REVIEW: Kellogg’s Cinnamon Frosted Flakes

Kellogg's Cinnamon Frosted Flakes

As far as I’m concerned, Tony the Tiger is going through something of an identity crisis. Not only has Kellogg’s changed his look to be more “accessible” (like a talking Tiger was accessible to begin with), but his parent company has been rolling out all kinds of flavor variations.

On one hand, I guess Cinnamon Frosted Flakes shouldn’t surprise us. Both Tigers and Cinnamon are native to Bangladesh, and having already cycled through marshmallows, chocolate, and marshmallows and chocolate, it makes sense for Kellogg’s to hit us with a subliminal geography lesson. I wasn’t crazy about Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows, nor did scream gr-r-reat! for the now-defunct Frosted Flakes with Energy Clusters.

So I’ve got good reason to be skeptical of the addition of cinnamon to Frosted Flakes. I say this with 28 years of cereal eating under my belt, literally. Despite the popularity of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, cinnamon-only flavored cereals don’t have a good track record. Cinnamon Burst Cheerios lasted for all of two seconds, while Cinnamon Jacks, Cinna-Crunch Pebbles, and a host of other cinnamon cereals have been relegated to the lonely eulogies written on MrBreakfast.com.

I do not join these individuals in mourning.

Kellogg's Cinnamon Frosted Flakes 2

If anything, cinnamon can be overpowering if applied in the wrong context, which is exactly the case with Cinnamon Frosted Flakes. The cinnamon flavor is floral and spicy, somewhere between the flavor of cinnamon gum and the aroma of a cinnamon-scented candle. The weird thing is that it takes a second to activate, and when it does, it’s more of an aroma and sensation than a taste.

And boy is it strong.

The characteristic sweetness of Frosted Flakes is still there, but before the sweetness dissipates, it’s overwhelmed by the authentic cinnamon flavor. The problem isn’t that it doesn’t taste like cinnamon; the problem is that it tastes too much like cinnamon, so much that the malted sweetness and slight corn flavor that are present in Frosted Flakes get lost.

Kellogg's Cinnamon Frosted Flakes 3

The effect is not so extreme in milk, but that in and of itself doesn’t make Cinnamon Frosted Flakes desirable. There’s a decent cinnamon run-off into the milk, and the trademarked soggy corn sweetness of Frosted Flakes is still there, but the flavors of frosted flakes and cinnamon just don’t go together.

Clearly, something isn’t working in the grand scheme of Tony the Tiger’s life. The thing is, I have no idea why this is, except to suggest that this is some kind of mid-life cereal crisis that doesn’t need to be. We can all agree that Frosted Flakes are gr-r-reat!, but frankly, the new flavors, including Cinnamon Frosted Flakes, are really just “oh-oh-oh-kay.”

(Nutrition Facts – 29 grams – 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 150 mg of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugars, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.98
Size: 26.8 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Authentic and floral cinnamon flavor in every spoonful. Better than the now defunct Simply Cinnamon Corn Flakes. Subliminal geography lessons.
Cons: Cinnamon flavor dominates the subtle malt and corn flavors of the flakes. Like eating a cinnamon-flavored candle. More an aroma than a true flavor. Lacks the buttery “toasted” flavors of Cinnamon Toast Crunch or Cinnamon Chex.

REVIEW: Subway Pumpkin Spice and Apple Pie Cookies

Subway Pumpkin Spice and Apple Pie Cookies

Every fall I can count on two things: 1) Nick Saban and Alabama will absolutely obliterate every football team in the SEC. 2) Pumpkin spice food products will be thrusted in my face at every grocery store, restaurant, and fast food sandwich shop in America.

Yes, sandwich shop. Thanks to the ubiquitous up-sell of the 60-cent Subway cookie, the most popular flavor of the fall can help you forgot how mediocre your lunch was.

I like to think of pumpkin spice as the flavor version of Alabama’s football dynasty. The hype is everywhere and, for the most part, the hype is deserved. Sure, the Crimson Tide might trip up once a year, just like how we’ll get a dud like Pumpkin Spice M&M’s every once in awhile, but for the most part, pumpkin spice is unstoppable.

