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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

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Archive for Snacks

TIP OF THE DAY: Create Special July 4th Food

You’ve got a week to create a special July 4th dish, on the theme of red white and blue. It can be as simple as vanilla ice cream or any other white food with red and blue berries, or an elaborate cake.

It’s easy to find red berries and blue berries. For white fruit, consider apples, bananas, coconut and lychees. You can also use a white topping—cream cheese, crème fraîche, frosting, mascarpone, sour cream, whipped cream, yogurt, etc.

One of the challenges is the lack of blue food, other than blue cheese and hard-to-find blue potatoes, in the savory dishes for lunch and dinner. But you can easily create tasty and artistic July 4th food in the other categories.

Check the drawer for star-shaped or bell-shaped cookie cutters, check the stores for red, white and blue sprinkles and candy stars.


Patriotic fruit skewers, for dessert or snack. Photo courtesy Stix Mediterranean Grill | NYC.


  • Cottage cheese or yogurt with red and blue berries
  • Pancakes, waffles or French toast with a garnish of sour cream or whipped cream and red and blue berries (recipe)

    Lunch & Dinner

  • A star-shaped piece of white American cheese atop a slice of tomato on a burger
  • Red, white and blue potato salad (recipe)

  • Angel food cake with berries (recipe)
  • Ice cream, sorbet, ice cream cake or ice cream pie with red and blue berries
  • Panna cotta with red and blue fruits
  • Red velvet cake/cupcakes with cream cheese frosting and blueberries or blackberries (recipe)
  • Red, white and blue fruit salad
  • Red, white and blue shortcake (recipe)
  • Red, white and blue fruit skewers (see photo)
  • Red, white and blue potato salad, with red and blue-jacketed potatoes (you can add crumbled blue cheese, too)
  • Rice pudding or vanilla pudding parfait, layered with red and blue berries
  • Star-shaped watermelon cake, cut from a melon and decorated with red, white and blue fruits
  • Strawberries dipped in white chocolate and blue sanding sugar (recipe)
  • Vanilla pudding or mascarpone-filled tartlets with red and white berries
  • White cheeses with red and blue fruits

    Patriotic PB&J. Concept by Lee Zalben, photo
    by Angela Hernandez | Peanut Butter & Co.



  • Goat cheese or white Cheddar with red and blue fruits or “flag sandwiches”(photo at left)
  • Skewers of cherry tomatoes, mozzarella balls and black grapes (recipe)
  • Patriotic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, in flag motif (see photo) or a bell shape (cookie cutter)


  • July 4th iced tea (recipe)
  • Red, white and blue juice shooters or cocktail shooters (recipe 1) and recipe 2
  • Red, white and blue layered cocktail) (recipe)
  • Star shaped ice cubes made in a (star-shaped tray)—here’s the silicone mold




    FOOD FUN: Peanut Butter Sushi Rolls

    We love the fun concepts of Lee Zalben, proprietor of Peanut Butter & Co. The man lives for peanut butter, and how to serve it in new and creative ways. He posts a different idea every day at the Nutropolitan Museum of Art.

    Peanut butter and strawberry jelly. Cut the crusts off soft white bread. Spread with PB & J. Roll.



  • Whole wheat bread, white bread or cucumber wrap
  • Jam or jelly
  • Peanut butter

    Peanut butter and jelly sushi rolls. Photo by Andrea Hernandez.

  • Optional soy sauce substitution: honey or strawberry purée
    *Here’s how to shave a cucumber to make a cucumber wrap.

    Optional Inclusions

  • Apple, carrot and/or celery sticks
  • Chopped nuts
  • Flax, pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Raisins or other dried fruit
  • Rice Krispies

    Go for “cucumber sushi” with peanut butter.
    Photo by Andrea Hernandez.



    1. ROLL bread flat with a rolling pin.

    2. SPREAD with a thin layer of peanut butter and jam.

    3. SPRINKLE with 1/2 teaspoon inclusions and gently roll into a tight log. Slice into 2-inch “sushi rolls.”

  • A maki using a tortilla wrap (recipe)
  • Peanut Butter and jelly swirls in white bread (recipe)


    Check out all the types of sushi in our Sushi Glossary.



