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REVIEW: Post Limited Edition Honeycomb with Twisted Marshmallows Cereal

Written by | April 8, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Cereal, Post Cereals

Post Limited Edition Honeycomb with Twisted Marshmallows Cereal

Your kitchen, circa nineteen-ninety something. Your hair is shabby and your brain is in a fog after another week of grinding through pages of fractions and mitosis, but Saturday morning has finally yielded its sweet relief from the onerous oppression that is the sixth grade. You’ve been put on the spot all week long, but today, there’s no chance of giving the wrong answer. As you open the pantry and breathe in the scintillating aroma of dextrose and trisodium phosphate, you realize the correct answer is “all of the above.”

Hey look, I’m not casting judgment. We all mixed and matched our cereals in those days before chocolate combined with Cinnamon Toast Crunch and marshmallows found their way into Froot Loops. When you think about it, we had to. It was sheer evolution. How else was I suppose to recreate apple cinnamon waffles then to add Apple Cinnamon Cheerios to Waffle Crisp? But somewhere over the last fifteen years the fat cats at General Mills, Kellogg’s, and Post got wind of what we were up to. Like any good business people, they consulted the brightest minds in high-performance and highly refined grains, came up with a flowchart for these sorts of situations, and devised a plan for research and development. I imagine it went something like this:

Mr. Bob Post, CEO: What do we have on the agenda today? Ah yes, Honeycomb. Classic. Underrated. Consistent. The Andre Reed of cereals, if you will. But sales are down. How can we jazz it up?

Herbert Sherbert, Head of R&D: Chocolate!

Mr. Bob Post: Tried it. Absolutely abysmal. What else you got?

Herbert Sherbert: How about Cinnamon? I heard Apple Jacks was doing that now and the reviews have been great!

Mr. Bob Post: I like it, but we’ve tried that too. Just didn’t sell. Kids these days have no sense of nuance. Looks like we’ll have to go with Plan Ireland.

Herbert Sherbet: You mean Curtis Stone? I actually think he’s Australian…

Mr. Bob Post: No, you idiot. I mean that Irish cereal, whatyacall it, the one with marshmallows.

Herbert Sherbert: You mean Lucky Charms?

Mr. Bob Post: That’s the one! Lucky Charms! Now let’s marshmallowize this beeswax!

Post Limited Edition Honeycomb with Twisted Marshmallows Cereal Closeup

And so, through the miracles of capitalism, Post’s Limited Edition Honeycomb with Twisted Marshmallows was born. Why “Twisted”? Other than the squiggly line running down the marshmallows, I seriously have no idea. But considering hearts, stars, and horseshoes, clovers and blue moons were already taken, I guess the options were somewhat limited. In any event, it’s my experience that marshmallows can subtly, yet brilliantly, elevate what otherwise might be a plain cereal base. Lucky Charms is obviously the quintessential example, with the sturdy and crunchy oat pieces—small and not overly sweet on their own—pairing wonderfully with the bursts of sweetness provided by the ‘mallows.

Unfortunately, Honeycomb doesn’t derive such a boost from the marshmallows. The Honeycomb pieces themselves are fine; they have that just-right level of sweetness and gentle, non-toasted crunch which somehow holds its texture in milk. I’ve always kind of admired the strange savory taste of Honeycomb, which seems to blend just the right proportions of corn, oat, and honey flavor.

The thing that has always trouble me is the lack of a glaze. Other honey cereals like Honey Nut Cheerios and Honey Nut Chex have a sturdier glaze, which helps to retain the distinctive taste and crunch of the sweetened grain in milk. Honeycomb just doesn’t have it, though, and the pieces themselves become sort of bland when you let them soak.

Ideally the marshmallows would supply little bursts of twisted sweetness, but because of the bulky size of the Honeycomb pieces, the marshmallows get lost in the shuffle. When you do get the taste of the marshmallows, you get, well, the taste of a marshmallow. For some reason marshmallows work in some cereals and don’t work in others, and in this case, they don’t add anything.

In fairness, the cereal is much better as a snack, where the subtle honey flavor can shine without being slowly diffused and lost amidst the milk. The net effect of the marshmallows, though, doesn’t share in the improvement, and despite granting any given mouthful a bit more sweetness, they don’t contribute anything that makes this iteration of Honeycomb stand out from the original. It pains me to admit it, but I found the cereal to be altogether bland for something that advertising 12 grams of sugar per serving.

