SPOTTED ON SHELVES – 12/31/2012

Here are some interesting new and limited edition products found on store shelves by us and your fellow readers.

Doritos Jumpin' Jack

Holy crap! Doritos Jumpin’ Jack Tortilla Chips are back for a limited time. All I need now is a Sega Genesis game console, Crystal Pepsi, and horrible acne to relive my high school years. (Spotted by Adam at Target.)

Silk Latte

Last year, International Delight started offering their own iced coffee after years of being just a coffee creamer company. So it’s not surprising to see Silk do the same thing, except in a way that doesn’t involve cow udders. (Spotted by Melissa at Redner’s Warehouse Market.)

Lean Pockets Limited Edition Chicken Carbonara

Another limited edition Lean Pockets, which I purchased. My microwave oven is not excited to find out if my streak of Hot/Lean Pockets oozing some their contents out while being heated up will continue. (Spotted by Marvo at Target.)

Dole Chia Clusters

This has nothing to do with these Dole Chia & Fruit Clusters, but I’d like to point out there’s a Chia Hello Kitty, which is perfect for the Hello Kitty superfan in your family. (Spotted by Margaret at Kroger.)

Skinny Cow candy

Skinny Cow Devine Filled Chocolate? How about some Skinny Cow Wine Filled Chocolate? Amirite, my fellow ladies? Oh wait, I’m a guy. (Spotted by Margaret at Kroger.)

Thank you to all the photo contributors! If you’re out shopping and see an interesting new or limited edition product on the shelf (or really unusual), snap a picture of it, and send us an email (theimpulsivebuy@gmail.com) with where you found it and “Spotted” in the subject line. If you do so, you might see your picture in our next Spotted on Shelves post.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats Crunch Brown Sugar

Kellogg's Mini Wheats Crunch Brown Sugar

There’s really no two ways to say it — I was a total bum in middle school.

An average day consisted of me rolling out of bed five minutes before the bus would come, then proceeding to rest my head on the cozy corner of a freezing school bus window not ten minutes later.

This tour de force of youthful energy would continue throughout the morning, as I alternated between taking nosedives of lethargy into math tests and exercising my homemaking sensibilities by grabbing some shut-eye while baking cookies during Home Ec. By the time science rolled around after lunch, I was usually in the slow swoon of sleep’s grip and considered a safety hazard during frog dissection.

Most people would have blamed it on raging hormones. I blame all of it on a really crappy breakfast that lacked whole grains and fiber. Suffice to say, I had yet to discover the full, focused effects that come with a hearty bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats.

Since that time I’ve grown up. I’ve enjoyed the wheaty layers of Maple Brown Sugar and Blueberry, and I’ve feasted of the mini-chocolate chip and cocoa studded nuggets of Mini-Wheats Little Bites. Somewhere during that span, I actually got somewhat serious about education, and stopped constantly sleepwalking through preparing for my future. All because Kellogg’s finally found a way to deliver 20 percent of my daily intake of fiber in the convenient and yummy innards of a sugar coated biscuit.

So there you go. I’m living proof that there’s at least some truth in advertising with the whole “keep you full, keep you focused” campaign the Kellogg’s people have concocted, although thank God I haven’t actually started attempting to communicate with the little squares of wheat themselves. A Leprechaun or talking Toucan I can accept as real, but when it comes to talking and smiling wheat squares, well, now you’re just proposing nonsense.

Kellogg's Mini Wheats Crunch Brown Sugar Box

When it comes to the new Frosted Mini-Wheats Crunch, we’re really looking at a different character from the existing versions. True, all three Wheat characters may share the same DNA, but like the British speak a totally incomprehensible language to my well trained American ears, this latest Mini Wheat looks and feels like a copy of Quaker Oatmeal Squares or Crunchy Corn Bran more than a true Mini Wheat. I’m okay with that, however, because, incomprehensible as a talking biscuit with arms and legs is, I find the concept much more pleasing than a drugged-up looking Quaker dude.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve always preferred snacking on individual biscuits of Mini-Wheats over eating a bowl’s worth in milk. The initial taste of the cereal in this snacking approach is more sweet than “lightly sweet”, with a light brown sugar taste that gets some help from malty backnotes. These backnotes make you appreciate the multigrain elements for what they’re worth, and they do an admirable job at enhancing the biscuit’s wheat and oat taste. However, the biscuits are a bit plain.

