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Cracker taste-off: We compared 30 kinds of crackers

Some crackers we tested are healthy—and taste good, too

Consumer Reports magazine: May 2013

Does a healthful cracker have to taste like sawdust? Not according to our latest tests. Of five fairly new crackers that earned Good or Very Good scores for nutrition, three also tasted very good.

Our experts also compared the taste and nutrition of four iconic crackers (think saltines and Triscuit) with store-brand and reduced-fat counterparts. Our nutrition ratings take into account calories, fat, sodium, iron, sugars, and fiber per serving.

We also crunched nutrition numbers for 25 other crackers and found that some healthy-sounding types—Milton’s Original Multigrain and Keebler Club Multi Grain among them—scored just Fair for nutrition and have no fiber at all.

Bottom line. For a nutritious cracker that’s crunchy and tastes a bit different, try Kashi Original 7 Grain Sea Salt Pita Crisps. Don’t hesitate to try reduced-fat or store-brand versions of oldies but goodies. For details, see below.

5 newer crackers

Of the five new crackers, Kashi Pita Crisps scored the best for nutrition and are tasty, with a definite crunch. Crunchmaster and Jingos scored Good for nutrition and Very Good for taste (see the descriptions below). Serving sizes for most are similar in terms of weight, but the number of crackers per serving ranges from six (Nabisco Triscuit Original) to 24 (Kellogg’s Special K Multi-Grain). The crackers are ranked below in order of their nutrition score.

Cost: 46 cents

Calories: 120

Fat: 3 grams

Sodium: 180 milligrams

Fiber: 5 grams

Taste: Very good. Crunchy, slightly hard, toasted-wheat crackers, mild seasoning.

Cost: 60 cents

Calories: 120

Fat: 3.5 grams

Sodium: 220 milligrams

Fiber: 1 gram

Taste: Good. Mild, lightly toasted white-flour crackers. A bit dry and hard. Needs a topping.

Cost: 67 cents

Calories: 110

Fat: 3 grams

Sodium: 200 milligrams

Fiber: 1 gram

Taste: Good. Crunchy little squares with a bit of salt. Moderately toasted, mild grain flavor.

Cost: 88 cents

Calories: 140

Fat: 5 grams

Sodium: 110 milligrams

Fiber: 2 grams

Taste: Very good. Toasted sesame-flavored crispy rice crackers with salt and a variety of seeds.

Cost: 44 cents

Calories: 130

Fat: 4 grams

Sodium: 220 milligrams

Fiber: 1 gram

Taste: Very good. Spicy little crackers with garlic, onion, lime, and cayenne. Flavorful enough to eat alone.

Four iconic crackers take on the competition

In our taste-off, most store brands held their own against big brands. The exception: 365 Everyday Value Organic Wheat Squares (Whole Foods), which couldn’t pass for Wheat Thins. Surprisingly, reduced-fat crackers tasted similar to their full-fat siblings. And as we’ve found in many tests, store brands usually cost less than the name brands. Be aware that the reduced-fat crackers also came in reduced package sizes.

The competition: Nabisco Ritz Reduced Fat, 15 cents. Nice Golden Rounds (Walgreens), 20 cents

The verdict: Similar. Nabisco Ritz are crispy, flaky, buttery, salty, and slightly sweet. Reduced Fat (2 grams of fat vs. 4.5 grams) and Walgreens are similar to the original but a little less buttery and tender. All scored Fair for nutrition. A serving of Nice has 380 milligrams of sodium, more than all others in our taste-off

The competition: Nabisco Triscuit Reduced Fat, 44 cents; Market Pantry Woven Wheats Whole Grain (Target), 25 cents.

The verdict: Similar. Triscuit Original are crunchy squares with a big toasted-wheat flavor and a touch of saltiness. Reduced Fat and Market Pantry versions taste very similar to Original. Reduced Fat (2.5 grams of fat vs. 4 grams in Original) scored Very Good for nutrition; the others, Good.

