REVIEW: Chick-fil-A Frosted Strawberry Lemonade

Chick fil A Frosted Strawberry Lemonade

I’ve heard fantastic things about Chick-fil-A’s Frosted drinks, so if you haven’t heard, now you’ve heard (Notorious B.I.G. anyone?) that there’s a new limited edition strawberry lemonade flavor.

For y’all that haven’t tried the O.G. Frosted Lemonade before, here’s the breakdown: it’s like a lemonade milkshake. I know that combo sounds disgusting but it’s really a rose by any other name if you decode the marketing speak – “a hand-spun combination of Chick-fil-A Lemonade (or Diet Lemonade), freshly squeezed daily, and our famous vanilla Icedream.”

By the way, Frosted drinks are classified as a “treat,” which is likely Chick-fil-A’s way of priming you for the sugar and calories.

Like everything else Chick-fil-A does, their new Frosted Strawberry Lemonade is genius and fantastic. Genius because they simply add strawberry puree in their O.G. Frosted Lemonade and call it a day. Fantastic because even though it’s simple, they do it right.

When you have something as creamy and milkshake-like, the question is often: spoon or straw?

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I took the plunge and went for the straw because I trusted Chick-fil-A to get the texture right. My trust paid off as it was easily drinkable even though it looked creamy and thick. Given the pink tinge, I wasn’t surprised that it primarily tasted like strawberry with a hint of tangy lemonade. The real strawberry pieces surprised me — there were seeds and all!

I thought these nuggets were critical to the drink for a couple of reasons: less artificial and adds texture. Not that the drink tasted at all like artificial strawberry flavoring, but having real pieces of strawberry makes me feel like I could justify fitting this treat into the fruit group on the food pyramid. As for the strawberry puree adding texture, it’s nice to have fresh fruit bits break up the thick, creamy Icedream.

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In under five minutes, I was almost done with the Frosted treat. But, for you slow drinkers out there (yes, I’m looking at you), I left a little bit to melt for about 10 minutes. I wanted to see if it would maintain its delicious strawberry lemonade integrity. I wondered why I even doubted Chick-fil-A because, of course, it maintained its deliciousness. I wasn’t surprised that it tasted slightly sweeter and that I could smell the strawberry aroma more.

The only downsides to the Frosted Strawberry Lemonade are that it’ll give you one hell of a sugar high and it’s only available for a limited time!

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website.)

Purchased Price: $3.19
Size: Small
Rating: 10 out of 10
Pros: Genius – because it’s just their Frosted Lemonade + strawberry puree, but it’s delicious! Drinkable yet still creamy and thick. Real pieces of strawberry – even seeds – therefore, one can justify as treating this treat as part of the fruit group on the food pyramid. Good even when slightly melted.
Cons: Sugar high is real. Available for a limited time.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Truffle Kerfuffle Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Truffle Kerfuffle Ice Cream

I love a good truffle and I know that Ben & Jerry’s is most definitely referencing the chocolate kind for their new creation, Truffle Kerfuffle.

However, I also thought about the other type as well, those prized fungi that hogs sniff out from beneath the earth. I usually feel like one of those pigs when I’m eating my favorite ice cream flavor, chocolate chip cookie dough, as I always methodically seek out the glorious gobs of dough and not pay attention to much else.

Since Truffle Kerfuffle contains vanilla ice cream with roasted pecans, fudge chips and a salted chocolate ganache swirl I thought I would again be singling out one of the components and then quickly tiring of the experience once they are all gone. However, I was very pleasantly surprised as I partook in this kerfuffle.

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The vanilla ice cream was a good choice for this as it serves as a nice plain base for everything that is going on around it. It adds a bit of flavor when it needs to but for the most part joins together with all the other elements and lets them shine through.

The fudge chips add great crunch as they seem to be the last to succumb to melting when outside of the freezer environment. There is also a lot of chocolate going on when you are eating it but just when you think you’ve had too much you get a pecan piece that balances out the chocolate overload while adding another flavor dimension for you to enjoy. Both the fudge chips and pecan pieces were present in healthy amounts throughout.

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The star of this concoction, though, is indubitably the salted chocolate ganache swirl. It’s thick, rich and absolutely delicious. The very on-trend salt plus chocolate flavor is executed wonderfully here. It goes together perfectly with the sweet of the vanilla ice cream.

If you can’t already tell, I absolutely dug this ice cream, and yes, pun intended. However, this time around I didn’t necessarily feel like a truffle hog from just my searching expedition. Instead it was felt when I reached the bottom of the container, which meant I had just pigged out (pun intended again) on 4 servings in a matter of minutes. Whoops! Oink Oink for sure.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 340 calories, 220 calories from fat, 24 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 135 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.39
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 10 out of 10
Pros: Well dispersed and abundant ingredients. Salty chocolate & sweet vanilla decadence. Pecan pieces as counterprogramming.
Cons: evouring 4x the suggested amount in one sitting. Multiple commonalities to truffle hogs.

