REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Pie Coolatta

Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Pie Coolatta

Binge watching Gilmore Girls, knowing all the lyrics to “Drunk in Love,” enjoying the last Adam Sandler film – everyone has their own guilty pleasure. Mine happens to be my sick addiction for anything claiming to taste like pumpkin pie.

Unlike the crumbly, goopy mess of its cherry and blueberry cousins, pumpkin pie has its shit together. It’s an October tradition that’s sweet, spiced, and confidently autumnal. It’s also, in case you haven’t noticed, everywhere. And that’s fine by me.

Just as ubiquitous, especially in the northeast where I call home, Dunkin’ Donuts may take the prize for pumping out the most pumpkin-flavored products per capita. Say what you want about Starbucks, but I can see another Dunkin’ out the window from the one I am currently sitting in as I typing this. Both are more than eager to dole out my fix of cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in whatever latte, coffee, donut, or muffin concoction they are currently pushing.

This fall, Dunkin’ Donuts introduced the Pumpkin Pie Coolatta, which I can only imagine was created by bored Dunkin’ executive sitting around a beach haphazardly pointing at things to get the pumpkin treatment. Pumpkin-lemonade no good? Then how about a friggin’ Pumpkin Slurpee!

In reality, Dunkin’ Donuts’ Pumpkin Pie Coolatta is not far from exactly that. Like the other Coolattas on the Dunkin’ menu, this one was icy and sweet…almost saccharine.

The difference is that the Pumpkin Pie Coolatta has small granules of graham cracker embedded in the drink, pumpkin puree, and, well, it’s also flavored like a traditional fall dessert, which I am pretty sure no other Coolatta can claim.

Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Pie Coolatta Closeup

But seriously, those graham cracker crumbles bring an unbelievable element to the drink. While they are small, their pie crust texture and flavor put the pie in pumpkin pie, as opposed to just reducing the flavor to the spices that dominate the filling of the dessert. The whipped cream also gives the whole concoction not only presentation points, but that real pumpkin pie feel. This is good because the actual pumpkin pie flavor leaves much to be desired, as the flavor leans closer to scented candle then to the authentic dessert itself.

But it’s far from terrible (don’t worry, I guzzled mine down like the sick addict that I am). Although I can’t imagine I will be ordering many more Pumpkin Pie Coolattas anytime soon since there are better pumpkin products to binge on. Like kindergarten, just because it was fun once does not necessarily mean that it needs to be repeated.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – 280 calories, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 310 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 44 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein, 35% vitamin A, 20% calcium, and 2% iron.)

Item: Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Pie Coolatta
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: Small
Purchased at: Dunkin’ Donuts
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Graham cracker bits and whipped cream add to the pumpkin pie flavor. Contains pumpkin puree. Whipped cream gives a real pumpkin pie feel.
Cons: Tastes like it was made by Yankee Candle. Not being able to go back to kindergarten. I know all the lyrics to “Drunk in Love.”

REVIEW: Jack in the Box Southwest Monster Taco

Jack in the Box Southwest Monster Taco

They say if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

But I’m quite sure the person who came up with that saying never saw the meat in a Jack in the Box taco. It’s the only taco meat in the known universe that makes school cafeteria and Taco Bell taco meat look damn good. When I asked on Twitter for ways to describe Jack’s taco meat, I received these responses: cat food, potted, jacked, slop, and already chewed for you.

But despite the meat looking like the droppings of an animal that ate something that its stomach didn’t agree with, they make Jack in the Box’s tacos oddly satisfying. Yes, I’m writing this sober.

The latest taco from Jack in the Box is their Southwest Monster Taco. It’s stuffed with their finely ground beef, shredded cheddar cheese, black beans, roasted corn, grilled onions, and a creamy Southwest Sauce.

If you love black beans and corn as much as Winnie the Pooh loves honey and your eight year old niece still loves Frozen even though the damn movie came out almost a year ago, you’ll like what the Southwest Monster Taco offers. There’s a good serving of both ingredients, although only the corn seems to have any flavor, providing a little sweetness. I thought the black beans would, at least, significantly up the fiber content of the taco, but they only added a gram more of fiber over a regular Monster Taco.

