It’s hard to get excited about a new limited time offering from one of the national snack brands, with “Buffalo Wing” emblazoned across the front of the box. By now, we’re so desensitized to that particular combination of spicy heat and twangy vinegar, that barring some kind of holographic, chile pepper-spewing demon skull sneering at you from the box, “Buffalo Wing” anything just isn’t going to raise even half an eyebrow anymore.
When confronted with the endcap display of this new “Buffalo Wing” flavored Cheez-It from Sunshine, while hopelessy trying to pretend that I wasn’t in a Wal-Mart (who scored an exclusivity on the new flavor), I stopped dead in my tracks, a record skipping through my brain as it was forced to try and interpret the signals my eyes were sending it.
155 words of backstory: I have something of a history with Cheez-It crackers. I eat them in a disgusting way, and I possess absolutely no self-control when it comes to setting limits on how many I will eat. They are, for me, one of mankind’s greatest snack achievements; a sharply-flavored cheddar snack cracker that I can shovel by the handful into my mouth, adding fresh crackers to the mash of chewed Cheez-It wad until my mouth fills to overflowing with wet cracker mush, and I am forced to either swallow or choke to death in a way that would be totally undignified, but that my fourth grade teacher would describe as “not unexpected.”
They’re a product that I ultimately don’t even allow myself to buy often, knowing that “buying a huge box of Cheez-Its” ultimately means “eating an entire box of Cheez-Its,” in less time than would be deemed appropriate to consume the 1800 calories contained in a single box.
From the press release:
“Satisfy your snack craving with the bold taste of buffalo-wing flavor and made with blue cheese in every crispy, crunchy bite of Cheez-It Buffalo Wing Baked Snack Crackers. Cheez-It crackers are the perfect snack for any occasion. Ideal for an on-the-go bite, afternoon break, or late-night snack the delicious cheese options are endless.”
Open the bag, and you’re greeted warmly by the smell of Buffalo wing sauce. The flavor seems to be applied as a dusting to the outside of each cracker, rather than getting baked in, the way you would expect a flavored potato chip to present. The crackers pack tons of vinegar flavor, my favorite (often overlooked) part of a great Buffalo wing sauce, with a surprisingly restrained level of heat, some buttery notes, and a finish reminiscent of buttermilk or blue cheese dressing.
What I loved most about these crackers was what they DIDN’T do. There wasn’t such an over-the-top assault of fake Buffalo wing flavoring to overpower the Cheez-It, which was allowed to remain true to its humble, baked cheddar roots. Often, when companies roll out new flavors like this, the taste is so overwhelming, that what you loved about the original is lost. Not so, with the Buffalo Wing Cheez-It crackers. There’s plenty of novelty in the surprisingly complex flavor coating, which tastes more like a fun complement to a product I already love, rather than a total mouth-destroying onslaught of chemical seasoning.