Wendyl Wants To Know: Grown-up Shapes sure to satisfy your man child
Roadies Peri Peri Chicken $3.99 for 220g
These snacks from the Arnott's Shapes range have been receiving a lot of television airplay lately with the "man-child" commercial where three men pose as children in the back of a car on a road trip. It's a great ad and unapologetically targets the man-child in every man. Across the Tasman, however, their ad features a car full of grown men taking the long way home by which time they have eaten all the snacks and have to face up to their angry girlfriends. I'm not sure what that says about Arnott's perception of the quintessential Kiwi male (man-child) versus the Australian male (malingerer). There is no doubting that these crackers are directly targeted at young males. They are a brand extension from Shapes which I have previously reviewed favourably in this column (no artificial flavour, colours or preservatives) which are primarily targeted at kids. The packaging of Roadies makes these suggestions for things to do while eating them. "At the beach, watching the game, backyard BBQ, not plan is the best plan, just roll with it." But the question I want answered is do Roadies have the same ingredients as Shapes?
Wheat flour This is ordinary flour as you would use in your baking.
Vegetable oil Shapes are "baked not fried" so rather than deep fry in hot oil as potato chips are, these would be sprayed with oil before baking. Not sure which oil they have used.
Potatoes This is an interesting addition as when I reviewed Shapes they didn't have this in them. Perhaps this is to make them less cracker and more chip to fit with masculine taste buds. As the third ingredient on the list there's quite a lot of potato in each cracker.
Starch (E1401) This is sodium alginate which is a gum obtained from seaweed. It can be used in products as a stabiliser, thickener or an emulsifier. Like potatoes this ingredient also isn't found in standard Shapes.
Salt You will get 204mg of sodium per 15 of these crackers which is the equivalent of 510mg of salt.
Yeast This is most probably in here as a raising agent or as a flavouring.
Sugar Tomato powder This forms a significant flavouring for Shapes and for these as well. It is part of the "Flavour you can see" TM which Arnotts have trademarked for these products. You can clearly see a red powder on top of each cracker.
Flavour enhancers (E621, E635) This is disappointing. When I reviewed Pizza Shapes there was no MSG in them, in fact no flavour enhancers like these. MSG is avoided by healthy eaters and it is accepted by the NZ Food Standards Authority that some people may experience symptoms such as burning sensations, numbness, chest pain, headache, nausea and asthma but it says that it is okay to have in food as long as it is labelled. They advise people who have symptoms to avoid it where possible. 635 stands for Disodium 5'-ribonucleotides. Eating large amounts of this ingredient can increase uric acid levels so people with gout or arthritis should consider this. However, in small amounts it is considered safe.
Food Acids (E262, E296, E330) The first food acid is sodium acetate which is a sodium salt of acetic acid, basically vinegar. The second is malic acid which occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables and contributes a very tart taste to food products. The third food acid is citric acid.
Onion powder This is dried onions crushed to a powder, most likely in here as a flavouring.
Garlic powder Dried garlic crushed to a powder, again most likely as a flavouring.
Vinegar I think this is most likely in here for flavour as these crackers are very tart but vinegar is also being increasingly used as a natural preservative in food products.
Yeast Extract This will be giving a meaty flavour to the crackers.
Spices (chilli, spice extract) These are called Peri-Peri Chicken and peri-peri is a type of chilli thus chilli as a spice. Not sure what the other spices are.
Chicken It's nice to see some real chicken in here contributing to the flavour instead of a mix of chemicals which are so often found in chicken flavoured products.
Flavour (contains milk, wheat) Unlike the Pizza Shapes these appear to have some artificial flavour in them. There are no claims on the packaging that these crackers contain "no artificial flavouring" and there are no natural flavours listed here.
Powdered lemon You can taste the lemon in these crackers which will be a sprinkling of dried and then powdered lemon.
Emulsifiers (E471, E322 from soy) The first emulsifier is mono- and di- glycerides of fatty acids and the second is lecithin which is a very natural and common emulsifier, in this case taken from soybeans.
Soy sauce powder (contains soy and wheat) This is soy sauce reduced to a powder, probably so it can be sprinkled on top of the cracker. Colour (paprika extract) Nice to see paprika used here as a natural orange/red colour.
Raising Agent (E450) This is a mineral salt, potassium pyrophosphate, which has low toxicity.
Antioxidants (E306 from soy, E304) This is tocopherol concentrate which is Vitamin E taken from soybean oil and ascorbyl palmitate which is basically vitamin C. Both will be in here as preservatives.
These are one of the few foods I have reviewed for this column which tasted so good I had to remove them from my desk in order to finish the column and not consume the whole packet. But, it's not all good news. Unlike Shapes these contain artificial flavours and an extra seven ingredients. They also contain MSG. Compared to Shapes these Roadies have less kilojoules per 25g serve (464 versus 535) but nearly 1g more fat. They also contain potatoes which Shapes don't. If you're feeding kids go for the Shapes. If you have a man-child in the house he should be old enough to make up his own mind.