REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs

Pepperidge Farm Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs

I won a goldfish from the fair when I was ten. I was so excited holding him in his bag on the drive home. Oh the fun we were gonna have… Then, I realized all he did was swim in circles. About a month later I had to flush him down the toilet. That was basically the same experience as buying and eating Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs.

The instant you tear open the bag, you’re met with no smell. Seriously, there is barely a hint of a scent from these things. I’ve never had a cheese based snack that didn’t have a distinct aroma. These smell like cardboard.

The lack of smell didn’t bother me at first because artificially flavored cheese isn’t exactly my favorite cologne, but then I tasted them and, yeah, we’re just dealing with a bland product here.

The flavor itself reminded me of Wise Cheez Doodles, only with much less flavor. These are the cheese puff equivalent of Fruit Stripe gum. The instant you get hit with the cheese flavor, you lose it. The only other sensation I got was a “corny” aftertaste. Not “corny” like my writing, but “corny” like “I just ate corn.”   

I’ll tell you one flavor I never thought of once while eating these – grilled cheese.   There’s really nothing “grilled cheese” about them. I kinda figured you’d get a nice buttery element with the cheese, but nope. Nada. 

They could have tagged this with any description they wanted and it would have been on par with “Twisted Grilled Cheese.” That name is strictly a marketing ploy. I was really hoping they would have been more in line with the Flavor Blasted Cheddar Goldfish crackers, but alas, they were just weak cheese doodles.

Pepperidge Farm Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs 2

You’re probably wondering where the “twist” comes in. So am I. Each puff has little green sprinkles on them, which I assume are pepper flakes, because there is a small heat element. Very small. This of course is backed up by the fact that neither “pepper” nor anything really relating to “pepper” is listed in the ingredients. So…either way, the heat lingers on your tongue longer than the actual cheese flavor.

It’s not all bad though. The texture is the saving grace – on a scale from “fresh puffed Cheeto” to “stale Cap’n Crunch cereal piece,” it definitely lands closer to the former.  There is a nice light crisp to each bite, but in time, I could feel them shredding the roof of my mouth.

And ya know why? Because I’m still eating them as I type. Here I am, talking about how boring these Goldfish are, yet they’re going down like water…which is ironic because I think Pepperidge Farm’s main reason for shaping their crackers like fish was due to the fact they pair so well with water. I’ve never eaten any variety of Goldfish without chugging a bottle of H2O due to excessive salt dehydration. These are certainly no different. Salt city.

Pepperidge Farm Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs 3

Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs are probably the worst Goldfish product I’ve ever had. Not to go all superficial on you guys, but they aren’t even as cute as regular goldfish. They’re fatter and more squished in appearance. There’s a certain sadness hidden behind each of those smiles. Although to be fair to Twisted Grilled Cheese, the original Cheddar sets an unrealistic standard for Goldfish alike. Real Goldfish have curves.

So, in conclusion, are these better than most puffed cheese snacks? No. Are they better than regular cheddar Goldfish crackers? Not even close.

There are so many cheesy alternatives in the supermarket, there’s almost no reason to buy these unless you are a Goldfish completist. Still, I can’t give them a super low score because of their inherent eatability – which I’m being told is not a word. Tomato, tuh-ma-toe.

(Nutrition Facts – 1.1 oz – 140 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, .5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 260 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Pepperidge Farm Twisted Grilled Cheese Goldfish Puffs
Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 6 oz. bag
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Light and crisp. Addicting. Snack smiles back. Catchy advertising jingles of yore.
Cons: Bland. Salty. Mouth roof rippers. False grilled cheese advertising. Weakest twist since M. Night’s most recent flick.

REVIEW: Burger King Red Velvet Oreo Shake

Burger King Red Velvet Shake

Red.

It’s the color of love.

It’s also the color of anger.

So I guess it’s fitting I loved the idea of Burger King’s new Red Velvet Oreo Shake, but I’m angry it didn’t have much of that cream cheese flavor that most of us know and love…or are completely sick of seeing after the blitz of red velvet-flavored candy, cookies, and ice cream during the Valentine’s season.

Burger King describes their Red Velvet Oreo Shake as a cream cheese and chocolate flavored shake with Oreo cookie crumbles. But what they didn’t mention is how increDYEble their shake is. It looks like a regular Burger King Oreo Shake with enough red food coloring to make the Kool-Aid Man say, “Whoa! Whoa! Why don’t you tone the red down a bit!”

