REVIEW: Limited Edition Cherry Cordial Delight Peeps

Limited Edition Cherry Cordial Delight Peeps

As far as childhood traumas go, cherry cordials are on the “Really, why didn’t you address this with your therapist?” list.

At seven years of age, my first efforts with cordials were an immediate disaster with red cherry, fondant, and shards of milk chocolate splashing all over my favorite Looney Tunes t-shirt (how I loved that shirt!). I tried to wash it out, but alas, not even Snuggle the Bear could save that humble garment. While I loved the taste of the cordial, fear of ruining the rest of my favorite t-shirts detracted me from ever returning to cherry cordials again.

Until today.

It seems Peeps, in all their tidy, poofy, non-goo-filled selves, are inviting me to make amends with my cherry cordial childhood traumas by putting those flavors into marshmallow form, which is a good thing because chocolate, cherry, and sugar? That’s a recipe for a party.

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Right out of the cellophane, the smell makes it clear that chocolate and cherry run the show. If you’ve ever wanted Febreze to make an air freshener that smells like maraschino cherries and brownie batter, this is for you: the bright, sugared cherry aroma completely absorbs the smell of anything within a two-foot radius.

And that smell immediately transports into the flavor. These fluffy little devils hold nothing back, going full-throttle for artificial cherry. Biting in, the red crystal sugar flecks crisp through before breaking into a white marshmallow fluffier than the luxury bath towels at the Ritz.

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The cherry flavor harkens back to a cherry popsicle or Skittle: a little tart, extremely sweet, and mildly bitter. The dark chocolate, while not astounding, is also not palm oil gunk.

On its own, it’s like a mock-up of a Dark Dove Promise, adding a woodsy note with a bit of brownie batter sweetness, but, when taken with the marshmallow, the chocolate gets swept away in the wake of cherry flavor. This can be overwhelming as the cherry, when taking in multiple bites, starts verging on medicinal, harkening back to days of tissues and trying to stomach cherry cough syrup. Those are sad days. There is no need for sad days.

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It has occurred to me that there will be a time, probably soon, in which I have a traumatic encounter with a chicken that somehow deters me from eating chickadee-shaped products. Until then, I will keep trying all the versions of Peeps, holding that particular fear, reluctance, and joy that comes with peculiar flavor efforts.

These particular Peeps could’ve suffered (as they sometimes do) by being a little too sweet, but the monitored three-chick pack kept things in check. The biggest downfall was the extent to which the fake cherry flavors muscled out the chocolate, but, taken as a whole, these reminded me of cordials: cherry takes the lead, fondant (or sugary marshmallow) stands as a sidekick, and chocolate is a background character. Not an unimportant character, per se. More like the Cabbage Vendor in Avatar: adding color and depth without being allotted much time for development.

All that said, if you love cherries, sugar, and chickadees that stare at you ominously, these are worth dishing out $1.99 to give ‘em a shot.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 Chicks – 150 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 10 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, Less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 28 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Limited Edition Cherry Cordial Delight Peeps
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 3 pack/1.5 oz.
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Cherry cordial flavors in marshmallow form. Cherry flavor similar to cherry Skittles. Quite puffy. Crispy sugar outside. No goo is involved. Non-palm-oil chocolate is used. The Cabbage Vendor in Avatar
Cons: Cherry overpowers chocolate. Red dye adds bitterness. Chickadees stare at you ominously. Childhood traumas involving cherry cordials. Non-childhood traumas involving chickens.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Even Thinner Wheat Thins

Limited Edition Even Thinner Wheat Thins

I. Hate. You. Limited Edition Even Thinner Wheat Thins.

While I’ve made the New Year’s resolution to lose weight for the umpteenth year, and will fail to stick to that resolution for the umpteenth year, you’re skinnier than the ALREADY SKINNY Wheat Thins. Yeah, I’m jealous…and jiggling a little as I stomp in anger, because again I never follow through with my annual New Year’s resolution.

I’m not bitter, but this new snack sounds like someone lost a bet. It’s as if two Nabisco executives were playing Wheat Thins football and one says to the other, “If I make this from across the boardroom, I can make whatever product I want no matter how cockamamy it is.” Then the other one said, “Deal.” And so here we are with thinner Wheat Thins.

So how much slimmer are these?

Since I don’t have an iPhone app that can measure them for me, I had to find an ancient instrument called a ruler. Regular Wheat Thins looked to be three millimeters, while these new ones appeared to be one-third skinnier. Suck it, iPhone! No, really. Suck it in if you want to be as skinny as these crackers.

A serving size of the thin version and thinner version have the same amount of calories, fat, carbs, fiber, sugar, and protein, so binge eating either box while binge watching Jessica Jones on Netflix, binge sitting on my couch, and binge putting up my legs on an ottoman will have the same nutritional result. Although the svelte ones do have 30 milligrams less sodium.

