REVIEW: Limited Edition Hostess S’mores CupCakes

Hostess Limited Edition S mores Cupcakes

What are Limited Edition Hostess S’mores Cupcakes?

If you miss roasting marshmallows around the fire pit with friends, Hostess has a new s’mores spin on its classic Cupcake to hold you over.

How are they?

All the elements are here – graham flavored cake (I think?), marshmallow cream, and that delicious sheet of chocolate with the iconic white squiggle, yet I found these ultimately disappointing.

Hostess Limited Edition S mores Cupcakes Bottom

I mean, they’re delicious, but they don’t taste THAT much like s’mores.
The “yellow” cake is clearly brownish and tastes mildly like honey graham crackers, but the box does not indicate that. Assuming I’m correct, that was a great touch. They should’ve ramped up the flavor a lot more, though.

Hostess Limited Edition S mores Cupcakes Side

The cream does taste like marshmallow, but not enough to really separate it from the standard Hostess filling. If you’re expecting Marshmallow Fluff, I’m afraid you’re burnt.

Hostess Limited Edition S mores Cupcakes Top

The chocolate is as perfect as it’s always been. No complaints here*. The weird fondant-like texture has always been delicious and reminds me of my fading youth. I wish Hostess sold these in individual slices like George Costanza’s chocolate pudding skin idea.

*Complaint here instead – the squiggle should have been marshmallow flavored.

Anything else you need to know?

With all that said, there’s still just enough here to differentiate from a regular Hostess CupCake. It’s not the “s’more bomb” (which is not an actual thing people say, well, unless you wanna make it a thing) I was hoping it’d be, but I definitely think you should pick up a box.

S’mores are a hot treat, but do what I did and freeze a few of ’em. They’re phenomenal when chilled.

Conclusion:

I’ve never had a Hostess CupCake I didn’t enjoy, and this s’mores variety isn’t changing that, but it still kinda burns my marbits that S’mores CupCakes didn’t rival my all-time favorite flavor, Orange.

Here’s the thing – these might be better than the originals, but they don’t deliver on the flavor promised enough. I guess Hostess ultimately decided to take the “less is s’more” approach so people wouldn’t forget about the O.G.

Purchased Price: $2.86
Size: 12.7 oz
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 CupCake) 170 calories, 6 grams of fat, 0 gram of trans fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 135 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of total carbohydrates, 22 grams of total sugars, 0 grams of fiber, 1 gram of protein.

REVIEW: Papa John’s Shaq-a-Roni Pizza

Papa John s Shaq a Roni Pizza

In 2019, the garlic sauce-soaked pizza that defined my early 2000s video gaming marathons got a massive upgrade – Shaquille O’Neal.

Shaq came into Papa John’s not only as a brand ambassador, but also a board member and part-owner of nine franchises. (LeBron James and a Blaze investment who?!) Fast forward a little over a year later and the NBA Hall of Famer gets to break the backboard of 2020 with his first signature pizza.

The Shaq-a-Roni Pizza channels the energy of Shaq and promises an epic experience of extra large, extra pepperoni, and extra cheese. Sounds like I’m gonna need some extra cardio!

Not only does this pizza sound like a good time, the chain also donating $1 for every pizza sold to the Papa John’s Foundation for Building Community – bringing relief not only to our rumbling tummy’s but the community too. Count me in.

Papa John s Shaq a Roni Pizza Box

First things first – this pizza was supposed to come in a special box with Shaq’s face on it and the saying “everyone loves pizza – pizza loves everyone” along with a QR code to unlock another level of fulfillment via Snapchat. The location I went to didn’t have the box, but the pizza itself still felt big and substantial in my hands.

Papa John s Shaq a Roni Pizza Slice

All awesome NBA tie-ins aside, this is Papa John’s attempt at making a NY style pizza, which harkens back to Pizza Hut’s The Big New Yorker that I absolutely adored in the late 90s. The dough is spread out thinner than your average Papa John’s pizza but maintains a doughy soft chew without any of the crackery crunch one might associate with a “thin” crust pizza. Picking up the slices, they flip and flop all over the place like James Harden driving into the lane, and even though I can’t stand that kind of offense, I love this kind of eating.

