REVIEW: Limited Time Only Cinnamon Sugar Pringles Tortillas

Limited Time Only Cinnamon Sugar Pringles Tortillas

Like a mannequin in New Era Caps or the former major league outfielder Matt Stairs, Julius Pringle might well be called a man of many hats. Between bacon and sriracha, reduced fat and diarrhea-inducing “Fat Free” crisps, he lays claim to a snack food empire with more flavor variations than a Coke Freestyle machine. And while he’s re-released his seasonal Pecan Pie Pringles in time for the holidays, he’s also donned a sombrero just in time to wish you and I a Feliz Navidad.

I speak, of course, of the new Cinnamon Sugar Pringles Tortillas. The flavor coincides with the annual need to turn savory into sweet this time each year, joining fellow new limited edition Pringles flavor, milk chocolate, on grocery store shelves.

Limited Time Only Cinnamon Sugar Pringles Tortillas 5

Also consistent with the season: the shoddy packaging, which, much like the millions of gifts shipped in oversized containers and without proper padding, tends to leaves the Pringles battered and broken. It’s mitigated somewhat by the more sturdy nature of the tortilla base compared to regular Pringles, but it’s still annoying. Although not as annoying as waking up Christmas morning to a cracked HDTV.

If you’ve ever had the Tortilla Pringles before you know the crisps enjoy a mild corn flavor with an enjoyable but none-too-bold toasted flavor. There’s an earthy note of black beans and a moderate crunch and saltiness, but overall, it’s a crisp that’s not going to offend anyone.

To pick back up on the holiday theme, it’s the kind of crisp that talks about the weather at parties, perhaps munching on a sugar cookie in the corner while smiling pleasantly and staying as far away from the eggnog as possible. God forbid it might sing along to a Bing Crosby song, it instead hums an ambiguous classical note in the background.

Limited Time Only Cinnamon Sugar Pringles Tortillas 3

The addition of cinnamon sugar really doesn’t deviate too much from this philosophy. Coating only the “underside” of each crisp, the cinnamon sugar is pretty tame. With no notes of toasted, caramelized sweetness it’s as one-note as cinnamon sugar comes, and feels detached from the corn crisp beneath. It’s kind of a shame, really, because for a brief moment there’s a nice salty-sweet combination that feels natural amongst the tortilla base.

The excitement dissipates quickly though, and like a kid at Christmas who’s just opened up a buttload of wrapped gifts only to find clothes, the anticipation is replaced by a functional reality. In other words? Prepared to have some kind of salsa on hand.

For some reason I thought the Pringles Tortillas Cinnamon Sugar would taste like churros, or at the very least open a new front in the ever chic line of salty-sweet combinations. It manages to hint at the latter, but completely falls short of the former. If nothing else it just provides an adequate and mildly enjoyable corn chip for your holiday get-togethers filled with weather conversations and reduced fat sugar cookies.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz./about 14 crisps – 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 110 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, less than 3 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein..)

Item: Limited Time Only Cinnamon Sugar Pringles Tortillas
Purchased Price: $1.50
Size: 6.42 oz. can
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Enjoyable lightly toasted corn flavor with earthy aftertaste. Lickable cinnamon-sugar coating. Functional tortilla chip not the least bit off-putting.
Cons: Cinnamon sugar coating is only surface deep. Not as salty or bold a corn flavor as Fritos. Chips shatter easily. Aftertaste is kind boring. Christmas morning with twelve new turtlenecks.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Red Velvet Peeps

Limited Edition Red Velvet Peeps

You people. You marshmallow lovers. You raucous, inscrutable, dangerously admirable marshmallow lovers. Turns out, you’ve made 232,000 Google pages devoted to “Peeps marshmallow recipes.” You have such daring. Such skill. Such eschewing of tradition. You put Peeps on your peanut butter sandwiches, in your pancakes. Sometimes, you just smack out your miniature flamethrower and torch those suckers up. Surely, I have stumbled into my confectionary tribe. You do realize this will only lead to mischief.

For example, if I were to find myself with two packs of specialty Peeps the day after Thanksgiving, who would stop me? Certainly not you. Certainly not Target. And certainly not this Peep staring at me with its big ol’ waxy eyeball.

Limited Edition Red Velvet Peeps givin' me the stink eye

And for that, I am grateful because straight from the plastic veneer, Photoshopped with candy canes cut straight from the Windows 92 Clip Art book, the chickadees tumble out like gangbusters: sandy and sugary on the outside with a white fudgy coating glistening on their chickadee rumps, these might be confused for the fowl that grace the lakes of a Sugar Plum Fairy. Oh sure, they’re just glorified gelatin, but dear god, isn’t that what Peeps are all about? How can we expect anything more? How???