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Chain eating both varieties to figure out any difference in flavor made me blow past any serving sizes. You’d think if this newer variety was made out of the exact same ingredients as regular Wheat Thins, they would taste exactly like regular Wheat Thins. But, surprisingly, that’s not the case.

The nuttiness in the now chubby regular Wheat Thins is a bit more noticeable than in these slender ones. Although Nabisco isn’t promoting these as “diet,” their slightly lighter flavor is diet-like. But with that said, I think folks would only notice the difference if they were eating the two varieties one after another.

The cracker’s thinness did cause an issue with me. While stuffing my Wheat Thins hole with these skinnier crackers, I somehow sort of stabbed my upper palate…twice. No blood, but it did hurt a little. That thinness also makes these more crispy than crunchy, which is kind of nice because eating a lot of regular Wheat Thins tends to give my jaw a workout.

Now with all of that said, I don’t really hate these, but I think they’re silly. Tasty, but silly. Making Wheat Thins slimmer didn’t make them better, more snackable, or more appealing. It seems like Nabisco is trying to capitalize on the success of Oreo Thins by trying to figure out what other flagship brands they can turn thin. So I guess we’ll be seeing Chip Ahoy Thins soon.

(Nutrition Facts – 22 pieces – 140 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 90 milligrams of potassium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Limited Edition Even Thinner Wheat Thins
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 8.5 oz. box
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tasty. I don’t hate them. More crispy than crunchy so it doesn’t give my jaw a workout. Binge watching Netflix.
Cons: Silly idea. Slimmer doesn’t equal to them being better, more stackable, or more appealing. Stabbing my upper palate with them. Makes me feel bad about breaking my New Year’s resolution already.

REVIEW: Limited Time Only Salted Caramel Pringles

Limited Time Only Salted Caramel Pringles

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s time for a man with furry facial hair who’s wearing red to deliver something that will make your holidays brighter. I’m not talking about Santa. Nor am I talking about the Target pharmacy cashier who started growing his “playoff beard” early and is handing you the cold medication that makes you loopy.

I’m talking about the red bowtie-wearing Pringles guy, Julius Pringles. Or as I like to call him, J.P. Yup, we as tight as a Pringles can around my hand as I try to grab the crisps at the bottom.

It’s that time of year when J.P. brings out the sweet Pringles flavors. There’s been Pumpkin Pie Spice, White Chocolate Peppermint, Milk Chocolate, White Chocolate, Cinnamon & Sugar, and Pecan Pie. I’ve tried a number of them and my thoughts range from yum to “my holidays are slightly less brighter now.”

J.P.’s latest is Salted Caramel Pringles. It’s a flavor that was bound to happen since salted caramel, sea salt caramel, salt caramel, sea salted caramel, and all their ilk have made their way onto every snack known to human*.

*probably not accurate

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After pulling back the lid, I smelled a odd, sweet aroma. It was also familiar. The sea salt caramel seasoning is either transparent or potato crisp colored because these potato crisps look like plain old Pringles.

Remember when I said they smelled familiar? Well, there’s a reason for that. These Salted Caramel Pringles taste somewhat similar to Pecan Pie Pringles.

They taste similar because they have the same butteriness, which is the dominant flavor in both. The two flavors have a pancakes and maple syrup vibe to them, although less so with the Salted Caramel Pringles, which also have a light burst of salt. I guess sweet butteriness with some salt equates to salted caramel. These crisps also did leave my fingers smelling like eau de pancakes et syrup.

Yes, I’m smelling my fingers right now.

I liked the Pecan Pie Pringles, and since they taste like them, I also enjoyed Salted Caramel Pringles. But I’m disappointed they taste so similar. It’s as if J.P. regifted Pecan Pie Pringles.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce/15 crisps – 150 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 110 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Limited Time Only Salted Caramel Pringles
Purchased Price: $7.98*
Size: 5.96 oz
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like Pecan Pie Pringles. Being tight with J.P. It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Cons: Tastes like Pecan Pie Pringles. I keep smelling my fingers. If you think other sweet Pringles flavors are odd, this one won’t change your mind.

*Had to buy them from eBay because I wasn’t able to find them here. So I had to pay three times what they really cost to try them.

REVIEW: Milk Chocolate Cafe Mocha M&M’s

Cafe Mocha Milk Chocolate M&M's

According to the Café Mocha M&M’s packaging, “The Holidays are better with M.”

That’s a fair statement in this reviewer’s opinion. Unless we’re talking plain M&M’s.

Plain M&M’s stink. They stink!

There, I said it. Who needs ’em?

