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Oh, for an HFCS-free cracker...

Posted Sep 22 2008 4:35pm
Ok, so the there are actually plenty of HFCS-free crackers out there, but they're swimming in an ocean of crackers containing HFCS. (High fructose corn syrup might seem like a strange ingredient for crackers, but it serves the same purpose in crackers as it does in bread. Two big advantages to using HFCS in crackers are increased shelf life and cost.) Go look in any supermarket at the cracker aisle, and you'll find cracker after cracker with HFCS in it. Hidden among those HFCS-containing crackers are several good ones that are free of the offending ingredient. I'm not going to even try to tell you all of the crackers that don't have HFCS in them, but I am going to try to give some pointers to finding HFCS-free crackers in the different cracker categories - and maybe point out a few crackers that contain HFCS that surprised me.

Let's start with saltines. The situation with saltines really isn't as bad as it first seems. I'm going to use Nabisco brand as an example, but I would guess that other brands are similar to Nabisco. Nabisco Original Premium Saltine Cracker has HFCS as an ingredient. Strike them off of your list! Sadly, I wasn't able to find a regular saltine that didn't have HFCS in any of the brands that our grocery store carries - and there were several brands to look at. The good news is that as far as I can tell, every other permutation of saltine ( low-salt, fat free, multigrain, toasted onion, etc.) from Nabisco is HFCS-free! We've been using the Nabisco Fat Free Premium Saltine Crackers for years now. I'll admit that they don't taste quite as good as the original - they're not as tender for one thing - but after using them for a while, I find that they taste just fine. And the ingredient list is pretty innocuous too. If you don't want to go fat free, try the other options. Maybe multigrain? But remember, what's true for Nabisco might not be true for other brands, so look before you buy! BUTTER CRACKERS
There are a few butter cracker options out there. Toasteds Buttercrisp is a good one. All of the Toasteds crackers are HFCS free. Wild Harvest Natural - a very reasonably priced organic food line - also has a reasonable priced HFCS-free butter cracker. The biggies - Townhouse Original (and Reduced Fat) and Ritz have HFCS in them.

I was a bit surprised by how many wheat crackers had HFCS in them. Wheat Thins was one that surprised me - it has HFCS in it. Wheatables also contains HFCS. So, where to turn? Townhouse Wheat is HFCS-free (though it does contain corn syrup, but we're not going to quibble about that right now)! ToastedsWheat, again, is HFCS free. Good ole Triscuits is HFCS free (at least the original - I didn't check the different flavors for HFCS). And, again, Wild Harvest Natural wheat crackers are HFCS free.

Cheese crackers are a particular favorite in my house. What kid doesn't like munching on goldfish? (We won't discuss how healthy they are - or are not - here.) Happily, Goldfish (at least the original flavor, I didn't check other flavors) are HFCS free! No kid mutiny here! Reduced FatCheese-its, another household favorite and good addition to trail mix, is also HFCS-free. Reduced Fat Cheese Nips are also HFCS free. (Regular Cheese-its and Cheese Nips both contain HFCS.) Better Cheddars are also HFCS free.

Then there are the specialty crackers. Keebler Graham Crackers - another favorite around here - thankfully is HFCS free. These are so useful for graham cracker crusts, snacks, and other desserts! I hate to admit it, but I love Chicken in a Biskit crackers as a sometimes snack, and happily, they're HFCS free! And I have yet to see a Pepperidge Farm cracker with HFCS in it. We love their Pretzel Thins here. Sadly, I'm still looking for a vanilla wafer that doesn't have HFCS in it. Banana pudding is not in our diet for the immediate future! And if you want those snack packs that have peanut butter or fake cheese spread between two crackers (often a weird shade of orange), those have HFCS in them. Maybe that's not such a bad thing...

And there are so many more! Crackers that tout being multigrain or organic generally seem to be HFCS-free (but check those labels to be sure!).

Did I miss a cracker that you're interested in? Let me know if the comments!
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