REVIEW: Little Caesars Soft Pretzel Crust Pepperoni Pizza

Little Caesars Soft Pretzel Crust Pepperoni Pizza

Little Caesars’ Soft Pretzel Crust Pepperoni Pizza is a pepperoni pizza with a soft pretzel crust. It’s that simple.

The meeting at Little Caesars for this pizza had one visual aid. It was a photo of a soft pretzel and a plus sign and then a photo of a pepperoni pizza and then an equals sign, and then a soft pretzel pizza.

Q: “But, Marshall, do you think we need to somehow optimize the flavors to each other?”

A: “Larry, do you or do you not want to go eat lunch?”

The meeting was six minutes long and they definitely did not eat Little Caesars for their meal.

Eating a slice of this pizza is like rummaging through boardwalk garbage. It’s a straight up soft pretzel stretched out into pizza form and had pepperoni and cheese put on it. It’s what the pawn seagulls probably bring to the queen seagull. Pretty sure Templeton from Charlotte’s Web has a slice of one of these things during his smorgasbord. I wouldn’t describe the pizza as “terrific” and probably not “humble,” but it absolutely had “some pig” in it.

Little Caesars Soft Pretzel Crust Pepperoni Pizza Crust Closeup

Yo, Little Caesars, have you ever tried your own Hot-N-Ready pizzas? Thems salty. So what did you do? You added a pretzel bread, which is saltier, and then on top of that you sprinkled that rock salt that clears New England sidewalks in the winter.

After the first few bites, I had a salt wince duck face like it was selfie time. The pepperoni was not bad. But in the context of the entire pie, it was a little much having meat discs of sodium to surf on the waves of high blood pressure. Quiz: “I’m really looking forward to more Salt.” Is that a quote from me eating this pizza or Kurt Wimmer, writer of the Angelina Jolie film Salt? Find the answer hidden in this review somewhere! (It’s Kurt Wimmer)

Of course, our taste buds adapt to change, but it was disconcerting when a couple slices in I started to get used to it. Could I ever eat anything without salt again? What if this was my new normal? I looked up from my thoughts and realized I had eaten the entire pie.

I spent weeks wandering the street as a salt junkie until I went through the twelve step salt program. I’m now a salt-free, productive member of society but every once in a while when I’m at a mid-low caliber restaurant, the shaker with the white rocks calls my name. I ignore her pleas but she knows one day I’ll crumble. She knows.

Moreover, Lil’ Caesar, I like the way you run your store. I was in and out in about four minutes and there were two people in front of me in line. Handed over payment and received my product. Someone get the guy who thought that system up to help out with hospital emergency room triage. In and out. In and out. Easy. Everybody leaving the ER has a slice of pizza in their hand. Beautiful.

Since LiCa did such a good job with replicating a pretzel for the bread, there are a couple things to consider here. First is the texture. The soft pretzel bread was very similar to what we all know as soft pretzel bread, but the question is: Do we want that chewy, chewy texture for pizza? The answer for me is that it’s fine, but ultimately I like a crispy exterior and a chewy interior. It works for the novelty, but I don’t want it for my every day pizza.

Little Caesars Soft Pretzel Crust Pepperoni Pizza Slice

Second is the cheese. There is some “real” cheese sprinkled on top but I noticed a cheddar cheese sauce that is also present, more the consistency of a thick nacho cheese. This was a cheese that tasted and felt like a dipping sauce that you might stick a soft pretzel into. It had a bit of zest and all the smoothness of Cheez Wiz. Again, fine for the novelty, but the more I think about it, it’s kind of gross. Like kissing!

It’s all a bit of an unbalanced affair and I’m not sure my hypertension can take another one, but the Soft Pretzel Crust Pizza is an interesting novelty, and a cheap one at that. If you’re ever pressed for time like those executives who thought up this pizza, and you really, really need to eat a soft pretzel and a pizza at once, the Little C got your back. Pizza pizza? Salty salty.

(Disclosure: We received a $10 Little Caesars gift card from Little Caesars to purchase the pizza.)

