02/26/2012Philadelphia Indulgence Spreads. Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, and White Chocolate. $1.99 per 5-ounce carton of four, single-serve cups or $2.99 per 8-ounce tub. (photo sm120226a.jpg)
Bonnie: When the tubs of Kraft's Philadelphia Indulgence arrived at my door, I stared and wondered what they were for. But as soon as I opened and sampled them, I had my answer: Anything. These are indulgent chocolate spreads to coat cupcakes or cakes, use as dips with whole strawberries, warm cookies or salty pretzels, or to just eat plain.
These are not diet food by any means. Just enjoy a little as a treat and quickly store back in the fridge. Two tablespoons have at least 20 more calories than regular Philly (110 for the Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate; 120 for the White Chocolate), mostly from the sugar, although these are less sweet than store-bought frostings and have more natural ingredients.
I'm partial to the Dark Chocolate made with Belgian chocolate, but the Milk is a close second. The White is a tad too sweet, as white chocolate of any kind generally is to me.
Carolyn: Kraft already makes a food called Temptations (it's a Jell-O pudding parfait), so it's resorted to calling these new Philadelphia-brand chocolate cream cheese spreads Indulgence. But temptation is really what they are.
The packages are in dire need of usage tips (suggestions about dipping fruit, cookies and pretzels are printed only on the inner foil). In Europe, this product is competing with Nutella hazelnut chocolate bread spread.
Still, people who buy these and experience their mousse-like richness will have no trouble coming up with eating excuses. My latest: "Hey, the refrigerator's open -- I guess I'll just stick a spoon in and take a hit." Yes, they're that delicious and that diet-busting dangerous.
Snack Factory Chipotle Cheddar Pretzel Crisps. $2.99 per 7.2-ounce resealable pouch. (photo sm120226b.jpg)
Bonnie: The first Snack Factory Pretzel Crisp I fell in love with was the Everything variety, sprinkled with sesame and poppy seeds, onion, garlic and salt. Each of those thin, crunchy pretzel-shaped crisps had only 10 calories, no saturated fat and 15 milligrams sodium. Next to gain my affection was the Dark Chocolate & Peppermint, decadently delicious and to be eaten only as an occasional treat.
I also like the blend of the smoky chipotle flavor with the cheese and spices in Snack Factory Pretzel Crisps' newest bold and spicy flavor, Chipotle Cheddar. These crisps contain only 110 calories and no saturated fat in 11 thin crisps. But their 400 milligrams sodium places them into the occasional-treat category with the Chocolate & Peppermint for me.
Carolyn: When is a pretzel more like a potato chip? When it's a Pretzel Crisp. While the plain original Pretzel Crisp variety seemed best suited as a differently flavored hors d'oeuvre cracker, subsequent flavored Pretzel Crisps (Buffalo Wing, Jalapeno Jack, Tuscan Three Cheese) aimed to be a stand-alone snack, like potato chips. I would add this new smoky Chipotle Cheddar to that list.
It's neither as boring as plain pretzels or original Pretzel Crisps, nor as addictively delicious as a cheese-flavored potato chip. A little bit boring on its own, it's ideal dipped into plain whipped cream cheese.
Oscar Mayer Lunchables Lunch Combinations With Fruit. Ham plus American Cracker Stackers, Turkey plus Cheddar Cracker Stackers, Grape PB&J Soft Flatbread Sandwich, and Extra Cheesy Pizza. $2.99 per 6.7- to 8.2-ounce container. (no photo)
Bonnie: After all these years of lambasting Kraft's Oscar Mayer company for its non-nutritious Lunchables, I must give it an "A" for effort for these new lunch kits with fruit.
To be fair, this is in addition to the extra credit the company earned from me recently for using leaner meats, reduced-fat cheeses and some whole grains.
Each new Lunchables contains either a 4-ounce cup of Dole mandarin oranges or pineapple packed in 100 percent fruit juice, each providing one half-cup serving of the 2 cups recommended per day.
One lunch kit has from 290 to 440 calories, a modest 2.5 to 4 grams saturated fat (of 7 to 14 total fat), an OK 2 to 4 grams fiber and a hefty 20 to 32 grams sugar, much of which comes from the fruit. As always with processed meats and cheese, the sodium is a bit high, but lower than past Lunchables, with only 330 milligrams in the PB&J version to 620 milligrams in the Turkey plus Cheddar.
Very nice try, Oscar Mayer. I generously give you a C-plus for these meals, making them just fine to eat on occasion.
Carolyn: Lunchables have long been as much a vehicle for selling lots of Kraft-brand foods as a way of meeting kids' lunchtime energy needs and wants. That's why desserts in Lunchables have long been Kraft-crafted Oreos and Chips Ahoy! and Jell-O, versus God-made bananas, grapes and apples.
To be fair, unadorned fresh fruit would likely not survive Lunchables' distribution and sales system. So Kraft has done the next best thing, teaming up with fellow big food company Dole to offer cups of minimally processed pineapple and mandarin orange pieces.
The fruit cups don't take the place of the cookies or candy traditionally found in Lunchables in these four new combinations; they just supplement the Rice Krispies-like marshmallow treats or fruit chews also in them. The trick now is getting the kids to eat the fruit AND the treats.
(Bonnie Tandy Leblang is a registered dietitian and professional speaker. She has a blog (www.biteofthebest.com) about products she recommends; follow her on Twitter: @BonnieBOTB. Carolyn Wyman is a junk-food fanatic and author of "The Great Philly Cheesesteak Book" (Running Press). Each week they critique three new food items.)