Kellogg's Mini Wheats Crunch Brown Sugar Closeup

The crunch is there though. At least it’s there if you still have teeth, with thankfully I still have despite a steady stream of sugar that my dentist tells me will eventually leave me looking like the grandpa from Rugrats. When you do bite down on a singular biscuit the crunch effect registers more than any other cereal I’m familiar with — including, much to his dismay, I’m sure — any of the Cap’n Crunch varieties.

That’s not to say the crunch makes this a better cereal though, as the essential dilemma of the cereal becomes apparent after a few dry chomps. There’s a substantial and really unprecedented crunch if you choose to go in with full chompers grinding, but in that case, you fail to pick up and savor the slow transition in taste from homey brown sugar to substantial wheat and oat. Furthermore, you tend to pick up more of that corn flour aftertaste which just doesn’t mesh with brown sugar cereals.

Kellogg's Mini Wheats Crunch Brown Sugar Milk

Forget about either when it comes to eating the cereal in milk. Losing both its crunchiness and sweetness, the cereal is a total flop once you pour in the milk. The end-milk doesn’t pick up much in the way of brown sugar, while the biscuits don’t take on the glazed mouthful and sugary spike that regular Mini-Wheats do. It tastes about as great as those burnt cookies I made while sleeping through Home Ec.

It’s hard to say this cereal is a disappointment because you’ll probably find yourself finishing the box in no time (much as I did while snacking) but compared to the other Mini-Wheats flavors, it’s on the weaker end of the spectrum. I like the Crunch concept, but it needs help. Different flavors might work better and stand up in the milk, but the brown sugar aspect is a bit boring and one note. Likewise, what’s up with the shrinking boxes? A standard box of Mini-Wheats usually runs between 15-16 ounces, depending on the flavor. But this new variety only comes in a 14-ounce box.

Totally not cool, Mr. Talking new guy Mini Wheat.

How about instead of explaining how all your fiber and whole grains will keep me from flunking out of 7th grade music class, you start explaining why I’m paying more for not just less taste, but less food?

On second thought maybe not.

The last thing I want to do is start talking to my cereal.

(Nutrition Facts – 55 grams – 200 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 150 milligrams of potassium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, 6 grams of protein, and a buttload/cornucopia/smorgasbord of vitamins and minerals.)

Item: Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats Crunch Brown Sugar
Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 14 ounces
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: The crunchiest cereal I’ve ever consumed. Mellow brown sugar taste. Fiber and whole grains to keep me awake during work. High degree of snackability.
Cons: Not as flavorful as previously existing Mini-Wheats flavors. Brown sugar taste gets lost in the crunch effect. Slightly corn bran aftertaste is a head scratcher. Lousy end milk. Honey they shrunk the cereal box. Talking bite sized squares of wheat and oats.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Random Stuff Prize Pack Winner

Here’s The Impulsive Buy’s Random Stuff Prize Pack drawing winner:

Jerry

Congratulations, Jerry!

After searching around my house for items companies have sent me, I ended up adding a few extra stuff to the prize pack, like a t-shirt I received earlier this year.

Thanks to everyone who participated!

