REVIEW: Mac n’ Cheetos Mac & Cheese Snacks (Creamy Cheddar & Flamin’ Hot)

Mac n Cheetos Mac  Cheese Snacks  Creamy Cheddar  Flamin Hot

The Cheetos brand has been on fire recently (pun intended, of course.) Its Mac & Cheese snacks have been rolled out at Burger King twice. There have been bizarre genius marketing tactics, like Cheetos-branded toilet paper and most recently a pop-up restaurant in New York. Since the restaurant is only a three-day event and I live hours away, though, I have to settle for the next best thing, Mac n’ Cheetos Mac & Cheese Snacks from the freezer aisle!

I tried them when they first launched at BK so I was excited to indulge again, especially with a new flavor. The shape is still a chunkily shaped cylinder with a slight curve and when preparing these snacks Frito-Lay really wants you to work for them as there are no microwave instructions. This does mean, though, that the outsides continue to be crispy and crunchy without being too greasy, which I was expecting.

Mac n Cheetos Mac  Cheese Snacks  Creamy Cheddar  Flamin Hot 2

The insides are full of mac and cheese creamy goodness and I mean that in every sense of the word. It’s an intense cheddar cheese flavor, very rich actually, and with the pasta it does somewhat reach into being quite heavy for a small bite.

However, when it’s bordering on too much, the outside breading always counteracts to save it. They work together really well and I always got a little jolt of excitement when seeing the round end of a macaroni piece unearth itself. The Flamin’ Hot ones have the same cheesy flavor on the inside but with a nice, albeit small, kick of heat from the outside breading.

Now, you’re probably thinking, ”Wow, Leonard is really digging these. I need to stop everything and run out to find these immediately!!!!” There’s no bones about it, these are great mac and cheese snacks and if that’s all they were I would be a very satisfied repeat customer.

Mac n Cheetos Mac  Cheese Snacks  Creamy Cheddar  Flamin Hot 3

However, Chester Cheetah is on the packaging and that’s when everything starts to crumble. The shape and even coloration are very uniform, which is a stark contrast from the original Cheetos snacks. The Flamin’ Hot do get some points for being closer, though, in appearance, with an almost glowing red hue. However, they also get points docked for the spice level. They should almost be called simmering ember instead as the heat is nowhere near the level of their bagged counterpart.

Sure, these are “dangerously cheesy” on the inside but not on the outside where I really wanted them to be. In fact, I couldn’t even find any Cheetle dust on my hands after eating these, which is a signature trait of the Cheetos eating experience. Instead there were just breading particles.

On a scale of 1 to 10 for how dirty my hands were with 1 being I just laid out china for a dinner on a yacht and 10 being I just finished finger painting with a toddler, my hands were maybe only a 5. I even tried licking the breading and got no cheese flavor. I was dangerously disappointed and sad. I don’t even have orange paw-printed toilet paper to wipe away my tears.

(Nutrition Facts – About 3 pieces – Creamy Cheddar – 260 calories, 13 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 520 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Flamin’ Hot – 240 calories, 11 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 650 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.98 each
Size: 14.4 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Creamy Cheddar)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Flamin’ Hot)
Pros: Great generic mac & cheese snacks. Crispy outsides and creamy insides really working together. Macaroni noodles occasionally making an appearance.
Cons: No Cheetle Dust. Dangerously small resemblance to actual Cheetos snacks. NO CHEETLE DUST. Temporary pop-up restaurants that aren’t local.

REVIEW: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Everything Bagel Potato Chips

Lay s Kettle Cooked Everything Bagel Potato Chips

I’m from the tri-state, so I think I’ve been exposed to good bagels in my lifetime. I’ve also been exposed to bad bagels parading themselves as good bagels. I like to think I’m a trustworthy voice when it comes to bagel quality. So, when I heard Lay’s had a new Everything Bagel with Cream Cheese chip, I had to review them.

Everything is arguably the best bagel, but they’re a mess to eat and the seeds get stuck in my teeth, so I appreciate Lay’s attempting to bring these great breakfast flavors together without the hassle.

Everything bagel chips already exist and if these taste anything like them, I’ll be more than satisfied. Also, just to let you know, I like my bagels soft and my bagel chips teeth shattering. When people ask me my favorite form of gambling, I tell them “eating bagel chips.”