In a lot of ways, the rise of pumpkin spice has correlated with the decline of apple pie, autumn’s previously unstoppable flavor, that’s also a new Subway cookie flavor. You might think of apple pie as the Miami of flavors: Once a shoo-in to compete for a national title, but it’s now a run-of-the-mill ACC middleweight that loses to a depleted Notre Dame team.

It’s pretty much the same when it comes to Subway’s cookies.

Subway Pumpkin Spice and Apple Pie Cookies 2

Like Alabama’s balanced offense and stifling defense, the Subway Pumpkin Spice Cookie was seemingly flawless. Textually, the edges were crunchy and the interior was chewy with strong notes of ginger and molasses dominating each bite. The cookie tasted like a ginger snap on steroids. The white confectionery chips added vanilla-flavored bursts of sweetness throughout the cookie, while the sweet taste of cinnamon lingered on my tongue even after I finished the cookie. If there’s one downside it’s that the cookie tastes more like a chewy ginger snap than a pumpkin cookie.

Subway Pumpkin Spice and Apple Pie Cookies 3

The Apple Pie Cookie is not nearly as good as the pumpkin spice one. If we’re talking football, it loses by at least three touchdowns. The Apple Pie Cookie was much sweeter and, like Miami Hurricanes football during the early 2000s, it’s a sexy cookie on the outside. How can it not be with “naturally sweetened” apple chunks baked right into the dough? Yet like the Hurricanes dynasty coming undone, it’s got too many bells and whistles to work. The taste of clove and nutmeg is far too floral, while the sweetened apple chunks taste like someone freeze-dried applesauce. The texture of the chunks is off-putting and hyper sweet, and the entire cookie doesn’t really taste like pie.

Is pumpkin spice’s dominance over the seasonal flavor world annoying? Maybe, but like Alabama’s continued destruction of college football parity, it’s pretty incredible. Subway’s Pumpkin Spice Cookie only adds to that legacy, and is far and away a better end to a mediocre sub than the Apple Pie cookie.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available.)

Purchased Price: 60 cents (each)
Size: N/A
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Pumpkin Spice)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Apple Pie)
Pros: Pumpkin spice cookie has a wonderfully complex texture that’s crunchy on the edges and chewy in the center. Deep, warm sweetness of molasses mixed with ginger, butter, and vanilla.
Cons: Pumpkin Spice cookie lacks deep pumpkin flavor. Cream Cheese chunks would have been better than “confectionery chips”. Apple Spice cookies tastes like what I’d imagine an apple pie air freshener to taste like. Unnatural tasting natural apple chunks.

REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies

Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies

Candy Canes and Cookies.

It has a cute ring to it, doesn’t it? Like the title of a baking blog, or a children’s Christmas story, or even a specialty store that sells holiday-themed socks. But eaten together?

Sure, we’ve had Candy Cane Oreo Cookies, but a part of me has always felt the confection world should never be combined with the creaming method world. It’s sort of like fish and cheese. Conventional wisdom tells us these things just don’t “go” together, and far be it for drumming up iconoclasm once Christmas comes around.

Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies change all that. It really shouldn’t be a surprise; I mean, these are cookies baked by magical elves. Yes, they may live in a tree owned by Kellogg’s, but I like to think of the Keebler elves as cousins to Santa’s elves, except more proficient in cookie making than toy making.

And let me tell you something: The Keebler elves nail the cookie thing here, just like how Santa’s elves nailed my 1997 request for a Nintendo Gameboy. The familiar shortbread cookie base is crunchy, buttery, and not overpoweringly sweet; small bursts of red nonpareils lend a sweet sugar cookie vibe, while the white fudge coating further adds to the frosting-like texture of the cookie.

Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies 2

Keebler Limited Batch Peppermint Fudge Stripes Cookies 4

As for the peppermint taste, it’s right where it needs to be. The danger with peppermint anything is that the floral, light taste of mint overwhelms the taste buds and makes you feel like you’re eating a Tic-Tac. Thankfully, that is not the case with these cookies. The peppermint taste is there, but it’s not that rush of winter freshness that comes from binging on a box of candy canes (pro tip: not good). Instead, the floral taste gives a cool relief to the frosting-like white fudge, which has a rich vanilla sweetness.

