We're huge fans of Wheat Thins here at Cooking Light. We love that these whole-grain crackers are made with 100% whole-grain wheat and offer a great combo of salty-sweet crunch.
Eating healthy should still be delicious.
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So while we thought it was hard to improve on the original, the new limited edition Even Thinner variety does just that. The nutrition profile hasn't changed—they still clock in at 140 calories, 1 gram of sat fat, 3 grams of fiber, and 4 grams of sugar per serving—but you get a whopping 22 crackers for those numbers. Not bad for your next snack attack, right? Find them on store shelves nationwide for a limited time.
Here's what our staff had to say after tasting:
"They're slightly more delicate, yet still sturdy and ready to be topped."
"They taste exactly the same as regular Wheat Thins—whew! Don't go changing, Wheat Thins—but the crunch is more pronounced. They're almost like a crisp, which I love."
"Even more suitable for dipping than their relatively huskier counterparts."
"They taste good, sure, but I love the funky futuristic box."
Try them and let us know what you think! In the meantime, keep your snacking game strong with some of favorite options from our Taste Test Awards.
The Skinny on Bagel Thins
Thomas' has managed to put two words together that spend most of their time apart - "bagel" and "thin". Nobody is getting thin eating bagels, trust me.
Thomas' Bagel Thins are not the regular 300 calorie behemoth found at your local bagel store. This bagel is much thinner and the one I purchased is 100% whole wheat and 110 calories.
What? That's right - a 110 calorie bagel. The first thing I do when I evaluate packaged bread is look for artificial sweeteners or stevia. I have been amazed to find Truvia, stevia, sucralose, etc. to be lurking in bread. Honestly, I don't want this stuff in my bread so I was happy to find Thomas' Bagel Thins advertising:
Here is the ingredient list, and as you can see, Thomas' uses plain old fashioned "sugar" to make these a little sweet:
whole wheat flour, water, sugar, wheat gluten, flaked wheat cellulose fiber, cornmeal, yeast, wheat bran, salt, preservatives (calcium propionate, sorbic acid), monoglycerides, guar gum, sodium stearoyl lactylate, datem, soybean oil, soy flour.
For one bagel = 110 calories, 1 g fat, 24 g carbohydrates, 6 g protein, 5 g fiber, 190 mg sodium, 3 Points+
These bagel things are 100% whole grain because Thomas' managed to use only whole wheat flour. Then, to get them up to 5 grams of fiber they added "flaked wheat cellulose fiber" which I guess is all right.
Because it is packaged bread and needs to remain fresh on the shelf, there are preservatives and monoglycerides which are milk derivatives.
Do I like these? Well, I think that these are one of the best options out there for those of us trying to decrease our monster bagel consumption.
They taste pretty good, and reminds one of an actual bagel. Having TWO slices of bread that equals 110 calories is a real bonus because one piece of bread is usually around 100 calories.
My five year old son liked these and thought they were REAL bagels (he is easy to fool). If my husband didn't make our bread, (see Healthy Homemade Bread in Five Minutes A Day) I would buy these.
Have you tried Thomas' Bagel Thins? What do you eat them with? Have you found a better healthy bread option?
Other posts you might like:
One of These Bagels Has A Skinny Secret
Snack Girl lives in the North Eastern United States or as it is called " the bagel corridor". Yes, there is a fresh bagel chain here called Bruegger's and it is pretty good.
Healthy Homemade Bread in Five Minutes A Day
Let's face it - homemade bread rocks.
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First 20 Comments: ( See all 38 )
Have you tried Bruegger's skinny bagels? They're real bagels, no preservatives, and they're 100 calories less than a normal bagel. You should try them!
Holly on February 28, 2012
I use these to make breakfast sandwiches for my family. It cuts down on the excessive calories of full size bagels, makes them easier to eat, and is portable. They also serve as a great alternative to bread in general for sandwiches like ham and cheese when you pack lunches for long trips (flights, train rides, car trips) when things like lettuce wraps just wont hold for that long. They are also available in bulk at Costco which is just a great budget thing for me.
