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REVIEW: Lay’s Cappuccino Potato Chips

Written by | July 30, 2014

Topics: 4 Rating, Chips, Lay's

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino Potato Chips

There are two types of people in this world. There are those who play it safe and those who do not.

The former group slows down at yellow lights, blots the grease from their pizza, and runs the ball on third and one in Madden. The latter blows through red lights, pours grease from their buddy’s slice of pizza onto theirs, and calls an Annexation of Puerto Rico on fourth and forever.

But none of these actions match up to the ultimate litmus test in living safe or dangerous: choosing which Lay’s Do Us a Flavor Chips to buy.

Last year, I faced danger with Lay’s Chicken and Waffles Potato Chips. But, despite my awful experience, I wasn’t going to let the hacked together taste of poultry and Eggo stop me from checking out this year’s finalist out of left field. We’ve seen various salty and sweet chips before, but I’ve never seen potato chips that taste like coffee and milk. As for what Chad Scott was thinking when he submitted cappuccino to Lay’s, well, I’ll play it safe and guess he had good intentions.

After strutting through Harris Teeter with a bag in hand and dropped jaws and slow claps of less intrepid snackers around me*, I opened it, which released a mellow, but prominent coffee aroma. It was stronger than coffee ice cream and only a few notches down from a college English class at 7:30 in the morning. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it definitely was unnatural. In fact, when contacted for comment, Mr. Potato Head confirmed it was certainly the most intense out-of-body experience he’s had since Toy Story 3. Like I said, it’s about living dangerously.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino Potato Chips Closeup

I raised a single chip and brought it closer to my nose, taking a moment to harness my senses in that cultured thing coffee people do before they take a sip. Then I remembered I was sitting in my office with a potato chip held up to my nose, and realized how freaking ridiculous I looked. I sampled the seasoning by licking the fried exterior of the spud clean.

Its flavor is maddeningly indescribable. I’m taken aback at first, completely unable to harness dozens of hours of GRE verbal practice tests in assessing what the flavor is.

It’s slightly bitter with an odd sensation from the aftermath of lactic sweetness. It leaves a light roasted coffee flavor hanging on the roof of your mouth. I taste more chips and I’m dumbfounded, searching for a salty-sweet affirmation of what I thought the chips would taste like.

Instead, I’m only left with the idea of sweetness and a memory of cream, as the way too authentic taste of light roasted coffee continues to linger even as the clashing but familiar earthiness from the potato comes around at the end. Several chips down, and I’m utterly confused.

Lay's Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino Potato Chips 2

This is not exactly living dangerously through snacks. Unencumbered, and perhaps believing that stuffing multiple chips into my mouth at once will harness some undiscovered salty-sweet synergy, I find the taste more palatable. There isn’t a salty-sweet combo going on here, the salty flavor is almost nonexistent, but there is a somewhat cocoa-like effect that isn’t too bad. But it’s hardly bold and it’s not particularly addictive or snackable.

There’s just no other way to say it: Chad Scott, you got your wish. These chips taste just like a cappuccino, or at least insofar as the cappuccino flavor you’d expect from a Jelly Belly Jelly Bean. They’re not throw-out-the-bag horrible, but they’re not something I’d buy again.

The flavor is just out of place on a fried tuber and ends up splitting the difference of two different sensations which match up about as gracefully as a Mormon in a Starbucks (it’s okay, I’m from Utah). Buying them might boost your credibility as a vanguard snacker, but enjoying them probably just means you like the taste of coffee too much.

*Possibly. Or maybe not.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz./about 15 chips – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 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 Do Us a Flavor Finalist Cappuccino Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $2.00 (on sale)
Size: 9.5 oz bag
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Not detestable in an OH THE HUMANITY kind of way. Classic Lay’s crispiness. Decently snackable when eaten in droves.
Cons: Cappuccino flavor is way too authentic for a potato chip. Bitterness. Out of body snacking experiences. Lacks salty-sweet synergy. Does not affirm the desire to live dangerously.

