REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut

Dunkin Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut 1

There are a few jobs I hope I never have. Aside from everything Mike Rowe has tried, Santa’s personal chef and copyeditor for his Naughty and Nice List come to mind. Also, the guy who has to develop “new” holiday-themed products for fast food chains.

Between the cookie exchanges, parties, and all those special childhood foods your mom is going to cook for you, there’s a lot of pressure to efficiently maximize your calories. If I’m going to eat a donut during December, I don’t want to waste my time on some plebeian attempt to deconstruct hot chocolate in cruller form.

So consider this an early Christmas present — taking one for the team so you don’t have to feel massive guilt (in addition to feeling massive) for scarfing down holiday flavors that may or may not fall in the “meh” spectrum of taste.

Dunkin Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut 2

Dunkin’ Donut’s new Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut combines sugar cookie and chocolate chip cookie flavors, which, when you think about it, is sort of like the cookie version of Chrismukkah.

Oddly enough, the combo works, even though the cookie dough-flavored filling doesn’t taste much like cookie dough. Actually, I’m not quite sure what it tastes like. Brownish sugar, maybe? Whatever it is it’s not bad, but the real star of the donut is the frosted sugar cookie crumble topping. It’s like a hybrid of vanilla Chex, puppy chow, and streusel topping.

Dunkin Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut 3

Overall, the cookie crumbles give the usual (if not underrated) combo of white icing and airy donut an extra level of yumminess.

Sadly, the Gingerbread Cookie Donut doesn’t have the same level of yumminess. While the gingerbread cookie topping has a strong gingerbread flavor, the pieces are stale, as if they’re from a box of ginger snap cookies that’s been open since 2012.

Dunkin Donuts Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut and Gingerbread Cookie Donut 4

I have a friend who swears by salted caramel vodka, which sounds disgusting. However, after trying the caramel frosting I’ll have to down a fifth to get the sticky cloying taste out of my mouth. It’s not the most inauthentic caramel taste in the world, but it lacks any depth and tastes of nothing but sugar.

I tend to treat donuts by the pizza maxim (even when bad, they’re good) but the Gingerbread Cookie Donut comes close to legitimately sucking, meaning it’s frankly a toss-up between it and a piece of fruitcake.

All things considered, Dunkin’s new holiday-themed donuts are a mixed bag, like your childhood stocking filled with candy but also socks. Still, for as bad as the Gingerbread Cookie Donut is, the Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut might be good enough to leave out for Santa, if you don’t eat it first.

(Nutrition Facts – Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut – 420 calories, 21 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 410 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 30 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein. Gingerbread Cookie Donut – 310 calories, 17 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 360 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 14 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.09 (each)
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Frosted Sugar Cookie Donut)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Gingerbread Cookie Donut)
Pros: Sugar Cookie Donut topping is one of the better toppings I’ve had on a Dunkin’ donut. Good quality freshness in donut bases.
Cons: Gingerbread cookie topping is as stale as your great uncle’s Christmas jokes. Cookie dough filling doesn’t really taste like cookie dough. Caramel frosting is cloying and out-of-place.

REVIEW: Doritos Crunch Nuts (Nacho Cheese & Crunch Nuts)

Doritos Crunch Nuts  Nacho Cheese and Cool Ranch

Doritos has two new products — the Crunch Mix and Crunch Nuts. Not since Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos have I ever been so excited for a new Doritos-branded product to hit the market.

My fellow reviewer was pleased with the new Doritos Crunch Mixes, but how does the star items in those, the Crunch Nuts, stand on their own? A Doritos Locos Taco home run? Or a Doritos Loaded strikeout?

Regardless of how they are, they do have cool packaging. It’s futuristic looking with a unique shape that’s square at the bottom but then tapers to completely flat at the top. Its shape and design makes it perfect for snacking in the car.

Upon opening up each container I got blasted with a strong peanut aroma. I could tell right off the bat both flavors have a significant amount of seasoning. The Nacho Cheese is intensely orange, while the Cool Ranch is a lighter tan with a few dark speckles. Each Crunch Nut has an outer crunchy coating that’s covered with seasoning and then an inner portion that’s a full peanut.

Doritos Nacho Cheese Crunch Nuts

With both varieties, they nailed the Doritos flavor as each one tastes exactly their chip counterpart. Also, the name Crunch Nuts isn’t a misnomer as the crunch on them is epic as well. I found the best way to eat these is to soak up the seasoning a bit on your tongue so you get the full flavor and then swing for the fences with your teeth to get the crunch.