I also like the other flavors that are offered as a nice sweet treat on occasion, the cinnamon raisin ones are a nice change of pace when you just want that something different.
You know I just can't get into these bagel thins or any of the thin breads, they taste weird to me, Iɽ rather just have toast. However I never tried Thomas's so I guess I shouldn't judge.
Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers on February 28, 2012
My philosophy has always been that it's better to find a healthier substitution for something you love, rather than give it up entirely. Diets/Lifestyle changes aren't going to stick if you're constantly denying yourself. I'm pleased that Thomas' makes bagel thins -- I think they're enough to satisfy that bagel craving, without having to cave for the real thing
Stephanie G on February 28, 2012
Great post! Have you tried western bagels?
wallis on February 28, 2012
I just tried these toasted this morning for the first time, with Weight Watcher's cream cheese. Awesome combination, very filling, and tasted great! Since they are plumper than other 'sandwich thins', they seemed more satisfying.
My favorite is the Thomas Triple Health English Muffins. They toast up nice and crispy. The have 100 calories, 6 grams of fiber and 1 gram of fat. They also have sugar and nothing fake. To me that have even more flavor than the bagel thins. I like to make an egg sandwich with them with a piece of turkey bacon and a touch of low-fat cheese!
Suzanne on February 28, 2012
You were asking about the flaked wheat cellulose fiber. It's actually flaked wheat, cellulose fiber and the cellulose fiber is a cheap filler that is actually a wood pulp. http://www.rd.com/health/the-fib-about-some-high-fiber-food…
I haven't tried these yet. For some reason my tummy aches really bad when I eat wheat bread. I might give this a try and see what happens.
Jaki (Slim Down U) on February 28, 2012
I eat these for lunch open faced with a slice of pepperjack on each side and turkey pepperoni on top then microwaved for 30 seconds. It's delicious and everyone who sees me eating them comments on how good my little pizzas look.
Jenny on February 28, 2012
I love these bagel thins and for a minute there was worried what you were going to say about them. I didn't want to have to give them up. So glad I don't have to! I've never been a big fan of the big, bulky bagel that just sits in my tummy for hours. These bagels are just right and keep me satisfied for a long time. Thanks for posting this!
Izabel on February 28, 2012
I bought a package of the cinnamon raisin ones, and I've been eating them toasted with a wedge of Laughing Cow strawberry cream cheese. I'm not much of a bagel person, so I only eat them once in a while, and it's almost the cinnamon raisin ones.
Tammy on February 28, 2012
TH is right, cellulose is wood pulp.
Once again, why is sugar so high up on this list? It should be minimal, as it's only needed to activate the yeast, which means it should be at the end. Not that any of the following ingredients are any better: additives, additives, additives.
As a society we need to stop thinking of health in terms of calories counted, and instead realize that it's the types of foods and food-like products we're putting in our bodies.
Cristina @ An Organic Wife on February 28, 2012
I have tried them and really like them. I find that I don't miss the rest of the bagel. I need to buy some soon to spread my new Philadelphia Indulgence Chocolate Cream Cheese Spread on. I like the little pizza idea. Definitely buying some this week!
Lauren on February 28, 2012
I have tried these and did like them. But when ww changed to points plus and they were now worth 3 points instead of 1 I have stopped buying them.
Annie on February 28, 2012
I do buy bagel thins. I like the taste when I'm having a sandwich or just to have one toasted. They also make delightful garlic bread crisps in the toaster oven (a little bit of ICBINB and garlic powder or salt goes a long way), and am happy to have a texture other than regular bread. They are a nice option to have.
Donna on February 28, 2012
My family loves bagels--all five of us--and these actually taste like a bagel. Not the real, old-fashioned chewy ones from a real Jewish bakery, but a very good substitute. I used to just slice a piece out of the middle of the bagel to decrease the carbs and calories, which these do without the risk of amputation. My kids like them. We serve them like traditional bagels with cream cheese, or as sandwich buns for breakfast sandwiches.
