A wise cheetah once said “it’s not easy, being cheesy,” but his prognosis seems to be outdated. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to cop cheese snacks at your local corner store. And we’re not complaining, either.
Here’s my theory: the only reason anyone dislikes cheese is if they can’t tolerate it, and even some lactards roll the dice and deal with the adverse gastrointestinal consequences when the crave strikes. It is no surprise, then, that cheese has infiltrated almost every form of snack, whether it’s stuffed into something, dusted on, smothered with—you get the idea. A Snack King like myself is no detractor to this phenomenon.
Yesteryear’s hero was mainly cheddar, a plain and simple cheese whose bright orange color attracted kids to get their paws molten with the stuff when sprinkled on corn chips or puffs. Today, you can’t go to an event, party, or smorgasbord without there being some fromage homage. And would we have it any other way?
I’d like to think not, and predict we’ll continue to see more varieties of cheese used in more innovative ways in the snack world, packaged or otherwise. Without further ado, here are my snack bangers, with a special nod to cheese snacks.
3D Jacked Jalapeno Pepper Jack Doritos
Why you need it: Maybe you’re old enough to recall the debut of the triangular pillow-shaped crunch phenomenon known as 3D Doritos, or maybe you missed a magical time in puffed nacho chip lore. Regardless, the 3D Dorito is back. I suppose the distinction here is the “Jacked” title, because this is not your older cousin’s 3D Dorito; “Jacked” 3D is not airy, the crunch is purely fibrous. However, the flavor is more concentrated. Proceed in tandem with a cool beverage.
Pepper Jack Moon Cheese
Why you need it: You remember the first time you had astronaut ice cream and thought to yourself, “Wow, this is pretty tasty for food people eat in a rocket that NASA shoots into outerspace.” Well, that’s how they’re marketing Moon Cheese, which is essentially dehydrated cheese. A friend (shouts to @shapbite) was kind enough to bestow a bag upon my snack-loving mitts, and I happily sampled the unusual product. The slightly spiced but decidedly robust flavor reminds me of a cheese straw, those breadstick-like snacks that have little deposits of cheese melted onto the grissini-like structure. Moon Cheese packs that same savory flavor and irresistible crunch, but is purely cheese.
Stacy’s Parmesan Garlic & Herb Pita Chips
Why you need it: Lord knows what took the pita chip so long to hit the snack market, but I guess in our carb-conscious world, somehow they’re a healthier alternative to the bagel variety. Meanwhile, Stacy’s has perfected the pita chip recipe, purportedly baking their products for up to 14 hours and using the finest parsley, garlic, and parmesan cheese to give their chips a delectable flavor. Oh yeah, and if somehow these aren’t carb-y enough for your gut, Stacy’s makes bagel chips too (but no Parmesan Garlic & Herb offering).
Little Salamis – Olli – Norcino
Why you need it: Salami and salumi are two of my favorite things in life (my aunt and uncle gave me a deli-size Hebrew National hard salami as a bar mitzvah gift, and it hung in the pantry for over a year as I delightfully sliced away day by day). Virginia-based Salumeria Olli packs about 10-15 little Smokies-sized hard salamis in a pouch, and this snack maven couldn’t be more content. All organic pork, simple salt and pepper seasoning, Olli’s Norcino Salaminis may be traif so don’t tell Bubbi.
Annie’s Organic Grape Fruit Snacks
Why you need it: This isn’t the first time I’ve covered Annie’s products, and probably won’t be the last; they make some tasty, healthy munchies. These Orchard Fruit Bites are a more toothsome chew than their bunny-shaped friends, but they also taste more like actual grapes. I could easily eat more than four little bags of these treats in one sitting. The individual portion size is for a grade schooler, not Snack Royalty.
Gimbal’s Sour Lovers Candies
Why you need it: Last month I was fixed on mixes, and Gimbal’s Sour Lovers would have fit the script with their 12 flavors of heart-shaped slightly puckering candies. Sour Lovers vibes include Pomegranate, Fuji Apple, Bing Cherry, Sour Blueberry, Meyer Lemon, Georgia Peach, Grapefruit, Mango, Baja Margarita (seriously), Tangerine, Watermelon, and Strawberry Daiquiri. If that litany of somewhat unique flavors does not induce drooling, then you need to try these little babies in real life. They’re sour enough, a perfectly soft but stick to your molars texture, and overall just delicious.
Unique Dark Pretzels
Why you need it: Best pretzels of all-time? Well, if you like your steak Pittsburgh, your hot dog well-done, and your ends burnt, you may love your pretzels extra-dark like Unique makes their Splits. These pretzels are an acquired taste, but for whatever reason it’s one that I grew up with. Maybe it’s a Pennsylvania thing, but my parents always liked everything a bit charred, and Pennsylvania is the home to the best pretzel companies in the country (Unique’s are made in Reading). Unique’s Splits are particularly distinct because their baking process produces flavor bubbles and crevices that hold concentrated pockets of dark salty goodness within the pretzel.
Ben & Jerry’s Boom Chocolatta
Why you need it: The ingredients speak for themselves: creamy mocha and caramel ice creams, chocolate flakes, and chocolate cookie pieces. To bring it altogether, a stalagmite-esque cylinder of cookie runs through the center of the ice cream. You don’t need to be a Cro-Magnon to enjoy this flavor, but Ben & Jerry’s will slug you over the cranium with the sheer amount of elements they put in a pint, to the point where you will succumb and like it. It’s okay to submit sometimes though; for some it’s a way of life. For Ben & Jerry’s fans it’s a ritual. Boom Chocolatta is a tasty new mantra for those that aren’t afraid to fall in line.