Because Peeps is making a promise here. A promise to dish out the Red Velvet Cake in all its cocoa-y, sugary, acidic glory. A promise to which they [somewhat] live up to.

Limited Edition Red Velvet Peeps 3 little Velvets all in a row

These little mallows are sweet. Straight up sugary. Unquestionably red. The inside is sweet and cocoa-y like Duncan Hines cake batter mixed with chocolate Jell-o pudding. The outside sugar crust has the taste and texture of fine sanding sugar, but with a slight mineral aftertaste, like the faint tarnish of a cast iron skillet (because the party hasn’t started until Red #40 brings the bite of metallic cookware, am I right?)

Thankfully, the white fudge is there to pick up the slack with melty, smooth sweetness. Traditionalists, be forewarned: this isn’t cream cheese icing. Heck, it’s mainly palm kernel oil and dextrose, but it does have a quick melt and is dappled with little sprinkles, making a good show for those who subscribe to the buttercream predilection. If you like your icing sweet, dig in, but, if you’re sensitive to sugar overdose, you may feel like you’re being smacked in the head by a tetherball. Only you can know your limits. Just make sure you bring a graham cracker. S’mores will be in your future.

Limited Edition Red Velvet Peeps Peeps cross section

It’s easy to think of new products as a long chain of evolving improvements, as a never-ending advancement toward largeness and complexity, but Peeps knows not to flatter itself with such delusions. They thrive, nay, celebrate the creation of the same marshmallow sensation over and over. These Peeps are a pretty good riff on that variation. At the best of times*, they made me feel like I was eating cake batter straight outta Martha Stewart’s golden Kitchen Aid. Other times, I felt like I was eating the crust of a rusty nail.

*The worst of times was when I had just put lotion on my hands and wrestled to open the package for 15 minutes.

Aftertastes and mistimed use of moisturizer aside, these Peeps provide marshmallow lovers something different while still sustaining the unique, smooshed Peeps signature. Sure, they may not be astounding, but they remind me that, even when life’s not astounding, I can be grateful that it doesn’t completely suck.

Limited Edition Red Velvet Peeps Red Velvet Peeps teach us a life lesson

(Nutrition Facts – 3 Chicks/1 pack – 150 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 30 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Item: Limited Edition Red Velvet Peeps
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 3 Peeps Pack
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Doesn’t completely suck. Duncan Hines cake batter. Squishy. Festive fudge glaze. Reason to make s’mores. Reason to pursue Mischief. Windows 92 Clip Art.
Cons: Doesn’t completely suck. Red #40 tastes like a cast iron skillet. Glaze is mainly palm oil and dextrose. Getting smacked by a tetherball. Poorly timed use of moisturizer.

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Spicy Sriracha Burger

Jack in the Box Spicy Sriracha Burger

I imagine there are a number of you who got really excited when you saw the the word “sriracha” in the title of this review. In your head, you’re probably yelling, “SRIRACHA!!!” But I am here to extinguish your excitement like milk extinguishes the capsaicin in your mouth when you eat something spicy.

I can understand your excitement because my head was screaming, “SRIRACHA!!!” after I ordered one. However, my head was thinking something else after I ate it.

The Spicy Sriracha Burger looks like a Sourdough Jack that’s been given a make over by a Subway Sandwich Artist. It has a beef patty, hickory smoked bacon, shredded lettuce, tomatoes, pickled jalapeño slices, and a creamy sriracha sauce on a toasted sourdough bun.

I’m not sure why Jack went with the shredded lettuce. Their lettuce is awful to begin with, so shredding it won’t make it better. But shredding it does make the burger messy. Despite a kung-fu grip around my burger, the lettuce kept falling out. You might be thinking that’s a good thing because the lettuce is so sad, but it’s not because the sad lettuce was usually coated with the creamy sriracha sauce. So if I let the lettuce fall, most of the sauce won’t be in the burger.

Yup. I just spent an entire paragraph talking about lettuce. But the shredded lettuce isn’t the worst problem.

Jack in the Box Spicy Sriracha Burger 2

It’s the jalapeños.

I raved about the flavor and heat of Jack’s jalapeños in previous menu items, like their Jalapeño Ranch Ultimate Cheeseburger, but that had “jalapeño” in its name. This menu item does not, but it sure tastes like it does. If you’re hoping to get the sweet, spicy, and garlicky flavor of sriracha, I’m sorry to say your hopes and taste buds are going to be smothered by the jalapeños’ flavor and heat. Granted, Jack’s creamy sriracha sauce, as I learned with their Sausage Grande Breakfast Burrito, is noticeably mild compared with the Rooster Sauce, but it should be the sriracha that stands out, not the jalapeño.

