WEEK IN REVIEWS – 4/30/2011

do the dew

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

If only I had a Dunkin’ Donuts nearby, then I could Do the Dew by dunking a Dunkin’ Donuts donut into the Dunkin’ Donuts Mountain Dew Coolatta. (via On Second Scoop)

I still have the mind of a child. How do I know? Because reading the words Juicy Squirts still make me giggle. (via ZOMG Candy)

I’ve never had a Russian cream soda before, but I imagine (insert Russian reversal joke here). (via Weird Soda Review)

Hey! I just realized caffeinated soap is a great way to get caffeine…through the penis. (via Caffeine-A-Holic)

Sierra Mist is all-natural. Does this mean it has unshaven armpits, wrinkles, and small breasts? (via Eat! Drink! Snack!)

There’s an energy drink for hunters and fishermen. How about an energy drink for the hunted? Their lives are on the line, I think they need it more. (via Caffeine King)

REVIEW: Keebler Wheatables Toasted Pecan Nut Crisps

Keebler Wheatables Toasted Pecan Nut Crisps

When I stumbled upon the newest addition to Keebler’s Wheatables line, my first thought was “Finally! Someone has tapped into the sorely neglected yet obviously lucrative grey squirrel market!” I’m serious. My brain operates in strange and fascinating ways. I am afraid of word association exercises and what horrors they might reveal about my psyche.

The Toasted Pecan Nut Crisps were strategically placed on the top row of shelves in the snack aisle. That’s a horrible position for attracting the bulk of the snacking population, but it’s prime squirrel territory, provided my local grocery store starts accepting tree-dwelling rodents as valid customers.

Keebler’s foray into the nut-gatherer segment of the population actually makes sense when you think about it. Of course the tree-dwelling elf company would be among the first to respond to the outcry of squirrels frustrated and bored with the usual range of stale mixed nuts offered up by their overly gregarious, primarily elderly suppliers. I think we can all agree that no self-respecting modern urban squirrel actually goes out foraging among the trees anymore.

Back at my alma mater we had squirrels on the main quad that survived solely on McDonald’s scraps and the adoration of the student body. It was damn near impossible to enjoy a Nature Valley bar in the shade of majestic maple tree on a warm spring day without the little guys circling like vultures, ever tighter, ever closer, chattering expectantly. San Diego’s omni-sunny, seasonless climate makes things all the worse by eliminating the need to hibernate and stockpile. It was only a matter of time before our local rodent friends evolved from hunter-gathering to lounging in little eucalyptus hammocks, munching on acorn-blasted goldfish and googling all sorts of disturbing variations of the phrase “huge savory nuts”.

At first whiff, the crisps smell like Honey Bunches of Oats with a twinge of maple syrup. Each one is rife with pecan flecks and salt crystals. I’m left with a fine nutty/salty dust coating my fingertips, making this a decent option for all those grading their snacks on the Doritos scale of puzzling powder-based messiness.

Keebler Wheatables Toasted Pecan Nut Crisps Naked

The flavor is buttery, with prominent pecan, and just a hint of salt. Think pecan French toast, only crispier, like a standard, non-amazing Wheatable. This threw my best friend into a state of existential confusion. She very much likes to categorize, organize, and keep things neat. The nut crisps shattered that careful order in just one bite.

They aren’t really crackers – too sweet. Their hexagonal shape disqualifies them from any special animal cracker exemptions. They certainly wouldn’t qualify as a cookie either, as they’re too flat and crispy. They’re far too nutritionally deficient to pass as breakfast in any but the most desperate of circumstances, yet every fabric of their being practically screams “GOOD MORNING!” from the moment one opens the box. Even the good elves of Keebler seem unable to decide what to make of this monster. The box tentatively labels them as crackers in tiny print below the giant “nut crisps” banner. So they’re crisp cracker snacks? I guess?