    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Perky Jerky

    We receive lots of jerky samples. Most are tough and not anything we’d want to gnaw.

    Then there’s tender, delightful jerky, like Perky Jerky. In four varieties each of beef and turkey jerky, it has what marketers call “added value”:

    Perky Jerky is caffeinated with guarana (gwahr-uh-NAH), an Amazonian fruit whose seeds contain about twice the concentration of caffeine in coffee beans. It’s typically found in energy drinks.

    So look at Perky Jerky as an energy snack, or as a meaty snack that happens to provide an energy boost. The stylish packages are nice enough for gifting and party favors.

    Perky Jerky, beef or turkey, is available in plain as well as:

  • Hot & Bothered Perky Jerky
  • Sweet & Spicy Perky Jerky
  • Teriyaki Perky Jerky

    Perky Jerky, a grab-and-go snack, energzer. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    Head to to get yours, or read the full review.



    TIP OF THE DAY: 10 Cool & Healthy Summer Snacks

    In one week, we’ve gone from sweater weather to heat wave. While the temptation is to cool down with ice cream and frozen yogurt, we’ve put together a list of healthy summer snacks that are both good for you and hydrating. The key is to prep everything in advance so that when you come indoors, hot and parched, you have immediate succor.


    1. Fruit Salad

    Cut up your favorite fruits—bananas, berries, grapefruit, melon, oranges, pineapple, whatever—and keep them in the fridge for cool snacking. Mix blueberries, blackberries, grapes, raspberries and strawberries for a salad packed with antioxidants. You can top it with a drizzle of honey, plain Greek yogurt, fruit or vanilla yogurt.

    2. Frozen Grapes & Bananas

    Just wash and dry ‘em (grapes), slice ’em (bananas), stick ‘em in the freezer and pop ‘em in your mouth. Frozen grapes and bananas take more time to eat, so the snack lasts longer. The frozen fruits are more lush and creamy than they are at room temperature.


    Melon and berries are high in nutrition and fiber, low in calories, and hydrating. Photo courtesy

    Did you catch our recent review of Dole Chocolate Banana Dippers?
    3. No Sugar Added Ice Pops

    Low calorie, “no sugar added” ice pops are perhaps our favorite cool-off snack. Popsicle makes them in Sugar Free Orange, Cherry and Grape (15 calories); Sugar Free Tropicals (15 calories); Creamsicle Sugar Free Pops (40 calories) and Fudgsicle No Sugar Added (80 calories).

    You can make your own lower-sugar ice pops by diluting your favorite juice with fruit tea or spice tea, unsweetened or with a noncaloric sweetener.

    4. Melon

    Don’t have time to cut up a fruit salad? Any melon, chilled in the fridge, hits the spot. Cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon are packed full of vitamins, fiber and water. While you can cut a quick slice whenever you need refreshment, we like to cut them up in advance and keep some in snack backs in the freezer for grab-and-go.


    5. Ants on a Log

    This kiddie favorite can be made more sophisticated for grown-ups, filled with goat cheese, seasoned cottage cheese or seasoned Greek yogurt instead of peanut butter or other nut butter.

    Cut celery in 3-inch long pieces, fill with the spread of your choice and top with a row of 3 raisins, dried cranberries or other dried berry, pistachios or peanuts.


    Hummus with crudités and hard-cooked
    eggs. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk
    Marketing Board.


    6. Crudités & Hummus

    There are so many different vegetables and so many different flavors of hummus, that this one never gets old.

  • Standard crudités include bell pepper, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherry tomatoes, green beans, green onions (scallions), mushrooms, radishes, yellow squash and zucchini.
  • Add something less expected: asparagus, endive, fennel, jicama, snap peas, sugar peas or wax beans.
    7. Cucumbers With Dill-Yogurt Dip

    The phrase “cool as a cucumber” comes from the fact that the inside of a cucumber is 20 degrees cooler than the outside. Slice them and serve with a nonfat Greek yogurt (lots of dill and garlic to taste, lemon zest, mint or basil if you have it, seasoned with salt and pepper). Look for different types of cucumbers and serve a fun assortment—you can find some real beauties in farmers markets (check out these heirloom cucumbers).