WEEK IN REVIEWS – 12/29/2012

Milk Vitamin D

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

Oh, vitamin D! I can produce you in my body while standing outside on a sunny day. I could also drink milk or this water to get some vitamin D. Or to double my rickets protection I could drink either beverage outside on a sunny day. (via Flavor Scientist)

Pinterest tells me cake pops are popular. The long lines at Starbucks tell me Starbucks is popular. So using horrible logic, these Starbucks Peppermint Brownie Cake Pops must be super popular. (via Brand Eating)

If you need a moment, chew it over with Twix. If you need more than a moment, stuff your face with a huge spoonful of Twix ice cream, pretend to have brain freeze, and then run to the bathroom while saying, “Dammit! I forgot I’m lactose intolerant!” (via On Second Scoop)

Harry Potter related beverages have been available for years. What about beverages from J.K. Rowling’s new stuff? Perhaps Pagford Pomegranate Spritzer? (via Soda Tasting)

And to wrap up the last Week in Reviews post of 2012, I give you what many of you want: XXX Trader Joenography! (via An Immovable Feast)

Image via flickr user loop_ohCC BY ND 2.0

REVIEW: Red Bull Editions (Red, Silver, and Blue)

Red Bull Editions

Call me old fashioned but if I need energy, I’ll drink a cup of hot coffee, snort some cocaine, or maybe do some meth like my grandpappy did in those sepia toned garage years.

The point is I’m not a fan of energy drinks because they’re either loaded with way too much sugar or taste like I’m guzzling Keebler elves piss. I also don’t like Red Bull because I once threw up from imbibing too many Red Bull & Vodkas back when they were chic and before frat boys made it their go-to cocktail. The strange “tang-taste” Red Bull has still makes me dry heave.

When I’m too lazy to make an espresso, I’ll head over to a convenience store and pick up one of those Starbucks Doubleshot Espresso drinks which come in tiny cans that make me feel sophisticated as I hold my tattered copy of Sylvia Plath that I never read. I don’t mind heading over to a convenience store because there’s something soothing about the glass doors and dim lighting of the refrigerated beverage shelves. While being comforted by the beverage shelves during a recent visit to 7-Eleven, I noticed new Red Bull flavors.

Red Bull Red (cranberry), Red Bull Silver (lime), and Red Bull Blue (blueberry) all come in the famous Red Bull skinny can, but with new graphics. I was intrigued. The other energy drink companies are introducing new flavors, why not Red Bull? I later found out they’re being sold exclusively at 7-Eleven until their national rollout March 2013.

The cashier gave me a sullen look as she rang up the buffalo chicken roller and Red Bulls. “It’s for a review!” I protested, but she just rolled her eyes and gave me my change. I don’t need to justify my purchases to her but I think I would give me the same look too. Oh well…

I was a bit cautious when I got home to try my new drinks because I knew if that familiar tangy flavor was prevalent, I was done and couldn’t review it. I pulled the tab. Is there no sound satisfying as the “pfffftttssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss” when you open a can? Not even the crackle of frying bacon or the screaming of a lobster when you dunk it into a hot bubbling pot can compare.

Red Bull Red Edition

Red Bull Red Edition

Red Bull Red tasted of cranberry juice with hints of an almost citrus nature. The infamous gag-reflex aftertaste Red Bull has was still present but pleasantly faint. The cranberry flavor was very forward. It had a great sweet and tart balance, like most good cranberry juices. I certainly enjoyed this one.

It won’t replace my cranberry juice in the morning or when I make a Cape Cod as I wear white cotton pants (similar to what Michael McDonald wears in music videos) sauntering on the hot sand. This was a surprise and very approachable for an energy drink that doesn’t taste like one. Plus, the name sounds like a twist on The Shining’s “REDRUM!!! REDRUM!!!”

Red Bull Silver Edition

Red Bull Silver Edition

This is the Red Bull that will probably garner the least amount of regular consumers. It tasted similar to Coca-Cola’s Italian offering, Beverly. I’m a big fan of the drink and before anyone scoffs, I’ll remind you that I also drink a healthy amount of Campari. Bitterness is a flavor, and an emotion, I savor intensely.

