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Adam - who has written 84 posts on The Impulsive Buy.


REVIEW: Lay’s Cappuccino Potato Chips

Written by | July 30, 2014

Topics: 4 Rating, Chips, Lay's

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino Potato Chips

There are two types of people in this world. There are those who play it safe and those who do not.

The former group slows down at yellow lights, blots the grease from their pizza, and runs the ball on third and one in Madden. The latter blows through red lights, pours grease from their buddy’s slice of pizza onto theirs, and calls an Annexation of Puerto Rico on fourth and forever.

But none of these actions match up to the ultimate litmus test in living safe or dangerous: choosing which Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Chips to buy.

Last year, I faced danger with Lay’s Chicken and Waffles Potato Chips. But, despite my awful experience, I wasn’t going to let the hacked together taste of poultry and Eggo stop me from checking out this year’s finalist out of left field. We’ve seen various salty and sweet chips before, but I’ve never seen potato chips that taste like coffee and milk. As for what Chad Scott was thinking when he submitted cappuccino to Lay’s, well, I’ll play it safe and guess he had good intentions.

After strutting through Harris Teeter with a bag in hand and dropped jaws and slow claps of less intrepid snackers around me*, I opened it, which released a mellow, but prominent coffee aroma. It was stronger than coffee ice cream and only a few notches down from a college English class at 7:30 in the morning. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it definitely was unnatural. In fact, when contacted for comment, Mr. Potato Head confirmed it was certainly the most intense out-of-body experience he’s had since Toy Story 3. Like I said, it’s about living dangerously.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino Potato Chips Closeup

I raised a single chip and brought it closer to my nose, taking a moment to harness my senses in that cultured thing coffee people do before they take a sip. Then I remembered I was sitting in my office with a potato chip held up to my nose, and realized how freaking ridiculous I looked. I sampled the seasoning by licking the fried exterior of the spud clean.

Its flavor is maddeningly indescribable. I’m taken aback at first, completely unable to harness dozens of hours of GRE verbal practice tests in assessing what the flavor is.

It’s slightly bitter with an odd sensation from the aftermath of lactic sweetness. It leaves a light roasted coffee flavor hanging on the roof of your mouth. I taste more chips and I’m dumbfounded, searching for a salty-sweet affirmation of what I thought the chips would taste like.

Instead, I’m only left with the idea of sweetness and a memory of cream, as the way too authentic taste of light roasted coffee continues to linger even as the clashing but familiar earthiness from the potato comes around at the end. Several chips down, and I’m utterly confused.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino Potato Chips 2

This is not exactly living dangerously through snacks. Unencumbered, and perhaps believing that stuffing multiple chips into my mouth at once will harness some undiscovered salty-sweet synergy, I find the taste more palatable. There isn’t a salty-sweet combo going on here, the salty flavor is almost nonexistent, but there is a somewhat cocoa-like effect that isn’t too bad. But it’s hardly bold and it’s not particularly addictive or snackable.

There’s just no other way to say it: Chad Scott, you got your wish. These chips taste just like a cappuccino, or at least insofar as the cappuccino flavor you’d expect from a Jelly Belly Jelly Bean. They’re not throw-out-the-bag horrible, but they’re not something I’d buy again.

The flavor is just out of place on a fried tuber and ends up splitting the difference of two different sensations which match up about as gracefully as a Mormon in a Starbucks (it’s okay, I’m from Utah). Buying them might boost your credibility as a vanguard snacker, but enjoying them probably just means you like the taste of coffee too much.

*Possibly. Or maybe not.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz./about 15 chips – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 330 milligrams of potassium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $2.00 (on sale)
Size: 9.5 oz bag
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Not detestable in an OH THE HUMANITY kind of way. Classic Lay’s crispiness. Decently snackable when eaten in droves.
Cons: Cappuccino flavor is way too authentic for a potato chip. Bitterness. Out of body snacking experiences. Lacks salty-sweet synergy. Does not affirm the desire to live dangerously.

