REVIEW: Cheez-It Extra Toasty Crackers

Cheez-It Extra Toasty Crackers

Cheez-It and I have been on bad terms lately.

I recently tried their Crunch’d cheese puffs and they were a 3 out of 10 at best. Horrendous. They tasted like cheese flavored Cap’n Crunch. No bueno. It’s time for Cheez-It to win me back.

Sunshine, the maker of Cheez-It, have apparently been getting bombarded with requests for an “extra toasty” flavor of their flagship cracker. Now look, I’m not saying Sunshine is lying about the claim, but I would have never considered “extra toasty” a “flavor.” Maybe I should have.

I realized as I was eating these Cheez-Its that I love toasty and burnt snacks. This notion never dawned on me until that very moment. I love extra dark pretzels. I like that one over-browned Saltine in the sleeve, burnt chocolate chip cookies, and that one extra crispy French fry at the bottom of the bag. I even order my pizza “well done” so the crust is burnt and crispy. The people who were requesting extra toasty Cheez-Its were definitely on to something, and Sunshine delivered.

Extra Toasty Cheez-Its are friggin’ delicious. These are one of the most satisfying salty snacks I’ve had in a long time. In my opinion, they’ve improved on the regular ones in just about every way possible. I’m not positive the difference will blow everyone away, but I don’t see any reason to ever go back to the regular variety. If Cheez-Its were a Hollywood movie, these would be the ever-so-popular dark, gritty reboot of the outdated original that didn’t quite hold up over the years. These extra toasty ones are just flat better. Get with the times.

Cheez-It Extra Toasty Crackers 3

Cheez-Its always did the cheddar flavor right. It doesn’t overpowering you with the artificial stuff that other brands go overboard with, and these keep that family tradition alive with 100% real cheese. That being said, the “cheez” flavor wasn’t even really the star of the show for me, it was the flakey crunch of the extra toasty cracker itself. Add the perfectly complementing salt element on each piece, and they really hit a home run here. There’s a perfect balance happening. After every bite I wanted to yell “Toastttty” like that random dude who used to pop his head into Mortal Kombat levels…too obscure?

The aftertaste is pleasant as well. The flavor doesn’t dilute at all after you swallow. In fact, that might be a problem to some because it’s addictive, and you’ll want to just keep shoveling more of these down for the crunch factor.

As much as I wanted to give these a perfect ten, there is a bit of a grease factor. These would fall somewhere between Goldfish and potato chips on the grease scale. I noticed the paper plate I was eating off of was almost translucent once I finished.

I guess I should also warn you that the salt was pretty excessive here. That was not even remotely a problem for me, but I could understand it being a turnoff for some.

Cheez-It Extra Toasty Crackers 4

So, basically, my one complaint about the Extra Toasty Cheez-Its is that I wanted to finish the box in one sitting, but couldn’t thanks to a bit of heartburn. But I probably could have powered through it if I wanted to, so that’s not even a strong complaint.

If I learned one thing from eating these, it’s that “toasty” should absolutely be the new trendy “flavor.” More brands need to embrace this. I want burnt Ritz. Burnt potato and tortilla chips. Burnt Goldfish. Take your recipe and add an addition 5-10 minutes of baking time, slap a new name on the box and you’ve got yourself a sale. I have become a food pyro.

My hat goes off to Cheez-It for changing the cracker game, and for making the decision to put the hyphen in their name after the “Z.” No matter how good these tasted, I would have never bought a snack called “Chee-Zit.”

(Nutrition Facts – 27 crackers – 150 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Cheez-It Extra Toasty Crackers
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 12.4 oz. box
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Toasty is the new Orange is the New Black. Perfect flavor harmony. Flakey crunch. Crazy addictive. Proper hyphen usage. Fan requests. Mortal Kombat’s “Toasty” guy.
Cons: Greasy. Might need a Tums handy. Food pyros. Cheese flavored Cap’n Crunch.

REVIEW: Honey Maid Birthday Cake Teddy Grahams

Honey Maid Birthday Cake Teddy Grahams

Bears and birthday cakes do not mix.

