REVIEW: Planters Banana Sundae Mix

Planters Banana Sundae Mix

Why does Mr. Peanut walk with a cane?

Because he has “planter” warts.

I said, because he has plan– BOOOOOOO!

Now that I put that visual in your heads, who’s hungry?!

I absolutely love banana snacks. If an ice cream joint has banana on their flavor list, that’s my new spot. Ya know how Apple fans camp outside stores for days to get a new iPhone? I do that in anticipation of new banana snacks hitting the shelves.

Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but the point stands – I love me some banana, and I don’t even care if you take that sentence out of context.

So with that said, when I saw Planters put out a snack mix boasting banana as the main attraction, I had to try it. Surely there was no way this mix could possibly disappoint a rabid banana lover such as me, right?


Can we just let banana be the star for once?!

Planters Banana Sundae Mix 2

The mix consists of honey roasted peanuts, chocolate covered peanuts, vanilla yogurt covered peanuts, strawberry covered peanuts and boring old, hard as a rock banana chips. What a letdown.

Unless the banana chip is the first thing you bite into, that flavor gets lost in the shuffle. The chocolate and sugary yogurts instantly overpower it.

Those coated pieces are way too big. I wish they were all 25 percent smaller at least, and I wish they mixed in a banana yogurt coated peanut to go with the rest.

The vanilla yogurt covered peanuts are oddly flavorless. The strawberry peanuts don’t pack much flavor either. I actually forgot they were there. I’m a huge fan of yogurt covered raisins and this coating pales in comparison to what I’m used to. Also, I know raisins don’t really mesh with this flavor profile, but I was really missing that texture in every bite.

The chocolate candy covered peanut is the star of the mix. They taste like slightly softer peanut M&Ms. Outside of the honey roasted peanuts, they were the only ingredient I’d eat a bag of by themselves. But this isn’t a “chocolate” mix, it’s a “banana” sundae mix. I didn’t sign up for overpowering chocolate.

This is a trail mix though, so the point is to eat everything at once. And as a whole, it’s reasonably successful. Does it taste like a banana sundae? Not really. Maybe one out of five bites might taste like one.

It’s almost like you’re eating a handful of Goobers. The chocolate and the peanut crunch come to the forefront more than anything else.

Planters Banana Sundae Mix 3

And with that in mind, the fact there are two yogurt coated peanuts, honey roasted peanuts, lightly caramelized banana chips, and giant chocolate balls makes this a very sweet trail mix. Tossing a few regular salted peanuts in the mix probably wouldn’t have hurt at all. I prefer my mixes to have a sweet and salty balance. The sugar lingers in your mouth, so while it’s not a big bag, I had no desire to finish it in one sitting.

I love bananas in their true form, but I love them even more in their artificial form. They loaded this mix with chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry candy coatings and just arbitrarily threw in little chunks of banana chips. There should have been multiple banana varieties. Someone get Mr. Peanut on the horn, I have a bone to pick with him.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 Tbsp – 150 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 3 gram of protein..)

Item: Planters Banana Sundae Mix
Purchased Price: $2.94
Size: 6 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Anything with banana is still decent. Chocolate pieces were great. Satisfies sugar craving. Honey roasted peanuts.
Cons: Banana flavor gets lost. Ridiculous 3 Tbsp serving size. Corny dad jokes, Yogurt pieces are too big and have a weak flavor.

QUICK ENERGY DRINK REVIEW: Muscle Monster Banana Energy Shake

Muscle Monster Banana Energy Shake

The Muscle Monster Banana Energy Shake has 160 milligrams of caffeine, so this review will have exactly 160 words.

This energy shake gets its banana flavor from banana puree and natural flavor; its 25 grams of protein from ultrafiltered skim milk, reduced fat milk, and calcium caseinate; and its sweet, sweet caffeine from sweet, sweet caffeine.

