2014 Taste Test Awards: Best Store-Bought Snacks
Our 2014 Taste Test Awards (our fifth annual installment, by the way) are like a love letter to snacks. They're an important, fun part of a healthful diet, keeping eating interesting and helping bridge the gap between meals when you're on the go. Whether you opt for sweet, salty, crunchy, or creamy, the snack category is exploding with better options these days. Here, 24 of our favorites across many categories, each clocking in at less than 200 satisfying calories.
Clif Mojo Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Trail Mix Bar
This is a grown-up's granola bar: a substantial, chocolate- and cherry-rich treat with both good chew and crunch.
Sun Chips Harvest Cheddar-Flavored Multi-Grain Snacks
If you crave "cheddar" flavor that smacks of comfort-food familiarity, this is a chip you can feel good about. The grains in the chip itself add a slightly nutty sweetness.
Cedar's Taboule Salad
A sizable low-calorie portion satisfies with a high ratio of grains, bright lemon flavor, and surprisingly fresh-tasting parsley that doesn't turn wimpy in the mix.
Angie's Boom Chicka Pop Sea Salt Popcorn
Often bagged popcorn is overly chewy, doused with fake "butter," or even stale, but not this one. It's fresh and light with just the right amount of salt.
Stonyfield Organic Nonfat Strawberry Greek Yogurt
The strawberry flavor is authentic in this surprisingly creamy (rare for a nonfat Greek yogurt) treat. The low-tang factor makes it a good protein-packed snack for non-Greek lovers.
Justin's Chocolate-Hazelnut Butter 80-Calorie Packs
Drop one of these in your bag to give your toast or banana a boost. With its combination of fresh-roasted hazelnut and dark cocoa flavors, this creamy spread satiates a candy bar craving.
Planters NUTrition Wholesome Nut Mix
A premium blend of almonds, whole cashews, and macadamia nuts (it doesn't skimp on the latter, so you don't have to be stingy with your snackmates) that is nicely crisp and not overly salty.
Emerald Cocoa Roast Almonds
A deeply velvety coating of chocolaty goodness in each crunchy bite satisfies a sweet tooth without maxing out on calories or saturated fat.
Stacy's Multigrain Pita Chips
A hearty, seeded texture makes this chip a sturdy dipper, with the buttery-rich flavor you expect from a pita chip. You can taste the whole grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats, and millet).
Lundberg Original Sea Salt Rice Chips
With 18g whole grains in a serving and a lower sodium level than most chips, this toasty, rice-packed snack offers a thick texture that's pleasantly crunchy, earthy, and equally good dipped or naked.
Wholly Guacamole Classic 100-Calorie Minis
Well seasoned with chunks of avocado and a garlic-rich undertone. Guacamole is so easy to overdo, portion-wise, and these 100-calorie cups keep that in check.
Krave Pineapple Orange Beef Jerky
The portion size (about a third of the package) is hugely satisfying, with only 80 calories and 8g protein. With a moist and tender texture, the beef is not overly salty and just sweet enough to round out the flavor with a citrusy kick.
Amy's Orange Biscotti
Tastes straight from a (good) bakery with an authentic orange flavor and a hint of bitter edge. Just the right texture to withstand coffee dunks. The addition of brown rice flour earns our whole-grain approval.
NibMor Extreme Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs (80% Cacao)
Built-in portion control for choc-lovers. This is a purist's dark chocolate—smooth and slightly tannic, with a pleasant crunch from the nibs.
Nature Valley Roasted Nut Crunch Almond Crunch Bar
Crazy-crunchy in a peanut brittle sort of way. We loved the very simple ingredient profile, the low sugar count, and the homemade taste.
Boar's Head Hummus
Testers refused to choose between two flavors in this lineup: Both the Roasted Red Pepper and Roasted Pine Nut were big pleasers, the former for its bright red-pepper notes, the latter for pine-nutty intensity.
Purely Elizabeth Cranberry Pecan Ancient Grain Granola Cereal
Quinoa, amaranth, and chia add a healthy boost to this fresh, sophisticated mix that strikes the right salty-savory-sweet balance. Its dry, loose texture tastes homemade.
Nabisco Triscuit Original
A classic for a reason: It's a whole-grain powerhouse with a straight-forward recipe (just wheat, oil, and salt—seriously) and a nutty, toasty texture that provides what feels like infinite layers to bite through.
Snyder's of Hanover Gluten-Free Pretzel Sticks
Our team preferred these over regular pretzels: They're crunchier, snappier, and not as dense. A big score for the gluten-free gang.
Nonni's THINAddictives Pistachio Almond Thins
What we imagine would happen if a marzipan-like biscotti and a nut-riddled cracker got together. Treat them sweet with a coffee sidecar, or savor them with a spread of goat cheese or Neufchâtel.
Late July Organic Restaurant-Style Chia and Quinoa Tortilla Chips
Crispy and delicate with 20g whole grains per serving. There's deep, toasty flavor and an interesting texture, thanks to the subtle chia and quinoa crunch.
Whole Foods 365 Organic Light String Cheese
The light version actually beat out the full-fat as a favorite. Nicely salty and tangy without feeling waxy. Good stringability and no added sodium like the competition.
Chobani Flip Vanilla Golden Crunch
Luscious texture with a nice crunchy contrast (courtesy of puffed millet, cornflakes, pecans, and oats) that you stir in at your own preferred ratio. The vanilla flavor is pleasantly subtle and not overly sweet.
Sunsweet Amazin Berry Blend
This moist mix of dried plums, cherries, cranberries, and blueberries is just the right blend of tangy, tart, and sweet without veering too far in one direction. We liked that the fruits stayed separate instead of meshing into a big clumpy mix.