Author Archives | Margaret

Margaret - who has written 57 posts on The Impulsive Buy.


REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch Ice Cream

Written by | July 22, 2014

Topics: 6 Rating, Ben & Jerry's, Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry’s Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch Ice Cream

Sometimes you have one of those days. You drop your toothbrush in the toilet. You eat shell in your scrambled eggs. You get attacked by three nefarious pigeons while walking to the pharmacy and break your sunglasses.

Such was the day I was having when I walked into a Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop, half-blind from my sunglasses-less eyes. Craving something to promote my tooth decay, Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch Ice Cream seemed like my Golden Ticket.

Sweet cream. Chocolate ice cream. Caramel clusters. Fudge almonds. Marshmallow swirl. Sounds like a mish-mosh put together by especially creative carnies with ingredients that would make the Grinch’s hearts grow to the strength of 10 Grinches (plus 2). How will its tastes settle on a non-Grinch? Only one way to find out…

Ben & Jerry’s Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch Ice Cream Must find all the clusters!

Gilly (played by Kristen Wiig) is known as the rambunctious rally-rouser in the Saturday Night Live classroom, having created all sorts of semi-violent mischief, including walloping buckets of Chunky Monkey ice cream at the teacher. That same degree of mischief is evidenced here by the multitude of kooky ingredients pummeled into this frozen dairy concoction.

Let’s start with the two bases: the swirl of sweet cream and chocolate ice creams is distinct. The sweet cream portion reminds me of milk that’s been artfully infused with Frosted Flakes while the chocolate tastes light and sugary, much similar to a Hershey’s bar. It’s perhaps not the best chocolate you’ve had in your life, but definitely lovable. When the two mix together, that chocolate flavor takes over while a tinge of hyper sweetness comes at the back end from the sweet cream, making for a very, very light milk chocolate base. It’s dense and creamy, even if perhaps a bit subtle for my inner chocolate fiend.

Ben & Jerry’s Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch Ice Cream The Cluster Cave

But what I’m really here for are the mix-ins. Just look at that rocky terrain obstructing the creaminess. Clusters! Fudgy almonds! Those fudge almonds add a deeper dimension in the universe of chocolates, touting more of a semisweet profile than the base, while the almonds contribute their thudding crunch more than any notable flavor. And, oh yes, the marshmallow swirl: it’s goopy, in that humble marshmallow fluff way, although its one-note, straight-up-sugar flavor comes across tame against the subtly cocoa-y base, a shame as the marshmallow swirl in Phish Food ranks up there in my personal Ultimate Favorite Ice Cream Experiences of All Time Ever.

But, meanwhile, the clusters. Man, those clusters. Those chunky, sweet caramel little crunches add more than all the heart, stars, horseshoes, clovers, and blue moons combined. Chunky. Lightly burnt sugar. A tad sticky. Part of this balanced breakfast. But there aren’t enough of them! Must find all the chunkies! Must eat a whole bowl! Someone must turn these chunkies into a granola. Immediately.

My dad always told me good things come to those who persevere. But sometimes, persevering isn’t easy. Sometimes you have to wait. In a line. For 32 minutes. With a screaming three-year-old. And a tall man’s sweaty armpit in your nose. But the key is to never lose sight of the goal, for the goal will be your reward.

In this case, I was rewarded with some high-quality ice cream and, while it was good, I don’t think I’d go back for Gilly’s. The ingredients were all high quality, yet they mixed together in an altogether subtle way. It almost represents the wackadoodle character of Gilly. It had the kooky ingredients, yet the delivery was muddled. Perhaps more of those amazing clusters, some richer chocolate in the base, maybe a hint of something gritty, like a graham cracker or cookie, and BOOM. It’d be Gilly madness all up in here.

But just because it’s not for me doesn’t mean it can’t be for you. If you like crunchy, caramel things, almonds, and subtle milk chocolate ice cream, this is worth persevering for. It’s really a good ice cream. Don’t be ashamed of your flavor preferences! Find the chunkies! Eat them all! Persevere!

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 250 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 23 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Ben & Jerry’s Gilly’s Catastrophic Crunch Ice Cream
Purchased Price: $3.75
Size: 1 scoop
Purchased at: Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop (Rockefeller Center)
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Crunchies! Lovable chocolate base. Thuddy almonds. Slow melting. Fudge coating adds different dimension of chocolate. Creative carnies.
Cons: Needs more clusters. Milk chocolate base may be too subtle for some. Marshmallow gets lost in sweet cream. Dropping your toothbrush in the toilet. Getting attacked by three nefarious pigeons.

