocery stores. The items ranged from breakfast and dinner choices to a dairy-, soy- and lactose-free drink and a junk food dessert. While a couple of options made the cut, most of these items won't be making it into the shopping carts of our tasters any time soon.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

ProductKellogg's Special K Nourish Cereal

(Apple Raspberry Almond

Multi-Grain Flakes)
Hostess Sea Salt Caramel Cupcakes Silk Nutchello Progresso Stew
Judges'

comments
Special K cereal is healthy enough on its own, but we were intrigued by the addition of apples, raspberries and almonds blended into the multigrain flakes. Sadly, most of our panelists were disappointed, saying the cereal lacked any real pizzazz. "It looks like a million other cereals," said one judge. "It tastes nice with a good pop of apples and raspberries and it's a nice color." Another said she liked the crunchy texture of the cereal and the sweetness of the added fruit bits.The popular flavors of sea salt and caramel have made it into the familiar Hostess cream-filled cupcakes of our youth. Our judges weren't impressed. For starters, they said the cupcakes looked "very manufactured." One said, "They look like they might live on the shelf for years." The same judge also said the filling in the cupcakes was "weird." Another said they were moist enough but not especially different from other Hostess cupcakes. "This is just stupid," said another panelist. "No one asked for a sea salt caramel cupcake. This trend must stop! Even my laundry detergent now has sea salt."Judges weren't sure what this nut-based drink was exactly, describing it as an unusual beverage. According to the packaging, it's dairy-free, soy-free, lactose-free, gluten-free, casein-free and carrageenan-free. One judge said it tasted like water and chocolate. "It's nice and rich with a dark chocolate color and a sweet, nutty flavor." Another said, "I don't understand even what this is — what's a nut-based beverage?" To him, the drink was "another sugared-water concoction straight out of a chemistry set." A judge who said he might buy the drink said it was pretty good for a dairy-free chocolate milk.Progresso's newest, easy-to-prepare dinner in a pouch was a pretty good option, said some of our judges. Their complaints were mostly about the saltiness and the slightly gummy texture of the beef stew. "It has a rich gravy with a good mix of veggies and seasonings," said one judge. "It would be a nice, quick meal." Another said he would serve the stew over rice "or right out of the bag." He especially liked the smoothness of the gravy. One judge said it looked appetizing but lacked creativity. "It has a desperate taste and it's strongly herby," she said, suggesting it would be good camping or hurricane food.
Would

they buy?
Two of the four judges said yes.One of the four judges said yes.One of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$4.49 for a 14-ounce box from Publix.$2.50 for a 12.7-ounce box from Walmart.$3.96 for a 48-ounce container from Walmart.$4.49 for an 18-ounce pouch from Winn-Dixie.


Panelists: Wayne Conery, retired restaurant manager; Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; Kay Hodnett, personal chef; and Janet Keeler, assistant professor of journalism at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

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

tampabay.com/things-to-do/food/tastetest.

Serving sizeOne cupOne cupcakeOne cupOne cup
Calories19016090200
Fat/Fiber2.5g / 5g6g / 0g2g / 1g4g / 2g
Sugars/Sodium10g / 170mg18g / 200mg14g / 190mg5g / 720mg
Carbs/Protein41g / 5g25g / 1g16g / 1g28g / 14g

Taste test: new foods, including a Progresso dinner and a Silk drink 04/18/16 [Last modified: Monday, April 18, 2016 12:47pm]
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