A New Product from Sunshine

21 Aug

The following review appeared at www.chow.com

In the world of mass-marketed cheesy snack crackers, Cheez-Its are about as good as it gets. With help from the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the creators of Cheez-Its came up with a process whereby real cheese is worked into the cracker batter (rather than cheese flavoring being applied as a nasty coating after the baking process). This results in a consistent cheese flavor and less artificial powdery crap sticking to your fingers.

Now Cheez-Its have been rolled out in a new “Two Flavors — One Box” format, offering the duo of Zesty Queso and Cheddar Blanco or the pairing of Sharp Cheddar and Parmesan. Out of an inherent respect for Cheez-Its, I gambled that all four flavors would be discernible in a blind testing. And sure enough, they all shone through. The Parmesan crackers taste, mon dieu, like Parm! The Zesty Queso crackers have a mild but clear stab of jalapeño to them. The Sharp Cheddar has a bit of real cheddary bite, and the Cheddar Blanco is comparatively mild.

Why the shock? The name of the game with most mass-marketed foods is for the label to say (or imply), “This tastes like a steak”; for the item in question to look and smell like a steak; but then for it to taste like cardboard covered in steak sauce. Cheez-Its, to their eternal credit, are made with real cheese, and the result is a damned snappy collection of snack crackers.

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