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Taste test: Pop-Tarts, Jif dip, Kick Start Dew, pita crackers

As soon as the school year ends and summer begins, new snack offerings start piling up on grocery store shelves. Or, perhaps we notice them more because our hungry children are home all day, complaining that they are bored. If that's not enough to lure us in, the colorful packaging and attractive ads will do the trick. We gave in to four new items this week and were not as disappointed as we have been in the past when the promotions for sugary junk food got the best of us.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

ProductTown House Pita Oven Baked Crackers Jif Whips Honey Peanut Butter DipRed Velvet

Mountain Dew Kick Start

Crunchy texture and buttery flavor gave these crackers a good chew and consistency that judges loved. "These would be great with a nice hummus," said one panelist. "They are perfectly salted with a nice, baked-in snap that would be really yummy with a cheese dip," said another. One judge said the chips left him craving more salt. "They aren't really healthy, but they are better than a lot of options out there," he said. Overall, these were a hit.While several panelists did not detect much honey or cinnamon flavor in this new peanut butter, they liked the fluffiness of the product and its "spreadability." "This would be a great picnic basket item," said one. "It's very smooth and would be especially manageable for kids dipping apples or crackers," said another. The nutritionist on our panel suggested this spread would be a great summer snack and "a fun alternative to traditional peanut butter."While this new flavor of the popular Kellogg's pastry had a very inviting appearance, the taste didn't quite measure up. "This tastes like the cake from the Easy Bake Oven — not horrible, but too sweet," said one judge. "I would feel horrible giving this to children." Another said the rectangle treats had a nice, soft crunch but the "overly browned tart, the smear of white frosting on the top and the very sad, red sprinkles" reminded him of "a rained-out picnic on the 4th of July in the late 1950s." A self-professed Pop-Tart lover on the panel said his only objection was "that they came in a box marked 'Limited Edition.' "Judges initially objected to this new flavor from Mountain Dew because of their aversion to soda in general. However, they kind of liked the flavor and high level of carbonation in the drink. "It's sort of refreshing," said one skeptical taster. "The screaming-loud, artificial color is what Mountain Dew is known for," allowed another. "This could even start up the Rolling Stones."

they buy?
Four of the five judges said yes.Four of the five judges said yes.One of the five judges said yes.Two of the five judges said yes.
Shopping information$1.98 for a 9.5-ounce box from Walmart.$3.29 for a 15-ounce tub from Sweetbay.$2.19 for a 14-ounce box of eight from Publix.$1 for a 16-ounce can from Publix.

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Wayne Conery, manager of the R-Bar on Treasure Island; Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; and John Hehn, owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.

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 sizeSix crackersTwo tablespoonsOne pastryOne can
Fat/Fiber2.5g / 0g12g / 2g4.5g / 0g0g / 0g
Sugars/Sodium0g / 140mg2g / 95mg16g / 220mg20g / 180mg
Carbs/Protein11g / 1g6g / 5g36g / 2g21g / 0g

Taste test: Pop-Tarts, Jif dip, Kick Start Dew, pita crackers 06/18/13 [Last modified: Monday, June 17, 2013 4:48pm]
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