Universal Press Syndicate
Campbell's V8 Soup. Golden Butternut Squash, Garden Broccoli, Tomato Herb, Southwestern Corn, and Sweet Red Pepper. $2.99 per 18.3-ounce box.

Bonnie: I'm not surprised that these soups are tasty. They're from Campbell's, the king of the soup aisle! And with the V8 name, you know you'll be getting some veggies.

Like Campbell's sister Select Gold Label soups, these new V8 ones are packed in aseptic packages, although the labels are green, implying they're good for you. For the most part they are: Each contains a full serving of veggies per serving and is chock-full of all the naturally occurring vegetable anti-oxidant vitamins, plus 2 to 4 grams of fiber. They're also low in fat (1.5 to 3 grams) and saturated fat (0.5 to 1 gram).

The only nutritional disappointment is the amount of sodium, a tad too high at 590 to 750 milligrams. I would have thought Campbell's would have kept these to the 480-milligram threshold it has been aiming for with its other soups.

I like the thick, pureed texture and flavor of all, though they were all even better with a splash of hot sauce. In fact, one recent evening, I started dinner guests with the Southwestern Corn soup, topped with some fresh-off-the-cob grilled corn, a dollop of creme fresh, and a sprinkling of smoked paprika and cayenne to widespread praise.

Carolyn: I understand why Bonnie chose V8's spicy Southwestern Corn variety to serve to her guests. It's the best of these new V8 soups by far. In fact, it's the only one I'd buy again. The Sweet Red Pepper is almost as tomatoey as the Tomato Herb (which is too ordinary), and the Garden Broccoli had some weird spice I didn't like. The Golden Butternut Squash is almost flavorless (which is both a shame and a mystery, considering how many wonderful pureed butternut soup recipes are out there).

In sum, all of these are surprisingly filling for so few calories, but only the Southwestern Corn is really delicious.

Eskimo Pie Snack Size Ice Cream Bars. Vanilla and Chocolate, and Butterfinger Crisp and Nestle Crunch Crisp. $3.99 per 19.8-ounce box containing 12 bars.

Bonnie: Unfortunately for the folks at Eskimo Pie, I tried this new ice cream the same day as some new ice cream bars from Haagen-Dazs. Obviously, the premium ice cream from Haagen-Dazs tasted better. And, ounce for ounce, you save only 20 calories (roughly) and 2 grams of fat by eating one of these Eskimo Pies instead of a Haagen-Dazs Snack Size bar. That's not enough for me to reach for an Eskimo Pie.

If you're not as fussy about the quality of your ice cream, these Eskimo Pie bars are slightly better nutritionally than the other, containing 115 to 125 calories and 8 to 8.5 grams of total fat, of which 5 to 5.5 grams are saturated. The Vanilla and Chocolate bars taste better than the candy bar ones.

Carolyn: Food manufacturers generally put multiple brand names on a product to make it more appealing. But sometimes, like with these new Eskimo Pie Butterfinger Crisp and Nestle Crunch Crisp ice cream bars, the names only make things more confusing. So what is an Eskimo Pie Butterfinger Crisp or Nestle Crunch Crisp ice cream bar? As it turns out, a mini ice cream bar studded with toffee or rice pieces that features a surprisingly crisp wafer layer. In other words, much better than you might imagine.

The Vanilla and Chocolate ones are much more ordinary, with a milk chocolate layer that is not as good as the original Eskimo Pie.

Teddy Grahams Trail Mix. Bears & Bees, and Bears & Cheese Crackers. $2.99 per 8-ounce box.

Bonnie: Trail mix originally meant a nutritious snack mixture of dried fruit and nuts. Over the years it's morphed into a snack that also contains breakfast cereals, pretzels, chocolate (chips or M&M's) and even shredded coconut. So what's the harm in adding the relatively low-sugar Teddy Grahams to this to create a trail mix for kids?

No harm at all, if Nabisco had just added the Teddy Grahams to nutritious nuts and dried fruits. But these new trail mixes contain no nuts and so few raisins (plain or yogurt-covered) that I needed to dump out the box to find them.

Teddy Grahams Trail Mix is not bad compared to a candy bar or cookies. But these varieties are nowhere near as nutritious or as satiating as true trail mix.

Carolyn: Bonnie complains that these Teddy Grahams Trail Mixes don't meet her expectations for trail mix. I agree. But if that were their only problem, it could be easily solved by calling this "cookie mix." (I don't remember anyone complaining when Chex created cereal snack mix, for instance.)

Unfortunately, there's another big problem here. Namely, that these aren't enough of a mix of any kind, with little contrast in tastes or textures. The Bears & Bees, for instance, is mainly sweet and is made up of mainly mini cookies. The Bears & Cheese Crackers mix has more salty things but is almost all a baked texture.

The result is something I'm not sure when you'd want to eat or, if you did, what you'd wash it down with (certainly not anything sweet).


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