Where do cereal R&D people go after trying chocolate, cinnamon, and marshmallow versions of a classic, well, I just don’t have the answer. But it looks like they’ll be heading back to the drawing board soon enough, because this limited time only cereal just doesn’t deliver anything special.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 1/4 cup – 120 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of potassium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Post Limited Edition Honeycomb with Twisted Marshmallows Cereal
Purchased Price: $2.37
Size: 12.5 oz box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: If you like Honeycomb you’ll like this. Pretty good snacking cereal. Has a savory corn and oat element. Not having to pick out the marshmallows from Lucky Charms and add them to other cereals.
Cons: Marshmallows don’t add anything. Not nearly as good as Cinna-Graham Honeycomb, which was the shit before Post discontinued it. Doesn’t taste very sweet in milk. Missing the glazed crunch of other honey-flavored cereals. Hardly any fiber.

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REVIEW: Wendy’s Asian Cashew Chicken Salad

Written by | April 1, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Fast Food, Wendy's

Wendy's Asian Cashew Chicken Salad

Ah, the fast food salad. Perfect for those on a diet and in a hurry and who aren’t very picky and are already at the restaurant with a group and don’t mind dropping some decent change on some lean meat and a handful of greens.

If you fall into that flower-like Venn diagram of compromise, it means you’ve probably made some questionable decisions in your life to get to this place (Or you’re just a mom with kids… which means you’ve definitely made some questionable decisions. Bam! Pow! Splat!). Anyway, Wendy’s wants your sad money, so they rolled out this new thing, the Asian Cashew Chicken Salad.

It’s topped with chicken, edamame, red bell peppers, cucumbers, cashews and *takes deep breath* Marzetti Simply Dressed Light Spicy Asian Chili Vinaigrette dressing *ends deep breath*. Woo whee. That dressing name is so long it looks like a Panic! at the Disco song title, or a Jaden Smith tweet. Plus, it comes in packets and you put it on yourself (Cardio for the day!). It has a light peanut-y balsamic flavor and an escalating spice that initially lets the rest of the ingredients breathe a bit.

The chicken is pretty good—standard grilled fast food chicken, salty and warm. The red bell peppers taste like red bell peppers. Cucumbers are cucumbers. The edamame has burnt spots, because it’s “fire roasted” but there is no roast flavor in them and they kind of sit there helping out a little bit, attempting to round out the taste. The various lettuce mix is fine, crunchy and cold. The pieces of cashew come in their own baggy, as to not get soggy.

Here is where things get difficult. A salad with so many “heavy” items as this one has the problem of construction. You dump your own dressing. You dump your own cashews. There are never enough cashews. Sometimes Wendy’s might slip you two packets of dressing. Sometimes one. Your mileage may vary. What if you put all the dressing in one corner of the salad? You’re screwed.

It’s tough to collect a bit of slippery soybean, lettuce, cashew and bell pepper in one bite on a plastic fork. When that happens, it’s a good salad. But that mostly does not happen. It would be a different story if all the ingredients were individually bright (they’re not), and if the dressing pulled all the components together into a unified front (it doesn’t). The dressing progressively gets spicier and the subtle peanut flavoring gets overpowered at a point, losing any semblance of depth. With all the fork dancing around the plate scooping up the toppings to make perfect bites, the second half of the meal is straight up spicy lettuce.

The Asian Cashew Chicken Salad is actually very low in calories, but also costs a pretty penny. You must be shelling out for that diet. Weird, some of the fattest people I know are Asian (E. Honda, Sammo Hung, Totoro). All in all, it’s not bad, but it’s not great either. But when the planets align and Hanukkah lands on Thanksgiving again, and we are put in a position of purchasing a fast food salad, it’s a solidly okay bet.

So this might be the best it gets as far as fast food salads go, Moms With Kids. Then one day your kids will be at Wendy’s 3000 ordering a Western Cashew Chicken Salad. (Ingredients are the same but Future China now owns the planet.) But maybe it doesn’t have to be this way. Break the cycle. Go with a Baconator and a side of chili next time. Enjoy your life. Love yourself.

(Nutrition Facts – Full Size – 380 calories, 120 calories from fat, 13 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 90 milligrams of cholesterol, 970 milligrams of sodium, 1130 milligrams of potassium, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 18 grams of sugar, 6 grams of fiber, and 36 grams of protein.)

Item: Wendy’s Asian Cashew Chicken Salad
Purchased Price: $6.29
Size: Full size (half size available)
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Chicken is decent. When all components are in one bite, tastes pretty good.
Cons: Hard to get even distribution with ingredients. Back half of meal is just spice in mouth. Pretty expensive.