REVIEW: Peeps Filled Delights Vanilla Caramel Brownie

Peeps Filled Delight Vanilla Caramel Brownie

In my experience, Peeps are a polarizing force in society. You either love them passionately or think they’re the most disgusting non-food ever created. Thankfully, I made it out of childhood with my sense of whimsy intact and fall squarely in the former camp. Every year, I buy two packages of yellow chicks shortly after Valentine’s Day, and three more from the clearance bins the day after Easter.

I’ve fallen in love with every novelty flavor and dipped version of Peeps that have hit shelves in recent years. Now Peeps with a filling? And there’s a caramel version? I am overcome with the vapors – fetch me my fainting couch!

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This year’s novelty Peeps have been rebranded as “Delights.” Fitting. But because I was throwing flavors in my shopping cart in a sort of Peep-sterical fit, I didn’t at first notice the word “filled” above the Vanilla Caramel Brownie. More attention should be called to the fact that these are different than the dipped Peeps.

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The aroma inside the bag was all glorious fudge brownie. A closer sniff of the Peeps themselves was equally brownie and vanilla marshmallow. They looked like the now-standard dipped Peep – sparkling sugar-studded chick, thin shell of chocolate on the bottom, and a smattering of errant crystals clinging to the chocolate. They felt so precious in their individual cubicles – these Peeps fly business class.

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I expected the caramel filling to be a big central blob, like a jelly doughnut. Instead, it was laced throughout like a ribbon, hitting all the major geographical areas of the peep – including the furthest point of the tail. And yeah, I made the others watch while I split this guy up.

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I popped a cross-section in my mouth to get the full flavor. The caramel was beautifully thick and stayed just on the right side of the line between real and fake-tasting. The vanilla marshmallow was the typical Peeps sweetness, and the chocolate was like a shot of rich hot chocolate.

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Of course, I had to give them the head-first treatment. It’s the only real way to eat a Peep, amiright? In this case, the filling added a nice little squish, which tickled the 7-year-old in me.

These were my favorite (excluding the originals). I want more. If you love Peeps, definitely try them. If you’re a Peeps hater, these just might win you over.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 chicks – 180 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 45 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 27 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 1.75 oz 3-pack
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 10 out of 10
Pros: Brownie-caramel-marshmallow-y goodness. Peeps finally have innards!
Cons: Easy to overlook the fact that they’re filled based on the packaging.

REVIEW: Hostess Original Golden Deep Fried Twinkies

Hostess Deep Fried Twinkies

As someone who grew up in a town that hosts the so-called “Biggest Small Town Fair in the Country,” I’m familiar with novelty fried foods. And oxymorons, apparently.

So yes, I have had a deep-fried Twinkie before, and for all I know, that barely digestible monstrosity is still hanging out somewhere inside me. It probably has a better memory of Summer 2004 than I do, too.

That’s why I wasn’t scared of Hostess’ new Deep Fried Twinkies. I mean, these things are pre-fried, frozen, boxed, and conveniently stocked in Walmart’s freezer aisle endcap! “That’s like eating fried food on easy mode!” my inner Twinkie shouted from somewhere in my large intestine.

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But I shouldn’t have treated these Deep Fried Twinkies like declawed kittens. Because despite their sad frozen appearance, which is like Han Solo in carbonite crossed with a belt-sanded fish stick, these unassuming Twinkies are more like rattlesnakes wearing silencers.

Ever-curious, I took a nibble of a still-frozen cake. It tasted like a Krispy Kreme doughnut stuffed with frozen custard. That was all the heart-fluttering inspiration I needed to fire up my toaster oven* to 350° and spend the next eight minutes eagerly glued to my warmly radiating fried food boob tube.

The Deep Fried Twinkies’ packaging warns not to over bake them, as the cream inside can disappear. Not wanting my Twinkie’s hot, buttery goo to transcend this earthly plane, I wondered how long to wait. But right as I actually spoke the words, “How do I know if it’s done?” aloud, the golden tube leaked a prophetic drop of sizzling crème onto the toaster’s bottom.

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As emergency rescue, extraction, and cooling of my Twinkie began, I drank in its authentic county fair aroma like a Looney Toon next to a windowsill pie. Once my Deep Fried Twinkie’s leaky wounds cauterized, I dug in.

DMG! (Dough My Goodness!) What was once a chewy, doughnutty shell was now crispy, oily, and buttery sweet—like the shell of a cannoli or the wrapper on a dessert egg roll.** But the oil didn’t leak into the fluffy, warm, and golden sponge cake inside. This created a tasty puff pastry blanket around the cream center instead of the oily mess you might find in other deep fried treats.

I’m looking at you, Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights.

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And can we talk about my Deep Fried Twinkies’ crème filling? Because it was fantastic. It tasted just like the creamy vanilla innards of a normal Twinkie, except half-liquefied. It had the flavor of whipped cream mixed with doughnut glaze and the viscosity of runny maple syrup.

