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For some, TrueNorth is true love

If you’ve taken to whipping past the endless varieties of mixed nuts, popcorn flavors and snacks in the grocery store, there’s a new product that might make you slow the shopping cart for a second look.

Food panel tasters gave some four-star love to TrueNorth Almond Clusters and Peanut Crunchies. The Pistachio Crisps won over a couple of tasters, but averaged three stars in overall testing. TrueNorth is a new line of 100-percent natural nut snacks from chip-maker Frito Lay. They have no preservatives, no artificial flavors and no added colors.

Most of our volunteers liked the Almond Clusters.

“The glaze on these almond clusters is sweet but does not overpower the delicious taste of the almonds,” said Gabe Kohler.

Lindi Messenger also liked that the clusters were not as sweet as other snacks. “Nice crunchiness – not too hard. Almonds taste fresh, with just the right amount of sweetness and salt. I like!” she said.

Tina Johnson tasted a bit of smokiness in the almonds to complement the sweet glaze. “Watch those fillings,” she said.

Skip Hubbard summed up most of the tasters’ reactions with his note on the almond clusters. “A simple and tasty snack.”

Not everyone fell in love. Although many tasters liked the subtle qualities of the nuts, other said it was TrueNorth’s downfall. Nancy Robinson said the Almond Clusters had a “weak” flavor. Larry Inman agreed, saying the snacks were “bland” and had “no pizazz.”

Inman felt the same way about the Peanut Crunchies. “Seasoning is a bit too subtle,” he said. “(They are) tasty but when I break down and sin, I like more salt.”

Again, most others liked the slight sweetness of the coated peanuts.

Andy Hoye thought they tasted sinful enough. “Addictive and not healthy … buy only one,” he said.

“I love the crunchy texture and it’s not too sweet,” said Peggy Kazanis.

Vicki Deschaine echoed that sentiment and then gave them her ultimate compliment, “I’d buy them.”

Marilyn Moore rolled out a rare five-star rating for both the Peanut Crunchies and the Almond Clusters, saying she prefers nuts over candy bars. “Don’t dare buy and have in the house,” she said. “(I) might consume the whole package.”

Tasters weren’t quite as, uh … nuts about the Pistachio Crisps, but many still gave the snack a hearty thumbs up.

“Nice crunchy texture, almost buttery as it melts in your mouth. Latent pistachio flavor, not strong … just right,” Messenger said.

Marcia Oranen loves pistachios and really liked the crisps. “You really get the pistachio flavor and I actually like the green flecks.”

Others said the snacks were “dull,” “flavorless” and “salty.”

“Needs a nice herb spice spread and I’m sure I would be impressed… Simply average without,” Hubbard said.

TrueNorth snacks can be found near the popcorn, peanuts and other snack foods at the grocery store. Also available are Peanut and Pecan Almond Peanut Clusters, Peanut and Almond Crisps, as well as a mixture of roasted nuts that includes almonds, pistachios, walnuts and pecans.

TrueNorth, Peanut Crunchies

Price: $2.99 per 7-ounce package

Nutrition per 1-ounce serving: 150 calories, 8 grams fat (1.5 grams saturated, 48 percent fat calories), 5 grams protein, 13 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 3 grams dietary fiber, 130 milligrams sodium.

Taste: ••••

Value: •••

Comments: “Nice crunch. Light butterscotch flavor, not too overwhelming.” – Lindi Messenger

“Addictive and not healthy. Buy only one.” – Andy Hoye

“Yum. The mixture of sweet and salty is perfect in this delicious snack food.” – Gabe Kohler

TrueNorth, Almond Clusters

Price: $2.99 per 5.5-ounce package

Nutrition per 1-ounce serving: 170 calories, 12 grams fat (1 gram saturated, 64 percent fat calories) 5 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 3 grams dietary fiber, 70 milligrams sodium.

Taste: ••••

Value: •••

Comments: “Easy to love this. The glaze is not too sweet.” – Andy Hoye

“Great almond flavor, crunchy nut texture. Not too sweet.” – Peggy Kazanis

“Candied almonds with a delicious crunch. They have a very pretty shiny glaze – a lot like almond brittle.” – Marcia Oranen

TrueNorth, Pistachio Crisps

Price: $2.99 per 4.5-ounce package

Nutrition per 1-ounce serving: 140 calories, 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated, 45 percent fat calories) 5 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 2 grams dietary fiber, 240 milligrams sodium.

Taste: •••

Value: •••

Comments: “A bit too salty, but nice pistachio flavor.” – Andy Hoye

“Looks like it would be full of flavor, (but) tastes pretty dull.” – Larry Inman

“Not much flavor, just a cracker with green specks in it. I don’t think dip would help.” – Nancy Robinson

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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