Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Kellogg's All Bran Shortbread (Caramel and Chocolate)

There are entire sections in markets and convenience stores with tiny packages of "healthy" snacks. I usually ignore these sections because they are mainly full of dried out cookie, cracker, and cake items fortified with vitamins, minerals, and artificial flavors. It's not so much the fact that the flavors often taste like esters cooked up in a chemical lab that puts me off as the tiny, tiny portions for a relatively big price.

These cookies are brought to us by Kellogg's, which is well-known in the United States, but not so much in Japan. The Japanese don't go much for breakfast cereals because they want something with greater substance for their morning meal. They have learned what we have not (about cereal) in terms of its longevity in satiating hunger. That is, that you eat it and feel hungry two or three hours later. Most of the Japanese folks I speak with about breakfast have rice or toast with soup of some kind. There are Kellogg's cereals in Japan including variations of Special K and some sugary kid's stuff, but you don't see much compared to American cereal aisles. There are several healthy cookies stocked near the cereal, and the "All Bran" brand has been parked in these sections for quite awhile. Their main selling point is, of course, fiber.

Each package contains two foil packets with three tiny cookies in each. When I say "tiny", I mean it. They are 3 cm. (1.2 in.) by 2.3 cm (.9 in.). The nutrition information says that there are about 150 calories if you eat both packets (30 grams/1 oz.) and they are fortified with 7 vitamins and calcium. There's quite a bit of sugar in these on balance with the fiber. The sugar content for the chocolate version is 14.6 grams compared to 4.3 grams of dietary fiber.

The advertising for these sells them as "moist" cookies. They are crumbly and dry, but infused with enough fat to make them less brittle than you'd expect given their texture. Both varieties have the same texture, but drastically different flavors. The caramel smells strongly of artificial caramel and tastes overwhelmingly of it. The first bite is especially unpleasant due to the strength of the faux caramel. There is coconut in with the caramel, but that isn't enough to salvage the flavor. This was so bad that I couldn't eat more than one tiny cookie.

The chocolate cookie smells pleasantly of cocoa. The chocolate taste is a bit weak for my tastes, but that is saved by the presence of coconut. It's not bad, but does have a strange artificial finishing flavor. It wouldn't really satisfy a cookie craving, but it might do in a pinch for a quick breakfast on the go with some tea or coffee. This one is definitely more palatable than the caramel one.

The main point of these types of foods is that they want to fool you into thinking they're good for you. It's true that they are probably "better" for you than eating, say, an Oreo cookie, but they're probably worse for you than something like a homemade oatmeal cookie because they're full of chemicals and vegetable oil. From a purely sensory based point of view, I can't recommend these, but if you have really bad eating habits and want to eat vitamin enhanced junk food, I could condone the chocolate ones in a pinch.

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Yuck we have something similar in aus they are gross, i tried them once and never again. We also have the baked bars with the apple puree in them, ugh, they are just as bad and definitely do not taste anything like real apple!

I think the problem with buying those kinds of things in Japan is that everything is so much sweeter in Japan for the same product as here. I would rather make my own.