If you’re able to get past that philosophical quandary and dive into a box with no regard for labeling, the Nut Crisps are quite delicious and addictive snack… thingies. They apparently also come in almond, but as a former Midwesterner looking to regain some of the street cred I lost in the Popeye’s fiasco, I only bothered to hunt down the buttery goodness of pecans.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 crackers – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 3.5 grams polyunsaturated fat, 2 grams monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, 0% vitamin A, 0% calcium, 0% vitamin C, and 6% iron.)

Item: Keebler Wheatables Toasted Pecan Nut Crisps

Price: $3.59

Size: 8.5 ounces

Purchased at: Albertson’s

Rating: 9 out of 10

Pros: Addresses the plight of bored urban squirrels. Tastes like honey bunches of hexagons. Peh-cahns. Good random snack. The Doritos powdery coating scale. Brimming with sunshine and cheeriness.
Cons: Suffers from an identity crisis. Possibly promotes squirrel obesity. Pecan dust never goes away. Makes a very sad stand alone breakfast and an even sadder lunch. Pee-cans. Failing a word association test. Stale mixed nuts.

REVIEW: Peanut Butter Creme Oreo Fudge Cremes and Golden Oreo Fudge Cremes

Golden Oreo Fudge Cremes and Peanut Butter Creme Oreo Fudge Cremes

A wise yet misunderstood sage once observed that C is for cookie, and that was good enough for him.  It’s hard to argue with truth bombs like that, and I’m not going to try.  If anything, I’ll simply observe that like women, cookies come in all different shapes and varieties, some of which you’ll never be able to get enough of and some of which will break up with you via text message because you’re “too nice,” whatever the hell that means, Rachel.  But unlike women, you’re allowed to keep trying new ones after you settle down, which is fortunate because otherwise this review would be one sentence long and say, “I love chocolate chip cookies and I would NEVER TRY A DIFFERENT ONE NO MATTER HOW MUCH IT BEGGED ME TO EAT IT.” 

Obviously that’s not going to cut it, so last Friday night I put on my finest dress shirt, headed down to the local grocery store and picked up some Golden Oreo Fudge Cremes and Peanut Butter Creme Oreo Fudge Cremes.  I’m not one to brag, but let’s just say they both found their way home with me and leave it at that.

I naively assumed I knew what to expect with these cookies, only to realize how wrong I was once I opened the packages.  The first thing you’ll notice is that they’re pretty slim, about the thickness of a Thin Mint.  (In fact, there’s a mint version of this cookie that I’m guessing tastes exactly like a Thin Mint.)  Ergo, clearly not the “regular Oreo coated with fudge” that I had assumed they’d be.  I can’t imagine why I would have thought that, unless it’s because Oreos have a distinct “cookie/filling/cookie” sandwich configuration that literally everyone in the entire world associates with them.  Don’t ask me why they decided to deviate from that — possibly eating full Oreos covered in fudge would cause your ass to expand so rapidly that you’d give yourself an instant wedgie even if you were wearing boxers.  Or maybe it€™s a cost-saving measure. 

Golden Oreo Fudge Cremes and Peanut Butter Creme Oreo Fudge Cremes Naked

The fact remains that Oreo Fudge Cremes are more like what you’d get if you twisted an Oreo in half and dipped it in fudge, the only real difference being that the peanut butter ones (natch) have PB instead of vanilla creme.  In retrospect I should not have been surprised, as the front of each package has a 3-step illustration showing exactly what I just described: half of an Oreo being covered in fudge until it’s completely coated, the end.  It’s literally so simple that its intended audience of children should be able to grasp it in a second, which does not reflect highly on me.  What can I say, it’s late.

As I mentioned before, the cookies really do closely resemble Thin Mints, just a bit bumpier.  Both kinds, Golden and Peanut Butter, look functionally identical when placed next to each other.  In fact, if you can correctly identify which cookies are which in the picture above and email me your answer, I will send you a hefty monetary prize.  Though I have a nagging suspicion that every single person who guesses is going to be wrong.  Call it a hunch.

