REVIEW: Starbucks Via Latte Vanilla Latte

Starbucks Via Latte Vanilla Latte

I have personally ordered maybe four different things at a Starbucks in my lifetime. This is not because I never go to Starbucks, but because I find myself with a crippling stammer and irrational fear every time I approach the register.

My method was usually to ask a friend to order for me, and then order whatever they gave me for the next three years if it was good. I am consistently tempted to ask for a mocha-chocalata-yaya and see what comes out. Forget the “secret menu” guides all over the Internet. I need a manual for navigating the printed one.

The problem is, I can’t really bring myself to like black coffee. I love the smell. I love the energy. I love the idea of permanently staining my teeth in rebellion against my body at a young age. But every time I have a cup I cringe a little and leave most of it sitting there. And, being an ignorant novice coffee drinker, I don’t know how to make anything but black coffee. I’m not sophisticated enough to like the coffee I can make at home, but I’m too afraid to learn how to order anything I might actually like.

I dreamed that these Starbucks Via Lattes would fill this void. I could finally learn to drink a morning coffee like a real adult without having to embarrass myself in front of a barista. The idea of not having to put on pants to get said morning coffee was equally appealing.

I purchased an individual trial pack at Starbucks for a dollar, choosing to try the vanilla over the mocha. I was first shocked by the size of these. They are not your normal instant coffee packet, but probably four times larger.

Starbucks Via Latte Vanilla Latte Instructions

The instructions are pretty minimal, but include a little infographic that tells you what to do. It seemed pretty straight forward, and I do have a high school diploma, so I assumed I had it under control. I made a cup of hot water with a Keurig machine, dumped the packet in, and stirred. It was not until I finished making it that I realized I was not supposed to pour the powder into the boiling water. So maybe words would’ve been helpful.

Starbucks Via Latte Vanilla Latte Powder

I was then surprised by the color. There did not appear to be any coffee granules at all in this pouch. Instead, there was an endless stream of a powdery white substance. Although many do refer to coffee as their crack, so maybe this makes some sense.

Starbucks Via Latte Vanilla Latte Closeup

This drink was really sweet. And not in the good way of “hot chocolate sweet” or “vanilla milkshake sweet.” It was like a cup of hot, watery milk with six packets of sugar. I was even hoping some more coffee taste would come through, but it was nonexistent. Since the ingredients list both dairy powder and sugar before coffee, I probably should have expected this. But if even I am wishing for some stronger coffee flavor, you know you’ve taken it too far.

I could not finish this. It was intolerably sweet, and this is coming from the girl who will treat frosting as a cookie dip and add extra Oreos to cookies and cream ice cream. Maybe if iced and blended this could make a decent at home Frappuccino? But that seems like far too much work for something coming from an instant package.

This did not solve my coffee dilemmas. My only hope at this point is that Starbucks starts up a delivery service with a tracker like Domino’s so I can order my coffee online without human interaction and know when to put my pants on before it arrives. Until then, you will find me drinking one of my four safe things at Starbucks, dreaming of the day I can join the elite ranks of the people who know how to order drinks with names that take a full minute to say.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 packet – 130 calories, 3.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Item: Starbucks Via Latte Vanilla Latte
Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: 1 packet
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: At home convenience. Simple assembly. Generous serving. Not any more sugar than most Starbucks drinks. Confusing baristas with Moulin Rouge references. Good movie stunt double for cocaine. Potential for fancier at home drinks. No pants, still service.
Cons: Sickly sweet. Impossible to drink whole cup. Minimal coffee taste. All powdered milk and sugar. Not being able to read picture instructions as an adult. Lack of coffee aroma. Domino’s Pizza Tracker not expanding to other businesses.

REVIEW: Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita

Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita Case

I have very strong opinions about booze. My bourbon should be neat, my martini should have gin, and for the love all that is holy and 86 proof in this world, stop making flavored liquor.

I have watched and seethed as Absolut developed 700 different vodka flavors, then watched as this phenomenon spread like a virus to other liquors, to the point where there’s cinnamon whiskey and watermelon tequila.

Furthermore, every time I see a bottle of Pinnacle Vodka, whether it be whipped cream or cheesecake or confetti or whatever the hell their newest abomination is, I want to go insane and trash the entire booze aisle, sending glass bottles of infused bullshit crashing to the floor.

In other words, I think Ron Swanson and I would get along nicely in a bar situation.

These vehement opinions extend to beer, also. I’m not talking about things like Sam Adams seasonal beers; I’m talking about…well, a fine example would would be Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita.

You’d think this would not make me the best choice to review this product, but I disagree. I enjoy challenging my worldview and my objectivity, and I think this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

I also drank my fair share of Boone’s Farm and Bartles & James in college; then again, I also got a degree in Fine Arts, so I can’t really say I had the best judgment back then.