Papa John s Shaq a Roni Pizza Pepperoni

The pizza is large and intimidating with tons of pepperoni often overlapping each other fighting for space across the vast cheesy landscape. As you might expect, the initial taste is salty and just a touch spicy with spotted greasy pepperoni taking the star player role as I chew.

Papa John s Shaq a Roni Pizza Crust

I’ve always enjoyed Papa John’s for its slightly sweet crust that pairs oh-so-beautifully with its signature (and included!) garlic dipping sauce, and the crust and sauce are just as good as I remember. The cheese definitely feels abundant, but it’s more of a gooey texture than distinct flavor with the overlapping ‘ronis that control each bite.

This is a solid take on a big and thin, but chewy NY style slice, but it does falter a bit in its excess. While I appreciate the extra everything mentality, the sauce gets lost in the mix kind of like Shaq’s free throwing ability. I miss that sweet and zesty zing that ties everything together.

Papa John’s Shaq-a-Roni Pizza is good, and I would definitely eat it again, but it lacks that perfect balance and feels one note after a couple of slices. Fortunately for Shaq, just like his ability to dunk on whoever he wants, that garlic sauce switches it up whenever I want a little extra depth and keeps me coming back for more.

Purchased Price: $12.00 (allegedly normally $27.99!)
Size: one XL pizza
Purchased at: Papa Johns
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (One Slice) 285 calories, 17 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 690 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of total sugars, and 10 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Monster Hydro Super Sport

Monster Hydro Super Sport

What is Monster Hydro Super Sport?

It’s a spinoff of Monster’s Hydro sports drink line. There are two varieties available — Blue Streak and Red Dawg. Like all sports drinks, they have electrolytes, but these also contain 200 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine and 1000 milligrams of BCAAs, which could be what makes them “super.”

We all know what caffeine is, but if you don’t know what branched-chained amino acids are (Full Disclosure: I had to look up the acronym BCAA, which I thought was British Colombia Athletic Association), then here’s a Wikipedia link, so I don’t have to drop some science on you.

How is it?

I usually post photos of the beverages in a container that inappropriate, like a soda in a brandy snifter, but this time I didn’t because I drank it all straight from the bottles before I got a chance to take any pictures. But if you want a visual of it in your mind, think of a Louie-Bloo Raspberry Otter Pop for Blue Streak and any fruit punch you can think of for Red Dawg. As for how they taste, you can also think of a Louie-Bloo Raspberry Otter Pop for Blue Streak and a red Popsicle for Red Dawg.

It’s funny that these sports drinks for super intense workouts taste like children’s frozen pops. Maybe Monster Hydro Super Sport is going for nostalgia?

Anything else you need to know?

I like the flavors of Monster Hydro Super Sport, but I love their size. For about the same price, I can get a regular canned Monster Energy Drink that comes in 16-ounce cans or these that come in 25.4-ounce bottles, which I can sip from a little bit longer than canned Monster Energy Drinks.

Conclusion:

Monster Hydro Super Sport Blue Streak and Red Dawg are great tasting addition to the Monster Hydro line.

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 24.5 ounce bottles
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 7 out of 10 (both)
Nutrition Facts: (12 fl oz) Blue Streak – 35 calories, 0 grams of fat, 200 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein. Red Dawg – 35 calories, 0 grams of fat, 200 milligrams of sodium, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Sun-Maid Bites

Sun Maid Bites

When I was 12, I tricked my younger cousin into taking a bite of broccoli by saying it tasted like pizza. Of course, it didn’t, and he’s harbored side-eye towards me ever since.

If Sun-Maid’s Bites existed almost two decades ago, I’d like to think I’d be successful in tricking him into eating healthier. These new fruit, nut, and oat bites come in four different flavors and are all loaded with California raisins!

Sun Maid Bites Kidtastic

All the flavors are “kidtastic” (per the little flag graphic on the front) classics like PB&J, Banana Split, S’mores, and Birthday Cake. To reinforce fun and disguise, they’re all very visually appealing and quite aromatic. You can only tell there are dried grapes if you look closely and/or read the ingredients list.

