Universal Press Syndicate
Popsicle Ice Cream Shots. Cookie Dough, and Cookies 'N Cream. $4.09 per 13-ounce to 14-ounce container.

Bonnie: We first reviewed a beaded frozen novelty for this column (Micropops, also by Popsicle) back in 1999. Almost a decade later, I still can't understand why anyone would want to eat any frozen so-called treat in this form.

The texture of these new ice cream, cookie and candy treats is odd rather than pleasurable — as opposed to regular, non-premium low-fat ice cream, whose nutritionals these resemble. That's with 110 to 130 calories, 3 to 4.5 grams of fat (of which none is saturated in the Cookie Dough and 2.5 grams of saturated fat in the Cookies 'N Cream) and 12 to 14 grams of sugar per serving. Melting helps, but not enough to recommend these.

Carolyn: I can tell you why people would want to try these Ice Cream Shots, Bonnie. It's because they think they're going to be like Dippin' Dots, those cryogenically frozen ice cream beads sold in malls. Although these Popsicle Shots and Dippin' Dots are both tiny balls, Dippin' Dots are much richer-tasting. That's partly a function of Dippin' Dots' low-temperature freezing technique and Popsicle Shots' use of anemic "light" ice cream. The Cookie Dough flavor is better only because it contains more non-ice cream ingredients than the Cookies 'N Cream (i.e., chocolate chips and cookie dough instead of just cookie pieces).

Parents and neatniks should beware of all these beaded ice cream products: Whether you're just trying to separate the beads to scoop them into a dish or get them into your mouth, they spill, roll and melt. In short, they are a real mess.

Miss Vickie's All-Natural Snacks. Simply Sea Salt, Hand Picked Jalapeno, Country Onion With 3 Cheeses, and Creamy Buttermilk Ranch Kettle Chips; Nine Grain Chips; and Salty Sweet Kettle Corn. $2.49 for a 5-ounce to 6-ounce package.

Bonnie: Miss Vickie's was a small company based in New Lowell, Ontario, Canada, that cooked sliced potatoes in small batches to produce crunchy potato chips. Frito-Lay recently purchased Miss Vickie's and is sticking to that brand's tradition of clean ingredients — meaning it contains no unpronounceable or artificial ingredients. I like that and especially like the Simply Sea Salt and the Nine Grain varieties.

The Simply Sea Salt contains 150 calories, 8 grams of fat (of which 1 is saturated), 1 gram of fiber and only 110 milligrams of sodium, or similar to Kettle Chips' Lightly Salted and Madhouse Munchies' All American Sea Salted. The Nine Grain Chips are more nutritious, as they are made from corn, wheat, triticale, oats, barley, sunflower seeds, millet, buckwheat, flax seeds and brown rice. They also taste delicious. One serving contains 140 calories, 7 grams of fat (of which 1 is saturated), 2 grams of fiber and 115 milligrams of sodium.

Wise purchase, Frito-Lay!

Carolyn: Are they stale or are they kettle chips? You may guess from this question I always ask myself upon trying a new kettle chip brand that I'm not a big fan. Still, I found a number of things to like in Frito-Lay's big-company takeover of little company Miss Vickie's.

One was the Jalapeno flavor, which manages to live up to that pepper's hotness without being an endurance test or obscuring the potato taste.

The Salty Sweet Kettle Corn is also exceptional, with its crispy crust and fluffy inside popcorn both seeming surprisingly fresh (especially compared to Cracker Jack, which Frito-Lay also now makes, much less successfully). And this is from someone who doesn't even like microwave kettle corn.

The Nine Grain is health food, plain and simple, and would be edible only with an unhealthy dip. The rest of the flavors are no better (or much different) than competitive brands.

Capri Sun Juice Drinks With 25 Percent Less Sugar. Coastal Cooler, Fruit Punch, Grape, Lemonade, Mountain Cooler, Orange, Pacific Cooler, Red Berry, Splash Cooler, Strawberry, Strawberry Kiwi, Surfer Cooler, Tropical Punch, and Wild Cherry. $2.99 per 67.5-ounce box containing 10 pouches.

Bonnie: The good news is that Capri Sun Juice Drinks now contain 25 percent less sugar. The even better news is that Kraft did not replace this missing sugar with artificial sweeteners, as so many other drinkmakers have done. These also do not contain artificial colors or flavors, preservatives, or high-fructose corn syrup.

The bad news is that they still contain too much sugar. On occasion they're fine: Just don't make these a regular replacement for water, milk or 100 percent juice.

Carolyn: Capri Sun boxes boast that these drinks now contain "25 Percent Less Sugar." They could just as easily and accurately have said, "Now more watery-tasting than ever!" This is probably a good thing, as it trains the young palates that mostly drink these to be satisfied with less sweetness. But I'm afraid this adult palate is beyond retraining. That's why I prefer Capri Sun's more flavorful 100 Percent Juice and reduced-calorie, partly artificially sweetened Roarin' Waters.

Bonnie Tandy Leblang is a registered dietitian and professional speaker. Carolyn Wyman is a junk-food fanatic and author of "Better Than Homemade: Amazing Foods That Changed the Way We Eat" (Quirk). Each week they critique three new food items. For previous columns, visit www.supermarketsampler.com, and for more food info and chances to win free products, visit www.biteofthebest.com. © Universal Press Syndicate