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REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Extreme Creme Blue Raspberry Twinkies

Written by | July 23, 2014

Topics: 4 Rating, Twinkies

Hostess Limited Edition Extreme Creme Blue Raspberry Twinkies

Maybe mutants are a problem. Hey, I know, it’s easy to love the X-Men. Wolverine—so cool! Beast—so smart! Storm—so strong! Yeah, yeah, we get it. Being a mutant represents being different. It doesn’t matter what your race, creed, religion, sports team, Sex in the City archetype or toilet paper roll orientation is. We need to accept everyone. And we do! (Even though “under” is so the wrong way.)

We love the X-Men. That’s the central theme of the X-Men. But it’s never really challenged. In the Marvel Universe it never seems reasonable as a reader to hate or fear mutants. The human beings in that world—the mutant haters—seem insane, uncool and scared. Living in the time we do now, it’s tough to relate to building an explicit case against others just because they are different. That is, until Hostess Extreme Creme Twinkies Blue Raspberry.

Let’s get down to it. This stuff is outwardly ugly. Not just Eric Stoltz in Mask ugly, but…well, okay, Eric Stoltz in Mask ugly. It’s a Twinkie with blue cream inside. This blue cream soaks through the undercarriage of the Twinkie and combines with the yellow cake to make a spotty, dark spinach green color. Frankly, it looks moldy.

Hostess Limited Edition Extreme Creme Blue Raspberry Twinkies bottom

The color of the actual cream inside is like Play-Doh or a racquetball court or a poisonous frog. This is gag reflex ugly. I had a visceral reaction the first time I turned one over, tossing it quickly from my hand like it had cooties.

Regular Twinkies with white cream don’t look like this. Is it because the white cream doesn’t show up against the yellow that it doesn’t look like an oblong cupcake drizzled with melted crayon? Why does this one look so weird? It looks gross. And thus begins the line of thinking that might end up writing discriminatory anti-blue Twinkie legislation, or an anti-blue Twinkie military task force. The Twinkie work camps would be filled with small Hostess baked goods and the Blue Man Group and a chubby Blue Ivy, with all the cakes she could ever want. They hammer out license plates to that Eiffel 65 song.

If it tastes good, though, forget it. All is forgiven. I’ll eat a steak that looks like Eric Stoltz in Mask if it’s not overcooked. Actually I’d prefer it. A steak that resembles a “normal” human face would be considerably smaller. So do blue Twinkies taste good? No. Well, they’re fine. Thing is, they are blue raspberry flavor. And blue raspberry has this lip curling, wooden, sour taste with a note of bitterness at the end. Certainly that sounds interesting, if not appealing.

But are we eating interesting things here? Are we at a Thomas Keller restaurant in search of a tastefully balanced, nine-course meal designed to tantalize and expand the notion of food and eating in general? Pretty sure we’re eating a piece of sugar stuck into another thing full of sugar.

Hostess Limited Edition Extreme Creme Blue Raspberry Twinkies Innards

The cream is not pleasant at first. After the inaugural bite I grimaced like a kid being told I would have to buy all the X-Universe comic books that summer because of some dumb crossover. (Age of Apocalypse excepted.) The amount of sugar doesn’t counter balance or round out the blue raspberry flavoring, so that’s pretty much what you’re getting all up in your mouth.

It’s pretty different from the fluffy sweetness you get from a regular Twinkie. After you know what’s coming a second taste is easier and after a third, the uniqueness is almost admirable. That first impression, though, is a doozy because it’s so different. I imagine I would feel that way if I saw a human being covered in blue fur with a cat face and Frasier’s voice too. Or eating some tossed salad and scrambled eggs.

They look gross, they taste kinda gross, but to be fair that’s because we aren’t used to them yet. It’s tough, because it’s both disgusting yet a little cool that we as human beings are so comfortable just eating stuff that are colors that don’t really exist as food in nature. We should all be a little more accepting, and blue Twinkies are the first step.

Keep in mind, however, Extreme Creme Blue Raspberry Twinkies are not a cool X-Man. They are not Nightcrawler or Blink or Psylocke or anyone undeniably compelling and powerful. They’re more like that kid Cypher who could read fast or Dazzler or that guy in the third movie with spikes coming out of his face. Okay. I got it. Regular Twinkies are comforting and these blue ones are strange. Not necessarily bad, but definitely strange.