Sun Maid Bites Birthday Cake 2

I was pleasantly surprised by the form of these. The flat one-inch squares looked tasty. The sprinkles on the Banana Split and Birthday Cake were a nice touch! Even the flavors sans said colorful bits – PB&J and S’mores – looked like tasty morsels. The PB&J one had strawberry pieces – only quality real fruit from Lorraine (the Sun-Maid gal in the logo), mind you! The s’mores flavor had nice chocolate drizzle and cute, teeny tiny marshmallows.

Sun Maid Bites Birthday Cake

I started with Birthday Cake because who doesn’t like festive foods?! The smell was unmistakably vanilla frosting-like. However, it tasted more like oat and even a bit like the way Play-Doh smells. Is this what they meant by kidtastic?! Kids (including myself) have been known to sample Play-Doh at least once during childhood.

Sun Maid Bites Banana Split

I quickly moved onto the Banana Split flavor. As someone who generally prefers ANYTHING chocolatey, I thought this was a winning combo at first. There was an immediate dark chocolate flavor followed by a subtle banana taste. I appreciated that it wasn’t anything like banana-flavored Laffy Taffy or Runts.

I kept eating these until, at some point, it began to taste more like bubblegum to me. I’m unclear on what ingredient build-up causes this effect. But, after that entered my noggin, I couldn’t un-taste it, which ruined it for me. I’m going to chalk it up to the vague “natural flavors” ingredient.

Sun Maid Bites S mores

Next up was S’mores as I was trying to get rid of the gum taste. The smell was the most artificial of the four and reminded me of the cinnamon/pumpkin spice room spray used in Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion over the holidays. I know that’s very specific, but if you haven’t been on the ride – think fall-scented Glade or Febreze. This smell translated to an artificial tasting eat and an even more unpleasant aftertaste. It’s like they tried to amp up the graham flavor, but the cinnamon note overpowers and lingers. My favorite part of the eating experience was using my front teeth to nibble the tiny marshmallows.

Sun Maid Bites PB J

I left PB&J for the grand finale because, honestly, it seemed the most boring. But, this was my favorite flavor because it truly captured the classic sammich in bite-size form. It had just the right touch of sweetness from the fruit. Also, as a crunchy peanut butter fan, I appreciate the bits of peanuts. I suspect the little ‘uns may not gravitate towards this one as much because the raisins are the most visible.

Sun Maid Bites PB J 2

Across the four flavors, the texture was better than expected. The PB&J was a harder chew for some reason, but I’m sure it would work fine for baby teeth! Warning: I got oat and raisin bits occasionally stuck in my molars, but no biggie – it’s a snack for later, right?

I can truly see the appeal of these for parents who want to feed their kids nutritious foods that their kids would actually enjoy eating. It’s made with whole fruit/whole grain/nuts, only 4 to 5 grams of added sugar, and does NOT contain any artificial flavors or synthetic colors.

Cheers to hiding fruit in your kiddo’s (or cousin’s) snacks!

Purchased Price: $2.99 each
Size: 3 oz. pouches
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Birthday Cake), 6 out of 10 (Banana Split), 3 out of 10 (S’mores), 7 out of 10 (PB&J)
Nutrition Facts: (4 pieces) Birthday Cake – 120 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of sugars, 5 grams of added sugars, and 2 grams of protein. Banana Split – 120 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 20 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of sugars, 5 grams of added sugars, and 2 grams of protein. S’mores – 110 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of sugars, 5 grams of added sugars, and 2 grams of protein. PB&J – 120 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 8 grams of sugars, 4 grams of added sugars, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Apple Pie Kit Kat

Limited Edition Apple Pie Kit Kat

Kit Kat is back again with another new limited edition flavor.

The new Apple Pie Kit Kat has hit store shelves in an appropriately bright yellow package to proclaim its arrival boldly. They are unmistakable sitting next to their red-wrapped counterparts. When I saw them beckoning from a Walmart’s seasonal display, I could not help myself and instinctively grabbed a handful.

