REVIEW: Limited Edition Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice

Jif Whips Limited Edition Pumpkin Pie Spice

Plunging pretzels, crackers, and yes, even fingers into the peanut butter jar have always been saved only for the dead of night while shooting paranoid, cautionary looks over each shoulder.

That is, of course, until Jif Whips came along.

Jif knew our secret all along, and last year they finally acknowledged that PB&Js aren’t the only things that the good people of the world have been gracing with the spreadable goodness of everyone’s favorite legume. Now, the inviting wide-mouthed tub of Jif’s Whips welcomes those same activities that once made us feel so dirty inside. George Washington Carver would have been proud.

With the warmest days of summer behind us and the flashing lights of the Christmas season already looming in the back room of every Target, Walmart, and dollar store, the brief(ish) window we call the “Fall Season” is finally, and thankfully, upon us. To celebrate, Jif Whips has whipped up something special for us (and it’s way better than my puns): A limited edition Pumpkin Pie Spice flavor of their crowd-pleasing whipped peanut butter.

To get myself in the mood, I grabbed a warm chai and put on my most autumnal sweater. I would have carved a ceremonial pumpkin too, but I didn’t really feel like moving. Also, I was itchy from the sweater.

Fixed in my chair, I decided that the best vehicle to deliver the peanut butter concoction into my mouth, without overshadowing the Pumpkin Pie Spice, would be graham crackers, a snack so boring on its own that they were actually invented to make everyone masturbate less. The outcome was definitely spectacular.

Jif Whips Limited Edition Pumpkin Pie Spice Closeup

The texture of Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice is much creamier and palpably sweeter than traditional ol’ PB. It’s also much lighter, making dipping with even the most flimsy cracker possible. While maintaining that base peanut butter flavor of brown-bagged happiness Jif is known for, the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice work cohesively to bring back cozy memories of last fall.

Unlike many seasonal products that feel like someone at corporate just checking off the typical flavors, the pumpkin pie spice (despite being the king of obligatory seasonal flavors) complements the robustness of Jif’s whipped peanut butter. From all angles, Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice is a great combination of two beloved flavors. And while you’re welcomed to follow my graham cracker example, scooping with your fingers work just as well.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 Tbsp – 140 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of total fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)

Item: Limited Edition Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 15 oz. tub
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Combining pumpkin pie and peanut butter. Very spreadable. Not having to feel bad about using your fingers to eat peanut butter.
Cons: Probably shouldn’t be used to replace all peanut butter. Getting caught dipping your fingers in the peanut butter jar.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Pie Coolatta

Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Pie Coolatta

Binge watching Gilmore Girls, knowing all the lyrics to “Drunk in Love,” enjoying the last Adam Sandler film – everyone has their own guilty pleasure. Mine happens to be my sick addiction for anything claiming to taste like pumpkin pie.

Unlike the crumbly, goopy mess of its cherry and blueberry cousins, pumpkin pie has its shit together. It’s an October tradition that’s sweet, spiced, and confidently autumnal. It’s also, in case you haven’t noticed, everywhere. And that’s fine by me.

Just as ubiquitous, especially in the northeast where I call home, Dunkin’ Donuts may take the prize for pumping out the most pumpkin-flavored products per capita. Say what you want about Starbucks, but I can see another Dunkin’ out the window from the one I am currently sitting in as I typing this. Both are more than eager to dole out my fix of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in whatever latte, coffee, donut, or muffin concoction they are currently pushing.

This fall, Dunkin’ Donuts introduced the Pumpkin Pie Coolatta, which I can only imagine was created by bored Dunkin’ executive sitting around a beach haphazardly pointing at things to get the pumpkin treatment. Pumpkin-lemonade no good? Then how about a friggin’ Pumpkin Slurpee!

In reality, Dunkin’ Donuts’ Pumpkin Pie Coolatta is not far from exactly that. Like the other Coolattas on the Dunkin’ menu, this one was icy and sweet…almost saccharine.

The difference is that the Pumpkin Pie Coolatta has small granules of graham cracker embedded in the drink, pumpkin puree, and, well, it’s also flavored like a traditional fall dessert, which I am pretty sure no other Coolatta can claim.

Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Pie Coolatta Closeup

But seriously, those graham cracker crumbles bring an unbelievable element to the drink. While they are small, their pie crust texture and flavor put the pie in pumpkin pie, as opposed to just reducing the flavor to the spices that dominate the filling of the dessert. The whipped cream also gives the whole concoction not only presentation points, but that real pumpkin pie feel. This is good because the actual pumpkin pie flavor leaves much to be desired, as the flavor leans closer to scented candle then to the authentic dessert itself.

