Photo: Kate Bernot

For a snack combination to succeed, the whole must be greater than the sum of the parts. Take Chex Mix, my favorite of all snack mixes: It is vastly more appealing than eating just Chex, or just pretzels, or just rye chips. (If you just eat those little breadstick bits, I have no words for you.)

So with its two new flavors of Cheez-It Duoz—Caramel Popcorn and Cheddar; and Cheddar Jack and Sharp Cheddar Pretzel—the cracker maker faces a daunting mandate: create a combination more delicious than solo Cheez-Its.


Caramel Popcorn and Cheddar Duoz

Photo: Kate Bernot

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I dove first into Caramel Popcorn and Cheddar, a mash-up that Cheez-It acknowledges is inspired by a certain Chicago popcorn blend. Sweet-and-salty is my jam, friends, so I had high hopes.

The cheddar crackers had a familiar dusty cheese taste that tickled a flavor memory buried deep in my cortex: Ritz Bits cheese sandwiches. The cheddar Cheez-Its themselves were tasty enough, but the popcorn wasn’t a replica of the Garrett mix I used to gorge on when I lived in Chicago. It was softer, less sweet, and didn’t seem to be in the right proportion to the cheese crackers.

The mix needed more popcorn, I thought, as I turned up handfuls of cheese crackers. This could be due to the size differential between the popcorn and Cheez-Its; the former seemed to sift toward the bottom of the mix, making it tough to get the right proportion of both in one handful. Overall, the cheddar-caramel components seemed disparate and needed something to tie the room together.

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Grade: C+


Cheddar Jack and Sharp Cheddar Pretzel Duoz

Photo: Kate Bernot

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Next came the Cheddar Jack and Pretzel flavor, which surprised me by being the vastly tastier option. Here, the Cheez-It and pretzel combo actually becomes integrated as the cheddar jack dust coats the pretzels. And because the pretzels and crackers are the same size, there was a good ratio of them as I crammed each fistful into my face hole. The Cheddar Jack flavoring itself is deliciously piquant, not overly salty, sort of like a cheese rind and Doritos’ spice mashup. The pretzels perhaps do not add much in terms of flavor, but their crunchy thickness is a welcome contrast to the softer, thinner crackers.

Are they better than Cheez-Its alone? This depends on how much you already love Cheez-Its, which for me, is quite a bit. If you’re going to give either of these new Duoz a whirl, make it the Cheddar Jack and Pretzel ones, and get your caramel-cheddar fix with a bag from Garrett.

Grade: B

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