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REVIEW: Chewy Chips Ahoy! Mocha Chunk Ice Cream Creations

Written by | March 20, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Chips Ahoy!, Cookies

Chewy Chips Ahoy! Mocha Chunk Ice Cream Creations

1941: a time of crisis. A time of panic. A time when there was a shortage of All Good Things (flour, butter, sugar, joy). This resulted in a dusty cookie landscape worthy of a B-grade cult horror film. Bakeries left abandoned. Milk glasses untouched. Girl Scout cookies restricted to two boxes per buyer. TWO BOXES.

This all got me thinking: what if this were to happen today? What would I do? How would I survive? Would I be forced to resort to my savage pre-historic instincts? To wrestle, all deranged and googly-eyed, elbowing my way through crowds just to have my pick between Trefoils, Samoas, and Tagalongs???

Struck by a sudden, infinite panic of cookie loss (and without a noble Girl Scout in sight), I sped to my local Target, where I promptly swiped not one but all FOUR new Chips Ahoy! flavors. Basking in my flour/sugar variety, I pulled from the stash the sole cookie that would fill the empty dinosaur in my heart. The dinosaur that craves chocolate and coffee.

Chewy Chips Ahoy! Mocha Chunk Ice Cream Creations A Very Hungry Dinosaur

A very hungry dinosaur.

Straight from the plastic container, these cookies already promise the quelling of said hunger. A single waft from a freshly opened pack and you enter a wonderland filled with sensory bombardment. Circles! Chips! Dips and dots of chocolate-coffee stuff! Yes, I imagine the smell of these cookies could wipe away the Melancholies from my sad, sad neighbor who never cuts her grass.

But then I tried the dough.

You know that moment in Willy Wonka where Gene Wilder bites his crispy flower cup and sings a sorrowful little ditty? That’s exactly how I felt upon tasting these: the smell of everything I hoped for, now deflated, shuffled in the mix of a poof of very bland dough. It was not brown sugary. Not regular sugary. Not even artificially-sweetened, fake-sugared sugary. Nay, this dough tasted like air. Albeit, slightly soft, soft, chewy, chewy air, but air nonetheless.

Chewy Chips Ahoy! Mocha Chunk Ice Cream Creations Chewy chocolatey hotel coffee

Thankfully, there are a few good chips scattered about. The milk chocolate bits are fudgy and milky sweet, adding little pops of hyper-sugary sweetness. Rarer were the mocha chips, which resembled more of a hyper-milked, hotel-room coffee and veered toward overpowering in their Hampton Inn coffee flavor. It was like hoping for a Furi steel blade and getting an off-brand butter knife.

So, yes, I would’ve dug a sharper coffee note and maybe even a crispier, shortbread cookie, but, at the end of the day, these piddly preferences don’t make these morsels any less easy to eat. Indeed, I could eat these on a train. On a plane. On a boat. With a billy goat.

Or as they were destined to be served.

Chewy Chips Ahoy! Mocha Chunk Ice Cream Creations Untitled Cookie Tower #2

I call this “Untitled Cookie Tower #2.”

While somewhat “meh” on their own, these cookies delivered on their most standard promise: to be chewy, gluten-filled two-bite mocha-chipped mini cakes. I’m not quite sure why the dough demands to be so hum-drum, why there aren’t more chips or darker coffee flavors, or how a cookie inspired by a beverage qualifies it as a Ice Cream Creation, but what’s in a name? At the end of the day, my inner dinosaur is satisfied. Perhaps not frolicking in the daisies, but satisfied. That’ll do, Chips Ahoy, that’ll do.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugars, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Chewy Chips Ahoy! Mocha Chunk Ice Cream Creations
Purchased Price: $2.54
Size: 9.5 oz.
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Soft, soft, chewy, chewy. Tasty chocolate-y chips. Pops of coffee-caramel-ish chips. Smell cures the Melancholies. Reason to create “Untitled Cookie Tower #2.”
Cons: Overall feeling is “Meh.” Bland dough. Weak coffee flavor. The Unofficial 1941 Cookie Crisis. Sad neighbors who never cut their grass. Watching Gene Wilder crunch his coffee cup and get all hum-drum. Angry, unfed tyrannosaurus rex of the soul.

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REVIEW: KFC Big Boss (Canada)

Written by | March 19, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Fast Food, KFC

KFC The BIg Boss 2

When it comes to fast food gimmicks, few items can claim to be quite as successful as KFC’s Double Down, the cheese and bacon sandwich with two pieces of fried chicken as a bun. That thing hit the cultural zeitgeist like nobody’s business, and for a while there it seemed like everyone was talking about it.

