Tested and Digested: Utz Cheese Balls

A little bit of high-octane food for thought.

By Kevin Rouse

Utz Cheeze Balls
$7.09 (35 oz. barrel) / utzsnacks.com

Serving Size: 32 balls
Calories: 150
Calories from Fat: 81
Fat: 9g
Carbs: 16g

“You’re having a party – maybe a house full of folks, or just you and the kids. What would be the perfect little tangy mouthful to serve? Why the answer is clear! Our Utz Cheese Balls in this 35 oz. barrel.” -Utz website

Sounds pretty convincing eh? Well, this past week at the Sea Otter Classic, we tested the possibility of adding one more scenario to Utz’s sales pitch—that of trade-show/race venue caloric salvation. While loading our cart at WalMart on a trip for some last-minute necessities, our collective impulses took over when we saw the barrel of fluorescent orange morsels at the end of the aisle and, needless to say, they hastily found themselves proceeding through the express checkout line.

For a beverage pairing, we recommend an Oscar Blues Dale’s Pale Ale—the orange residue sure to be left by your hands complements the can’s color scheme quite nicely.

So how did they fare? Well, the Utz cheese balls proved to be quite palatable. While some staffers expressed doubts about being able to polish off the entire barrel in just four days, we managed to do just that with an entire day to spare.

After a closer inspection we were impressed to find out that the cheese balls were entirely free of hydrogenated oils and trans fats. While diminishing the cheese balls’ junk food resume, I suppose our arteries are better off for it. And, it even turned out the cheese balls were gluten-free to boot. Go figure.

Should you begin to question the cheese ball’s positon at the top of the food pyramid, a glance at the 9th item on the ingredient list—monosodium glutamate—should be all the answer you need.

Not for the faint of heart. To get your mack on, be prepared to build up some serious (toxic?) residue.

So while the cheese balls proved to be a welcome sight at each return to the Bike magazine booth, they were still subject to a few downsides.

For starters, we’re not exactly sure just how Utz achieves the brilliant neon color featured on thier signature cheese balls. Our guesses ranged from black magic to plutonium-238. Either way, it can’t be natural.

Additionally, it became apparent as the days wore on, everyone’s pants were beginnning to adopt an orange hue, right along with our notepads and camera dials. We still can’t get it off. Seriously.

But would we trade them for a healthy carrot stick or handful of trail mix?

Probably not.

Utz: 1, Bike: 0.