The color of the shake makes it look like a Cherry ICEE, which is something Burger King also offers and it has the same clothing staining and tongue reddening ability as the Red Velvet Oreo Shake. But the red does make it look a bit romantic. Too bad Burger King missed out on it getting lost among the deluge of red velvet-flavored products during January and February.

According to the picture on Burger King’s website and a number of photos on Twitter, the shake is supposed to come with whipped cream topped with Oreo crumbles. Mine did not. But there were a lot of Oreo crumbs floating in the Red Velvet Sea in my cup.

Burger King Red Velvet Shake Closeup

I haven’t had a regular Burger King Oreo Shake in a very long time, so I don’t remember if the Oreo crumbles have always been small. The Oreo Shake at Jack in the Box has well-sized chunks that I can crunch with my molars, but the Oreo crumbles in this Burger King shake seem to be more like Oreo dust.

Oh, in case you were wondering, they do not use Red Velvet Oreo Cookies. But that definitely would’ve been a nice touch.

The Red Velvet Oreo Shake tastes like a regular Oreo Shake. The chocolate flavoring enhances the Oreo crumbs, but, as I mentioned earlier, it’s hard to notice the cream cheese flavor. Perhaps Burger King should’ve put as much cream cheese flavoring as they did red food coloring, because if the cream cheese popped more, this would’ve been a sugary winner.

Overall, Burger King’s Red Velvet Oreo Shake gets two out of the three things right when it comes to imitating Red Velvet Cake. A little bit of chocolate flavor…check. Lots of red food coloring…triple check. Tangy cream cheese flavor…not really.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 oz. – 630 calories, 17 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 520 milligrams of sodium, 108 grams of carbohydrates, 90 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein.)

Item: Burger King Red Velvet Oreo Shake
Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: Medium (16 oz.)
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: It tastes like a regular Oreo Shake. Looks pretty. Chocolate flavoring enhances Oreo crumbles.
Cons: It tastes like a regular Oreo Shake. Cream cheese flavor doesn’t stand out. Clothes staining. Oreo crumbles are small compared with other fast food Oreo shakes. Not a thick milkshake.

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter and Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt

Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter and Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt

The Muffaletta.

The Bánh mì.

The Fat Darrell.

What do all three of these sandwiches have in common, aside from being excellent examples in regional specialties with cult-like followings?

They’re all, unequivocally, the three least desirable sandwiches on the planet earth to make a yogurt flavor out of.

Of course, this begs the question of why in God’s good name would you want to make yogurt that tastes like a sandwich? Granted, I think of a lot of weird shit when I’m standing at an open fridge thinking “geez what’s for lunch?” But to tell you the truth this has never really crossed my mind until Trader Joe’s debuted their Peanut Butter and Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt.

That’s correct — with nonfat Greek yogurt, as if Greek yogurt has been reduced to some third-rate opening act. Ok by me, if Trader Joe can pull it off. Let’s be real though, putting peanut butter and jelly into a yogurt isn’t like putting peanut butter and jelly into a Pop-Tart. No, this is something only a man in a Hawaiian shirt would be capable of pulling off.

Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter and Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt 2

For something produced by a company that supports such an eclectic sense of style, the look and feel of the yogurt leaves much to be desired. It’s more viscous than Greek yogurt ever should be, with a texture reminiscent of nonfat light yogurt that’s been sitting on the counter for too long. The color is, in its most flattering sense, a somewhat stained shade of beige that might adorn a dilapidated beach house. In less flattering terms, the color of your dog’s throw-up.

Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter and Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt 3

Moving right along, I’m struck by the presence of small strawberry seeds in the yogurt, a welcomed sign given my uncompromising position in the highly contentious issue of grape vs. strawberry jelly (no offense to you grape jelly loving heathens out there). Yet when I dip my spoon into the gloptuously gloopy mélange of peanut butter and jelly with yogurt, I’m just not getting that burst of unpretentious strawberry jelly I expect. It’s there, certainly, but the prevailing taste is peanut butter. Like real, seriously roasted and even stick-to-your-throat, peanut butter.

This is both supremely exciting and altogether disconcerting.

Let me explain. If it hasn’t occurred to you before now, the bread component is of unquestionable value to the heart and soul of peanut butter and jelly. Not just the sandwich, but peanut butter and jelly. Its glutinous texture and non-offensive taste serve as the perfect medium for the flavors to come together, a perfect balance of salty and sweet to mingle in unison to a Strauss Waltz. Get rid of the bread, or at least something functioning as bread (as with a Pop-Tart) and you remove that which allows the flavors to register in the familiar sense to the taste buds. Not being a taste bud I can’t speak with absolute certainty, but I’m pretty sure each spoonful caused those little guys to send a WTF meme to my brain.

Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter and Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt 4

There are a few other minor issues which add to this quandary; a slightly noticeable taste of peanut butter extract (which can be bitter), while the tartness standard in regular Greek yogurt isn’t quite offset by the strawberry sweetness. Probably the most noticeable, though, is the absence of a salty component. A salty peanut butter is the jam to my perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich, but the saltiness hardly registers with only 40 milligrams of sodium per container.

Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter and Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt captures the peanut butter taste we all know and love, but it does so in such an unfamiliar medium that even longtime PB&J fiends will find something  disconcerting about taking the plunge with their spoon. Coupled with a tart aftertaste which just has no place with the PB&J flavor profile, it makes for a novelty snack and proof that iconic sandwich flavors aren’t complexly off limits to being shoved into yogurt. But seriously, it’s weird, and one can only handle so much weird at a time from Trader Joe.

(Nutrition Facts – 170 calories, 6 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 14 grams of sugar, 14 grams of protein, 10 % calcium, and 4% iron.)

Item: Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter and Jelly with Nonfat Greek Yogurt
Purchased Price: 99 cents
Size: 5.3 oz.
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Nails the peanut butter and jelly flavor with uncanny accuracy. Real bits of strawberry. Natural ingredients. No crusts. Probably much better than a cheesesteak flavored yogurt.
Cons: Missing the bread. Peanut butter lacks salty component to add to salty-sweet synergy. Strawberry isn’t as sweet as it should be. Tart aftertaste is just weird. The single most aesthetically displeasing product ever manufactured by a man in a Hawaiian shirt.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco

Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco with Jalapeño Honey

I’m no Spock, but the price for Taco Bell’s new Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco is highly illogical.

Taco Bell is known for having cheap food. Breakfast menu items at restaurants are usually cheaper than what’s offered for lunch and dinner. So why is Taco Bell’s Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco on the breakfast menu so damn expensive? It’s a piece of breaded chicken in a flat biscuit with a sauce. That’s it.

I paid $3.79 for mine. Granted, as I’ve mentioned before, I live on a rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where most things are subjected to something called the “Paradise Tax.” But my fellow fast food bloggers paid prices that I would consider high for a taco. Ryan at Grub Grade paid $2.79 and Q at Brand Eating paid $2.69. If you’re a morning grump, I imagine the price of a Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco and seeing what you get for that price will make your disposition worse.

The flat biscuit is as pliable as a pancake and has a little buttery flavor, but its less sturdy than its predecessor, the Waffle Taco. After the first bite, the biscuit split at the fold due to the biscuit’s dryness. If there were smaller ingredients, like Taco Bell’s bacon bits, I imagine the biscuit falling apart would cause a mess. But since there just a chicken finger and sauce, there’s no worries about the taco’s contents falling out.

Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco Closeup

The lightly seasoned Crispy Chicken has a breading that has crushed tortilla chips. It’s surprisingly crispy, even after a car trip ride home, but the pressed chicken was as thin as the biscuit.

When you order the Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco, you have the option of getting it with either Jalapeño Honey or Country Gravy. I tried both. They came in small take out sauce containers that had enough sauce for two Biscuit Tacos. It’s different than the syrup that came with Taco Bell’s Waffle Taco, which was in a McNugget sauce-like container.

Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco with Sausage Gravy

If I were to order these Biscuit Tacos again, I would definitely get the Jalapeño Honey over the Country Gravy because the white peppery gravy is bland. I think it would go well with Taco Bell’s sausage, because they would enhance each other. But I can’t say it does the same with the Crispy Chicken.

But I can say the Jalapeño Honey and the lightly seasoned Crispy Chicken do enhance each other. The Jalapeño Honey is sweet, thick, sweet, tangy, sweet, and has a slight kick. The two go together well enough that they almost make me forget about the biscuit falling apart, the thinness of the chicken, and the Biscuit Taco’s price.

Instead of special Biscuit Taco-labeled sleeves, my Taco Bell Biscuit Tacos rocked Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Taco sleeves. I don’t know if it was a mistake caused by the fast pace in a fast food kitchen or if they ran out of the Biscuit Taco sleeves. But after eating these Crispy Chicken Biscuit Tacos, I feel they were appropriate because I wish I ate a Doritos Locos Tacos instead of the one with Country Gravy and I wish the Jalapeño Honey one, while tasty and definitely better than any Waffle Taco, was the same price as a Doritos Locos Taco.

