REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Cinnamon Bun Cookies

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.

REVIEW: Nabisco Oreo Creme Filled Chewy 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.

REVIEW: Wrigley’s Extra Dessert Delights Cinnamon Roll 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.

REVIEW: Hubba Bubba Hawaiian Punch Bubble Gum

Wrigley's Hubba Bubba Hawaiian Punch Bubble Gum

Oh, Walgreens, can you forgive me?

Sometimes I forget about you. Despite your stale sushi, your overpriced aisles of Degree deodorant, you mitigate your pitfalls by offering a “Make your own Slushie” machine available 24 hours a day and providing me with batteries and Snuggies before hurricanes. Indeed, Walgreens, I am in debt to you.

And today, on the cusp of summer, my debt racks up as you have taken your greatness one step further by giving me a brand new gum.

Wrigley's Hubba Bubba Hawaiian Punch Bubble Gum Unwrapped

Ahh, artificial fruit punch flavoring. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…no no, never mind. There are far too many ways. Having unwrapped my first cube of this Hawaiian Punch imitator, I’m greeted with a dashing little nub that smells of fruit punch, summer camp, and days by the pool, where I glugged enough Hawaiian Punch to make my belly burst (Why does chlorine make artificial fruit punch taste so good? A neurological connection? A molecular link between chlorine and sucrose? Me + Sugar=Duh?)

I go in for the chew and, BLAM-O, I’m smacked 1952-comic-book style with a concentrated Hawaiian Punch flavor. It starts out with a distinct sweet/tart cherry/berry flavor with a hint of bitterness from Red 40. That teensy bitterness gets mitigated with a pineapple tang and a hint of orange and apple that swings in at the end, all making for a rounded Hawaiian Punch experience without the need of a cup holder or threat of spillage on to those white fluffy towels you just pulled out of the dryer (Because everyone drinks Hawaiian Punch in the laundry room?).

It’s not natural fruit punch by any means, but when did Hawaiian Punch promise real fruit juice? That’d be like asking a Wooly Mammoth to construct a warehouse of IKEA furniture, and that’s just not fair: Wooly Mammoths don’t have opposable thumbs.

Wrigley's Hubba Bubba Hawaiian Punch Bubble Gum Sucrose+red dye=yum

There’s an episode of Dexter’s Lab where Dexter, boy genius, makes himself expandably stretchy by smooshing his molecules with those of chewing gum (season 2, episode 19 for those following along). I imagine he used this gum. Like most Hubba Bubba specimens chewed in the past, each cube starts out small and then expands in your mouth, becoming a sticky, stretchy, tacky tangle. It isn’t until 12 minutes later, when the flavor’s far gone and you’ve gnawed it into a soft, flavorless glob of gum base, that you realize just what an experience it was. This is the stuff of bubble World Records, the terrifying goo that sticks to the bottom of shoes and stretches for miles. This is Bubble Gum. (Notice capital letters. Serious stuff.)

In a world of hyper-vigilant dentists and grumpity orthodontists putting braces on every human with a mouth and a molar, sugar mavens are oft deprived of a tasty, sugar-filled gum to chew their days away, so it’s refreshing to find a gum that’s tasty, good for bubbles, and, by Georgey-Porgy, filled with real, refined sugar. Hubba Bubba is amending said conundrum. With a pleasant chew, sugary grit, and enough artificial red dye to repair the New Jersey freeway, Hubba Bubba’s taken the taste of summer and smooshed it into a little 1×1 inch cube. If that’s not a summer miracle, I don’t know what is.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 piece – 25 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, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Hubba Bubba Hawaiian Punch Bubble Gum
Purchased Price: $1.39
Size: 1 pack/5 pieces
Purchased at: Walgreens
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Concentrated artificial fruit punch flavor. Soft n’ stretchy. Mysteriously seems to expand in one’s mouth. Real sugar defying angry dentists. 24-hour Slushie machines. Reasons to watch re-runs of Dexter’s Lab.
Cons: Not for those with a distaste for artificial fruit punch flavor. Sugar in gum may cause cavities. Some may be sensitive to bitterness of red dye flavor. Grumpity orthodontists. Wooly Mammoths don’t have opposable thumbs. The repairs of the New Jersey freeway. Realizing said freeway will never be repaired. Never.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Peeps Donut

Dunkin' Donuts Peeps Donut Peep Donut

7:30 in the morning and fresh from the dusty, diesel-packed streets of the Bowery, I swung into the Dunkin’ Donuts, dodging the heating lamps of hash browns and the baskets of 99 cent danishes. I sought neither the jelly-puffed munchkin nor the swirls in the Butter Pecan Latte. Nay, I came for one thing and one thing alone: a torus-shaped chunk of fried dough topped with an artificially colored marshmallow.

