REVIEW: Little Debbie S’mores Cake Rolls

Little Debbie S mores Cake Rolls

Every summer, s’mores fever grips the snack food aisle like a charred marshmallow to a hot skewer. But there’s a good reason only an elite corps of s’mores junk food, with S’mores Pop-Tarts as their patron saint, stick around after the last autumn bonfire is snowed out—and it has nothing to do with seasonality.

See, while any M.B.A. can throw graham, chocolate, and marshmallow flavor into a snack, it takes a wise marketer to understand that smoky, oaky, and toasted marshmallowiness is the literal and flavorful glue that holds a great s’more experience together.

Those who haven’t read Lao Tzu’s The Art of S’more end up overwhelming their treat with bland sugary fluff, a gastronomical mistake comparable to invading Russia in the winter—on two fronts. And Little Debbie’s new S’mores Cake Rolls prove this.

Little Debbie S mores Cake Rolls 2

Each individually wrapped roll is fat. I’d put their girth somewhere between “Fudgsicle” and “cartoon cigar.”

But each individually wrapped is not phat. Most of their bulk is cream filling weight, and this barely evolved Reddi-Wip is more like aerated custard than toasted marshmallow. Heavy on the fructose and vanilla, yet lightly eggy, this vapid stuff overwhelms the rest of the S’mores Cake Roll like a kid trusted to put whipped cream on his own pie slice.

Which is a shame, because the sponge cake itself is pretty tasty. It’s better than a pillowy Twinkie’s, because a S’mores Cake Roll’s namesake cake roll is denser and butterier, like a buttermilk pancake or some New Age cracker. It has tragically little baked graham flavor, and practically no honey notes, though, further downgrading S’mores Cake Rolls’ authenticity from “poorly made s’more” to “flea market bootleg s’more.”

Oh, and the chocolate? Like one of those abstract smudges on a fancy, well-plated dish, the latticed fudge on every roll is more decorative than flavorful. If you chew your roll with the vigor of a beaver who moonlights as an MLB pitcher, you can taste some generic milk chocolate notes in the aftertaste, but it’s about as compelling as coagulated Hershey’s syrup.

Which, considering how most people make their s’mores, is actually a point in Diminutive Deborah’s favor.

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Taken as a whole roll, these things aren’t bad. They’re just misguided. With their interesting dough, pudding-esque filling, and light icing, they taste way more like Éclair Cake Rolls than anything roasted over a fire, and I think Small Deb would’ve been better off advertising them as such to transcend the marshmallow white noise of s’mores product competition.

With their aggressively saccharine cream, smothered pancake swirls, and choco-phantoms, S’mores Cake Rolls aren’t for me. But if you’re a whipped cream whiz, éclair enthusiast, or retired clown desperately jonesing for one last pie to the face, roll on over to the snack cake aisle and get your fix.

The rest of us can try skewering a S’mores Cake Roll over the campfire to get our fix of toastiness. I apologize in advance to Smokey the Bear.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 roll – 260 calories, 11 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 3 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 30 milligrams of potassium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 6 cake rolls (13.13 oz box)
Purchased at: Dollar General
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Hypnotic pancake cylinders. Benevolent custard spirits. Snack cake calories not counting if you’re camping. Learning that eclaire [sic] is French for “enlightened.”
Cons: Fire hoses of cloying cream. Ornamental chocolate ghosts. Geneva Convention-breaking s’more crimes. Clown junkies.

REVIEW: Mtn Dew DEW.S.A

Mtn Dew DEW S A

Nothing makes me feel prouder to be an American than thinking about the colors that decorate our stars and stripes: purple, violet, and Crayola Purple Mountains’ Majesty.

The purple, of course, represents Grimace, an American hero who symbolizes our freedom to eat milkshakes with our 8 a.m. McMuffins if we darn well please. The violet honors Donatello, whose wise reptilian martial arts helped end the Civil War. And Purple Mountains’ Majesty commemorates the brave crayons who entertain our nation’s children while they doodle Donatello suplexing Grimace (or was that just me?).

This explains the color of Mountain Dew’s new patriotic Mtn Dew DEW.S.A too, becau—wait, what? You’re saying they just combined red, white, and blue Dew flavors to make this lilac-hued liquid? I guess that’s what I get for playing Pokémon instead of paying attention in U.S. History class:

I get stuck in Lavender Town.

Mtn Dew DEW S A 2

Speaking of lavender, Mountain Dew certainly didn’t skip art class, because this aesthetically pleasing beverage evenly blends the colors of Code Red, White Out, and Voltage: the three respective flavors that form DEW.S.A.’s chromatic trilogy.

