It seems that most snack food vending machines have the “same old” selection: smaller versions of products which are available in larger quantities in the grocery store snack aisle. Little seems to have changed over the years. If someone wants something other than chips, cookies or a candy bar, there is little if any choice. I usually ignore the snack food vending machine where I work because of this lack of variety, but I did find something recently that looked different, so I parted with 75 cents and tried it.
This new item for me was from Pepperidge Farm. It was Four Cheese flavor Baked Naturals Cheese Crisps. I wanted something tasty and satisfying, but chips, cookies or candy bars were not the answer. I was expecting something like a cheese flavored cracker. Instead, the first thought I had when I took that first bite, was that I was eating a Wheat Thin. If I had been blindfolded, I probably would have guessed that someone had a recipe for something to make with Wheat Thins. Then I could taste the subtle hint of the four cheese flavor. The taste experience ended with an unexpected spicy sensation, likely caused by small amounts of garlic and paprika, as noted on the ingredients list.
The vending machine package was a 1.75 oz pouch, which is slightly larger than the serving size of 1.1 oz or 20 pieces suggested on the box. A standard serving from the larger box has 140 calories, whereas the vending machine pouch has 230 calories. This leaves the consumer with some options. They can eat a larger than necessary serving to make themselves feel like they are getting their money’s worth, or they can buy one package and not eat the whole thing all at once or they can share it with others, etc.
Convenience and freshness are good reasons to buy the vending machine pack of this product, but be careful. While the pouch says 0g trans fat and low cholesterol, remember that it is a larger than usual serving. A vending pack has 9g total fat (14%Daily Value) whereas a standard serving has 6g fat (9%DV). Trans Fat is 10% vs. 5% and sodium is likewise higher (450 mg vs. 270). The good part about a larger serving is that the nutrition benefits are enhanced as well. A vending pouch has 10% DV of both Calcium and Iron, and a standard serving provides 6% of each.
This product is available on the grocery store shelf as well. A 5.9 oz box sells for about $3.00 at the Wal*Mart super center in my town and is and is one of the few vending machine products I would consider purchasing to serve to guests or eat at home. This is one of those rare finds that is a good snack at work, but could also be served on special occasions with a glass of your favorite wine. The only thing I would hesitate to serve with it would be cheese, due to the cheese flavor.
Overall, I was satisfied with my snack and would buy it again, though not all the time. It was a pleasant change from the usual snack food vending machine offerings.