Red Bull Silver Edition immediately tasted like tonic water but then takes a sharp left into bitterness. I also enjoyed the faint lime flavor but wished there was a more pronounced citrus punch. You’d get more of a citrusy zing if you drank a citrus Alka-Seltzer or ate a dirty lemon wedge from the waiter’s stand.

I love bitter drinks but like the action movie Mortal Kombat, the public still isn’t jaded enough to appreciate it. It’s the boldest one of the three and I have to applaud Red Bull for it. I will hoard as many as possible before the execs realize they created a drink only 0.0003 percent of consumers will enjoy.

Red Bull Blue Edition

Red Bull Blue Edition

Blueberries are a strange flavor, like grape, because most blueberry and grape products don’t taste like their respective fruit. To be honest, I like the “candy” blueberry flavor better than actual blueberries, and Red Bull Blue Edition delivers it with a punch to the crotch and fisticuffs to your nagging granny as you lie there watching in pain.

The blueberry flavor is rich and not very sweet which is awesome. Also, like the other two, it’s bereft of that strong unpleasant tang. This one is, by far, my favorite of the three.

Red Bull Editions 2

I doubt anyone eats anything while they drink Red Bull but if you do, don’t (and that includes any food that calls itself “rollers”). The flavors are strong in a good way but like your pushy neighbor, it’s going to try to takeover and ruin everyone’s time. Also, I don’t know if I got an energy boost from them, since I didn’t feel any different. In fact, the only arduous thing I wanted to do was play some Borderlands 2 and eat some saltines.

These new Red Bull Edition offerings have changed my mind about Red Bull and I do hope all three survive, and not get discontinued like Red Bull Cola. Do yourself a favor, hunt for them. They’re well worth trying. Kudos to an energy drink that does not rely on its usual bags of tricks like overly syrupy flavors that cave your head in to let you know, “Hey, I’m a damn BLUEBERRY Potsie! RAAAAHHHHGHHHHAHHH!!!”

(Nutrition Facts – 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 100 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 27 grams of sugars, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Red Bull Editions (Red, Silver, and Blue)
Purchased Price: $2.99 each
Size: 8.4 ounces each
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Red)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Silver)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Blue)
Pros: No Red Bull energy excruciating tang taste. The scene when Liu Kang meets his brother’s ghost with the song from Orbital playing…still brings me to tears. Cranberry tasted like cranberry juice. Not so sweet. Blueberry is present and plays nice. Michael McDonald.
Cons: The lime could be stronger. When the person at 7-Eleven dismisses you. These are limited right now. Energy levels are questionable. Mortal Kombat’s movie sequel. Chicken Rollers.

REVIEW: Hardee’s Jalapeño Turkey Burger

Hardee’s Jalapen?o Turkey Burger

I have to say, I’m quite disappointed after having eaten the new Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. Jalapeño Turkey Burger.

I’m not disappointed because it has more calories than a standard Hardee’s quarter-pound cheeseburger, which contradicts its own claims of healthiness. Nor am I bummed that the obviously pre-formed turkey patties are tenderized with more mazy grooves than a 2D Pac-Man screen. Hell, it doesn’t even boil my blood that the whole damn burger concept is basically a repackaged version of the on again/off again Santa Fe Turkey Burger from Carl’s Jr.

No, what really pisses me off is that Hardee’s finally made a decent tasting turkey burger, and they didn’t even bother to make a provocative commercial about it.

I know what you’re thinking. Turkey + Burger shape = Crap. In the interest of full disclosure, I will point out I don’t always agree with this equation — provided, of course, that I make and grill the burgers themselves.

The way I see it, if a lazy line cook at a fast food place can’t even nail a moderately juicy beef burger (and most can’t) then there’s no way they’re going to get turkey right. I didn’t need more than a 2011 visit to try the “Original” Carl’s Jr. Turkey Burger to confirm this suspicion, and thanks to the memory of that disgustingly dry and insipid excuse for a burger, I held out little hope for the latest variation from sister chain Hardee’s.

