It’s almost time for schools to close for the summer and snack drawers and cupboards to start opening at a breakneck pace. Our panelists like to try some of the new snacks on the market this time of year so you know what to buy – or what to avoid – on the end caps of local grocery stores. Below are a few opinions from our tasters for you to consider when you are stocking up for the summer munchers in your family.
Cheez-It Snap’d Jalapeño Jack crackers
Even though we perfectly satisfied content eating regular Cheez-Its, our panelists were very pleased with this new offering. The crackers were extra lightweight and had just enough crunch and zing to impress our tasters. “These have many layers of goodness,” said one judge. “The texture is just right and the cheese flavor comes through right before the heat elbows its way into your mouth. They are very addictive.” Another agreed, saying, “I couldn’t be trusted with a bag of these.” A panelist who described the crackers as “fulsome,” said, “These would be perfect with a Granny Smith apple.”
Would they buy? All four judges said yes.
Serving size: 21 crisps
Fat/fiber: 8g / 0g
Sugar/sodium: 0g / 230mg
Carbs/protein: 18g / 2g
Shopping information: $4.29 for a 7.5-ounce bag from Publix.
Jif Peanut Butter Poppers
“Sweet, sugary balls of sweetness” was the description of these from a couple of our judges. If you like sugar, these are a good snack option. We figured the peanut butter, though, made these seem a little healthy. “They are very light and satisfying,” said one panelist. “I could kill a bowl of these while binge watching Narcos on Netflix.” Another liked the texture of the poppers but not the look for the treats. “They have a nice crunch but they are decidedly dated looking, almost dusted with the ‘old west,’ ” he said. Another detected the saltiness of pretzel in what she called “the brown orbs of very crunchy sugar,” but craved a bit more savoriness.
Would they buy? Two of the four judges said yes.
Serving size: 1/3 cup
Fat/fiber: 5g / 1g
Sugar/sodium: 11g / 160mg
Carbs/protein: 20g / 3g
Shopping information: $3.49 for a 6-ounce pouch from Winn-Dixie.
Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treats Snap Crackle Chocolatey Poppers
All of our panelists were pretty sure our mothers made Kellogg’s Rice Krispies treats in the summer just to keep us busy. These little nuggets are a good substitute for parents who no longer want to spend time stirring marshmallows over a hot stove or waiting for the cereal bars to harden. “Yes, Yes, Yes and more Yes,” said a mom on the panel. “They are sweet, quick goodness.” Another really appreciated the sweetness and the bite-sized shape of the squares and the softer texture inside. But, he said, “they lack snap, crackle and pop.”
Would they buy? One of the four judges said yes.
Serving size: 5 pieces
Fat/fiber: 6g / 0g
Sugar/sodium: 13g / 85mg
Carbs/protein: 21g / 1g
Shopping information: $4.99 for a 7.1-ounce pouch from Publix.
Yum Earth Organic Sour Treats
Craving a healthier version of sour gummies, our judges were disappointed in the taste and texture of these organic options. “They have a mushy texture and an overpowering, fake sour flavor,” said one panelist. “They have a sweet flavor but immediately stick to your teeth,” said another, although she would still buy the brand. A judge who appreciated the tartness of the treats said, “They are very sour but the sprinkles of sugar are fetching.”
Would they buy? One of the four judges said yes
Serving size: 1 pack
Fat/fiber: 0g / 0g
Sugar/sodium: 9g / 20mg
Carbs/protein: 16g / 0g
Shopping information: $4.99 for a 3.5-ounce pouch of five, .7-ounce packs from The Fresh Market.
Julie Plummer, catering manager at Cafe Ponte restaurant in Clearwater; John Hehn, foodie & owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; and Julie Overton, consumer, mother of four, part-time bartender and occasional caterer.