    You can use the same ingredients to make Greek tzatziki and Indian raita, cucumber and yogurt salads. Eat them from the spoon or as a dip with the crudités.

    8. Barley Or Quinoa Salad

    Chilled whole grain salads are great for summer snacking. Combine cooked barley or quinoa with chopped fresh or cooked vegetables (bell peppers, corn, edamame, onions/scallions, mushrooms, peas, zucchini, etc.), nuts, seeds, even berries or chopped fresh or dried fruits, including raisins. Dress with a light vinaigrette, or a citrus-olive oil dressing. Here’s a barley salad recipe; you can substitute quinoa for the barley. Eat with a spoon or in a lettuce leaf wrap or endive leaf.


    9. Homemade Lemonade

    While a cold jug of Crystal Lite lemonade can slake a thirst, homemade lemonade with zingy fresh lemon juice is a real treat. When you make your own, you not only spare the environment from bottle landfill; but you can use noncaloric sweetener including stevia or agave nectar instead of sugar. More about the different sweeteners.

    For fun flavored lemonade, add grated ginger, fresh mint, lavender (here’s a lavender lemonade recipe), muddled berries or savory fresh herbs (basil, rosemary or thyme—crush gently to release the oils before adding to the drink).

    A pinch of cayenne creates chile-accented lemonade: Add it pinch by pinch to the glass until you get your desired level of heat; or start with 1/2 teaspoon in a pitcher. (We prefer the more flavorful heat of ginger.)

    Or make an Arnold Palmer: half lemonade, half iced tea. If you haven’t tried this combination, you’ll be delighted with the taste.

    10. Iced Tea & Iced Coffee

    There’s nothing like an ice-cold glass of iced tea or iced coffee to help cool down. Brew up decaffeinated versions if you like to drink lots of it but prefer to limit your caffeine intake.

    To keep your drink even tastier, make ice cubes from iced coffee or iced tea—just pour it into the ice cube tray and freeze. Then, you won’t dilute your drink while keeping it cool; and adding ice cubes to a refrigerator-cold drink makes it super cold and refreshing.

    We repurpose 64-ounce empty drink bottles to hold our brewed teas, and fill some repurposed 16-ounce drink bottles for grab-and-go.

    Keep cool!



    PRODUCT: Wheat Thins Lime, Limited Edition

    Limited-edition Lime Wheat Thins. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    “Taste the bold lime flavor,” beckons the entire back side of the new, limited edition Wheat Thins.

    Fans of Wheat Thins, those crunchy little cracker squares from Nabisco, might note that lime and salt are also flavors of that popular drink, the Margarita. In fact, we received two boxes of Wheat Thins from the manufacturer, along with two Margarita glasses (we enjoyed them with a beer, instead).

    Wheat Thins are one of the few foods we enjoyed in grade school that are still on our grocery list. We like them instead of chips with a beer, with soups and salads (use them instead of croutons), and as a better-for-you snack, with or without a nonfat yogurt dip.

    Wheat Thins are made with whole grain flour. Each serving of 14 crackers (30g) equals 20g of whole grains. That really helps toward the 48g RDA recommended by the USDA (more about whole grains).

    Nutritionists recommend that we consume at least 3 servings of whole grains daily. It’s fun when Wheat Thins is one of those servings.




    TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Beanitos Bean Chips, Restaurant Style

    New restaurant style Beanitos are bean chips
    that look and taste like tortilla chips. Photo
    by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    The chip choices in America are vast. We’ve got bagel chips, beet chips, cassava chips, chickpea chips (hummus chips and falafel chips), corn chips/tortilla chips, lentil chips ([apadums), lotus root chips, pita chips, plantain chips, potato chips, rice chips, salba (chia) chips, taro chips and other grain and veggie chips.

    Not to mention bean chips, a relative newcomer that’s packed full of bean fiber and protein.

    We’ve tried different brands, but our favorite by far is Beanitos. The newest flavor, and our Top Pick Of The Week, is Restaurant Style Beanitos.