There were bites here and there when I could taste other ingredients in the burger, like the bacon’s smokiness and the thin, dry burger patty, but it was mostly The Jalapeño Show Starring Jalapeño Jalapeño with musical guests Jalapeño and cameos by Bacon and Beef Patty.

So if the thought of sriracha excites you and makes you scream “SRIRACHA!!!” in your head, I’d recommend skipping Jack in the Box’s Spicy Sriracha Burger. But if the thought of jalapeño excites you and makes you scream “JALAPENO!!!” in your head, I’d recommend Jack in the Box’s Spicy Sriracha Burger.

(Nutrition Facts – 691 calories, 411 calories from fat, 46 grams of fat, 14 grams of saturated fat, 2 grams of trans fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 1612 milligrams of sodium, 478 milligrams of potassium, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 33 grams of protein.)

Item: Jack in the Box Spicy Sriracha Burger
Purchased Price: $7.49 (small combo)
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Jack in the Box
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Great if you love jalapeño. Flavor of bacon and beef patty pops up every so often behind the jalapeño. Good heat, thanks to the jalapeño.
Cons: Bad if you love sriracha because the creamy sriracha sauce isn’t noticeable. Thin beef patty. Sad shredded lettuce falls out easily, taking much of the sriracha sauce with it. The number of times I used “jalapeño” in a sriracha burger review.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Candy Corn Creme Bars

Hershey's Candy Corn Bar

If we’re going to continue to be friends, I feel there are a few things you should know about me. One is that I have learned most of my morals from a VHS copy of The Muppet Show and my bearded Uncle Bumsford who told me stories while flinging an ax into a stump in the backyard. Another is that I don’t mind, even downright enjoy, preservative-laden stuff. So long as the preservatives are working in the product’s favor, I see no flim or flaw. Bring me thy Jell-o pudding, thy toaster pastries, thy individually wrapped Little Debbies!

And that’s where these come in.

With enough Vegetable Oil Compounds to create an artistic rendering of the Icelandic glaciers, this new Hershey’s Candy Corn Bar is not one to illicit positive reviews from the authors of the USDA food pyramid, but neither does candy corn. Candy corn celebrates the odd, the waxy, the culinarily questionable ingredients, and if there’s anyone who’s familiar with handling questionable confectionary ingredients, it’s Hershey’s. Sure, sometimes things go awry in the Hershey lab, but I continue to put my Halloween faith in their corporate clutches. Am I foolish? Open-minded? Just outright idiotic? Let’s find out.

Hershey's Candy Corn Bar Candy Corn as a sugary little block

There is a distinct sweetness of candy corn that, when mulled with preservatives, creates a hyper-sweet sensation that is appealing to the sugar-inclined individual. It tastes of wax and corn syrup solids, maybe a hint of plastic and, guess what? That’s what these bars are made of: waxy stuff and corn syrup. Sugary and quick to melt, the bars are pleasant in that dairy milk confection way, making them easy to nibble as they get goopy all over your hands in 82-degree weather. It’s terrifying and awesome.

However, unlike candy corn, Hershey’s seems to have skipped the whole “honey” ingredient, which, in some respects, is a good thing. For example, you won’t have to worry about being attacked by a hungry honey bear or a swarm of vengeful bees. On the not-as-positive end, the bars don’t have the strong distinguishing taste that honey provides. In fact, they don’t have any particular taste. No vanilla. No rum. Just sugar.

If I close my eyes and use my imagination, there’s something slightly fruity at the end as if someone spliced Cadbury Egg Crème with dehydrated strawberry nubs, but it’s more about the abundance of sugar and texture: melty, melty, melty. While not a stunner on its own, I imagine all that Melting Sugar Goo would making an excellent fall s’more smashed between two Pumpkin Pop-Tarts and a chocolate marshmallow. As Uncle Bumsford always said: a s’more always solves your “What the hell do I do with all this mediocre candy?” problems.

Hershey's Candy Corn Bar interior

These little bars are pretty good. Are they made of lavender honey harvested from a flowery meadow by the Andrena hattorfiana bumblebees? No, but neither is candy corn. To expect otherwise would be unfair. By the abundance of sugar alone, these did a modest job at reimagining the experience of chomping on fistfuls of candy corn. While the dull, vegetable-oiled flavor leaves room for growth, at $3.69, I really can’t grumble too much.