Since the colors are evenly represented, you’d expect all three Dew flavors to get equal treatment too, right? Left. Whoops, I meant wrong. Like a washed-out photo or my pasty face after a long winter, DEW.S.A. has poor white balance. Or at least poor orange balance. None of the citrusy bite of White Out or zesty zap of Voltage comes through, aside from a faintly tangy fruitiness in the end notes, which remind me of original, Cherry Citrus Game Fuel, which we first tasted when Halo 3 hit stores in 2007.

Makes sense: this stuff does look like an Energy Sword.

Cherry is a much fairer description for DEW.S.A.’s “body,” because the drink quite potently tastes of Swedish Fish. Or more specifically, Swedish Berries. Or even more specifically, the discount store-brand gummy raspberries my grandma would buy by the grocery bag-full and watch shamefully as I mushed a handful of them together into a single “mega berry.”

Okay, that may be too specific, but it’s accurate. Mtn DEW.S.A. blends Code Red’s candied cherry, Voltage’s tart raspberry, and a jelly-like pectin sweetness to craft a pleasant flavor that tragically ends too soon. Instead of bursting through the night like those anthemic bombs, the flavor of DEW.S.A. fades like a lone firework, cascading over your taste buds and disappearing as soon as the last drop high-fives your uvula.

Mtn Dew DEW S A 3

This is probably due to the soda’s sucralose content, which is always such a hot topic that I feel the need to mention it. I’m not opposed to artificial sweeteners —- I’ve been eating junk food for ages, so the Grim Reaper’s already been watching me like an eBay auction since I first learned to hold an Oatmeal Cream Pie -— as long as they don’t disrupt the flavor. The sucralose in DEW.S.A. tastes neither fake nor chemically, so I give it a pass.

It just makes the whole drink feel lighter (think Raspberry Crystal Light), which I find preferable to original Dew’s custardy thickness during hot summer months, especially as the latter leaves my throat feeling like a syrupy slime slalom.

And that’s just what DEW.S.A. is to me: a nicely crisp Dew with a nice, two-berried taste gimmick that’ll be simple (despite containing 200 percent more flavors than the average Dew) and refreshing during nice, poolside picnics. Nice.

I do wish the flavor was a little more recognizably American, but until they release apple pie HoneyDEW or charbroiled BarbeDEW, DEW.S.A. will Dew just fine.

(Nutrition Facts – 20 oz. bottle – 170 calories, 0 grams of fat, 105 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 45 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.79
Size: 20 fl oz. bottle
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: An American drink that ironically tastes of Scandinavian cherry-raspberry candy. The crispest summer dew this side of a morning lawn. Beverage colors that won’t leave you Grimacing. Fatalistic Oatmeal Cream Pies.
Cons: Orange you upset there’s no citrus? Raspberries that didn’t choose the blue pill. Transient flavors with a wanderlust. Not calling it “The DEWcleration of InDEWpendence.” My White Out skin becoming Code Red an hour into tanning.

REVIEW: Mtn Dew Green Label

Mtn Dew Green Label

Kiwis and I had a pretty good relationship.

I’ve always wanted to visit New Zealand, kiwi birds are my favorite animals, and during elementary school lunchtime I would’ve happily traded a Ziploc full of half-crushed Oreo cookies (worth more in those days than gold dust) for a Strawberry Kiwi Capri-Sun.

But that relationship was tested when I was forced to watch a peer eat an entire kiwi fruit like an apple—a grueling sight that would make the Ludovico Technique feel like Sesame Street. I understand that many of you will probably defend this practice, but let me tell you, when I cracked open my can of green apple kiwi-flavored Mtn Dew Green Label, all I could hear was the haunting crunch of canine teeth piercing hairy kiwi skin.

I think I want my baggy of sandwich cookie smithereens back.

Despite these preexisting prejudices, I will give Green Label some credit: its premise is more interesting than Mtn Dew White Label, which was essentially a white grape sequel to Black Label that tasted more like a Phantom Menace-esque prequel. I had hopes that Green Label would close Dew’s first Label trilogy off right, mostly because the stuff is the same color as Luke’s lightsaber in Return of the Jedi.

Mtn Dew Green Label 2

Seriously, this stuff is green: greener than Kermit the Frog after too many Midori and Ecto-Cooler mixers. But even though it’s about 50 shades of Oz darker than original Mountain Dew, my first sip of Green Label just tasted like watered down Dew. It took a few swirls, swishes, and elevated pinky fingers before Green Label’s tarter green apple notes began to develop behind its syrupy lemon-lime base.

Despite its largely natural ingredients, this soda doesn’t taste much like a real green apple. I know: big surprise coming from a fine beverage brand that pairs with authentically cheese flavored hors d’oeuvres like Doritos. Green Label’s mild carbonation sort of mimics the refreshing crispness of a Granny Smith, but the drink’s leading fruit flavor is closer to an artificial green apple candy.

