REVIEW: Mtn Dew Mango Heat Game Fuel

Mtn Dew Mango Heat

If you asked me to write down the flavors that remind me of October, I assure you that “mango” and “spicy heat” would both fall pretty low on that list, right there near the bottom with “overcooked pork chop,” “accidentally ingested Reese’s wrapper,” and “neighborhood bully knuckle sandwich.”

There’s really no logical reason for Mountain Dew’s new Mango Heat Game Fuel to debut after summer, unless the titular flavors are meant to symbolize global warming and all the unsold overstock from Trader Joe’s recent mango mania. I understand that Mango Heat doesn’t need to make sense, since it’s only meant to tie-in with the upcoming video game Titanfall 2, but as a meticulous Halloween fanatic, I want everything I consume this month to taste appropriately spooktacular.

It’s why every steak I eat in October oozes blood, every pizza is extra saucy, and every PB&J has enough J to create an impressive splash zone around me when I bite into it.

So Mountain Dew should’ve just tied this drink to the new Resident Evil zombie game and called it “Blood Orange Game Fuel.” Because as I quickly found out, that’s what it tastes like, too.

Mtn Dew Mango Heat 2

Amidst the wails of my Spooky Sounds cassette tape and the annoyed groans of my upstairs neighbors, the fine carbonated hiss of my Dew became a welcome part of the spooky symphony. But nothing about my first sip screamed “mango!” to me. Instead, it tasted like a carbonated Hi-C Ecto-Cooler.

More specifically, it tasted like Mountain Dew took a carbonated Ecto Cooler, added a splash of Sunny D, tossed in a dash of black pepper, and mixed it all together—by using a Mango Dum-Dum sucker as the swizzle stick. In layman’s tastes, this means Mango Heat’s predominate flavor is “sugary artificial orange,” with a mildly biting tang and an even milder tropical fruitiness.

While its lack of mango is already lame enough to make an ordinary man go nuts, this Dew’s peppery heat is the disappointing icing on an already sad birthday cake—the kind of cake that misspells my name as “Don.” The promised heat isn’t spicy or burning: it’s just kind of annoying. After every sip, a tingling, unflavored aftertaste tickled the back of my throat like one of those sneezes that teases but never comes.

I tried swishing the Mango Heat around in my mouth to test for deeper flavor complexities, but this merely spread the Dew’s unpleasant slimy corn syrupiness around my mouth and made my dentist shudder in his sleep without knowing why.

Mtn Dew Mango Heat 3

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with this Dew’s angsty tangerine juice box flavor. Its “liquefied Velma Scooby-Doo fruit snacks” taste is perfectly pleasant when sipped in isolation. Yet I can’t but help compare Mango Heat to its similar-tasting Game Fuel brother: Citrus Cherry. Since Citrus Cherry is also back in stores, I wish Mountain Dew had been more experimental with this new Game Fuel flavor.

With a color as atomically orange as Mango Heat’s, Mountain Dew could’ve made a vanilla-tinged Orange Creamsicle Dew or a BuzzFeed-breaking Pumpkin Spice Dew. Heck, I would’ve even accepted a nationwide release of 2014’s legendary, nacho cheese-flavored “Dewritos” soda. It’s the most deviant time of year, yet Mountain Dew tried to play it a little too safe.

Mtn Dew Mango Heat 4

If you really like Hi-C’s Ecto-Cooler or Orange Lavaburst, Mtn Dew Mango Heat might still tickle your fancy as much as it does your trachea. The rest of us are better off using it as a glowing Halloween mood talisman.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bottle – 170 calories, 0 grams of fat, 100 milligrams of sodium, 46 grams of carbohydrates, 46 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $1.69
Size: 20 fl oz bottle
Purchased at: Kroger
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: A stinging high-five between an Orange Starburst and a pissed-off glass of Sunny D. A soda the color of melted jack-o-lanterns. Using carbonation for atmospheric effect. Ordering an “extra large, extra bloody” pizza from Papa John’s. Never having the chance to masochistically taste “Dewritos.”
Cons: Mango flavor that’s as faded as my summer memories. A heated aftertaste that’s as irritating as YouTube’s Annoying Orange. A palette-swapped Citrus Cherry doppelgänger. PB&J stains on my best white shirt. Unknowingly eating the brown wrapper on every Reese’s Cup until I was six (seriously).

REVIEW: Limited Edition Twix White

Limited Edition Twix White

I think the Walmart cashier was flirting with me when I bought this new Twix White. She smiled and made a little joke that I’m “not supposed to eat white after Labor Day.”

That’s actually what she said.

While I applaud her for not being a total mope, and while I did give her a courtesy laugh, that didn’t stop me from gazing at the self-service registers longingly.

I’d made my first blunder of the day; hopefully Twix White wouldn’t be the second.

Twix, which everyone knows stands for “Twiggy Sticks” have been available in the U.S. since 1969. Outside of a previous limited run in 2005, the white chocolate variety hasn’t been available until now. Just don’t get too attached, because these are also labeled “Limited Edition.”

The latest Twix commercials have informed me I’m supposed to pick a winner between the Right Twix bar and the Left Twix bar, so I ate them with that in mind.

