October 17, 2012
Planters puts a twist on peanut butter with Energy Mix blends

HJA_9351.JPGYes, peanut butter sticks to the roof of your mouth and gives you "peanut breath," but it conjures childhood memories and is a staple in kitchen cupboards for most of us. It's so popular that more than half the peanuts harvested in the U.S. end up in jars as creamy or crunchy.

Trivia: It's generally agreed that the first commercial-brand peanut butter was Skippy, packaged in 1922 by a company in Alameda, Ca.

Now, adding a twist to the many peanut butters on supermarket shelves is the iconic snack-food conglomerate Planters, owned by Kraft Foods.

In an intriguing peanut-butter mini-makeover, its three NUT-rition ("nutrition," get it?) Energy Mix peanut butters are chocked with (mostly) good things ($3.49 to $3.99 per 12-ounce jar).

Our panel of expert food-tasters (read: always hungry) sampled the trio - Cinnamon Raisin Granola Nut, Berry Nut and Banana Granola Nut. Note that the "berries" in the Berry Nut flavor are cranberries, and the "nuts" in all three are crushed peanuts. Though the peanut butters are marketed to adults, we see no reason why children wouldn't like them.

Here's what our peanut butter-lovers had to say, starting with yours truly:

Taster No. 1: "Because of all the ingredients in the three products, the 'purity' of unadulterated peanut butter is lost. No surprise there, but don't expect these to be easily spreadable over bread. They work best when dolloped on toast, English muffin, bagel or crackers. Also, they're very filling.
"The Berry Nut held a nice mix of flavors. Sweet, with some crunch.
"Cinnamon Raisin Granola was the best of the three, with well-balanced flavors and textures.
"Banana was artificial-tasting, with a strange chemical taste."

Taster No. 2: "Berry Nut: Says it's supposed to be 'cranberries' starring in the role of berries. Tastes like chewy peanut butter.
"Banana Nut: UGH! Plantains are not proud of this obnoxious blend.
"Cinnamon Raisin: Best of the bunch! Great on whole wheat toast (saves money on expensive raisin bread).
"None of these are suitable for traditional PB&J. Stick to Jif smooth!"

Taster No. 3: "These peanut butters definitely are for people who like crunchy peanut butter. I'm not one of them.
"Cinnamon was my favorite, and I even liked the raisins, but could do without the granola.
"Berry was OK, but didn't taste very much of cranberries. It needs a spice, too.
"Banana tasted like fake banana flavoring. Kids would probably like it - or Elvis!"

Taster No. 4: "In order of my favorite to my least-favorite:
"Cinnamon Raisin Granola Nut: Not sure if I liked this one. Needed two or three more tastes to make sure. The granola chunks make it seem like chunky peanut butter, which I prefer to creamy. Could taste the peanut butter here, whereas I couldn't really taste PB in the other two. Nice mellow cinnamon flavor, too.
"Berry Nut: Berries add texture. Still think I just like chunky peanut butter better.
"Banana Granola Nut: Sweet blast at first bite is nice, but quickly becomes toxic. Kind of weird overall."

Taster No. 5: "Berry: The peanut butter on its own had a slightly stale, cardboard taste, and the cranberries didn't do much for the flavor. I expected more 'pop' from this peanut butter, but it was mostly a dud.
"Banana: Who dropped banana Laffy Taffy into my peanut butter? Artificial, candy-ish banana taste is not a winner, but the granola gave this one a decent crunch.
"Cinnamon Raisin: "Best of the bunch. This fruity and spicy peanut butter just about begs to be slathered on some fresh toast. I'd buy this one."

Taster No. 6: "Cinnamon Raisin: Best of the combos; cinnamon seems a natural fit with peanut butter.
"Berry Nut: Liked the cranberries, but probably wouldn't buy this one.
"Banana Granola: This is so wrong. The dried banana had a phony, chemical taste."

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