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REVIEW: Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies

Written by | July 9, 2014

Topics: 8 Rating, Cookies, Pillsbury

Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies

The Pillsbury Doughboy sat back in his recliner, grimaced, and with his finger placed on the trans-fat laden rolls on his triple chin, proceeded to take up a position of pondering. It had not been a very promising summer in the mass-produced, ready-to-bake sweets business.

Not only had his brother, the Michelin Man, begun a diet eschewing Grands biscuits and cinnamon rolls in favor of Eggo S’mores, pancakes, and Krave S’mores cereal, but preliminary second quarter reports showed a bottoming out of his cookie sales, with the culprit identified as a new cookie flavor developed by those damn elves at Keebler.

If that weren’t bad enough, he had spent the last month with a nonsensical ditty stuck in his head, something about “some more for you and some more for me,” that managed to give him an inexplicable urge to get some ice cream.

That was when it occurred to him; he, master of sweets and lover of all things giggly and ticklish, was late to the party. Suddenly seized with the same innovative spirit of Dr. Emmett Brown following a nasty spill on the toilet seat, he set off to develop a s’mores-inspired treat that would outdo any packaged Keebler cookie or Dairy Queen Blizzard with an annoyingly melodic theme song.

Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies Before

I speak, of course, of the new Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies. Some people look down upon ready-to-bake cookies, but I am not one of those people. Like any Pinterest browsing cookie fanatic who has never quite mastered the creaming method, I appreciate the dummy-proof nature of a 350 degree oven and 11 to 15 minutes of my time. I also get off on breaking rules like “Do Not Eat Raw Cookie Dough,” but that’s a completely different and much more frightening story.

Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies Baked

In any case, the adorable, square-ish cookies are delicious. There’s little to no graham flavor to speak of, but you’ll hardly notice thanks to the winning combination of that classic chocolate chip cookie taste and the oooey-gooey marshmallow filling, which bursts out in an abundant river obstructed only by crunchy semi-sweet chocolate chips and a light, brown-sugar crumb that’s altogether crispy on the cookie’s edges. It’s this winning texture of crunchy edges and super-moist filling which makes eating a single cookie a mathematical impossibility, while a liberal dose of the hyper-sweet chocolate icing provides an extra punch of cocoa flavor reminiscent of Hershey’s syrup.

Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies Closeup

Complaints are minor; the icing is more chocolate syrup than ganache, while the cookies’ unique filling makes them extra soft when pulling from the oven. There are no instructions for baking over an actual open flame and nine cookies per package seems like an odd number for all those not living in a mixed family with the last name of Brady. All can be forgiven, however, thanks to the marshmallow crème filling, which remains admirably gooey even a day after baking and still provides the needed burst of unabashed sweetness to compliment the eggy and toasted cookie flavor.

Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies Sexy Sexy

The Pillsbury man need not fret over his business prospects for the second half of 2014, because the S’more Sensation Filled Cookies are a worthy addition to the ever-growing array of campfire-inspired sweets that arrive this time each year. With a more enjoyable crust than the ubiquitous S’mores Pop-Tart and a fresher, more authentic s’mores flavor than cereal or prepackaged cookies, you might even be able to pass them off as homemade.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cookie with icing – 150 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 14 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 11.5 ounces (9 cookies)
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Like eating a chocolate syrup and marshmallow panini inside a chocolate chip cookie. Oooey-gooey filling, even when cooled. No stand mixer required. One of the few Pillsbury ready-to-bake products not containing partially hydrogenated oil.
Cons: Graham flavor is lackluster. Could have a richer chocolate coating. The ever-present temptation of eating raw cookie dough.

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REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Oreo Cookies

Written by | June 11, 2014

Topics: 9 Rating, Cookies, Oreo

Nabisco Limited Edition Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Oreo Cookies

I consider myself a fairly sensible person. Rarely, if ever, would I find it acceptable to physically bust a move and moonwalk in a Safeway grocery store, much less break out in operatic chorus just to praise a prepackaged cookie. A fresh-baked cookie? Maybe it deserves a short interlude mumbled under my breath, but a prepackaged cookie is a different story entirely. My friends, that is just nonsensical.