(Nutrition Facts – 1/8 of a pizza – 270 calories, 11 grams fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 570 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.)

Item: Little Caesars Soft Pretzel Crust Pepperoni Pizza
Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Little Caesars
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Fun to eat two food items at once. Cheap.
Cons: Extremely salty. Texture of bread is not pizza bread

REVIEW: Market Pantry Birthday Cake Creme Sandwich Cookies

Market Pantry Birthday Cake Creme Sandwich Cookies

Do you want to know how to ruin my birthday party?

Do any of the following.

Get me a pony instead of the mini unicorn I requested. Give me a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf gift card instead of a Starbucks gift card. Put trick candles on my birthday cake. Make me hit a piñata with a blindfold. Not sing “Happy Birthday” in a language other than English. And pass out these Market Pantry Birthday Cake Sandwich Cookies instead of Nabisco’s Birthday Cake Oreo Cookies.

You may think I’m pooh-poohing the store brand because I’m a brand elitist or I’ve got cash to burn so I can spend it on big brands, but I think Target’s Market Pantry puts out some really good stuff, like their Snickerdoodle Milk.

I’d be insulted if someone brought these store brand birthday cake-flavored sandwich cookies to my party because there are several things off about them.

Let’s start with the packaging.

If Target’s Market Basket wants to copy Nabisco’s ideas, might I suggest copying the resealable package. Sure, Nabisco probably has a patent or two for their resealable cookie packaging, but I wish Target would come up with their own because once this package is open, you’ve either got to close it with tape, clothespins, or eat the whole damn thing in one sitting. Also, the graphics on the packaging confuse me. The cookies are chocolate wafers with creme, but the cake on the packaging is yellow cake with frosting. Yeah, that doesn’t match.

Market Pantry Birthday Cake Creme Sandwich Cookies Stcak

Now let’s move on to the creme.

First, it looks like it was either placed on the chocolate wafer by an uncalibrated or emo creme squirting machine (I believe creme squirting machine is the technical name for it) or it looks like my lazy ass put these cookies together. The pat of creme isn’t in a uniform shape and it’s not centered in the middle of the cookie like the creme is with an Oreo cookie. Also, the colorful “sprinkles,” which make the creme appear birthday cake frosting-ish, seem to be nothing more than spots of food dye. It looks like the Nyan Cat sneezed on it.

As for the flavor, I don’t think it tastes birthday cake frosting-ish. It’s more like regular chocolate sandwich cookie creme-ish. I licked my way through several cookies as if I was a dog with a jar of peanut butter, but didn’t think there was anything resembling birthday cake.

While the packaging and creme are off, they don’t make the cookie’s flavor weird. But that happens with the chocolate wafers. They have a crunch similar to Oreo cookies and they start off with a mild cocoa flavor, but they end with a weird, bitter artificialness that brings down the entire cookie and guarantees it ends up on my birthday party shitlist.

So if your arm reaches for these Market Pantry Birthday Cake Sandwich Cookies, shift it to the far right or far left, which is where the Nabisco cookies are probably stocked at your local Target, and grab the Nabisco Birthday Cake Oreo Cookies instead before you come to my birthday party.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat*, 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 35 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

*made with partially hydrogenated oils

Item: Market Pantry Birthday Cake Creme Sandwich Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.09
Size: 15.25 oz.
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Cheaper than Birthday Cake Oreo. Getting Starbucks gift cards. Unicorns. Nabisco products being to the left or right of these cookies.
Cons: Tastes cheaper than Birthday Cake Oreo. Chocolate wafers have weird bitterness. Creme doesn’t taste birthday cake-ish. Sprinkles aren’t sprinkles. Packaging shows yellow cake with white frosting, but the cookies are chocolate. It looks like I put the cookies together.

REVIEW: Hostess Chocodile Twinkies

Hostess Chocodile Twinkies

I am an animal.

An animal with all the habits, flaws, and self-imposed delusions that accompany being a carbon-constructed mammal with opposable thumbs, and thus I found myself appreciating all these animal traits as I put those opposable thumbs in my special lunchtime skill: ripping open the cellophane wrapper of a snack cake.