If you’re a fan of corn syrup or drinking Cadbury Crème straight from the shell, you shall enjoy this. It will give you a good dose of sugar and Carnauba Wax, and sometimes that’s all you need to get to the next house for All Hallow’s Eve.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 bars – 200 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Hershey’s Candy Corn Creme Bars
Purchased Price: $3.69
Size: 9.45 oz bag
Purchased at: Kmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Melty. Perfect for Cadbury Crème lovers. Supports the cause of Trick-or-Treaters. Uncle Bumsford. VHS series of The Muppet Show.
Cons: No defining flavor aside from sugar. Carbauna wax. Grumpy USDA Food Pyramid authors. Vengeful bumblebees.

REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies

The Milano cookie has always been something of an enigma for me. With its elegant yet simple design and name conjuring images of the Italian Alps, it was beyond my childhood capacity of appreciation. Later in life, after I had graduated from a packaged cookie diet consisting entirely of Oreos and Chips Ahoy, Milanos still perplexed me. A dense yet slightly chewy crumb and buttery but dark chocolate flavor pointed toward a cookie on its own plane, distinct and unabashedly unique from every other prepackaged treat.

Oh yes, and terribly delicious.

It goes without saying that we expect much from Milano cookies. When you nail the chocolate flavor better than 95 percent of the competitors, I think expectations are a given. Nevertheless I couldn’t help but wonder if that sophisticated edge would translate with the addition of pumpkin spice. It’s one thing to pair mint and raspberry with chocolate, but when you start playing matchmaker with chocolate and the sometimes ambiguous concoction of fall spices, the results aren’t always so endearing.

Examining the bag confirmed my initial skepticism, as there’s no mention of pumpkin or the usual suspects of cinnamon or brown sugar in the ingredients. Nevertheless the orange lip representing pumpkin appeared on each cookie, while an unmistakably pumpkiny aroma danced from the open bag in perfect step with aromas of shortbread and chocolate.

It’s really a scintillating aroma, one with notes of pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin loaf cake supporting the dance. Actually, it’s so great I nearly passed out of asphyxiation due to a prolonged moment of sticking my schnoz right into the bag and failing to breath anything but the glorious smell of autumn.

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies 2

The orange “cream”—for want of a better word—is thin and slightly viscous, with a texture somewhere between cream cheese on a hot day and the filling they stick inside those stacked wafer cookies. Tasting it from the lip of the cookie, it comes across as a less intense version of Philadelphia Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese, right on down to a slightly artificial flavor that seems a bit too quiet for fall’s most iconic squash.

Artificial flavor aside, there’s a pleasantly light sweetness and lickable texture that leaves me wanting more. The problem is there really isn’t much more to be had. Even though the chocolate-to-pumpkin filling ratio is about 1:1, the pumpkin finishes a distant third in its impact. The filling and the spice together are enough to let you know we’re talking pumpkin and not just cinnamon-flavored cookies, but the milk chocolate filling and scrumptious cookie base seem unwilling to let the pumpkin intrude on their synergy.

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies 3

It’s been my experience through a quarter century of pumpkin eating that pumpkin is a very jealous flavor. It just doesn’t like playing second fiddle, much less third string. Yet in the distinct and careful balance of buttery cookie crumb and rich chocolate taste the pumpkin seems an awkward third wheel, attractive enough to want on its own, but not enough for either of the other two elements of the cookie to commit to.

It’s as if the cookie and the chocolate know what they have together, and while tempted by the pumpkin’s autumnal notes, neither flavor wants to commit to the newcomer over its tried and true other half. My God, it now occurs to me as I polish off another cookie, I have just described a twisted escapade of cookie love.

Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies 4

The sophisticated chocolate taste and buttery crumb native to all Milanos make the Pumpkin Spice Milano flavor unique and tasty. Yet for such a trendsetting cookie the pumpkin spice flavor doesn’t come through enough to make it a distinctively pumpkin product, while the hints of an attractive and creamy texture mitigate it to an awkward role player. As for that role, it’s just not cast right, and despite a promising beginning and intoxicating aroma, the Pumpkin Spice Milanos failed to make me fall in love with their take on the seasonal flavor.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 130 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Milano Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 7 ounces
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Quite possibly one of the most enjoyable smelling cookies in creation. Buttery Milano cookie. Rich milk chocolate flavor. Pumpkin flavored “cream” is slightly reminiscent of pumpkin cream cheese. That feeling you get when you buy Milanos.
Cons: Too little pumpkin filling. Slightly artificial pumpkin spice “cream.” Third wheel flavors. Death by cookie bag. Nineteenth century packaging of Milano cookies.