Junk-food judges

The Best of the Bad
By JULIA RAPPAPORT  |  December 31, 2008

090102_snacks_main
The Internet can help you answer any question these days. So it was only a matter of time before a Web site emerged chock full of answers to the age-old snacking dilemma: which junk foods are worthy and which are, well, just junky? Enter secondratesnacks.com, a blog from Framingham staffing-firm exec Michelle McElroy and her Web-savvy husband, Ethan.

McElroy eats between meals so you don't have to. She also holds munch-offs between Twinkies and Gold 'n' Cremes (close call, but Twinkies take the cake), Cheez Doodles and Cheetos Puffs (the Doodles won, but a rematch with Jax is upcoming), Tab and Diet Pepsi (Tab, obviously) and posts the results.

Turns out, people need the information. On a busy day, the blog logs 6000 unique visitors. Readers from Australia to Maine have sent packages with their favorite or hard-to-find snacks. McElroy also lets readers cast their own votes after she posts her research results.

McElroy launched the site in August, after a poolside snack attack landed her in front of a vending machine. On the hunt for Animal Crackers, she was perplexed to find Animal Snackers instead. The rip-off caused her to think — what if the Snackers were actually better than the Crackers? Thus, a blog was born.

Her scheme is simple: any time she spots a new candy, chip, or other trans-fat laden goodie, she snags it and does a taste test with the help of a discerning panel (her husband, co-workers, family members, or other innocent bystanders). In the blog's early days, she hosted a dinner party with a menu of crackers and various assortments of cheese in a can, Cup of Noodles, frozen pizzas, and a Twinkie spread.

"By the end of the night," says McElroy, "it was just too much packaged food. My heart was racing and I felt really hot. I don't advise anyone to make an event out of it."

Another piece of advice: avoid a "drink" called Chelada. "Wrong in a can," is how McElroy describes it. More precisely, the can touts that it's beer plus Clamato (ahem, that's clam juice mixed with tomato juice). You'll find McElroy's view indexed under "Glad There's Only One Of" — products that have no peer with which to compete. Good riddance.

  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Culture and Lifestyle, Food and Cooking, Foods,  More more >
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