My wife has celiac and although it sounds exotic and scary, simply put, she’s allergic to wheat. Basically, she’s on an involuntary gluten-free diet. Although gluten free became a new fad diet for a time with celebrities extolling the virtues of no wheat, there was a positive effect in that it raised the awareness of those with gluten intolerance. So many manufacturers, if not expressly making gluten-free alternatives of their best selling products, are at least listing “contains wheat” on their packaging.
Eating out while having this allergy ranges from amusing to borderline murderous. McDonald’s is pretty understanding, no weird looks when we order a Quarter Pounder without a bun. Maggiano’s Little Italy and Bonefish Grill are really good about it. Having celiac means no Chinese food because most soy sauce has wheat but P.F. Chang’s has a whole separate gluten-free menu. In fact, most chains will have a gluten-free menu if you request it, just like most Chinese restaurants have a “real” menu if you ask for it.
The worst experience was during our anniversary, we ate at a Daddy Warbucks kinda place. The type of restaurant where there’s a mixologist and artesian waters are served. We were excited and I was ready to tear into their small batch whiskeys and ryes. My wife wanted something as simple as to not be poisoned at dinner.
After explaining in detail to the server and being assured gluten would not be an issue. This jackass assured us a second time that the crackers were gluten free. Halfway through eating their artisan crackers with small farm cheeses, the server tells us the crackers were actually only half-gluten so we should be fine. I’ll spare you with what my wife endured for a few days. And I’ll spare you with what immediately happened after the server stopped talking, but I will tell you it involved some hazmat suits, an axe, and a ditch.
I remember the days when we would have to shop at treehuggery supermarkets (I’m looking at you Whole Foods) that smelled like an Asian grandma (I’m looking at you Grandma), filled with skinny leathery old women wearing either mom pleated pants or Juicy Couture (I’m looking at 80 percent of old ladies here in the area I live and used to live in). We would have to shove through Birkenstock wearing jerkbags to grab Kinnikinnick Oreo-like cookies or Glutino’s Tastelikeassbutwe’llcallitMexicanBeanSurprise frozen dinners.
Remembering when my wife was first diagnosed, I had to pretend the tapioca bread tasted just as good as Wonder bread when in reality it had the flavor of blue construction paper. Now there’s Udi’s that makes bread as close to the real thing. Even our supermarket chain, Publix, has been placing the GF labels on its aisles and has a list of their own foodstuffs to let you know “It ain’t got no wheats, homies!”
I normally seethe at whatever pop culture embraces but I’m okay with the gluten-free “craze” because my wife, and others with celiac or lesser forms of gluten allergies, need as many choices available.
Amongst the goodies we take for granted, Wheat Thins is one of them. My wife was ecstatic when she ran across Nabisco’s Gluten Free Rice Thins. I was more interested in the Brach’s candies in those plastic bins like an old timey candy shoppe, if they had plastic bins. Who doesn’t love those boxy nougat candies filled with gummy fruit jellies?
The first thing we opened was the Rice Thins Sea Salt and Pepper made of brown rice. The crackers were light but not airy as I’m used to with ordinary rice crackers. The black pepper was faint but the peppery-ness lingered long after you ate one, which was nice. The saltiness was perfectly balanced and there was a slight mild toasted flavor. Maybe it’s the brown rice but there was a good amount of flavor.
My wife thought there should be more of a prevalent black pepper taste like in a steak au poivre. I agree, however she enjoyed the pepper flavor that would linger like a guest who should go home soon. She also felt that of all the gluten-free crackers available, this had the crunchiest texture. It was also missing the normally gross “earthy-soil” taste most g-free crackers have. Surprisingly, there was a hint of sweetness we both could taste. Maybe it was the thin coating on the crackers, but that was a pleasant touch.
We both also felt that this cracker would go extremely well with a mild cheese like a Jarlsburg (essentially it’s Gouda but awesomer) or a cream cheese based dip. She expressed that she would buy these again. I too, found these to be damn tasty and while I eat pizzas and sandwiches in front of her, I can be persuaded to actually eat these “outta” the box.
On the other hand, the Original Rice Thins was everything you think gluten free would taste like. Dull. Flavorless. Depressing. Instills an urge for you to choke those people who are a bit too damned chipper in the morning. Maybe urinate on your neighbor’s car just because you can.
The strongest characteristic this cracker had was a whisper of bitter burnt toast. It’s like inhaling the wafts from a just used toaster. The cracker had no weight like a rice cake and it was mealy. Every time you eat one, I’m sure a Native American turns to the camera with a tear rolling down his cheek.
My wife’s face expressed disgust when she ate one. She felt they were as bland as me getting it on. She expressed it had a repulsive texture as well. To her, they were boring and awful, like the “Under the Dome” series. She further felt they were similar to the other easily accessible and just as flavorless gluten-free crackers, Blue Diamond Nut-Thins (which really suck on a scale that paper cuts would rank as orgasmic).
There’s also a White Cheddar flavor but we passed because my wife hates Cheez-Its and cheese baked crackers.
Although these are no Wheat Thins, the sea salt and pepper is as close as there is for those with a gluten intolerance. And by close, I mean if I threw a ball to the moon and it landed on my roof instead.
As for the Original Rice Thins, they fail on such a spectacular level, it has convinced a certain someone to still eat pizza and Italian submarines in front of a certain wife (looking at me looking at you that’s also looking at me looking at you, that’s now looking at me… wait it’s like two mirrors facing each other!).
(Nutritional Facts – Sea Salt & Pepper – 13 crackers – 120 calories, 2 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 60 milligrams of potassium, 25 milligrams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugars, and 2 grams of protein. Original – 18 crackers – 1.5 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 45 milligrams of potassium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, o grams of sugars, and 2 grams of protein).
Other Nabisco Rice Thins reviews:
Junk Food Guy
Item: Nabisco Rice Thins (Original and Sea Salt & Pepper)
Purchased Price: $2.50 (on sale)
Size: 3.5 oz box
Purchased at: Publix
Rating: 3 out of 10 (Original)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Sea Salt & Pepper)
Pros: The Sea Salt and Pepper’s texture and flavor are excellent. The fact that there are now more choices for gluten-free items. Using made up words like awesomer. The salt and pepper are perfectly balanced. Nabisco entering the gluten-free market. My wife.
Cons: The Original Rice Thins are depressingly bland. The Sea Salt and Pepper is not as close to a Wheat Thins flavor yet. Old, leathery wrinkly dinkly ladies. The Original Rice Thins are mealy. My wife’s celiac.