Peanut Butter Creme Oreo Fudge Cremes Innards

The peanut butter cookies definitely carry that distinctive PB smell, though it’s not overpowering thanks to the fudgy shell.  They taste decent, but unfortunately suffer from not enough peanut butter flavor… it’s a little too muted.  As my wife quite rightly points out, there are tons of ways to get your peanut butter/chocolate fix, not least of which are Reese’s peanut butter cups.  If there aren’t any PB cups available, these will do in a pinch, but their texture makes them slightly less desirable than the old standby — for some reason the cookie component doesn’t add anything, it just gets in the way of the more pronounced peanut butter and chocolate tastes.  They aren’t bad, but I stop short of being able to highly recommend them either.

Golden Oreo Fudge Cremes Innards

The Golden Oreo Fudge Cremes, on the other hand, are really good.  Here the cookie component doesn’t seem superfluous thanks to the lack of a preexisting peanut butter cup bias, and actually feels a bit crunchier.  Also, the creme filling is a much bolder taste than the peanut butter, which in this case is a good thing.  It feels odd to say this since peanut butter and chocolate are a proven flavor combination, but the components of the golden fudge cremes just mesh a lot better.  And I might just be imagining it, but the flavor seems to linger longer, for what that’s worth.

Be prepared for the fact that even though they come in large packages, there really aren’t that many cookies in there.  I can’t remember exactly how many regular Oreos used to come per package, but I guarantee you it’s more than what each of these packages contained, which makes no sense because these are thinner than regular Oreos, so in theory you should be able to cram more of them in.  Each cookie has its own little individual slot in the plastic container, and maybe there needs to be a little room between them to keep the fudge from melting and sticking all the cookies together, but they don’t need THAT much space.  At least part of that is profit inflation, so while these aren’t ridiculously expensive products, you’re not getting everything you could be either.

I don’t have much else to say without resorting to mocking Hydrox cookies (you could tell your after-school program already spent their entire month’s budget on softball equipment when they started hauling out the Hydrox, couldn’t you?), and nobody wants to hear that.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out how unhealthy these fudge cremes are for you — three cookies account for almost a quarter of your recommended saturated fat intake for the day — but no one buys Oreos because they’re concerned about health, they buy them because they taste good and help to relive your childhood.  On the former count, at least, these cookies mainly succeed, but unless you still have the metabolism you possessed as a kid, tread carefully.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 cookies – Golden Oreo Fudge Cremes – 180 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of total fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 40 milligrams of potassium, 25 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.  Peanut Butter Creme Oreo Fudge Cremes – 170 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 80 milligrams of potassium, 23 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 17 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Golden Oreo Fudge Cremes and Peanut Butter Creme Oreo Fudge Cremes
Price: $2.99 per package
Size: 11.3 ounces
Purchased at: Acme
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Peanut Butter Creme Oreo Fudge Cremes)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Golden Oreo Fudge Cremes)
Pros: Om nom nom nom!  Extending cookies/women metaphors to the breaking point.  Both kinds smell really good.  Effective texture in the golden variety, with flavors that mesh well.  Lasting taste.  Nostalgia factor. 
Cons: Getting dumped by text message.  Masquerading as Thin Mints.  Peanut butter variety not as good as PB cups.  Not overwhelming quantities.  Takes a lot of games of freeze tag to burn off the calories.

REVIEW: Carl’s Jr. Charbroiled Turkey Burger

Carl's Jr. Charbroiled Turkey Burger

There used to be a Carl’s Jr. in my neighborhood that was the definition of foul. You know what I’m talking about – that fluorescent-bulb buzzing, greasy-smelling, un-swept trash on the floor, poorly-lit parking-lot-mugging sort of joint. Not being a big fast food eater, I didn’t have a reason to go there very often, but despite this, I ate there exactly twice. Both times, it was after midnight, I was starving after a cross-country plane trip where there had been no meals, and I had refused to pay the inflated airport price for sub-par food. (I’m looking at YOU, LAX McDonald’s!!!) The burgers I consumed from Carl’s Jr. were greasy, bloated and messy — pretty typical fare, and not the worst thing if you’re famished, but I always felt like I was doing a real disservice to my arteries, waistline, lymph nodes, etc.

