Friday, March 15, 2019

Smartfood

How have I never reviewed Smartfood before?  I think it was likely the first bagged popcorn I ever had, and you know how much I love popcorn ...

I think, reality is, I never really loved it, and, didn't have it for many, many years.

So, Smartfood.  You've likely had it, or at least seen it, before.  Pre-popped, bagged popcorn, now owned by Frito-Lay (who's chips I have reviewed before).

Classic Smartfood

"As America’s favorite popcorn brand, our fresh-tasting, light-textured SMARTFOOD® varieties always seem to keep the fun popping. In our book, being smart is always in great taste."
I had no idea that Smartfood came in more flavors than white cheddar. I don't think I've ever seen anything but the classic white cheddar, but, it turns out, they make Smartfood in a slew of other flavors, some savory (parmesan garlic, spicy jalapeno ranch, butter), some sweet (kettle corn, caramel & cheddar mix). I never knew, until I went to write this blog post.

I didn't seek out those other varieties however, but maybe I'd like some of those?
White Cheddar Smart Food.
I used to love this, many moons ago.  I can't tell you the last time I saw Smartfood, let alone actually ate it.  I was so excited when a bag of it was in a gift bag I received when I checked into a hotel late at night, and this sounded like the perfect snack.

It did let me down slightly.  It didn't have quite the same level of cheese-y goodness I remember.  The flavor was still ok, but it wasn't nearly as cravable or addicting as it was in my youth.  Probably for the best.  I enjoyed it, but was happy to share with my traveling companion, and wouldn't really want another bag.
White Cheddar Smart Food, July 2017.
And then, I had it again, when another hotel I was staying at had it in the lounge.  I had forgotten that I had tried it before and actually written it up.  Doh.

This was seriously mediocre popcorn.  It had no crunch.  It was barely cheesy.  Why did I used to like this?  Why is it so popular?  There is so much better popcorn out there!

Simply Smartfood

"Simply put, SIMPLY snacks have a great taste, with no artificial flavors or colors to get in the way. They’re the ones that make you feel good about sharing with the people you love most!"
Frito-Lay, the parent company for Smartfood, produces an entirely line of lighter offerings, dubbed "Simply".  You can get all the classic Frito-Lay products in this form: yes, Lay's potato chips, Ruffles potato chips, Doritos, Tostitos, even Cheetos (although they turn into puffs).  Note that these are different from the "Baked" line, another healthier version of your favorites as well.

Smartfood comes in several Simply varieties, the classic white cheddar of course, plus ever trendy sea salt caramel, and savory options of chipotle aged cheddar or rosemary & garlic.  All are only 35 calories per cup, 70 per bag (compared to the 360 per bag for the regular white cheddar).
Sea Salted Caramel.
I started with the sea salted caramel.  I do adore caramel corn after all, or caramel kettle corn, for the sweet and salty combo.

I took my first handful, expecting that the light quality would basically mean they had no real flavor.  It clearly had no decadent buttery crispy caramel coating.  It did however ... have a flavor.  At first, the flavor was ok, sorta salted caramel I guess.  This popcorn does have butter, cream, brown sugar, and sea salt in it after all.

But ... it also had an aftertaste.  A very strong aftertaste.  That I did not like.  The culprit?  "Purified Stevia leaf extract".  It dominated the flavor.  I couldn't untaste it.  It ruined this for me entirely.
Sea Salt.
And then I tried the simple sea salt.

It was ... fine popcorn, well popped kernels.  But, just salted.  Not exactly exciting.  Simple, salted popcorn.  Why buy this?  If you want simple salted popcorn ... just make it at home for a fraction of the price?

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