November 25, 2009 in Food

Cream cheese spreads could use more flavor

By Correspondent

You’ll be busy with the bird, the mashed potatoes and the gravy, so it might be nice to pop one of Philadelphia’s new cream cheese spreads out of the fridge for the vegetable and cracker tray this Thanksgiving.

Just be prepared for subtle flavors, food panel tasters said, not the bold flavors of a traditional dip.

While the volunteer eaters on our panel liked the new Spinach and Artichoke and Sundried Tomato and Basil spreads, the spreads just didn’t knock their socks off. Both spreads received three stars for taste and value on our five-star scale.

“A little garlic flavor is all I get out of this. If they were going for subtle, they succeeded,” Tina Johnson said.

Gabe Kohler agreed: “The creamy texture is easy to spread but the flavor is very bland, needs a little kick.”

Peggy Kazanis would have liked bolder flavors in the spinach/artichoke spread.

“I like the spinach. There’s a splash of garlic, but nothing much else for flavor,” she said.

Tasters had nicer things to say about the sundried tomato and basil flavor cream cheese, although a few still said some additional spice might make it more likely to be on their grocery shopping lists.

“Creamy and delicious. Just a nice amount of giddy up to kick start the taste buds,” said Skip Hubbard.

Marcia Oranen said she enjoyed the spread even though she doesn’t normally like the flavor of sundried tomato.

Marilyn Moore, who will keep making her dips and spreads from scratch, wasn’t impressed with either of the new spreads: “Why do we have all these weird concoctions on the grocery store shelves?”

Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Spinach and Artichoke

Price: $1.99 per 8-ounce container

Nutrition per serving: 70 calories, 6 grams fat (4 grams saturated), 1 gram protein, 2 grams carbohydrate, 25 milligrams cholesterol, no dietary fiber, 130 milligrams sodium.

Taste: • • •

Value: • • •

Comments: “Rich and buttery, faint spinach taste plus some fiber.” – Andy Hoye

“Needs a little more kick to compete with other spreads.” – Larry Inman

“Not much there, there. Save yourself some money and just go with the plain stuff.” – Skip Hubbard

Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Sundried Tomato and Basil

Price: $1.99 per 8-ounce container

Nutrition per serving: 80 calories, 8 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 1 gram protein, 2 grams carbohydrate, 30 milligrams cholesterol, no dietary fiber, 105 milligrams sodium.

Taste: • • •

Value: • • •

Comments: “Complex tomato paste flavor with herbs – fine by me.” – Andy Hoye

“Nice mellow tomato flavor soft spread, could use some spice to spice it up.” – Nancy Robinson

“Why do we have all these weird concoctions on the grocery store shelves?” – Marilyn Moore

Products sampled by The Spokesman-Review’s reader food panel are prepared according to package directions. Panelists are not aware of a product’s brand name or price until after they have tasted it. Products are rated from one to five stars for taste and for value, based on quality compared to price.

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