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While Keebler’s elves are clearly taking a page from Santa’s elves in the design of a Christmas themed cookie, what they haven’t managed to do is perfect a flawless packaging and delivery system. The same nonresealable package that plagues Fudge Stripes houses the limited edition cookie, while the white fudge coating had melted by the time I opened the package. The ensuing peppermint white fudge, while lickable and probably awesome on cupcakes, was stickier and harder to wash off my paws than the sugar coating of a half-eaten candy cane.

You gotta give it to the Keebler elves. After years of offering plain Fudge Stripes (which are delicious) they’ve tinkered their treehouse production facilities and expanded into pumpkin spice, birthday cake, cookies & creme, and now peppermint. I’m not saying these would be a great cookie to leave out for Santa, but yeah, with the frosted shortbread cookie vibe, crunchy vanilla, and peppermint sweetness, I am kind of saying that.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories from fat, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of sat fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of sugar, 0 grams of fiber, and less than 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 11.5 oz
Purchased at: United Supermarkets
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Fresh and floral peppermint taste that doesn’t linger on your tongue like a candy cane. Crunchy shortbread cookie with rich white fudge and crunchy vanilla flavor. Would make a solid seasonal ice cream sandwich base.
Cons: Keebler’s absolute reluctance to embrace resealable packaging. White fudge coating can melt and be messy. Limited appeal for non-peppermint lovers. The politics of elf family trees.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Limited Edition Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows

Kellogg’s Limited Edition Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows

Kellogg’s Limited Edition Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows remind me of my fourth grade Stormtrooper Halloween costume.

Like eight-year old Adam in awe of the theatrical release of the Stars Wars Special Edition movies, Tony the Tiger’s latest creation sets out to trick-or-treat with only the utmost respect for the ethos of Halloween.

Problem is, there’s some stiff competition. In my case, it was Luke, who ironically decided to trick-or-treat as a Stormtrooper the same year I did (Like, really? Your name is Luke and you decide to go as a Stormtrooper?)

Anyways, Luke’s costume kicked the crap out of mine. He was the kid with the lights and sound enhanced Stormtrooper carbine, specially crafted armor, and an actual helmet like those people who go to ComicCon. I, meanwhile, had a mask attached with a string, a cheap white smock with some black lines on it, and (because my parents hated weapons) a pillowcase stuffed with candy as my only armament.

In other words, Luke was the Count Chocula to my Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows, which, while okay, are quickly defrocked as an imitator to the chocolaty standard of limited edition Halloween cereals.

Kellogg’s Limited Edition Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows 2

To Kellogg’s credit, Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows get the job done as a snacking cereal. There’s a savory and sweet thing that goes on with the cocoa-glazed flakes, which still have that crunchy, malted corn aftertaste of original Frosted Flakes. But the cocoa flavor is mild and varies from flake to flake, while the marshmallows are just bad. Sure they look cool; a deconstructed skeleton beats the ambiguously-shaped blobs that Count Chocula claims are bats, but the Frosted Flakes marshmallows lack a sturdy texture ideal for snacking or a long soaking in milk.

And it’s in milk that Tony the Tiger’s Halloween cereal is stripped of its chocolate costume. The cocoa quickly flows off the flakes, but the end-milk, while darkly colored like a Halloween night, tastes nothing like the cocoa-infused milk left behind by Count Chocula, Cocoa Puffs, or other tier one chocolate cereals. Combined with the marshmallows, it’s just a hyper sweet bowl of milk with faraway (far, far away) notes of cocoa powder.

Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows are an okay novelty cereal that will do in a pinch, but like that flimsy Stormtrooper mask and loose-fitting “armored” smock that I wore for Halloween as a kid, the cereal is too easily unmasked. And with the chocolate covered spirit of Halloween in good and cocoa-powder stained hands with Count Chocula, Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows probably won’t be making a repeat appearance in my pantry next year.