Jack in the Box Southwest Monster Taco Innards

Despite having large grilled onion pieces in my taco, which didn’t appear to be grilled, they didn’t have as much breath-ruining flavor as I hoped. But along with the corn, they give the taco a different crunchy texture than the taco shell. As for the Southwest Sauce, it has a mild smoky flavor that complement the ground beef and it has a barely noticeable level of heat.

The Jack in the Box Southwest Monster Taco’s flavor doesn’t pop as much as the Nacho and Original Monster Tacos, but I think it’s still a decent addition to the Monster Taco lineup and I would probably buy it again…sober, drunk, or high.

(Nutrition Facts – 353 calories, 213 calories from fat, 24 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 32 milligrams of cholesterol, 483 milligrams of sodium, 269 milligrams of potassium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 12 grams of protein.)

Item: Jack in the Box Southwest Monster Taco
Purchased Price: $1.99*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Jack in the Box
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Lots of corn and black beans. Sweet corn. Southwest Sauce a decent smoky flavor. Love the flavor of the taco shell…well, the parts that aren’t grease soaked.
Cons: Wish the sauce was a bit spicier. Black beans don’t up the fiber content and don’t have much flavor. Grilled onions lacked flavor. Useless shredded cheddar cheese. Ground beef is still not very pretty to look at.

*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: Nestle Nesquik Limited Edition Girl Scouts Thin Mints Milk

Nestle Nesquik Limited Edition Girl Scouts Thin Mints Milk

There’s something unsettling about buying unrefrigerated milk. In fact, if opening a frosty glass door of a refrigerator is not a step in my process of purchasing anything that came out of a cow then you can pretty much count me out.

I will, however, make an exception when that milk is Nesquik and it’s flavored like Girl Scout Cookies.

Unlike my springtime tradition of being pressured into buying Girl Scout Cookies from the table in front of the supermarket and later cherishing my weak spirit because nobody ever really regrets buying Girl Scout Cookies, Nesquik Girl Scout Cookies Milk are heralded off on their own little decorative (albeit room temperature) cardboard stand. Luckily for my wallet, no smiling, crafty, green-vested girls in sight.

To be honest though, I didn’t exactly know how to feel the first time I saw Nesquik take on Girl Scout Cookies. On one hand, Girl Scout cookies taste good. So things that taste like Girl Scout Cookies should also taste good. Right? On the other, drinking liquefied versions of food seems like it should only be reserved for washing down protein pills on a spaceship. I was, as you may be able to tell, deeply conflicted.

And then I saw Thin Mints, and my path was clear.

Everyone is always open to exercise their own opinion, but Thin Mints are the best Girl Scout Cookies and if you don’t agree you are wrong. Do Do-Si-Do’s have a smooth chocolatey coating? Do Tagalongs provide a refreshing, minty experience? Can I eat an entire sleeve of Savannah Smiles and feel absolutely no shame? I don’t think so.

Besides, the only other flavor was “Caramel Coconut” and there is no such thing as a Girl Scout Cookie called “Caramel Coconut”. They are called Samoas. You hear that Nesquik, say it with me; SA-MO-AS. Stop lying to yourself.

Nestle Nesquik Limited Edition Girl Scouts Thin Mints Milk 2

Unfortunately, Nesquik Girl Scout Cookies Thin Mints milk does not quite live up to the hype of its green-packaged cookie sister. It both smelled and tasted strongly of peppermint and chocolate–which of course is never a bad thing–but it was missing something. Something distinctly “Thin Mint” that separated it from the cohorts of other peppermint chocolate milk that will be arriving again this winter season.

Could it be the lack of the cookie’s buttery crunch, or the loss of that complicated feeling of fulfillment and shame upon finishing off that first entire sleeve? Either way, I was disappointed that nothing really stood out as distinctly “Thin Mints” about this milk.

Just like how your homemade “special sauce” will never taste like the one on the Big Mac (even though you know that secret recipe), someone needs to tell Nesquik that simply combining peppermint extract and chocolate milk does equal a true Thin Mints flavor.