On a scale of “Green Apple Skittle” (that filthy, lime-killing Brutus) to “Green Apple Jolly Rancher,” Mtn Dew Green Label’s tasty tanginess is about a “Green Laffy Taffy.” Not too sweet, not too biting, this green apple flavor is pleasantly juicy, but still tragically underpowered compared to the core Dew taste.

Speaking of oppressed flavors in a puppet Dew-mocracy, Green Label’s faint kiwi taste only emerges near the tail end of every gulp. Its lightly floral, tropical melon twist reminds me of a Strawberry Kiwi Propel, and my secret conspiracy theory is that PepsiCo diluted Green Label with that very same electrolyte drink —- hence why it’s kind of watery.

Mtn Dew Green Label 3

But even if this Dew is nefariously spiked with the kiwi-flavored stuff plants crave, it’s still worth trying for the aftertaste alone. For a brief, magical moment at each sip’s end, Green Label’s apple and kiwi flavors merge to produce a delightfully sweet, trachea-crackling fruit cocktail that tastes like green Wonka Fun Dip.

Seriously, if I could bottle just that fleeting flavor, I’d have something more addictive than Soylent Green with a side of Green Eggs & Ham.

Overall, Mtn Dew Green Label’s advertised flavors may be too mild and washed out, but in those rare instances when both green apple and kiwi work, they work memorably enough that your taste buds will want to frame them right next to your uvula.

To use another Force-sensitive analogy: if White Label is the Jar Jar Binks to Black Label’s Qui Gon Jinn, then I think we found his soda Obi-Wan.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 80 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 35 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.79
Size: 16 fl oz. can
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Straight-off-the-Lik-a-Stix aftertastes. The surprisingly palatable union of Laffy Taffy and power sports beverages. Enjoying the taste of plain Dew enough to like this stuff regardless. Having cheese platters on hand for emergencies. Using “trachea-crackling” as a compliment.
Cons: Authoritarian lemon-lime Dew-tatorships. Watered-down sugar water. Meek apple-kiwi wallflowers. The non-existence of fancy Limburger Doritos to pair this with. Et tu, Skittles?

REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Lemon Cream Pie Fudge Stripes

Keebler Limited Batch Lemon Cream Pie Fudge Stripes

The three essential steps to enjoying Keebler’s new Lemon Cream Pie Fudge Stripes:

  • Do not decapitate any woodland humanoids.
  • Buy a bouquet of flowers for our country’s dying circus industry.
  • Have a questionable taste in Starburst.

See what I did there? I opened this review with a deviously BuzzFeedian listicle that practically begs you to read the whole thing for comprehension.

Though I’m sure you were going to read anyway, because this latest elven attack in the Great Oreo–Fudge Stripe War is a doozy. Sure, Oreo has been churning out countless milk-dunked slam dunks, and Ernie the Keebler Elf probably doesn’t even know what a slam dunk is. But that hasn’t stopped him from firing back with new disc-shaped Fudge Stripes faster than a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy fires plastic pizzas.

Case in point: these new Lemon Cream Pie Fudge Stripes. Coming hot off the heels of Cinnamon Roll Fudge Stripes and just before Keebler’s upcoming Strawberry Cheesecake Fudge Stripes, Lemon Cream Pie hopes to beat over milk’s favorite cookie aisle behemoth with odd specificity. See, Oreo has had Lemon and Lemon Twist varieties, but it’s never put its money where its pie-hole is.

But enough talk: let’s put some Fudge Stripes where my pie hole is.

Keebler Limited Batch Lemon Cream Pie Fudge Stripes 2

In my eagerness, I totally guillotined poor Ernie getting my Fudge Stripes open. This ultimately worked against me, as I now have no way of storing my rapidly staling cookies. Good thing I could eat the whole package in a sitting, because these are seriously good.

The delightful shortbread base may look like cross-sectioned lasagna noodles, but it tastes like the brown butter-smacked lovechild of a Nilla Wafer and a Barnum’s Animal Cracker. And given that the real Barnum’s circus just closed down, those crackers need to procreate if we want to preserve their nostalgic legacy.

All school lunch classics aside, these Fudges Stripes’ airy crumble, cozy lattice print, and pleasant twist of oily sweetened flour remind me of every cookie I ever bought from a church bake sale. And I’ll say “amen” to that.

Keebler Limited Batch Lemon Cream Pie Fudge Stripes 3

As for the lemon, it’s far more subtly sweet than sinisterly citrusy. Meanwhile, the pristinely white dip and drizzle has all the hyper-sugared, slightly fatty vanilla sweetness of half-and-half mixed with marshmallow fluff. Taken together, the whole cookie tastes a lot like the Turkish Delights my 3rd grade teacher made while we read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which is fitting, because I’d happily betray Narnia for these Fudge Stripes, just like Edmund.

