Archive | December, 2010

THE WEEK IN REVIEWS – 12/31/2010

Written by | December 31, 2010

Topics: Alcohol, Candy

Jim Bean Out

Here are a few product reviews posted this week from other blogs we follow.

Jim Beam and Cola together in a can is perfect for lazy people or those who are too drunk to pour Jim Beam and then cola into a glass. (via Possessed by Caffeine)

Hey, food scientists! If we can make milk out of soybeans, why can’t we make a proper strawberry milk? Use those PhD’s for something good. (via Probably Edible)

Is it just me or does Irish Creme Hershey Kisses sound like a porn title? (via The Candy Enthusiast)

Why don’t American Nestle candies look like this and have French names? It would give me another slightly fancy, but not really, gift to give to those people who I didn’t intend on buying a Christmas gift for, but feel compelled to after they gave me something. (via Chocolate Reviews)

If I open this package of soft peanut brittle, will a hard snake pop out of it to scare me? (via Candyblog)

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REVIEW: McDonald’s Fruit & Maple Oatmeal

Written by | December 30, 2010

Topics: 9 Rating, Fast Food, McDonald's

McDonald's Fruit & Maple Oatmeal

Ordering the McDonald’s Fruit & Maple Oatmeal via the drive-thru at my local McDonald’s made me feel like I was in an alternate universe, where McDonald’s brags about being fresh and healthy, while Subway has a fat Jared Fogle dressed up as a clown as their spokesperson.

Oatmeal on the McDonald’s menu board looks out of place, like a fish out of water or the white member of The Roots.

I know McDonald’s has other “healthy” fare, like their fruit parfait and Fruit & Walnut Salad, but oatmeal is in the upper echelon of healthy eating. Basically, its wholesomeness does the opposite of what most McDonald’s food does. It’s been shown to help lower blood pressure, control weight, and reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes. The fiber in oatmeal helps get rid of the bad cholesterol in the body and makes holding in farts more difficult.

The addition of the Fruit & Maple Oatmeal to the fast food giant’s menu looks like another attempt to be like Starbucks, which has been selling oatmeal for a while. I can understand the appeal of a powerful entity trying to be even more powerful, since I occasionally like put on some big women’s sunglasses to see things though the eyes of Kim Jong-il.

But the question that arises is whether or not you can trust McDonald’s with oatmeal. Are they Boy Scout trustworthy or as trustworthy as a random audience member yelling random numbers at you as you stand on a stage figuring out the value of a Price Is Right’s Showcase that consists of a jet ski, a trip to the Bahamas, a sailboat and a Ford Mustang convertible?

After trying the Fruit & Maple Oatmeal, I believe you can trust McDonald’s.

McDonald's Fruit & Maple Oatmeal Closeup

Sure, the pictures above look like a pretentious health nut douchebag threw up into a cup after some detox treatment, but I assure you it’s not. If the oatmeal didn’t come with so much liquid, it wouldn’t look the way it does. Personally, I prefer my oatmeal to be a bit thicker.

Although I had mine with brown sugar (you can order it without), I didn’t think the oatmeal was overly sweet.

There’s an assortment of fruits with the whole grain rolled oats: diced green and red apples, dried sweetened cranberries, California raisins and golden raisins. They provide a wide variety of flavors and textures to go along with the soft oatmeal. There’s an ample amount of fruits, which ensures that there’s something in each spoonful.

Overall, I think the McDonald’s Fruit & Maple Oatmeal is a winner and I definitely see myself buying it on a regular basis. Its flavor easily makes most packets of instant oatmeal seem like dull mush. Its warmth is nice during these cold months here on this rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Plus, I think it’s hearty enough that it could be a meal by itself.

If McDonald’s keeps releasing more healthier products, I wonder if our universe will end up being the alternate one.

Whoa! I just totally blew my mind.

(Nutrition Facts – 9.2 ounces with brown sugar – 290 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 57 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 32 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein, 2% vitamin A, 130% vitamin C, 10% calcium and 10% iron.)

Other McDonald’s Fruit & Maple Oatmeal reviews:
Dave’s Cupboard
Grub Grade
Foodette Reviews

Item: McDonald’s Fruit & Maple Oatmeal
Price: $2.49
Size: 9.2 ounces
Purchased at: McDonald’s
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Really good. Right amount of sweetness. Available throughout the day. Lots of fruits. Decent source of fiber. Winning both Price Is Right Showcases. Hearty. Excellent source of vitamin C. The Roots.
Cons: Too much liquid for me. 32 grams of sugar. Getting oatmeal from McDonald’s seems weird. Putting on women’s sunglasses to seeing the world through Kim Jong-il’s eyes. Fiber makes holding in farts harder.

