Remember that old childhood favorite, Animal Crackers? Cute, crispy and cravable, a top choice for kids far and wide… Or so the producers would like to think. Sure, they’ve been around long enough to be considered a “classic,” (Over 100 years, in fact) but lets be honest here – They’re seriously lacking in every aspect they try to emphasize. Every time I picked up a bag out of my school cafeteria, I always regretted it before I could slog through the first disappointing handful. Bland and soggy as wet construction paper, the number of cookies in the trash would far outweigh the cookies that made it into my stomach. Most of the remaining lunch period would be spent puzzling over what sort of creatures these companies were trying to replicate, as I couldn’t tag a distinct species if my life depended on it. Not a single advertising gimmick withstanding, gullible kids like myself periodically repeated this optimistic tasting only to inevitably find themselves hungry and without lunch money. Ah, youthful naivety!
Thus, I tend to be wary of remotely similar products, but after avoiding them for so many years now, the time finally came that I was presented with just such a snack and … To tell the truth, I had a feeling that this experience was bound to be vastly different from the start. Instead of featuring unidentifiable creatures created from various animal products, fillers, and everyone’s favorite, high fructose corn syrup, these feature environment themes in both shape and composition. Justifiably called Eco-Planet Cookies, it was easy to see that these would be wholly different from your standard animal cracker.
Made of all organic, wholesome ingredients, this alone gives them an edge on the competition. I have to admit, I’m quite taken with the cute little shapes, too; Each tiny windmill, smiling sun, hybrid car, and Earth all serve as reminders of renewable energy and a healthier lifestyle. Who wouldn’t feel good about giving that to their kids in the first place? Not just talking the talk but also walking the walk, Heaven Scent actually donates some of the proceeds to like-minded environmental groups. Additionally, the line of products even has a much more diverse profile, moving into the realm of savory snacks as well. I hoped that I wasn’t falling into yet another clever marketing ploy, but these actually seemed to have great potential.
It was as good a time as ever to take the bull by the horns, so I went for the Vanilla Cookies first, figuring that they should be proof that either they were superior to animal crackers, or that it was simply impossible to make edible snacks in such a format.
Giving the open box a good shake onto my waiting napkin, I was greeted by the numerous cheerful faces of winking suns looking up at me. Immediately taken in by the cute-factor, my doubts were quickly dissipating. Pale and unassuming, there was no reason to fear a repeat episode of my childhood disappointments, so I set aside any remaining uncertainty and wolfed down a cookie in one crunchy mouthful. Sweetly flavored with a good balance of sugar and vanilla, they were quite pleasant indeed. No single aspect overwhelmed the cookie on a whole, and they worked together harmoniously to create one simple, crunchy biscuit. Certainly nothing mind-blowing or revolutionary, but hey, they nailed this one 100 times better than the original, and that’s really saying something.
Progressing on to their second sweet offering, I poured out a generous helping of darker colored cookies going by the title of Oatmeal. I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this one, since all oatmeal cookies I’m accustomed to have visible oats to show for their composition, but these were simply crunchy biscuits just like the previous cookie. Tasting them revealed a flavor similar to graham crackers, which turned out to be a very pleasant surprise indeed. Faint notes of vanilla lingered at the back of my throat as I began craving another bite, proving them to be a very easily addictive. Since graham crackers without honey are more difficult to find than you might think, these certainly are an excellent alternative for vegans.
Taking a dive into unknown waters now, the box of savory Pretzel Crackers was calling my name, playing on my curiosity until I could take it no longer. I was expecting to find hard pretzels like the more flattened twists, so I was pleasantly surprised yet again to take my first crunchy bite and discover that these were actually much lighter and flakey than regular pretzels. Sprinkled with large, enticing granules of salt and lightly toasted to varying shades of golden brown, each boasted an almost buttery flavor that I simply couldn’t get enough of. Although it sounds so basic, the combination of each of these elements really makes them into something special – I can definitely attest to that, because these particular crackers disappeared from my pantry faster than any of the other varieties!
While a cheddar-flavored cracker might naturally be the next addition to any average snack producer looking to expand their line of wares, this particular move is a surprise to me, as these offered by Eco-Planet are actually Dairy-Free Cheddar. Still weary of fake vegan cheese in general, I wasn’t sure what I was in for as the fluorescent orange tibits tumbled out of the box, producing a pungent cheesy aroma. All signs pointed in a good direction, as they really did smell very much like cheddar! Passing their first test, they warranted further investigation so I quickly popped the nearest miniature windmill into my mouth. Immediately I was struck by how similar they tasted to the other real cheese-flavored crackers on the market – They even stick in your teeth a bit like the real ones, too. A nice hit of salt rounded out the flavor quite nicely, and I soon found that the buttery, crisp munchies really started to grow on me. The more I ate, the more I liked them!
In sum, these are perhaps the perfect fast snack for kids – Fun shapes in relatively mild but agreeable flavors, with very little potential for mess that parents will need to clean up later. It’s a win / win situation, and even the planet can benefit from this environmentally considerate choice!
[Written for Go Dairy Free]