REVIEW: Malt-O-Meal Cookies and Cream Cereal

Malt-O-Meal Cookies and Cream Cereal

In the late 90s, I can remember watching The New Addams Family on Fox Kids on summer afternoons, and there were lots of Oreo O’s commercials with Bessie the cow. Until last summer, it was the only cereal I ever knew of that had a Fourth of July version. But then, as you likely know, the cereal was discontinued in the States, and everyone was sad.

Luckily, Malt-O-Meal has brought it back! Except now it’s called Cookies and Cream.

One of the requirements for reviewing this cereal was that I had to miss Oreo O’s. In full disclosure, I missed Oreo O’s before it went away. After it had been out a few years, they decided to add marshmallows to it. Even as a chubby adolescent who cared nothing about nutrition, I thought that was too much sweetness.

Thankfully, this doesn’t have any marshmallows. When I first tasted a piece dry, it totally seemed familiar, as if I’d just had Oreo O’s last week. In reality it’s been nearly two decades. So, if you miss Oreo O’s, rejoice! This is as close as it’s going to get.

Malt-O-Meal Cookies and Cream Cereal 2

Pouring milk over them is really the way to eat it, and it tastes just like I remember. It’s one of those cereals where I feel like I could eat bowl after bowl. At the same time, though, there’s something not completely satisfying about it. Maybe it’s because it’s so airy and has giant holes in the middle, so it’s not terribly filling.

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The leftover milk looks like cookies and cream ice cream and has a sweetness to it, but not the same level of chocolatiness you’d get from Cocoa Puffs or Count Chocula.

When I brushed my teeth immediately after eating the cereal, my toothpaste spittle also looked like cookies and cream ice cream. (I was going to include a picture but decided not to. You’re welcome.)

So if you want the Oreo O’s experience again, definitely pick this up. It’s a worthy replacement.

If, however, you’ve never had Oreo O’s, it’s less important for you to try this. It’s a tasty, passable cereal, but don’t expect it to be like other chocolate cereals. It’s basically cookie-flavored Froot Loops. Does it taste like Oreos? I don’t think so, but it is reminiscent of them. And one cup of cereal still has fewer calories than two Oreo cookies.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup (30 grams) – 120 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 45 milligrams of potassium, 26 grams of total carbohydrates, less than one gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $5.48
Size: 34 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like Oreo O’s. No marshmallows. Leftover milk looks like cookies and cream ice cream. Fewer calories than actual Oreos. 90s nostalgia.
Cons: Not very filling. Rough on the roof of my mouth. More sugar than most name-brand cereals. Doesn’t taste like actual Oreo cookies.

REVIEW: Brach’s Dessert Hearts Conversation Hearts

Brach's Dessert Hearts Conversation Hearts

Brach’s Dessert Hearts Conversation Hearts fill a niche we don’t need -— gourmet flavored chalk. (Actually, I know they’re not chalk, because I minored in geology, and coccoliths are not on the ingredient list.)

Many people hate conversation hearts. I don’t fall into the hating camp, but I do recognize that they’re far from great candy. They’re really all about Valentine’s Day tradition and nostalgia.

The yellow (“SMOOCHES,” or rather “SMOO-CHES”) is bananas foster. It has a banana note, but some other kind of flavor that I think makes it worse than plain banana would be. Bananas foster sounds like too fancy a dessert for someone who cares about conversation hearts, so they could probably make it any flavor and no one would know. If I’ve had bananas foster, I don’t remember what it tastes like.

The purplish one (“YOWZA”) is raspberry sorbet. It does taste like (fake) raspberry, but it also has a medicinal flavor to it, like cough syrup.

White (“FOR YOU”) is vanilla ice cream. I do taste a vanilla bean flavor, but it’s kind of bitter; I like real ice cream better. Vanilla is literally the simplest flavor there is. I wouldn’t say they blew it, but it could have been better.

The blue (“WINK WINK”) is blueberry pie. It also has a (fake) blueberry flavor, and some other notes that I guess could be a pie crust? This might be the most authentic one (which isn’t saying much).

