REVIEW: Hostess Suzy Q’s

Hostess Suzy Q's

If you’re looking the 2018 version. We reviewed it! Click here to read our review.

To quote the great John Fogerty, “Oh Suzy Q, I love you.”

I’m not here to talk about a Creedence Clearwater Revival. I’m here to talk about a famous snack cake revival. Suzy Q’s are back.

Remember when Hostess went under and individually wrapped Twinkies held more value than gold for a few weeks?

That feels like decades ago. When they initially released their product line again, Suzy Q’s were benched, and I guess some people were upset about this. Why they were bummed, I’ll never know.

Invented in 1961 and named after the daughter of a higher-up at the Continental Baking Company, Suzy Q’s preceded far superior cakes like Ding Dongs and Ho Hos by six years.

I’ve always been a fan of various snack cakes with no real bias towards any brand. I feel like I’ve had most if not all of what Hostess has offered over the years, but can’t remember ever eating Suzy Q’s. They always seemed like an early attempt at the Devil’s food cake with crème concept that no one bought anymore because Hostess was able to improve on the recipe.

Let’s be real, Hostess doesn’t exactly have a diverse product line. Half of their current product lineup are chocolate cakes with crème. And while one might be a cupcake, another in roll-up form, and another shaped like a hockey puck, it’s not enough of a change to warrant favoritism. Each are delicious in their own right. So why aren’t Suzy Q’s?

Hostess Suzy Q's 2

These things are super boring. The texture of the cake is horrendous. This is not a good sponge cake. This is a sponge labeled as a cake. The chocolate flavor is underwhelming and I’m not sure they’d work even if slathered in the plastic layer of chocolate Ding Dongs have.

Hostess Suzy Q's 3

The crème filling is basically what you’d expect, but that coupled with the bland sponge somehow made it taste worse than normal. I imagine the crème recipe doesn’t change much between the various products it fills, but it didn’t even taste as sugary and delicious as I’m used to.

I honestly can’t imagine a person alive who would prefer this over their other cakes. Taste is subjective, but come on.

Suzy Q’s have to be the worst snack cake Hostess makes. Have to be. There’s just no reason to ever get them when there are so many similar yet better options made by the same company and its competitors. Drake’s Devil Dogs are king, in my not so humble opinion.

I couldn’t find a box of Suzy Q’s in my local supermarket, and I gotta say I’m happy I didn’t because it would be sitting in the back of my cabinet for months.

To be fair to Hostess, they are under a new corporate umbrella now and the recipe for Suzy Q’s may have very well changed. BUT if this is the form they’ve come in since their inception, I can’t imagine them ever being good. Sorry Suzy, but you are the black sheep of the family. I don’t love you.

To misquote the film Dumb and Dumber, “That John Fogerty’s full of crap, man.”

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cakes – 310 calories, 120 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 440 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 30 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein..)

Item: Hostess Suzy Q’s
Purchased Price: $1.79
Size: 3.03 oz.
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: The crème is still solid. Good to have Hostess back in our lives. CCR.
Cons: Bland cake. Weak chocolate flavor. Referring to this as a “Snack Classic.” Worst revival ever.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights

Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights

When I sat down to write my review of the new Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights, I told myself I was going to avoid doing two things.

“Self,” I began with a stern but encouraging tone. “Longtime TIB readers know you have a bad habit of falling back on overstated nautical puns and maritime references when describing Cap’n Crunch and its variants. Stop being such a lazy writer and get off your crutch.”

(Lest you forget, take a look at the gem in the tenth paragraph of this review.)

“Oh, and while you’re at it,” the voice scolded. “Do not, under any circumstance, mention your theories about judging the merits of a fried product on the aftertaste of the burp you burp up two hours after eating.”

But after thinking about the Cap’n Crunch Delights and inadvertently burping up the unmistakably heavy taste of fried dough, I’ve concluded each of these goals is impossible. So I’m sorry; the Cap’n made me do it.

Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights 2

Bearing an uncanny resemblance to tiny pieces of coral growing on, say, a sunken treasure ship, the delights are far from appetizing to look at. Bristling with tiny pieces of crushed up Crunch Berries cereal, they smelled unmistakably like a donut hole and little like Cap’n Crunch, while one piece had a not-so-subtle hole leaking a loose goo from its oily hull (caused from a clumsy broadside, no doubt.)