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REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Banana Nut Cookies

Written by | June 30, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Cookies, Pepperidge Farm

Pepperidge Farm Banana Nut Cookie

Disco and bananas: these are my two cravings when summer rolls around. Not hammocks. Not reruns of Seinfeld (a year-round craving). Not ice cream. Well, yeah, ice cream. But also bananas.

So it was with great delight that I spotted these Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Banana Nut Cookies while bobbing my head to the tune of “Dancing Queen.” It felt like destiny.

Pepperidge Farm Banana Nut Cookie Her Majesty, Queen Fluted Cup

Having just come off of an immensely satisfactory sugar rush triggered by Pepperidge Farm’s Cinnamon Bun Cookies, my hopes were set high. Like 40,000 feet above sea level. Up with the goats. And the yodelers.

And when I popped open the bag, the smell didn’t let that hope down: wafts of bananas, sugar, and maybe some subtle honey-flour-preservative dust, echoed into every pocket of memory that involves banana bread, a jar of peanut butter, Saturday mornings, and Reading Rainbow.

But the taste couldn’t quite sustain the same level of nostalgia-induced delusion. Sure, the cookie was soft without being spongy, cakey without being dry, and the taste wasn’t half bad: there was definitely some sugar, maybe a dash of vanilla extract, yet, while the whole “banana” part existed, it felt dulled out like a wafty ghost in the back of my throat. I do not appreciate having banana ghosts in my throat.

Thankfully, the hunks and chunks of walnuts brought me back down to Earth, providing soft, crunchy nubbins with hints of bitterness to contrast the half-hearted-bananainess of the cookie. The whole experience wasn’t bad, but it’s just not enough to satisfy my Inner Banana Monkey. And my Inner Banana Monkey wants bananas. Must. Have. Bananas!

Pepperidge Farm Banana Nut Cookie Good canvases

No joke: these cookies are NOT the most innovative fare. They don’t involve liquid nitrogen. They don’t provide you with a magical wizard who will pay for your car insurance. Heck, they don’t even have chocolate chips. However, it is this very trait of boringness that makes them a spectacular base for other, more creative projects. One chomp and I found myself living in a perpetual, five-step cycle: 1) Eat cookie, 2) Allow visions of peanut butter and banana cookie sandwiches to flood brain, 3) Make peanut butter and banana cookie sandwich, 4) Chomp, 5) Repeat process as often as possible.

If you, too, find yourself undergoing a similar pattern, you may come to the realization that there are so many options: Crumble them on your parfait! Smoosh them with Nutella! Make a Breakfast Sundae! You, fine reader, are surely more creative than me. Expand. Grow. YOU CAN DO BETTER.

Pepperidge Farm Banana Nut Cookie Peanut Butter Sandwich that goes in belly

Whether you’re feeling like a bum or undergoing a temporary bout of psychosis, cookies are good, and these Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Banana Nut Cookies exemplify a solid, if somewhat boring, reflection of said philosophy: nice texture, soft-ish nuts, mild taste, and peanut butter sandwich cookies good enough to get you down at the discotheque.

Plus, bananas have potassium, right? So no shin splints. And that’s okay for today, but count this as a first strike in mediocrity, Pepperidge. You’ve got two more to go. Two more.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cookie – 130 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Banana Nut Cookies
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 8.6 oz.
Purchased at: Met Foods
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Strong banana smell. Soft chew. Walnut bits add texture. Good base for creative dessert escapades. Could prevent shin splints. Magical Wizards that pay your car insurance. Reading Rainbow. Goats on the mountaintops.
Cons: Below moderate banana taste. Boring by itself. Walnut pieces are teensy weensy. Absence of chocolate chips. Ghosts of bananas in your throat. Nostalgia-induced delusion. Bad disco. Unfulfilled Inner Banana Monkey.

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REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Cinnamon Bun Cookies

Written by | June 20, 2014

Topics: 8 Rating, Cookies, Pepperidge Farm

Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Cinnamon Bun Cookies

Like a phantom Girl Scout here to haunt me, Pepperidge Farm cookies make themselves available year-round in an increasingly baffling number of varieties, rendering me (the consumer) into a primal mental state of chaos and delight I like to call, “The Paint Swatch Effect”: the mental state that unfolds when one is bombarded with an infinite amount of choices, be it paint samples, Oreo cookies, or high capacity power drills.