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Then we get to the most annoying thing about these. There are two pinks, and they are very similar in color. It’s hard to tell them apart, especially if you’re not comparing them side by side. And the worst part is that one is the best flavor and one is the worst, so you can’t easily pick your favorites out.

The light pink (“MISS YOU”) is strawberry shortcake. It has the most desserty flavor, with a bit of strawberry and almost a buttery flavor. This one is my favorite.

The dark pink (“DREAM”) is cherry cobbler. This is the least flavorful and most medicinal one. It reminds me of those chalky Shamu vitamins I had in kindergarten.

Brach's Dessert Hearts Conversation Hearts 3

The primary purpose of conversation hearts is to look cute. It has never been about the flavor, so these will work just fine for most purposes, I guess. But I think you’ll be safer with more traditional flavors.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 pieces – 60 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, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 14 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Strawberry shortcake is a decent flavor. Valentine’s Day tradition. Cuteness. A for effort. Not really chalk.
Cons: Two similar pinks. Too similar pinks. Some words are hard to read. Ugly hyphens. Raspberry sorbet tastes like cough syrup. Cherry cobbler tastes like Shamu vitamins. Shamu vitamins.

REVIEW: Red Velvet Kit Kat Miniatures

Red Velvet Kit Kat Miniatures

There are two things that strike me as odd about these new Red Velvet Kit Kat bars.

The first is that they are white, without a hint of red, even though red is literally in their name. I guess red velvet has moved beyond being associated with Valentine’s Day for its color, and now it’s the flavor that’s iconic. I’m fine with that, especially since in this case it means there’s no artificial coloring.

Red Velvet Kit Kat Miniatures 2

Red Velvet Kit Kat Miniatures 3

The second thing is that red velvet is even a flavor for this and other candies. I’ve had many red velvet cakes and cupcakes, but I still don’t know what its flavor is. I mean, I know it’s a cake made with buttermilk and a small amount of cocoa, but what does that even taste like? And how can it come across in an item that doesn’t list buttermilk in its ingredients?

But when I open up the fragrant bag, and look at the pale coating, I get it:

Red velvet cakes are always topped with cream cheese frosting. And these are not really Red Velvet Kit Kats, but rather Cream Cheese Frosting Kit Kats. I think it’s pretty self-explanatory why they didn’t call them that.

Red Velvet Kit Kat Miniatures 4

The bag smells strongly of cream cheese. The inside of the bars is just the same as Milk Chocolate Kit Kats, but the outside coating is definitely reminiscent of cream cheese, even though there’s no cheese in the ingredients. I actually expected it to taste a lot more fake than it does. But it’s also kind of off-putting at first. A cheesy tang is not what I anticipate when I eat Kit Kats.

You know what? I wasn’t really a fan of these at first. But as I’ve eaten more, I’ve come to enjoy them. Initially I liked them less than regular Kit Kats, but now I don’t think they’re worse than the regular ones. They’re just different. These are more flavorful than plain ol’ Milk Chocolate Kit Kats, for better or for worse. I love cream cheese frosting, but if that’s not your thing, you probably won’t like Red Velvet Kit Kats.

I was going to rate these six, but I’m giving them a seven. They’ve grown on me.

(Nutrition Facts – 5 pieces – 220 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.59
Size: 10 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Flavor grew on me. Tastes like cream cheese frosting. No artificial coloring.
Cons: Cheesy tang is not what you expect from Kit Kats. No buttermilk, unlike a real red velvet cake.

REVIEW: Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins

Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins

December 25, 1995.

I thought I hit the jackpot. Not only did my stocking contain a Gumby keychain, but it contained an entire package of Andes mints, to keep all for myself! That was way better than the blueberry and butterscotch candy canes I got. (Those are two different flavors, BTW.) Andes were a super fancy candy I only ever got when we snuck them from our wealthy, mint-loving grandmother.