Denise on February 28, 2012
i wish we got these in the UK!
kerry on February 28, 2012
Ah I love these. I happened to find them one day at the grocery store & decided to give them a try. I prefer them now over normal bagels. Normal ones seem too bready [okay so I think I just made that word up] to me.
See all 38 Comments
Food and Stuff Like That
Kettle Brand recently released two varieties of real vegetable chips: Kettle Uprooted Sweet Potatoes and Kettle Uprooted Sweet Potatoes, Beets and Parsnips. These deliciously crunchy chips are only made of three ingredients. Yes, you heard me—THREE! Sliced root vegetables, oil, and salt. Perfectly sweet and salty, these snacks received rave reviews from staffers and are waiting to be snagged from the shelves of grocery stores (including natural food stores!) nationwide for just $3.99 per 6 oz. bag.
Here’s what our team had to say after tasting:
“Salty, crispy, and light! Just what I want in a potato chip.”
“Not too sweet unlike a lot of other sweet potato chip brands.”
Try them and let us know what you think! In the meantime, keep your snacking game strong with some of favorite options from our Taste Test Awards.
Kettle Brand Uprooted Sweet Potatoes, Beets & Parsnips
Serving size: 28g (1 oz, about 13 chips)
150 calories, 10g fat (0.5g sat fat), 80mg sodium, 15g carb, 3g fiber, 8g sugar, 2g protein
Kettle Brand Uprooted Sweet Potatoes
Serving size: 28g (1 oz, about 13 chips)
160 calories, 9g fat (1g sat fat), 150mg sodium, 14g carb, 3g fiber, 7g sugar, 1g protein
We Tasted It: New Even Thinner Wheat Thins - Recipes5. Form into a ball and cut into 4 pieces. cutting them in 4 pieces will help you work with a small amount of dough so that you can roll the dough as thinly as possible. Cover the rest of the dough as you work. so as not to dry out.
- on a lightly floured counter top
- lightly greased back of a cookie sheet
- directly on a pizza stone
- on a silpat
Dangit Ellie, now I am going to have to make these and the goldfish crackers, I have been slacking on the goldfish ones awhile now.
Superbi! Musai sa-i incerc. :)
Have a great day Ellie.
These look fantastic, you have done an amazing job with all the step by step photos Ellie. Only after starting a blog, I have realized how much work goes into photographing the steps, especially when you are baking and you have your hands in flour and butter!
I love using spelt flour and find it easy to work with. I'll give these a try during my daughters second nap tomorrow, it'll be a nice quiet time for me to do some baking. :) Will let you know how they turn out.
M Family, Sorry to make you want to try these:). but they were great!
Sailaja, Yes, a nice snack for sure. Lovely with tea and a slice of cheese:)
Andreea, Oh, I hope you can give them a try:). would love to hear how you like them.
Megi, Thank you. and yes, step-by-step photos do take time. I am constantly wiping my hands and the camera:). I've settled to having a point and shoot type of camera that's just for my blog photos. Nothing fancy. I probably wouldn't want to use an expensive camera. especially for step-by-step photos. One day, it may give up on me:).
But I do hope you will enjoy the crackers. I really liked them and am glad I can use spelt flour. They taste especially good:). Thanks for stopping by.
super,cred ca sant crocanti
Can you use any other flours? I think I am going to try to use chickpea flour as I've heard it will make crackers taste like cheezits.
Reteta-ina Thank you. sper sa -it placa daca incerci:).
Amy, Chickpea flour sounds great! I don't know about other flours, except the usual white whole wheat.
But if you try it with chickpea flour, I would love to know what you think of them. And then they would be gluten-free. great idea!
They came out really good. My twins age 2 really liked them, but my 3 year was not a fan (he's pickier than the other 2). I also used 14 drops of liquid vanilla stevia instead of the sugar and vanilla and earth balance "butter" making them sugar free and dairy free. I will be trying other gluten free flours since we are dairy free and attempting to go gluten free.
Amy, Thank you for your feedback on the crackers. and for sharing the substitutions you made.
I am so glad you were able to come up with something that works for your family even happier that the twins liked them:)
They are definitely a great alternative to store-bought. It would be great to try it with a gluten-free flour as well.