Although, I can’t be truly mad at anything that reminds me that in all of the course of human history, I happen to live during a time when Girl Scout Cookies are a thing that I can buy with my money. Although, I am just better off waiting to buy the real thing.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 150 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 24 grams of sugar, 8 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 40% calcium2% iron, and 25% vitamin D.)

Item: Nestle Nesquik Limited Edition Girl Scouts Thin Mints Milk
Purchased Price: 99 cents (on sale)
Size: 14 fl. oz
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: It does taste good. My existence intersecting with the existence of Girl Scout Cookies which if you think about in the context of the universe is really crazy and wonderful.
Cons: Not a true “Thin Mints” flavor. Unrefrigerated milk being a weird concept that makes me question the ingredients of Nesquik.

REVIEW: Chobani Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Greek Yogurt and Yoplait Limited Edition Pumpkin Cheesecake Greek Yogurt

Chobani Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Greek Yogurt and Yoplait Limited Edition Pumpkin Cheesecake Greek Yogurt

Sometime between the introduction of Trix-flavored Go-Gurt and the advent of yogurt with poop-inducing bacteria, I lost all capacity to keep up with what is particularly trendy when it comes to fermented dairy. Kefir, you say? You mean that guy from 24? Call me overwhelmed, but I just don’t quite understand it all.

You know what I do understand? Pumpkin.

In donuts. In ice cream. In waffles and in cookies and, by George, this flavor actually works on a Pringle! And while I’ve yet to encounter the rumored Pumpkin Spice Burger the release of two new pumpkin-flavored Greek yogurts is enough to piqué my interest to an otherwise flabbergasting catalogue of yogurt types and flavors.

First up is Chobani, which has actually had a rough go of it in 2014. Banned by Russia for the Olympics and later accused of being Turkish, Chobani’s Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Greek Yogurt holds the distinction of having actual pumpkin in the ingredient list, something that seemingly 90 percent of pumpkin-flavored goodies seem to be missing in what is becoming the most oversaturated single-product market since Pokémon cards.

Not to be outdone, Yoplait’s Pumpkin Cheesecake also features real pumpkin puree, in addition to the one-up mention of everyone’s other favorite cultured dairy dessert. I know what you’re thinking; cheesecake beats spice every time, right? But let’s not forget both these yogurts are of the 2 percent variety, and claim actual sugar to sweeten the deal. Pumpkin, milkfat, sugar? Seems like neither can go wrong.

Chobani Pumpkin Spice

If pumpkin spice is your deal—as in, you’re one of those people who carries around your own Williams-Sonoma Pumpkin Spice canister to dump on EVERYTHING—you’re going to love the Chobani rendition. All the usual spices are present, but it’s their intensity—as if fresh grated nutmeg and ginger were added just minutes before packaging—which is most striking.

The cinnamon has a floral quality rising above cheaper imitations, and the strong ginger notes give the flavor an exotic appeal. Still, the flavor seems incomplete. There’s an absence of vanilla that would otherwise bring the flavors together, and a quiet sweetness bemoans the decision not to go with a more intense brown sugar sweetness. The texture, too, is imperfect. More jiggly than creamy, with a hint of surface water, it lacks a degree of richness which otherwise would have gone a long way to making it one of the early highlights of pumpkin season.

Yoplait’s Pumpkin Cheesecake is a different gourd, but not completely. Call it a Kabocha Squash to your typical Sugar Pumpkin, if you will. The texture is actually remarkably similar to the Chobani flavor. A bit more prone to breaking into multiple blobs of orangish yogurt, but still reacting with a jiggly effect when prodded by spoon (or finger, I don’t judge).