But it’s far from terrible (don’t worry, I guzzled mine down like the sick addict that I am). Although I can’t imagine I will be ordering many more Pumpkin Pie Coolattas anytime soon since there are better pumpkin products to binge on. Like kindergarten, just because it was fun once does not necessarily mean that it needs to be repeated.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – 280 calories, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 310 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 44 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein, 35% vitamin A, 20% calcium, and 2% iron.)

Item: Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Pie Coolatta
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: Small
Purchased at: Dunkin’ Donuts
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Graham cracker bits and whipped cream add to the pumpkin pie flavor. Contains pumpkin puree. Whipped cream gives a real pumpkin pie feel.
Cons: Tastes like it was made by Yankee Candle. Not being able to go back to kindergarten. I know all the lyrics to “Drunk in Love.”

REVIEW: Nestle Nesquik Limited Edition Girl Scouts Thin Mints Milk

Nestle Nesquik Limited Edition Girl Scouts Thin Mints Milk

There’s something unsettling about buying unrefrigerated milk. In fact, if opening a frosty glass door of a refrigerator is not a step in my process of purchasing anything that came out of a cow then you can pretty much count me out.

I will, however, make an exception when that milk is Nesquik and it’s flavored like Girl Scout Cookies.

Unlike my springtime tradition of being pressured into buying Girl Scout Cookies from the table in front of the supermarket and later cherishing my weak spirit because nobody ever really regrets buying Girl Scout Cookies, Nesquik Girl Scout Cookies Milk are heralded off on their own little decorative (albeit room temperature) cardboard stand. Luckily for my wallet, no smiling, crafty, green-vested girls in sight.

To be honest though, I didn’t exactly know how to feel the first time I saw Nesquik take on Girl Scout Cookies. On one hand, Girl Scout cookies taste good. So things that taste like Girl Scout Cookies should also taste good. Right? On the other, drinking liquefied versions of food seems like it should only be reserved for washing down protein pills on a spaceship. I was, as you may be able to tell, deeply conflicted.

And then I saw Thin Mints, and my path was clear.

Everyone is always open to exercise their own opinion, but Thin Mints are the best Girl Scout Cookies and if you don’t agree you are wrong. Do Do-Si-Do’s have a smooth chocolatey coating? Do Tagalongs provide a refreshing, minty experience? Can I eat an entire sleeve of Savannah Smiles and feel absolutely no shame? I don’t think so.

Besides, the only other flavor was “Caramel Coconut” and there is no such thing as a Girl Scout Cookie called “Caramel Coconut”. They are called Samoas. You hear that Nesquik, say it with me; SA-MO-AS. Stop lying to yourself.

Nestle Nesquik Limited Edition Girl Scouts Thin Mints Milk 2

Unfortunately, Nesquik Girl Scout Cookies Thin Mints milk does not quite live up to the hype of its green-packaged cookie sister. It both smelled and tasted strongly of peppermint and chocolate–which of course is never a bad thing–but it was missing something. Something distinctly “Thin Mint” that separated it from the cohorts of other peppermint chocolate milk that will be arriving again this winter season.

Could it be the lack of the cookie’s buttery crunch, or the loss of that complicated feeling of fulfillment and shame upon finishing off that first entire sleeve? Either way, I was disappointed that nothing really stood out as distinctly “Thin Mints” about this milk.

Just like how your homemade “special sauce” will never taste like the one on the Big Mac (even though you know that secret recipe), someone needs to tell Nesquik that simply combining peppermint extract and chocolate milk does equal a true Thin Mints flavor.

Although, I can’t be truly mad at anything that reminds me that in all of the course of human history, I happen to live during a time when Girl Scout Cookies are a thing that I can buy with my money. Although, I am just better off waiting to buy the real thing.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 150 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 24 grams of sugar, 8 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 40% calcium2% iron, and 25% vitamin D.)

Item: Nestle Nesquik Limited Edition Girl Scouts Thin Mints Milk
Purchased Price: 99 cents (on sale)
Size: 14 fl. oz
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: It does taste good. My existence intersecting with the existence of Girl Scout Cookies which if you think about in the context of the universe is really crazy and wonderful.
Cons: Not a true “Thin Mints” flavor. Unrefrigerated milk being a weird concept that makes me question the ingredients of Nesquik.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito

Taco Bell Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito

Taco Bell is a terrifically sad place at 7:30 in the morning. It looks depraved and miserable and…oh no, is that father buying a Taco Bell breakfast for his six-year-old? Dear God.

All around me, every patron sported the same placid expression of someone who was not only giving up on their chance for a nutritious breakfast, but also in some small way on themselves. As I waited in line, now one with the other early-morning crew, I was overcome with the unshakable feeling that this was the start of my very long, slow decline.

“Well”, I said to myself. “Burritos always make me feel better.”