In my defense, I have actually tried Bud Light Lime before, and it wasn’t so bad. See? I’m not a total snob.

Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita Can

When I first poured my Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita from its petite eight-ounce can into a glass, it looked and smelled rather similar to cranberry soda. With the holidays just around the corner, it looked like a cheery refreshment that would look right at home at a party.

I tried it straight from the can first, and my first thought was, oh, hey, this isn’t so bad; it tastes a lot like cranberry sod…oh god what is happening.

What was happening was three worlds colliding – cranberry, Bud Light, and lime. I realize that this is a duh statement, but just think about that for a second. Bud Light and lime are acceptable together – while not quite like shoving a real lim e wedge into a light beer, it comes close enough.

Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita

But somehow, the addition of cranberry and the substitution of higher-proof malt liquor instead of light beer ruined everything. That one second of cranberry was quickly overpowered by the taste of beer. Let me amend that – it was overpowered by the taste of cheap, stale, incredibly skunky malt liquor, like a half-empty 40 of Mickey’s that had been left on your dad’s work table in the garage for three days.

As that taste sensation lingers, add some artificial lime. The aftertaste is a combination of sticky sweetness, tartness and stale malt liquor put together, which is just has appealing as it sounds.

I’m not sure where the Rita comes into play here, as a margarita contains tequila and I couldn’t detect any taste of that nectar of agave.

Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita actually tastes better if you drink it ice cold and out of a glass. The packaging ordered me several times to try it over ice, but I had no ice cubes handy, so I just put a can in the freezer for a little while (keeping a very close eye on it, because the last thing I wanted was a skunky, sticky cranberry malt liquor explosion all over my Stouffer’s lasagnas) and the cranberry seemed to overtake the stale 40 taste. I suppose it’s not a ringing endorsement when a high point of your beer product is that you can’t taste the beer (or, in this case, malt liquor) as much.

I really did go into this objectively, and unfortunately, I came out of it hating Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita and the fact that I still have 11 cans of it.

I think it’s cute that Bud Light tried to make a Limited Winter Edition…thing (what else can you call something named “Cran-Brrr-Rita”?), but combining sweet cranberry soda flavor with stale-tasting beer and artificial lime was a bad idea. Brrr-utally bad. I’m sorry, I use puns to cope.

On the plus side, if you leave this out during your holiday party, a child might mistake this for soda, take a drink, and instantly hate malt liquor forever, which means you’ll never have to worry about them passing around a brown paper bag containing a 40 of Colt 45. Then again, it might drive them straight into the arms of whipped cream-flavored vodka.*

*This author in no way endorses leaving booze out where children can accidentally ingest it. Or adults, in the case of Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita.

(Nutrition Facts – 8 ounces – 197 calories, 0 grams of fat, 23 grams of carbohydrates, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Bud Light Lime Limited Winter Edition Cran-Brrr-Rita
Purchased Price: $10.99 (on sale)
Size: 12-pack/8 fl oz. cans
Purchased at: Fry’s Foods
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Festive color. The idea of having a drink with Ron Swanson. Tastes better when very cold. I guess Cran-Brrr-Rita is kind of a cute name for a limited winter edition alcohol. At least it was on sale.
Cons: Malt liquor tastes skunky as balls. Reminding me of the uselessness of my Fine Arts degree. Too sweet. The trend of infusing flavor into every liquor on the market. Cranberry, malt liquor and lime should never come together again. Having to buy 12 cans.

QUICK REVIEW: Market Pantry Chocolate Truffle Muffin Caps

Market Pantry Chocolate Truffle Muffin Caps

Purchased Price: $3.79
Size: 4 count
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: They look good. You can stick them in the microwave or let them thaw at room temperature for 45 minutes. Contains live and active cultures. Only 100 calories. 5 grams of fiber per muffin cap.
Cons: Weird slightly bitter flavor. Looks more chocolatey than they really are. Melted chocolate chips have a grainy texture. They look like VitaTops, but don’t provide the same amount of vitamins and minerals. Odd chewy texture. Makes me want my money back. There are tastier ways to get fiber. Calling these muffin caps instead of muffin tops.

Market Pantry Chocolate Truffle Muffin Caps Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 1 muffin top – 100 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein, 4% calcium, and 10% iron.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Angus Steak Big N’ Toasted Sandwich

Dunkin’ Donuts Angus Steak Big N’ Toasted Sandwich

Every few months or so, some poor “high-end” food product makes the jump from pretentious to a diluted all-audience nature. It gets filtered through a wood chipper and then a toilet so in the end it no longer resembles the actual item. All this for the sake of mass consumption. Therefore, not only does it lose its pompous aura (which is fine by me), but its unique characteristics as well (which is not okay at all).

