When you think prestigious brands, what comes to mind? Surely Rolex will pop-up; perhaps you’re an Aston Martin or Bentley lover, and Dom Perignon champagne will always class up a soiree.
But when it comes to snack foods, one brand rises above all: Cheez-It, the number one name in baked snack products. The TCU Horned Frogs have been chosen by the powers that be to appear in the inaugural Cheez-It Bowl against Cal, and we would be remiss if we didn’t appreciate our title sponsor to the fullest.
So here’s a highly scientific ranking of all 23 Cheez-It flavors and varieties, with occasional notes from the brand’s official website. Disclaimer: I have tried about 75 percent of these at some point in my life. Does that stop me from ranking the other 25 percent? Reader: it does not — although I did put an asterisk by the ones I haven’t sampled, for accuracy’s sake.
*23. Cheez-It Grooves® Loaded Cheesy Taco
If you eat these, you are a child, and I have no sympathy for your nor any desire to meet you online or offline. The official description encourages customers to have a “snack fiesta” with this variety. I want anyone who eats these to take a “dirt siesta.”
*22. Sunshine® Cheez-It Duoz™ Caramel Popcorn and Cheddar
Let’s move past the wildly over-branded name of this variety (although, good lord, this has more symbols than the New York Stock Exchange). This is a prime example of doing way too much. Cheez-Its are good — there’s no need to add popcorn to the mix, especially caramel popcorn, which is never as tasty as it should be.
21. Cheez-It® Big
The best part about Cheez-Its are that you can eat 60 of them and not feel bad about it because they’re so small. These are just the big versions of the regular crackers, which make me feel like even more of a lazy glutton when I inevitably finish the whole box. The taste is fine — I’m just morally opposed to the whole idea of bigger-than-normal Cheez-Its.
*20. Cheez-It® Cheese Pizza
From the website: “New Cheese Pizza Cheez-It crackers are a zesty favorite while watching the big game!”
Strong disagree! Go get a DiGiorno’s and pop it in the oven for 20 minutes. You’ll be fine. Don’t do this to yourself.
19. Cheez-It® Snack Mix Double Cheese
Look. I love cheese. I don’t know who doesn’t love cheese. But there is a thing as too much cheese, and this is where that line is crossed. Everything is covered in a fine coat of cheese dust and tastes a bit artificial. A disappointing variety.
*18. Cheez-It® Star Wars
These are regular Cheez-Its with engravings of Star Wars characters on them. They lose points for the blatant, shameless money grab, which I will not tolerate.
*17. Cheez-It® Sweet and Salty Snack Mix
M&Ms are good. Cheez-Its are good. This doesn’t look good at all. If anyone would like to send me a free box to try them out, please send me a DM on twitter and my people will contact your people.
*16. Cheez-It® Scrabble Junior™
This gets docked for the blatant money grab, but it’s above Star Wars because Scrabble is the purest board game of them all. Your words vs. my words, let’s see what you’ve got. Like putting a lion and a polar bear in a cage and letting them fight it out. The best. I’m jacked up for a game of Scrabble right now.
What were we talking about again? Oh. Cheez-Its. Let’s move on.
15. Cheez-It Grooves® Original Cheddar
This is a good cracker! There are better varieties of it, but the grooves are nicely textured and adds something different of value. I would be fine eating this cracker.
14. Cheez-It® Pepper Jack
Pepper Jack is a substandard cheese. But it’s fine on a Cheez-It. And there’s a great “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” scene involving a character named Pepper Jack, so that earns this variety bonus points.
*13. Cheez-It® Grooves Zesty Cheddar Ranch
Some intern at the Cheez-It marketing department really loves the word “zesty,” because it pops up in several of the descriptions of these flavors. America’s love affair with ranch is strange, considering blue cheese is the superior unhealthy white dressing/dip. Ranch on chips always tastes weird, to me, but these are Grooves, which is a promising sign. If I saw these in the store, I would try them.
12. Cheez-It® Snack Mix
I know I said earlier that Cheez-It needs to stay in its lane, but this is a perfectly solid snack mix. It’s no Gardetto’s, by any means, but it will get the job done. I’ve definitely bought these at a gas station before on a road trip.
11. Cheez-It® Italian Four Cheese
I ate these a lot as a kid, and they’re fine, although they border on the line of “too much cheese.” The website also does not list what the four cheeses are, which is highly disturbing, if we’re being honest.
10. Cheez-It® Cheddar Jack
This is a very solid cracker, but it doesn’t do enough to differentiate itself from a normal Cheez-It. The flavor just isn’t distinct. Sort of a lackluster knockoff, like how the new version of “Cash Cab” in Las Vegas just isn’t as good as the original show. (Shoutout to Ben Bailey, by the way.)
*9&8. Cheez-It® Hot & Spicy Cheddar and Cheez-It Grooves® Hot & Spicy Cheddar
I haven’t tried these, but I really want to. The flavor combo sounds good, and it looks like they tried to find the right level of heat. The grooved versions get a slight edge for texture purposes. You should eat this cracker.
7. Cheez-It® Whole Grain
I don’t know who is gullible enough to buy whole grain cheese crackers and think they’re being healthy by doing so, but apparently there’s a market for it. I’ve accidentally bought these a time or two, and they surprisingly don’t lose a lot of the flavor from the original variety. These are a top-tier whole grain snack food — but again, who are you kidding? Just get the full-fledged variety and be honest with yourself.
*6. Cheez-It® Sriracha Snack Mix
Sriracha should be added to every food. It is the perfect condiment, and goes well with everything. As soon as I see this box, I am buying it.
5. Cheez-It® Reduced Fat White Cheddar
White Cheddar is the best Cheez-It flavor (more on this later). There are three varieties of this flavor, and — surprise, surprise — the reduced fat version is the worst. But it is still a very good cracker.
4. Cheez-It® Original
The platonic ideal of a cracker. Nicely cheesed, crispy and an entertaining square shape. A great launching pad for all of these varieties. Well worth a spot in the top five.
3&2. Cheez-It® White Cheddar and Cheez-It Grooves White Cheddar
The best Cheez-It flavoring, in all its full-fat glory. A bit lighter taste than the original variety, but the flavor is still delicious. The grooves, as always, get a texture bonus.
1. Cheez-It® Extra Toasty
Without a doubt, this is the best variety of Cheez-It. It’s apparently a requested variety, according to the website, and it’s easy to see why. It’s like a twice-baked version of the original cracker, and it takes it to new heights.
There you have it. The Frogs will attempt to be Extra Toasty in Phoenix, while relegating Cal to a “snack fiesta.”
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a trip to the grocery store I need to make.