Upon opening the package and taking a big whiff that basically smelled like nothing, I opted to go with the Left Twix cookie first. Yes, Twix insists on referring to itself as a “cookie” instead of a “candy bar,” which for some reason bugs me to no end. You’re a candy bar, Twix. Own it.

The texture of the Left Twix was exactly as I expected — perfect. Twix is one of my favorite candies texture wise, because of the delicious and easy to chew layer of caramel. I never have to worry about it getting stuck to my teeth because it immediately mixes with the crunchy cookie center and the outer chocolate so well.

Limited Edition Twix White 2

The White Chocolate coating had a standard white chocolate flavor I’d tasted in the past, but it was actually milder than I expected. Without that instant punch of chocolate, I feel like I definitely tasted the cookie and caramel a lot more here than with a normal Twix.

This might sound crazy, but between the caramel, the cookie, and the mild white chocolate, there was a slight saltiness in each bite. The white chocolate’s sweetness didn’t really shine through until the very end, and the aftertaste was still pretty weak.

Limited Edition Twix White 3

I’m not sure white chocolate, especially the kind used here, has enough flavor to carry a Twix bar. I guess I like my white chocolate to be overly sweet. I’m talking “have two bites then take a break” sweet. There isn’t as perfect a marriage of flavors here like there is in a regular Twix. Overall, I found the Left Twix to be pretty boring.

The Right Twix however was in-cred-ible! Wow! I don’t know what they’re doing over at Right Twix, but good lord was this “cookie” fantastic!

I’m just kidding. Those commercial are dumb. They tasted exactly the same — boring.

It’s a shame too, because this was one of the freshest Twix I’d had in a long time. Not since Mo, Sol, or Lem stole George Costanza’s Twix from that car dealership vending machine have I had a Twix this fresh, and I eat a lot of em. I already bought a bag of Mini Twix to give out to trick or treaters on Halloween. The bag won’t survive beyond October 25th. Believe me.

While these weren’t a huge hit for me, I do appreciate this slow burning trend of white chocolate-izing our favorite candy bars, and I really hope it continues until there are none left.

In the end, Twix White pales in comparison to regular Twix.

I’d appreciate a courtesy laugh for that one.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 230 calories, 110 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 78 cents
Size: 1.62 oz
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Great texture. The never failing Twix caramel. White chocolate-izing our favorite candy bars. The underrated Seinfeld episode I referenced. Well meaning cashiers. Great price.
Cons: Mild white chocolate. Twix not actually standing for “Twiggy Sticks.” Stupid ads. Twix shunning its candy bar heritage. Finishing the Halloween candy before Halloween. Courtesy laughs.

QUICK REVIEW: Hershey’s Caramel Apple Filled Milk Chocolates

Hershey's Caramel Apple Filled Milk Chocolates

The apple-flavored caramel oozing into my mouth once I broke it from its chocolatey womb was the only real satisfaction I got out of these new Hershey’s Caramel Apple Filled Milk Chocolates. The feeling took me back to the days when I ate Fruit Gushers or chewed bubble gum with a liquid center.

But once that caramel filling hit my taste buds, those pleasant memories turned into perplexing musings. There’s something off about the caramel. Maybe it’s the ingredient that’s trying to emulate the tartness of an apple. Maybe my taste buds are revolting because it expected pumpkin spice this time of year. I’m not sure.

But what I do know is that I opened this package a week ago and it’s still five-sixths full. Wait. Lemme go pessimistic because this is a negative review. It’s only one-sixth empty. I don’t even know if I want to give these away to trick-or-treaters for fear of retribution.

Look, I think the flavor is a bit off, but I can see others enjoying these chocolates. Maybe the trick-or-treaters will like them. It does have a flavor that most would instantly recognize as caramel apple. The exterior is the Hershey’s milk chocolate you know and love and have to suck off your fingers if you hold them for too long on a day that 75 degrees or warmer. And they do come in fun apple shapes. But, I don’t think the caramel works.

Hershey's Caramel Apple Filled Milk Chocolates 2

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 10 oz bag
Purchased at: Walgreens
Rating: 5 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (4 pieces) 190 calories, 80 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Brunchfast Bacon & Egg Chicken Sandwich

Jack in the Box Brunchfast Bacon & Egg Chicken Sandwich

It’s okay to admit Jack in the Box’s Bacon & Egg Chicken Sandwich looks tasty in the photo above. I won’t tell anyone. Okay, the cheese looks a bit plasticky, but so do the faces of many celebrities, but we still love them…Tom Cruise.

The sandwich features crispy all-white meat chicken topped with a fried egg, American cheese, hickory smoked bacon, and bacon mayo on a toasted English muffin. It’s part of Jack’s new Brunchfast menu that sounds like it’s available during a small window during the day, but is actually available all day.

While it looks good in the photo, I have to admit the sandwich doesn’t taste as good. My main issue with it is that it tasted too much like other chicken sandwiches I’ve had from Jack in the Box. The “breakfast” parts of the sandwich didn’t make it taste breakfast-y.

