REVIEW: Post Rainbow Sherbet Ice Cream Pebbles Cereal

Post Rainbow Sherbet Ice Cream Pebbles Cereal

Indeed, we live in a fortunate time.

A time in which the break room has been transformed into The Break Room. A time in which said Break Rooms include laundry rooms and nap pods and secret libraries stashed behind Narnia corridors.

And yet despite such innovation, the daydream of having a pint of ice cream ready and available for my 3:00 snack break eludes me. Not seeing, “We provide a freezer stashed with multiple flavors of Ben & Jerry’s at all times,” in my current contract, I move forward, looking to Post Pebbles Ice Cream in hopes to fulfill the small pocket that wants just a taste of ice cream at the 3:00 snack slump.

Post Rainbow Sherbet Ice Cream Pebbles Cereal Spoon

The colors of the cereal spill out in a blinding parade, bursting with the luminescence of a Lite-Brite powered by nuclear fusion. The speckles trip my brain up just enough, so that, upon my first bite, they heighten the sensation of the taste, which brings forth memories of a 2-scoop sugar cone of sherbet.

Vaguely fruity and tangy with a burst of sugared citrus, the cereal hits the grainy, cereal crunch of a sugar cone while balancing that with the hyper sweetened, delightfully vague “froot” flavor. Indeed, it’s a little like Froot Loops, but it stands out with a few more drops of orange and tangy lime flavoring.

There’s just one thing: the cereal’s corn base. It muddles with the frootiness and dulls out the sherbet effect, leaving an aftertaste that tastes like… well, a little corny. Corn enhanced with artificial flavors. Oh dear. This is not what I hoped for.

Fortunately, there is a way to avoid this peril.

Now, I’m not a big fan of milk in my cereal, but, when glugged straight from the glass, an ice cold cup of the white cream bounces, shakes, and rattles with the fruity crunch of the cereal, drowning out the corny taste to form an admirable mimicry of rainbow sherbet Dreamsicle, and, while it may not be the granola-crunchin’, fiber-snappin’, whey-protein-enhanced cereal of Richard Simmons’ dreams, it has a modest amount of sugar and a pop of vitamins and minerals, making it a moderately balanced way to start the day. Or end the day. Or start the snack break. Or unleash that suppressed dream to be a bobsledder you’ve always wanted to be. So go! Unleash your inner bobsledder!

Post Rainbow Sherbet Ice Cream Pebbles Cereal Breakfast

It must be noted with a proper degree of gravity that no amount of these Post Pebbles will bring you the same fulfillment as a fresh hot waffle cone filled with your grandmama’s homemade frozen custard, but it pairs moderately well with that last quarter pint of Gelato Fiasco’s Madagascar Vanilla Bean.

While the raspberry flavor is hard to pin down, the cereal as a whole has a pop of orange and lime citrus that, while somewhat muddled in the taste of the corn cereal alone, finds itself heightened in the presence of milk or, well, just about any vanilla frozen deliciousness in your freezer. Indeed, it may be just enough sugar that you won’t even need that nap pod.

(Pause.)

Nah. Everyone needs a nap pod.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 110 calories, 0 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Post Rainbow Sherbet Ice Cream Pebbles Cereal
Purchased Price: $2.32
Size: 11 oz. box
Purchased at: Kroger
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Box-o-carbs. Tangy. Crunchy. Slightly “frooty.” Great with milk. Better with vanilla ice cream. Nap pods. Nuclear-powered Lite Brites. Unleash your inner bobsledder!
Cons: Box-o-carbs. Tough to decipher raspberry flavor. Corny-cereal qualities dull “frootiness.” Consequences that result in absence of nap pods.

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Sour Gummies Ts & Js

Trader Joe's Sour Gummies Ts & Js

I just wanted to go to K-Mart. That’s all. So I took the shortcut through Madison Square Park, where I stopped to admire the horizontal mirrors.

This is where something went wrong.

I don’t know what it was. I didn’t wave my arms, ruffle a squirrel, toss a hot dog cart. Nothing that would otherwise incite Karmic wrath. So did I expect to suddenly be running from a vehement Great Horned Owl while being stared down by a group of early mothers who might’ve just left the casting call for NBC’s next Crime Drama?

No.

But there are good days and there are days when you are chased by a talon-wielding species of bird with a vast wingspan. Thankfully, we are not weaklings. We power forward, trudge onward, seek counsel in the Magic 8 Ball we kept from 3rd Grade. Sugar helps in the recovery.