That being said, I really wanted to like Carl’s Jr.’s recent foray into “healthy food.” I thought it would help me overcome my deeply-ingrained mistrust of this particular fast food chain and expand my list of low-fat fast food options. (A girl can only order a 6-inch turkey sub from not-so-skinny Jared so many times). So when the new TV ads hit, proclaiming that Carl’s Jr. had enlisted the renowned nutrition experts of “Eat This, Not That” and Men’s Health to develop a trio of leaner burgers for the menu (the Teriyaki Turkey Burger and the Guacamole Turkey Burger are the other two), I was down to try it, despite the fact that I lack the Y chromosome. I thought to myself, Hey, Self, if the “Eat This, Not That” folks can endorse this product, I figure I can help them out a little, maybe satisfy my burger jones while avoiding the unhealthier items on the menu. I figured that a burger under 500 calories would be okay to eat, even if it’s still about 200 more calories than what I would normally ingest in one sitting.

They weren’t lying when they said each burger was under 500 calories, but they just barely squeaked by with that count – the Charbroiled Turkey Burger, the plainest of the three has 490 calories. Really, Carl’s Jr.? You boast about making sandwiches under 500 calories when the caloric difference is two sticks of sugar-free gum. Yes, most of your burgers are in the 700-1100 calorie range, and this burger is much less than that, but that’s kind of like being the air traffic controller who snores the most quietly while on duty. I wouldn’t call slapping together a sandwich that barely meets the “healthy” criteria an awesome accomplishment. Even the turkey burger you doused in sugary teriyaki sauce has fewer calories than your regular one! Do you see how strange that is, Carl’s Jr.? And don’t get me started on the 1,000+ milligrams of sodium.

Carl's Jr. Charbroiled Turkey Burger Halves

Let’s start with the patty. It is ground turkey, and we all know that turkey is the most dignified of all poultry. It’s the only bird that gets its own holiday, and the only bird we dress up in jaunty Pilgrim hats and shiny black shoes with buckles. However, the Charbroiled Turkey Burger patty is supremely unseemly. It looks like something straight out of an elementary school cafeteria or a maximum security prison mess hall. Pale and stiff on the outside, chewy and flavorless on the inside. They probably serve this turkey burger in Hell. How could something so bland contain so much salt? The fixins are standard – I counted two pieces of lettuce, one tomato slice, and a couple teensy pickles. The pile of sliced red onion was a nice touch, but it didn’t make up for the overall lack of flavor. Lastly, there was a glob of mayonnaise on the bottom bun and a slathering of “special sauce” with chopped onion on the top. The special sauce was clearly mayo mixed with ketchup. NOT SPECIAL. Thankfully, the burger wasn’t too messy, but that was probably because the decently-toasted, whole-grain bun soaked up all the spread.

Carl’s Jr. and their partners were really trying to make something healthy here, and I commend them for their efforts. It’s just too bad that the end result tastes like a half-hearted attempt. I expected something meaty and tasty with fewer calories than their usual burgers, and I got school district leftovers. Carl’s Jr. understands that people want better choices for their quick-service meals, but I think they could’ve done a lot better with this burger, especially with the assistance they received from “Eat This, Not That.” They got so preoccupied with looking out for our expanding guts that they left our taste buds out in the cold.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Charbroiled Turkey Burger (268g) – 490 calories, 200 calories from fat, 23 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 80 milligrams of cholesterol, 1010 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugar, 29 grams of protein.)

Other Carl’s Jr. Turkey Burger reviews:
An Immovable Feast
Grub Grade

Item: Carl’s Jr. Charbroiled Turkey Burger
Price: $3.61
Size: 1 turkey burger
Purchased at: Carl’s Jr.
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Burger Jones. Under 500 calories. Two X Chromosomes. Red onions. Eat This, Not That. Turkeys in doublets, breeches, and tall, black hats with buckles.
Cons: Bland, school-lunch-grade meat. Really, really close to 500 calories. Enough sodium to blast your blood pressure into the stratosphere. Buying fast food at the airport. Maximum security prison.

