Photo by Raya Ramsey.

Taste Test Thursday: Fig Newtons

The classic, a store brand, a gluten-free and a natural. Who takes the cake when it comes to fig newtons?

When the fig newtons arrived, some staffers got very excited. Others made a face and declined participation. Those who like the things all had favorites they wanted to talk about. I didn’t have a guess at which would win, but the results were surprising nonetheless. Without further ado:

Everyone in the office who doesn’t hate fig newtons. Which turned out to be 10.

A: Safeway Kitchens’ Fig Bars
B: Pamela’s Gluten Free Fig & Jammies
C: Nabisco’s Fig Newtons
D: Newman’s Own Fig Newmans


A: Safeway Kitchens’ Fig Bars
“Dry, nice fruity aftertaste.”
“Good cake, not too dry. Filling is smooth, not too grainy.”
“Sturdy, crumbly shell. Gritty fig filling. Dryer cookie. Like the crunch!”
“This one has a very nice citrus undertone. And the outer part is nice and moist.”
“Like I expect fig newtons to taste.”
“Kind of dry, but decent flavor.”
“Ok, commercial clean. Tastes like sleepy figs. Gummy texture.”
“Tastes generic.”
“Don’t love the filling in this one…too sweet.”
“Lots of seeds, dry outside.”

Photo by Raya Ramsey.
Photo by Raya Ramsey.

B: Pamela’s Gluten Free Figgies & Jammies
“Lots of dough, not a lot of flavor, weird aftertaste.”
“This one had a very strong smell and I hate it.”
“Tastes good and the flavors seem fresh.”
“Herby and bold aroma, nice gritty texture, clean floral taste. Pleasant.”
“Great chewy texture but sort of bland.”
“Too chewy.”
“The texture of the outer part is a little drier than what I’m used to, but it’s not too dry.”
“Sweeter cookie. Less fig filling. Kind of blander, sweet taste.”
“Visually less appealing. Filling is chewy.”
“Kind of hard. Chewier than I usually like – very sweet finish. Looks dry.”

C: Nabisco Fig Newtons
“This seems like the newton of my childhood.” (It is indeed.)
“Powdery bottom. Are these the fig newtons of my childhood? (Why yes.)
“Soft, but taste more cookie than the fig. Nabisco?” (Yes, yes it is.)
“Filling is almost flavorless. Cake disintegrates. Crackery.”
“Softer, crumbly cookie. Fig filling has a little crunch.”
“There’s a weird plasticy aftertaste. And the filling is a weird brown, dull color.”
“Soft – fig flavor too mild.”
“Sugary odor, boring, bland, tastes like hay and air.”
“Tastes like dog biscuit.”
“Effectively sweet and flavorful!”

Photo by Raya Ramsey.
Photo by Raya Ramsey.

D: Newman’s Own Fig Newmans
“Ew why is it so thick? Too much fig.”
“Odd color, which makes me nervous. And very dry.”
“Mild flavor but good.”
“Bitter, icky, dry, sticky.”
“Chalky. Tasted like nothing.”
“Too chewy, funky flavor, too filling.”
“Man, there’s another flavor here that I’m tasting, but I can’t put my finger on it. Almond??”
“Thicker cookie. More filling. Filling has a nice crunch. Shell is the perfect amount of sweetness.”
“Higher filling-cake ratio. Flavor is off.”
“Dry, less flavor.”


A – Safeway – 5 votes
B – Pamela’s Gluten Free – 3 votes
C – Nabisco (the original) – 1 vote
D – Newman’s Own – 0 votes
E – I Hate Them All – 1 vote


Well, the original Nabisco fig newton was apparently easy to guess. No one liked Newman’s, although one taster made it her close runner-up. It’s heavy and filling and just doesn’t have enough flavor.

The winner? The good old grocery-store brand. We all agreed it wasn’t the pretty one, but there was a majority consensus that Safeway’s filling was the best. I was proud that the gluten-free version placed second, as they are my personal favorite. Pamela’s is the biggest cookie of the bunch, and while it is stickier and thicker than the others, the flavors and overall texture are great.

Sorry, Nabisco. Even when everyone knew who you were, you were likened to a dog biscuit, plastic and hay. And air.