See, this feature used to be called “Beer of the Week.” Then spirits and soft drinks started appearing and it became “the drink of the week”. We’re already playing a little fast and loose with the rules, so if I want to review an entire snack brand, I’ll do it.
So instead of renaming this “Thing of the Week,” I’m just going to bend the definition of booze and claim a religious allowance for St. Patrick’s Day and/or March Madness. We all need to eat something to get us through 14 hours of basketball, right? Why not opt for the protein-dense “athlete-worthy nutrition” of Quest Protein Chips and other related products?
It’s a little odd to see “nutrition” slapped on a bag of cookies or peanut butter cups adjacent to Cheez-It, but the label suggests there’s value beyond quick satiety and the immediate embarrassment of destroying a bag whole Cool Ranch Doritos. There are 10 grams of protein in a serving of its cheese crackers, eight in the peanut butter cups and an impressive 18 to 20 (versus 140 to 150 calories) in the brand’s omelet lines. If nothing else, these snacks should do an efficient job of filling you up.
I am, full disclosure, a moderate protein guy. I’ve been turning to it more as I’ve gotten older, mostly because my workouts now hurt and getting older is like being stuck on the last few seasons of a beloved show and being forced to watch the top 10 episodes every time. you go to the gym I’m Nelly, sadly doing burpees and watching Prison Mike elucidate the dangers around him.
Mostly this involves dropping a scoop of protein powder into my morning coffee. I understand that’s probably not how you’re supposed to make any drink, but it gives me caffeine and tastes like birthday cake, so you can’t convince me it’s wrong. Anyway, this has brought me up to Quest, although I know them mostly from their protein bars, which I don’t really eat, but not the snacks they so kindly sent me for review.
Well, let’s see how they taste and if they can get you through the NCAA tournament.
The first bite tastes like a proper Cheez-It replacement. The difference comes in the density. Where Cheez-Its have little pockets of air between the layers that make them easier to split between your teeth, like a pretzel, Quest cookies are denser. The layers are more compressed, which you might not notice unless you’re a weirdo like me who breaks their cheese crackers in half and then splits them vertically between their jaws.
This density is not a problem. This hits all the crunchy cheese notes you’d expect from the Cheez-It-adjacent snack universe. This is not a formula you can really improve upon. Instead, Quest replicates the hits and does it well.
I’m a big fan, even if the whey used for the protein (about 19 grams in a 140-calorie pack) is very apparent in this cheesy taste. For a baked chip, there’s a strong crunchy texture that really feels like the fried predecessors that came before it.
It’s a good, crunchable chip that doesn’t have the texture problem that cheese crackers had. Again, I’m glad they’re pre-portioned, as I’d be extremely prone to whipping out half a family-sized bag around 4pm most days.
Whey is still in play, and while it made sense with the cheese on a taco, it’s less welcome here. The chips get better towards the end of the bag where the spice powder has settled, suggesting that the mix itself is pretty good, but not strong enough – the best part was tipping the bag towards up and slide the remaining crumbs into my mouth.
So yeah, my complaints aren’t enough to keep me from polishing off the whole bag, of course, but they *are* enough to make sure the Chili Lime stays in my cupboard long after the loaded Taco Bags have disappeared Not bad, just not great.
But the lightness of the flavor up front gives way to an aftertaste that leans too much towards that whey. It’s just a little off: Where a Dorito leaves you wanting more, the salt and spice fade away here and you’re left with the unmistakable impression that it’s a protein chip. It’s a bit like sour milk, although that’s extreme. It doesn’t ruin the chip, it just makes it a little harder to like.
That said, it’s great ahead of time and still a light and easy snack, especially considering the amount of protein (18 grams!) involved. I shot this at a normal lunch time and ate dinner without any significant food cravings, so it’s worth how it fills you up despite the low calorie count.
But as an alternative, they are very good. Chocolate, despite being a low sugar option, is creamy and rich. The peanut butter doesn’t have the sweetness of a Reese’s, but it’s smoother and less grainy than you’d get in a standard cup. And Quest does away with a second cup wrapper under the foil, which always felt excessive—a last resort to peel the chocolate off the cup and let you lick the wax paper like an animal.
Just me on the latter? Okay, just me.
The chocolate is a little harder to bite into than the alternative, but quickly melts into a sweet mass of goodness. Peanut butter is easy to separate from its shell, which is handy if you take your candy apart like a kid like I tend to do (KitKats and Twix are especially good for this). Either way, I’m happy with the result. It’s obviously not a health food, but it’s a bag of peanut butter cups that I can down in the middle of a stressful day and not feel completely awful.
All in all, Quest snacks are very good. The question is whether they’re worth the money, since a single-serving bag of protein snacks will set you back $2-$3 each round. That said, while you can tell there are additional proteins involved, it’s not tongue-in-cheek. These are mostly solid chips no matter how you look at it.
Is $40 a pound good? It’s probably too rich for my blood, but once in a while I can justify a post-workout splurge.