Taco Bell describes these as “light” and “fruity” but I thought they tasted heavy, oily, and remarkably synthetic. The outside coating only tasted a little like Crunch Berries; there was a vague fruity flavor but nothing remarkable or memorable, and certainly not that coconut oil aftertaste and brown sugar sweetness of Cap’n Crunch.

By far the dominant flavor was fried dough, and not in a light and airy way like a traditional donut hole. Nope, these “delights” were saturated in more surface oil than that which was left by the Exxon Valdez. The aftertaste—including that burped up aftertaste one experiences after happy hour at the Taco Bell soda machine—is strongly of fried dough; unmistakably heavy and in no way fruity at all.

Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights 3

I was really looking forward to the gooey and “creamy” milk center, mostly because all the promo shots featured this really cool image of the filling suspended in midair, making it look like some grand accomplishment of food science and engineering. In actuality the filling is loose and runny, more like a melted coating of confectioner’s sugar and milk.

Frankly the warmth of the filling is off-putting. I mean who eats cereal in warm milk? Hello McFly! And the hyper-sweet flavor tastes way too much of stabilizers and not enough like something which may have, at one point or another, come from a cow. I felt like the sweetness needed some creamy richness for balance, but all the delights offer is a heavy flavor and oily texture.

I’m all for cobranding a mashups, and I get the fact that crappy cereal sales might spur the Cap’n to sail his ship with a millennial-savvy fleet like Taco Bell, but the Cap’n Crunch Delights are neither delightful nor crunchy, nor are they milky or fruity. Mostly they’re just plain bad, even by the standards of cheap fast food.

With any luck the Cap’n will be able to right his course and try the whole donut cobranding thing again, although next time I’m going to pray he doesn’t leave the helm to a Tex-Mex fast food chain.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 delights – 170 calories, 0 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 2.5 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Cap’n Crunch Delights
Purchased Price: $1.09
Size: 2-pack
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Larger than an average donut hole. Inexpensive. Huzzah for cobranding!
Cons: Oversaturated in frying oil. Not crunchy. Poor Crunch Berry coverage. Doesn’t really taste like Crunch Berries, unless you eat your Crunch Berries in frying oil. Warm milk-like substances. My complete and utter failure as a writer.

REVIEW: Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake

Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake

I know it’s hard to resist this Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake.

For some of you, you’re squealing the word “kawaii” (cute) in your head or out loud and you’re halfway out the door with your Hello Kitty purse hanging from your arm and your Hello Kitty tattoo that’s in a location that only the tattoo artist who put it there and your bathroom mirror knows.

But before you rush out that door and spend your hard earned money on this ice cream cake, I want you to ask yourself — WWHKD.

What Would Hello Kitty Do?

I know what Hello Kitty would do. She would not put this ice cream cake anywhere near her mouth because…1) she doesn’t have a frickin’ mouth and 2) it’s not very kawaii.

I mean, look at it. Those dead eyes. The bow that looks like a baboon’s butt. And that colorful crap around it.

Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake 3

The confetti sprinkles on the cake’s edges make it look like it was downwind from an office worker opening a paper hole puncher used only for colored paper in front of a fan. Not only do those colorful sprinkles make it look like Hello Kitty has a beard made from wet clown wigs, they also have a texture that I would describe as waterlogged cardboard that’s been dried out. They add a deadening texture to the exterior of the cake and they taste like the cheaper version of the sticks that come with Fun Dip. Stale store brand Fruity Pebbles would be an upgrade over these.

Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake 4

As for the white frosting, it has an Elmer’s Glue-like consistency and a flavor that’s exactly what I imagine the color white tastes like. Behind that white frosting is vanilla ice cream mixed with more of those confetti sprinkles. It’s fetti-like.

Now you might be thinking, “Don’t you mean Funfetti-like?”

No. The word “fun” should never be used to describe this product.

The ice cream isn’t creamy, but that might be the fault of the sprinkles inside it. Its flavor will be fine for any non-discerning taste buds and the sprinkles in it don’t seem to be as cardboard-y as the ones on the outside of the cake. But even if the inside of this ice cream cake is tolerable, I have to say no to it.

How crazy is it to say “no” to an ice cream cake? No ice cream cake should make me feel that way.

Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake 2

If you happen to be at a party and one of these are brought out, the first thing you should do is cut out Hello Kitty’s dead eyes so that your eyes don’t end up being a reflection of hers as you make your way through one slice. When you get that slice and you can’t secretly throw it into the trash, shave off those rainbow sprinkles and as much of the frosting as you can. The ice cream is tolerable, but when eaten with everything else, not so much.

