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Altoids Ginger mints odd but pleasant

SHARE Altoids Ginger mints odd but pleasant

Universal Press Syndicate

Callard & Bowser Ginger Altoids. $1.79 per 1.76-ounce tin.

Bonnie: I got my first taste of the latest Altoids flavor while driving. A friend handed me one and asked me to identify it. My first guess was cardamom, even while doubting there would be such an esoteric flavor. The right answer, ginger, is only slightly less unusual.

In ancient times, fresh ginger was thought to preserve food, treat digestive problems (as per the original ginger ale), cleanse the soul and eliminate body odor. That last use is probably why Altoids chose this as its newest breath mint.

Ginger Altoids have a fairly pleasant, peppery, sweet and pungent flavor and very few calories. I still prefer the cinnamon.

Carolyn: Altoids has long operated under the slogan "the original celebrated curiously strong mint." Altoids' new ginger candy is simply curious—in a good way. Ginger Altoids are probably the first Western-produced ginger hard candy. As such, they're a great alternative to all those super-strong mints for people (like me) who don't like mint or Cinnamon Altoids. (Ginger Altoids are spicy, but not in an overwhelming way like the cinnamon.)

While competitors copy, Altoids continues to innovate.

Pemmican Shredded Beef Jerky. Hickory Smoked, Peppered and Teriyaki. $3.50-$4.99 per 3-ounce pouch.

Bonnie: The current popularity of a high-protein beef snack that is low in carbs is easy to understand. But I couldn't imagine why the makers of beef jerky would introduce it in shredded form. That is until I thought of all my baby boomer friends who are having extensive dental work done.

This beef jerky is shredded into bite-size strips (so it won't challenge your teeth!) packed in a resealable pouch. Like non-shredded beef jerky, it's very salty, but high in protein, and low in both fats and carbohydrates (unlike sausage-style meat snacks like Slim Jims that are high in fat).

Carolyn: I disagree with Bonnie's theory about the impetus for this new product. Although these do not require biting off the pieces, it's still plenty chewy. Pemmican is more likely aiming to give guys who've had to give up chewing tobacco on doctor's orders something equally manly to eat out of the familiar pouch. But how will these pouches fit in with the water-bottle scene in white-collar conference rooms? About as well as these pouches' $5 price tag will with blue-collar workers who are used to paying $1 or less per beef jerky stick.

Sunrich Naturals Frozen Edamame. Shelled and In the Shell. $1.99 per 12-ounce bag.

Bonnie: In the '90s very few folks even knew what edamame were. Now these green vegetable soybeans (for those who still don't know!) are sold fresh in many supermarkets and now also frozen, both in and out of their pods, courtesy of companies like Sunrich.

Enjoy them as a snack, as a side dish, or by adding them to soups, stews or pasta dishes. A serving is rich in protein, vitamins and minerals and is low in fat. In fact, soybeans contain more protein than any other plant. Did you hear that, low-carb dieters?

Carolyn: The great irony of soy (which I previously discussed when we wrote about fresh edamame) is that it tastes much better in its natural soybean form than when "hidden" in energy bars or protein crumbles. In fact, when cooked and dressed in a little bit of butter, edamame (the soybean industry's name for fresh soybeans, in the spirit of the prune industry's "dried plums") is quite similar to lima beans or big green peas. Vegetable haters might say that's damning it with faint praise, but not compared to the horrible off-taste of soy energy bars and unflavored soy milk.

Edamame is meaty, so a little goes a long way. That's why buying it frozen in a bag, where you can take as much (or, in my case, as little) as you want without having to worry about spoilage, makes so much sense. What doesn't make a lot of sense is the still-in-the-pod version, because it costs as much as the other despite yielding less food and requiring more work to eat.

© Universal Press Syndicate