Upon arriving home, I stowed the Kit Kats in the refrigerator. I am of the mindset that the candy bar tastes significantly better when cold. The crunch is even more satisfying once the candy has chilled for a bit. I impatiently waited for them to reach a suitable temperature and dug in.

Limited Edition Apple Pie Kit Kat Fingers

They have a gentle aroma of warm spice, but no hint of apple. The first thing I tasted, however, was a kiss of apple flavor. Thankfully, it was reasonably accurate and mild. Foods flavored to resemble apple can often be overwhelming and artificial. This candy had a perfect level for my preferences.

Beyond the faint apple taste, the familiar apple pie spices came through. It was a subtle selection of spices, but I definitely detected cinnamon and ginger. The creaminess invoked pleasant thoughts of apple pie à la mode.

Limited Edition Apple Pie Kit Kat Wafers

The coating seems to be where all the flavor comes from. It’s a delicate white chocolate base that lends itself to both apple and spices quite well. The interior wafer is typical Kit Kat fare.

For me, Kit Kat nailed this one. The flavors are all present enough to make it clear that this is an apple pie flavored candy. I would have been fine with a little bit more of the spices, but any more apple would have been too much for me. If you are looking for an overwhelmingly apple flavored candy, this is not it.

I recommend Apple Pie Kit Kat, provided that you set your expectations appropriately. A little slice of Americana wrapped up in the form of a Kit Kat is a comfort too good to pass up right now.

Purchased Price: $0.88
Size: 1.5 oz package
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 package) 220 calories, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 20 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Doritos Tangy Pickle

Doritos Tangy Pickle Bag

What is Doritos Tangy Pickle?

It’s a pickle-flavored Doritos that’s exclusive to Dollar General and Circle K locations. (Why does it seem as if Dollar General gets all the cool exclusive flavors nowadays?) This pucker-inducing tortilla chip variety made its North American debut in 2018 in Canada under the name Doritos Intense Pickle.

How is it?

If you’ve had any pickle-flavored chip, these have that same salty and tangy flavor. But the smell and taste aren’t as potent as I hoped. When I stick my nose into the bag, the aroma is surprisingly not dominated by tangy fumes. The corn chip base comes through as much as the seasoning.

As for how they taste, with the first few chips, the pickle flavor is potent. But, the more I ate, the less prominent it became, allowing the corn base to be more noticeable than I’d like. I solved this issue by allowing my taste buds to rest and reset every so often.

Doritos Tangy Pickle Back

The back of the bag shouts, “Crunch Sour Punch.” However, while the chips are crunchy and somewhat sour, I’m not sure they pack a sour punch. Well, I mean, they don’t meet my expectations and desires.

I don’t know if other people experience this or if I should see a doctor, but every time I eat something really sour, I feel it in my jaw with a weird tingling sensation. And what I’m about to admit might be too much information, but I REALLY enjoy that feeling. Sadly, these chips don’t offer that to me.

While not perfect, these are tasty enough that I greedily went through both bags I purchased within several hours and would buy more if I could easily buy them without resorting to eBay. (I don’t have Dollar General or Circle K stores near me.)

Anything else you need to know?

Doritos Tangy Pickle Closeup

The tortilla chips aren’t green. Although the image on the front of the package sure looks like they are. Or maybe my eyes are influenced by the rest of the artwork? In real life, they do have a faint white coating.

Oh, while I’m on the subject of green Doritos, Mountain Dew-flavored Doritos need to come back for a limited time. This year would be appropriate since it’s Mountain Dew’s 80th birthday. DO THE DEW…DORITOS! (But don’t make it a Dollar General exclusive!)

Conclusion:

If you’re one of those people who purchase pickle Pringles or pick up pickle potato chips, Doritos Tangy Pickle will appeal to your taste buds.

Purchased Price: A price that’s more than I should pay on eBay
Size: 2 3/4 oz. bag
Purchased at: eBay (available at Dollar General and Circle K)
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (about 12 chips) 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.