At least that’s what the security guards told me when I tried to feed Greg the Grizzly a slice of red velvet with cream cheese frosting. Those misinformed fuddy-duddies. If bears don’t actually want to eat cake, then why are they always stealing picnic baskets? Who are we to say no to bears?

In spite of these warnings, Honey Maid has defied zoo security and mixed bears with birthday cake as part of their newly released Birthday Cake Teddy Grahams.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’ve never tasted a bear before — Greg’s guards told me no nibbling allowed. I have tasted Teddy Grahams, though, and I consider myself a fan of those teeny-tiny ursine cookies.

If you’ve never tried Teddy Grahams, they’re nothing more than little crackers that resemble happy cartoon bears. Each of these bears has either both its arms up, or both its arms down. The result is one of the lamest attempts to dance to “Y.M.C.A.” that the world has ever seen.

Honey Maid Birthday Cake Teddy Grahams 2

Because these particular Teddy Grahams are birthday cake-flavored, each cracker is speckled with rainbow color, as if it has contracted a fabulous version of measles. Discomeasles, anyone?

Their scent is somewhere between Nilla wafers and cupcakes. Their flavor is…not what I was expecting.

When I think of “birthday cake,” I imagine strong flavors alluding to vanilla frosting and rainbow sprinkles. These Teddy Grahams are heavy on the graham flavor with merely a faint hint of birthday cake sweetness. It’s an accurate imitation of cake batter, but it only shows up after the graham flavor begins to dissipate.

At first, I was a bit disappointed the birthday cake flavor was this mellow, but these Teddy Grahams have quickly grown on me. Because they’re so plain, they’re very easy to eat in large amounts. I no longer have the sweet tooth of an 8-year-old child, and these Teddy Grahams allow me to snack without feeling like I’m injecting sugar directly into my bloodstream. I honestly prefer them over the other Teddy Graham flavors: honey, cinnamon, chocolate, grizzly, panda, polar, etc.

Though different from what I had anticipated, these Birthday Cake Teddy Grahams have earned my approval. I’m glad Honey Maid chose “birthday cake” as their new Teddy Graham variety, and not another trendy flavor. I can just imagine sea salt caramel, coffee, and sriracha Teddy Grahams. Those would have been unbearable. (Stop complaining. I had to fit in a bear pun somewhere, okay?)

(Nutrition Facts – 24 pieces (30 grams) – 140 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 55 milligrams of potassium, 22 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Honey Maid Birthday Cake Teddy Grahams
Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 10 oz. box
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Not overwhelmingly sweet. Super snackable. Discomeasles…? Bear puns.
Cons: Primarily graham-flavored. Zoo security. Bear puns.

REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs

Pepperidge Farm Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs

I won a goldfish from the fair when I was ten. I was so excited holding him in his bag on the drive home. Oh the fun we were gonna have… Then, I realized all he did was swim in circles. About a month later I had to flush him down the toilet. That was basically the same experience as buying and eating Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs.

The instant you tear open the bag, you’re met with no smell. Seriously, there is barely a hint of a scent from these things. I’ve never had a cheese based snack that didn’t have a distinct aroma. These smell like cardboard.

The lack of smell didn’t bother me at first because artificially flavored cheese isn’t exactly my favorite cologne, but then I tasted them and, yeah, we’re just dealing with a bland product here.

The flavor itself reminded me of Wise Cheez Doodles, only with much less flavor. These are the cheese puff equivalent of Fruit Stripe gum. The instant you get hit with the cheese flavor, you lose it. The only other sensation I got was a “corny” aftertaste. Not “corny” like my writing, but “corny” like “I just ate corn.”   

I’ll tell you one flavor I never thought of once while eating these – grilled cheese.   There’s really nothing “grilled cheese” about them. I kinda figured you’d get a nice buttery element with the cheese, but nope. Nada. 

They could have tagged this with any description they wanted and it would have been on par with “Twisted Grilled Cheese.” That name is strictly a marketing ploy. I was really hoping they would have been more in line with the Flavor Blasted Cheddar Goldfish crackers, but alas, they were just weak cheese doodles.