When under the spell of the Paint Swatch Effect, one tends to undergo a spontaneous craving to try as many new things as possible, conducting an inner dialogue that goes to the tune of, “So many options! Everywhere! Must try them all! ALL!!”

It’s a nutso, frightening, wonderful way to live.

Which was perhaps why I stood, once again, under the shadow of Milano planks and Xtra Cheddar Goldfishies by the Pepperidge Farm display. But I was not after the square Cheesmen Shortbread, nor those dashing Milano Melts. Nay. My eyes were locked on the newest stud, the sole snagger of my heart.

Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Cinnamon Bun Cookies Breakfast- The Sequel

Breakfast will never be the same.

Like a traumatic childhood experience or a very good buddy movie, finding a spectacular packaged cookie is a rare, fleeting moment. To find one that can also gracefully glide across your palate in the wee hours of the morning? Mark it in the History books for that is a moment that should be treated with respect as it brands its gooey, cakey, fudgy-wudginess into the nostalgia of your taste buds. Eating this bag of cookies qualifies as one of those Historical Moments.

Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Cinnamon Bun Cookies C is for cookies and cookies is plural

At first snag, the cookie feels light and nimble as though it could morph into a back-flip-twisting, baton-twirling Rhythmic Grand Prix gymnast at any moment, yet, once bitten into, the texture holds a dense, doughy crumb that’s delightfully more fudgy than some of the other Soft Baked specimens I’ve experienced. Not too fluffy nor styrofoamy, the end result sits in you like a brick. A tasty, tasty brick made of carbohydrates, sugar, and questionable vegetable oils that, when put in the microwave, it becomes a goopy, melty, warm brick. Where are the architects to build me a house out of such materials?

Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Cinnamon Bun Cookies A utopian abode made of cookies

And that’s just the beginning: the top, with its layer of brown-beige speckles, looks like a pastry-itized reinterpretation of a 1934 Oklahoma landscape after a Dust Bowl storm. If that dust storm was made of cinnamon sugar. Said sugar not only brings sweetness and a sandy texture, but also tows a comfy warmth from the cinnamon without going into the Hot Tamale realm.

Bringing the cinnamon experience even further are little crunchy cinnamon chippies mixed in the dough that are dense with cinnamon and crispity enough to put Snap, Crackle, and Pop to shame. And those white “confection” chips? While I have no clue what they’re made of, they melt like butta. A slight zing of artificial vanilla and sugar is all it takes to knock it home as the chip melts away into goopy sweetness. When all the elements combine, you have sugar, cinnamon, goo. The whole experience is as comfortable as lounging on a couch playing Super Nintendo in bunny pajamas. The ones with the footies.

Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Cinnamon Bun Cookies chippies and crispities

Across from the U.N. Headquarters in New York rests a tiny shop that states itself as the, “United Nations Plaza Dental Care Facility.” I imagine that, if each of the world leaders were given a bag of these cookies, the number of cavities elicited from the consumption of said cookies would result in enough cavities to pay the shop’s rent for the next 15 years. A steep price to pay for a little cookie…

Or is it?

I dare say, if I were a world leader, it’d be worth it. The offer of dense doughy cookie? Of cinnamon, sugar dust with sugar-frosting fudgy nubbins? All pre-made and wrapped in a little baggie just for me? Put a microwave in the room, set one in there for 5 seconds, and you get a warm, gooey circle of world peace. Who doesn’t want a warm, gooey circle of world peace? Isn’t that what the United Nations is all about? I dare say it is! Maybe, to bring peace, you just need a little sugar. And a toothbrush so you don’t have to visit the Dental Care Facility.

So, world leaders, bring your toothbrushes and we’ll provide your bag of cookies! Pepperidge Farm has a new offering and it may just be good enough to unite us all.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cookie – 130 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, Less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Cinnamon Bun Cookies
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 1 bag/8 cookies
Purchased at: Met Foods
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Great reason to have cookies for breakfast. Soft chew. Fudgier than some other Soft Baked specimens. Thick cinnamon sugar crusting. Melty confection chips scattered in good ratio. Crispity cinnamon chippies. May result in world peace. Super Nintendo. Bunny pajamas with the footies.
Cons: Lots of funky oils. Still not as good as homemade. What are white confection chips really made of? And why are they so good? 1934 Oklahoma dust storms. Phantom Girl Scouts.