Again, thanks for stopping by and for sharing. I really appreciate it.
Ellie, the crackers are great, they were easy to make and great to eat. I used honey and whole spelt flour, I completely forgot about the vanilla and by the time I remembered it, it was too late to add it to the dough. They are delicious and next time I'll definitely make a double batch. Thank you for sharing this neat recipe.
Megi, I am so glad you liked them! Thank you for the feedback and for stopping by.
I love King Arthur Flour recipes. these look so good..and i love wheat thins!
Red, Yes, I too love KAF recipes.I think these crackers were truly delicious!
If you ever try them, do let me know how you like them.
Thanks for stopping by.
Has anyone tried using a pasta machine to roll out these crackres?
Unknown, I am thinking you can use a pasta machine to roll it out. plenty of people use the pasta machine to make thin, crispy crackers. Haven't tried it myself, though.
Thanks--it would seem to make sense--I'll try it over the weekend and report back.
Love this recipe! Thanks so much for sharing it! It's our new favourite snack. I linked it on my blog: http://sarah-ourislandhome.blogspot.com/2011/11/some-things-quelques-occupations.html
Sarah, I am ao glad you are enjoying the cracker recipe. I was thrilled when I ran across it. and had to share it:)!
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your feedback! Appreciate it!
Well, tomorrow is officially cracker making day at our house! You have inspired some cheese crackers and wheat thins! Thanks. I can't wait to try them :) Also, the hubby's request for dinner is always cheese and crackers. I'll be much more excited for that meal if I can make the crackers myself!
Kacie, Oh, I am so glad you are trying out the crackers. These are a favorite! I just love homemade crackers:). And even though there's a bit of work involved, I think they are worth it. Cheese and homemade crackers are always a treat for us:).
I'm hoping you will enjoy the crackers. just try to roll out the dough as thinly as possible for best results. and keep an eye on them when baking. as crackers in general can burn quickly.
Have fun baking:).
Just wondering if we can use regular whole wheat flour - I've never heard of spelt flour or king arthur - I don't think we have it here in Seattle area, we've stopped eating wheat thins in our home cos of all the bad stuff in it so nice to see all the good stuff in this recipe so I can eat them again
Rebecca, Yes, you can certainly use regular whole wheat flour. King Arthur is just a brand name, but any whole wheat flour can be used.
Spelt flour is an ancient non wheat grain. and is often substituted for whole wheat. Spelt flour however does have gluten. so you can't really use it in gluten-free recipes.
But you can find spelt flour in health food stores and many grocery stores nowadays.
Hope this helps and that you enjoy the recipe as much as we do:).
I am so looking forward to making these with spelt flour! Do you think the rolled dough is strong and flexible enough to work with cookie cutters?
Anon, Yes, the dough should be pliable enough to be able to use a cookie cutter. if need be, roll them a tad bit thicker and bake a bit longer. Just don't roll them out too thick.
Hope you enjoy making them. and that you'll enjoy the result as well:).
Homemade Wheat Thins and scrummy cheese . . .
I was recently sent some samples of the Laughing Cow light range cheese triangles in the newest flavors Emmenthal and Blue Cheese. Did I mention they are "light?" Yes, they are light, with there only being 25 calories in each triangle!
I have a confession to make. I am a Laughing Cow virgin. Yes, tis true. I have never eaten Laughing Cow triangles. I suppose because we don't have any children in the house, they are just not something I have ever bought, or even thought about buying. They just haven't been on my radar I guess.
I guess I am a bit of a cheese snob, which sounds really wierd coming from the mouth of a person who only ever ate Kraft Singles American Cheese or Velveeta the whole time I was growing up. Real cheese never passed my lips. I was afraid to even try it. I just thought I wouldn't like it. I was an adult before I tried real cheese and I have to say that once I tried it, I fell in love with it, and have been ever since.
I love Emmental cheese. It has a lovely nutty and fruity taste. I was intrigued at the thought of a Processed cheese triangle flavoured with Emmental . . . what would it taste like? Would it be close to the real thing? hmmm . . .
