What are Cheez-It Puff’d?
A new variety of baked snacks from Cheez-It, these tout themselves as “cheesy, airy, & puffy” and come in three flavors: Double Cheese, White Cheddar, and Scorchin’ Hot Cheddar. They strongly resemble a Cheez-It product from a few years ago, Cheez-It Crunch’d, but because I never sampled those, I can’t confirm if Puff’d is a retooling of Crunch’d or something entirely new. These are Cheez-It’s version of a cheese puff.
How are they?
At first glance, promising. They come in bags that assure you they’re “crave-ably cheesy,” “incredibly airy,” and “perfectly puffy.” The shapes look like they’d be fun to eat and the smallish size makes them seem like a snack you could toss up and catch in your mouth like popcorn. Occasionally two of them remain stuck together in a neat little domino shape. They look like the sort of thing you’d have in a bowl and happily munch on, eating way too many because they’re so light and airy. Unfortunately, the fun stops there because these are not good.
They remind me of several types of things you would use to fill a box for shipping so the contents don’t break in transit. My first thought was that these are like eating old packing peanuts. Not even fresh packing peanuts but more like what I imagine the packing peanuts that surround the Christmas ornaments I inherited from my grandmother decades ago probably taste like. Next, I thought about another box filler, those not-totally inflated little plastic bags of air that all come connected to each other. Remember what I thought was a cute domino shape? It’s actually just two of those stuck-together bags. While eating, I thought to myself, “these are why some people really hate cheese puffs.” There’s something strange about them right from the start. It’s almost as if they’re stale, even though I know that’s not possible. Any puffiness they have immediately melts away the second they’re in your mouth and what’s left is pretty off-putting and oddly sticky.
Anything else you need to know?
They say they’re baked with real cheese inside and out, and I don’t have any complaints about the flavors. Double Cheese has the most regular taste of the trio and is the least remarkable. I’m unclear if there are supposed to be two different cheeses (presumably cheddar and something else?) or if it’s just supposed to be twice the amount of the regular cheese flavor. At any rate, it doesn’t stand out as being particularly strong. The White Cheddar version is sharper and more distinctive. Scorchin’ Hot Cheddar isn’t too fiery to handle but has a pleasant heat.
I like cheese puffs and want to like these, but I can’t get past the texture. If you give them a try, I’d recommend White Cheddar or Scorchin’ Hot Cheddar. A single serving is 40 pieces, and this is a rare case in snacking where I won’t come close to eating that many.
Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 5.75 oz bag
Purchased at: Mariano’s
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Double Cheese), 5 out of 10 (White Cheddar), 5 out of 10 (Scorchin’ Hot Cheddar)
Nutrition Facts: For all three flavors (40 pieces) 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 2 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 270 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of total sugars, and 2 grams of protein.