Enter Taco Bell’s Grilled Breakfast Burritos, one of the latest Taco Bell breakfast offerings and the temporary antidote to my morning sadness. Available in three varieties—steak, sausage, and Fiesta Potatoes-I went for the latter. Fiesta Potatoes, for those of you who aren’t as talented with language as I, roughly translates to “party potatoes.” And I like to party, especially when there are potatoes involved.

Taco Bell Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito 1

The burrito itself has some pretty simple ingredients: eggs, nacho cheese sauce, and the Fiesta Potatoes all wrapped in a little grilled tortilla sleeping bag. The eggs, which are reheated scrambled eggs, actually have a pretty nice texture that avoids being too squishy. Although, like most hastily prepared eggs, it’s not exactly packed with intense flavor. The nacho cheese sauce, which does a great job of keeping everything from being too dry, also suffered from being pretty bland.

Taco Bell Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito 2

The real flavor in this burrito lies in the Fiesta Potatoes. A spiced out version of traditional diner home-fries, these crispy potatoes gave the burrito a little crunch, and a mild, but tasty, peppery kick.

However, because I am pretty sure I am the first person in Rhode Island to ever order the Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito, mine also included pico de gallo. Seriously, I could hear a cook in the back uneasily asking his equally uninformed manager about the ingredients, unsure of whether or not to include the condiment. It was decided to go for the middle ground, and scoop out a smidge. But I may have just gotten lucky.

Though I did really enjoy this burrito (despite how miserable it is to frequent a Taco Bell before noon), I have to say that the Grilled Breakfast Burrito may just be the least “Taco Bell” item on the Taco Bell menu. In fact, if you changed the word “burrito” to “breakfast wrap” I could easily see this being on the breakfast menu at McDonalds or Burger King-even without showcasing any southwestern flare. Either way, while it certainly isn’t the start of a Special K day, it’s a filthy cheap, quick, and damn good burrito. It’s also a great pick-me-up from the early morning Taco Bell blues.

(Nutrition Facts – 340 calories, 130 calories from fat, 15 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 85 milligrams of cholesterol, 790 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugars, and 10 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Fiesta Potatoes Grilled Breakfast Burrito
Purchased Price: $1.69
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Pretty large and filling considering the price. Fiesta Potatoes have enough spice to give the burrito sizeable flavor. The eggs have a good scrambled consistency.
Cons: Holy hell! I do not like being in Taco Bell in the morning. Seriously, it is one of the most depressing places I have ever been. The burrito is also a little bland.

REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Limeade Oreo Cookies

Nabisco Limited Edition Limeade Oreo Cookies

I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t been more than a little hesitant about some of Oreo’s most recent flavors.

As America’s favorite cookie continues to test its boundaries, you are bound to get some exciting, albeit hellishly unnerving, flavor combinations. While the new Reese’s Oreo leans more towards chocolatey and ready to be dipped in milk, flavors like the pungent Fruit Punch represent some of Oreo’s more interesting varieties that, let’s just say, might not be compatible with Oreo’s signature companion beverage (to each his own, though). In that same vein we are introduced to Nabisco’s newest flavor, the summer-ready Limeade Oreo.

I always get excited to see what summer flavors companies will go for. Unlike fall standbys of pumpkin, candy corn, and caramel apple, as well as the winter classics of gingerbread, egg nog, and sugar cookie, summer, much like spring, is often a bit harder to place flavor-wise. As a Rhode Islander who knows his summer season—shout out to the beaches of the Ocean State—I highly doubt that Oreo will start making such summery flavors as clambake, corn-on-the-cob, or beer. However, a limeade flavor is certainly a welcomed refreshment.

And let me tell you, in all the ways a cookie can be, and as weird as it might be to say, Limeade Oreo is indeed refreshing. The green creme, which is a brighter shade than Nickelodeon Slime, is tasty enough to take the edge off of the summer heat.

Let me just stop for a second and say, to anyone who has ever seen those commercials claiming the proper way to eat an Oreo is to remove the top cookie, take a big slobbering lick of the creme, reassemble, and then continue eating as you would any regular cookie, I choose not to eat Oreo cookies the “proper” way. Maybe once or twice during my “experimental phase” early in college, but never happily…or soberly. There is something about eating an Oreo that has never made me wish I had just protected it from being eaten by a seventh grade bully with a penchant for snatching up others’ snacks.

Nabisco Limited Edition Limeade Oreo Cookies Innards

I say all this because that creme in the middle of the Limeade Oreo is so good that I found myself enthusiastically eating that bright green paste off of each Oreo like it was Nutella on a day when I was feeling sad. Despite the collective tendency to confuse lemon and lime flavors, this Oreo variety did a great job of matching an actual lime’s sweeter, less sour taste. Although a small part of me wishes the cookies used were the traditional chocolate ones, Oreo’s Golden wafers allow the emphasis to remain on that fantastic lime creme. 