Personally, I think the cake should be either melted by Bad Badtz-Maru, buried in the ground by Pochacco, drowned by Kerokerokeroppi, or violently cut into pieces by Chococat. Yes, part of my head is filled with the names of Sanrio characters. No Google or Wikipedia for me.

Speaking of Sanrio, I’m 100 percent sure Sanrio doesn’t really care this cake is bad because they probably got their licensing money. I’m also 100 percent sure they’re not celebrating the fact that they got their licensing money with a Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject of money, I should mention I paid $26 for this embarrassing reason for possible tooth decay. Even if you saw it for one-third of the price, it’s not worth it.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/12 of a cake – 240 calories, 110 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Hello Kitty Ice Cream Cake
Purchased Price: $25.99
Size: 52 fl. oz.
Purchased at: Times Supermarket
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Ice cream is tolerable. Don’t need Google or Wikipedia to list Sanrio characters. WWHKD.
Cons: Not cute. Confetti sprinkles have a texture similar to cardboard that’s been wet and then dried. Sprinkles have a bland flavor. Ice cream isn’t creamy. Frosting is as bland as the sprinkles. Not worth $26.

REVIEW: Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt

Some memories are best left in their own time. Case in point: Third wave ska, Disney Afternoon cartoons, JNCO pants. Let them be. Revisiting these things is a risk, a danger to the fond nostalgia they might evoke at this point in time. This is because they are objectively poor (and memories are unreliable), composed of a multitude of components and emotions, including the way we picture our younger selves—hopeful, untainted, resilient. Memories are a trick. We’re all on the same page here, right? Memories are a trick. Got it? Good.

Cue the time machine. Sometimes it’s a phone booth, sometimes it’s a DeLorean, and sometimes it’s a British phone booth. In this case it’s a supermarket freezer, packed full of frozen treats, yearning to be consumed. The colorful packaging displaying giant carb pills chock full o’ meat ‘n dairy tantalize and beckon, ready to send you back ten, fifteen, twenty years. Whatever you like, master. Look, it’s even a fixed run! Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt. What a beaut.

Remember Hot Pockets?

Flaky crust injected with beef or pork — an inside-out pizza, a sandwich with no edges. An afternoon treat before soccer practice, or during a Mortal Kombat II jam sesh. Enjoyed with a cold Fruitopia. Mom, stop trying to make phone calls, I’m on AOL! Aw, man I got Hot Pocket all over my hip-hop Looney Toons t-shirt. I know, I know. We just went over this. Memories are lies, yeah yeah. … Eff it, we’re going back! It’s a time machine, bro. You can’t not go. It’s a time machine. Don’t be lame. Let’s do it. Start it up!

The Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt sucks. The box promises Angus beef, portabella mushrooms, provolone and mozzarella and “soft-baked bread.” The bread is soft, yes, sort of like a ciabatta or something. It’s also super soggy after the requisite minute and fifty seconds in the microwave. Maybe there’s a conventional oven plan we can put this on? The box has no instructions for that. All the best, we’ve seen microwavable burritos. We don’t have 40 minutes to sit around waiting for a Hot Pocket to thaw.

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt Innards

There are a few hits of “premium meat” flavor and mushroom taste, which is somehow immediately fleeting, taken over by steaming hot filling that tastes like nothing. The photo on the box is stuffed with beef and cheese, and the bisected reality is one of a space worm from Dune that feeds on bad choices and nostalgia. The beef on the box is sliced and layered. The beef in the actual pocket is chopped into bits, resembling the leftover bits from a deli slicer. Even the box has memories that lie.

Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt Closeup

The worst part is that it’s not substantial at all. It barely registers as a snack. If you’re not gonna make it good to eat at least food coma us so we can dream about a Hot Pocket that is satisfying on some level. It was a bad omen when taking it out of the microwave, the Hot Pocket looked like a pet gerbil that had made a doodie mess out of its backside all over the plate. It looked shameful, like it had made a mistake. It’s not your fault, though. The mistake was all ours.

As the time travel effects wear off and we slingshot back to the present, we see a whirlwind of our past: First girlfriend, favorite teacher, Chuck Berry’s cousin Marvin Berry, wife of multiple time travelers Rachel McAdams. Reflecting on our trip, Prophet Gaffigan was right. We should have never gone back. Now the entire past is up for scrutiny. Maybe everything in the past sucks, except for Batman the Animated Series, Starter jackets, and the Hubble Space Telescope.