It tasted really good . . . and just like Emmental! Sweet and nutty!
I adore Blue Cheeses . . . Stilton, Danish, Gorgonzola . . . I love them all. Would the Laughing Cow Blue Cheese triangles measure up.
I was most pleasantly surprised. They most definitely did taste good and most definitely had the beautiful tang of a mild blue cheese. I enjoyed them.
Spreadable and a good source of calcium the new Laughing Cow triangles are available in grocery shops throughout the country, and at only 25 calories and 1.5g of fat per triangle they make a nice low fat snack! I think they would also be a great addition to children's lunch boxes and with picnic season here, they would be great in the picnic basket as well!
Knowing that they are spreadable I was really wanting something crisp and tasty to spread them on and so I thought this would be the perfect time to make my own crackers . . . well, for two reasons really . . . one: homemade always tastes better than store bought and two: I didn't want to ask Todd to pop down to the shops to get me any. Besides he never comes back with what I wanted him to get . . . it's a man thing I think.
It also gave me a chance to use my favourite cookie cutter . . .I love the little dimples it puts into things . . . so cute. I found the perfect recipe via the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking Book. I love wheat thins, so wholesome and tasty. I thought I would give their recipe a try, never guessing that . . .
I would fall completely and utterly in love with them. Believe it or not these taste even BETTER than the original Wheat Thin crackers. Tis totally true. These are fabulous!
They were really, really tasty spread with both flavors of the Laughing Cow triangles! That's what Todd and I had for lunch today, and it was a really scrummy, light lunch . . . you get a lot of mileage out of one of those triangles I have to say. The flavor is so nice that a little goes a long way.
And those crackers . . . so crisp and tasty. Almost addictive to say the least. Do give them a try. Thank you King Arthur . . .
Homemade wheat thins
So, the problem, if there could be one, with having a slight obsession with making homemade version of snack-aisle favorites — goldfish crackers, oreos, graham crackers, pop-tarts, ice-cream sandwiches and the like — is that people quite often think you’re crazy. And if you’re me, someone who already delights in things that most people find awful — dicing vegetables, fitting every dish in the dishwasher (triumphantly humming the Tetris music) and, apparently, dotting the eyes of cheddar goldfish with the pointy end of a meat thermometer — you probably don’t need any help convincing people that you’re nuts. Sadly, when people don’t think you’re crazy, they might be suspicious you have some sort of Sanctimommy/Down With Cheetos-type agenda, but I no more fuss in the kitchen to make others feel bad if they lack the time or inclination to than the woman walking down my street right now with flawless, flowing locks and $300 skinny jeans is there to make me feel bad that I am currently in possession of neither, sigh.
Nevertheless, because of these two things, I tend to be overly cautious before sharing recipes like the one I am today for Wheat Thin-like crackers at home. Let’s put one thing out here before I tell you about them: Do we eat exclusively homemade foods and snacks 24/7? Bwah! Even 12/7? Maybe. On good days. But, the thing is, I really love projects like this because, the fact is, we all need a snack from time to time and while the packaged options are hardly universally evil, there’s a lot of things in there you’d never put in your food at home. It’s liberating to be able to make the foods you love in your own kitchen, and it’s a great idea to tuck away for a rainy day afternoon project when your kid is spinning off their axis again or, you know, when you get a little carried away in advance of your toddler’s birthday party.
And these were especially delicious to make at home. As it turns out, wheat thin crackers that you buy in a box are little but thin wheat crackers (see what I did there? oof.) that you can make at home. The dough is a simple combination of butter, whole wheat flour and salt. The trickiest part is rolling them very, very thin. If you’re me, you’ll know this going in and will roll them gorgeously thin, then pat yourself on the back for getting it right the first time. I bet you know where this is going! On your second batch, you will understand that even thinner is the way to go. I briefly considered running the dough through a pasta machine, and definitely want to hear about it if you try this out at home. But fear not, a regular old rolling pin will do the trick.