    Unlike the rest of the line, which has rich bean flavor, Restaurant Style Beanitos look and taste like restaurant-style tortilla chips.

    Why make bean chips that taste like tortilla chips?

    It’s a super-popular flavor, and bean chips pack more fiber and protein. If you want deep bean flavor, check out the other flavors at

    Read the full Beanitos review.





    FOOD HOLIDAY: National Caramel Popcorn Day

    Popsations’ dark chocolate caramel corn.
    Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    Caramel corn, also called toffee popcorn, is popped corn covered with caramel or molasses.

    Caramel corn can be drizzled with chocolate or tossed with nuts, like peanuts or almonds. The most famous of these recipes is the classic baseball stadium treat, Cracker Jacks: caramel corn with peanuts.

    If you don’t like the sweet style of caramel popcorn, Popsations, a Maryland-based artisan producer, offers an alternative.

    The company makes a lightly sweetened caramel: not sugary, not cloying, just light and crunchy air-popped corn. Options include:

  • Classic Caramel Corn
  • Dark Chocolate Caramel Corn
  • Milk Chocolate Caramel Corn
  • White Chocolate Caramel Corn
  • Classic Mix, a combination of caramel corn and cheddar Corn
    Popsations also makes Classic and White Cheddar popcorns. But we say: Celebrate National Caramel Popcorn Day with chocolate caramel corn.

    Popcorn, a whole grain snack, is naturally gluten free. The Popsations line is currently nut free as well. Learn more and buy popcorn at


    Popsations offers these tips to keep popcorn fresh:

  • Store popcorn in an airtight container at room temperature
  • Keep popcorn away from humidity and heat.
  • Do not refrigerate, freeze, reheat or microwave popped corn.



    PRODUCT: Chocolate Covered Banana Bites

    Kopali Organics specializes in chocolate-covered snacks: banana, cacao nibs, espresso beans, goji, goldenberry, mango, mixed fruits, mulberry and pineapple.

    The products are also Fair Trade Certified, which means that the enterprise supports thousands of family farmers and communities worldwide (more about Fair Trade certification).

    Plus, 100% of profits go to The Sylvia Center, a garden-to-table program that inspires young people to discover good nutrition on the farm and in the kitchen. You can feel good about your purchase.

    We’re become enamored of Kopali’s Organic Chocolate Covered Banana snacks, bits of banana covered in delicious semisweet chocolate.


    Even better than a plain chocolate snack! Photo courtesy Kopali.


    For a limited time, you can save more than $1 a bag by purchasing a 12-pack of Kopali Chocolate Banana (normally $3.99 a bag, now $2.92). Buy them directly from the company website.

    Don’t worry that 12 bags might be too many. These treats may become your favorite snack…and are certain to earn the appreciation of any friends you share them with.

    Learn more about Kopali Organics snacks at



    PRODUCT: Baby Carrots, Easy To Love

    Even if you had your fill of carrots at Easter dinner, we’re about to inspire you to have them more regularly.

    Peeled baby carrots have come from nowhere to be the number-one-selling fresh-cut vegetable in the produce department. And that’s no surprise:

  • Carrots are one of the most popular raw vegetable snacks.
  • Carrots are low-calorie and nutritious: just 35 calories per serving (85g), which has 120% of the DV of vitamin A and 2g fiber.
  • Baby carrots are peeled, washed and ready to eat, an easily portable snack.
  • They now come in a variety of formats you could wish, large bags to individual snack packs to snack packs with dips, to family-size microwavable bags to cook the carrots and produce a light sauce (including roasted garlic with herbs and honey, brown sugar and cinnamon).
    Who grows those little carrots? The largest grower is Grimmway in California, which has the Bunny-Luv, Cal-organic and Grimmway brands and also private labels for everyone from Trader Joe’s to Whole Foods Markets.


    An individual snack pack with a container of ranch dip, plated. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.


    The Grimm brothers, Rod and Bob, began their family business in the fertile soil of California’s San Joaquin Valley in 1968, with a roadside produce stand. Today, they process 40,000 of California’s 75,000 acres of carrots in a variety of locations (California processes 80% of the nation’s carrots). On an average day, Grimmway Farms processes 2.5 miles of trucks loaded with 10 million pounds of carrots!

