BPGL Puts Newman’s Own Organics to the Taste Test
About a month ago, we received a large box from Newman’s Own Organics (N.O.O.) in California. It was stuffed with a variety of wholesome goodies, assorted salty snacks, some chocolate sweets, one bottle of olive oil and another of balsamic vinegar.
It’s only fair that we inject a word of warning: We are not foodies. We don’t often write about food, and we don’t list it as one of our areas of expertise (unless you count Joe’s many varieties of “slippery food,” stuff that doesn’t even require chewing). You want to know the exquisite details of how the food feels or tastes on an expert palate? You’d have more luck channeling Julia Child.
So, back to where the box of manna fell off the UPS truck… Coincidentally (or were they psychic?), our video guys: Justin, Jake, and Aaron — three big appetites in their 20s — came over to work on a project that day. Our friend Sam was here, too. You can guess what happened: mass consumption edging toward gluttony. (We’re not saying who were the biggest gluttons, but it may not have been the young people.)
The snacks didn’t all disappear in one session — there were far too many of them. We shared our treats with friends who passed through our office over the next few days, making sure that we (Joe and Julia) got to taste at least a sample of each item. (Purely in the interest of fair and accurate reporting, of course.)
So, what did everyone think about the stuff in the box? We each had our favorites, and they weren’t always the same. A couple of items didn’t quite register high on everyone’s taste scales, but when one of us didn’t like something, someone else invariably did. So, here’s a report from the BPGL team (with minor melodrama added, but no truths altered).
Free food is free food, and we definitely appreciated the gift. But, unlike certain media outlets that pretend to be “fair,” we can’t look ourselves in the mirror if we try to fool anyone. So here goes…
Julia: I’m not much of a junk-food junkie. I’ll pass on the sodas (most of the time), candy (unless it’s got chocolate/carob and nuts/raisins), and cookies (except homemade chocolate chip). I’m long past the days when a plateful of sweets could pass my lips without taking up permanent residence on my body. So checking out a variety of snack foods — even organic snack foods — didn’t sound too appealing at first. But it seems I underestimated the allure of Newman’s Own Organics.
Joe: I’m the snack food maniac. I will eat anything crunchy, salty, sweet, or fattening. The more sugar and chocolate the better. My metabolism can handle the sugars — at least for now. I’m the kind of guy who will buy a chocolate chip cookie in every gas station, fast food restaurant, and greasy spoon that crosses my path. When the N.O.O. box arrived, I was worried that anything organic would taste bad. But in the interest of … er… journalism … I engaged in a taste test of my own.
Julia: My very favorite is the chocolate chip version of the Champion Chip Cookies. I usually like chewy chocolate chip cookies (I make them at home with oil, not shortening). These were a bit on the crispier side, but so delicious! I didn’t even want to share them, but I had no choice with Joe around.
Aaron: Cookies? Chocolate chip cookies? Hey, I didn’t get any!
Joe: I know you didn’t, Aaron. I stashed them behind my computer monitor. I latched onto those suckers as soon as Julia turned her head. Crunchy, and just big enough for two good bites each. When I was in a hurry to eat them — like when I heard footsteps — they were small enough to jam a whole one in my mouth to hide the evidence. I doubt if anyone tasted the Fig Newmans, either. Very moist and chewy. The bag fit perfectly in my desk drawer.
Justin: The ones I’m crazy about are the Champion Chip Orange Chocolate Chip cookies. (Couldn’t they think of a shorter name?) Julia and Joe actually let me work on this bag without stealing it away every few minutes.
Julia: It’s good that you liked those, Justin. That way I got more of the regular Chocolate Chip cookies.
Joe: Besides the Chocolate Chip cookies, I focused mostly on the Newman-O’s. Man, the ones with the chocolate centers were really good. Break about six of ‘em up in a bowl of cold soy milk and eat it like cereal — pure heaven!
The Alphabet Cookies were like Newman-O’s without the centers. Those were good in soy milk, too. The Newman-Os Mint cookies were a little different with soy milk. Kind of like chocolate-mint flavored ice cream. Tasty, but not very breakfast-like.
Julia: They’re not supposed to be for breakfast, Joe. They’re cookies.
Justin: Hey, I only got two Ginger O’s. What happened to the rest of the bag?
Sam: Well, it’s like this… I had to hide them so the rest of you would leave them alone. Best cookies I ever had.
Aaron: What happened to the Hermits? I didn’t get any of those, either.
Julia: Not to be a spoilsport, but I wasn’t a big fan of those. Somebody ate them, though. Joe, was it you?
Joe: The Hermits were the last to go. One bag had a cinnamon flavor, the other tasted more like molasses. I’ll eat most anything, but I wouldn’t pick those as my first choice. But somebody must have liked them; both bags are empty.
Jake: The Hermits? They were great. Did somebody want some? Too late.
Julia: The Thin Stick Pretzels are totally lickable (if you like to like the salt off a pretzel — and I do). I thought the Honey Wheat Mini Pretzels were delicious, too.