I think they’re the 43rd best candy in the candy aisle. They’re a cookie ingredient. They exist to be customized and given out as expensive party favors. Plain M&M’s are co-stars in a good trail mix at best. They’re raisins. You can keep ’em.

Phew! Sorry folks, but that mini rant felt good. You know Vin always brings those controversial opinions. You can’t spell “controversial” without “Vin”…if you eliminate a bunch of letters and then rearrange them for some reason.

Now that I got that off my chest, I should say I actually do enjoy most other M&M’s variations. Whether it’s the ol’ reliable Peanut or the Greatest of All Time Peanut Butter; from Crispy to Pretzel to Peppermint; and all the way down to Almond and Candy Corn, M&M’s usually brings it with their other flavors. So I was genuinely excited to try the new Café Mocha M&M’s.

First, the sniff test. This was a major bummer. The bag smells like a standard bag of M&M’s. I was hoping it would have a coffee scent because I find few smells better than a freshly opened bag of coffee beans.

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Next, the eye test. As you can see they come in the classic green and red holiday colors. In terms of size, they’re about the same diameter of a Peanut Butter M&M and they’re bigger than a regular, but smaller than a peanut.

Last but not least, the taste test. At first it tastes like a plain M&M whose recipe went awry. It’s almost like I’m eating semi-sweet mini M&Ms made specifically for baking. The mocha is there, but the “café” takes a few seconds to recognize. Once you get the slightly bitter coffee element, it levels out and becomes a successful enough piece of candy. These are milk chocolate based, but I might have guessed dark.

If you scoop a handful of these at a holiday party, you might not even know what the flavor is. If I didn’t have the bag in front of me, I would have probably taken a couple minutes to figure it out.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re pretty good, but I think they should have had more coffee flavor. If you’ve ever had a chocolate covered espresso bean, the taste is similar. These don’t pack as much flavor intensity as any chocolate espresso bean I’ve had, but they’re definitely in the ballpark.

Café Mocha M&M’s probably aren’t going to become one of your holiday staples, but they’re definitely worth a try.

(Nutrition Facts – 1.5 oz. – 210 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 5 grams of cholesterol, 30 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 27 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Milk Chocolate Café Mocha M&M’s
Purchased Price: $3.19
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Better than plain M&M’s. Flavor is similar to chocolate espresso beans. Decent seasonal candy option.
Cons: Coffee/espresso flavor isn’t strong enough. There are better M&M’s choices. Bag doesn’t smell like fresh coffee beans. Raisins.

REVIEW: Burger King Frozen Surge

Burger King Frozen Surge

Aaaand…now the ‘90s are back. Yeah, the house became full again and a different gender already met world, and the clever girls switched sides.

But it’s only now, when Coca-Cola decided to excavate a forgotten, bootleg Mountain Dew by way of a second-place fast food try-hard that the nostalgia train is perhaps learning it’s running out of track. Surge is back, baby! But at Burger King only! And it’s not really a liquid anymore! And what is Surge again?

Surge was Coca-Cola’s answer to Mountain Dew and launched in the mid ‘90s, but dwindling sales pretty much had it out of stores before Facebook existed. (A million dollars isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? Not drinking Surge.) Successors include Vault — which had more caffeine — and Red Bull chased with green Gatorade left overnight in a hot car. It’s questionable whether the world was thirsting for a rebirth of Surge. But here we are.

Like an imposter, something is different, as much as Coke wants us to believe the vintage drink is being reinstated. It’s in a Slurpee, ICEE form, and it’s being featured exclusively at your local, grungy Burger King. Other things exclusive to Burger King include Chicken Fries and the thought “I wish I was at McDonald’s.”

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Frozen Surge is serviceable. The Surge flavoring seems more muted than the original drink, which I remember having maybe a handful of times. The ice freezes up the taste buds all nice so practically the entire flavor profile is on the back end of the drink experience, which features an artificial lemon-lime tinge that definitely tastes “green.”

It’s slightly sweet and has a citrus bent that is somewhere between a lemon-steeped carafe of table water and a green Brach’s candy bean. The semi-carbonated, energy drink-soda hybrids have become plentiful in the past decade during Surge’s absence, and this drink feels like a frozen version of all of those put together. There is a light, fizzy tickling of the back of the throat that is more apparent as the frozen parts of the drink become less so. Overall the taste is a neutral proposition — it’s like a watered down Mountain Dew Slurpee.

The biggest problems are the sticky fingers, which made me feel like a dirty ass toddler, and the speed at which I had to consume it. It’s called “Surge,” like some sort of extreme boost, but since it’s so cold I had to drink it super slowly because every other sip would trigger brain freeze. The flavors had me wanting to pound it like a Swedish hacker at 3 a.m., not like a Swedish hacker at 3 p.m. (They’re asleep so they would drink slowly, right?).