Twinkies are handsome Eric Stoltz, and blue Twinkies are Eric Stoltz in Mask. He could’ve be an X-Man, by the way, if the guy with spikes in his face is one. Buy up Mask and reboot it already, Marvel. This new movie has a talking tree. Give me a break.

Roll credits for this review. Fade to black. Nick Fury comes out of nowhere and asks Eric Stoltz in Mask to join the Avengers. He hands Nick Fury a blue Twinkie. Nick Fury eats it, spits it out. Thomas Keller picks it up, adds it to menu at Per Se. They all retract spikes from their faces and laugh.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cakes – 270 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 35 grams of cholesterol, 370 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 32 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Hostess Limited Edition Extreme Creme Blue Raspberry Twinkies
Purchased Price: $3.59
Size: 10 count
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: After first taste, serves as a unique change of pace from regular Twinkies.
Cons: Twinkies are comfort food, and this isn’t comforting. Blue food is unsettling.

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REVIEW: Limited Edition Dr Pepper Vanilla Float

Written by | June 5, 2014

Topics: 4 Rating, Dr Pepper, Soda

Limited Edition Dr Pepper Vanilla Float

Hello, everyone. I’m very sorry I was gone for so long, but it’s good to be back!

If summer could talk, that’s what I imagine it saying, anyway. It was a brutally cold winter that also lasted roughly 11 years for large portions of the U.S., so the warm weather we’ve all been experiencing these last few weeks is more than welcome for you and I, but even more so for marketers.

Every summer you know to expect the lawn care and iced beverage ads, and car dealerships start pointing out your inalienable right to independently choose whatever Nissan you’d like for no money down at signing your John Hancock, at prices that are practically free(dom).

Be that as it may, the colder it is, the less you feel like standing outside in your parka to grill up some elk and watch the kids break icicles off the sprinkler. So you can bet that like every food company but Swiss Miss, Dr Pepper was glad to see Frozen finally exit theaters and our lawns simultaneously. In fact, they’re SO excited they’ve released a limited edition variety of their famous product: Dr Pepper Vanilla Float.

Limited Edition Dr Pepper Vanilla Float Closeup

As is no doubt obvious from the pictures, the can basically IS summer. You got your sunglasses, flip-flops, grill tools, surfboard, fireworks, plus an Uncle Sam hat because this soda wants YOU to drink it. Don’t like it? Eff off, this is ‘Murica. There’s also some backstroke flags to remind you of when you forgot how many strokes it is to the wall and slammed into it headfirst. Or maybe that was just me, but luckily there were no long-term side elephants.

I actually haven’t had a Dr Pepper since about high school, either five years ago in my mind or sixteen by the calendar. Never drank it after that because it tasted too much like Cherry Coke, but I was eager to revisit it for this review. Popping open the tab wafts up a hint of vanilla and cherry — the smell isn’t overpowering or unpleasant, but it’s certainly noticeable… though, it must be said, far more cherry than vanilla.

And unfortunately, that carries over to the taste as well. Oh, it tastes like Dr Pepper — granting I haven’t sampled the good doctor since Bill Clinton’s first term, but this is exactly how I remember it tasting. And, well, that’s the problem, because I believe there was some mention of vanilla? You certainly wouldn’t know it from a casual swig. Or a concentrated one, for that matter. It tastes fine (assuming you like regular Dr Pepper), but that’s all you’re getting.

But hey, maybe I’m just an outlier. In the interest of journalistic integrity I drafted my wife to try a can. She reported thinking she smelled and tasted a liiiittle bit of vanilla, but very mild. Whether there’s a slight “Emperor’s New Clothes” syndrome going on there is for you to decide, but we both agreed that by no means is there enough vanilla taste in this soda to justify its name. “A batch of Dr Pepper we accidentally spilled a bottle of vanilla extract into,” maybe, but certainly not “Vanilla Float.”