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REVIEW: Nabisco Oreo Creme Filled Chewy Chips Ahoy Cookies

Written by | May 28, 2014

Topics: 8 Rating, Chips Ahoy!, Cookies

Nabisco Oreo Creme Filled Chewy Chips Ahoy Cookies

“My Country, ’Tis of Thee!!”

Few things inspire my vocal chords to spontaneously burst into patriotic hymn, let alone one warbled in aisle 4 of the Nashville Harris Teeter. But there I was. Thinking I was just going to pick up some ground chuck to throw on the grill, maybe a few marshmallows and graham crackers and…

(Keeps walking.
Registers what she just saw.)

“Sweet Land of Liberty!”

(Double-take.
Stops.
Walks backwards.
Picks up red package.)

In what can only be described as the overdue scandal of all time, space, and alternate universes (universi?) of parallel dimensions, Chewy Chips Ahoy and Oreo-crème have finally come upfront about the not-so-backstage affair that everyone already knew (and secretly hoped) was going on. Well, if these cookies have anything to do with it, it looks like a good day for an affair!

Nabisco Oreo Creme Filled Chewy Chips Ahoy Cookies Looks like a regular Chewy Chips Ahoy, don't it?

Straight out of the package, the cookie masquerades as any other Chewy might, sporting the tux-and-tails of a squishy, brown-tinted dough with mini milk chocolate chips scattered all about. Filled with flour, corn syrup, and artificial caramel color, that dough has that special plain simplicity that, when combined with that special eau du preservatives, keeps the chew of these cookies soft, cakey, and pliant, allowing it to serve as the prime canvas for the grainy, supersweet, dairy chocolate chips. Sound like any other Chewy Chips Ahoy? You bet. But, like a good pair of cuff links or the internal processor of C-3PO, it’s the hidden details that make the difference.

Nabisco Oreo Creme Filled Chewy Chips Ahoy Cookies My Country Tis of Thee!

Behold the stratosphere of Oreo Crème!

The interior of these cookies elicits a state of fear and awe not dissimilar to the sensation of running into Judge Judy on the streets of Paris. The anxiety of the forthcoming sugar coma combined with the craving for the crumbly, semi-solid mass that is Oreo filling is overwhelming. Sure, the frosting’s spread a little thinner than a Double Stuf and maybe it’s a little creamier texture-wise, but just take another look:

Nabisco Oreo Creme Filled Chewy Chips Ahoy Cookies Pile o' Creme

Indeed, the Oreo filling is crammed in such a little cookie and operating at its peak performance, holding the familiar heightened sweetness I know so well. And when that creamy hyper-sweetness combines with chocolatey chippers and cakey dough? Such beauty. Such conflict. Such contrast. And, as Judge Judy’s taught us all, there’s a certain respect to be had for the laws of contrast.

Nabisco Oreo Creme Filled Chewy Chips Ahoy Cookies Prescription for Despondency

I’ve been dwelling on the side of despondency lately. Godzilla was a bust. My socks never get dry at the Laundromat. Many of the Jelly Belly flavors don’t taste good together. So much deep sorrow. How to hold it together?

These Oreo Crème-filled Chips Ahoy. That’s how. These cookies single-handedly amended my deep sorrow better than Hello Kitty Band-Aids on a papercut. Think of what they do to a cup of coffee, a carton of milk, that dripping bowl of ice cream, reminding me that summer is [kinda] here.

Is it freshly baked? Can the cookie be twisted and separated like an Oreo? Does it come with a side of frosting to dip your Oreo-filled cookie in more Oreo filling?? No, no, and no, but that’s not what this cookie’s meant to be. It’s meant to be a sliver of Oreo-crème inside a Chewy Chips Ahoy, and boy does it make me happy.

If you think you like Chewy cookies, you should get these. If you think you don’t like Chewy cookies, you should get these. They’re good. Not mind-blowing, but definitely good. Taste them. Upon consumption, you shall realize there’s nothing to be despondent about. There’s even something worth singing a patriotic hymn in aisle 7 about.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 150 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Oreo Creme Filled Chewy Chips Ahoy Cookies
Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: 9.6 oz.
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Soft, cakey chew. Mini milk chocolatey chippers. Hyper sweetness from frosting. Hello Kitty Band-Aids. Makes you happy. C-3PO. Running into Judge Judy on the streets of Paris.
Cons: Frosting inside is a bit thin. Cannot twist and separate cookie from frosting. Not fresh out of the oven. Doesn’t come with a dipping tray of Oreo frosting. Papercuts. Not knowing the plural form of “universe.” Socks never getting dry at the Laundromat.