The best consistency is probably ten to fifteen minutes after purchasing the drink, when it’s warming up so the flavors surface a bit more. Unfortunately, the drink very quickly begins to melt from the bottom up soon after and leaves a puddle of syrup below a glacier of frozen green stuff. This makes for a delicate balance unsuited to the brutality of stuffing a Western Whopper and onion rings into your maw.

It’s hard to imagine anyone going out of their way to grab this, especially since it’s only available at Burger Kings, but along with a meal it’s a decent accompaniment that delivers light citrus flavors and a little bit of an energy drink kick. I’d say it makes you feel like you’re traveling through time to the ‘90s, but only because it constantly hurt my brain, like reruns of Full House that feature the Beach Boys. Cut it out.

(Nutrition Facts – Medium – 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 5 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 24 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Burger King Frozen Surge
Purchased Price: $1.39
Size: Medium
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Would go well with a meal. Not unpleasant.
Cons: Flavors are slight. Sipping it so slowly because it’s too cold for brain, and then melting too fast.

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Peppermint Ho Hos

Hostess Limited Edition Peppermint Ho Hos

How the Grinch Stole Hostess

The Grinch plotted again how to ruin the holidays.
Though it was only November and they were still far away!
He planned to steal all the cheer from every household and home.
Not a holiday was safe: no Christmas, Kwanzaa, or “shalom.”

He slunk down each chimney, having his treacherous fun.
Only once did a fire scorch his furry green buns.
But in the last house, whilst piling gifts in his sack,
He smelled something sweet that took him aback.

Hostess Limited Edition Peppermint Ho Hos 2

Sneering at what the foolish kids had left out for Santa Claus,
He grabbed the strange brown cylinders with his foul, dirty paws.
“These aren’t cookies,” he said. “They’re Peppermint Ho Hos from Hostess!”
“When it came to minty pink cream, these are said to have the most-est!”

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“These snacks are so cheery,” said The Grinch. “I’ll gobble them down!”
“Without their merry Devil’s food cake, all the people will frown!”
But the Grinch gasped at the serving: “380 calories? Who eats three?”
“Meh, I deserve it. Being evil makes a Grinch hungry!”

His yellow teeth broke the chocolate coating; it shattered into bits.
“A wonderful mess,” he spewed. “The maid will throw fits!”
But he found the Ho Ho’s exterior to be much too waxy and bland.
“I’d get more chocolate flavor from a brown RoseArt crayon!”

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The sponge cake beneath was also merely so-so.
It was airy and quite chewy, with only traces of cocoa.
The Grinch wondered how it could be so un-sweet with 14 grams of sugar.
Some Hostess cakes were moist; this was as dry as his plucked boogers!

But then he reached the cream, and his opinion did sway.
“This novel pink goo could make anyone’s day!”
“It’s more thick than a Twinkie’s; that whipped crap’s just exhausting.”
“This is pleasantly gritty, rich and dense like buttercream frosting!”

As for mint flavor, it was there: but not burning or biting.
Balanced by vanilla, it was refreshing and exciting!
Yet, he’d be hard pressed to call it distinctly peppermint cuisine.
With his crusty eyes closed, it tasted just like spearmint or wintergreen.

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He scarfed down another Ho Ho whole, whilst trashing the family’s wreath.
“The soft choco-mint together’s like a Thin Mint…made for those without teeth!”
The Grinch thought they’d make great party favors: a fine novelty treat.
The cream was memorable, but the purchase wouldn’t be a repeat.

The Grinch cackled and left, ready to watch all the fuss.
“Little Cindy will learn new words when she hears Daddy cuss!”
The next morning he peered down from his horrible hill,
But saw nothing but cheer, A Christmas Story marathons, and goodwill!

“Christmas came without Ho Hos,” he murmured. “It came without Cupcakes!”
“It came without Little Debbie, Entenmann’s, or Drake’s!”
“Maybe holidays,” he thought slowly, “don’t come from processed food.”
“Maybe holidays are about who you’re with, not just what is chewed.”

So the Grinch went back into town, and returned what he stole.
Perhaps this year Santa wouldn’t gift him a metric s*** ton of coal.
Legends say the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day!
Though that was probably the 6 grams of fat per Ho Ho, his doctor would say.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 cakes – 380 calories, 17 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 55 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 43 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Hostess Limited Edition Peppermint Ho Hos
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 10 pack
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Inventive and thick cream. Squishy, tubular Thin Mint understudies. Avoiding the obvious “Ho Ho Hos” joke. Learning life lessons through snack cake fan fiction. The delightful irony of “Christmas Devil’s food cake.”
Cons: The Ho Hos’ so-so cocoa. Coating shatters faster than a leg lamp. Santa-sized serving sizes. An inevitable law-Seuss from Dr. Seuss’ attorneys.