Unfortunately there’s not much else to say: you should buy this soda if you like Dr Pepper, but don’t go in expecting any kind of radically different experience. Unlike Vanilla Coke, where there was no mistaking it for a can of the original, I could easily see someone being served this in a cup and not even realizing it isn’t the regular stuff. As is, the can is more interesting than its contents; and if you want a Dr Pepper Vanilla Float, be sure to have some ice cream on hand.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 ounces – 160 calories, 0 grams of total fat, 55 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of total carbohydrates, 41 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Limited Edition Dr Pepper Vanilla Float
Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 12-pack
Purchased at: Acme
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: It is a pretty fun can, as… soda cans go, I guess. Didn’t cost a ton. My wife has a new beverage to enjoy for the next couple weeks. If you like regular Dr Pepper (or Cherry Coke), you’re in luck!
Cons: Could’ve just said “We wanted an excuse to use these cool cans our design guys came up with, but all our batches were already made.” Vanilla really would’ve helped cut that strong fruit flavor. The idea that it’s called Dr Pepper because it was originally marketed as a laxative is, sadly, just an urban legend. Revisiting high school relationships is never very satisfying (er, so I’ve heard).

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REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Dessert Shop Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Written by | May 21, 2014

Topics: 4 Rating, Cookies, Pepperidge Farm

Pepperidge Farm Dessert Shop Chocolate Brownie Soft Dessert Cookies

Hi, my name is Blade and I’m here to review some cookies.

You may have heard of me. I am also known as the Daywalker—I am a vampire. Well, I was born half-human, half-vampire. So I have all their strengths and none of their weaknesses, except for the blood thirst. But I manage to keep that in check with a serum, and I can walk around in the sunlight like all the rest of you. I’m basically a regular human being with super strength, reflexes and a healing factor.

To be upfront, I think some of those qualities make me superior to human beings and perhaps transcendent to human rules, but the IRS doesn’t agree, and subsequently I’ve run into tax problems, which explains why I’m writing about baked goods on a website. And I’ve eaten human flesh, which means my tastes are more adventurous than yours, I’m sure.

However, I do have a sweet tooth. Love those snacks. They come far second on the list of cravings, though, behind human blood. To recap: Number one craving with a (silver) bullet, human blood. Number two, baked sweets. My aunt used to make these snickerdoodles that were sublime. You guys tried cronuts yet? The real ones from New York. Amazing, right? Dominique Ansel done changed the game! How about pureed frozen bananas? Stuff tastes just like ice cream! Yeah, I love sweets. Number three is probably gas station Spam musubi, believe it or not.

Being half something and half something else, the folks at this site thought it would be a good idea for me to review the Pepperidge Farm Dessert Shop Chocolate Brownie Cookies, because it’s half a cookie, half a brownie. Here is the question: Does this product combine the strengths of the cookie and the brownie? Or is it all weakness, like those new Spider-Man films? The short answer is no, this cookie is not awesome like me. It is just okay.

It is soft, so soft and chewy, like the best cookies. The initial bite has a light, bitter cocoa sting with a hint of sweetness, like a brownie! It’s pretty good. And the cookie never gets too sweet, either. I like my chocolate on the bitter side and I like my Avengers movies quippy. The problem is that the cookie doesn’t go anywhere else. There’s no depth of flavor. It’s not rounded out by a torrent of butter or balanced with any other sensation. It just keeps hitting the bitter note over and over, which gets tiring. It’s also chewy but not gooey, like a brownie would be. The density is of a supermarket mass-produced cookie, and not of a deep, cakey, homemade casserole-dish brick of cocoa goodness.

Pepperidge Farm Dessert Shop Chocolate Brownie Soft Dessert Cookies Closeup

You can see chocolate chips in the cookie, but you can’t really taste them in the product. The chips get lost in the shuffle somewhere, overshadowed, so seeing them there is like being teased. I bet it’s sort of like being imbued with an unquenchable thirst for human blood and seeing humans walking around literally everywhere, walking, dancing, taunting, necks exposed, welcoming, and never once taking a sip. Or maybe like a chocolate lap dance. It’s disappointing that the cookie does not live up to the Frankenstein potential of a cookie-brownie, but the flavoring spins so far out of control in one singular direction it doesn’t even function that well as a cookie-cookie.