Nothing about the bag’s smell screamed “everything bagel.” It just smelled like greasy kettle chips. When I buy a dozen bagels, those tend to be the dominant scent in the bag. There’s none of that here.

Lay s Kettle Cooked Everything Bagel Potato Chips 4

They don’t look that special either. The only seasoning I could see were ACTUAL poppy seeds. Lay’s always puts flavor speckles on chips, why use actual poppy seeds? They’re the worst part of an everything bagel, and usually require floss.

As for the taste, there’s a small hint of cream cheese. Well, there’s a dairy taste at the very least, so they deliver in that department.

Beyond that, I didn’t distinguish the other elements of an everything bagel. There’s a tang at first, but it just tastes like a weak sour cream and onion. I’d let that go if the other flavors worked, but they really don’t.

Lay s Kettle Cooked Everything Bagel Potato Chips 3

Did I taste sesame? Not really. Was there anything “bready” about these chips? Nope. “Bready” chips are probably easier said than done, but we’re talking about bagels here. These don’t taste like bagels. I stared at the bagel on the bag, and still couldn’t convince my brain.

The thing about regular kettle chips is that the main flavor is oil. The grease is overpowering unless the chip is coated in a strong flavor base, which these chips do not have. The other problem, like always, is the fact the texture is inconsistent. Some chips are perfectly crunchy while some seem like they’re five years old.

Unfortunately, these don’t deliver on the bagel promise. They remind me of really weak, stale sour cream and onion chips. There’s no chance these win the Do Us a Flavor contest.

Lay s Kettle Cooked Everything Bagel Potato Chips 5

(Nutrition Facts – about 15 chips – 150 calories, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: ShopRite
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: A strong contest choice. Cream cheese comes through. Onion and garlic are noticeable. Everything bagels are delicious. Wouldn’t necessarily be a bad chip if they weren’t falsely advertised. They taste better dipped in actual cream cheese.
Cons: Greasy kettle flavor. Weak smell. Boring looking chip. Misses on some major flavor elements. Poppy seeds.

REVIEW: Little Debbie S’mores Cake Rolls

Little Debbie S mores Cake Rolls

Every summer, s’mores fever grips the snack food aisle like a charred marshmallow to a hot skewer. But there’s a good reason only an elite corps of s’mores junk food, with S’mores Pop-Tarts as their patron saint, stick around after the last autumn bonfire is snowed out—and it has nothing to do with seasonality.

See, while any M.B.A. can throw graham, chocolate, and marshmallow flavor into a snack, it takes a wise marketer to understand that smoky, oaky, and toasted marshmallowiness is the literal and flavorful glue that holds a great s’more experience together.

Those who haven’t read Lao Tzu’s The Art of S’more end up overwhelming their treat with bland sugary fluff, a gastronomical mistake comparable to invading Russia in the winter—on two fronts. And Little Debbie’s new S’mores Cake Rolls prove this.

Little Debbie S mores Cake Rolls 2

Each individually wrapped roll is fat. I’d put their girth somewhere between “Fudgsicle” and “cartoon cigar.”

But each individually wrapped is not phat. Most of their bulk is cream filling weight, and this barely evolved Reddi-Wip is more like aerated custard than toasted marshmallow. Heavy on the fructose and vanilla, yet lightly eggy, this vapid stuff overwhelms the rest of the S’mores Cake Roll like a kid trusted to put whipped cream on his own pie slice.

Which is a shame, because the sponge cake itself is pretty tasty. It’s better than a pillowy Twinkie’s, because a S’mores Cake Roll’s namesake cake roll is denser and butterier, like a buttermilk pancake or some New Age cracker. It has tragically little baked graham flavor, and practically no honey notes, though, further downgrading S’mores Cake Rolls’ authenticity from “poorly made s’more” to “flea market bootleg s’more.”

Oh, and the chocolate? Like one of those abstract smudges on a fancy, well-plated dish, the latticed fudge on every roll is more decorative than flavorful. If you chew your roll with the vigor of a beaver who moonlights as an MLB pitcher, you can taste some generic milk chocolate notes in the aftertaste, but it’s about as compelling as coagulated Hershey’s syrup.