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REVIEW: Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Vanilla Flavored Coffee

Written by | December 28, 2010

Topics: 6 Rating, Coffee, Starbucks

Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Vanilla Flavored Coffee

People love to hate Starbucks. If you choose to believe the haters, Starbucks is Big Brother, has committed genocide on hundreds of small business coffee shops, and will single-handedly destroy the planet. Anyone who purchases coffee from Starbucks is a soulless yuppy who will rot in sheeple hell.

I have to admit, I get a little bitter (Coffee pun? You decide!) when I think about Starbucks putting mom ‘n’ pop coffee shops out of business. I also have to admit, Starbucks makes some damn delicious coffee. Fortunately, I am not a yuppy (although I may be soulless), and my bank account dictates where I purchase my coffee, which means I get it pre-ground in a bag from the grocery store.

There are other coffee options other than buying it from a coffee shop and brewing your own at home. One of those options is instant coffee. Starbucks already offers pre-ground bags of their coffee, and now they’re shoving their noses into the instant coffee market. Starbucks wants to make sure that no matter how you like your coffee, you’re going to be drinking their coffee. We’ve always been at war with Eastasia.

So they launched a new line of instant coffee called VIA. It made me wonder: what are the benefits of instant coffee? To whom are instant coffee manufacturers marketing? I posited this question to a group of friends and got these answers:

1. People who like bad things
2. People without coffeemakers
3. Extremely lazy people
4. One guy’s grandma who isn’t a coffee snob who only wanted a single cup of coffee while only getting one dish dirty
5. People who are camping
6. People who are only interested in coffee for its medicinal qualities and don’t have the need or patience for a good cup of it

I will grant answer five as completely valid. Four and six, go buy one of those little one-cup or four-cup coffeemakers. I was the only coffee drinker in my household growing up. I resorted to instant for a little while, then grew tired of the lack of quality and bothered my parents until they bought me a little coffeemaker. Three minutes of effort and waiting were well worth it. Answers one through three are just unacceptable. Okay, maybe number one has some legs. If you enjoy being constantly disappointed, please, have a cup of instant coffee with your bowl of off-brand corn flakes and a side of already-cooked microwave bacon. It takes all kinds.

So has Starbucks transformed instant coffee into a valid form of caffeine consumption? We shall see.

VIA comes in several different iterations. There are different roasts, decaf, iced, and also flavored varieties. I can’t say I’ve ever known someone who drank black instant coffee, so I went with a flavored version. I chose Vanilla, but there’s also Caramel, Cinnamon Spice, and Mocha.

Making Starbucks VIA Ready Brew couldn’t be easier. It’s so easy, they don’t even need to more than two words in the instructions on the back of the package. When I tore open the flavor packet and dumped the contents into my mug, I was immediately met with the smell of vanilla flavoring. It actually filled my entire kitchen. After bringing a small amount of water to a low boil, I measured out eight ounces and poured it into my mug with the flavor powder waiting patiently at the bottom. I was surprised at how fast it dissolved; it only took a few stirs to transform it into a smooth, dark liquid that looked just like brewed coffee. I was also surprised at how dark it was, until I remembered that this is flavored coffee, not a fancy Vente latte with soy milk, two shots of espresso, extra foam and whipped cream. I can’t think Starbucks without imagining an overcomplicated coffee beverage that has more components than ordering a burger at Five Guys.

Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Vanilla Flavored Coffee Powder

So how does Starbucks VIA stack up to a cup of brewed coffee? Well, I think my friends left one thing off the list: the office workplace. I have worked at several different office environments, and the coffee has always been notoriously awful. I don’t know what it is about office coffee, but it always blows. It’s like the office itself sucks all the soul out of the coffee, much in the same manner it sucks the soul out of all the cubicle monkeys working there. Since VIA comes in individual packets and many office water coolers have a hot water option, I could actually see VIA being a VIAble (sorry) alternative to disgusting office coffee.

That said, VIA is still instant coffee, and for some reason all instant coffee has a slightly off taste. I suppose you could say that instant coffee is to coffee what a banana Runt is to a banana. They share a similar taste, but you could tell blindfolded what’s the imitator and what’s the real deal. I enjoyed the vanilla flavoring; it was strong but not cloying, sweet without being so sugary it made me feel ill. The coffee takes a background to the vanilla, but it remains as rich as you can get out of powdered coffee.

So, has Starbucks revolutionized the instant coffee industry? In my opinion, no, but I’d put VIA a cut above other instant coffees I’ve tasted. I don’t know if you can ever really nail the flavor of a fresh pot of coffee in powdered form, but VIA manages to inject some richness into their product, and they didn’t step over the line with the sugar or the vanilla flavoring. Coming in individual packets is a big bonus; if you’ve got hot water, you’ve got coffee, and there’s something to be said for that. One real obstacle that VIA has is pricing. I bought a box of six packets for $6.95; at a little over a dollar a pouch, that certainly beats the price of a Vente mocha latte, but can’t compete with brewing your own coffee and investing in a travel mug.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 packet (16g) – 60 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 13 grams of sugars and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Vanilla Flavored Coffee
Price: $6.95
Size: 6 pack
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: A step above other instant coffees. Five Guys burgers. Easy to transport anywhere. Nice vanilla taste. Friends with questionably useful suggestions.
Cons: Way more expensive than brewing your own coffee. Soulless yuppies. Still has that instant coffee flavor. Already-cooked microwave bacon. Encourages lazy coffee drinkers.

