Between meals, most kids get hungry as wolves, and snacking is an important energy bridge. Snacking ought to be healthy, but it still needs to have the crunch, chew, and bright flavors of a real treat. Homeade snacks are great. But sometimes packaged snacks trump everything. We limited our selections to cheese crackers made with whole grains and containing 150 calories and 250mg sodium or less; string cheeses with 200mg sodium and 3g sat fat or less; and fruit purees with less than 15g sugar and no added fruit juice concentrate or other sweeteners.
How we tested: We sampled 12 cheese crackers, 14 fruit purees, and six string cheeses in blind tastings. We took the top three contenders from each category to an elementary school, where they were tested by kindergarten, second, and third grade classes.