The result is what I’d call a 97 percent match to the original. Of course, I had to compare them to store-bought versions in my “test kitchen” and found them much less salty and much less… yellow. The ingredient list on the box informs me the the hue is from a coloring derived from tumeric, and hey, no harm if you want to throw a pinch in for a warmer color. You can also salt them more generously. I liked these when they came out of the oven but I have to say, the handful that survived the party that I’ve been nibbling on these week are even better. With age, the cracker tastes almost like a brown butter wheat thin. They taste rich, luxurious even, which are hardly words I’d otherwise associate with crackers but never want to disassociate them again.
Homemade Wheat Thin Crackers
Adapted, just barely, from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking
I recommend traditional whole wheat flour for an accurate color but white whole wheat flour for a more delicate texture. I used the regular stuff. The original recipe called for 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract to be added along with the water, but I don’t associate the vanilla flavor with wheat thins at all (nor did I spot it on the ingredient list). Nevertheless, feel free to add this and/or any other seasonings that you’d like (onion or garlic powder, thyme or rosemary, black pepper, etc.)
Yield: About 3 dozen. I highly suggest doubling this recipe.
1 1/4 cups (155 grams) whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons (20 grams) sugar
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) table salt, plus additional for topping
1/4 teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons (55 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine, cut into small bits
In a food processor: Combine the flour, sugar, salt, paprika and butter in a food processor, pulsing the mixture until the butter is evenly disbursed in the crumbs. Drizzle in 1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water with the machine running run it until the mixture begins to form a ball.
By hand: Combine the flour, sugar, salt, paprika and butter in a medium bowl. Using a pastry blender or your fingertips, work the butter into the mixture until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add 1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water, stir with spoon until combined. Knead once or twice on counter.
Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Either lightly grease baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.
Roll your dough out, half at a time, to a large, very, very thin rectangle-ish shape on a well-floured counter. Did I mention you should roll them thin? Thinner than you even think necessary is best. Frequently check to make sure your dough isn’t sticking if it is, gently scrape a spatula underneath to lift it, then flour the counter again. Using a knife or pastry wheel, cut dough into about 1 1/2-inch squares. Dock crackers all over with a toothpick or pointy end of a thermometer. (Technically speaking, I noted a 9-dot docking pattern, like the 9 sides of a pair of dice, on my store-bought Wheat Thins. I highly recommend you do not drive yourself bonkers trying to emulate this.)
Transfer crackers to baking sheets, spacing them only a little as they really don’t spread. Sprinkle with additional table salt if you’d like to approximate the salty exteriors of the store-bought crackers. Bake crackers until crisp and bronzed, about 5 to 7 minutes but please keep a close watch on the first batch as thinner crackers (high-five!) will bake faster and thicker ones will take longer.
Cool in baking pans on racks. Crackers will keep in an airtight container officially for a week but ours are in fact two weeks old and still perfect. You can also freeze them in an airtight container between sheets of waxed paper for a couple months.
Round Pizza Stone– this thing works great for crackers, cookies, and pizza too.
Pizza cutter– it makes cutting the crackers a breeze, especially if you happen to have the inability to cut straight lines….
Parchment paper – this allows you to roll them even thinner and you can reuse the same sheet over and over again
Hand Made– Get over 100+ from scratch homemade recipes (this cracker recipe is from the book!)
1-Bowl Vegan Gluten-Free Crackers
What I’m saying is: These delicious crackers make excellent use of ingredients you likely have in your pantry right now. Shall we?
This recipe requiring just a food processor (or bowl!) and 7 ingredients to make.
The base is gluten-free flour blend and almond meal, and the flavor comes from salt, garlic powder, and rosemary. You could also add a little nutritional yeast for cheesiness if you’d like (see my Vegan Cheez Its for inspiration).
Next comes oil and water to bring moisture to the dough.
The fat adds a bit of flakiness, and water brings crispiness. A perfect balance of the two makes these crackers easy to roll out and form as well as spot-on in texture.
Once they’re rolled out and sliced, a quick trip to the freezer helps them firm up to make transferring to the baking sheet a breeze. Then just 15-20ish minutes in the oven and BAM! You have homemade crackers on your hands!
