Gluten Free Animal Crackers

 


Summing this post up in one image, these are the prices on Amazon today for three different GF animal crackers brands.  Amazon can be a barometer for prices, and it can be far more expensive than buying locally.  But this comparison offers insight into what people go through when trying to find required safe food. Also, this is a food targeted at children.  Adults love them too, but notice how much bustle there is for the kid's market here.

The good news is that GF animal crackers are widely available and safe to eat if you have Celiac Disease.  They may or may not be a good bargain depending on where you buy them or what  specific needs you have. Many make additional claims such as no corn, or non-GMO.  The only thing I couldn't find is Organic or Fair Trade ones. (Ahem, business opportunity!)

You can also make these at home for even more safety and total control over ingredients:  

https://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/animal-crackers/ 

https://gfjules.com/recipes/gluten-free-animal-crackers/

https://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes/how-to-make/gluten-and-dairy-free-animal-crackers/

I'd love to go over the image above piece by piece and dissect the things that matter to me.  But I decided that was too much heavy explaining.  You will soon come to the conclusion that the Glutino ones are overpriced, even if I don't point that out.  What is less obvious is that Glutino is owned by Boulder Brands, which in 2015 was bought by Pinnacle Foods, and in 2018, ConAgra bought Pinnacle Foods and made it a subsidiary of ConAgra.  So basically ConAgra = Glutino.  (And Udi's by the way.)  

I have distrustful feelings about ConAgra and to me it's = to genetically modified food, which brings up pesticide fears, exploitation of farmers, locking DNA behind patents, etc.  So for me, no thanks.  But I did my duty and tried them to see the flavor and texture.  I mention this for honesty's sake because I realize my opinion of the flavor may be biased.  Except I didn't figure out that this was the only one without a Non-GMO verification until later.  I tried them all before doing a strict comparison of features, except to be sure they are gluten free. When I was putting together this post, the price comparison really hit me and then I did some more digging.  

The lesson here is, certified gluten free is not a guarantee of quality.  And maybe you can find something with a better price, even among gluten free options. 

All three of these were actually bought (by me), and tested.  Here are my notes, in order of tasting.

KinniKritters:  

  • a bit grainy
  • a little sheen on the surface of the cookie
  • great flavor, very much like a sugar cookie

Mi-Del:

  •  less grainy
  • no sheen on the surface, rough surface
  • very vanilla flavor and smell

Glutino:

  • melts in your mouth, not grainy
  • no surface sheen like real animal crackers
  • mild vanilla flavor, artificial seeming flavor, oddly milky smell especially when I first opened the bag

 Overall my favorite (and Doug's) was KinniKritters.  What I would suggest to KinniKritters is, try using less pea starch and more potato starch which can be much more silky, and find a way to gelatinize the surface of the cookies more so they get that external smoothness that I remember from regular animal crackers. Maybe use a finer grind of flour?  Or grind it in house?  I feel like the grainy quality of it is the feature to fix first.  I like KinniKritters.  But they could be even better.  

I'm happy to have Mi-Del as an option too, and their peanut safety pledge might be the deciding factor for some people.  I really appreciate that so many companies  (not reviewed: Simple Truth, Cadia...) have taken the time to create animal crackers in gluten free versions.  

I'm displeased with Glutino though, for being 3x the price of KinniKritters.  Maybe being a giant corporation doesn't pass any savings on to us consumers after all.They also have a mistake on their website which claims "no soy" on a product with soy lecithin in it.  The back of my package says "contains egg, soy".  And their website doesn't even have an ingredient list I could find at all, who has a website without an ingredient list for dietetic food?  In the end I decided I couldn't trust Glutino, for other reasons, not just because I don't like GMO food.  

You might say, yeah but what about the other offers of Glutino Animal Crackers (original)?


While Fresh is much more reasonably priced, there seems to be a disconnect between pricing on all the offerings.  I mean, how do you get a $10 markup going from Fresh to regular Amazon shipping?  Amazon claims to be against price gouging, but what else do you call that? And how is there another listing for regular Amazon shipping that's only a slight markup from Fresh?  This is confusing and frustrating at best.

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