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The Cheez-Its Challenge

I Ate Oklahoma is brought to you in part by:

Before you start reading, you should be warned that I DO NOT have a sophisticated palate. I don’t know fancy cooking words, like Greg. I approach meals in a very utilitarian sense. If I’m hungry and it’s around, I’ll probably shovel it in my gullet. Which should be apparent when Greg, Brian and I tried everything on the Taco Bell menu.

I work two jobs (because insulin isn’t free!) and by the time I get to my office in Norman, most of the time I don’t feel like leaving just to get fast food. My lunches usually consist of snacks — nothing substantial — peanuts or almonds, sometimes cheese and crackers. I should certainly bring my own lunch, but that would require forethought and planning. So I pitched my idea of eating Cheez-Its for a week as my lunch to Greg and this is the story.

If we are being completely honest, I was probably going to do this anyway, so I might as well document the journey.

Monday

1 p.m.

I decided to start with the Cheez-It Grooves “Original Cheddar” flavor. The box says that Grooves are the, “Best of Cheez-it and a chip in one.” And they’re not wrong. They are thinner than a typical Cheez-it, but also more powdery. They are like Cheetos in the sense that you’ll need to wipe your hands before using technology — something my kids haven’t figured out yet, which is why every screen in our home has some sort of food smudge on it.

The cheddar Grooves are good. When I started eating them, I got the sense that this was the Sunshine Company’s version of SunChip’s Harvest Cheddar. I think the texture is similar, but after some chewing the Grooves’ taste more like Cheez-Its.

2:18 p.m. I’ve eaten half of the box. They go pretty quick. Looking at the Nutrition Facts on the side of the box, they seem to think a serving size is 18 crackers. It also says there are “about 9 servings per container.” But this feels like more than 162 crackers. I think I’m going to count the chips in one of these boxes this week.

3 p.m. I’ve only got a few crackers left. I’m full, but feel empty. I need something with protein. These are great snacks, probably shouldn’t have signed up to take down a box a day, but whatever. The Original Cheddar’s are good. They will remind you of the original cracker, but with cool and hip new textures. This ain’t your grandmother’s Cheez-It!

Tuesday

10:30 a.m. Got started a little early on the crackers today. I went with the Cheesy Taco flavor. And you wanna know what? They’re pretty good!

When eating them, I wouldn’t say, “This tastes like a taco,” but later, when you burp, it will.

If it were a taco, I would assume it was mostly cheese and a shell. It’s been awhile since I had beef flavored ramen, but it feels like that’s what been sprinkled on the Cheez-Its along with the Original Cheddar dust. And how amazing is it that we, as a civilization, have figured out how to take flavors and turn them into powders to be sprinkled on foodstuffs!

I’m realizing that these are bad replacements for a lunch. They put something in your tummy to shut it up, but the stomach is not easily fooled. I’m hungry again at noon. I finish the box.

This box was easier to finish than yesterday’s. I didn’t get as bored with the Cheesy Taco flavor as I did with Original Cheddar. If you’re going to binge Netflix, this seems like a great companion.

Wednesday

1 p.m.

I was able to hold-off the hunger pangs by eating some peanuts I found in the breakroom. Once a year a client from Tennessee sends our company a big box of peanuts. It usually takes me about six months to snack them into submission. Plus, a 2-foot by 2-foot box a peanuts makes for a good sight gag when we have people visit. I point to the box of peanuts and say, “Oh, I left my paycheck just sitting here.” Or some variation of “making” peanuts, depending on the tone in the room. Anycrap...

Move over Cheesy Taco flavor, there’s a new kid in town! The Zesty Cheddar Ranch are my favorite thus far. They are the Cool Ranch take, I assume. While I wasn’t really looking forward to eating another box of Cheez-Its, once I got started I didn’t mind. While I’m munching on the Grooves, I read the nutrition facts and realize that one box has my daily recommended limit of sodium. It also contains 74% of the daily recommended amount of fat. I’m going to go to the gym tomorrow.

It should be noted that these don’t taste like Cheez-Its dipped in ranch dressing. And yesterdays didn’t taste like a taco. Which makes me wonder how big a role the power of suggestion plays in chip flavoring. I’m not sure I’ve ever had cheese that tasted like Cheetos, or Doritos, or Cheez-its, ya know? Sure, there is something “cheese-like” about the taste of these products, but I don’t think dairy-adjacent would hold up in a court of law. So, how to companies get away with saying their product is the “cheesiest”? I dunno, now that I know how much sodium is in these I think my brain is pickling.

These are good. Try them.

Thursday

2 p.m.

This was a bad idea. I’m hungry, but I don’t want to eat more Cheez-Its. I feel like I’m eating out of boredom. You know when you just go look in the fridge or pantry and nothing looks good, but you need to grab something? That’s where I’m at today. Ate some more peanuts earlier. They have protein, right? I think my body is saying I need something substantial to eat.

Maybe it’s this mindset I’m in, but I don’t like these. They taste a lot like the regular Cheddar ones, but they have a little kick. It should be noted that I don’t deal with spicy stuff well. I’ve eaten about a quarter of the box and am sweating. I’m not going to finish this box. So far, my least favorite of the Grooves.

Also, I didn’t go to the gym this morning. But tomorrow I will. And I will be fueled by mediocre Hot & Spicy Grooves.

I should say, if you enjoy spicy snacks, try these. I shouldn’t have included them in my experiment because I know I don’t like spicy stuff. But I didn’t think they’d be so spicy.

Friday

Noonish

I was in a mood yesterday. I shouldn’t have been so hard on the Hot & Spicy Cheddar’s. They are still my least favorite, but weren’t that bad. Today I’m having the Sharp White Cheddar. They are really good. Trying to figure out if I like them more than the Ranch ones.

After half a box, I think it’s a toss-up.

So, I think I’m going to give the nod to the Ranch Grooves. The Sharp White Cheddars are great. I’m not entirely sure what white cheddar is supposed to taste like, but these are light and make for a great snack. The Original Cheddars don’t offer much of a surprise in terms of new Cheez-It taste, and taste like regular Cheez-Its. I’m pretty sure I’ve never had the White Cheddar variation in regular Cheez-It Form.

Thoughts

If you don’t want to leave your office for work, consider bringing a lunch or something to pop in the microwave that is officemate friendly. The Grooves are great snacks, but horrible meal replacements. If I were to rank my favorites, here’s how I’d rank them:

1. Ranch

2. White Cheddar

3. Taco Flavor

4. Original Cheddar

5. Hot & Spicy.

Also, I never counted the chips in a box to see what the number was per package.

Also, also, don’t eat Cheez-Its for lunch for a week. I’m not sure if it’s the sodium or the cheese powder, but it’ll make you wonder what you’re doing with your life. Maybe that’s a side-effect of Cheez-Its or maybe it’s just my general melancholia… but I wouldn’t recommend it.

[Editor's note: Spencer will return with a new ridiculous food challenge soon, finally answering the question: Are Lunchables also Breakfastable and Dinnerable?]

About the Author

Spencer is a stand-up comedian from Shawnee, Oklahoma. He lives in OKC with his wife and (soon to be) 3 kids. He likes to enjoy food, but mostly eats it hurridly over the kitchen sink. He has opened for Dave Chappelle, Paul F. Tompkins, Kyle Kinane and many more, but still doesn't have the respect of his father.

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