And Trader Joe’s is helping in that recovery by expanding their gummy landscape, coming in with excellent prices and a limited alphabet with their new Sour Gummies. Indeed, if your name is T.J. or J.T., count yourself among the lucky ones: you can now transcribe love notes to your significant other whose name is T.J./J.T.:

Trader Joe's Sour Gummies Ts & Js Love

Softer than Sour Patch yet chewier than a lump of Jell-o, these all-natural gummies prove to have a semi-chewy, gumdrop-like squish. They require very little exercise from your jaw, yet are still firm enough to hold together, so I’m 92.7% confident Yoshi could’ve use these as weapons to defeat the Slime Drops in Super Mario World 2.

The outside coating reminds me markedly of Sour Patch Kids, having only a subtle sour pop before going forth into the sweet flavor. Seekers of taste-bud-dissolving, Warhead-like sour pain will be at a loss as the coating of sour sprinkles contributes more of a granular texture than actual mouth-puckering sourness.

However, this lack of self-sabotaging sourness only allows the all-natural citrus flavors to stand out. Here’s the play-by-play for each flavor:

Key Lime – This one has a fine juicy tartness. It reminds me of the lost-but-not-forgotten Lime Skittle: tangy and juicy on its own, no bitter, dishwashing detergent notes in sight, much like a true Key Lime candy from Key West. Ernest Hemingway and his six-toed cats would be proud.

Lemon – Zesty, tangy, and zippy as a Spanish bull. There’s both a juicy quality and a citrus tartness that I thoroughly appreciate. It’s like a lemon Starburst, only a hint milder. Combined with the lime, the two taste like Lemon-Lime Gatorade. Mmmm…electrolyte-enhanced beverage…

Grapefruit – I was equally excited as I was disheartened by this flavor. While I looked for the tart-bitter-juicy-sweet notes of a grapefruit, I only found a vague “Fruit Juice” quality. Indeed, it tastes like a Juicy Juice box with a bit of a berry note. Perhaps it’s from the black currant coloring? It’s not bad by any means, but not exactly grapefruit.

Tangerine – This one eschews the sour, bitter depth of the tangerine peel, and goes straight for the juice. It has a sugary, one-note citrus quality that reminds me of Orange Hi-C, which I used to chug in abundance at the Free Refill soda machine at Taco Bell, so it’s not so much “tangerine” as just “orange.” It’s simple and I love it.

Trader Joe's Sour Gummies Ts & Js Closeup

There are no crazed-eyed, kid-shaped gummies here. No wild tangles of hair or neon blue raspberry flavors. There are just these little alphabet letters. They make for good chewing. Think of them more as the all-natural, slightly softer Sour Patches of the gummy world. While the grapefruit ended up being a bit of a Snooze Fest, the rest of the flavors have solid citrus flavors and combine with one another excellently. The lemon tastes like lemon. The lime tastes like lime. The snozzberry…wait, there’s still no snozzberry?

Good job, Trader Joe’s. Until we meet again, I shall be searching for the snozzberry. Hopefully, I won’t run into any Great Horned Owls along the way.

(Nutrition Facts – 17 pieces – 150 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein..)

Item: Trader Joe’s Sour Gummies Ts & Js
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 7 oz. bag
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tangy. Soft and chewy. Doesn’t result in jaw surgery. Lime doesn’t taste like dishwashing detergent. Lemon is like a Starburst. Tangerine is like Hi-C. Free refills at Taco Bell. Super Mario World 2.
Cons: Grapefruit doesn’t taste like grapefruit. Doesn’t satisfy Warhead-level sour cravings. No snozzberry flavor. Talon-wielding birds of prey.

REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Cheeseburger Goldfish Crackers

Pepperidge Farm Cheeseburger Goldfish

Look, I know.

I know I shouldn’t have tried to pogo through Times Square. Or put the Tootsie Roll in the Easy Bake Oven. Or tried to build a tent in gale force winds in the middle of the Mexico desert. I do ridiculous things sometimes because I’m curious if they can be done. Somebody should stop me.

But nobody did. Not when I was walking to the grocery. Not at the back of aisle 3. Not the guy hacking up sirloin at the meat counter. So, unhindered by human or meat cleaver, I dive in to Pepperidge Farm Cheeseburger Goldfish Crackers, one-by-one.

Pepperidge Farm Cheeseburger Goldfish 4

Starting simple, the cheddar is familiar and orange as the hunk of cheese from whence it came. It’s wonderful in that nutty, salty, and savory way. It’s perhaps a bit too safe, but it’s also nice to be reminded that there’s a reason these have been bobbing about since 1962.