REVIEW: Post Cocoa Pebbles Treats

Post Cocoa Pebbles Treats

I think Cocoa Pebbles is better than Cocoa Krispies. If you think Cocoa Krispies tastes better than Cocoa Pebbles, we can either agree on our differences or we can determine which is better like gentlemen by filling a kiddie pool with several gallons of milk and a whole lot of Cocoa Pebbles and Cocoa Krispies and wrestling in it. And after I put you in a milky submission hold, I’ll make you say Cocoa Pebbles is the greatest chocolate flavored rice cereal on the face of the Earth.

How much do I think Cocoa Krispies suck? Well, let me drop a little freestyle rap on its ass.

Snap, Crackle and Pop, more like Sucka, Crackhead, and Punk.
I don’t understand why people eat that Cocoa Krispies junk.
It makes Boy Scouts lie and birds fall out of the sky.
It’s the reason why ties go awry and why babies cry.
A spoonful of Cocoa Krispies brings despair and displeasure.
Cocoa Pebbles isn’t just a cereal, it’s a chocolatey treasure.
Ya heard!
Big up!
Word!

Yup, that’s how much love Cocoa Pebbles, so you can imagine how hard my nipples became when I heard about Post releasing Cocoa Pebbles Treats, which was something that was long overdue. It’s as if Post saw the dozens of Cocoa Pebbles treats recipes on the internet and thought, “Hey. We can probably make some money if we did it ourselves. Let’s ask the legal department if we can call them Cocoa Pebbles Treats without
getting Kellogg’s panties in a knot.”

Post Cocoa Pebbles Treats Naked

Each box of Post Cocoa Pebbles Treats comes with eight individually-wrapped marshmallow cereal squares, each of which weighs 22 grams, which is the same as a Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Treat. Its chocolate flavor not only comes from the Cocoa Pebbles cereal, but also the chocolate drizzle on top.

I could see myself getting Fred Flintstone fat eating these Cocoa Pebbles Treats. Although it would take several boxes for me to do so since each one has only 90 calories. But I’m getting there, since I consumed seven of the eight treats over the past 48 hours.

Its texture has the same gooeyness and satisfying crunch as Rice Krispies Treats. The cereal has that familiar chocolatey flavor I know and would wrestle you for, but the marshmallows used as the glue to keep everything together enhances the flavor of the cereal. Its flavor makes me, if I were feeling extra gluttonous, want to grab a box of Cocoa Pebbles Treats, break apart each bar into smaller pieces, stick them in a big bowl, add some milk, grab me the biggest spoon I can find, and then go to town on it like Fred would with a brontosaurus burger or Wilma.

Post’s Cocoa Pebbles Treats are almost everything I hoped they would be. I do wish they were a bit bigger, but what should I expect since they’re made for kids who have small hands and think this is cool. I also wish they didn’t contain partially hydrogenated oils, which gives them trans fats, but less than 0.5 grams, which, according to the FDA, allows them to label them as containing 0 grams of trans fat. Oh crap! I’ve eaten seven of the eight treats over the past 48 hours.

Geez, those last two sentences were such a serious downers. I’ll end with a little freestyle rap instead.

Yo. Post Cocoa Pebbles Treats are crazy delicious.
But trans fat makes them not so nutritious.
Maybe I’ll write a letter to Post and get seditious.
Naw, I’m too lazy. I ain’t that ambitious.
Ya heard!
Big up!
Word!

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bar – 90 calories,15 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat*, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 110 milligrams of sodium, 25 milligrams of potassium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein, and sad amounts of vitamins and minerals.)

*contains partially hydrogenated oils

Item: Post Cocoa Pebbles Treats
Price: $3.29 (on sale)
Size: 8 bars
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Really good. Chocolatey. Has the same gooeyness and satisfying crunch as Rice Krispies Treats. Gluten free. Chocolate drizzle. No high fructose corn syrup. Wrestling in a gigantic bowl of Cocoa Pebbles and milk. Cocoa Pebbles.
Cons: Contains partially hydrogenated oils. Could’ve been bigger. What kids think are cool. My freestyle rap skills. Cocoa Krispies.