Yet that’s exactly what I felt compelled to do after discovering the new Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Oreo cookies. Do I regret it? Abso-freaking-lutly. Would I do it again? You better believe it.

I have a confession to make. I had somewhat given up on flavored Oreos. Last summer’s Strawberries ‘n Crème and Banana Split flavors pushed me to accept mediocrity on a three month limited edition release cycle, while recent shelf spotting of Watermelon and Fruit Punch have caused me to lose faith in Nabisco’s strategic vision. I don’t know about you, but when I sign up for a sandwich cookie—Oreo or otherwise—I’m signing up for some variation of chocolate or vanilla. If I wanted Watermelon, dammit I would eat a freaking Watermelon.

In any event, the news that Oreo had teamed up with Reese’s to make the long overdue peanut butter and chocolate crème (excuse me, chocolate “flavored” crème) sandwich cookie rekindled a hope in me that Nabisco remembered they were in the business of making cookies and not flavored water enhancers. That hope was momentarily dashed when on their long awaited release date I checked no less than four grocery stores to no avail, only finally coming in contact with the Reese’s Oreo cookies just as my blood sugar reached perilously low levels.

You might have assumed this excitement was sure to leave me crashing in the unavoidable realization that the Reese’s Oreo cookies couldn’t possibly be as good as they’d sound. You’d be making an ass out of you and me, though, because Reese’s Oreo are everything any tried and true Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup lover would want.

Nabisco Limited Edition Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Oreo Cookies Stacked

The chocolate crème has a fudgy consistency tasting of more intense milk chocolaty flavor than standard chocolate Oreo crème, while the peanut butter has that trademarked salty and slightly gritty Reese’s flavor that balances its darker counterpart so perfectly. Twisted from their bases, the crème fillings might be a disappointment, but when eaten together and in conjunction with the exceptionally crunchy cocoa wafer, the fillings transform into a taste which is unabashedly Reese’s Cup in every sense of the title. Sweet and balanced with a deep, slightly salty flavor on the backend, there’s multiple intensities of chocolate dancing harmoniously with the exceptional, but not overpowering, peanut butter flavor. It is, to use the most precise representation of the English language available to our understanding, quite delectable.

Nabisco Limited Edition Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Oreo Cookies Topless 2

I suppose I could bemoan the filling’s complete reluctance to twist cleanly, or its slightly askew orientation in between the wafers. But really, why draw attention away from the most excellent representation of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup this side of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Dare I say, the exceptional cocoa taste and trademark crunch of the cookie actually makes the Reese’s Oreo superior to a Reese’s Cup in some ways, providing a completely new and exciting textural component to a time-tested flavor. And you know what? That fact alone provides plenty of reason for even a sensible person to celebrate in the most obnoxious of ways.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 130 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of sugar, less than 1 grams of fiber, and 1 grams of protein..)

Item: Nabisco Limited Edition Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 12.2 oz package
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Almost uncanny replication of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup flavor. Fudgy chocolate. Salty-sweet peanut butter. Perfect sandwich cookie bite. Finally, an Oreo that doesn’t sound like a popsicle flavor. Lowest calorie flavored Oreos.
Cons: Filling has Leaning Tower of Pisa effect. Messier to eat than standard Oreos. Being off-key in a crowded Safeway.

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REVIEW: Arby’s Auntie Anne’s Cheddar Pretzel Nuggets

Written by | June 6, 2014

Topics: 7 Rating, Arby's, Fast Food

Arby’s Auntie Anne’s Cheddar Pretzel Nuggets

Since the dawn of creation, mankind has faced two fundamental questions when it comes to procuring food. The first, “How do I cook this?” is easily answered thanks to the advent of microwaves, grills, and fancy sous-vide machines I can’t afford. The second, and perhaps exponentially more important for our survival, is a question which is not so easily answered: “How can I stuff this with cheese?”

