We were really pleased here at The Madhouse when we were approached to review the range of exotic nibbles from Penn State Snacks, because it was a brand we'd never tried before. They have some really different snacks that sound like they have come from the far-flung corners of the earth so my tastebuds were zinging in anticipation before I'd even opened the bags !
A quick bit of research online revealed that Penn State is the UK's leading brand of pretzels. First up on the taste-test hotseat was therefore a bag of their Sour Cream Chive Pretzels (although they also come in Original Sea Salted and Sweet & Spicy Salsa varieties). We don't eat a lot of pretzels because, to be honest, the ones I've tasted in the past don't taste of much. That could be about to change though.
I poured some into a bowl and the girls instantly squealed. Juliette loved the heart shaped pretzels and Sophie loved the fact that she was going to be eating "those things that George Bush nearly choked on" ! Madhouse Daddy Mike dipped his hand in, then again, then again so I thought I'd better get in quick before they all disappeared. Yummm ! I was surprised to find that they are crunchy but almost buttery in flavour - nothing like the dry, bland pretzels I've tasted in the past - and the sour cream chive flavouring is delicious, like a more refined version of cheese and onion crisps. Totally moreish.
Next up was the Sizzling Teriyaki Baked Deli Chips, which are labelled as cassava and vegetable snacks seasoned with Sizzling Teriyaki flavour. They look a bit like a cross between tiny rice cakes and prawn crackers and they do have the same crisp but slightly frothy texture. Every now and again, you get a really fiery bit so the girls weren't too keen and went back to munching the pretzels ! Thumbs up again from the grown-ups.
And finally, we tried the Spicy Jalfrezi Baked Deli Chips, potato and chickpea snacks seasoned with Spicy Jalfrezi flavour. They are little square crispy snacks that remind me of the texture of crisps. Flavour-wise, what is really weird (in a good way) is that you get the impression you've got a mouthful of genuine curry, not just a crisp sprinkled with curry-flavoured seasoning. They give you a warm tingle on your tongue but are not overly hot - but the girls still preferred the pretzels. Speaking of which, time for a top up, they seem to have all disappeared.
On their website, Penn State say that their snacks are "oven baked, not fried, so are a healthy alternative to other more calorific treats, without the compromise on taste". Well, I agree 100% for the taste - they are absolutely delicious as well as lovely and crisp. However, they are still quite big on calories - the pretzels contains 410 calories for 100g, which is one calorie less than the Teiyaki Chips, and the Jalfrezi ones aren't far behind at 391 calories for 100g. Admittedly, this makes a reasonable 98 or 82 calorie snack if you stick to the 20 or 25g recommended serving on the pack, but they are so delicious and moreish that there is no way you'll stop at that ! That is one downfall of the big family-sized packs which individual-sized packs would avoid (but I guess it's your own fault if you've got no willpower !).(Further research online shows that they do invidual portion-sized bags too - yippee !)
In conclusion, they are absolutely delicious snacks with highly original flavours that would be perfect for pre-dinner drinks if you're trying to impress your guests, but I would like to see a lower calorie-count.
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : £1.29
for more information : http://www.pennstate.co.uk/home/
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