The Pepperidge Farm Dessert Shop Chocolate Brownie will not be making it into Blade’s cookie rotation. It’s a valiant attempt at combining brownie powers and cookie powers into one thing, but it’s a little bit of a reminder that the X-Men are special, and, really, most genetic mutations end in early death and not in telekinesis or the power of flight. I guess against all odds companies will always try to harness the warm, homey goodness of a brownie into items. “Motherfudgers always trying to ice skate uphill.” That’s a quote of mine that I altered to appropriately fit into this piece.

Thanks for reading, folks. And a quick reminder I am immune to garlic so I am available to review non-Olive Garden Italian cuisine. And vampires don’t sparkle! Gosh, Twilight is my Madea. I guess Madea is also my Madea. Shout out to Joss Whedon. I’m available for the next Avengers. Or Ant-Man! I’ll take Ant-Man! Edgar Wright, I loved Shaun of the Dead. It should have been vampires and not zombies, though. Everybody check out Let the Right One In. Check out all my movies too. I’m not in Blades of Glory, though. That’s not me. Hmm, actually, also, I’m only half human, so I should only pay half human taxes. Okay, I’m going to go re-fill out my W-9. Bye.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cookie – 140 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 11 grams of sugar, 1 gram of fiber, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Pepperidge Farm Dessert Shop Chocolate Brownie Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 8.6 ounce bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Not too sweet. Chewy, soft. Not terrible.
Cons: Flat flavoring. No depth. Goes nowhere. Boring.

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REVIEW: Domino’s Specialty Chicken (Classic Hot Buffalo, Sweet BBQ Bacon, Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple, and Crispy Bacon & Tomato)

Written by | April 28, 2014

Topics: 4 Rating, 7 Rating, Domino's, Fast Food

Domino’s Specialty Chicken

My favorite review items manage to be both repulsive and intriguing; ideally, they’d launch pearl-clutching pieces about the state of food, draw some whimsical coverage on Gawker, and get shoehorned into a head-scratching tech tie-in. A product as outrageous as “ fried chicken crust pizza” has predictably checked all the boxes.

Fortunately for the pearl-clutchers (though disappointingly for me), it’s not really fried chicken and it’s not really pizza. I would actually describe Domino’s Specialty Chicken as chicken nuggets-as-nachos. Domino’s just takes a bunch of standard boneless chicken bites, arranges them in a loosely-packed rectangle, and covers them with various toppings. There are four varieties: Classic Hot Buffalo, Sweet BBQ Bacon, Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple, and Crispy Bacon & Tomato.

To review all four without consuming up to 2400 calories and 120 grams of fat, I ordered these into the office in hopes of persuading a few coworkers to weigh in. Hilariously, I hadn’t realized I was ordering on Earth Day, when everyone brought in snacks and drinks that were organic and environmentally-friendly. The only way I could have brought less organic and environmentally-friendly pizzas would’ve been to go back to school, get a degree in agricultural biochemistry, genetically modify and chemically fertilize my own tomatoes and grains, cut down a rainforest tree to power my pizza oven, and deliver those pizzas in a Hummer. Despite my thematically inappropriate food contributions, several coworkers tried the Specialty Chicken. The consensus would be best summarized as, “better than you’d expect, but you won’t be able to eat too many at once.”

Domino’s Specialty Chicken Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple Closeruper

Domino’s Specialty Chicken Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple Closeup

Let’s start with the overall problems before jumping into each specific type. The chicken bites were quite salty, much more so than, say, a pizza crust or a nacho chip. We couldn’t eat more than a few bites before having to chug water. Don’t treat these as a full meal – they’ll definitely work better as side dishes. Also, the Specialty Chicken all had structural challenges with keeping the toppings intact. Because each chicken bite was small and oblong, the cheese and accoutrements fell off as soon as we tore it from the rest. You’ll need a fork and knife not to make a big mess (and you’ll probably make a moderate mess anyway).

Domino’s Specialty Chicken Spicy Jalapeno-Pineapple

The Spicy Jalapeño-Pineapple was my personal favorite. The jalapeño and pineapple slices joined a dousing of cheese and mango habanero sauce. The flavors were interesting and well-balanced, with the pineapple sweetness/tartness and jalapeño spiciness offsetting the saltiness of the chicken and cheese. Having the fruit and sauce likely contributed to chicken that was moister than some of the other Specialty Chickens.