I hope you all LOVE these crackers! They’re:
Easy to make
& So delicious
These would make the perfect snack to have on hand during the week. They would be especially delicious with Hummus, Nut Butter, Vegan Nutella (do it), Lentil Dip, Chickpea Shawarma Dip, Spicy Pimento Cheese Ball, or Smoky Harissa Eggplant Dip.
If you try these crackers, let us know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #minimalistbaker on Instagram so we can see. Cheers, friends!
Ritz Bits Cheese
How do you eat Ritz Bits Cheese, those shrinkified buttery Ritz crackers spread with gritty fake cheese and pressed into adorable little sandwiches? Do you nibble on them one at a time with pinky firmly extended, taking demure little bites? Or do you crack open a single-serve package, open your mouth as wide as it will go, and see if you can manage to shoehorn the entire bag into your mouth in one shot? This is important, and will dramatically affect your enjoyment of Ritz Bits Cheese crackers. However, we're not going to tell you which technique is the correct one.
Did Nabisco ruin America's favorite cookie?
It was the last day of 2016 and my friend’s boyfriend was very clear and very upset: The Oreo cookies of his youth were no more, and whatever replaced them tasted like dirt. It was a bold opinion, but he had talking points. Oreos tasted “chalky,” he said, “flavorless,” and “they’re made in Mexico now.” That last point is half-true, but still, America’s favorite cookie switches up its recipe and there isn’t a national outcry? Sounded implausible.
Oddly enough, my roommate texted me, “I didn’t know Oreo cookies go bad, but your Oreo cookies have gone bad,” three weeks later. She went so far as throwing out the cookie after one bite, something she’d “NEVER” done before. We briefly changed the topic before she added, “But for real — it’s not a ploy to take all your cookies for myself. They taste weird AF.” The package she ate from was labeled as “made in Mexico.”
I turned to the internet. Reddit was annoyingly quiet on the topic, but when I typed “Oreo cookies taste” into Google, the first autofill was “different.” The top result of that search is a Facebook comment from July that read, “The Oreos suddenly taste different. Like cheap cookies with that disgusting undertaste.” It was posted on Oreos’ official Facebook page from a woman in Texas — and Oreos replied that they hadn’t made any changes to the recipe.
The post only racked up about a dozen comments, but Facebook users from Indiana, Alabama, Pennsylvania and NYC were as pissed as the commenter, my roommate and my friend’s boyfriend. Oreos suddenly tasted like s–t.
Next I found PissedConsumer.com, a complaints platform where users said the same thing. “Oreos taste soiled,” one complaint from March was titled. “Filling and chocolate cookie doesn’t taste the same!” read another from Feb. 12. One user even posted that he knew 13 seconds was the optimal dunking time for an Oreo but now, “20 seconds and still firm and now gritty.” PissedConsumer has a nifty metrics tool that shows you a timeline of complaints. There’s been a significant increase since November.
Some were angry about the Mexican plant, but others didn’t even mention it, or seem aware of it.
Here’s the quick Mexican Oreos back story: In July 2016, Mondelez International, the company that owns Nabisco, officially shut down the Oreo lines at their Chicago plant. The closing followed nearly a year of rumors about whether it was happening. All of this sparked lawsuits, union-led protests, angry statements from Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and a call for an Oreo boycott from Donald Trump. In the end, Mondelez laid off around 600 workers and cut nine production lines in Chicago to create four new production lines at their plants in Salinas and Monterrey, Mexico. The Chicago plant is still open, and Oreos are still manufactured at plants in Oregon, Virginia and New Jersey (and Canada). But yes, some Oreos are made in Mexico.
Irene Blecker Rosenfeld, chairwoman and CEO of Mondelez International Getty Images
It’s easy to chalk up some of these complaints to outrage over outsourcing of American jobs, but I wasn’t convinced that was the case for all of them — and knew it wasn’t the case for my friends.
For the record, I can’t taste a difference, but I love fake cheese and burnt steak and wouldn’t consider my palette a reliable source for anything.