    The company also grows regular whole carrots and produces carrot chips, carrot dippers, crinkle cut coins, carrot sticks, shredded carrots…and in non-carrot categories, citrus and potatoes.

    Much crunchier than conventional crunchy snacks like chips and pretzels, and so much better for you, baby carrots are easy to love as an often-as-you-want snack. Learn more at


    Easy microwaved baby carrots in a light
    brown sugar-cinnamon sauce. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.



    A root vegetable, carrots originated 3000 years ago in Central Asia and the Near East, slowly migrating into the Mediterranean area. Carrots are members of the Apiaceae or Umbelliferae) family, which includes caraway, celery, chervil, dill, fennel and parsnips.

    Originally, the carrot roots were white, yellow, green or purple in color—not orange—and used for medicinal purposes. Ancient Greek physicians prescribed carrot root and juices to treat cancer, indigestion, snake bites and skin ulcers.

    It is believed that orange carrots were first developed in the 1600s by the Dutch. All modern carrots are directly descended from Dutch-bred carrots. They have been reverse-bred to their original colors, too, plus a burgundy red shade.

    The Debut Of Baby Carrots

    Mini-peeled carrots, popularly called baby carrots and also called petite carrots, were first introduced in 1989. Contrary to popular belief, baby carrots are not grown bite-sized. They are bred to be long and slender, and then cut into two-inch pieces and lathed to uniform width.

    However, top-of-the-line chefs do serve baby vegetables—carrots, radishes, squash and other varieties—that are harvested very young. How can you tell the difference between the two types of carrots? The harvested-young-and-whole carrots will have their tops on.


  • Two carrots give you enough energy to walk two miles.
  • There are more than 100 varieties of carrots.
  • Our modern word comes from the ancient Greeks, ”karoton.”
  • In the Middle Ages, the feathery leaves of carrots were used by women as hair decoration.
  • The longest carrot in recorded history was grown in 1996: 16 feet, 10.5 inches long. The heaviest carrot in recorded history, in 1998, was 18.985 pounds (single root mass). They would have made a heck of a lot of carrot snacks!


    TIP OF THE DAY: Filling, Healthy Snacks

    We regularly get letters inquiring about the best “gourmet” snacks. Rather than name specific brands, we’ve adapted an article from Katie Waldeck, a San Francisco-based writer who often covers health and nutrition, and have added our own tips to the seven snacks Katie selected—snacks that also help you feel fuller, longer.

    When it comes snacking (or any eating), it’s just as much about what you eat as how much you eat, says Katie. “A can of soda may have the same amount of calories as a bowl of oatmeal,” says Katie, “but the oatmeal will help you last through the morning without a trip to the vending machine.”

    Some of her recommendations will sound familiar, others less so. But try them and see which of these tasty, healthy snacks are most to your liking.


    It almost seems hackneyed, but this old standby is one of the healthiest and most filling fruits around. With lots of fiber and a long digestion process, apples make you feel fuller longer than other popular fruits. Some research suggests that eating an apple 20 minutes before a meal can significantly reduce the amount of food you consume.


    Whip up a mixed bean salad, like this edamame and black bean salad. Recipe and photo from Betty Crocker.

    TIP: If you don’t like apples, it just could be that the fruit you buy isn’t as tasty as it should be. We’re shocked at the high percentage of relatively tasteless apples we buy at supermarkets and delis, largely lacking in natural sugar and with minimal apple flavor. No wonder people would rather have a candy bar than an apple.

    But don’t let bad growing conditions and bad merchandise selection on the part of store buyers deprive you of a tasty apple. Here are some alternatives:

  • Keep trying different varieties of apples—and different markets—until you find what you like. We buy one apple, taste it, and if it’s good we go back to load up on more.
  • Look for Granny Smiths and Honeycrisps; we find them to be more “reliable” than other varieties. But that’s just our anecdotal experience.
  • Ask friends and colleagues if they know of good resources. Our friend Terry clued us in to a great supplier at our local farmers market. (Alas, even farmers market produce may not be sweet and flavorful as one might expect.)
  • If you bite into an apple that tastes blah, change it up. We’ll sprinkle noncaloric sweetener on it, use a dab of agave nectar or honey or spread slices with peanut butter (another nutritious snack). Chilling the apple and adding dash of salt can also help to bring up flavor.