Thanks to the banana puree, the first two or three sips were pleasant and reminded me of banana NesQuik. But then all the energy ingredients seemed to turn the flavor into bizzaro banana.

Look, before this I loved ALL banana flavored products. I even love those hated banana Runts. But this drink proves I don’t love ALL banana products. After the first few sips the banana flavor got weak, the bitterness from the energy ingredients stood out, and the aftertaste was as unpleasant as most sugar-free energy drinks.

I finished the can, but I wouldn’t buy it again. It isn’t terrible, it’s just tolerable.

Muscle Monster Banana Energy Shake 2

Purchased Price: $4.62 for 2
Size: 15 oz. cans
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (one can) 200 calories, 35 calories from fat, calories from fat, 4 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 410 milligrams of sodium, 780 milligrams of potassium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of sugar, 25 grams of protein, 90% vitamin C, 60% calcium, 190% riboflavin, 190% niacin, and 190% vitamin B6.

REVIEW: Hershey’s S’mores Pudding

Hershey's S'mores Pudding

Every time I’ve had s’mores, whether it’s at a barbecue using the hot coals to toast marshmallows or at a Boy Scout camp I really didn’t want to be at and faked dehydration to try to get a one way ticket home, I used Hershey’s chocolate. And I’m sure for many of you that chocolate from Pennsylvania is also what you use for s’mores.

Hershey’s is taking advantage of its chocolate being the default candy choice for s’mores by using it to sell pudding that’s not made by Hershey’s, but Kraft.

Hershey’s S’mores Pudding is a layered dessert. The top layer, I assume by its color, is supposed to be marshmallow flavored. Also, the top layer, I assume because there aren’t any actual graham cracker bits in the pudding, is also graham flavored.

It has an airy texture that I believe Yoplait and Jif would call “whipped” and Jello would call “mousse.” Well, I’d like to call it not marshmallow-y or graham cracker-y.

The bottom layer is chocolate pudding made with real Hershey’s cocoa. Sure, I’ll believe what the packaging says, even though my tongue thinks it tastes similar to other chocolate pudding served in plastic cups with foil lids.

Hershey's S'mores Pudding 2

When both layers are consumed together, it does remind me of s’mores eaten around the campfire in the middle of a forest, if those s’mores were made with just chocolate because someone forgot to bring marshmallows and graham crackers and it’s a pain to get them because we’re in the middle of a frickin’ forest, Steve.

The top whipped layer does change the flavor of the chocolate pudding, but not really in a good way. Oddly, the top layer has a bit of a cocoa flavor, which you’d think would enhance the chocolate pudding. But instead of enhancing, it lessens its flavor. I know that doesn’t make sense, but going camping with chocolate and no marshmallows and graham crackers also makes no sense, Steve.

Hershey’s S’mores Pudding is perfectly fine as a chocolate pudding and the two different textures are nice, but don’t expect memories of summer campfires to appear in your head as you scoop it into your mouth because I don’t think s’mores when I eat it. The only way you can experience s’mores with this pudding is if you rub some of it on your hands, making it appear to be as messy as eating an actual s’more.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 snack – 110 calories, 25 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, 4% vitamin A, 4% calcium, and 2% iron.)

Item: Hershey’s S’mores Pudding
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 4 pack
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Fine as a chocolate pudding. Two different textures are nice. Barbecues.
Cons: Doesn’t taste like s’mores. Top whipped layer doesn’t enhance bottom chocolate pudding. Can’t tell Hershey’s cocoa is being used. Forgetting the marshmallows and graham crackers when going camping, Steve.

REVIEW: Harvey’s Nacho Cheese Sticks (Canada)

Harvey's Nacho Cheese Sticks (Canada)

I feel like I should be the target audience for the Nacho Cheese Sticks at Harvey’s.

If you’re going to deep fry something that’s not normally fried, I’m gonna want to eat that. No; I’m going to demand to eat that. I’m going to respectfully request that you take it straight from the fryer and put it directly in my mouth. Will I suffer severe burns? Probably. But I’ll drive to the hospital with a smile on my (horribly burned) face.