Domino’s Specialty Chicken Crispy Bacon & Tomato

The Crispy Bacon & Tomato was also well-received, though I hated the name. (The first rule of food naming should be the same as the first rule of writing: “show, don’t tell” me that the bacon is crispy, which is an adjective on a different plane of uselessness than the flavor descriptors of spicy, sweet, or hot. This rule is why I write all these personal side-ramblings to show, and not tell, you that I’m very self-involved.) The diced tomato played well with the parmesan-garlic cream sauce, and I must begrudgingly admit that the bacon was, in fact, quite crispy. I was pleased with the combinations of flavors and textures, and these chicken bites were also moist and juicy.

Domino’s Specialty Chicken Sweet BBQ Bacon

Domino’s Specialty Chicken Classic Hot Buffalo

The Sweet BBQ Bacon and Classic Hot Buffalo could be described together – they were both too dry, too salty, and a little boring. The Sweet BBQ Bacon just had bacon, barbecue sauce, and noticeably less cheese. The sauce was weak and the chicken was dry. The Classic Hot Buffalo came off saltiest, as the buffalo and ranch sauces compounded the saltiness of the cheese and chicken without bringing much extra tang to the table. These really were like chicken nuggets that I could’ve dipped in barbecue or ranch sauce myself.

Though I clearly enjoyed two of the four varieties of Domino’s Specialty Chicken, I wouldn’t recommend that you run out and order them immediately, especially since the price ($5.99 each) feels a little high. Still, if you’re already ordering Domino’s, you should tack on a Jalapeno-Pineapple or Crispy Bacon & Tomato, just to see for yourself what all this fuss over “fried chicken pizza” is about.

(Nutrition Facts – 4 pieces – Classic Hot Buffalo – 170 calories, 10 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 1070 milligrams of sodium, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 11 grams of protein. Crispy Bacon & Tomato – 230 calories, 16 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 750 milligrams of sodium, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 13 grams of protein. Spicy Jalapeño-Pineapple – 170 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 610 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein. Sweet BBQ Bacon – 190 calories, 9 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 710 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein.)

Item: Domino’s Specialty Chicken
Purchased Price: $5.99 each
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Domino’s
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Classic Hot Buffalo)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Sweet BBQ Bacon)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Spicy Jalapeño-Pineapple)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Crispy Bacon & Tomato)
Pros: Tastier than you’d think. Jalapeño-Pineapple had interesting and well-balanced flavors. Bacon & Tomato had good combination of flavors and textures. Bacon was, in fact, crispy. Chicken of these two varieties were moist and juicy. An actual fried chicken pizza would be awesome. Earth Day. “Show, don’t tell.”
Cons: Too salty to be main dishes. Structurally unsound for holding toppings. A little on the pricy side. BBQ Bacon and Classic Hot Buffalo were too dry, too salty, and kind of boring. Pearl-clutching. Useless adjectives. Not contributing more to TIB.

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QUICK REVIEW: Rockstar Sparking Energy (Cherry Citrus and Peach)

Written by | April 22, 2014

Topics: 4 Rating, 6 Rating, Energy Drink, Rockstar

Rockstar Sparking Energy (Cherry Citrus and Peach)

Purchased Price: $2.09 each
Size: 16 oz. cans
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Cherry Citrus)
Rating: 3 out of 10 (Peach)
Pros: Cherry Citrus has a nice light citrus aroma and pleasant initial cherry flavor, which turns to a citrus flavor on the back end. If you hate syrupy energy drinks, you may like their light flavor. Zero sugar and zero calories. 80 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine per serving. I love the can’s vivid colors which probably look even awesomer if I was on LSD.
Cons: The peach flavor is a bit too artificial, making it kind of hard to drink. As the Cherry Citrus gets warm, the cherry flavor gets lighter. Artificial sweeteners are really noticeable if they get slightly warm. They get their caffeine from green coffee beans, similar to Starbucks Refreshers, but green coffee isn’t listed in the ingredients like it is with Starbucks Refreshers.

Rockstar Sparkling Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 8 ounces – 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 40 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 100% niacin, 100% vitamin B12, 100% vitamin B6, and 100% pantothenic acid.

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