Pepperidge Farm Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs 2

You’re probably wondering where the “twist” comes in. So am I. Each puff has little green sprinkles on them, which I assume are pepper flakes, because there is a small heat element. Very small. This of course is backed up by the fact that neither “pepper” nor anything really relating to “pepper” is listed in the ingredients. So…either way, the heat lingers on your tongue longer than the actual cheese flavor.

It’s not all bad though. The texture is the saving grace – on a scale from “fresh puffed Cheeto” to “stale Cap’n Crunch cereal piece,” it definitely lands closer to the former.  There is a nice light crisp to each bite, but in time, I could feel them shredding the roof of my mouth.

And ya know why? Because I’m still eating them as I type. Here I am, talking about how boring these Goldfish are, yet they’re going down like water…which is ironic because I think Pepperidge Farm’s main reason for shaping their crackers like fish was due to the fact they pair so well with water. I’ve never eaten any variety of Goldfish without chugging a bottle of H2O due to excessive salt dehydration. These are certainly no different. Salt city.

Pepperidge Farm Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs 3

Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs are probably the worst Goldfish product I’ve ever had. Not to go all superficial on you guys, but they aren’t even as cute as regular goldfish. They’re fatter and more squished in appearance. There’s a certain sadness hidden behind each of those smiles. Although to be fair to Twisted Grilled Cheese, the original Cheddar sets an unrealistic standard for Goldfish alike. Real Goldfish have curves.

So, in conclusion, are these better than most puffed cheese snacks? No. Are they better than regular cheddar Goldfish crackers? Not even close.

There are so many cheesy alternatives in the supermarket, there’s almost no reason to buy these unless you are a Goldfish completist. Still, I can’t give them a super low score because of their inherent eatability – which I’m being told is not a word. Tomato, tuh-ma-toe.

(Nutrition Facts – 1.1 oz – 140 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, .5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Pepperidge Farm Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs
Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 6 oz. bag
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Light and crisp. Addicting. Snack smiles back. Catchy advertising jingles of yore.
Cons: Bland. Salty. Mouth roof rippers. False grilled cheese advertising. Weakest twist since M. Night’s most recent flick.

REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Cheeseburger Goldfish Crackers

Pepperidge Farm Cheeseburger Goldfish

Look, I know.

I know I shouldn’t have tried to pogo through Times Square. Or put the Tootsie Roll in the Easy Bake Oven. Or tried to build a tent in gale force winds in the middle of the Mexico desert. I do ridiculous things sometimes because I’m curious if they can be done. Somebody should stop me.

But nobody did. Not when I was walking to the grocery. Not at the back of aisle 3. Not the guy hacking up sirloin at the meat counter. So, unhindered by human or meat cleaver, I dive in to Pepperidge Farm Cheeseburger Goldfish Crackers, one-by-one.

Pepperidge Farm Cheeseburger Goldfish 4

Starting simple, the cheddar is familiar and orange as the hunk of cheese from whence it came. It’s wonderful in that nutty, salty, and savory way. It’s perhaps a bit too safe, but it’s also nice to be reminded that there’s a reason these have been bobbing about since 1962.

I’m surprised and disappointed to find the ketchup tastes much similar to the cheddar cracker, but with a very, very, very, very minuscule hint of canned tomato paste. Some may say the tomato isn’t there at all, but, if you close your eyes and use your imagination, you can taste a tomato-y afterthought at the end. Those looking for the sweet tang of ketchup shall be sad in this tomato effort, but the sprinklies of salt coating each fish help things along. It’s not a bad fishy, but not noticeably different enough from the cheddar to declare its taste as unique.

Now, on to the most curious beast: the burger cracker.

No skipping around the tulips: it’s pretty good. No hints of metal, artificial smoke, or burnt-charcoal. There’s a salty, savory, roasted-portabella edge with a hint of caramelized onion bits found at the bottom of the pan. Sure, it may not be the medium-rare hunk of cow I look for, but it holds its own, and, in that capacity, it goes excellently with the cheddar. The two eaten together may encourage you to shovel up every last crumb of the bag as if you were raised by wolves. Do not be ashamed of being raised by wolves: scoop those crackers down, you wolf-human.

Pepperidge Farm Cheeseburger Goldfish 3

Maybe it’s the smell of charcoal in the air, but I think I like these. I really do. They’re not spectacular, even a little too safe, but they’re also not putrid.