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REVIEW: Wrigley’s Extra Dessert Delights Cinnamon Roll Gum

Written by | May 23, 2014

Topics: 7 Rating, Extra, Gum

Wrigley's Extra Dessert Delights Cinnamon Roll Gum

Remember that time you went to the mall and passed the Cinnabon sample tray? The one with the Dixie Cups? And the warm, goopy Minibons? And you took a sample? Then you took another? Then you took 10 more? Then you got dismissed for exceeding your sample limit? (“There’s a sample limit???”) Then you stomped away? And came back 15 minutes later with a fake mustache? And presumed a new identity while shoveling more Minibons down as you made a convincing argument to the fifteen-year-old employee that your voice was undergoing great strain after reconstructive surgery?

Like that time Charlie Buckets drank the Fizzy Lifting Drinks and nearly got shredded by a giant fan, it seemed like a good idea at the time. And, perhaps, for that one moment, when you got a bite of the half-baked middle, the cinnamon butter goo, the crunchity glaze, it was worth it because let us remember: this is not just any hunk of bread. This is a cinnamon roll: a warm, messy blob of cinnamon-sugar gloopity gloop and enough confectioner’s sugar to make The League of Evil Dentists cheer for all the money they’ll make filling your cavities. And yet, for each roll you have, there’s only so much chewing before it’s gone, having been chomped by your molars into the dark oblivion that is digestion. So what’s a cinnamon bun addict to do with such conundrums and deep-cut cravings?

Wrigley's Extra Dessert Delights Cinnamon Roll Gum Looking at that dashing piece of taupe

One gum. To cure them all.

As I learned from Yosemite Sam, power comes in many sizes, be it in an 19-inch-tall cowboy with a booshily beard and anger management issues or a 2-inch strip of taupe gum, and, indeed, this particular piece of Cinnamon Roll gum reinforces this lesson. The chew here starts out a little tough, then softens out for a good 17-20 minutes before gamboling into rubber tire territory.

But it’s a very tasty tire.

If this flavor were a superhero, it would be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle in a tutu. It starts off with a cooling, hyper sweetness (the tutu), then swipes at you from the shadows (like a Ninja Turtle) with a backdrop of… is that toasted caramel?? Yes, yes it is! Why, I dare say there’s even a little nuttiness as if there were a hint of toasted pecans in there.

The cinnamon doesn’t hit it out too heavily, coming in as a warm afterthought rather than a spicy kick, but that’s the genius. It allows the warm, zingy, slightly fruity/vanilla-y hints of the caramel and cinnamon to remind you of the doughy sensation you sought in the Cinnabon originals while the cooling effects of aspartame mimic that cooling sensation brought on by a caramel-sugar glaze. Nice attention to detail, Extra.

While lacking the fresh-baked, poofy texture of the true baked good, the end result here does come out tasting modestly like a cinnamon roll (but more like a caramel sticky bun) with a gentle warmth, slight sweetness, and joyous aroma all in a portable resealable cardboard square.

In a world in which Cinnabon prices are going up, all my baking pans are dirtied, and I am too lazy to pull out the Dawn Dish Soap (even if it does have aloe vera for silky smooth skin…), it’s nice to know that I can fill my cinnamon roll addiction without fear of having to take on new identities at the Cinnabon sample tray (I’m running out of disguises…). Is it deception that makes it tastes more like a caramel roll than a cinnamon roll? Perhaps, but it sure is a tasty, tasty deception.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 piece – 5 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 0 grams of sugar, 2 grams of sugar alcohol, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Wrigley’s Extra Dessert Delights Cinnamon Roll Gum
Purchased Price: $1.19
Size: 1 pack/15 pieces
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Soft chew. Sweet toasted caramel flavor. Hint of pecan flavor. Hyper sweetness from aspartame mimics glaze. Portable. Tasty deception. Ninja Turtles in tutus. Justifies procrastination of washing dishes.
Cons: Not a warm, poofy pastry. Could use more cinnamon. Some may feel betrayed that it tastes more like a caramel sticky bun than cinnamon roll. Desperate attempts to procure free Cinnabons. Cowboys with anger management issues. Being shredded by a giant fan. The League of Evil Dentists.

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