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NEWS: Stride Spark Gum Will Help Keep Me Awake During Natalie Portman’s Non-Erotic Scenes in the Movie ‘Black Swan’

Written by | December 27, 2010

Topics: Gum, Stride

Spark Plug

Update: Click here to read our Stride Spark review

Are you disappointed you can’t get an energy pick up because alcoholic energy drink Sparks has been banned in your area? Well Stride Gum has your back with their new line of Spark gum which contains the energizing B6 and B12 vitamins.

Unfortunately, the gum seems to lack caffeine, but at least you won’t get into any accidents with the gum, like you might if you consumed a Sparks energy drink, unless you have trouble chewing gum and walking at the same time.

But I can understand why Stride would leave out caffeine, since it has an extremely bitter flavor. Although having a bitter flavor would solve Stride’s made up problem of people not spitting out their gum.

I don’t know how much B vitamins are in a stick of Stride Spark gum, but a serving of most energy drinks contain 100 percent of your daily recommended intake of B6 and B12 vitamins, so hopefully it’s around there.

Stride Spark gum will come in two flavors: Kinetic Mint and Kinetic Fruit. It will be available early next year in 14-piece packs.

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REVIEW: Limited Edition Candy Cane Oreo

Written by | December 27, 2010

Topics: 7 Rating, Cookies, Oreo

Limited Edition Candy Cane Oreo

I’m not sure of the reasons for coming out with limited edition Oreos, since it isn’t hard to get people to buy and eat regular Oreos.

Just place them on a plate next to a glass with cold milk or a glass bong with chronic marijuana and watch them disappear like $30 Blu-Ray players on Black Friday at Walmart or my patience when the person in front of me pays for things using only dimes, nickels and pennies.

Since 2008, Nabisco has been producing the Limited Edition Candy Cane Oreo for the Christmas season. Unfortunately, these cookies aren’t as useful as actual candy canes, which can be used as tree ornaments or an impromptu weapon when the dysfunctional family Christmas dinner gets too dysfunctional.

The Limited Edition Candy Cane Oreo combines three colors usually found in hell: black death, bloody red and soul white. One chocolate cookie has the usual Oreo imprint, while the other cookie has a snowflake imprint, and in between the cookies are red and white cremes. If you twist off one of the cookies, you’ll see the division of red and white creme, which looks disturbing because it kind of looks like the red creme is a tongue licking the white creme. So if you’re one of those people who like to lick the creme to oblivion, from certain angles, it might look like you’re French kissing the cookie.

The cookies smell and taste like the heavenly Girl Scout Thin Mints, although a slightly weaker minty version of them. They’re also less minty than regular Mint Oreos. These limited edition Oreos might be less minty than Thin Mints, but at least acquiring them doesn’t include having to deal with pushy Girl Scouts who are trying to get me to buy several more boxes than I should using the proven selling techniques of guilt and having a mother who’s a MILF.

Limited Edition Candy Cane Oreo 6

The “crunchy sprinkles” in the red and white creme provide a pleasant added crunch to the cookies, which you might think would get lost in the crunch of the chocolate cookies, but instead provide a crystalline crunch on top of the cookie crunch.

Like my use of the word “crunch” and all of its derivatives in the previous sentence, there are a lot of sprinkles in the creme, which will make it feel like a well used piece of coarse sandpaper if you’re one of those people who like to lick the creme to oblivion. Sadly, the sprinkles don’t seem to be tiny bits of candy cane and both creme colors have the same vanilla minty flavor.

If you want your Oreo cookies to be as festive as a Christmas tree or that godawful sweater your co-worker wears every year to the company Christmas party, these Limited Edition Candy Cane Oreos will do the trick. If you like your Oreos to be addictive, then these will also do the trick.

If you missed them in stores this year, expect them to be around this time again next year, like extended shopping mall hours and a new annoying Elmo toy.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 45 milligrams of potassium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 14 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein and 6% iron.)

Item: Limited Edition Candy Cane Oreo
Price: $3.99
Size: 10.5 ounces
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like Girl Scout Thin Mints. Addictive. Impressing MILFs. Crunch sprinkles add a different texture. Thin Mints flavor without the Girl Scout guilt. Lots of crunchy sprinkles. Getting one of the few $30 Blu-Ray players on Black Friday. Regular Oreos.
Cons: Crunch sprinkles don’t seem to be bits of candy cane. Licking creme feels like licking coarse sandpaper. Limited edition. Having to defend or attack with a candy cane. High fructose corn syrup. Uses colors usually found in hell.

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