Thanks to the recent Pact of Saltiness agreed between Auntie Anne’s and Arby’s, this question just got a whole lot easier to answer. As if sent just in time for the dog days of summer baseball season, the new Cheddar Pretzel Nuggets combine cheddar cheese with the salty and yeasty greatness of a soft pretzel. What’s more, having them available hot and ready allows me to avoid awkwardly standing in the grocery store frozen foods section, all the while staring at a box of Nacho Super Pretzels while wondering, “Do I dare?”

I’ll be honest with you if you’re willing to be honest with yourself. As you’d expect, these are absolute salt bombs. But isn’t that exactly what we’re looking for in a fast food side item? Last I checked, we weren’t raving about the crispness of the lettuce in the McDonald’s side salad, or the bright sweetness of the grapes in a Chick-fil-A fruit cup. No, Arby’s Pretzel Bites are more primordial in their appeal, and despite leaving me feeling one skipped heartbeat away from a heart attack, I kind of liked them.

Arby’s Auntie Anne’s Cheddar Pretzel Nuggets Innards 2

No one is going to confuse these for a main course. The bites are definitely “nugget” sized, with a shiny buttery-spread coating and soft feel beneath coarse grains of pretzel salt. Mine were defiantly warm, fogging up the plastic container so much that I grew concerned they might steam themselves into a glutinous ball of cheese and pretzel salt.

Wasting no time in adverting such a disaster, I discovered the give of each bite to be gentle, with a malty and earthy sweetness balancing a savory butter taste and, of course, the crunchy salt granules. Likewise, I enjoyed the moist and chewy crumb, which avoided the dry and crumbling texture that prepackaged pretzel rolls sometimes have.

Arby’s Auntie Anne’s Cheddar Pretzel Nuggets Innards

I realize processed cheese is amongst the most polarizing topics in our world today, so I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying you’ll either love or hate the filling. I personally love it. Thick, but gooey in a way that would allow you to sculpt a Leaning Tower of Cheeza, the cheddar filling is plentiful while having that je ne sais quoi flavor of a melted then cooled slice of a good old Kraft Single. On its own it might pass for too much, but combined with the malty sweetness and buttery texture on the pretzel bites, it creates an addictive grilled cheese effect.

I admit the processed cheese makes the bites overly salty, but at the same time it creates a snack that’s good enough to eat without sauces. That said, I appreciate Arby’s open dispensers of Honey Mustard Sauce, which add a nice blend of sharpness and sweetness to the dipped bites.

While I liked the bites, I do think they are a little on the pricey side for their size, and freely admit their heavily salted flavor and overly chewy texture will definitely turn some off. Still, they solve an age old snacking question without me having to take any undue risks, and satisfy a need for a salty and cheesy indulgence.

(Nutrition Facts – 5 pieces or 83 grams – 210 calories, 5 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 1560 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of sugar, 1 grams of fiber, and 7 grams of protein..)

Item: Arby’s Auntie Anne’s Cheddar Pretzel Nuggets
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 5 pieces
Purchased at: Arby’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Guilty pleasure salt-bomb appeal combines nicely with malty sweetness of the pretzel. Cheese is thick and gooey with some actual cheddar flavor. Buttery spread aftertaste. Pretzel portion tastes fresh baked and yeasty.
Cons: A little expensive for the serving size. An awesome source of sodium, and by awesome I mean capable of giving you a heart attack. Will completely turn some people off with saltiness and thick processed cheese texture. Getting yelled at in the grocery store for holding the freezer door open.

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REVIEW: Kellogg’s Jif Peanut Butter Cereal

Written by | June 2, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Cereal, Kellogg's

Kellogg's Jif Peanut Butter Cereal

Choosy moms who want what’s best for their children might choose Jif, but twenty-five year olds who buy their own damn cereal haven’t had a reason to choose Kellogg’s when it comes to getting their peanut butter fix.