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REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies

Written by | July 25, 2014

Topics: 4 Rating, Cookies, Oreo

Nabisco Limited Edition Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies

Despite what others think, I can also be sensitive. Reminding me of the destruction of the SDF-1 in Robotech, I shed a few tears next to my wife when Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha ate it big time in Pacific Rim. I admit I also cried a tiny bit when I reacquainted myself with Buckaroo Banzai’s synth engulfed end credits. I can hum that song all day.

So sue me. I am not invulnerable to the charms of nostalgia. I have a fucking soul too.

Does the salty smell of fresh popcorn not invoke memories of carefree Saturday matinees at the cinema? It’s hard to deny the sight of lightning bugs doesn’t drum up images of summery things like Italian ice cups served with wooden spoons that threatened to leave splinters in your mouth.

Root beer floats harken back to a time of childhood innocence. The memories of Daddy teaching you how to ride that bicycle without training wheels. Yelling and screaming lovingly about how stupid you are as the neighbors peer through the curtains, hoping to not get caught. Those were some damn good times.

I suppose the Oreo creates the same feelings for me. As a child, I dipped them in milk after learning another lesson (like most latchkey children do) from television. Me love you long time TV.

Oreo have released so many varieties that they are becoming the Beanie Babies of cookies. After the fruit punch ones, I kind of hit the wall real hard. As much as I love the different flavors, I began to get Oreo-fatigue and pined for a normal Oreo.

Nabisco Limited Edition Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies In Packaging

Yet, the Root Beer Float Oreo grabbed my interest as they sat there next to the lemon one and above the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup version and right beside the mint chocolate variety. After ripping open the package, a deep buttery smell emanated elegantly. A faint, but playfully “fizzy” sweet and herby scent of root beer followed.

However, the Oreo filled with the promise of creamy and frothy root beer float dreams decided to kick my balls to the tune of the Benny Hill theme song. I was at best, disappointed. At worst, I wanted to chase harmless rabbits and their cutesy little noses with the gas-powered lawn mower.

Nabisco Limited Edition Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies Creme

Tasting the cream filling alone yielded a familiar, sweet, but not strong root beer flavor. Actually on subsequent licks, the root beer taste was so light that it barely registered. It could be that each cookie I dissected apart Hannibal-style revealed an almost 80 percent cream to 20 percent root beer flavor ratio.

When I ate the cookie whole, the buttery nuttiness from the Oreo overwhelmed any root beer taste. Strangely, I did experience a ghostly menthol-like “coolness” when I swallowed. It could be from whatever flavoring effect Nabisco pumped in to replicate the carbonization of a root beer. Although, I wished they would have amped up the root beer taste instead.

Dipping them in milk doesn’t help. Dipping them in store bought chocolate milk makes it worse. In fact, dipping them in bourbon is criminal and left me sullen because I ruined a tumbler of Maker’s 46.

There are positives. They are not as sweet as some Oreo flavor (looking at you Watermelon and Berry Burst Ice Cream). Additionally, they appear to be more readily available, at least in my area, so everyone can join in and be sad chasing rabbits.

I know that root beer is one of the trickier flavors to emulate and I have to give credit to Nabisco for at least attempting this. If anything, I admire their tenacity to not back down on trying unconventional flavor choices. (Where’s my blueberry version dammit?)

I’m conflicted because Root Beer Float Oreo cookies do not taste awful. But if you’re expecting them to taste like the beloved soda float, they suck at it.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 15 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugars, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Limited Edition Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 12.2 oz. package
Purchased at: Publix
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: They are not overwhelmingly sweet. Typing “Crimson Typhoon” in my review. The Golden Oreo is buttery and rich. The music in Benny Hill.
Cons: The root beer flavor is very weak. Trying not to type “Root Beer Floats? More like Root Beer Flats!” in my review (GONG!) The Golden Oreo overpowers any root beer flavor. Cherno Alpha biting it so soon. The music in Benny Hinn.

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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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