Dunkin' Donuts Peeps Donut Smooshed Peep face

Is it a chicken? A warbler? An artist’s interpretation of a Saffron Finch? Much like the Hero’s Journey to the center of the Tootsie Roll, the world may never know what the true breed the Peep “chickadee” is (then again, I’m not a very good ethnographer). What I do know is that each little plop of Dunkin’s dough is topped with one of these aviary escapees, not to mention being doused in a glaze of sugar and artificial colors, which reminds me of Fruity Pebbles, which reminds me of Childhood Joy. So it stands to conclude that this doughnut is made out of Joy, right?

Dunkin' Donuts Peeps Donut Sawdust cake

The doughnut comes out with all the vibrancy of a Lisa Frank commercial and its 21 grams of sugar gives an equally vibrant kick in the pants. As hoped for, the anticipated sugar glaze hits first, tasting of little more than the joy of refined, gritty sugary-ness with a hint of vanilla extract. It’s layered on moderately thick and there’s a little crunch as you bite into the softened glaze as it softens and dissolves into a gritty, sweet mess (the best mess there is). This fructose-laden rainbow-brick-road paves the way as you chomp towards the epicenter that is the Peep. You have the option to eat your Peep as you choose. Just remember: that special feeling that comes with chomping the head of a Peep? No one can take that away from you.

Dunkin' Donuts Peeps Donut One day, this Peep's ghost will seek vengeance on me

The speed bump in the sugary journey came as I bit into the piece of yeast dough. Dry. Pasty. Stiff. This was not Joy. “Did I come in on a bad morning?” I asked myself. “Is the fryer on the fritz? Has a ill-willed goblin from the 7th dimension taken over the Dunkin’ Donut kitchen? BAH! How do I handle ill-willed goblins? What do they have against doughnuts? And how will I be able to attain a mass-marketed piece of adequately fried dough in light of my incapacity to handle a species I’ve yet to understand?”

These questions were left unanswered as I gnawed my way to the center of the dry piece of bread, each bite bringing only more disappointment. Sure, I always hope for a sugary, dense cake, but even a slightly fresh, modestly moist cake will do. I’ve even been known to take day-old doughnuts and plop them in the microwave to give ‘em a little kick in the fluff. But this? This was overcooked, even cottony, tasting more like stale Wonder Bread. Wonder Bread tossed in sawdust. Combined with the Peep and it was like chomping a slightly stretchy piece of sugar-coated Styrofoam, the little crumbs of dried out cake spewing dried-out shrapnel every which way. Perhaps a slightly denser cake doughnut may have stood the test better? I don’t know, but I fear this one just didn’t cut it for me.

Thankfully, I had a hot chocolate at the ready because what goes better with a bird-shaped marshmallow than a frothy beverage of molten cocoa? I would suggest you consider doing the same: grab yourself a coffee, a Cookie Dough Coolata, whatever joe suits your fancy. While dry on its own, the pastry makes excellent dunking material (this is Dunkin’ after all). The beverage adds a bitter, sharp bite to the sugar onslaught while filling in the nooks of hardened dough with a little bit of moisture and caffeine. You will be happy. Your Peep will be happy. The goblins of the 7th dimension will be happy.

Dunkin' Donuts Peeps Donut Peep protects its territory

Have a sweet tooth? Or ten? Do all of them crave straight sugar laced with sugar that tastes of sugar on a dry piece of bread? If you answered yes to all of the above, the Peeps doughnut is here for you. While I admire the seasonal charm, the colors threaten to blind your sensitive eyeballs and the dry cake is just blee-blah-bloo. In the future, I’ll steer clear of this one, but again…seasonal. It’s a good idea, DD, but I spoke to the Easter bunny this weekend and he told me he’s looking for a Girl Scout Cookie doughnut to deliver next year. So how ‘bout it Dunkin’: Will you heed the bunny’s call?

(Nutrition Facts – 310 calories, 130 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 340 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Dunkin’ Donuts Peeps Donut
Purchased Price: $1.09
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Dunkin’ Donuts
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Corn syrup! Fructose! Bright colors! Slight crunch from the glaze. Poofy marshmallow. Stretchy marshmallow. Marshmallow dunked in hot chocolate. Childhood Joy.
Cons: Bright colors may result in blindness. Dry dough. Stale Wonder Bread tossed in sawdust. Still wondering: how many licks to the center of a Tootsie Pop? Goblins of the 7th dimension. Me not being a good ethnographer.