Bountifuls

By: Wish-Bone

Suggested Retail Price: $2.79 for a 9.5-ounce bottle

Taste: 3stars

Marketing: 3stars

Have you ever wished that your store-bought salad dressing had more random chunks of stuff floating around in it? Well, your wish is Wish-Bone’s command: The company has come to the rescue with four new flavors whose main attraction is that they’re more like vinaigrette soups than liquid dressings.

Well-intentioned as Bountifuls may be, the concept is dramatically hit-or-miss.

The Simply Santa Fe variety is described as a “cilantro lime vinaigrette brimming with chunks of tomatoes, corn, red pepper and onions.” In terms of taste, however, it’s simply a blend of French dressing and watery salsa. Also falling squarely into the Off-the-Charts Bad category is Berry Delight, which delivers a strong, no doubt chemically assisted berry smell and tastes like a watered-down IHOP blueberry syrup. The small bits of berry do nothing to improve the experience.

On the flip side, the Hearty Italian dressing is evocative of a simple antipasti plate, featuring sweet onions, tomatoes, carrots, and tasty peppers. The chunking concept works well here, distributing peppers in a willy-nilly but ultimately equitable fashion, and the dressing is legitimately fun. Also surprisingly respectable is the Tuscan Romano Basil. The aged Romano cheese chunks and bits of basil shine through, making this simple dressing a pleasure.

Two out of four ain’t bad; with a little honing and the total ashcanning of the Berry Delight flavor, Wish-Bone might be able to use its chunky goodness to elbow itself into some new kitchens.

Popchips

By: Popchips Inc.

Suggested Retail Price: $1.50 for a 1-ounce bag

Taste: 4stars

Marketing: 4stars

Seeking to sidestep the two dominant paradigms of chipdom—fried = greasy, unhealthy, old-fashioned; baked = flavorless, devoid of fun—Popchips Inc. is bringing to market an eponymous snack that is, for lack of a better term, popped.

The application of heat and pressure makes chips that are ostensibly healthier and tastier than Popchips’ stick-in-the-mud baked competitors.

There’s some truth to this, but it’s not as simple as the catchy back-of-the-bag marketing spiel would have you believe. When you “pop” a chip, you do get a 20-chip bag that has only 120 calories and about 4 grams of fat, none of it saturated. But you also get chips that, despite their potato origins, taste uncannily like little rice cakes.

This isn’t an entirely bad thing. The chips have a very pleasant crispy texture, and act as a neutral medium for the various flavors (Sea Salt & Vinegar, Barbeque, Parmesan Garlic, etc.) that the company offers. But by holding off on the bad-for-you oil in which traditional chips are fried, Popchips also miss out on that greasy, full-tasting mouthfeel that makes regular chips so damned addictive.

Thinking people—a minority share in the marketplace, to be sure—will understand that this is probably a good thing. If you can eat 10 to 15 chips and stop, you can then fill your belly with, say, a healthy dinner instead.

As to whether Popchips will catch on, you just have to wonder: Do people know what’s good for them? And do they care?

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