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Supermarket Sampler: Twinkies fresh compared to Cakesters

Universal Press Syndicate

Nabisco Oreo Cakesters Soft Snack Cakes. Original, and Chocolate Creme. $2.99 per 12-ounce box containing six twin-packs.

Bonnie: In celebration of Oreo's 95th birthday, Nabisco is making like Marie Antoinette in suggesting that we eat cake. Oreo Cakesters are twin-packs of snack cakes consisting of two cake layers and one of Oreo creme, or at least that's what the press materials say. To me, these Cakesters resemble their namesake only in having two layers with creme in between. They're much more like round Drake's Devil Dogs or Hostess Suzy Q's.

Compare a one-package serving of two Cakesters, with 250 calories, 12 grams of total fat (of which 3 are saturated), and 23 grams of sugar to a three-Oreo-cookie serving of 160 calories, 7 grams of total fat (of which 2 are saturated), and 14 grams of sugar. That huge difference is because these really are cake and not Oreo cookies.

Carolyn: I like Oreos. I love snack cakes. So why don't I love these new Oreo Cakesters snack cakes? Because they're not really snack cakes. They're soft cookies, albeit very fat ones. That explains their long expiration date and a chemical taste reminiscent of the very first soft cookies that appeared back in the early 1980s. Twinkies seem fresh-baked by comparison.

I could complain about the chocolate Cakesters weak-kneed chocolate creme and about the dual packaging (these are big enough to be individually wrapped). But that would matter only if I wanted them to remain in the marketplace.

Birds Eye Steamfresh Singles. Super Sweet Corn, Baby Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Peas. $2.99 per package containing four 3.25-ounce single-serve bags.

Bonnie: Birds Eye Foods has just added single-serve portions of what it says are the most popular veggies to its Steamfresh line. (Who would have thunk brussels sprouts were so popular?) I like Birds Eye's Steamfresh microwave steaming technology, and I like Singles. What's not to love, as these are vegetables and nothing else? You can season them to taste — if you want to — after you steam them in their individual bags.

I highly recommend these for singles or for families where people prefer different veggies. Way to go, Birds Eye!

Carolyn: About 60 percent of American households consist of two or fewer people. When you add that to all the larger families whose members eat dinner separately, then it's easy to see the usefulness of a product like Birds Eye Steamfresh Singles.

Sure these people could buy single-serve cans of vegetables, but canned veggies are nowhere near as tasty as frozen are, and they cost about the same as these. Singles and small families could also just take the quantity of vegetables they need from big frozen bags — but throwing a bag of Singles in the microwave is a lot faster and easier, and the quality of these veggies is better.

These would make a great accompaniment to the single piece of cooked or ready-to-cook prepared meat you can now buy in most supermarket refrigerator cases.

In fact, the only thing I have trouble swallowing about this new product is Birds Eye's claim that brussels sprouts are better sellers than carrots or broccoli (so that makes two of us, Bonnie!).

Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt. Plain, and Vanilla. $1.89 per 6-ounce cup. Plain also available in 1-pound tub.

Bonnie: For years I've been making my own Greek-style yogurt by pouring plain yogurt into a cheesecloth-lined sieve placed over a bowl in the refrigerator to drain off excess whey and thicken it. I've used that to make tzatziki (a Greek cucumber, garlic and yogurt dip/sauce), or as the base for many salad dressings or dips.

Now you can purchase Greek-style organic yogurt in the dairy section of the supermarket. Oikos is the result of a partnership of Stonyfield Farm and Euphrates (makers of authentic Greek feta cheese). Because it is strained, the Oikos' yogurt contains more protein than regular yogurt, about 10 grams more per individual cup. Each cup also contains 120 calories, no fat, and no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. I like that, and the fact that I no longer have to make my own Greek yogurt.

Carolyn: The first cup of Oikos Greek yogurt I tried (a few days after its expiration date) tasted so weirdly salty and tangy that I was afraid it had gone bad. Surely this couldn't be the taste that caused a 118 percent spike in sales this past year (the largest increase for any yogurt sub-category)? Yes, it apparently was. I confirmed this by trying a cup whose expiration date was still several weeks away, and it tasted almost exactly the same.

Others talk about Greek yogurt's thickness and creaminess. And the brands that offer varieties made with cream (like Fage's Total) may indeed be rich-tasting. But Oikos nonfat one is merely thick — in a pasty way — with an overly tangy, almost minerally aftertaste that would seem appropriate only for recipes for (or as a topping with) savory dishes. In other words, use it like sour cream. Eaten plain, it's punishing.

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. For previous columns, visit, and for more food info and chances to win free products, visit © Universal Press Syndicate