(Nutrition Facts – Jalapeño Honey – 470 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 1030 milligrams of sodium, 63 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein. Country Gravy – 390 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 960 milligrams of sodium, 40 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Crispy Chicken Biscuit Taco
Purchased Price: $3.79 each*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Jalapeño Honey)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Country Gravy)
Pros: Jalapeño Honey. Chicken has breading with frickin’ crushed tortilla chips. Crispy chicken remained crispy even after a car ride home. Amount of sauce given was more than enough.
Cons: Country Gravy. Pricey for what you get. Thin biscuit was a bit dry and easily cracks at the fold. Chicken was as thin as the biscuit.

*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: Little Caesars Bacon Wrapped Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza

Little Caesars Bacon Wrapped Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza

That mascot dude can only say one word, right? All these years and Little Caesars just propped this guy up—handicap and all—and let him be the clown prince face of the company.

“Pizza! Pizza!”

Translation: “Please pick up my kids after school. I have to work late tonight.”

“Pizza! Pizza!”

Translation: “Please. I don’t want any more pizza.”

Well, say hello hello to the new Bacon Wrapped Crust Deep! Deep! Dish Pizza. And judging from the amount of pork on this thing, they taught Caesar to say another word. “Bacon! Bacon! Bacon! Bacon! Bacon! Bacon! Bacon! Bacon!” That’s eight times, said by four Little Caesar guys, which is enough fellas to be pallbearers at my funeral after I die from bacon-itis (a.k.a. heart disease).

Little Caesars Bacon Wrapped Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza 3

The pizza is a “Detroit style” deep dish with bacon wrapped around the corners and with bacon bits sprinkled on top. I’m not completely sure what Detroit style deep dish is, but if this is any representation, it originated from a Detroit elementary school lunch program.

It’s crazy (like their bread!) that a pizza can be so greasy yet so dry and bready in the middle. But we’re here for the bacon. And the bacon presents a dichotomy. At first bite, the bacon on the crust is not as salty as expected, thus less tasty. It is fairly crispy and adds a slight textural curveball, although it overshadows the existing deep dish crust instead of amplifying it. A few slices in, however, it’s better that the saltiness is turned down a bit as pizza eating is a marathon and not a sprint. It’s so much of a marathon, in fact, that they’re adding it to the Olympics. But the Winter Olympics. Cross country ski a while, shoot a rifle, and then scarf down a personal pan pizza.

Little Caesars Bacon Wrapped Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza 4

The bacon bits are similarly bland-ish and while the bacon that lines the crust adds a small amount of smoky flavor, the bits just add grease and a tiny bit of sweetness. To be fair, I’ve seen pictures of other people’s orders and it seems like they spilled way more on my pizza and decided I look like some sort of pork beast that wouldn’t mind. They half-pegged me. I am a pork beast, but I did mind a little bit. The pepperoni did its job fine but frankly it was out-smoked by its meat cousin. A different ingredient could have expanded the flavor dynamics a bit more. This pork beast disapproves.

The difference between this one and the regular non-bacon deep dish pizza is four bucks. You’re probably better off frying some up and placing it on top of the pie yourself for that price. I don’t think the bacon they use is great quality and the promise of a bacon wrapped crust does not enhance the flavors any more than just eating some bacon alongside some cheap pizza. That’s where we’re at, people. I just wrote “a bacon wrapped crust does not enhance…” You bastards. You broke bacon.

Little Caesars Bacon Wrapped Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza 2

The aforementioned elementary school quality does tick off some sort of nostalgia box, though. The spongy dough punctuated with a greasy slick finish of lubricated cheese. Takes me back to pogs, algebra, and reading out loud in class.

Oh, gorsh. Imagine Little Caesar reading out loud in class.

“Kids, turn to page 67 of Animal Farm. Caesar, can you read for us?”

“Pizza! Pizza! Pizza… Pizza? Pizza. Pizza.”

“You can tell Orwell is paralleling the Bolshevik Revolution because of the tone in which Caesar said ‘pizza.’”

Welp, that mascot dude found a job and made a decent living after all. I hope he gets to date Wendy from Wendy’s (the older one, not the little kid). God bless America, America.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 slice – 450 calories, 23 grams of fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, and 830 milligrams of sodium.)

Item: Little Caesars Bacon Wrapped Crust DEEP! DEEP! Dish Pizza
Purchased Price: $12
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Little Caesars
Rating: 5 out of 10
Pros: Smoky flavor from bacon comes through a bit. Not prohibitively salty. Comforting as bready pizza.
Cons: Greasy. Bready ass crust. Bacon on pizza is just that, nothing more.