If you’re anything like me, people are constantly stopping you on the street to ask, “Drew, how do you choose what product you’re going to hilariously [they usually cough when they say that part] review in any given week?” (I’m assuming your name is Drew. If not, sorry, but that’s on your parents, not me.) Most of them are hoping the answer is something sexy like opening an envelope from Marvo that self-destructs after reading it, or picking a briefcase at random held by bikini models. But the truth is, what products we review are largely dictated by our circumstances. For instance Marvo, debonair man-about-town and walking STD factory that he is, reviews condoms. Kelley likes armed insurrection and mustachioed men who look like they might be named Sanchez, so she opts for survivalist food and Tapatio products.
And I, devoted family man and perpetual runner-up for the Whitest Man Alive award (stupid Wayne Brady), review crackers. I’m not complaining… it’s what we do here in the suburbs. Sometimes I’ll invite my honky friends over, put my 2.3 kids to bed, and break out the chablis and a cracker platter so we can sample a few new varieties (brie optional). Usually I’ll spring for some imports — Sweden has some wheat-based thins to die for — but this time I decided to stick closer to home. Pretty much exactly what you’d expect from a man whose proudest moment was the time he was in a 3-second audience reaction shot at a Jeffrey Ross special. (I’m the handsome one.)
Triscuit Thin Crisps aren’t an entirely new product, but they have new packaging that I’m guessing is just going to annoy the hell out of stockboys. They’re thicker at the top than at the bottom, thus leaving noticeable empty space between each package. It at least looks kind of cool, if you don’t think too hard about the fact that it means you’re getting less food for your money. Along with the packaging revamp comes a new flavor, Chile Pepper, which we’ll be looking at alongside preexisting variety Parmesan Garlic.
I was both enthused and apprehensive to try the new flavor because chile pepper and I are fairly recent acquaintances. The wife finally convinced me a few years ago to try pepper flakes on pizza, and to my great surprise I ended up liking them immensely. But I’m still a skeptic at heart when it comes to new stuff; and much like putting a strapless dress on a supermodel, what works on pizza isn’t always going to work on everything else. So I was happy to bite into my first Chile Pepper Thin Crisp and discover that I liked them. They have just a little bit of heat to them, which thanks to the triangular shape of the crisps kind of flattens out over your entire tongue. But to the disgust of Texans everywhere, the spicy flavor remains infuriatingly mild. If a Texan ever ate one, he would immediately complain that it must’ve been made by a Northerner, then probably mumble something about the Alamo or giant belt buckles or whatever.
The spice is also fairly short-lived in duration; I had two beverages nearby but never even thought about reaching for either, even right after the initial crunch of flavor. To put it in perspective, my almost 3-year-old ate two in rapid succession, then asked for another as a reward for using the potty. When your spice can’t even make a toddler blanch, it’s clear you’re not pursuing the eXtreme demographic. I’ll grant that some of the crackers seemed to carry more heat than others — I don’t know if that’s due to the residue on some of them flaking off, but you could easily get one that makes you check the box to make sure it’s not the plain variety, followed immediately by one that brings the heat rushing back. They also smell extremely good, with that familiar chili powder scent. I’d go so far as to say the smell might actually trump the taste, like coffee or scented candles.
And hey, you know what else smells good, he segued flawlessly? Garlic and parmesan cheese. This variety also emits a nice scent, though a bit subtler… you really have to get your nose in there and sniff. Go ahead, don’t be shy — grocery store managers like when you sample their wares so you can give informed feedback to other shoppers. And really, “subtler” is the perfect word to describe the Parmesan Garlic Thin Crisps in comparison to their (semi-)spicy brother. The garlic is present but doesn’t overwhelm, and that distinct parmesan flavor that New Jerseyans constantly taste even when we’re not eating anything is present and accounted for. That said, they’re not something I could see snacking on for the entire duration of a football game or a movie. If you’re looking for a flavor explosion, you’re likely to find Parmesan Garlic a bit bland, but cracker aficionados like myself can see past all that to the pleasant neutrality contained within.
And that’s your cracker review for today from CRKR — all crackers, all the time. Neither of these varieties completely knocked my socks off, but they’re both decent flavors that could stand a little more prominent flavor profiles, or maybe just to include a prize inside the box. They’re probably a lot better when paired with cheese, but taken on their own merits, Chile Pepper and Parmesan Garlic are pretty good if unspectacular crackers. Like my high school swim team.
(Nutrition Facts — 14 crackers — Parmesan Garlic – 130 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 mono saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 120 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of total carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugars, and 3 grams of protein. Chile Pepper – 140 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, 170 milligrams of sodium, 135 milligrams of potassium, 21 grams of total carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)
Item: Triscuit Thin Crisps (Chile Pepper and Parmesan Garlic)
Price: $2.99 each
Size: 7.6 oz
Purchased at: Wegman’s
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Chile Pepper)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Parmesan Garlic)
Pros: Getting fellow reviewers on the FBI watch list. Pissing off stockboys. Both smell great, especially the Chile Pepper ones. Nice and crunchy. Pleasing aftertaste. Garlic and parmesan will always be a great flavor combo. Angering Texans.
Cons: Not being named Drew. Strapless dresses on those who… should not wear strapless dresses. 3-year-olds who laugh at your heat. Uneven spice distribution. Parmesan Garlic is good, but wears out its welcome quickly. No prize in the box. A bit dull.