REVIEW: Limited Time Only Tostitos Cantina Sopapilla Cinnamon & Sugar Tortilla Chips

Limited Time Only Tostitos Sopapilla Cinnamon  Sugar Tortilla Chips

The Limited Time Only Tostitos Cantina Sopapilla Cinnamon & Sugar Tortilla Chips bag suggested I top ice cream with the chips. Since vanilla is THE neutral flavor, I went through the difficult task of finding vanilla ice cream.

Now some of you might’ve read that last line and thought I was being sarcastic because buying vanilla ice cream is super easy, but I was not.

I spent an unusual amount of time in the ice cream aisle deciding what to pick up. I’m pretty sure I looked like a shoplifter to the security guards watching me from the cameras as I walked up and down the aisle, interrogating myself about vanilla ice cream.

Should I get regular vanilla, vanilla bean, French vanilla, or Madagascar vanilla?

Should I get ice cream or gelato?

Or should I be lame and get frozen dairy dessert or frozen yogurt?

If I get the Dreyer’s, do I get Slow-Churned or Grand?

Should I buy a pint, quart, half-gallon, or that huge one gallon pail that I can reuse to make sand castles?

Do I go with the organic Three Twins?

Should I be cheap and get the store brand?

Or should I support local companies?

Do I go non-dairy?

Should I settle for Cool Whip?

But thank goodness I went through the effort and eerie feeling that someone was watching me to pick a vanilla ice cream because the Tostitos Sopapilla Tortilla Chips NEEDS ice cream or something to make them more snackable.

Oh, by the way, I picked up Häagen-Dazs.

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The seasoning is inconsistent from chip to chip. Some have so much of it that they look like they were in a Tatooine sand storm. But most have a dusting that looks as if they were just standing outside on a calm Tatooine evening staring at a double sunset wanting something more in life.

Limited Time Only Tostitos Sopapilla Cinnamon  Sugar Tortilla Chips 2

The heavily seasoned chips taste very similar to the Cheetos Sweetos Cinnamon Sugar Puffs, which I did enjoy. There’s even the slight butteriness those puffs have. As for the chips that have a light dusting, there’s a hint of cinnamon flavor, but it’s not bold enough to make me want to stuff my face with them.

But did the ice cream I painstakingly picked out help make the chips more face stuffable?

Limited Time Only Tostitos Sopapilla Cinnamon  Sugar Tortilla Chips 4

Yes. The combo has a cereal and milk vibe to it, and it’s now the only way I’ll eat them. So thanks for the suggestion, Tostitos Cantina Sopapilla Cinnamon & Sugar Tortilla Chips bag.

Basically, these sweet tortilla chips are like regular tortilla chips in that they taste fine by themselves, but they’re really meant to be paired with something else — salsa for regular tortilla chips and ice cream for these.

Oh, by the way, sopapilla is now my new favorite word to say. Sorry, bumfuzzle. You have been replaced!

(Nutrition Facts – about 14 chips – 150 calories, 8 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.39*
Size: 9 oz. bag
Purchased at: Longs Drugs/CVS
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Reminds me of the Cheetos Sweetos Puffs. Goes great with vanilla ice cream, the combo has a cereal and milk vibe to it. Saying sopapilla.
Cons: Inconsistent amount of seasoning. Most chips don’t have a strong cinnamon flavor. Needs something else to make them more snackable. So many questions when it comes to picking up vanilla ice cream.

*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: Flavor of California Strawberry Kit Kat

Flavor of California Strawberry Kit Kat Miniatures

The United States is the land of opportunity.

We’ve got freedom of speech, freedom of religion, open internet, 14,000 McDonald’s locations, and the invention of the Oreo; but we really got screwed when it comes to the Kit Kat.

While Nestle makes the candy in every other region, cranking out over 200 varieties in Japan including flavors like Wasabi and Rum Raisin, Hershey’s controls the brand in the U.S. and give us a tantalizing array of options including milk, dark, and white chocolate.

In what is hopefully a positive sign for our patriotic future, Hershey’s has launched a new Flavors of America line of limited candies, including the Flavor of California Strawberry Kit Kat.

