Not to frighten those of you who grew up on Pokemon instead of He-Man, but your thirty-somethings will really creep up on you.
One day you’re going out drinking on work nights, then coming home and five-starring some Guitar Hero before bed. Next thing you know you’ve got muscle cramps from your adult kickball league, you can’t remember the last video game you played that wasn’t on your cell phone, and you’ve officially become the guy who reviews crackers.
Crackers! What happened to you, man? You used to be… well, not cool. Kind of cool.
But if you’re going to be dragged forcibly into the middle third of your life, might as well embrace it, right? Start wearing that baseball cap forward. Get bacon OR cheese on your burger, not both. Let your wife finally get that minivan she’s been coveting. (Only kidding, dear. We’re not doing that.) But at the same time, if you find yourself looking at a grocery store shelf full of brown rice Triscuits, well… at least get one with a little flavor to it. If you’ve got to get old, be Mick Jagger, not Gene Simmons.
This brings us to Nabisco Sea Salt & Black Pepper Brown Rice Triscuit. The front of the box tells you all you need to know about the demographic they’re shooting for: there are no dinosaurs with sunglasses or randomly slanted words, and surprisingly few explosions. Just a nondescript brown base that gradually lightens into a burnt umber and eventually orange near the top, with a bright yellow glowing orb that most of us call “Almighty Ra” or “Mr. Sun.” Below it, two bowls: one filled with black pepper, the other grains of salt. A single image of a cracker. And that’s it. You want a spokesanimal or rainbow-colored letters? Fuck you, these crackers are for adults. Leave the kiddie crap at home.
The back isn’t much more interesting, filled with imagery meant to convince your subconscious that these are wholesome and good for you: rice, a few stalks of grain, some red beans, and what I initially thought were slices of bread until the text clarified them as sweet potatoes. One side of the box suggests topping the crackers with ricotta cheese and fresh strawberries, but overplays its hand by promising this will “thrill” your guests. Nice try…stick with “mildly enthuse” and I might buy what you’re peddling, Nabisco. The other side is just the nutritional info, which isn’t bad (130 calories from 9 crackers), although the total fat is a bit more than I would have guessed, 7 percent of your recommended daily intake.
I know this will disappoint those of you hoping for another round of great crackers, but like my beloved Phillies this year, it isn’t going to happen. And the reason is that (like the Phils), these crackers boast a certain amount of potential but just don’t make it happen in execution. Remove one from the box and you become mildly hopeful — it mostly looks like a standard Triscuit, but there’s a slight glaze reminiscent of melted butter (Spoiler! It isn’t), as well as visible pepper flakes in little enclaves around the cracker. Turn it back and forth under a light source and you can even see the glint of salt crystals, although don’t do it when anyone’s around because seriously, you look like a tool.
Take a bite, though, and you’ll remember why no one has ever come close to being excited about the combination of brown rice and crackers: these are dry as hell. They ARE crunchy, it has to be said, but have a drink with you at all times. And not just because of the salt, which is present in reasonable quantities, though it does vary some from cracker to cracker; that’s understandable, though. The pepper flavor is distinct and probably the best thing about the crackers — it’s plentiful enough to savor without overwhelming your palate.
That said, it’s still fighting a losing battle against the dryness and the texture of the crackers. And while the sodium level isn’t bad, they aren’t reduced fat or anything that might mitigate your feelings slightly like that. Sad to say, the sea salt and black pepper are both mildly pleasant, but not magic. They can enhance a steak, but ultimately, they just aren’t enough to make these crackers exciting.
(Nutrition Facts – 6 crackers – 130 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of total fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 55 milligrams of potassium, 21 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)
Item: Nabisco Sea Salt & Black Pepper Brown Rice Triscuit
Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 9 oz.
Purchased at: Giant
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Crunchy. Salt and pepper are both plentiful and reasonably tasty. 2008 Phillies. Pretty favorable sodium and (especially) cholesterol levels.
Cons: Quite dry, and after the crunch, not a great texture. 2013 Phillies. Does not move like Jagger. Not much excitement. Embracing your thirties.