Which, considering how most people make their s’mores, is actually a point in Diminutive Deborah’s favor.

Little Debbie S mores Cake Rolls 3

Taken as a whole roll, these things aren’t bad. They’re just misguided. With their interesting dough, pudding-esque filling, and light icing, they taste way more like Éclair Cake Rolls than anything roasted over a fire, and I think Small Deb would’ve been better off advertising them as such to transcend the marshmallow white noise of s’mores product competition.

With their aggressively saccharine cream, smothered pancake swirls, and choco-phantoms, S’mores Cake Rolls aren’t for me. But if you’re a whipped cream whiz, éclair enthusiast, or retired clown desperately jonesing for one last pie to the face, roll on over to the snack cake aisle and get your fix.

The rest of us can try skewering a S’mores Cake Roll over the campfire to get our fix of toastiness. I apologize in advance to Smokey the Bear.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 roll – 260 calories, 11 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 3 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 30 milligrams of potassium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size: 6 cake rolls (13.13 oz box)
Purchased at: Dollar General
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Hypnotic pancake cylinders. Benevolent custard spirits. Snack cake calories not counting if you’re camping. Learning that eclaire [sic] is French for “enlightened.”
Cons: Fire hoses of cloying cream. Ornamental chocolate ghosts. Geneva Convention-breaking s’more crimes. Clown junkies.

REVIEW: Burger King Lucky Charms Shake

Burger King Lucky Charms Shake

What have you done with my beloved Lucky Charms cereal, Burger King?

I mean, on paper, the Lucky Charms Shake looks like a great idea because I LOVE Lucky Charms and I like fast food shakes that can’t legally be called “milkshakes.” But its execution makes me want to cause physical harm to The King. And in between each violent blow I want say a word from the following sentence: You made Lucky Charms NOT magically delicious, and while I’m venting and have your attention, fix your damn lettuce.

Burger King Lucky Charms Shake 2

From afar it looks like a regular vanilla shake. But a closer look shows specks of colorful marshmallow bits in an ocean of off-white. Also floating in the soft serve are Lucky Charms oat cereal pieces. I guess if the colorful marshmallow bits are the treasure in an ocean of off-white, then the oat cereal pieces are the wreckage of sunken ships.

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of wreckage and they’re larger than the marshmallow bits. They’re small enough that they don’t clog the straw and in almost every suck there’s a soggy chunk or two.

Burger King Lucky Charms Shake 4

But no one eats Lucky Charms for the oat pieces. It’s all about THE Lucky Charms.

I want to feel the squish of the marshmallows as I chomp on them. I want them to stick to my teeth. I want them to make me see rainbows and yell, “I’M GOING LOCO FOR LUCKY CHARMS!”

But I don’t get any of that.

Burger King Lucky Charms Shake 3

Those specks of color give the appearance of marshmallows, but adds nothing in term of flavor or texture. So the best part of Lucky Charms cereal isn’t highlighted in this legally not a milkshake.

Even though it’s made with a “marshmallow cereal flavored syrup,” it doesn’t remind me of the colorful Lucky Charms. Maybe the soft serve’s flavor muddles it, after all vanilla and marshmallow can have similar flavor profiles.

I wish it was topped with more marshmallows and a rainbow-colored straw would’ve been a nice touch. The former would’ve helped make the shake less soggy oats heavy, and the latter would’ve helped bring a smile to my face.

Soggy Oats Cereal Shake has a nice ring to its name, but that’s not what I want with this Lucky Charms Shake.

(Nutrition Facts – 740 calories, 17 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 580 milligrams of sodium, 129 grams of carbohydrates, 107 grams of sugar, and 17 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.99*
Size: 16 oz.
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Cereal pieces don’t clog up straw. Lucky Charms cereal. Okay when there weren’t oat pieces.
Cons: From afar it looks like a vanilla shake. It’s the Soggy Oats Cereal Shake. Marshmallow bits don’t add flavor or texture. Violence directed at fast food mascots.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

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.

Keebler Limited Batch Strawberry Cheesecake Fudge Stripes Cookies 2

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?

Keebler Limited Batch Strawberry Cheesecake Fudge Stripes Cookies 3

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.

Keebler Limited Batch Strawberry Cheesecake Fudge Stripes Cookies 4

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.”