I brought two packages into my office — one from the Mexico plant and one from Nabisco’s factory in Portland, Oregon — to conduct a very unscientific and very unofficial blind taste test with a couple of co-workers who happened to be around. Some didn’t taste a difference, a few thought “maybe” there was something different, and a couple preferred the taste of the Mexican ones.
Food companies do make minor product changes in order to save big bucks sometimes they talk about it, sometimes they don’t. “Many times companies might change sugar brands etc., in an attempt to reduce the cost of production,” Elizabeth Tomasino, an assistant professor of enology at Oregon State University, said in an email to The Post. She also suggested I’d need at least 200 participants for a blind taste test. I think I asked about 11.
During their third-quarter conference call in October 2015, Mondelez committed to saving $1.5 billion annually by 2018. The closing of the Chicago plant came the following summer. And in November, cookie lovers in the United Kingdom lost their minds when Mondelez increased the gap between the triangular segments on the iconic Toblerone chocolate bar. Ricky Gervais even tweeted BBC’s story about the drama with the comment, “First Brexit and now this.”
Mondelez released a statement saying that yes, they made smaller triangles on just two bars in the UK, and confirmed to MailOnline that it was because the price of cocoa increased. “We had to make a decision between changing the shape of the bar, and raising the price,” Toblerone wrote in a comment on their Facebook page.
After a few weeks of back-and-forth, a representative from Mondelez got back to me about the newest cookie fiasco: “Oreo produced for different markets may have different flavor profiles based on local market tastes.”
The email continued: “However, any product that is made for North America consumers has the same recipe and taste profile regardless of what site it is produced at.”
The ingredients on both the Mexican-made and US-made packages are exactly the same, so when Mondelez said they made zero changes to the recipe, I gave them the benefit of the doubt and emailed a bunch of psychologists and physiologists and food science departments to find out if maybe it’s not them, it’s us.
The taste system is inherently complicated. What we like and why is wholly unique to each individual, and shaped by our personal experiences. Our relationships, where we’re from and how we were raised all factor into the foods we crave and the ones we hate. Just like our opinions on music or hairstyles or whether Ross and Rachel were actually on a break, our tastes change and evolve throughout our lives.
In her initial email, Tomasino wrote that some people have more sweet buds, so they “taste sugar in a different manner.” She added there could be a psychological factor, in the way that drinking wine on a vacation might taste better than drinking the same wine back home. If the taste of Oreos were a memory from your childhood, well, you’re a different person in a different place now.
Or maybe Oreos don’t taste bad, just different from what you expected. Debra Zellner, a psychology professor at Montclair State University, called this a “disconfirmation of your sensory experience.”
For example, Zellner told me, when she was growing up in rural Pennsylvania, there was a local butcher who’d give out garlic-laden ring bologna to the neighborhood kids, who all got so used to his garlic bologna that “anybody else’s ring bologna just didn’t taste good.” Other bolognas weren’t bad, just different, but. This could explain why some of my co-workers preferred the Mexican-made Oreos. This would also mean that, yes, something in the recipe changed.
Production variation is another possible explanation. A former food industry researcher told me how a popular cereal company once moved production from a 100-year-old factory to a new facility in California. They struggled to replicate the taste of the product “no matter how hard they tried,” and chalked it up to the century-old ovens at the previous factory.
Lastly, I spoke with Howard Moskowitz, a psychotherapist credited with reinventing spaghetti sauce in the 1980s. “Mondelez or Nabisco would do everything in its power to maintain the quality of its flagship brand,” he told me. “It’s unlikely that they would ever let the flagship quality falter.”
Great. So why do Mexican Oreos taste like dirt to some people? The answer is (D), All of the above.
Could Mondelez have changed the recipe without telling anyone? Yes. Could they have not changed anything at all? Also yes. Could customers be reacting to the outsourcing of jobs by trashing the taste? For sure. Could newer machines simply bake a different product than 50-year-old machines? Yeah. Does garlic bologna sound, like, weirdly delicious? It does.