Special K Goes Beyond ’80s Cereal

Special K Cracker Chips

Special K Cracker Chips

I Paid: $4.69 for a 4-ounce box (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 4 stars

Marketing: 3 stars

If you think of Special K as just a cereal, get your mind out of the '80s and catch up on the current plan. The Cracker Chips represent just a fragment of the Special K diet brand's expansion in recent years: Starting with the eponymous cereal, the line has grown to include "craving curbing" cereal bars, protein shakes, and even protein water mixes, leveraging the cereal's lean-and-healthy image and position as a de facto diet staple. In total, the Special K website lists more than 40 products distributed among 9 categories. You can even surf the list by craving if you want, choosing from salty, chocolatey, fruity, or nutty.

In that respect, the Sea Salt and Sour Cream & Onion Cracker Chips that I sampled are just little bricks in a big ol' wall of mass-marketed diet food. At $4.69 a box, dieters pay for the luxury of clean, elegant packaging and the reassurance of the Special K brand name, and receive a fairly light (4-ounce, or 3.5-serving) box of baked chips in return.

The good news is that, from a flavor perspective, the chips work. Billed as "delicious snacks made with potatoes and brown rice," they taste like a rice cake/potato chip hybrid, with strong, natural potato flavor and a light puffed-rice crunch and aftertaste. Serving sizes are big (27 to 30 chips, a reasonably realistic number), and calorie counts are low: 110 calories per serving on both the Sea Salt and Sour Cream varieties.

While the actual salt content is mellow (230 milligrams per serving, or 10 percent of the daily recommended allowance) the flavor's there, and the crackers do have a pleasant, low-grade-addicting munchability going on. Whether they'll appease your personal salt demons is up to you, but they're a valiant attempt at the very least.

James Norton edits the Upper Midwestern food journal Heavy Table. He's also the coauthor of a book on Wisconsin's master cheesemakers. Follow CHOW on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.