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Hard to see glow-in-dark treats

Also, Quaker's oatmeal tastes like Splenda

Universal Press Syndicate

Glow-in-the-Dark Fun Size Candy. Snickers, Milky Way, 3 Musketeers, Twix Caramel Cookie Bars, and M&M's Plain and Peanut. $2.89 per 13.3-ounce bag.

Bonnie: I had to go into a dark closet and close the door so it was pitch black to see the teeniest glow on these wrappers. So I doubt that kids collecting these for Halloween will even notice the difference between these Glow-in-the-Dark Fun Size candies and the regular kind.

At least they're small-size, just right for small appetites, and don't cost any more than the traditionally wrapped candies of this size.

Carolyn: OK, so buying and eating candy is pretty much unjustifiable on a nutritional basis. But what if the candy could keep kids from getting hit by cars when they're trick-or-treating?

That's what I first thought these new Glow-in-the-Dark Fun Size Snickers, Twix and M&M's were all about. But these candy wrappers only light up right after being placed under a strong light — and they light up too weakly to stop a pedestrian, never mind a car.

These wrappers are really ads for the movie "Shrek 2." What glows in the dark are pictorial answers to questions about characters in the movie — so they'll only be interesting (or even understandable) to people who've seen it.

Glow-in-the-dark food packaging is still a neat idea that I'd like to see exploited for more noble or useful purposes — like making it easier for midnight raiders to see the bag of cookies or campers to find the marshmallows and hot dogs.

Quaker Instant Oatmeal Lower Sugar. Maple & Brown Sugar, and Apples & Cinnamon. $3.49 per 10.9- to 11.9-ounce box containing 10 individual-serving envelopes.

Bonnie: I find Quaker's regular, instant-flavored oatmeal varieties overpoweringly sweet. That's doubtless because I eat oatmeal plain, with no sweetener at all. That's why I was excited about testing Quaker's new 50 percent lower-sugar instant cereals.

But one bite told me these weren't less sweet at all, just sweetened with Splenda. Despite being made from sugar (with chlorine atoms replacing hydrogen atoms on the sugar molecule), Splenda is still artificial and tastes like it.

I wish Quaker — and all other food companies reducing the sugar in their foods — would simply use less sugar and leave it at that.

Carolyn: Diet soda and yogurt have long been in the supermarket mainstream. But we'll have to credit (blame?) the low-carb diet craze and the obesity crisis for the many new diet foods from big-name companies — Tropicana Essentials Light 'n Healthy, SnackWell's cookies and Quaker Instant Oatmeal Lower Sugar, among them.

Like Bonnie, I initially thought Quaker had simply reduced the sugar in its regular Maple & Brown Sugar and Apples & Cinnamon instant oatmeal recipes. But I had a completely different reaction than she did to learning that Quaker had simply replaced some of the sugar with Splenda, the artificial sweetener that, to me, tastes the closest to sugar.

In other words, I didn't mind, especially because these are among the few reduced-carb products that actually have fewer calories than the originals — thus giving us non-low-carb dieters the chance to enjoy an extra doughnut hole or two along with our oatmeal for no additional calories.

Oscar Mayer Maple Bacon. $5.37 per 16-ounce package.

Bonnie: I found Oscar Mayer Maple Bacon to be even fattier than other supermarket bacon I've tried. I also don't like the maple flavoring that was added. Why? Because — surprise, surprise — it's artificial and tastes like it.

I do like maple syrup-glazed bacon, though. For a homemade version, simply lay strips of bacon on parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil placed on a baking sheet and brush with real maple syrup. Bake in a 450-degree oven for 12 to 16 minutes until the bacon is crisp, draining and discarding the excess fat as necessary.

Now that's a bacon that really brings home the maple flavor.

Carolyn: Pouring a little maple syrup on some hot bacon is even easier than the maple-bacon-making method Bonnie just described. Both ways are a breeze compared to making your own hickory-flavored bacon, a much more necessary commercial product.

This Oscar Mayer Maple Bacon is also nowhere near as maple-tasting as hickory bacon is hickory-flavored. This maple bacon actually smells a lot more "maple-y" than it tastes. In fact, it seems as if most of the maple flavor burns off in the cooking.

Bonnie Tandy Leblang is a registered dietitian and professional speaker. Carolyn Wyman is a junk-food fanatic and author of "Better Than Homemade: Amazing Foods That Changed the Way We Eat (Quirk). Each week they critique three new food items. © Universal Press Syndicate