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Taste test: new products, from a cheesecake cereal bar to seasoned tuna

Perhaps it was their desire to eat better in the new year, or an effort to turn away from convenience snack foods. But our judges panned all but one of the new foods we found on grocery store shelves. It was no surprise panelists chose one of the new cookie options from Pepperidge Farm as a keeper. We'll try again with some new, healthier options in a couple of weeks and see how those rank with our panelists.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

ProductFiber One Cheesecake Cereal BarBumble Bee Lemon & Pepper Seasoned TunaWelch's Graham Slam Pepperidge Farm Salted Caramel Cookies

Although judges allowed that these bars have some beneficial fiber, the taste was the deal breaker. Panelists said the bars tasted like cookies "with a smear of strawberry flavor." A couple said they could not detect any cheesecake flavor, although they compared the cookie to the crust of a cheesecake. "It looks very appetizing and might be an okay snack for someone with a sweet tooth, but it has a fake strawberry topping," said one judge.While they anticipated this would be a great, portable option for lunch, judges were very disappointed in this lemon-and-pepper-flavored tuna. Comparing the appearance to cat food and the smell to dishwashing liquid, all four judges rejected this product. "This smells like a loss of friends if you open it at work," one panelist said. "The bag spurts when you open it — leave it closed," said another. "This is wrong on so many levels."For parents preparing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for school lunches, these frozen cracker options seemed like a good idea and a quick substitute on a busy morning. However, judges said the packs were "sticky, gooey, messy and crumbly." One said they might work on a camping trip, but they could make everything sticky from the lunch table to the school desktop. "It might be convenient if you pack hand wipes," said another.Light caramel flavor gave these cookies just enough of a kick to please our panelists. "They are kind of salty, crunchy and sweet," said one judge. "I think these would pair really well with coffee," said another. "It's not as good as homemade, but I probably wouldn't make these — so I would buy them." A couple of tasters described the caramel and salt flavors as pleasantly subtle.

they buy?
None of the four judges said yes.None of the four judges said yes.None of the four judges said yes.Two of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$2.98 for a 6.75-ounce box of five 1.35-ounce bars from Walmart.$1 for a 2.5-ounce pouch from Walmart.$3.69 for a 13.2-ounce box of six 2.2-ounce sandwiches from Publix.$3.49 for a 5.5-ounce bag from Publix.

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; Mary Jane Park, executive director of the St. Petersburg Warehouse Arts District Association; and Wayne Conery, retired restaurant manager.

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

Serving sizeOne barOne pouchOne sandwichThree cookies
Fat/Fiber6g / 5g0g / 0g13g / 4g7g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium10g / 120mg0g / 270mg17g / 170mg13g / 115mg
Carbs/Protein24g / 2g2g / 14g33g / 7g13g / 115mg

Taste test: new products, from a cheesecake cereal bar to seasoned tuna 01/18/16 [Last modified: Monday, January 18, 2016 10:03am]
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