The fried egg added nothing to the flavor. It was pretty much the lettuce of the sandwich. The only way you’d know it’s there is if you had eyes to look at the sandwich or had eyes to see the milligrams of cholesterol it has by looking at its nutrition facts on Jack in the Box’s website. I thought the yolk would’ve made a difference, but it just blended in with the rest of the egg’s blandness. If the yolk was runny, then it might’ve added something, but that’s never going to happen due to food health concerns.

But the English muffin was worse. It had a spongy texture that’s more like a stale bun than what folks in London call a muffin. I don’t know if the FDA has rules regarding English muffins, but if I were to write them, I’d make sure that this wouldn’t be considered one.

Jack in the Box Brunchfast Bacon & Egg Chicken Sandwich 2

The hickory smoked bacon was fine. I’ve had it many times before. It added a nice smoky and chewy element to the sandwich. But the winner of Best Bacon Ingredient on the Bacon & Egg Chicken Sandwich goes to the bacon mayonnaise. It’s creamy and had a bacon flavor that was tastier than the actual bacon included. The breaded chicken had crispy edges, but was dry inside (not surprising). And the cheese kept the bacon from falling out and looked like something made by Fisher Price, but did nothing beyond that.

The Bacon & Egg Chicken Sandwich was not horrible, but there wasn’t anything about it that would make me want to get another, even the bacon mayo. Heck, I didn’t even feel like finishing it in one sitting. I ate half for Brunchfast and the other half for Linner.

(Nutrition Facts – 649 calories, 351 calories from fat, 39 grams of fat, 301 milligrams of cholesterol, 1629 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 37 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.99*
Size: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Bacon mayo was nice. Chicken was crispy on the edges. Available all day. Tom Cruise action movies. Cheese is the seat belt that’ll make sure the bacon never falls out.
Cons: Fried egg was the sandwich’s lettuce. Dry chicken. Tastes like other chicken sandwiches. “Breakfast” ingredients didn’t make it taste breakfast-y. Tom Cruise looking younger than most of us.

*Because I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, things are a bit pricier here. You’ll probably pay less than I did.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Limited Edition Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows

Kellogg’s Limited Edition Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows

Kellogg’s Limited Edition Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows remind me of my fourth grade Stormtrooper Halloween costume.

Like eight-year old Adam in awe of the theatrical release of the Stars Wars Special Edition movies, Tony the Tiger’s latest creation sets out to trick-or-treat with only the utmost respect for the ethos of Halloween.

Problem is, there’s some stiff competition. In my case, it was Luke, who ironically decided to trick-or-treat as a Stormtrooper the same year I did (Like, really? Your name is Luke and you decide to go as a Stormtrooper?)

Anyways, Luke’s costume kicked the crap out of mine. He was the kid with the lights and sound enhanced Stormtrooper carbine, specially crafted armor, and an actual helmet like those people who go to ComicCon. I, meanwhile, had a mask attached with a string, a cheap white smock with some black lines on it, and (because my parents hated weapons) a pillowcase stuffed with candy as my only armament.

In other words, Luke was the Count Chocula to my Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows, which, while okay, are quickly defrocked as an imitator to the chocolaty standard of limited edition Halloween cereals.

Kellogg’s Limited Edition Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows 2

To Kellogg’s credit, Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows get the job done as a snacking cereal. There’s a savory and sweet thing that goes on with the cocoa-glazed flakes, which still have that crunchy, malted corn aftertaste of original Frosted Flakes. But the cocoa flavor is mild and varies from flake to flake, while the marshmallows are just bad. Sure they look cool; a deconstructed skeleton beats the ambiguously-shaped blobs that Count Chocula claims are bats, but the Frosted Flakes marshmallows lack a sturdy texture ideal for snacking or a long soaking in milk.

And it’s in milk that Tony the Tiger’s Halloween cereal is stripped of its chocolate costume. The cocoa quickly flows off the flakes, but the end-milk, while darkly colored like a Halloween night, tastes nothing like the cocoa-infused milk left behind by Count Chocula, Cocoa Puffs, or other tier one chocolate cereals. Combined with the marshmallows, it’s just a hyper sweet bowl of milk with faraway (far, far away) notes of cocoa powder.

Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows are an okay novelty cereal that will do in a pinch, but like that flimsy Stormtrooper mask and loose-fitting “armored” smock that I wore for Halloween as a kid, the cereal is too easily unmasked. And with the chocolate covered spirit of Halloween in good and cocoa-powder stained hands with Count Chocula, Chocolate Frosted Flakes with Marshmallows probably won’t be making a repeat appearance in my pantry next year.

(Nutrition Facts – 30 grams – 100 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 150 mg of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 10 grams of sugars, and 1 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.74
Size: 9.5 oz. box
Purchased at: United Supermarket
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Enjoyable cocoa and milled corn flavor when eaten as a snack. Marshmallows provide a needed textural contrast to the crunchy frosted flakes. Creative use of a marshmallow artwork.
Cons: Not as chocolaty as Count Chocula and leaves nonexistent chocolate end-milk. Marshmallows aren’t as sturdy as Count Chocula. Wait, are the skeletons from people Tony the Tiger ate? My stupid fourth grade Halloween costume.