Unfortunately for me, I suffer from what I like to call “Double Stuf Syndrome.” Like many, I have chosen the noble Double Stuf as my default Oreo, making all regular-stuffed Oreo cookies seem under-stuffed. Just like with drug use, my body now craves higher levels of that creme, which, unlike “cream,” lacks dairy and (hopefully) the sexual innuendo when combined with the end of this sentence, for maximum satisfaction. If they ever make a Double Stuf version of this cookie I might actually die, but until then, Limeade Oreo is a damn fine summer treat that I would absolutely buy again. Keep the bizarre flavors coming Oreo!

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less 0mg cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Limited Edition Limeade Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: $3.00 (on sale)
Size: 12.2 oz.
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Great summertime vibe. Creme tastes fantastically like real limeade. “Creme” not “Cream.”
Cons: “Double Stuf Syndrome”. Only available for a limited time. Oreo not having a beer flavor.

REVIEW: Vitaminwater Zero Drops Revive Fruit Punch

VitaminWater Zero Revive Drops

Finally, a drink that combines two of my favorite things: a Vitaminwater brand beverage and the toil and satisfaction of making something with my own two hands. Enter Vitaminwater Zero Drops. With only a few effortless squeezes, you can enjoy the familiar taste of Vitaminwater right out of any glass of water or water bottle you have lying around.

In what could only have been a response to the general public demanding an additional step in the Vitaminwater drinking process (which was just too goddamn simple before), you can now forgo the accuracy of a formula created by food scientists and received positively by millions in favor of what you think should be done. That’s right, you.

Remember when you forgot your keys yesterday, walked into your house to get them, blanked for a second, ate some pretzels you had lying around, and left your house without your keys? Yeah, well now the creation of your own Vitaminwater can be in those same hands.

VitaminWater Zero Revive Drops with regular Revive

With the pressure on, I decided to try the Revive Fruit Punch flavor. Being a longtime fan of the bottled version, I was wondering how close the two would be in taste. Unfortunately, my local Stop & Shop only had the full calorie version of Revive, apparently unconcerned with what Google tells me will take a 30 minute walk to burn off, so it will have to do.

Because Vitaminwater Zero Drops offer little detailed instruction on how much concentrated fluid to add, my strategy was to slowly keep adding it into a glass of water until it matched the color of bottled version. After a few tries, I matched the same reddish pink tone as closely as I think is possible.

VitaminWater Zero Revive Drops comparison

Had I any last minute doubts which was which, the taste comparison would have revealed which one was made by a Glacéau bottling plant and which one was made on my living room table. While the Vitaminwater Zero Drops were able to create that distinct and pleasing Vitaminwater taste that is much lighter and less sweet than its sports drink and soda competition, it is definitely apparent that something is…well, off.

But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s like eating cereal dry because you’ve already poured it into a bowl before realizing that you’re out of milk. Even without milk, cereal is still pretty good, but, just like any type of make-it-yourself beverage, it’s still gonna taste just a little bit different. Despite the clear presence of that original fruit punch tastiness, it’s still hard to shake the feeling that something is definitely missing, and not in the regular zero-calorie way.

But you know, maybe the problem is just me. Try as I might, I will never be as accurate as the industrial robots that pump this stuff out in gallons per minute. Not really helping this issue however, is the fact that Vitaminwater Zero Drops use the word “drops” pretty lightly. Instead, its a laser beam of concentrated flavor firing at an incalculable rate into your water. (Be thankful Glacéau doesn’t make eye drops). So, until you are a veteran at administering Vitaminwater drops (which I have set as my next life-goal) you are going to have to get pretty familiar with administering intermittent taste tests after each squirt. But don’t worry, this isn’t really a problem unless you purchased Vitaminwater Zero Drops because you were hoping for a fast, convenient way to effortlessly enjoy Vitaminwater on the go.

But all in all, at least the “do it yourself” aspect of this product allows you the opportunity to finally connect with your grandfather the next time he reminds you he built his own damn house using only his “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” mentality, and his subtle yet still uncomfortably palpable racism. Vitaminwater Zero Drops may require some elbow grease, but if for some reason you plan on being away from actual Vitaminwater for a while, it’s certainly the next best thing.

(Nutrition Facts – 8 fl oz prepared – 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70mg potassium 0 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of
protein.)

Item: Vitaminwater Zero Drops Revive Fruit Punch
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 3 fl oz.
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: 18 servings of vitamin water for only four bucks. Stays mostly true to fruit punch flavor. Zero calories is not a lot of calories.
Cons: Not as effortless as it may appear. Forgetting your keys. Tastes mildly off from the original flavor.