The scenario: Whole Foods was closing in six minutes, and I had to Supermarket Sweep the joint. Somehow, in the flurry of frantically emptying of the aisles of their vegan wares, a box of Earth Balance Vegan Cheddar Squares landed in my shopping cart.
In case you aren’t tapped into the vegan hivemind of the internet, everyone has been abuzz about these little crispy, carby, salty wonders. And I get it (sort of): it’s like the good people at Earth Balance sit around and think about all of the junky comforts that they ate as kids (spoiler alert: processed cheese is usually involved), and now they have decided to veganize it.
So these crackers! They aren’t bad, but they don’t blow me away. To begin with, I am at least 80% sure that they taste nothing like Cheez-Its, cheddar, or anything that originated in a cow’s udder (although, of note, my staunchly omnivorous boyfriend reports that they taste “like Cheez-Its, but…better?”). That isn’t necessarily the worst thing: I think most delicious vegan eats stand on their own, and are better not compared to their animal-based counterparts. But that brings me to my next point: they’re sort of bland. I am a big fan of snacking (particularly at my desk, as I frantically attempt to perform twelve tasks simultaneously), and I am concerned that these crackers wouldn’t have what it takes to sate me during those midday eating-my-feelings binges. But I’m also, y’know, no longer a kindergartner who takes her cheesy crackers with a slug of apple drink, so my palate is probably not the intended audience for this particular product.
Nevertheless, all criticisms aside, neither I nor my dude half can stop popping these as we stream episode upon episode of Breaking Bad–there is definitely an addictive quality about them that is difficult to pinpoint.
The verdict: these are worth trying, especially if you have a child, or a childlike palate, or a childlike sense of wonder about the ever-expanding universe of vegan goods.