The competition: Nabisco Wheat Thins Reduced Fat, 44 cents; 365 Everyday Value Organic Wheat Squares (Whole Foods), 38 cents.
The verdict: Different. Nabisco’s Original and Reduced Fat are crunchy, sweet, and toasted. Whole Foods are pale, speckled, less sweet, and less crunchy. All scored Good for nutrition.

The competition: Clover Valley Saltines (Dollar General), 4 cents. Nabisco Saltines are already low in fat and don’t have a reduced-fat version.

The verdict: Similar. Original Saltines have a mild, salty, flour-based taste, and so do the store-brand crackers, though they were slightly stale. Both scored Fair for nutrition.

Nutrition information

We crunched nutrition numbers for 30 crackers and found that some healthy-sounding types—Milton’s Original Multigrain and Keebler Club Multi Grain among them—scored just Fair for nutrition and have no fiber at all. The crackers are ranked below according to their nutrition score.

Product

Serving size

Serving weight (g)

Calories

Fat (g)

Sodium (mg)

 Fiber (g)

Very Good

Nabisco Triscuit Reduced Fat

7 crackers

30

120

2.5

160

3

Wasa Whole Grain Crispbread

1 slice

12

40

0

50

2

Kashi Original 7 Grain Sea Salt Pita Crisps

11 crisps

31

120

3

180

5

Good

Nabisco Triscuit Original

6 crackers

28

120

4

180

3

Kellogg's Special K Multi-Grain

24 crackers

30

120

3

220

3

Nabisco Triscuit Thin Crisps Original

15 crackers

30

130

4.5

180

3

Nabisco Wheat Thins Reduced Fat

16 pieces

29

130

3.5

230

3

Market Pantry Woven Wheats Whole Grain (Target)

7 crackers

31

130

6

200

3

Dare Grainsfirst Whole Grain

4 crackers

18

80

3

140

2

Mary's Gone Crackers Organic Original

13 crackers

30

140

5

190

3

Sensible Portions Pita Bites Original Sea Salt

9 crackers

28

120

3.5

220

1

Mediterranean Snacks Lentil Crackers Sea Salt

18 crackers

28

110

3

200

1

365 Everyday Value Organic Wheat Squares (Whole Foods)

16 crackers

30

120

4.5

150

2

Nabisco Wheat Thins Original

16 pieces

31

140

5

230

3

Crunchmaster Original Multi-Seed

15 crackers

30

140

5

110

2

Blue Diamond Almond Nut-Thins Hint of Sea Salt

17 crackers

30

130

2.5

80

1

Nabisco Wheat Thins Toasted Chips Garden Valley Veggie

13 chips

28

130

4.5

260

2

Red Oval Farms Mini Stoned Wheat Thins

21 crackers

30

130

3

410

1

Pepperidge Farm Jingos! Lime & Sweet Chili

23 pieces

30

130

4

220

1

Keebler Town House Flipsides Pretzel Reduced Fat

5 crackers

14

60

2

180

0

Fair

Clover Valley Saltines (Dollar General)

5 crackers

14

60

1.5

170

0

Nabisco Original Premium Saltines topped with sea salt

5 crackers

16

70

1.5

150

0

Milton's Original Multi-Grain

2 crackers

16

70

2.5

105

0

Nice! Golden Rounds (Walgreens)

10 crackers

31

150

6

380

1

Nabisco Ritz Reduced Fat

5 crackers

15

70

2

150

0

Keebler Town House Flatbread Crisps Sea Salt & Olive Oil

8 crackers

15

70

2

140

0

Keebler Club Multi-Grain

4 crackers

14

70

3

120

0

Sunshine Cheez-It Big

14 crackers

30

150

8

230

0

Nabisco Ritz

5 crackers

16

80

4.5

105

0

Nabisco Ritz Toasted Chips Sweet Home Sour Cream & Onion

12 chips

28

140

6

270

0

Editor's Note: A version of this article appeared in the May 2013 issue of Consumer Reports magazine with the headline "Cracker Crunch-Off."
   

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