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Nescafe Frothe a chemical, not coffehouse drink

Nestle Nescafe Frothe. Divinely Mocha, Enchanting Vanilla, Captivating Caramel, Mystical Hazelnut Mocha, Silky White Chocolate and Nestle Butterfinger. $3.99 per 8.47-ounce canister.

Bonnie: These new powdered instant-coffee beverage mixes purport to provide a gourmet coffeehouse experience at home. But they fall far short of the caramel macchiato, vanilla latte or white chocolate mocha sold at Starbucks.

Yes, these do have foam. It appears as soon as you mix the hot water with the dry powder. How do you think that happens? If you answered chemicals, you're correct. In fact, there are more chemicals and saturated fats in these drinks than there are in coffee.

In short, this is more of a chemical experience than a coffeehouse one.

Carolyn: I love food products that offer true innovation. So I was favorably disposed toward these self-foaming coffeehouse drinks. They really do foam up when you pour hot water in them.

The problem is that people don't buy foamy coffee drinks because of the way they look. They buy them because of the way they taste (like strong coffee enriched with whipped cream). But Nestle Frothe drinks are more sweet than they are rich or creamy. In fact, they're much closer to flavored cocoa or General Foods International Coffees than to a coffeehouse cappuccino or latte. Judged by those standards, the Butterfinger is delicious and the Captivating Caramel is almost as captivating as its name.

Kraft Easy Mac Macaroni & Cheese Dinner. Extreme Cheese and Nacho Cheese. $2.99 per 12.9-ounce box containing six single-serving packets.

Bonnie: Kraft recently added two new flavors to its Easy Mac line of single-serve microwavable macaroni and cheese dinners. Just add water, microwave and eat.

Neither the Original nor these Extreme Cheese and Nacho Cheese flavors are nutritional winners. One small 3/4-cup portion has 250 calories, at least 7 grams of fat and 580 milligrams of sodium. Extreme Cheese is the fattier (by 1 gram); the Nacho Cheese, the saltier (by 120 milligrams).

Although the box calls this "dinner," you'd need to add more nutrient-rich foods, like fruits and vegetables, to serve this as such. By itself, this is just another salty snack.

Carolyn: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese has got to be one of the easiest and most economical dishes in the supermarket. Kraft's single-serving Easy Mac is also easy but nowhere near as cheap. In fact, Easy Mac is about 1 1/2 times the price per serving as a regular box of macaroni and cheese.

Is it worth it? It might be for people who can't stop themselves from eating a whole Kraft dinner box. Kraft is also obviously hoping some people might be willing to pay the extra money to get these unusual flavors.

I wouldn't do it for the Extreme Cheese — it just doesn't taste different enough. But the Nacho Cheese might be worth it. It manages to convey a Mexican taste without the heat that kids, who are mac and cheese's No. 1 consumers, dislike.

Equal Perfect Pleasures Sugar Free Hard Candies. Intense Fruits, Chocolate Cremes, Caramel Cremes and Mint Trio. $1.49 to $1.59 per 2.75-ounce box containing about 20 candies.

Bonnie: Diabetics were once told to strictly limit sugar in their diets. Today, we recognize that sugars and starches have similar effects on blood sugar levels. The total amount of carbohydrates are more important than the source or the type.

That makes me wonder why we need sugar-free candies — especially ones as unsatisfying as these. These contain half the calories but none of the satisfaction of regular candies, which could prompt dieters to eat more. That could be a problem in more than one way since overeating these could cause mild diarrhea.

On the plus side: I like it that these are individually wrapped.

Carolyn: I don't mind that these are sweetened with Equal because they don't taste like it. They taste like they're sweetened with sugar. In this case, who in her right mind would complain that they contain Equal and have fewer calories than regular candies?

The problem is I don't like hard candies. And the soft creamy centers in the chocolate and caramel cremes are hardly noticeable because they dissolve so quickly. But people who like hard candies should definitely give these a try.

Bonnie Tandy Leblang is a registered dietitian and professional speaker. Carolyn Wyman is a junk-food fanatic and author of "Jell-O: A Biography" (Harvest/Harcourt). Each week they critique three new food items. © Universal Press Syndicate