I started to realize they weren’t all that fancy when we would get them as Christmas gifts from those neighbors we barely knew. But even though my estimation of them has gone down, I still find myself decimating a package in a relatively short amount of time, with the wrappers accumulating in my pants pockets and dryer lint screen. Therefore, I was intrigued to try these new Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins.

Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins 2

The paper wrappers for these are a shiny silver, rather than the familiar green. The packaging makes it look like the wrappers will be green or bronze, but nope, it’s silver. When you strip the candies, they look just like a typical cookies ’n’ creme bar. There’s no green stripe indicating that it will be a mint flavor.

Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins 3

However, once you pop them in your mouth, they taste just like regular Andes mints. (At least they taste exactly as I remember them; I didn’t taste the two kinds side by side.) There is no flavor of cookies ’n’ creme. The uniqueness of these is purely textural; there is a definite crunch. It’s not overwhelming, but it’s there. This means that there is no false advertising when the package says, “The Mint Taste You Love, With a CRUNCH!” That’s 100 percent accurate. Nothing more, nothing less.

This crunch will mean different things to different people. Some people will find the crunchy bits a welcome addition to the otherwise uninteresting Andes. Others will find the crunchy bits an unnerving distraction to the mints’ smoothness. It probably depends on whether you prefer creamy or crunchy peanut butter. And me, I usually prefer crunchy, so I like these new Andes.

I would gladly welcome a package of these in my stocking this year. But I don’t need another Gumby keychain. I still have the first one I got.

Andes Mint Cookie Crunch Thins 4

(Nutrition Facts – 8 pieces – 210 calories, 110 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 4.67 oz. package
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Crunchy bits provide new texture. Tastes exactly like standard Andes mints, as promised by the package. Keeping Christmas toys for 21 years.
Cons: Change is purely textural. Wrappers accumulating in pockets and lint screens.

REVIEW: Apple Pie Tic Tac

Apple Pie Tic Tac

Tic Tacs — the little candy that pretends to be a breath mint, even though I doubt they’ve ever freshened anyone’s breath. I don’t know about you, but my mouth feels worse when I have a Tic Tac.

But that doesn’t stop me from buying their holiday versions. Usually that means they just mix a few of their existing flavors into a new color scheme. But they’re branching out more into new flavors.

Hence the new Apple Pie Tic Tacs. I found them in the Christmas candy aisle (next to Candy Cane Tic Tacs), and the label says it’s “stocking stuffer size” (because obviously regular-sized Tic Tacs are too small to fit in a stocking), but other than that, these don’t scream Christmas. I associate apple pie more with Thanksgiving, so that’s a good thing.

I find it a little odd that they’re red, because when I eat apple pie, the apples are peeled, so it’s just a mixture of whites and tans. But I guess beige Tic Tacs wouldn’t sell well. The little apple pie drawing on the label looks like it could be full of giant red Tic Tacs (or else regular Tic Tacs in a tiny pie). Also, the apple on the label is green. Weird.

When I pop one in my mouth, it just tastes like apple, fairly similar to Green Apple Tic Tacs. (Both kinds are made with dried apples, but these specify that they’re dried red apples.) After I suck on it, other flavors kick in, though I can’t tell what flavors. It’s not really spicy, but it is vaguely reminiscent of pie. My niece and my sister said it tastes like Sugar Babies, but I didn’t taste that.

Regardless of what they taste like, these are good. Imma venture these are the best fruity Tic Tacs I’ve ever had. In fact, I might go so far as to say these are the best Tic Tacs I’ve ever had, period.

But, at the end of the day, they’re still just Tic-Tacs. They have no place on the Thanksgiving dinner table. But they will gladly be passed around afterward during the football game.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 piece – 1.9 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, less than 0.5 grams of carbohydrates, less than 0.5 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 99 cents
Size: 1.7 oz. container
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes vaguely like pie. Better than most, or all, Tic Tacs. Seasonal flavors. Not excessively marketed for Christmas.
Cons: Doesn’t freshen breath. Inaccurate red color.