The question is: Did the Hot Pocket get worse, or was it never good in the first place? The answer doesn’t matter. In 2014, it’s garbage. We’re all about e-cigs, Teslas, and Google Glass now. Perhaps it was a fine product for children. But we’re adults. We’ve had sushi. We’ve eaten Ethiopian food. This is not for us anymore. Forget it, Jake. It’s Hot Pockets.

(Nutrition Facts – 270 calories, 90 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 490 milligrams of sodium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein.)

Item: Hot Pockets Limited Edition Angus Beef Melt
Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 2 sandwiches/box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: Very cheap at a buck a piece. Maybe one bite of okay flavor.
Cons: Not substantial. Contents eventually taste like nothing, like a waste of product. Should be at least filling if not tasty, but is neither.

REVIEW: Papa John’s Double Cheeseburger Pizza

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza

Being fortunate enough to live in an area with a large number of mom ‘n’ pop pizza shops, I’ve seen the cheeseburger pizza road before. (But not an actual Cheeseburger Pizza Road – if I saw that, I would move there immediately.)

I’ve found that small pizza joints tend to have a wider variety of toppings and, thus, a wider variety of specialty pizzas, ranging from cheeseburger to taco to gyro to something with pine nuts and Hoisin sauce. Okay, I made up the last one, but it’s not out of the question.

Comparatively, most chain specialty pizzas and toppings in general are pretty pedestrian. I consider myself lucky if I can even get white sauce as an option. If they do decide to branch out, it tends to be towards Crazy Town, like shoving hot dogs or seven different cheeses into their crusts. In fact, a lot of the insanity in chain specialty pizzas involves shoving shit into the crust. I’m looking at you, Pizza Hut.

Papa John’s went a different direction with their Double Cheeseburger Pizza, however. They put the crazy on top, not in the crust.

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza Slice

Here’s what Papa John’s has to say about the Double Cheeseburger Pizza: “Featuring a zesty burger sauce covered with a double layer of 100% real beef, dill pickle slices, fresh cut roma tomatoes and 100% real cheese made from mozzarella.”

I have several points of contention with this description. Let’s start with the burger sauce.

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza Burger Sauce

First off, the words “zesty burger sauce” are both generic and sound like they should be about five miles away from my pizza. Upon tasting, I uphold this idea. On its own, the flavor of the sauce was distinctly mayo mixed with ketchup, aka the poor man’s Thousand Island dressing. Call me crazy, but fresh-from-the-oven hot mayonnaise is not appealing.

Next we have the double layer of real beef. “Double layer” is a questionable quantity, and that really showed here, as I found the beef pieces to be rather sparse. Furthermore, the pieces of beef were small and remarkably flavorless, which is a bad trait for a pizza that’s supposed to taste like a burger.

Papa John's Double Cheeseburger Pizza Pickles

The tomatoes and cheese were just fine, but the real issue was the pickles. While the beef had a weak showing, the pickles certainly made up for it in spades. It appeared that Papa John’s used the same pickles you’d find on a regular fast-food burger, which sounds promising on paper but did not translate at all to a burger party in my mouth.

I could not escape the pickles. There was a slice in every bite. After I’d done my duty for the purposes of this review and eaten the pizza as-is, I tried removing the pickles in an attempt to have a slice of pizza that did not taste like a jar of brine. It was impossible. Even with the pickles themselves gone, the juice had been absorbed deep into the crust.

I would like to officially rename Papa John’s Double Cheeseburger Pizza to Papa John’s Precariously Plentiful Pickle Pizza. With sad beef, warm mayo sauce, and so many brined cucumbers that it made me want to make about 15 Pickles the Drummer jokes throughout this review, I cannot in good conscience call this a cheeseburger pizza.

To use a forced basketball analogy, Papa John’s Double Cheeseburger Pizza needs to work on its fundamentals. For right now, I’m benching it.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/6 of a small pizza – 260 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 600 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, 8 grams of protein.)

Item: Papa John’s Double Cheeseburger Pizza
Purchased Price: $6.00 (on sale: regular price $12)
Size: Small
Purchased at: Papa John’s
Rating: 2 out of 10
Pros: I got it for 50 percent off. The tomatoes and cheese were fine. Metalocalypse. I only ordered a small. If you put pickles on everything you eat, this is your dream come true.
Cons: Pickles overtook everything. A chain restaurant that left the crust alone but still made an awful specialty pizza. Warm mayo/ketchup sauce. I wish I was actually good at basketball. The double serving of burger was a double serving of sadness.