But I wasn’t as fond of the Spelt pretzels. Their redeeming feature is that they’re made with a type of wheat (spelt) that some folks with wheat allergies can eat; so that’s a good thing. But give me the Stick Pretzels anytime.
Aaron: Yeah, I thought the Spelt Pretzels were a little bland, but I liked the Stick Pretzels.
Jake: They all tasted like they should. You know, like real food, not cardboard.
Justin: The Newman’s Own Organics Pretzels were probably the best bag pretzels I’ve ever had. If you’re going for a hard pretzel, this is the one.
Sam: Who ate the White Cheddar Soy Crisps?
Justin: I only ate a couple. They were okay, but I wouldn’t rave about them.
Julia: They reminded me a bit of rice cakes. Crispy and puffy. I liked the white cheddar flavoring, but I’m not the one who emptied the b… Joe? … Joe? What are you doing?
Joe: Just licking the inside of a pretzels bag.
Julia: You’d think I never feed you.
Joe: You don’t.
Julia: Oh. Well, that explains it.
Julia: I have to confess that I was driven (“Honest, Judge. It wasn’t my fault!”) to a fit of real selfishness with the dried fruit packages. They “somehow” wandered to my office and hid themselves next to my laptop. I shared — really, I did — just not often. The samples we got included Organic Apples, Organic Cranberries, Organic California Prunes, and Organic Apricots.
While there wasn’t a loser in the bunch, I favored the cranberries and the prunes (yes, the prunes — no smart remarks, Joe). The cranberries were just sweet enough without being too sweet. I wanted to try them in a mixed greens or chicken salad, but my daughter and I ate them like candy. The prunes were chewy without being tough, just moist enough without being gooey, and sweet enough so they didn’t taste like prune juice.
Aaron: The dried cranberries were good. Someone (I’ll avoid mentioning names) hogged the rest of the dried fruit.
Joe: I liked the apples especially well — the few that I got!
Sam: Dried fruit? There was dried fruit? How come I didn’t get any?
Jake: No problem here. Like I said, I’m a picky &*(&*(^%^. I might not have eaten them anyway.
Justin: I’m not much on dried fruit, but I did get to sample a dried apple or two. Pretty tasty, considering they’re not my favorites.
Julia: Joe and I liked the dried fruit so well that we bought some N.O.O. raisins for a meeting at our place. They were fresh and chewy, much better than the ones I usually buy (until now, that is). Our friends liked them, too.
Julia: The Spearmint Mints? Delicious. Peppermint? Yummy. Cinnamon Mints and Ginger Mints? Not a fan. I don’t care for ginger or cinnamon, so this is no surprise.
Aaron: I liked the Spearmint and Peppermint Mints. But the Ginger Mints had a bit too strong a taste at first. Once I got past the initial shock of the ginger, it mellowed out a bit. I didn’t get to try the Cinnamon Mints.
Justin: I loved the Ginger Mints! They had an unusual taste. It was different than anything I’ve ever had, and they left my mouth feeling fresh. What I liked best was the way the flavor came out after the initial shock of the ginger.
Jake: I did NOT like the Ginger Mints! But I snagged some Peppermints Mints to take home to my wife. Now those were delicious.
Justin: I thought you said they were for your wife.
Jake: Yeah, well, we share everything …
Joe: There were mints? I didn’t get any mints.
Sam: You snooze, you lose. You’ve gotta pay closer attention to these things, Joe.
Joe: Did anyone but me get to taste the chocolate and caramel candy? Melt-in-your-mouth fantastic!
Julia: Uh. Yeah. That was me you shared it with. I’m glad to know I’m so memorable.
Joe: I must have been overcome by the taste of the chocolate. Nothing personal, of course.
Julia: Of course. I’m sure you don’t mind that I took the second candy package and kept it for myself.
Aaron: Candy? There was candy?
Jake: What candy?
Sam: I think you may have a mutiny on your hands…
Besides taste (admittedly the #1 criteria for most of us), the real value for us in the Newman’s Own Organics products is that we were eating food that had been organically grown. No scary additives. No dyes. No preservatives. Just healthy, organic food. Sure, some of the goodies have their fair share of sugar, but they’re goodies, after all.
Most of us weren’t keen on anything made with ginger, as the taste was pretty strong. But Sam and Justin liked Ginger O’s cookies, and Justin thought the Ginger Mints rocked!
Anything chocolate, whether candy or cookies, got nods of approval — and didn’t last long.
The dried fruit, presumably one of the healthiest snacks, got rave reviews from those of us who ate them. (Apologies to the rest of the crew.)
Salty snacks were a hit, too. Most of us liked the Pretzel Sticks, though there wasn’t really a bad one in the bunch. No one jumped up and down over the Soy Chips, but no one hated them, either.
The mints were mostly yummy, and we all had our favorites. The Ginger Mints were a hit with one of us, but the rest think they must be an “acquired taste.”
And the olive oil and balsamic vinegar? Looks like they’ll become permanent members of our BPGL family.
We hope you find our review helpful. Our best suggestion to readers is to try a few products for yourselves. Then let us know about your favorites. There are quite a number we haven’t yet tasted, and we’d like to know what you think.
Part 1: Fishing with Nell