There’s even a place in my heart for nacho cheese –- you know, that gloppy, unnaturally smooth, vaguely jalapeno-tinged cheesefood that’s the approximate colour of an orange safety vest? I love that stuff. It tastes like nothing even resembling real cheese, but I love it all the same. I could eat it by the barrel.  
So as a connoisseur of unusual fried foods and neon orange nacho cheese sauce, I was all over these. I went to Harvey’s to buy them like a cartoon character floating towards a pie.

An order comes with five pieces, each about the size of a small mozzarella stick, along with a small container of zesty sauce for dipping.

I’m sure my high expectations didn’t help, but man… what the heck, Harvey’s? Seriously: now I know how Obi-Wan felt in Revenge of the Sith. How could something so awesome in theory be so middling in execution?

The main ingredient here — the cheese — is just not very good. It’s like someone decided to mix nacho cheese sauce with bottom-of-the-barrel supermarket cheddar. It tastes muddled, without the comforting, smooth blandness of real-deal nacho cheese, or the satisfying sharpness of real cheddar. It’s somewhere in between, in some kind of horrifying flavour limbo where deliciousness goes to die. No jalapeno flavour, either, which is unfortunate.

The texture, too, is somewhere between real and fake; more plasticky than smooth. It’s essentially the worst of both worlds: too fake to be real cheddar, and too real to be nacho cheese.

Harvey's Nacho Cheese Sticks (Canada) 2

The breading is okay. It’s crispy and fried, so it fits the bill on that level, but the taste leaves something to be desired. Despite its nacho appearances, it mostly has the same generic flavour that you’ll find on any number of frozen breaded chicken strips or onion rings. The tortilla flavour doesn’t stand out nearly as much as it should.

Harvey's Nacho Cheese Sticks (Canada) 3

They’re not even completely filled with cheese. A couple were stuffed from end to end, but the rest were mostly hollow, with a gooey coating of cheese lining the inside. This might have been a bigger issue, but since the cheese wasn’t even that great to start with, I didn’t really mind.

The dipping sauce could have helped to round out the middling flavour of these sticks, but it’s too zesty for its own good; it clashes rather than compliments. It tastes completely out of place.

I really, really wanted to like these. Instead, I got Fredo’d. Nothing about them was nearly as delicious as it should have been.

You broke my heart, Harvey’s. You broke my heart.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on the Harvey’s website.)

Item: Harvey’s Nacho Cheese Sticks (Canada)
Purchased Price: $2.99 (CAN)
Size: 5 pieces
Purchased at: Harvey’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Crispy and fried. Melty cheese.
Cons: Taste and texture of the cheese leaves a lot to be desired. Useless dipping sauce. Betrayal. Anakin Skywalker. Fredo Corleone.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Dare Devil Loaded Grillers

Taco Bell Dare Devil Loaded Grillers

I have a confession, dear readers.

I am a weenie.

That’s right: I’m the guy who needs a tissue after a single Flaming Hot Cheeto. I’m the guy who thinks playing Doritos Roulette is cruel and unusual punishment. And Thai food? More like “I want to die food.”

And I’ve been mocked for it my whole life.

That’s why taking on the challenge of Taco Bell’s new Dare Devil Loaded Grillers, which come in three escalating levels of spiciness, was a personal quest for me. If I can handle these, maybe I can regain some self-respect. No longer will I quiver before a bottle of Sriracha.

So without further ado, allow me to channel my inner Dante and dive into these three tortilla-wrapped circles of Hell.

Taco Bell Dare Devil Loaded Grillers 2

First up was Mild Chipotle. The wrapper seemed to mock me with its condescending tone and mellow yellow colors. The insides were kinda squished together, but between the many, thick layers of tortilla were scant amounts of beef, plenty of gooey cheese, strangely damp wads of red corn chips, and the tempting beige sauce.

