At a time when hummus rivals cupcakes as the country's biggest trend, what's a hummus company gotta do to rise above the rest? For Nestle-owned Tribe Mediterranean Foods , it's branching out to explore new flavor horizons. At the beginning of this month, the nationwide all-natural hummus producer announced it'd be rolling out "culinary-inspired flavors" that retail from $2.49 to $2.99 and "bring in exotic spices and herbs from across the globe."
To find out how Tribe's four new internationally inspired flavors stacked up to the original, we put them through a rigorous YumSugar tasting that involved not only our own critical palates, but also an entire set of discerning office tasters. Keep reading to find out the results.
The flavor: Savory Mushroom
The promise: "Earthy and flavorful with a rich assortment of spices."
What our tasters thought: "Too much of a dirt taste for me," one remarked. "Vaguely earthy" and "a little musky in flavor," others wrote. "What mushroom?" one said. Well-noted.
What we thought: Although Lizzie  noted a very light mushroom flavor at the end, Katie  remarked, "The flavor of thyme completely overpowers this hummus." With its overly aggressive earth flavor, this was our least favorite.
Tasters' rating average (on a scale from 1 to 5): 2.4
The flavor: Cilantro Chimichurri
The promise: "A zesty blend of fresh cilantro and spices inspired by the South American classic."
What our tasters thought: Comments ranged from "light and fresh" and "has a nice brightness" to "tastes like nothing" and "borrring." One thing we did notice: even the greatest cilantro haters of the bunch weren't offended by the cilantro in this chimichurri.
What we thought: "The cilantro actually tastes fresh and not processed," Katie remarked, and I agreed. The flavor was lemony, zippy, and vivid on the tongue. This was our favorite of the bunch.
Tasters' rating average: 3.5
The flavor: Mediterranean Style
The promise: "A light drizzle of olive oil and a dusting of paprika on top of classic hummus."
What our tasters thought: Some of our tasters were keen on this flavor ("tastes classic," one said), while others simply weren't (other descriptors included "generic," "bland," and "plain"). Overall? "Not too far from the original."
What we thought: A brief ingredient check revealed that, other than a dash of paprika and some olive oil, it's exactly the same thing as the company's Classic Hummus, which is made with canola oil. Considering hummus should be made with olive oil , why not just update the Classic with these ingredients?
Tasters' rating average: 3.2
The flavor: Olive Tapenade
The promise: "Chopped Mediterranean olives with a savory herb kick."
What our tasters thought: This flavor received the highest overall marks from tasters. "Fun blend of tapenade and hummus," one commented. Added another: "Nice punch of spice!"
What we thought: Bold in flavor, with a fiery, garlicky pungence reminiscent of sriracha sauce. This was another YumSugar favorite, although I thought it tasted a little processed in flavor. A quick scan of the ingredient list revealed there were additional ingredients, like xanthan gum and acetic acid, that aren't present in the Classic flavor.
Tasters' rating average: 3.8
The bottom line
With the exception of the Savory Mushroom, we really liked these flavors. There's only one real caveat: while the toppings are visually appealing, we discovered we could only achieve a good distribution of flavors by stirring the hummus and its toppings together — something all of our tasters said they don't normally do — and creating an unattractive, mushy mess. Our advice to Tribe? Fully incorporate the new flavors into the product, then feature a little extra on top so we know what we're getting. Until then, we'll just stir the Cilantro Chimichurri ourselves.