Remember Wendy’s bragging about its fries being sprinkled with sea salt? Give me a break if you’re expecting it to be the actual harvested finishing salts chefs preen about.

Kobe beef, with its already dubious nature in what can actually be called Kobe, is another victim. Kobe hot dogs? Kobe hamburgers? My eyes rolled so much that you would swear I had two lazy eyes or was the inspiration for the guy that graces each Mad Libs cover.

Another example is Kobe beef’s less-complicated, but just as maligned, American cousin, the Angus. This poor bastard is being passed around faster than a cotton towel at an orgy. I’m guessing the “certification” for Angus beef is low enough that even Stephen Hawking can jump over it. Okay, that’s a tasteless cheap shot that’s just as tasteless as the Dunkin’ Donuts Angus Steak Big N’ Toasted.

I commend Dunkin’ Donuts for attempting to separate itself from the pack by using Texas Toast for its sandwiches. The thick bread borders on overindulgence, but is perfect for capturing runny eggs and butter. Some people prefer wheat or pumpernickel, I lust after Texas Toast.

I mean c’mon!!! It’s Texas Toast, steak, eggs and cheese. You know what’s better than sliced bread? Sliced bread with beef, cheese and egg in between it. So what can go wrong? Apparently, if you make a living primarily selling donuts, then a hell of a lot.

Look, I’m a big fan of their Texas Toast Grilled Cheese. Its buttery and flaky toast and melted cheese makes me act like those monkeys in the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Dunkin’ Donuts Angus Steak Big N’ Toasted Sandwich Angus

But stupid me because I was expecting the same from this new sandwich. I opened it immediately to look at this “Angus” steak and it had the natural color of a cadaver stuffed under a house because he didn’t pay his bets on time. It was charmingly grayish and resembled an unsauced Salisbury meatloaf concoction served at all the finest detention centers.

The steak also had an overwhelming artificial smokey taste. The texture itself was flaccid and rubbery, two things I don’t want my meat to feel like. The worst part? The beef was chewy. Not Mentos candy-chewy, but chewy like the bits resting on the bottom of a beef jerky pouch.

Dunkin’ Donuts Angus Steak Big N’ Toasted Sandwich Split

Dunkin’ Donuts Angus Steak Big N’ Toasted Sandwich Egg

The toast had the dampness of a basement, but it was sufficiently buttered. The two eggs only helped in taking your hopes, smashing them, and then pissing on the remains. The eggs were laughably fake looking, like a Fisher Price plastic fried egg toy. Another thing, it had an unnatural powdery texture and lacked any of the richness an egg normally has. It was also mealy and it disintegrated in my mouth into a sandy mush.

Most things can be saved by melted cheese since it provides an extra boost of flavor and texture, which was sorely missing in this sandwich. Unfortunately, there was so little cheese, all I could taste was fake smoke and a bland egg that broke apart into grainy beads in my mouth. It was like a bad French kiss between bread.

I’ve eaten the McDonald’s Angus burgers, so I know fast food “Angus” can be achieved with some success. But it’s as if Dunkin’ Donuts is the fat kid in gym class looking at the rope their meathead teacher is telling them to climb.

Finally, what really kicked me in the balls was the price — $4.29. I haven’t felt this ripped off since I was conned into buying Viagra from Mexico.

(Nutrition Facts – 620 calories, 34 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 180 milligrams of cholesterol, 1290 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 34 grams of protein)

Item: Dunkin’ Donuts Angus Steak Big N’ Toasted Sandwich
Purchased Price: $4.29
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Dunkin’ Donuts
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Texas Toast. Having the option to buy a donut instead. 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sufficiently buttered toast. Soft drinks from Mexico.
Cons: Texas Toast. Artificial smoke flavor. Rubbery grey beef. 2010: The Year We Make Contact. The powdery egg that looks fake. Small amount of cheese. Pharmaceuticals from Mexico.

QUICK REVIEW: Lay’s Fun Wasabi Shrimp Flavor Potato Chips (China)

Lay's Fun Wasabi Shrimp Flavor Potato Chips

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 75 grams
Purchased at: Received from a friend
Rating: 3 out of 10
Pros: Enjoyable mild wasabi flavor; very little wasabi heat. Kind of smells like McDonald’s Hot Mustard Sauce. Whatever I eat to get the flavor of these chips out of my mouth.
Cons: Not fun after the wasabi flavor goes away. Do I taste cheese? Shrimp isn’t noticeable until the aftertaste. Smells fishy. I can’t eat much of it. Gagged twice while eating my way through the bag. Dollop of wasabi on the bag looks as sad as I do while eating these chips.

Lay's Fun Wasabi Shrimp Flavor Potato Chips Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 30 grams – 656 kcal, 9.2 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 144 milligrams of sodium, 16.2 grams of carbohydrates, 1.7 grams of protein.