We all have our go-to snacks. For some, that’s chips; for others, crackers. Whatever the snack of choice may be, they always seem to have that satisfying crunch and salty taste that leave us coming back for more. And while chips and crackers will likely always have a place in the food world, there’s a new up-and-coming snack trend that’s hitting the shelves too. Yep, we’re talking about puffed snacks.

What are puffed snacks?

Puffed snacks, or “extruded” snacks as known in the food industry, are a lighter, air-popped chip/cracker/popcorn hybrid. They’re often made with gluten-free wheat alternatives, such as lentils, quinoa, or corn, and – with the widespread decline in sugar – many are low-sugar, savoury, and diverse in healthier flavours, such as Brussel sprout or cauliflower. To increase transparency they have fewer and simpler ingredients, and to please the non-dairy folk, many are dairy free too. Of course, all processed foods are still something to be wary of, but with wheat-free alternatives, low-sugar options, and fewer sketchy ingredients, it seems the snack industry is accommodating the desire for more wholesome foods.

Puffed Snacks: A Taste Test

Here at Spud HQ, we did a blind taste test for 3 puffs: a “classic” cheese puff, an alternative puff, and a dairy-free puff. See what some of our staff had to say:

#1: Neil Brothers Organic Baked Cheese Puffs

A healthier take on the traditional cheese puff. It’s wheat-free, gluten-free and organic, so if you’re gonna snack on a real dairy cheese puff, this might be the way to go. Our staff had average/above average ratings for it.

  • “Good, classic”
  • “This one wins for me… it has a lot more legit cheese flavour than a lot of cheezies which tend to have a more ‘buttery + salty + maybe something savoury’ flavour”
  • “Reminds me of KD”
  • “Could be cheesier but it’s good”
  • “The best as a classic cheezie”
  • “Wins when it comes to texture”

#2: Vegan Rob’s Brussel Sprout Puffs

Loaded with nutritional yeast, iron, and vitamin C, this is the healthier choice of all 3. While some found the after-taste slightly off, many really enjoyed this (slightly) healthier puff. Our customer care team unanimously chose these as their favourite. Here is what some of our other staff said:

  • “Not much flavour but the texture is nice”
  • “Favourite for sure! Why? Not sure, just different”
  • “The best as a ‘cool cheezie’” (This staff member later said “Woah I would have never eaten the brussel sprout ones.”)
  • “I’d enjoy this if I was looking for an onion flavour”
  • “Isn’t bad but just doesn’t do it for me”
  • “Wins for me”
  • “My favourite”

#3 Vegan Rob’s Dairy Free Cheddar Puffs

Surprisingly, this one was the majority of our staff’s favourite. It’s also interesting to note that all those who voted this as #1 are not vegan.  

  • “Good flavour, good texture – this is my favourite” (from a non-vegan. This staff member later said “I am shocked I like the vegan one better than the one with actual cheese. Knock me over with a feather.”)
  • “#3 is my fave” (also from a non-vegan)
  • “Not bad, there’s kind of an after-taste I don’t enjoy that much”
  • “When it comes to cheesiness…I think number 3 is my favourite” (again, not vegan)
  • “There’s a flavour at the end I’ve always disliked”
  • “My favourite” (yep, not vegan)
  • “#3 is my favourite. It has the most flavour” (from our CEO. Also carnivorous.)

Interesting verdict. Personally, I thought #1 would win by a landslide. Hopefully, these results open your eyes to the world of puffed snacks (and perhaps reiterate the message that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover?). While we advise caution with all “puffed foods”, these options are great choices for whenever you’ve got that savoury salty craving. Happy Snacking!

Outside of her role as a Social Media and Content Coordinator, Carli enjoys exploring the local trails, testing various health food trends, spending time with loved ones, and fawning over any dog she lays eyes on.

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