Boarding the Trendy Pretzel Bandwagon

Nabisco Ritz Munchables Pretzel Thins

Nabisco Ritz Munchables Pretzel Thins

I Paid: $2.99 for a 12.25-ounce box (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 3 stars

Marketing: 3 stars

Were Ritz Crackers really insufficiently munchable in their current, longstanding incarnation? This seems hard to believe. They're the Oreo cookie of crackers: deceptively simple, omnipresent, always dependable, hard to eat just 12.

And yet, here they are, Ritz Munchables Pretzel Thins, the strange, not totally unappealing love child of Ritz Crackers and pretzels. And by the way, don't pretzels seem to be the hot thing these days?

Munchables are a mini Ritz cracker exterior married to a pretzel core. This construction works surprisingly well with the variety called Buttery Flavor, as it's a pairing of the Ritz taste we know already, pretzels, and nothing more. The pretzel adds a bit of internal salt and invigorating crunch, without distracting too much from the simplicity that is Ritz.

Distracting, unfortunately, is exactly the right word to describe the Cheesy Sour Cream & Onion incarnation of the Ritz Munchable. These things are flavor bombs, and not in a good way—the multiple tastes (cheese, salt, butter, sour, onion) and textures (crunchy, crumbly) add up to little gastronomic train wrecks. Overlay too much stuff, and the senses just kind of shut down.

The net result is that the Munchables line is a mixed bag. Even the well-executed Buttery Flavor feels a bit extraneous (couldn't we just have regular old Ritz Crackers? Or regular old pretzels?), and Cheesy Sour Cream & Onion is not merely extraneous but downright irritating. Still, at least they didn't take a Ritz Cracker and sprinkle cinnamon sugar all over it.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow Chowhound on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.

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