    Beans & Lentils, Salad & Soup

    There are plenty of fiber, complex carbohydrate and protein in beans and lentils—great foods for a healthy and filling snack. They provide an energy boost and lower cholesterol levels. That’s why, though not a mainstream snack choice, beans and lentils should be part of your snacking menu.

    TIP: Buy or make a batch of bean or lentil salad or soup on Sunday so you can snack on it during the week.

  • Simply open cans of two or three of your favorite beans (cannellini, kidney, pinto, etc.), drain, and mix with chopped red onion, fresh herbs (we use cilantro or parsley), oil and vinegar. Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic and/or crushed red chili flakes.
  • Prepared soups often don’t have enough beans or lentils, but it’s so easy to make your own. Buy beef, chicken or vegetable broth and mix with canned beans so that the soup is 50% beans. We’ve never come across canned lentils, but it’s easy enough to make lentil soup from scratch and freeze it in individual portions—again, with 50% lentils.

    Yes, this tarragon potato salad is a healthy,
    filling snack. Recipe and photo courtesy
    Betty Crocker.



    Some people are apprehensive about snacking on nuts because of fat and calories. Guess what: certain high-calorie foods like avocado, chickpeas and nuts deliver the highest-quality calories you can ingest. The fats are the heart healthy, monounsaturated “good fats,” and they’re good-for-you calories. The USDA recommends an ounce a day (see the health benefits of nuts.)

    And nuts really fill you up. Studies have shown that regular nut snackers tend to be slimmer than people who don’t eat nuts.


    Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As tempting as that bagel is, it’s best to kick-start your metabolism with a nutritious and filling food. Loaded with fiber, oatmeal is the most satiating breakfast option around.

    TIP: We keep a large batch of crunchy-style, steel-cut oatmeal in the fridge, and microwave a portion every morning. Garnish with bananas or other fruit.


    Believe it or not, 86% of this popular citrus fruit is water, and much of the remainder is fiber. Oranges are one of the best fruits you can eat to satisfy your hunger for longer. But don’t turn to orange juice instead: It isn’t nearly as filling as the whole fruit, and the number of oranges one needs to squeeze to fill up a glass of juice increases the calories and sugars.


    Microwave a bowl of homemade popcorn, a whole grain. As long as you avoid drenching it in butter and salt, popcorn is a filling and healthy snack. Instead of butter, try flavoring with dried herbs and Parmesan cheese, or nutritional yeast and low-sodium soy sauce.

    TIP: For extra flavor, we toss popcorn with infused olive oil, a heart-healthy oil. It’s available in enticing flavors, from basil and lemon to chile and garlic.

    Vegetable Soup

    Broth-based soups loaded with vegetables are one of the best options for keeping you fuller for longer. The high fiber and water content, in addition to the hot temperature, combine to curb your appetite. Eating a cup of soup as your morning or afternoon snack will help control your desire for more food at lunch or dinner.

    TIP: There’s no reason why you can’t have soup for breakfast, as they do in Asia and other parts of the world.

    White Potatoes with Skins

    Without a doubt, says Katie, white potatoes lead the pack in terms of foods that keep you full the longest. Potatoes fill you up about 3 times more than white bread (or by analogy, a danish?). How’s that for satisfying! Be sure to eat the skins, too, and stick to boiled or baked.

    TIP: It’s easy to make a week’s supply to carry into work, school or other destination.

  • Enjoy the potatoes at room temperature or microwaved, with a dab of nonfat plain yogurt and fresh-ground pepper.
  • Since boiled potatoes can be the base for a potato salad, your potato snack can become a real treat. Fill out your dish with bell pepper, celery, green beans, onion and other favorite veggies. And of course, instead of mayo, use a vinaigrette, nonfat plain yogurt or low-calorie dressing. Check out the recipe for tarragon potato salad in the photo and this one for German potato salad (you might want to leave out the bacon for your healthy snack).


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