They’re savory, nutty, cheesy and easy to chomp. It would be exciting to see Pepperidge Farm go further with the idea of the burger: give me some jalapeño, Colby, and mustard-coated Goldfish. Bacon and bleu. Give me all the pickle-flavored fishies you can muster. I shall eat them. Eat them all. If I’m going off the deep end, so be it.

But maybe you will join me? Here? In the deep end? It’s nice. And way fun. And has lots of crackers.

(Nutrition Facts – 56 pieces – 140 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Pepperidge Farm Cheeseburger Goldfish Crackers
Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 6.3 oz. bag
Purchased at: Morton Williams
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Nutty. Savory. Burger cracker not gross. Cheddar remains unchanged. Brown bits of caramelized onions. Salt sprinklies. Benefits of being raised by wolves. Pogo sticks.
Cons: Ketchup tastes like cheddar. Absence of tang. Can’t order medium rare. No pickles? Trying to set up a tent in gale force winds.

REVIEW: Wheat Thins Toasted Pita Crackers (Original and Garlic Herb)

Wheat Thins Toasted Pita (Original and Garlic Herb)

I rarely dip my crunchy snacks because I believe dips are just speed bumps on the road to gluttony.

But if you’re reading this review in the middle of the grocery store deciding on whether or not you should buy a bag of Wheat Thins Original Toasted Pita, let me give you words of advice before you make up your mind — make sure you have something to dip them into. I don’t care what it is. Hummus. Salsa. Chocolate sauce. Cheese sauce. Peanut butter. Guacamole. Spinach artichoke dip. Baby food. Anything.

Original Wheat Thins are so great because they can be enjoyed naked. They have a salty, nutty flavor that stands out on its own. Even Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips taste great by themselves. But these pita crackers need something, so much so that, after opening the bag and trying a few, I felt compelled to drive back to the store to buy some kind of dip. I ended up buying hummus.

Wheat Thins Toasted Pita Dip

To be fair, the back of the bag screams that they need to be dipped. But Wheat Thins’ cousin, Triscuit, screams about how they should be topped, although not as loud as these pita crackers, but without toppings they still have a strong munchability. I can’t say the same about Wheat Thins Original Toasted Pita. They have a saltine cracker-level of boringness, and kind of taste like them.

Wheat Thins Original Toasted Pita

Fortunately, these oven baked pita crackers do go well with hummus (and peanut butter), and their thickness does extremely well with thick dips. They have a nice crunch, but not as hearty as Stacy’s Pita Chips. Also, I think they would be a great replacement for saltine crackers when eating soup.

Wheat Thins Garlic Herb Toasted Pita

Wheat Thins Garlic Herb Toasted Pita Crackers are a bit more munchable than Original version. Actually, they’re, if you’ll excuse my poor attempt to be clever, Pitastic.

They smell and kind of taste like a white pizza, which isn’t surprising since each cracker has a light sprinkling of garlic, herb, and cheese seasoning. They don’t have an overpowering flavor, but I found myself mindlessly snacking on them. Like the Original version, the packaging screams that they should be dipped, but they’re fine with or without.

Speaking of dip, the Wheat Thins Garlic Herb Toasted Pita Crackers have enough flavor that I want to crush them into crumbs, add some water, and create a slurry that I can use as a dip to help the Wheat Thins Original Toasted Pita Crackers taste better.

(Nutrition Facts – Original – 15 crackers – 140 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of 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, 170 milligrams of sodium, 65 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein. Garlic Herb – 14 crackers – 140 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of 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, 170 milligrams of sodium, 70 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Wheat Thins Toasted Pita Crackers (Original and Garlic Herb)
Purchased Price: $3.50 each
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Original)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Garlic Herb)
Pros: Garlic Herb smells and tastes like a white pizza, and doesn’t need a dip to make them tasty. 10 grams of whole grain per serving. Can handle thick dips. Phones that allow you to read reviews in the middle of the grocery store.
Cons: Original version doesn’t have a unique flavor, tastes like of like a saltine cracker, and needs a dip. Dips are usually just speed bumps on the road to gluttony. Using the term “Pitastic.”