Friday, January 2, 2015

Fuller Foods' Blue Cheese Jalapeño & Maple Bacon Cheesy Puffs

Fuller Foods' Blue Cheese Jalapeño & Maple Bacon Cheesy Puffs
Subject: Fuller Foods' Blue Cheese Jalapeño & Maple Bacon Cheesy Puffs |
Date: 01/02/2015 | Photographers: James Kiester & Dani Cogswell | This picture was taken by the author of this blog.
I don't typically review chips, crackers, and other snack foods. I leave critiques of such munchies to the good people of Taquitos Snack Food Reviews. However, while the site has reviewed, literally, thousands of sweet and/or salty munchables, from every conceivable national brand, they rarely review offerings from mom & pop companies. Thus, when the owner of an, Oregon based, craft snack company was promoting his fare at my local New Seasons Market, I ended up taking a few bags home to sample & review.

Fuller Foods, head quartered in Portland, Oregon, makes four varieties of "100% natural" Cheesy Puffs, including; Sriracha, Blue Cheese Jalapeño, India Pale Ale, and Maple Bacon.  As a beer drinker, I've never been able to choke down an IPA, and something in the owner's demeanor told me the Sriracha flavor would be way too hot for this 44 year old.  Being a fan of blue cheese and bacon, I left with the Blue Cheese Jalapeño and Maple Bacon flavors.

According to the brown paper packaging, the Blue Cheese Jalapeño Puffs contain; corn (non-GMO Bob's Red Mill corn grits from Oregon and California), blue and cheddar cheese blend, konjac, jalapeño, salt, and garlic; while the Maple Bacon Puffs are made of; corn (non-GMO Bob's Red Mill corn grits from Oregon and California), safflower oil, cheddar cheese, maple sugar, konjac, salt, and Olympic Provisions Bacon (pork, salt, brown sugar, nitrates, applewood smoke).  Additionally, both flavors boast:
  • FEATURES KONJAC YAM (consumption of 6oz of water per serving is recommended)
Being slightly confused by their second to last claim, I contacted them via their Facebook Page and asked, "Your bag says, "No 'Natural Flavors.'"  Don't I want natural flavors?"

An online representative, named Jack, wrote back with the following statement.


Many natural and organic foods are flavored with additives such as "natural flavors", which is a vaguely defined and loosely regulated term that includes lots of very unnatural constituents, ranging from chemicals from non-food origins to ingredients over-processed beyond recognition. Take bacon, for example. In all commercially made snacks, bacon flavor is derived from "natural flavors" (chemical compounds that yield similar aromatic/taste properties), yeast, and/or MSG. Our bacon flavor is made from actual bacon (non-GMO, nitrate free) that was meticulously prepared, dehydrated, and powderized. 

Significant amount of work went into making Serious Cheesy Puffs a snack made from wholesome ingredients only. It is an achievement that extremely few food companies, particularly in snacks, attain and something that I'm very proud of.

Having said that, I do thank you for bringing to my attention of how "No 'natural flavors'" may be confusing to some. Such verbiage will be updated in future packaging designs.

Thank you, Jack"

Natural ingredients are nice, for eaters who care about what the put into their bodies, but the real question is, do these puffs make a tasty snack?

Both varieties of puff looked identical; pale white in color, about 50% the width of a Cheetos Cheese Puff, and about 50% longer than a Cheetos Cheese Puff.  Trading width for length, these puffs give the snacker roughly the same volume of food as their popular counterpart.  Each puff also delivered a solid crunch.

Biting into the Blue Cheese Jalapeño Puffs gave me a spicy, but not overly hot, kick of jalapeño right off the bat.  Chewing increased the level of heat, and eventually revealed a faint under flavor of blue cheese.  Likewise, the Maple Bacon Puffs delivered a strong hit of maple sweetness with a whisper of bacon flavor in the background.

While I'd have preferred a stronger blue cheese taste, the spice of the pepper was tasty enough for me to give the Blue Cheese Jalapeño Puffs 8.5 out of 10 stars.  On the flip side, the Maple Bacon Puffs were really a maple snack with bacon as an after thought.  After eating a few puffs, the sweetness became overpowering, earning these puffs 6.9 out of 10 stars.

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