I’m surprised and disappointed to find the ketchup tastes much similar to the cheddar cracker, but with a very, very, very, very minuscule hint of canned tomato paste. Some may say the tomato isn’t there at all, but, if you close your eyes and use your imagination, you can taste a tomato-y afterthought at the end. Those looking for the sweet tang of ketchup shall be sad in this tomato effort, but the sprinklies of salt coating each fish help things along. It’s not a bad fishy, but not noticeably different enough from the cheddar to declare its taste as unique.

Now, on to the most curious beast: the burger cracker.

No skipping around the tulips: it’s pretty good. No hints of metal, artificial smoke, or burnt-charcoal. There’s a salty, savory, roasted-portabella edge with a hint of caramelized onion bits found at the bottom of the pan. Sure, it may not be the medium-rare hunk of cow I look for, but it holds its own, and, in that capacity, it goes excellently with the cheddar. The two eaten together may encourage you to shovel up every last crumb of the bag as if you were raised by wolves. Do not be ashamed of being raised by wolves: scoop those crackers down, you wolf-human.

Pepperidge Farm Cheeseburger Goldfish 3

Maybe it’s the smell of charcoal in the air, but I think I like these. I really do. They’re not spectacular, even a little too safe, but they’re also not putrid.

They’re savory, nutty, cheesy and easy to chomp. It would be exciting to see Pepperidge Farm go further with the idea of the burger: give me some jalapeño, Colby, and mustard-coated Goldfish. Bacon and bleu. Give me all the pickle-flavored fishies you can muster. I shall eat them. Eat them all. If I’m going off the deep end, so be it.

But maybe you will join me? Here? In the deep end? It’s nice. And way fun. And has lots of crackers.

(Nutrition Facts – 56 pieces – 140 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Pepperidge Farm Cheeseburger Goldfish Crackers
Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 6.3 oz. bag
Purchased at: Morton Williams
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Nutty. Savory. Burger cracker not gross. Cheddar remains unchanged. Brown bits of caramelized onions. Salt sprinklies. Benefits of being raised by wolves. Pogo sticks.
Cons: Ketchup tastes like cheddar. Absence of tang. Can’t order medium rare. No pickles? Trying to set up a tent in gale force winds.

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Cheesecake Bites

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter Cheesecake Bites

What do we want this summer?

We want to accomplish our goals. To clean out our garages. To power wash the driveway. To fulfill that suppressed dream of joining Cirque du Soleil as a zebra.

We want to eat cold stuff. By the bucket-full. Ice cream works, but we want variety. We want snacks. Hand-sized snacks. Snacks that are parceled such that they are easy to carry, easy to share, and are arranged in such a way that you don’t have to make a big deal out of it: no sparklers or rhinestones or dainty bows, people. Just fun, simple, and sugar-laden.

Thus enters the Cookie Butter Cheesecake Bites.

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter Cheesecake Bites Ready to be Chomped

At the size of a keychain Rubik’s Cube, each 25-gram bite comes out ready-to-go upon defrosting for two hours in the fridge, which translates to 30 minutes on my kitchen counter. Perhaps this 30 minutes seems like a Very Long Time to you (it did to me). Never fear. Simply channel your impatience into reverse engineering a Dodge Caliber or learning to play the bagpipes. Watch as 30 minutes goes by like a breeze.

Lacking the thick film of cookie butter seen in the holiday Cookie Butter Cheesecake, these come with a milder Speculoos hit than its seasonal counterpart, but the spice cookie still holds a strong presence in the form of a small swirl on the top of each bite. That swirly-gig of creamy cookie spread, coupled with the Speculoos crumb crust, just nudges at the trademark cinnamon-and-molasses spice cookie, which is plenty for me. I’m really here for the cheesecake, people.

And that cheesecake is dealt with grace. Nothing avant-garde. Just cream cheese and sugar, well-whipped and in a balanced ratio with the cookie butter. The cheesecake has that uniquely light yet dense quality that cream-cheese-based cheesecakes carry, ending with a tangy sweetness. If you’re sensitive to such tang, proceed with caution. If you adore such tang, prepare thyself to crave these at two in the afternoon, which is when they go splendidly with your afternoon coffee and lo, life is perfect.

But perfect only for a micro-second. Blink and the whole box could be gone in less time than it takes your roommate to pick up his/her socks (really, how long have those socks been there?), and, at $4.49 a box, these 12 cubes seem increasingly teeny. Luckily, the taste justifies the price and, with all that dairy and wheat pummeled somewhere in there, you can have them as part of your balanced breakfast. Some may say there’s too much sugar. You should not let such statements hold you back. I know I didn’t.

Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter Cheesecake Bites Breakfast Time

April on this East Coast is long: 30 shower-filled days, teasing false promises of “warmth.” But summer is coming. I know it. And I’m trying to be patient. These cheesecake bites? They help. They are pricey, yes, but they are worth enjoying.

Tangy, cool, and yet filled with warm Speculoos spice, they are the bridge between warm winter desserts and cool summer weather, carrying me into the Promise Land of lounging by the ocean with a glass of Kool-Aid, so pull out your over-sized flippers, grab a cheesecake bite, and prepare: summer’s coming.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 piece – 90 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 10 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Trader Joe’s Speculoos Cookie Butter Cheesecake Bites
Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: 10.6 oz. box
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Cream cheese tang. Crumbly crust. Tangy sweetness. Balanced ratio of cookie butter:cheesecake. Summer’s coming. Becoming a Cirque Du Soleil zebra.
Cons: A little pricey for the small size. Must wait for them to defrost. Realizing I have no patience. Supports Cookie Butter’s world domination. Dainty bows. Socks that are never picked up.

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Partially Popped Popcorn

Trader Joe's Partially Popped Popcorn with Butter & Sea Salt

What is happening?!?!?!?!

Cars are driving themselves.

Cookie Monster is a life coach.

Pink chickens are running around Portland.

And now this. Partially Popped Popcorn.

Like the rest of the above news, I am terrified, curious, and impossibly hopeful. Could this be re-animated Corn Nuts, one of the most brilliantly underrated gas station snacks of all time? Or is it the gunk at the bottom of my half-burnt popcorn bag? The stuff that drilled me with two cavities? Will it be brilliant? Will it be terrible? Will it be edible? (I don’t have dental insurance, people.)

Trader Joe's Partially Popped Popcorn with Butter & Sea Salt Tumble

Bust open the bag and gaze in wonderment at the poofs. They are smaller than I imagined (think: tinier than a marble, yet larger than a ladybug), but they make up for their diminutive size in aroma: just a slight crevice in the bag and wafts of butter, salt, and slightly sweet corn breeze into the air.

Less poofy Styrofoam associated with over-popped movie kernels, Trader Joe’s special “mushroom kernel” has a slight crisp-crackle before giving way to an inside that is both crisp and smooth with each kernel having a different level of partial puffiness. The kernel bits still have a special skill of getting snagged between teeth, but it seems that my former fear of actually chomping out a tooth has no basis in reality or logic, which seems to be a common trend with most of my thoughts.

Each corn bit is coated in a salty, buttery film that strikes a balance between the nutty butter and sodium while allowing the corn’s sweetness to come in at the end. What’s better is that this film is actual butter (in fact, the entire ingredient list is as follows: popcorn, canola oil, butter, and salt). It leaves a gentle trace on one’s fingers in much the same way as Cheetos might. This butter-salt mix combines with little crumbles of corn, leaving you with salty-sweet fingers to lick at the end of your journey and, as a result, less sorrow when you find your bag is empty. Less sorrow is good.

Trader Joe's Partially Popped Popcorn with Butter & Sea Salt Bowl of Habit Forming Goodness

Well, what a pleasant surprise. I dig these partially popped nubs. They are inverted and wackadoo, and, depending on your propensity for corn-like goodies, the full bag might be in your digestive system less than 15 minutes from the moment you crack it open. The plain butter-salt flavor may be boring for adventurous tasters, but when/if you get a hankering for a simple salty snack, these are worth a shot. If you pick them up and find yourself uninterested in their Plain Jane flavor, perhaps you could put them on mac ‘n cheese before you pop it in the oven or sprinkle them on an ice cream sundae for a crunch. I imagine it all going excellently.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Popcorn Traditionalists. I’m not saying these are better than regular popcorn. I’m just saying Orville Redenbacher should be distressingly anxious about his business right now.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/3 cup– 140 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Trader Joe’s Partially Popped Popcorn
Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 6 oz. bag
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Butter, butter everywhere. But not too much butter. Poofy. Crispy. Crunchy. Something new, delicious, and a little wonky. Low ingredient count. Corn=counts as a vegetable (right??). Cookie Monster as a life coach.
Cons: Generic butter-and-salt flavor may put some to sleep. Kernels have chance of getting stuck in teeth. Probably not REALLY a vegetable. Lack of dental insurance. Questionable pink chickens.