(Nutrition Facts – 30 grams – 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 150 mg of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugars, and 1 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.74
Size: 9.5 oz. box
Purchased at: United Supermarket
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Enjoyable cocoa and milled corn flavor when eaten as a snack. Marshmallows provide a needed textural contrast to the crunchy frosted flakes. Creative use of a marshmallow artwork.
Cons: Not as chocolaty as Count Chocula and leaves nonexistent chocolate end-milk. Marshmallows aren’t as sturdy as Count Chocula. Wait, are the skeletons from people Tony the Tiger ate? My stupid fourth grade Halloween costume.

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies

Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies

Life tip number one: Always write your name in big, bold letters on your cowboy hat.

Life tip number two: Never say no to cheesecake, especially when it involves pumpkin.

Ever since Hostess rose from the crumbling sponge cake edifice of its 2012 bankruptcy filing, the company has been churning out seasonal flavors with Pop-Tart like alacrity. You might just say that Twinkie the Kid (who’s actually a 55-year old man who apparently doesn’t believe in wearing shirts) is a Twinkie of many hats, except, well, Twinkie the Kid always wears a cowboy hat.

Well, Twinkie the Kid must be hiding a chef’s hat under his Stetson, because his new Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies might just be the pinnacle of artificial pumpkin spice cheesecake flavor.

I wrote this in an endearing manner; one only expects so much authenticity in a cheesecake-flavored product that contains hydrogenated beef tallow, yet for what the Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies lack in their simplicity of ingredients, they more than make up for in surprisingly unexpected guilty pleasure appeal.

The key to enjoying the flavor of the Twinkies, like the key to enjoying so many mass-produced bakery snacks, is to judge the flavor as a sum of the cake’s part. I won’t sugarcoat this, because the 18 grams of sugar in each Twinkie already do, but the white fudge coating is waxy and saccharine on its own. The Twinkie cake, is, well, a slightly dry sponge cake that could just last into eternity. And the cream? A cinnamon and nutmeg explosion spilled into equal parts sour cream and marshmallow fluff.

When I first ate the Twinkie in three distinct parts, I thought it was mediocre. But then, since I’m a complete glutton who absolutely loves pumpkin spice cheesecake, I stuffed a whole Twinkie in my mouth.

Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies 2

The flavor was unexpectedly if not unequivocally pumpkin spice, with a sweet, slightly tangy filling providing notes of cheesecake. The white fudge coating, commingling with the cakey and cream filled elements, suddenly provided both a textural contrast that mimicked a cheesecake crust, while also serving as a rich and sweet topping. I’m not saying it was a Cheesecake Factory experience par excellence, but as each Twinkie wrapper fell to the floor and crumbs of white fudge coating smeared onto my shirt, both the cheesecake and pumpkin spice flavor became more pronounced.

Which brings me to my major problem with Twinkie the Kid’s latest concoction: It’s hard to say no. Actually, it’s downright impossible, even though the cloying nature of the white fudge and the cinnamon heavy flavored cream tell your brain that this is not exactly the most authentic representation of pumpkin spice cheesecake you could buy.

But that’s the thing about both cheesecake and pumpkin spice: there’s a margin for error that doesn’t demand Philadelphia cream cheese, toasted nutmeg, or Saigon cinnamon. The flavor can be artificial; it can be overly sweet. Yet as long as it works within the constraints of the ingredients to conjure up the flavor of pumpkin spice cheesecake, it’s not something you’re going to say no to.

And judging by the how quickly I plowed through the nine snack cakes in my box of Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies, I won’t be saying no to buying these again.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Cake – 170 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 6.0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 9 cakes
Purchased at: Kroger
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Admirably complexity in the pumpkin spice flavored cream. Cream has a cheesecake tang and thicker viscosity than normal Twinkie cream. White Fudge coating binds the whole cake together with rich and sweet flavor. Doesn’t screw up one of the best flavors of fall.
Cons: The white fudge coating is almost uneatable when sampled alone. Exceptionally sweet. Made with the same great stuff that McDonald’s used to fry their fries in. Eating 720 calories in Twinkies and still feeling famished.