This means that you can squeeze the delicate treat and quite literally suck up the crème like the world’s most dangerous Capri-Sun juice box. And I’ll proudly testify in front of a judge and jury that this, your honor, is exactly what I did with my Deep Fried Twinkie.

Maybe it’s my hometown nostalgia talking, but I adore these Deep Fried Twinkies (which have a Chocolate variety, too). They have a charming novelty with the part-doughnut, part-Twinkie, part-funnel cake taste to back it up. You owe it to your inner child to give one of these a try.

And I promise, that’s not just my inner deep-fried Twinkie talking.

*Note: You can also oven bake or actually deep fry these. I chose a toaster oven because I was impatient and thought McDonald’s would kick me out if I asked to use their fryer.

**Note: I made up the term “dessert egg roll” for this review, but apparently it’s a real thing. What a time to be alive.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cake – 220 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 300 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.79
Size: 7 cakes
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 10 out of 10
Pros: The buttery lovechild of a county fair, a bakery, and a snack cake aisle. Wanting (and planning) to pour this crème onto a Belgian waffle. Frozen custard cylinders. Winning my town fair’s pie-eating contest in high school.
Cons: Being unable to decide whether to eat my next Twinkie frozen or hot. Only come 7 to a package. Smelling burnt crème in my toaster oven for the next two weeks. Shuddering memories of Cap’n Crunch Delights.

REVIEW: Sprite Tropical Mix (2016)

Sprite Tropical Mix (2016)

Don’t call it a comeback.

Or, more correctly: depending on where you live in the United States, don’t call it a comeback. See, this strawberry and pineapple-infused variant of the stalwart caffeine free lemon-lime soda has a convoluted history and its journey deserves some context.

In 2003, Sprite launched the Remix brand extension, a limited edition gimmick that would see a new flavor unveiled every year. Remix only lasted until 2005, so only three flavors emerged: the initial Remix flavor which we now know as Tropical; Berryclear, a mixed berry flavor; and Aruba Jam, an undetermined taste the label simply referred to as “fruit flavor.”

Nowadays, many of the elder statesmen of junk food have to swap out flavors just to stay competitive (*cough* Oreo *cough*) but back in the halcyon days of the early ’00s, Sprite’s Remix scheme earned a full-blown write-up in the country’s newspaper of record.

Unfortunately, despite the notoriety and success, Sprite dirt-napped the Remix concept before you could say “Jamaican me crazy.” The brand didn’t return to variant flavors until 2013’s holiday-themed Sprite Cranberry (a full seven years after competitor Sierra Mist introduced their Cranberry Splash) and 2014’s LeBron James-inspired Sprite 6 Mix, which presumably tastes like sweat and endorsement deals.

And then, last year, Sprite tested the carbonated waters with a limited re-release of Sprite Tropical Mix, no doubt stirred by the nostalgia-driven revival of Surge. It popped up in many states in the South and on the East Coast and, while elusive in 2015, this limited edition 2016 return is coast-to-coast, just in time for spring. And Sprite Tropical Mix is a heckuva springtime drink.

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Crisp, light and free of the syrupy thickness of Robitussin-like competitors, Sprite Tropical Mix doesn’t suffer from cloying, burdensome flavor. Instead, it’s got a delightful, delicate aftertaste of strawberry and pineapple, and visually, it’s no different than your normal Sprite: crystal clear and buzzing with carbonation.

Sprite Tropical Mix has more in common with La Croix than, say, a mainstream soda variant like Mountain Dew Code Red or even a Fanta. It’s a perfect sipping soda for a hot day, a welcome approach as the market seems dominated by caffeine-engorged heart palpitation potions intended only to kickstart your testosterone-secreting punch engine. It’s a better bedside beverage than bottled breakfast booster for sure. So look for it because of the flavor rather than as the most expedient and cheapest caffeine delivery system.

The packaging assures us Sprite Tropical Mix is “for a limited time,” but I have a feeling that, much like the McRib, reports of its demise will be greatly exaggerated. It would make a welcome annual tradition amid these sweltering springs and scorching summers. Maybe down the line Sprite will offer a larger quantity than the 20-ounce bottles you’re likelier to track down at a convenience store than a supermarket.

Until then, however, track down some Sprite Tropical Mix and, like a vacation with a loved one, relish your time together.

(Nutrition Facts – 20 fl oz – 240 calories, 0 grams of fat, 115 milligrams of sodium, 65 grams of carbohydrates, 64 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.89
Size: 20 fl oz
Purchased at: Circle K
Rating: 10 out of 10
Pros: Crisp, light, refreshing. Caffeine free. Delicate flavors. La Croix. Does not taste like sweat and endorsement deals.
Cons: Limited edition. Uncertain future. Not available in larger quantities, e.g. oil barrel size.