At best, I expected the new take to feature glooby mayonnaise, a stale bun, and decrepit produce working in perfect consort with a flavorless hockey-puck of poultry meat.  At worst, I expected to choke and die, but that’s another story completely.

Hardee’s Jalapen?o Turkey Burger Bun

I was wrong. Well, for the most part I was wrong, that is. The bun, in perfect little-used wheat bun fast food fashion, was stale and falling apart. It lost any malted flavor it once had thanks to an over-toast, while the burnt tasting wheat base could hardly contain the innards of the burger from slipping out. A real shame because I was still burping up the aftertaste of that piquant and flavorful collaboration of southwesterly flavors hours later.

(Aside — Don’t act like you don’t do it, and don’t pretend like burping up the taste of a morning donut or afternoon burger isn’t on par with some of life’s simplest pleasures.)

Hardee’s Jalapen?o Turkey Burger Side

Ironically enough, the burger actually wins on the taste of the turkey, which, despite a crusty and seared-looking exterior, was juicy and slightly sweet, coalescing in the kind of pleasing poultry flavor one might associate with Thanksgiving and all those Thanksgivng-ey herbs and spices.

Hardee’s Jalapen?o Turkey Burger Jalapeno

The patty itself is adorned with a slice of Pepper Jack cheese, which, while not of the optimum goo capacity one often looks for with American cheese on a burger, was nevertheless tasty enough to impart more than just salt and fat. It added a mellow milky flavor that actually helped to cut the blow of the otherwise inferno provided by the Sante Fe Sauce and jalapeño coins.

Hardee’s Jalapen?o Turkey Burger Jalapeno top

Speaking of infernos, there’s definitely some heat with the triple threat of jalapeños, sauce, and cheese. I’ll admit my tolerance for spiciness or heat isn’t as high as others, but the good news for fire-eaters and non fire-eaters is that there’s enough flavor in the smoky-spicy sauce to bring either eater back for an additional bite. My only qualm was with the consistency of the soybean-oil based sauce, which was too loose and perhaps too liberally dispersed on only the top side of the burger.

Hardee’s Jalapen?o Turkey Burger Patty Top

Iceberg, tasteless tomatoes, and a meager portion of red onion didn’t add the kind of freshness that could really help dissipate the heat of a burger like this, but when it comes to a fast food burger, I unfortunately accept as much. At least the burger feels substantial, and outweighs (size-wise) most burgers in its calorie range.

I’ll stop short of calling this a very good burger and just call it a pleasantly surprising, if not reasonably priced, and substantial burger that heat-seekers should enjoy. Its limits and failings – a stale bun, meager produce, unmelted cheese – are nothing new to fast food, and they’re the kinds of shortcomings one takes into account when ordering a $3.49 sandwich as opposed to a $7.49 sandwich. The surprise, however, is the turkey. Whether it’s healthier or not is debatable, but in this case, Hardee’s/Carl Jr. seem to have created a tasty and juicy alternative to beef that someone doesn’t even need a New Year’s Resolution to seek out.

Now, if they could only get on that damn commercial, they might actually sell a few of these things.

(Nutrition Facts – 450 calories, 220 calories from fat, 24 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 95 milligrams of cholesterol, 1260 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 32 grams of protein.)

Other Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. Jalapeño Turkey Burger reviews:
Man Reviews Food

Item: Hardee’s Jalapeño Turkey Burger
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Hardee’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Hefty – one might say, “hearty” burger. Turkey is surprisingly juicy and flavorful. Triple threat of heat imparts good flavor. Under 500 calories. Affordable.
Cons: Classic case of fast food Wheat Bun fail. Sante Fe Sauce is loose and messy. Cheese would be better if it were fully melted. Produce sucks. Still more calories than a quarter-pound cheeseburger. Lack of provocative advertising campaign.