It was with that in mind, I’m sure, that KFC Canada introduced the Big Boss, which is essentially a Big Mac, but with fried chicken patties instead of beef. It’s a tantalizing proposition that sounds just crazy enough to be delicious.

If you’ve had a Big Mac, then you know exactly what to expect: the shredded lettuce, pickles, onions, Thousand Island-esque special sauce, the three layers of bun, and the single slice of cheese. It’s literally a Big Mac with fried chicken instead of beef; KFC has done nothing to shake up the flavours to make it more chicken-appropriate.

I was actually pretty excited to try the Big Boss. I like excessive novelty sandwiches more than I should probably admit. You wanna replace the bun in a hamburger with grilled cheese sandwiches? Yeah, I’ll eat that! Wanna add more patties than any reasonable burger should contain? Sure, I’ll try it. Replace the bun with fried chicken? I’m all over that.

So it is with no small amount of sadness that I must report that the Big Boss is not particularly good.

KFC The Big Boss

The first thing I noticed was that this was maybe the most haphazardly-assembled sandwich I’ve ever been served at a fast food joint. I was planning on cutting it in half so I could get a picture of the midsection, but the whole thing was so precarious that I was honestly afraid that it would crumble into pieces if I messed with it too much. But of course, you can’t expect anything too pristine from a place like KFC; what really matters is the taste.

The patties are similar to what you’d find in a Big Crunch, but thinner. The breading is standard KFC fare, and it’s expectedly tasty. But man, the chicken itself is absurdly dry. It is surprisingly, unpleasantly dry. I’m not sure if it’s the thinness of the chicken or what, but it is considerably more dry than a standard KFC Big Crunch patty.

Compounding the dryness issue was the surfeit of bread which, like the chicken, was weirdly dry. I think it might have been a little bit stale, or maybe it was microwaved? I have a hard time accounting for how it got so dry. The lack of moisture from the sandwich itself certainly didn’t help matters.

My first few bites were just a punishing mass of dry chicken, bread, and unmelted cheese, not dissimilar in texture to trying to eat a handful of saltines. Things improved somewhat once I hit a pocket of sauce, onions, and pickles around the centre of the sandwich. Even then, this just made me long for the comparative magnificence of a Big Mac, as the sauce tasted almost identical to Mac sauce. I like Big Macs well enough, but it’s pretty much the greatest thing I’ve ever eaten compared to this ill-advised monstrosity of a sandwich.

I got unlucky, with a sandwich that appeared as though it had been assembled by an arthritic chimp. But even if it had been picture perfect, I still don’t think it would have been particularly good. The flavours just never cohere in any meaningful way. Beef and chicken are two very different things; just because something works with one, doesn’t mean it’s going to work with the other.

Sadly, the Big Boss is more conversation piece than viable sandwich. I’m sure a lot of people will try it, just out of sheer curiosity (the “LOLWTF a Big Mac with fried chicken patties!” factor), but I can’t imagine many will order it a second time. It’s pretty bad.

(Nutrition Facts – 600 calories, 30 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 900 grams of sodium, 53 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fibre, 7 grams of sugar, 29 grams of protein.)

Item: KFC Big Boss (Canada)
Purchased Price: $4.99 CAN
Size: N/A
Purchased at: KFC
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Tasty breading on the chicken patties. Sauce tastes a lot like a Big Mac’s.
Cons: Dry chicken. Dry bread. Dry overload. Unmelted cheese. Big Mac flavours taste incongruous with chicken. Messy if not assembled properly. Makes the ghost of Colonel Sanders cry.

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QUICK REVIEW: Nabisco Honey Maid Grahamfuls Cinnamon Creme

Written by | March 7, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, Crackers, Honey Maid

Nabisco Honey Maid Grahamfuls Cinnamon Creme

Purchased Price: $3.50
Size: 8 packs/box
Purchased at: Times Supermarket
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Smells like a cinnamon roll. The cinnamon creme enhances the graham cracker flavor. Fortified to provide 20 percent of your daily calcium. Graham crackers have a nice crispity crunch. No high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors. Made with 100% whole grain.
Cons: Cinnamon creme isn’t very cinnamon-y. Doesn’t taste much different than a regular graham cracker. Instead of saying “Natural Flavor with Other Natural Flavor,” can’t the box say “Natural Flavors.” Cinnamon is a bit too far down the ingredients list. The ends of the cinnamon creme sometimes look like a butt.

Nabisco Honey Maid Grahamfuls Cinnamon Creme Closeup

Nutrition Facts: 1 pack – 110 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1 gram of polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 55 milligrams of potassium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, 1 grams of protein, 20% calcium, and 4% iron.

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