Doritos Cool Ranch Crunch Nuts

Once you get to the peanut part, though, it starts striking out. It completely overpowers the shell. It’s as if the Doritos essence vanished and never happened. I mean, I love peanuts as much as anybody, but the flavors together for these aren’t working. The Cool Ranch ones fare a little bit better as the flavor lasts longer and seems to meld better with the peanut, but with Nacho Cheese, not so much. The more I ate, the stronger the peanut flavor got and so I could only eat a few before it bored me.

Doritos Crunch Nuts are nowhere near a home run. They’re more of a line drive that looks like a double and you run past first base on your way to second but then have to quickly shuttle back to first as you realize your hit wasn’t as deep into the gap as you thought.

(Nutrition Facts – about 3 Tbsp – Nacho Cheese – 130 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 4 grams of protein. Cool Ranch – 130 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 12 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.99 each
Size: 3 oz.
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Nacho Cheese)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Cool Ranch)
Pros: Futuristic packaging. Plentiful seasoning and great crunch. Baseball analogies.
Cons: Overpowering peanut flavor. Cheese flavor and peanuts not quite having a beautiful marriage. Not suited to be a solo act.

REVIEW: Kroger Big K Candy Cane Soda and Cinna-Roll Soda

Kroger Big K Candy Cane Soda and Cinna Roll Soda

Autumn 2005 is one of the most pivotal moments in the history of soft drinks since it marked the arrival of Jones Soda’s infamous Holiday Pack. Featuring a wild medley of bizarre-flavored beverages (turkey and gravy, brussels sprouts, pumpkin pie, etc.), the strange soda set received heaps of media coverage, more or less putting the obscure cola manufacturer on the map.

Here we are 13 years later, and soda companies are STILL trying to replicate Jones Soda’s unusual (yet undeniably successful) marketing strategy. From upstart micro-cola companies to Coca-Cola and PepsiCo themselves, soda manufacturers continue to trot out unorthodox – and in some cases, downright disgusting – colas with the hopes that the (morbid?) curiosity of John and Joan Q. Consumer will be enough to turn a profit, or at least generate some free publicity.

Kroger’s Big K Candy Cane and Cinna-Roll Sodas are certainly emblematic of the weird-simply-for-the-sake-of-being-weird cola trend. Neither product is all that appetizing – nor do they even taste that much like their namesakes, for that matter – but the sheer kookiness of the drinks is appealing.

Kroger Big K Candy Cane Soda and Cinna Roll Soda 2

The packaging has this ironic, half-hearted ClipArt feel to it, complete with two of the worst puns you’ll ever read in your life. And if nothing else, the soda hues are definitely cool; the candy cane one looks like mutated Hawaiian Punch (maybe lava lamp juice?), while the cinna-roll one is the same color of ultra thick maple syrup (or 10W30 motor oil?)

Kroger Big K Candy Cane Soda

Kroger Big K Cinna Roll Soda

Alas, aesthetics can only carry a cola so far, and in the one area that matters most, both these sodas fall flat. The candy cane variation is the better tasting of the two, but even then it just tastes like a jug of Sprite with about 50 peppermints floating in it. Granted, that’s not my bag, but if you’re a connoisseur of peppermint schnapps, you might foster a fondness for it.

Unfortunately, the cinna-roll one won’t impress anybody. First off, the smell is weird. Yes, it’s like a cinnamon roll, but one that’s really stale. Or a fresh one that’s in an old sock – I’ll let you judge that for yourself. Regardless, the taste isn’t there. Instead of tasting like a Cinnabon treat, it’s like thick ginger ale with a surfeit of sugar in it. In fact, both sodas are sugary to the point of being nauseating; one serving of either will net you a whopping 96 percent of your RDA of the saccharine stuff.

Kroger Big K Candy Cane Soda and Cinna Roll Soda 4

Alone, I wouldn’t consider either of these novelty colas worth going out of your way to experience. Just for the heck of it, though, I merged the two for science’s sake, and the coalesced Candy Cane-Cinna-Roll abomination actually tasted better than either standalone soda. Take note, Pepsi Fire fans (both of you) – combining these two off-kilter Kroger colas might be the closest thing you’ll get to reliving the magic and mirth of summer 2017. 

(Nutrition Facts – 12 ounces – 180 calories, 0 grams of total fat, 20 milligrams of sodium, 48 grams of total carbohydrates, 48 grams of total sugars, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.49 each
Size: 2 liter bottles
Purchased at: Kroger
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Candy Cane)
Rating: 3 out of 10 (Cinna-Roll)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Both flavors combined)
Pros: The packaging is hipster-tastic; the colors of the sodas are really groovy. Combining the two colas together gives you (unofficial) Kroger Fire.
Cons: Both colas are excessively sweet. The cinnamon roll one has an off-putting smell (and carbonation that takes forever to die down). Realizing there’s no rational answer for when your significant other asks you why you’re putting them in the shopping cart.

