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Supermarket Sampler: Customers want more of retro version Pepsi, Dew

Pepsi and Mountain Dew Throwback. $1.49 to $1.79 per 2-liter bottle. Also available in 8-ounce or 12-ounce cans and 20-ounce bottles.

Bonnie: The people have spoken. And PepsiCo listened.

Last spring, PepsiCo introduced a time-limited retro version of Pepsi and Mountain Dew sweetened with natural sugar, as they were back in the '60s and '70s, instead of the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) used now.

Consumers tweeted, blogged and posted on Facebook, voicing their pleas to bring these sodas back again. Not being a soda drinker, I'm guessing consumers just liked the taste of sugary drinks better than ones made with HFCS. That, or they were reacting to all the negative media attention relating, but not proving, the connection of HFCS to our obesity epidemic.

(To me, the real problem with HFCS has to do with our farm bill subsidizing the overproduction of corn instead of increasing incentives for those growing fruits and vegetables, making these nutritional powerhouses more affordable.) And the real problem with soda is that whether it's sweetened with sugar or HFCS, it provides no nutrients for your 100 calories.

As you know, big food companies listen to consumers ready to spend lots quicker than they do to concerned health professionals, so do continue to voice your thoughts about HFCS via all the social networking avenues.

Carolyn: Bonnie makes an interesting point about why we might not want a lot of high-fructose corn syrup. Michael Pollan, in his best-selling book "The Omnivore's Dilemma," makes another: Namely, that high-fructose corn syrup is now in so many processed foods that if we are what we eat, Americans today are basically "corn chips on legs." Even if corn in its native form is a good thing, too much of a good thing might be too much.

But based on a side-by-side taste-test of regular HFCS Pepsi and Mountain Dew and their Throwback counterparts, I doubt if anybody should be Tweeting for real sugar soda because of taste.

Although Mountain Dew Throwback tasted similar to regular, Pepsi Throwback had a less distinct flavor. Both Throwbacks seemed less fizzy. (Could these sodas not only be made with the same ingredients as they were in the '70s but also have been sitting around since then?)

No, I think the main reason to recommend you run to the store and at least look at Mountain Dew Throwback before it ends its limited-time run on Feb. 22 is its retro bottle cartoon. That cartoon recalls the soda's non-PC marketing roots as non-alcoholic "moonshine," mountain dew being a slang expression for illegal home brew. Early Mountain Dew bottles featured a cartoon of a hillbilly chasing a thief with a shotgun. This re-creation shows him almost offing himself with his moonshine jug bottle cork, but it is still a refreshing contrast to the bland graphic color bands featured on the soda label today.

Nabisco 100 Calorie Mister Salty Yogurt Flavored Pretzel Packs. $3.19 per 4.68-ounce box containing six 100-calorie bags.

Bonnie: Nabisco is back with another 100-calorie snack option, coated with yogurt-flavored fat. Can you tell from that description that I'm not a fan? For one thing, flavor is not what makes yogurt good for you — it's the live active cultures and milk nutrients, which are lacking in this snack.

These pretzels are similar to Nabisco's 100 Calorie Packs Mister Salty Milk Chocolate Covered Pretzels, which I prefer. They also satisfy my sweet and salty cravings, but at least are coated with real chocolate.

Carolyn: I also was underwhelmed by these new yogurt pretzels, in part for the implied deception of their tenuous connection to healthful yogurt. For all intents and purposes, these are white-chocolate-covered pretzels, and white chocolate is not as rich nor as delicious as the milk or dark kinds.

These particular yogurt pretzels are also skimpy on their coating. That makes them more salty than sweet, and therefore less of a treat.

Lucini Italia Artisan Vinaigrettes. Fig & Walnut Savory Balsamic, Cherry Balsamic & Rosemary, Roasted Hazelnut & Balsamic, Tuscan Balsamic & Extra Virgin, Bold Parmesan & Garlic, and Delicate Cucumber & Shallot. $5.99 to $7.99 per 8.5-ounce bottle.

Bonnie: Generally, I use a bottled dressing only when I need to test one for this column. Otherwise, I prefer making my own by whisking together fresh lemon juice, vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil and seasonings. The use of sustainable ingredients combined with a Lucini's olive oil base made me think I might like these new artisanal, pricey salad dressings. And I was right.

My favorite is the Delicate Cucumber & Shallot Dressing, which won the Gold Award for best dressing/marinade at the NASFT Summer '09 Fancy Food Show, and a FeaturedBite nod on my Bite of the Best blog. A 2-tablespoon serving provides 120 calories, 12 grams of fat and a modest 170 milligrams of sodium.

The others in this line are also fine: I just like the delicate flavor of the Delicate Cucumber & Shallot the best.

Carolyn: It's not always true that you get what you pay for — certainly not in the case of paper towels, mustard or designer jeans. But it is true about a few of these new gourmet Lucini vinaigrettes. All display the rich flavor and crisp, non-glutinous texture of their high-quality ingredients. The Fig & Walnut Savory Balsamic and the Cherry Balsamic & Rosemary also exhibit the bright and interesting flavors of fig and rosemary, respectively.

Despite Lucini's dressings' many ingredients, one flavor dominates each variety. In the case of the Parmesan, it was Dijon, which is on the ingredient list, though not the flavor name. Bonnie fave Delicate Cucumber & Shallot tastes mostly like cucumbers, which could be added to a salad lots cheaper as an ingredient. But the Fig & Walnut Savory Balsamic is more than worth its 300 to 400 percent premium price over ordinary supermarket dressings.

Bonnie Tandy Leblang is a registered dietitian and professional speaker. She has an interactive site (www.biteofthebest.com) about products she recommends. Follow her on Twitter: BonnieBOTB. Carolyn Wyman is a junk-food fanatic and author of "The Great Philly Cheesesteak Book" (Running Press). Each week they critique three new food items. © Universal Uclick