REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Strawberry Cheesecake Fudge Stripes Cookies

Keebler Limited Batch Strawberry Cheesecake Fudge Stripes Cookies

This is the tragedy of Keebler’s Fudge Stripes cookies – adulthood steals your ability to wear them as a ring.

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As a girl, I delighted in prancing around in pretend evening gowns with a rock of a Fudge Stripe on my finger. Of course, it was far too ostentatious and impractical, so I nibbled around the edges to reduce it to a more modest size.

Inevitably, it would crack and fall apart in the process, so I would have to eat it and start all over again. Now my fully-grown fingers are too thick to sport the beloved shortbread & frosting jewelry of my youth. My FS consumption dropped off considerably.

Then Keebler started wooing me back with “Limited Batch” flavors. Peppermint. Red Velvet. Birthday Cake. Cinnamon Roll. Lemon Cream Pie. I loved them all. I was still a little sore about the ring thing, but I was definitely back in the fold.

Hence, I’d already written this review in my head when I lifted the package of Strawberry Cheesecake Fudge Stripes from the grocery shelves. 9 out of 10! How could I NOT love them?

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When I opened the package, I was greeted by the rosy pink color of the base cookie and a strong scent of tangy cheesecake. I wasn’t getting strawberry, however. No worries, I was sure the taste would make up for it.

On first bite, my expected explosion of Frankenberry-ish fake strawberry didn’t materialize. The cheesecake frosting flavor was good despite being a hair more acidic than most cheesecake flavored items. The strawberry shortbread apparently called in sick today, however. Instead of a fruity delight, it tasted more like eating a flour-flavored cookie with a chemical aftertaste. It’s surprising since the last two Fudge Stripes flavor releases, Lemon Cream Pie and Cinnamon Roll, were spot-on with flavor tone and intensity.

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This may be the only time in my life I’ve said this, but I’m probably not going to finish this package of Fudge Stripes. Every bite screams “not worth the calories.” They’re a fail for me.

But Keebler, how ‘bout an adult-finger-size Fudge Stripes release? Eh? Eh?

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, calories from fat (not listed), 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 10g total sugars incl. 9g added sugars and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 11.5 oz. package
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Great color and tasty cheesecake frosting.
Cons: “Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “Not strawberry.”

REVIEW: Hershey’s Flavor of New York Cherry Cheesecake Bars

Hershey s Flavor of New York Cherry Cheesecake Bars

The Flavor of New York. That’s a big promise – and an invitation for a loud “Yeah, right” from a New Yorker. We’re a cynical bunch.

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As any local knows, there are two New Yorks. One is the tourist-packed landmark areas like Times Square. While this might be the dominant image of the city, it’s the last place New Yorkers want to spend time. We avoid it like the plague – unless one (like myself at the moment) happens to be working for a media conglomerate that insists on making you wade through a sea of human road cones twice daily. This loud, inauthentic, unsubtle chunk of real estate is where I found the Flavor of New York Cherry Cheesecake bar – at Hershey’s Chocolate World.

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The other New York is where locals really live, eat and shop – the quiet side streets and less-traveled neighborhoods. On one of these surprisingly bucolic stretches, I purchased a true New York cherry cheesecake to compare Hershey’s bar to. Eileen’s Special Cheesecake has worked the same tiny storefront since 1976.

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These would be my base “Flavor of New York.”

Back at the office, I zipped open the Hershey’s bar. The creamy white chocolate with dark pink crunch balls looked close to what I expected. Some red speckles mixed throughout like the Cookies & Cream bar, wouldn’t go amiss, though.

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The first sniff was cheesecake, then my nose broke the bad news: faux cherry. I’m often down with artificial fruit flavors, but one molecule of fake cherry and it’s flashbacks of disgusting medicine for me. Blek. Apparently I’m very sensitive on the cherry front.

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It carried over to the taste as well – cream cheese, white chocolate and cough syrup – albeit much less grimace-inducing than a shot of Robitussin. Let’s call it cough-syrup-adjacent. A bite of Eileen’s cherry cheesecake reminded me that actual cherries are delightful. I’d hoped that with modern technology, the flavor masters at Hershey’s could make a GOOD 2017 fake cherry. Sadly, these are 80s-era fake cherries and I’m not having it.