I’ve eaten enough Ding-Dongs, Yodels, and other snack-cakes-with-onomatopoeic-names to fill the pages of a small comic book series. Needless to say, I was celebratory in discovering that Hostess’s former West Coast exclusive, the Chocodile, had been reintroduced and expanded its horizons, migrating to shelves around all around this fine country. If you, like me, find yourself clawing for the Zingers and Sno-balls, shaking the vending machine for that last pack of Zebra Cakes, that one Oatmeal Crème Pie, come, fellow snacker, and we shall delve into plastic-wrapped horizons.

Hostess Chocodile Twinkies Chocodile in its natural habitat

I can think of 12 good reasons why a miniature oblong cake is better than a cupcake. One is that you are now equipped with a contextually sensible way to use “oblong” in a sentence. Another is that the cake specimen has equal frosting distribution. In a cupcake, there’s often a glob of frosting, pillowing at the top. Even worse, sometimes, you even have to play favorites: do I want the cupcake with the sprinkles or the one with the fancy frosting ribbon on top? Then, you have to fight for the one you want before someone else gets it (“Get away! That’s my frosting ribbon!”).

Here, not so much. Every cake is the same. Not only do you get a glaze of chocolatey something enveloping your cake in an even layer, but you also get crème filling all the way through. There’s no overwhelming decision-making. No “perfect ratio.” No, “Should I go for the middle first, or save the middle bite for last while sacrificing my fingers as they’re trying to work around the edges so I can save the pile of frosting?” None of that. It’s equally massive poofs of frosting. All day. All the time.

Needless to say, I’m excited. Just crackling open that thin plastic wrapper is enough to take me back to the days of elementary school cafeterias and Chuck E. Cheese Birthday cakes.

Hostess Chocodile Twinkies Chocodile doppelganger

And the first few bites were pretty good, but as I continued, the magic descended at madcap speed. It was the chocolate that started it all. Tasting of burnt cocoa and stubby crayons, that shiny mahogany glaze seems as though it might be better suited melted down and repurposed as a wax celebrity at Madame Tussaud’s. There was perhaps a hint of cocoa in there, but, on the whole, it had all the excitement of candle drippings, old raisins, and Sad.

The saving grace came in the crème filling. Like the classic Twinkie, this crème is poofy and tastes of Betty Crocker frosting that’s been pummeled into a Marshmallow Fluff machine. Or Marshmallow Fluff that’s been pummeled into a Betty Crocker frosting machine. Either way, there’s definitely sugar in celebratory abundance. While made of questionable ingredients, I could scoop this with my paw and eat it like a Pooh bear.

But not even those sweet hydrogenated poofs can save the cake. While I enjoy traditional Twinkies for their spongy, slightly oily character and fake vanilla-y flavor, this thing was like eating a loofa. A dry, unflavored loofa. The crème gave it the sugar it needed to upgrade its taste to that of a stale, dry doughnette, but, overall, that Loofa Cake combined with a raisin-wood-wax coating? No bueno.

Hostess Chocodile Twinkies Quick Batman, get some milk for that loofa cake!

I wish I could glorify these Chocodiles. I love weird finger cakes. Snarfing a double-snack-pack is my special lunchtime skill. I may have ordered a case of expired Twinkies 8 months after Hostess shut down (Moldy Twinkies, people. Moldy. Twinkies.). So I’d really like to give these a sparkling grade. But I just can’t. Sure, the crème was good, but…loofa cake. Waxy coating. To say it lived up to its Hostess brethren would be a lie. Lies are no good for you. No good for me. However, let me take note that these are not inedible, and, in fact, are far better than other experiences I could imagine in my life, such as perpetual B.O. or death by toilet paper.

So if you like loofa cake, stale doughnettes, and things that are marginally better than death by 2-ply, go for it. Otherwise, I’d approach with a wary step.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cake – 170 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Hostess Chocodile Twinkies
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 9 cakes
Purchased at: Met Foods
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Even frosting distribution. Good crème-to-cake ratio. Poofy, sugary crème. Wrapper is excellent way to exercise your opposable thumbs. Better than death by toilet paper.
Cons: Loofa Cake. Waxy-woodsy coating. The fight for the frosting ribbon. Madame Tussaud’s. Wrestling matches with vending machines. Elementary school cafeterias.

