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Taste test: new treats at most local grocery stores

Admittedly, the marketing gurus had us at fried Twinkies. But we decided it would be fun to try several of the new foods being advertised on freezer shelves and aisle end caps at most local grocery stores. We even found a few healthier treats to make it look good.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

ProductHostess Deep Fried Twinkies Dole Pineapple Dippers Jell-O Simply Good Vanilla Bean Little Debbie

Eggnog Cake Rolls

Judges agreed they liked deep-fried, oven-warmed Twinkies better than the traditional cream-filled treats. But all of them decided they probably were too dangerous to buy. "These really surprised me," said one judge. "They taste like a day at the fair." Another said she would likely sprinkle them with powdered sugar and "fade into total sugar shock." The same judge said she would buy them as a novelty for guests.What's not to love about tiny bites of frozen pineapple covered in dark chocolate? Our judges couldn't find anything. They raved about the fun size of the treat, the blend of flavors in the tart pineapple and the slightly bitter chocolate. "These are very fresh tasting and very appealing to the eye," said one taster. "I love, love, love them!" Another judge said, "They surprise because the pineapple is so cold and the chocolate so delicate." He said this treat would be a perfect afternoon pick-me-up.This new Jell-O option made with no artificial flavors, dyes or preservatives didn't wow our panelists. They liked the smooth texture of the vanilla pudding but the treat left them wanting more. "I would add extra vanilla flavoring," said one judge, even though flecks of vanilla bean were obvious in the pudding. "It tastes good and clean," she said. "It just needs something." Another said, "It might make a decent luncheon dessert, but it's not ready for prime time." A couple of judges suggested topping the dessert with fresh fruit or whipped cream to add some pizzazz.After sharing our favorite childhood snack treats from Little Debbie, judges bit into these cake rolls with great anticipation. Sadly, they were disappointed. "Hmmmm, it's sugar and flour with sugary stripes on it," said one judge. "But there's no egg and no nog." Another echoed his comments saying, "No egg, no nog and no room in my pantry." She suggested the cake roll "looked like bomb shelter food discovered a century later." The egg-nog lover on our panel detected plenty of eggnog flavor in these cakes, however, and said they would be a good lunch box treat.

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$3.98 for a 17.03-ounce box from Walmart.$4.39 for a box of six 1.6-ounce pouches from Winn-Dixie.$1.49 for a 3.4-ounce pouch from Publix.$1.88 for a 13.17-ounce box of six rolls from Walmart.

Panelists: Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; Wayne Conery, retired restaurant manager; Kay Hodnett, personal chef; and Julie Overton, cook and bartender. All foods were tasted blind.

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 cakeOne pouchOne of four servingsOne roll
Sugars/Sodium16g / 300mg6g / 85mg18g / 360mg27g / 140mg
Carbs/Protein32g / 3g8g / 1g23g / 0g39g / 1g

Taste test: new treats at most local grocery stores 11/14/16 [Last modified: Monday, November 14, 2016 4:17pm]
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