But what would you expect from me considering the last peanut butter flavored cereal Kellogg’s introduced was in 2007 when Chocolate Peanut Butter Pops hit shelves. Since that time Kellogg’s has given us a half dozen more versions of Special K, cereals endorsed by magical elves, and even a cereal reminding us of those days when Miley Cyrus was just a tween with a lisp on the Disney Channel. But peanut butter? They pretty much conceded that one to General Mills and Quaker.

So you might say it was about damn time for Kellogg’s to grow a pair and partner with Jif to create Jif Peanut Butter Cereal. Adorned in the familiar colors of everyone’s favorite minute West African country, Gambia, the red, green, and blue box becomes only the second name-brand peanut butter cereal on the market, joining Reese’s foray into cereal.

Kellogg's Jif Peanut Butter Cereal Battle Royale Boxes

I give Jif Peanut Butter Cereal the full review treatment by conducting a comprehensive taste test with the “Big Three” of kid’s peanut butter cereals (sorry Cheerios and mothers, this ain’t a health food review). Sporting the name of a peanut butter company is all well and good, but if the cereal can’t match up to Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs, Peanut Butter Toast Crunch, and Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch, than the name Jif doesn’t mean a thing.

When I tasted the four cereals side by side, Jif stood out from the rest—but not in peanut buttery way. (I separated the peanut butter Reese’s puffs from the chocolate ones. As an aside, they’re not nearly as good as I thought they’d be all by themselves.) In fact, it had the least amount of pure peanut butter flavor while having the most distinctive corn aftertaste. It’s a distracting aftertaste at first, completely opposite that of the richer, rounder finish of Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch or Peanut Butter Toast Crunch.

Kellogg's Jif Peanut Butter Cereal Battle Royale

Slightly sweeter than both those cereals although noticeably less salty, the Jif cereal isn’t bad, but it’s not peanut butter. Notes of kettle corn and buttered popcorn jelly bean persist, as does a slight molasses and brown sugar depth. But the crunch is almost nonexistent when compared to the Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch and Peanut Butter Toast Crunch, although the familiar monoglyceride coating native to most peanut butter cereals renders an enjoyable experience for licking messy fingers. Texturally a disappointment, it nevertheless grows on you when eaten dry. Still, it has very little peanut butter or even peanut flavor.

Kellogg's Jif Peanut Butter Cereal Wet

The story is a bit different in milk, but unsatisfyingly the same. The salty factor and the heavy corn aftertaste gets dulled, but the peanut butter flavor lacks impact. The crunch, as you might expect, only dissipates further, while the end milk doesn’t even begin to approach slurp worthy. All things considered, I could appreciate the unique (but not peanut butter) taste of the cereal dry, but in milk I found it unremarkable on every account.

There’s one final point to make. Jif Peanut Butter Cereal’s price tag compared to other peanut butter cereals gives me pause. A box weighs only a little over nine ounces, less than all the major competitors. While I realize sales and prices differ, I can reliably grab a 20-ounce box of a very peanut buttery Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch from Walmart for the same price I paid for Jif cereal on sale.

If I was really in the mood for a bowl of kettle corn that would be an acceptable tradeoff—but I like kettle corn enough to actually, you know, buy kettle corn. Not distinctive enough to join the ranks of the best peanut butter cereals and not worth of its price tag in such a small box, both choosy moms and choosy twenty-five year old sugarholics will find it easy to agree to choose other cereals over Jif.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup (26 grams) – 100 calories, 15 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, .5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 45 milligrams of potassium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugar, 2 gram of protein, and a number of vitamins and minerals.)

Item: Kellogg’s Jif Peanut Butter Cereal
Purchased Price: $2.99 (on sale)
Size: 9.1 oz box
Purchased at: Weis Markets
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Unique kettle corn flavor that breaks new ground in the world of cereal. Yummy when eaten dry in a salty-sweet-caramel kind of way. Learning about obscure country flags on Wikipedia. An excuse to open up three other kinds of better peanut butter cereals.
Cons: No distinctive peanut butter flavor when eaten as a snack. Heavy whole grain corn aftertaste is distracting. Least crunchy of the major peanut butter cereal. Lackluster in milk. The economic implications of the shrinking cereal box.

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