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Taste test: new snack products from Cheez-It, Ritz and more

Making school lunches is a chore for me. Not because I don't like preparing a nice meal for my children, but because they are picky eaters and I'm always running out of ideas for new snacks or treats. If lunch is boring, they won't eat it. So I spend a lot of time checking supermarket aisles for new crackers or chips for lunch box fare. Some combinations are hits — like the new offering from Ritz with its added spices. But some are big misses. Our judges found some of each in this week's tasting of some of the newest options from popular snackmakers.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

ProductCheez-It Sweet & Salty Snack Mix Ritz Salsa Verde Toasted Corn Chips Special K Sea Salt Original Multigrain Crackers With Quinoa Organic Horizon Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers

Judges were split on their appreciation for sweet candy bits mixed in with these cheese-coated, traditionally salty crackers. The ones who liked the diverse flavors in one bite raved about the newest addition to the Cheez-It family. "It's a little overly congested with standard snack pieces," said one judge. A couple liked the caramel corn in the mixture, but not the chocolate M&M's. "It's a gross combination in both concept and reality," said one panelist. Another said he would serve it as a party mix. My teenage daughter loved this snack.These chips were light with a nice, spicy bite. All four tasters were sold. "They are very munch-able and surely dip-able," said one judge. "The whole ones look like Christmas trees, but when you bite into one, it's a much different experience," said another panelist. "The salsa flavor comes through quite well," she said, adding, "These would be great on a taco salad."Despite the appealing size and wholesome appearance of these chips, only one judge would buy them. "I would be tempted to buy them for a party tray," she said. "A nice slab of cheese would help a lot." Another said, "Sea salt, quinoa, multigrain, whole wheat — all lovely buzzwords — but no buzz here."These crackers were tiny sandwich spheres that left judges wanting more filling. "They look like treats for elves or very tiny hands," said one judge. "The button-sized crackers definitely need more peanut butter." Another liked the buttery flavor of the crackers along with the crispy texture. But, overall, judges said they were not impressed.

they buy?
Two of the four judges said yes.All four judges said yes.One of the four judges said yes.One of the four judges said yes.
Shopping information$4.29 for an 8-ounce box from Publix. $3.69 for an 8-ounce bag from Publix. $2.50 for an 8-ounce box from Publix.$3.99 for a 7.5-ounce box from Publix.

Panelists: Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; Wayne Conery, retired restaurant manager; Kimberly Schroeder, retired nurse and guest taster; 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 Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to

Serving sizeHalf cup13 chips14 crackers12 crackers
Fat/Fiber5g / 0g6g / 1g4.5g / 2g8g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium5g / 160mg2g / 140mg1g / 220mg3g / 320mg
Carbs/Protein21g / 2g19g / 1g21g / 3g17g / 2g

Taste test: new snack products from Cheez-It, Ritz and more 10/03/16 [Last modified: Monday, October 3, 2016 4:48pm]
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