As a certified born-and-raised-in-California boy, the first thing I think of when pondering my home state isn’t strawberries. But I won’t complain about getting any new flavor of Kit Kat. While avocado, garlic, almond, grape, or beef might have been a truer representation of the Golden State, I can’t deny strawberry is a still relevant much safer sell, and one I pretty much know what will taste like before opening the package.

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Ripping the mini-wrapper open there is a huge wash of artificial strawberry that smells almost identical to Nesquick Strawberry milk. The scent is so similar that I’m surprised there isn’t a quirky brown bunny on the bag.

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The taste mimics the smell, with a sweet fake berry flavor atop white chocolate texture that teeters on being too much. The faux-strawberry notes are so strong that they almost become bitter, peaking out with their odd flavor in the middle of chewing but finishing smooth, sweet, and creamy.

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The coating on this Kit Kat, like most mini Kats, is a bit thicker than the standard longer four-piece bar. The outer layer dominates the wafers on the inside, throwing off the normally perfect balance and taking away from the repeat crunch-ability that KK’s usually provide.

I’m surprised that Hershey’s didn’t try to put a slightly more authentic strawberry flavor into these Kit Kats – a hint of tart or acidity would have gone a long way to make these a more desirable product. While I won’t be throwing the rest of my bag into the garbage, I have a good feeling I’ll have a couple of these leftover for a super rare stocking stuffer come December, and I think my three year old half-brother will appreciate them more than I do.

(Nutrition Facts – 5 pieces – 220 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.99
Size: 10 oz. bag
Purchased at: CVS
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: The United States finally gets a new Kit Kat flavor. Classic Kit Kat crunch. Smooth creamy finish. Will make great rare stocking stuffer.
Cons: Too strong of a fake strawberry flavor. No tart notes. Slightly bitter. Could have repped Cali better with beef.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Fresh Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich

Wendy s Fresh Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich

There are few things better in fast food than really good service. Freshness, despite being something every chain claims to have a monopoly on, is one of them.

So when I pulled up to the Wendy’s drive-thru window expecting to receive the new Fresh Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich, but was instead told by a manager that “we’re waiting on them to grill your chicken,” I was pleasantly surprised.

When I finally did get my sandwich, it looked and smelled great. The fresh mozzarella appeared identical to what you’d get from a supermarket deli case.

Now I have to admit: I’m a huge mozzarella fan —- and not just the low moisture part-skim stuff that makes pizza, well, pizza. But it seems to me that mozzarella is the lacrosse of fast food cheeses.

Football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and hockey pretty much corner the sports market in much the same way American, Cheddar, Swiss, and Monterey Jack adorn 95 percent of fast food sandwiches. And while lax has carved out a nice little following in the Mid-Atlantic, it’s not ubiquitous in the sports world.

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Which doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be; nor does it mean mozzarella doesn’t deserve a place at the fast food sandwich table (caprese, anyone?). Sure enough, when I took the mozzarella off my sandwich and sampled it alone, it had a mellow and milky flavor. Some call it mild, but it’s more like nuanced, if you ask me.

The problem is that you really can’t taste the cheese when you eat the sandwich. The “creamy” basil pesto (which is more like “gloopy,” but we’ll live with it) and the salad greens give every bite an herby, slightly bitter taste, which is honestly the last thing you’re expecting with a fast food sandwich.

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The balsamic diced tomatoes — sweet and a bit tart — go a little ways toward fixing the problem. But pesto is in the driver’s seat here. It’s not a bad flavor, but it’s also not one that leaves you chomping at the bit for, well, another chomp.

When I finished my sandwich, I was amazed at how high-quality all the ingredients seemed to be. I was also amazed at how each bite seemed less the sum of its parts.

The Fresh Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich is everything you could hope for from a $5.29 sandwich at a fast food place. Yet, even though it exemplifies a triumph of the usually trite ingredient promise that most fast food chains fail miserably at, it lacks memorability. In other words, it’s a lacrosse match amidst a spring of baseball, hockey, and basketball.

(Nutrition Facts – Not available on website at time of posting.)