REVIEW: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips

Lay's Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips

Goddamn, I really wanted to like you. I wanted to praise you to Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” and tell all my friends how good you were. I patiently waited to open up your bag as you already had me at “Kettle Cooked.” You had me at KETTLE COOKED dammit!!! I love the crunch that quickly shatters into delicious crumbles. Being kettle cooked is the only way to make a potato do that.

I also love wasabi flavored snacks, including that hard to find Lindt chocolate bar. Akin to a big, boisterous and caring aunt who keeps telling you to eat more because you’re so skinny (but you’re not) or how much of a grown man you look in your tie (even in a bolo tie?), wasabi is loud and imposing. It makes its presence known as your nasal flares slightly then tempers down to a sweet cooing.

As for ginger, I love all forms of it except the ubiquitous pickled stuff that comes with sushi. I find the shades that range from the opaque hues of a cadaver to the neon rose on a Hypercolor t-shirt are as awful as the sometimes soapy unpleasant taste pickled ginger imparts. However, I was excited because the vinegary-pickled ginger could play off well as an Asian-tinged Salt & Vinegar chip.

So what went wrong? Was it my high expectations? Was it the excitement of another Lay’s Do Us a Flavor competition? Was it the bourbons and binge viewings of Community? Either way, I was let down in a manner that rivaled the time when my father told the family that my younger brother was his favorite son. Shades of Thanos’ family, I will seek my revenge…eventually.

Lay's Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips Closeup

The flavor, inspired by Meneko Springer McBeth, makes sense and probably on Earth-616, the flavor profile would be as normal as sour cream and onion. A quick read-through of her bio shows she’s as normal as anyone: a married registered nurse with three daughters (presumably cute and well-mannered). She has an “affinity for spicy flavors” and loves sushi. Her fun fact is that “The Clearance Queen” is her nickname because she always hunts down the best bargains. She sounds like someone I could ask the time and not be scared of being maced or threatened with undeserved violence involving an ice pick.

Letting me down is one thing, but why let down nice and normal Meneko Springer McBeth who just wants to find good bargains? Is being budget conscious enough to damn an innocent soul, Lay’s?

I should have known it when I opened the bag, only to smell the roasty and pleasantly fried scent of kettle chips. Don’t misunderstand me, the chips smelled great. But when you’re saying there’s wasabi and it was bereft of the pungent horseradishy blast…well, that let me down a lot. I can only compare it to smelling a grilled thick cut steak with pieces of garlic embedded and you can’t smell any of the aromatics.

If that wasn’t sad enough, besides being seen with your nose in a bag of chips as if you were sniffing a fine cognac, the chips tasted just mundane. I was also glad I bought the small convenience store version because I would likely feed the rest to the ducks and they would get hyperlipidemia.

The bag promised wasabi and ginger, but the wasabi was so faint and the ginger was non-existent. The only prevalent taste I could discern was a soy sauce flavor and the onion powder.

Lay's Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips Closeup 2

I ate a handful Cookie Monster-style to see if the flavors would be stronger. It wasn’t and all I tasted initially was the ghostly vinegar kick that was more like a shuffle. The wasabi was too lazy to even nod a “hey” to me and I believe a thousand Japanese mobsters cut off their index fingers in shame.

The chips did have a well-rounded saltiness to them and the soy sauce gave off a sweetness that channeled the highly sought umami factor. I’m so depressed now that I think I’m just filling up words in this review so it looks like I am actually working instead of being as lazy as the wasabi and ginger in these chips.