I do love a bar full of Hershey’s crunch balls, however, and the cream cheese / white chocolate combo was a pretty good interpretation of cheesecake. I just had a hard time forgiving the crime against cherries.

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To me, this candy bar is like Times Square. It has an underlying greatness, obscured by the flashing lights and garishness of chemical cherries.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bar – 220 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 21 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 5 for $5.00
Size: 1.5 oz. bar
Purchased at: Hershey’s Chocolate World Times Square
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Good cheesecake taste! Nice crunchy balls! The Hershey store smells like chocolate!
Cons: Medicine-y taste, but won’t stop a cough. Doesn’t capture the “Je ne sais WHAAAT” of New York. Made me walk through Times Square.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut and Chocolate Pretzel Donut

Dunkin Donuts Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut and Chocolate Pretzel Donut

Gee, I wonder how they got the peanut butter inside??

Dunkin Donuts Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut and Chocolate Pretzel Donut 2

Sorry to dive straight in, but I must address the appearance of this specimen I purchased because I’ve been obsessing over it since my first horrified glance. With messy holes on top and peanut butter smears, this Croissant Donut looks like I caught it mid-hangover after a night of serious debauchery. 

But, since these are locally-made items, there’s a good chance yours will be a well-rested, finishing-school graduate that keeps its holes underneath. Hence, I won’t ding it points-wise.

Back to our regularly scheduled review. 

Chocolate, peanut butter, caramel, pretzels – I love all these things, so I had very high expectations for both these doughnuts. I did not try the coffee pairings – I despise coffee. Let me break these guys down separately because they’re rather different creatures.

Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut

This isn’t really a Croissant Donut. It’s light and fluffy with large air pockets, but it’s missing a critical component: layers. Croissants and croissant donuts are made with laminated dough – many thin sheets of pastry with butter between. One should be able to pull a proper croissant donut apart layer by layer – this was not the case here.

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It wasn’t a bad donut, just mis-named. The taste and texture of the donut itself, sugar glaze and chocolate drizzle were lovely. This isn’t the peanut butter bomb I expected, however. A peanutty scent only became apparent when I sniffed closely. The frosting filling was just a hair on the sweet side for me. Straight-up PB inside would’ve been better – letting the glaze and chocolate drizzle sweeten it.

Chocolate Pretzel Donut

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The aroma of this was almost indistinguishable from DD’s regular chocolate cake doughnut (which I love). Mine seemed very light on caramel drizzle – I wonder if more would change the smell. 

The texture was also similar to the base model – moist, velvety cake. While the pretzel bits were a little soft, I liked that — it added a small crunch without stabbing the roof of my mouth with pretzel shards.

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Again, the predominant taste was the basic DD glazed chocolate cake. Caramel flavor was very subtle, presumably due to the sparse drizzle. There wasn’t much (if any) salt on the pretzels or donut, which was disappointing. The only thing that differentiated these from Dunkin’s regular chocolate cake donuts was the taste and texture of the pretzel bits. But as a fan of the original, that’s OK with me.

While they’re both perfectly enjoyable donuts, they fell short of great.

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(Nutrition Facts – Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut 410 calories, 190 calories from fat, 21 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 360 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Chocolate Pretzel Donut – 400 calories, 200 calories from fat, 23 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 530 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.00 for two
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10 (PB Delight)
Pros: Nice airy donut base, glaze and chocolate drizzle.
Cons: Might look like it was baked by a one-eyed raccoon. Like my hair – needs layers! PB frosting filling goes to 11 on the sweet scale.
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Chocolate Pretzel)
Pros: Good (familiar) chocolate cake base, non-dangerous pretzel shards.
Cons: Needs salt! (In fairness, I say this about almost every food I eat.) More caramel, please.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme Pudding

Hershey s Cookies  N Creme Pudding

If there was a Nobel Prize for food flavors, whoever invented Cookies & Crème (Cream if you prefer) should’ve been awarded one.

Sometime in the early/mid 80s, my mother and young self slid into a booth at Friendly’s for our weekly lunch and ice cream out. I spied a new flavor: Cookies & Creme. “What’s that?” I asked the waitress. “Vanilla and Oreos” she said. EXCUSE ME? OREO ICE CREAM? My tiny cookie-obsessed mind was blown. “This is the best thing ever!” I chanted after every spoonful. Ever since, it’s been my flavor magnetic north.