REVIEW: Arby’s Chicken Pepperoni Parm Sandwich

Arby s Chicken Pepperoni Parm Sandwich

On a confidence scale of 1-10, with 1 being the Browns winning the Super Bowl and 10 being the chances we get too many pumpkin spice-flavored products every fall, my confidence in Arby’s making a good chicken parmesan sandwich is about a 5.

On one hand, it’s Arby’s, which means A) It’s not Taco Bell, and B) The meat should be good. On the other hand, it’s Arby’s, which means the marinara is probably sitting in a box in the back and not simmering in a pot with fresh herbs and minced garlic while being stirred by someone’s nonna.

But then again, Arby’s new chicken parm sandwich is no ordinary one —- it’s a chicken parm sandwich with meat. Now I commend Arby’s for taking the Ron Swanson approach of eating several different animals in one bite with its Chicken Pepperoni Parm Sandwich, but the pepperoni ruins this sandwich.

Arby s Chicken Pepperoni Parm Sandwich 2

It’s not the pepperoni’s fault, per se. I mean, we’re above Hormel quality here and under other conditions the pepperoni’s salty, unctuous flavor would be optimal. But it’s so loud and salty that it dominates each bite.

Arby s Chicken Pepperoni Parm Sandwich 3

This is an issue because the rest of the sandwich’s components fail to stand out. The buttermilk chicken is bland, tasting mostly of soggy breading and onion powder. I expected the marinara to pick it up, but even though the much-feared saccharine tomato taste wasn’t there, the sauce was flat and (again) too salty, lacking any memorable tomato flavor.

Even the bun, which Arby’s has paired so wonderfully with various brisket and brown sugar bacon sandwiches, is just sort of there, like the mindless carbs of a forgettable bread basket at a dying chain restaurant.

The one exception is the mozzarella, which is beautifully melted to that stretchable texture and has a nuanced flavor you’d expect from a panini. But here again the pepperoni dominates, canceling out what should be a premium ingredient.

I tend to give Arby’s the benefit of the doubt, and I’m a huge fan of the quality they’ve committed themselves to. But considering the run of successful brisket, brown sugar bacon, and pork belly sandwiches they’ve strung together, the Chicken Pepperoni Parm Sandwich is a letdown.

It feels weird typing this, but this may be one case where we have the meats might be we have too many meats for our own good.

(Nutrition Facts – 610 calories, 28 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 1900 milligrams of sodium, 54 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of sugar, and 37 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: N/A
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Not want for meat. Really good melting action on the mozzarella. Moist and plump chicken breast. Marinara wasn’t horrible for fast food. Great if you love pepperoni.
Cons: Forgettable chicken. Overpowering pepperoni. Marinara sauce lacks balance. Virtually impossible to eat and not spill sauce on yourself.

QUICK REVIEW: Dairy Queen Royal Reese’s Brownie Blizzard

Dairy Queen Royal Reese s Brownie Blizzard

In the interest of full disclosure:

  • The true answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything is not 42, it is in fact, peanut butter.
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are the George Washington of the Candy Mount Rushmore.
  • Brownies make cake their bitch.

That should put in perspective how excited I was for the latest Royal Blizzard, and why I hope you heed my warning. Dairy Queen took the awesome Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard, tossed in average brownie pieces, and added a glob of what I can only imagine Mr. Peanut’s excrement must taste like — an incredibly cheap, artificial tasting peanut butter that is salty enough to make a 60’s Star Trek salt vampire reach for a glass of water.

The Blizzard certainly makes a good first impression with both peanut butter cups and brownie pieces giving you their best come hither from the top of the vanilla soft serve. When isolated, the brownie has a slight fudgy quality but is unremarkable in every way.

Dairy Queen Royal Reese s Brownie Blizzard 2

The Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are perfection incarnate as always, but the peanut butter core is nothing like the uniform comet shape shown online. Instead, a glob of the creamed legume rested just beneath the surface. This ended up being a blessing in disguise as, to put it bluntly, the poor distribution prevented it from entirely ruining the rest of the treat. A Reese’s-only bite is outstanding, but that entirely defeats the purpose of this Royal Blizzard.

Dairy Queen Royal Reese s Brownie Blizzard 3

Be aware that while this is the October 2017 Blizzard of The Month, it has been consistently on the menu for a few months now. Regardless, don’t waste your time or extra pocket change on this one, just go with the classic Reese’s only Blizzard and BYOPB (and who doesn’t?) if you really want to add a core.

Purchased Price: $3.79
Size: Small
Rating: 4 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (Small) 850 calories, 370 calories from fat, 41 grams of fat, 17 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 560 milligrams of sodium, 105 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 83 grams of sugar, and 19 grams of protein.