Purchased Price: $5.29
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Fresher than Will Smith in Bel Air, circa 1990. Plump, juicy chicken breast has authentic grilled flavor. Fresh mozzarella is on point. Balsamic-diced tomatoes need to be a regular condiment.
Cons: Expensive. Lacks “wow” factor. Garlic brioche bun tastes like a regular brioche bun. Too much foliage. Pesto overwhelms sandwich. Tastes comparatively plain.

VIDEO REVIEW: Magnum Cookies & Cream Ice Cream Bars

Purchased Price: $6.99
Size: 3-pack
Purchased at: Safeway
Nutrition Facts: (1 bar) 280 calories, 150 calories from fat, 17 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 23 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

NOTE: If you want to watch the video without sound, video captions are available. Just click the CC button on the player.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut and Chocolate Pretzel Donut

Dunkin Donuts Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut and Chocolate Pretzel Donut

Gee, I wonder how they got the peanut butter inside??

Dunkin Donuts Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut and Chocolate Pretzel Donut 2

Sorry to dive straight in, but I must address the appearance of this specimen I purchased because I’ve been obsessing over it since my first horrified glance. With messy holes on top and peanut butter smears, this Croissant Donut looks like I caught it mid-hangover after a night of serious debauchery. 

But, since these are locally-made items, there’s a good chance yours will be a well-rested, finishing-school graduate that keeps its holes underneath. Hence, I won’t ding it points-wise.

Back to our regularly scheduled review. 

Chocolate, peanut butter, caramel, pretzels – I love all these things, so I had very high expectations for both these doughnuts. I did not try the coffee pairings – I despise coffee. Let me break these guys down separately because they’re rather different creatures.

Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut

This isn’t really a Croissant Donut. It’s light and fluffy with large air pockets, but it’s missing a critical component: layers. Croissants and croissant donuts are made with laminated dough – many thin sheets of pastry with butter between. One should be able to pull a proper croissant donut apart layer by layer – this was not the case here.

Dunkin Donuts Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut and Chocolate Pretzel Donut 3

It wasn’t a bad donut, just mis-named. The taste and texture of the donut itself, sugar glaze and chocolate drizzle were lovely. This isn’t the peanut butter bomb I expected, however. A peanutty scent only became apparent when I sniffed closely. The frosting filling was just a hair on the sweet side for me. Straight-up PB inside would’ve been better – letting the glaze and chocolate drizzle sweeten it.

Chocolate Pretzel Donut

Dunkin Donuts Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut and Chocolate Pretzel Donut 4

The aroma of this was almost indistinguishable from DD’s regular chocolate cake doughnut (which I love). Mine seemed very light on caramel drizzle – I wonder if more would change the smell. 

The texture was also similar to the base model – moist, velvety cake. While the pretzel bits were a little soft, I liked that — it added a small crunch without stabbing the roof of my mouth with pretzel shards.

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Again, the predominant taste was the basic DD glazed chocolate cake. Caramel flavor was very subtle, presumably due to the sparse drizzle. There wasn’t much (if any) salt on the pretzels or donut, which was disappointing. The only thing that differentiated these from Dunkin’s regular chocolate cake donuts was the taste and texture of the pretzel bits. But as a fan of the original, that’s OK with me.

While they’re both perfectly enjoyable donuts, they fell short of great.

Dunkin Donuts Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut and Chocolate Pretzel Donut 6

(Nutrition Facts – Peanut Butter Delight Croissant Donut 410 calories, 190 calories from fat, 21 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 360 milligrams of sodium, 49 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 6 grams of protein. Chocolate Pretzel Donut – 400 calories, 200 calories from fat, 23 grams of fat, 12 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 530 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 19 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.00 for two
Size: N/A
Rating: 6 out of 10 (PB Delight)
Pros: Nice airy donut base, glaze and chocolate drizzle.
Cons: Might look like it was baked by a one-eyed raccoon. Like my hair – needs layers! PB frosting filling goes to 11 on the sweet scale.
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Chocolate Pretzel)
Pros: Good (familiar) chocolate cake base, non-dangerous pretzel shards.
Cons: Needs salt! (In fairness, I say this about almost every food I eat.) More caramel, please.