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Hit or Miss? Crackers, salad dressing and more

Every week, "Today" show food editor Phil Lempert reviews some of the new items hitting supermarket shelves near you.

It takes a lot for a food product to succeed. In fact, out of more than 30,000 new food items that were introduced in 2003, less than 5 percent were hits. (And less than 10 percent of all new products are still on supermarket shelves three years after they launch.) To help you avoid spending money on the likely failures, here are this week’s Hits and Misses.

The Kitchen Table Bakers Gourmet Cheese Crackers
Barry Novick, tired of his job as a hospital administrator, began baking these crackers in the summer of 2003 and handing them out to friends to try. Good job, Barry! These crackers are wonderful with dips, spreads, or simply on their own. In addition to tasting good, they are wheat-free, gluten-free and the aged cheese used is sugar- and lactose-free. And with only 2 grams of carbs, you won’t have to think about that diet issue either. Suggested retail price is $5.49 to $5.99. Flavors are Italian Herb, Aged Parmesan, Caraway, Garlic, Onion Poppy, Sesame, and Rosemary.

Organicville Sun Dried Tomato & Garlic Salad DressingWatch for this dressing in your supermarket. It’s a delicious blend of natural and organic ingredients that will leave your taste buds fully satisfied. Many of your regular salad dressings rely on sugar to make them taste good. Not this one! This product is USDA-certified organic, which always makes us happy. (Remember, not only are organic products better for you, they usually taste better, too!) Suggested retail price is $3.49 to $3.99. Other flavors are Orange Cranberry, Olive Oil and Balsamic, Taragon Dijon, Sesame Tamari, Miso Ginger, and Herbs de Provence.

Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuits
Here’s what Candace F. of Mount Vernon, Ohio, had to say about this product: “Great flavor! Triscuits have always been a hit with me because of the fiber, but this flavor combo is super! Also, 0 grams of trans-fats makes it even better!” Thanks, Candace! Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way. Retails for $3.79.

R.W. Knudsen Family Spritzer Light
Juice-based beverages were a hot trend at this year’s Fancy Food Show in San Francisco, one trend in particular being carbonated juices that don’t use artificial ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup. But while we applaud Knudsen & Sons for coming up with something with only 60 calories (a regular can of soda contains about 150), they’ve got to work on the flavor … a lot. It’s great that they took out all of the bad stuff and made it healthy, but that doesn’t do us any good if we don’t like the taste. Retails for $3.49 to $4.99/six-pack. Flavors are Tangerine, Mango, Red Raspberry, Black Cherry, and Lemonade.

Fiber One Honey Clusters
Here’s what Karen C. from Ravenna, Ohio, had to say about this product: “After eating the original Fiber One, I was excited to see the new version with Honey Clusters. Unfortunately, while the cereal tastes OK right out of the box, it is totally tasteless once you add milk. In addition, a serving contains a whopping 47 grams of carbs without the milk! Of course, it still has a lot of fiber (14 grams per serving), but for my money the original is better tasting and has fewer carbs.” Thanks Karen! Your SupermarketGuru tote bag is on the way. Retails for $5.29.

Phil Lempert is food editor of the “Today” show. He welcomes questions and comments — as well as nominations for “hits” and “misses” in this column — which can be sent to . If he selects your nomination for publication, he’ll send you a Tote Bag! You can also visit his Web site at .