Flavor-wise, the toasty, grilled flour of the tortilla and the slight edge of the cheese dominated all else, with the sauce backing it up with a savory creaminess that had a palpably high fattiness. Little meatiness could be found, and the chips got too soggy to lend any sort of fun crunch. Regardless, as a fan of quesadillas, this tasted a lot like a pleasantly zesty one.

As for the spice, after finishing a bite I noticed a relaxed buzz in the back of my throat, but nothing even my greenhorn tongue couldn’t handle.

Taco Bell Dare Devil Loaded Grillers 3

Kicking it up a notch (shame on Taco Bell for not working in the phrase “kick it up a nacho” somehow), I bit into the Hot Habanero griller. Aesthetically, it looked nearly identical to its plain-Jane little brother, except with a much thinner and angrier looking orange layer of creamy sauce.

Compared to Chipotle, the taste here was like a “hot beef injection.” Wait, wait. That’s not what I mean. Don’t Google that, please. But anyway, the noticeable tang of the pepper made the smoky, seasoned beef flavor much more prominent here, with undertones of garlic and black pepper. Our “chipper” friends manage to pop in with a brief, hot corniness, too.

The heat was a slow buildup, so much so that I thought I was safe until my tongue and throat started to tingle and whimper like a dog who played with a porcupine (thank my German Shorthair, who took a faceful of quills to bring us that analogy). Fortunately, the steady burn wasn’t nearly intense enough that a long swig of milk couldn’t wash it out.

Taco Bell Dare Devil Loaded Grillers 4

But then it was time for Fiery Ghost Pepper. It was to be my personal final boss: my Bowser, my Ganondorf, and my last mine in a tense game of Minesweeper. Unlike its creamy siblings, this one just oozed a sinister, bubbly red liquid (okay, maybe I imagined the bubbles).

In terms of flavor, I was barely able to sense a salty combo of meat and corn chips before the acrid acidity of the sauce took over, with the harsh, concentrated pepper flavor overwhelming and seeping into all else. Even the formerly friendly cheese betrayed me and became pasteurized magma.

Et tu, nacho?

To seasoned veterans of seasoned spice, the heat may not quite be “1,000,00 Scovilles,” but it was enough to make me say “Sco-ly s***!” My tongue went numb to flavor, my throat resonated with capsaicin, and trying to wash it down with milk was as futile as Smokey the Bear crying tears of disappointment onto a forest fire.

Taco Bell Dare Devil Loaded Grillers 5

For a total price of $3, the Dare Devil Grillers were a fun novelty, but outside of Chipotle, I can’t imagine buying any for an actual meal (though they are large enough for one), since the burn takes way from the familiar flavor, which you could easily get from many of Taco Bell’s other items.

Since I can see my word count here is already starting to rival Dante’s Divine Comedy, too, and since I’m still nursing a crispy tongue, I think a brief haiku summarizing each Griller will suffice:

Chipotle, my friend:
Cheesy, zesty mayo-filled
Beef quesadilla

Habanero, oh!
Peppered meat, slow-building heat
(That sounded dirty)

Ghost pepper: need Tums
Like Pompeii, heat buries taste
Ow ow ow, owww, ow!

(Nutrition Facts – Chipotle – 420 calories, 200 calories from fat, 22 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 940 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein. Habanero – 380 calories, 160 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 900 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein. Ghost Pepper – 400 calories, 180 calories from fat, 20 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 970 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 11 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Dare Devil Loaded Grillers
Purchased Price: $1 each
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Chipotle)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Habanero)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Ghost Pepper)
Pros: Flavorful beef with cheese and toasty flour tortilla. Unbeatable value. The sinful goodness of “palpably high fat content.” Conquering your personal Ganondorf.
Cons: Pain and heat mask flavor as you move up in heat. Only difference between Grillers is flavor emphasis. Soggy chips. The crushing betrayal of “pasteurized magma.”