Though perhaps “Yellow Starburst smothered in whipped cream” is a more fitting analogy, because your love of Yellow Starburst will be a good litmus test to determine if you’ll enjoy Lemon Cream Pie Fudge Stripes. Yellow is tied for my favorite alongside Pink, so I loved these cookies. But since I’ve been fiendishly mocked and pelted with hard candy morsels since childhood for this opinion, I know there are many Red Starburst diehards out there who will sour on these Stripes.

Keebler Limited Batch Lemon Cream Pie Fudge Stripes 4

Ignoring the haters, I think these Fudge Stripes have more than earned their stripes. They’re light, accurate to their namesake pie, and have a crispy-creamy combo that’s irresistibly snack-able. They’re not memorable enough to topple any Oreo Empires, but I can’t think of a Fudge Stripe that could.

Can’t the two sides just sign a peace treaty and produce Oreo cookies with Fudge Stripes instead of wafers?

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 11.5 oz. package
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Church-approved cracker-wafer marriage. A Yellow Starburst Sundae that Pinterest probably has a recipe for. Bisected pasta dinners. Cookies > Aslan.
Cons: Divisive, bully-angering candy flavor. Nabisco’s unchallenged cookie aisle monopoly. Out of touch—and now lobotomized—elder Elves. Cookie-bait headlines.

REVIEW: Mtn Dew White Label

Mtn Dew White Label

Gather ‘round, kids: it’s time for a Choose Your Own Adventure story!

You are Mountain Dew Pitch Black, a heroic soda knight whose early 2000s Halloween conquests — and recent 2016 revival — made him the sugary stuff of legends and memories alike.

But although you’re a more mythic Mountain than Olympus, people aren’t as charmed by radioactively purple syrup as they used to be. So if you don’t want to join Heinz EZ Squeeze in Violet Valhalla, you’ll have to grow up.

Which path will you take at this pivotal crossroad?

If you choose the dark path, turn to a different review.

If you choose the light path, turn to the next page and prepare to see a threatening, all-caps THE END that’ll make you glad you kept your thumb on the previous page.

Why? Because while Mountain Dew’s recent Black Label was a deliciously classy Pitch Black who grew up to host dinner parties and own an art house theater, this new White Label tastes like an adult Pitch Black who bitterly yells at the local news with his mouthful of lukewarm Hungry Man dinners.

Mtn Dew White Label 2

Enough doom, gloom, and microwaved rib eye for now: let’s start with the positives. Mountain Dew White Label does preserve much of the grape flavor that makes Pitch Black great, without the syrupy discomfort that Pitch Black’s many grams of sugary slugs slime onto the back of your throat. At only 35 grams of sugar and 140 calories per can, this comparatively light Dew won’t leave you shamefully feeling like you drank a Nickelodeon prop.

I say “much of the grape flavor,” because the fruitiness is lighter, too. The white grape juice concentrate lacks the sour, tangy punch of its red sibling, but it replaces it with an unparalleled crispness that’s nearly floral. It’s no chardonnay, but I can see this flavor appealing to a niche audience of Dew snobs.

Unfortunately, that’s the nicest thing I can say about Mtn Dew White Label. Because once the white grape flavor fades, an unwelcome orange backend takes its place. The can claims that White Label is “Dew with Crafted Tropical Citrus,” but the bitter, acrid tang of this orange finish just tastes like the juice of a wrinkly tangerine that was infused with expired SunnyD and the pity tears of a passing pineapple.

In short: this tropical shipwreck’s more LOST than Gilligan’s Island.

Mtn Dew White Label 3

Mtn Dew White Label isn’t undrinkable, and it might work for those seeking a super smooth soda that won’t pummel their trachea with the aggressive jabs of a million bubbles, but Black Label just tastes superior in every way. White Label is pretty much Diet Black Label (it contains Sucralose, and you can tell), and since Black Label was already a less carbonated Pitch Black, this new Dew’s one degree of separation too far away to be worth it.

So please, young Pitch Black, if you’re reading this, disregard Master Kenobi and embrace the power of the Dark Side.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 can – 140 calories, 0 grams of fat, 70 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 35 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $1.69
Size: 16 oz. can
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: White grape concentrate that’s crisper than Denny’s hash browns. Not feeling like my taste buds went on Double Dare. Liquid opacity that rivals Crystal Pepsi. Pairing this with Doritos for a low-budget wine & cheese night.
Cons: Diet Diet Pitch Black. Cantankerous citrus aftertastes. Pineapple pity parties. Suddenly: sucralose! Never getting to eat purple ketchup again. Throwing so much shade they could’ve called it “Grey Label.”