As fan of Jell-O Oreo Cookies ‘n Creme pudding mix, Jell-O Oreo Pudding cups, and Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme candy bars, it was a no-brainer that I would try Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme pudding cups.

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The appearance wasn’t exactly exciting for a cookie fanatic. All I saw were microscopic specks mixed into the white pudding. Maybe all the cookie bits were inside. Way inside.

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Under the foil, there was a faint whiff of cookies, but still no bits. What the hells bells was going on here? I dug around with a spoon, hoping to rile up some hidden chunks. Didn’t happen. C&C fans know that the enjoyment of any given product is dependent on the mass of cookie in relation to the overall mass. See chart 1:

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(Note this chart only goes to 70% – beyond that you risk under-creaming.)

Taste-wise, this pudding wasn’t bad. It’s reminiscent of Hershey’s candy bar of the same name – heavy sweet vanilla with a shadow of cookie. But it was missing something – cookie balls!

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The greatest part of the candy bars are the little crunchy balls. They goose the flavor and impart much-needed texture. They’re completely absent in the pudding, and it’s a real shame. It needs them. It’s just a smooth white mass that left a slightly greasy film on my tongue.

I liked this pudding, but not enough to buy again. Jell-O’s Oreo puddings were closer to the mark for me – less sweetness, less vanilla, more cookie.

This under-cookied pudding was screaming to be repurposed, so I made mini-icebox cakes out of it. Drop dollops of pudding between Oreo cookies. (I ate the fillings out of mine!) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

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The moisture from the pudding soaks into the cookies, making something like a cold cakey milk-dunked Oreo.

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(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 110 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 17 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 4-pack
Purchased at: Key Food
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Like a melted version of its namesake candy bar (If you like that candy bar).
Cons: A severe, drought-like lack of cookie bits or varied texture of any kind. Greasy tongue slime trail.

REVIEW: Cow Candy Pinkie Pie Strawberry Jack Cheese and Prime Punch Jack Cheese

Cow Candy Jack Cheeses

This is a review, but it’s also a cry for help. When I saw Cow Candy’s Strawberry and Fruit Punch-flavored cheeses listed in Spotted on Shelves, my gut said “Yeah, I’m having those.”

I’m so addicted to the rush of novelty flavors that even when I read about something that couldn’t possibly be delicious, I’m still compelled to track it down. Fruit-flavored cookies are one thing, but cheese? What is wrong with me? How long until I’m buying cotton-candy-flavored beef filets?

Like a true junkie, I went into this with full faith that these cheese sticks, sporting colors more appropriate for children’s spring t-shirts, would take me to snack heaven for just a moment.

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I looked past the blank yet somehow judgmental faces of the children’s cartoon characters and opened the packages. The red stick, emblazoned with Transformer Optimus Prime, was a smooth block. The My Little Pony-themed Strawberry Pinkie Pie had a pock-marked exterior. I wondered if this was a refrigeration error or if the flavors affected the textures in different ways.

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The strawberry stick gave off a tangy artificial strawberry scent – Frankenberry cereal mixed with a trace of shoe funk. The fruit punch smelled like candy-induced vomit.

When I bit into the strawberry, it crumbled, strangely, into tiny spheres. The Fruit Punch cheese behaved more like what I expected – a rubbery snap.

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Describing the taste of these cheese sticks is proving impossible, so I’ll tell you what they DON’T taste like – strawberry, fruit punch, or Jack cheese. Calling them salty/sweet feels wrong, as weren’t enough of either to do the term justice. If you removed everything good from cheese and fruit, this is what would be left. They’re just gross.

I powered my way through one of each flavor. Hours later, they still haunt me. It’s like I ate prop food not meant for consumption. They are by far the worst snack food I’ve ever encountered – my stomach is churning.

I’d intended to think up some cute way to use these cheese sticks in another snack/treat (shred them as a topping for sweet & savory mini pizzas?) but there’s really only one thing to do with them:

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All I can do now is try not to barf, and wonder when I’m going to find Jeff VanVonderen sitting on my couch telling me people love me like crazy but are worried about my novelty flavor addiction.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 stick – 80 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 4 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: 6 oz. bag
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 1 out of 10
Pros: Nice colors! That’s it.
Cons: Disgusting taste that resembles none of the flavors advertised. Odd texture in Strawberry version. They’re making me nauseous. Do not buy them for children you’re fond of.