How Do 'Healthy' Versions of Snacks Compare to the Originals?

In a blind taste test, Family Circle staffers sampled your favorite salty, crunchy snacks next to their healthier counterparts and tried to guess which was which. Not all of them were easy to tell apart, and you may be surprised by which ones our testers liked better.


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Crackers: Wheat Thins Original v. 25% Reduced Fat

Wheat Thins Original and 25% Reduced Fat

Photo courtesy of Wheat Thins

Photo courtesy of Wheat Thins

Could we tell the difference?
Could we tell the difference? Nope. This was a tough one! Only about half of our taste-testers figured out which version was healthier.

Did we care?
Not really. Opinions were pretty divided on which one tasted better, with 18% saying they couldn’t decide between the two.


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Crackers: Keebler Club Original v. 33% Reduced Fat

Keebler Club Original and 33% Reduced Fat

Photo courtesy of Keebler

Photo courtesy of Keebler

Could we tell the difference?
Yup—100% of testers correctly identified the healthier version.

Did we care?
Nope. Just over half of testers (56%) actually preferred the reduced fat option over the original. Several commented that they enjoyed the lighter, crispier texture. Still, there were quite a few holdouts who craved the original, with one saying it’s “more buttery and melts in your mouth.”


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Triscuit Original v. 25% Reduced Fat

Triscuit Original and 25% Reduced Fat

Photos courtesy of Triscuit

Photos courtesy of Triscuit

Could we tell the difference?
Definitely. Every single tester could tell which version was healthier.

Did we care?
You bet. A whopping 92% chose the original as their fave. Why? Salt! Ten out of twelve fans of the original pointed out that it tasted way saltier—a good thing according to their taste buds.


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Chips: Cape Cod Original v. 40% Reduced Fat

Cape Cod Original & 40% Reduced Fat

Photos courtesy of Cape Cod

Photos courtesy of Cape Cod

Could we tell the difference?
Yes. Everyone easily identified the reduced-fat formula of this classic kettle-cooked chip. The giveaway? Less grease.

Did we care?
It appears so. That grease is why chips are such a favorite snack—smileys, hearts and exclamation points abounded in the comments and about three-quarters of testers preferred the original over the healthier option.


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Chips: Lay’s Barbecue Original v. 50% Less Sodium

Lay’s Barbecue Original v. 50% Less Sodium

Photo courtesy of Lay's

Photo courtesy of Lay's

Could we tell the difference?
Yes. About three-quarters of testers figured out which chips were which.

Did we care?
Kind of—75% also chose the original as their fave. It came down to a preference for sugar or salt, with most testers noting the one with less sodium tasted sweeter. One person also described the original as “richer, spicier and tastier.”


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Chips: Pringles Original v. 50% Less Sodium

Pringles Original v. 50% Less Sodium

Photos courtesy of Pringles

Photos courtesy of Pringles

Could we tell the difference?
Absolutely. Nearly everyone—92% of testers—picked out the version with less sodium.

Did we care?
Yup. We told people to identify the healthier option and didn’t direct them to taste for sodium specifically, but folks love salt—83% chose the original chips as their top pick and most pointed out the salt difference. One tester noted the original as “more salty and melt-in-your-mouthy” while another said the reduced sodium option “is just not as salty and delicious.”


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Chips: Cape Cod Waves Original v. 40% Reduced Fat

Cape Cod Waves Original v. 40% Reduced Fat

Photos courtesy of Cape Cod

Photos courtesy of Cape Cod

Could we tell the difference?
Unquestionably. All of our testers were able to tell which option was healthier.

Did we care?
Yes. Almost everyone (92%) said they preferred the original, but several people admitted it was close. When explaining why, one said “More salt! (Although tasted very much alike)” and another wrote “More salty, but very similar!” Perhaps the reduced fat translates to less flavor and people associate flavor with salt because both versions have 115mg of sodium per one ounce of chips.


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Microwave Popcorn: Pop Secret Butter Original v. 94% Reduced Fat

Pop Secret Butter Original v. 94% Reduced Fat

Photos courtesy of Pop Secret

Photos courtesy of Pop Secret

Could we tell the difference?
Not quite. The voters were split on this one! About 55% of testers were able to identify the reduced fat popcorn.

Did we care?
It doesn’t look like it … drumroll … the same percentage chose it as their fave! Only 36% chose the original; 9% couldn’t decide. The big determining factor seemed to be texture. Several testers commented that the original version was soggy while the reduced fat one was drier and had more of a “snap.”


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Microwave Popcorn: Act II Butter Original v. 94% Reduced Fat

Act II Butter Original v. 94% Reduced Fat

Photos courtesy of Act II

Photos courtesy of Act II

Could we tell the difference?
Pretty much. Nearly two-thirds of testers figured out which option was the healthier one.

Did we care?
Not at all—almost half (45%) couldn’t pick a favorite. Several noted that the original seemed more buttery, but the difference wasn’t big and people didn’t seem to mind the lack of butter taste this time around. Only 27% selected the original as their top choice and 18% picked the reduced fat one.


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Microwave Popcorn: Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn Butter Original v. 94% Reduced Fat

Orville Redenbacher’s Gourmet Popping Corn Butter Original v. 94% Reduced Fat

Photo courtesy of Orville Redenbacher

Photo courtesy of Orville Redenbacher

Could we tell the difference?
Yeah. Almost everyone correctly picked the healthier popcorn in this round.

Did we care?
Not so much. When it came to picking a favorite, it all came down to personal preference on butter—22% preferred the reduced fat option. Some testers left love notes about the butter in the original version complete with exclamation points and little hearts, some lovingly compared the original version to movie theater popcorn and still others claimed the original option had too much of a “fake butter” taste. To each his own!


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Popcorn: Smartfood Original v. 50% Reduced Fat

Smartfood Original v. 50% Reduced Fat

Photo courtesy of Smartfood

Photo courtesy of Smartfood

Could we tell the difference?
Definitely. A full 100% of testers correctly identified the healthier option here.

Did we care?
Yup—85% chose the original as their fave. Because … cheese! The original had “more cheesy deliciousness” and “more queso flavor” according to our staffers. Lots of smileys and exclamation points abounded in the cheesy comments as well.


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Microwave Popcorn: Newman’s Own Butter Original v. 55% Reduced Fat

Newman’s Own Butter Original v. 55% Reduced Fat

Photos courtesy of Newman's Own

Photos courtesy of Newman's Own

Could we tell the difference?
Yes, every single tester guessed the correct option as healthier

Did we care?
Not really. Interestingly, only 60% said they liked the original better. However, 40% couldn’t decide on their favorite and no one outright picked the reduced fat option. One staffer commented “Both are good!” another said “I like both!” and a third wrote “Darn similar.” Meanwhile, one person explained the original had a “more buttery flavor, but barely noticeable.”