I don’t know what Meneko Springer McBeth did to make Lay’s so angry. For God’s sakes, she even reported that she loves spicy foods and all they could eke out was something as spicy as Mr. Rogers eating a banana. I’m torn because I want this flavor to exist, but I don’t want it to win because of the flat flavor Lay’s has given it.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz/about 18 chips – 150 calories, 8 grams of total fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 350 milligrams of potassium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Lay’s Kettle Cooked Wasabi Ginger Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $1.49
Size: 2 7/8 oz bag
Purchased at: RaceTrac
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: The texture is really nice, crisp with that audible crunch. The sweetness of the soy sauce is nice. Nurses, be kind to them cause’ they work hard and aren’t given a lot of credit, yo. The chips are well seasoned, the goldilocks zone of salt. Earth-616.
Cons: The wasabi couldn’t deliver because it was faint. The ginger couldn’t stand up because it was just as faint. The onion powder and soy sauce overwhelmed the chip. Earth-8101.

REVIEW: Lay’s Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips

Lay's Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips

If Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Cappuccino chips are the crazy flavor, Wasabi Ginger are the Asian flavor, and Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese are the prerequisite meat/cheese/God Bless America comfort food flavor, then what are the Wavy Mango Salsa chips?

A) A chip that renders actual salsa obsolete
B) A chip that packs some potent heat
C) An enjoyable mixture of sweet, spicy, and salty in an unlikely form

The answer?

None of the above.

If anything, the Mango Salsa chips represent the bastardization of the potato for the sake of a social media contest and the limits of even the most advanced forms of flavor alchemy.

The wavy-cut chips have a delightful aroma…if your idea of delightful is a pit bull throwing up daisies in the perfume store. The scent leaves you wondering if you’re about to ingest a fruit, a vegetable, or an exotic plant that might just be poisonous.

Lay's Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips Closeup

Unlike Lay’s Cappuccino chips, the Mango Salsa at least appear to have normal seasoning, with specks of red and dull green dotting the ridges in varying patterns. The initial taste of the powder ebbs and flows between unquestionably awful and modestly annoying. It depends on how much seasoning a chip has, as well as your tolerance for cilantro.

If the latter is nonexistent, then I imagine you’ll be feeling a lot like that aforementioned and hypothetical dog in the perfume store. While I usually maintain an agnosticism towards cilantro, the air of the powerful herb was even too much for me on some chips. It also wasn’t properly balanced by a piquant chili pepper flavor one would hope is present in an actual salsa. Instead, the seasoning has an aggressive lime and garlic flavor, followed by a perfume and vague fruit flavor which doesn’t scream tropical, much less mango.

Lay's Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips with Mango

Despite being in the flavor’s name, the mango is relegated to a supporting element in the salsa. I can say this with authority because I had ripe mango handy when I sampled the chips. Likewise, the tomato and red pepper flavor you’d expect to find playing important roles in a mango salsa were difficult to detect and nowhere near sweet enough. Instead, they mesh into an acidic and floral essence that will overwhelm taste buds.

Lacking real sweetness, the floral essence collides head-on with the earthy and robust aftertaste of the potato, which attempts to reclaim its natural potato flavor with a metaphorical uppercut against the acidity of the chip seasoning. Ultimately, the potato wins out, but not before a series of confused and competing flavor exchanges which fail to capitalize on a simultaneous salty-sweet synergy we’re all clamoring for.

I enjoyed the Lay’s Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips more than the Cappuccino chips because I can sort of envision myself actually dipping and eating these with an authentic mango salsa, as opposed to the Cappuccino chips, which I’m sure would just suck even more if dipped into coffee.

With that said, the Wavy Mango Salsa chips aren’t very good on their own, and prove that a fried Idaho potato is not the place to test chemistry concoctions of maltodextrin and artificial mango flavor.

Next time Lay’s should “Do Us a Flavor” and narrow submissions to taste sensations that actually work.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz/about 15 chips – 150 calories, 90 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 330 milligrams of potassium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Lay’s Wavy Mango Salsa Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $3.00 (on sale)
Size: 9.5 oz bag
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Wavy chips have excellent crunch. Good potato aftertaste when you get past the seasoning. Might be tasty when dipped into actual mango salsa.
Cons: Poor execution of tropical mango sweetness. Lacks a spicy element. Seasoning is dominated too much by herbal and acidic flavors. Ruining a perfectly good potato. Dog vomit.