Healthy Cookie with Credible Goodness

Newtons Fruit Thins

Newtons Fruit Thins

I Paid: $3.79 for a 10.5-ounce box of cookies (prices may vary by region)

Taste: 4 stars

Marketing: 4 stars

Anticipating a trend of leaner, healthier indulgences—or what certainly should be a trend, given America's penchant for both sweets and overeating—Nabisco has released a new line of whole-grain cookies capitalizing on the longstanding and generally-believed-to-be-healthy Fig Newtons brand name. The concept: thin, crunchy, relatively lean cookies (three are a mere 140 calories) that derive much of their flavor and at least some of their sweetness from natural sources such as honey, figs, or berries.

While they're not sold as such, Fruit Thins are not so much American cookies as European-style tea biscuits ... which is to say almost like sweet crackers. Two of the three flavors I tried worked beautifully. In the Blueberry Brown Sugar variety, the blueberries had a bit of chew to them, and the brown sugar/berry pairing was pleasantly reminiscent of blueberry pie. If Nabisco had decided to call these Blueberry Pie Cookies, I wouldn't have objected.

The Fig and Honey cookies tasted like graham crackers that had met up with iced animal cookies (despite the lack of icing). The fig and honey flavors were both present (the fig bits lending a welcome touch of chew to the otherwise crunchy cookies) and as was true with all of the Fruit Thins I tried, the overall package was sweet but not overly, and (like the blueberry variety) these cookies paired beautifully with both tea and coffee.

The Chocolate Raspberry cookies made a bit less sense, but this comes from someone who has always found the flavor of cocoa best unsullied by anything else (except maybe for mint).

Overall, the relative austerity is the key to the success of Fruit Thins; they're sufficiently restrained that you can, in fact, have three cookies, be satisfied, and move on with your day. Contrast this with the black-hole-strength attraction exhibited by a bag of Mint Milanos, and it's easier to conclude that Fruit Thins will not make you hate yourself at the end of an encounter.

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.