Another Bad Attempt at a Diet Dessert

Smart Ones Mint Chocolate Chip Sundae

By: Weight Watchers

Suggested Retail Price: $1.79 for two 2.45-ounce cups

Taste: 1stars


Marketing: 2stars

It’s a cliché that the new year brings with it a desperate scramble to diet, but the stereotype has a core of cold, hard fact: The gluttony of the holidays takes a dramatic toll on physiques. Unfortunately, delicious and diet are two words that inevitably are at loggerheads. Few products demonstrate this better than the Smart Ones Mint Chocolate Chip Sundae. The box depicts a hulking sundae that threatens to blot out the night sky. The actual product—a pastiche of chocolate sauce, low-fat mint ice cream, and crumbled cookies—weighs 2.45 ounces and looks like a miserable little squashed version of the lovingly sculpted box-top model.

The dessert is only accessible by tearing off a strangely gooey plastic film. Once you’ve fought your way through the packaging, the reward is a trail of chocolate-looking paste painted across a pale, desiccated slab of mint chocolate chip ice cream mounted on a crumbly, gritty chocolate cookie crust.

As per usual with diet snack food, the chocolate barely registers as a flavor. It’s a particularly needless flaw: You can use high-quality cocoa powder to impart a fair amount of chocolate kick without adding a ton of calories. (The price would increase, but that might be a reasonable trade-off.)

The sundae’s main sensual expression, therefore, is the cold mint blast of the ice cream paired with the cookie crust. The mint is cranked up to a deafening roar (presumably to mask the other flavors) and lingers in your mouth for a solid 15 minutes. If the sundae’s goal is to suppress appetite, mission accomplished: I consumed about 75 of the thing’s 150 calories before giving up and rinsing out my mouth.

Organic Orchard Medley

By: Tropicana

Suggested Retail Price: $3.99 for a 2-quart box

Taste: 4stars


Marketing: 2stars

Decades ago, it was enough to make plain old orange juice, because orange juice (and, well, coffee) was all people knew or cared about when it came to breakfast. These days, however, the mass market’s demand for the perfect breakfast beverage has sparked a landslide of variants: “country style,” “some pulp,” calcium-enriched, fiber-loaded, etc.

Tropicana’s newest attempt is called Organic Orchard Medley, and it diverts entirely from the orange juice norm. In fact, it’s not even orange juice. The name sounds suspiciously like a way to class up an unsavory punch assembled from the assorted remnants of fruit juices left over at the end of a week’s production.

In fact, the stuff is actually pretty high-grade. It’s a USDA organic–certified blend of pear and apple juices. That’s fine and dandy, but academic; if it doesn’t taste good, nobody’s going to drink it for breakfast.

On that note, Organic Orchard Medley is surprisingly good. It addresses apple juice’s key weakness, namely that most adults can’t drink it without flashing back to kindergarten snack time. The pear juice fortifies its pedestrian cousin, lending a bit of tartness to the unidimensionality of apple. It does its job with subtlety, however, spurning the hammer intensity of something like cranberry juice. And because this blend lacks orange juice’s bracing morning citrus shock wave, the more demure flavor of Organic Orchard Medley has the potential to be drinkable all day long.

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.