Yoplait Pumpkin Cheesecake

I take a bite, hoping to be greeted by a rich and creamery fresh taste not unlike that Baskin-Robbin ice cream, but instead I’m left with a somewhat artificial spice flavor and odd acidic aftertaste. It’s not altogether unenjoyable because the yogurt base is sweeter and the pumpkin flavor more intense than the Chobani yogurt, but it still leaves something to be desired. The cheesecake flavor seems more buttermilk inspired than cream cheese, but unlike the Chobani Pumpkin Spice, there’s a more familiar dessert-inspired flavor. The sweetness sure isn’t lacking, and together with a robust pumpkin flavor, it’s more versatile to use as a dip or in smoothies.

Neither Chobani’s Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice nor Yoplait’s Pumpkin Cheesecake flavors blew me away, although the freshness of the pumpkin spice flavor in the Chobani yogurt might be the most authentic rendition I’ve had to date. But the problems for both yogurts are unfortunately all too familiar for the seasonally-inspired treat. Too little brown sugar sweetness and not enough richness leave the pumpkin exposed to blandness, and despite the addition of milkfat, the texture of both yogurts doesn’t conjure up images of dessert. I may not be hip to the latest fads in yogurt, but I think it’s a safe bet to assume adding pumpkin won’t be the next big thing.

(Nutrition Facts – Chobani Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice – 130 calories, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 60 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of sugar, 12 grams of protein, and 15% calcium. Yoplait Limited Edition Pumpkin Cheesecake – 150 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of sugar, 11 grams of protein, and 10% calcium.)

Item: Chobani Limited Batch Pumpkin Spice Greek Yogurt
Purchased Price: $1.39
Size: 5.3 oz.
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Remarkably fresh and flavorful combination of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. Contains actual pumpkin. Good source of protein and calcium. Sticking it to comrade Putin.
Cons: Not quite sweet enough to really showcase the pumpkin flavor. Lacks richness or creamy taste. Questionable country of origin.

Item: Yoplait Limited Edition Pumpkin Cheesecake Greek Yogurt
Purchased Price: $1.00
Size: 5.3 oz.
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Sweet and authentic pumpkin flavor. Has a cheesecake tang. Tastes like dessert.
Cons: Jiggles more than a fat guy’s triceps. Gloopy. Spice flavor is artificial. More calories and less protein than Chobani.

REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo Cookies

Nabisco Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo Cookies

When I first learned about these the Nabisco Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo Cookies, I wondered if I would get the FULL caramel apple experience. I’m not just talking about the flavor combo of sweet caramel and tart apples. I’m also talking about getting my teeth stuck in the fall treat.

Whenever I take the first bite into a caramel apple, my front teeth always get stuck because of the caramel coating. The caramel is sticky enough that it adheres to my teeth and it’s tough enough that I can’t tear off the piece my mouth has wrapped itself around. When that happens I go into panic mode because I’m afraid, as I struggle to pull them out, they’ll break off and my mouth will look like I was on the losing end of a hockey fight or what I looked like in my first grade school photo.

My teeth also get stuck because I always take a big bite, which is what I do with caramel-less apples. This causes my jaw to be stuck at its widest position, which doesn’t give me much leeway to do much with my jaw. My teeth eventually free themselves, but I’m left with a sore jaw and ego.

Thankfully, and obviously, these Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo cookies won’t force my mouth to stay open for long periods of time and give me a sore jaw like a sadistic dental hygienist would.

Nabisco Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo Cookies Closeup

Like with previous fruit-flavored Oreo, like Fruit Punch, Watermelon, and Lemon, the Caramel Apple Oreo also comes with Golden Oreo wafers. The creme is two-toned with Kermit the Frog green and Fozzie Bear brown.

Since the creme was green, there’s a green apple on the packaging, and every caramel apple that has trapped my teeth has been a Granny Smith apple, I expected the creme to taste like a Granny Smith apple, but it tasted more like a Fuji apple. After spending a few seconds with Google, I learned Fuji apples, which can be partially green, are also used with caramel apples. The Fozzie Bear-colored creme had a strong caramel scent that was noticeable as soon as package was opened, but, even after licking my way through a number of cookies, I didn’t think it had a flavor that was as strong.

When eaten as a whole cookie, the apple creme stands out. Whatever caramel flavor there is gets lost behind the apple and the Golden Oreo. The lack of caramel makes the whole experience less satisfying. But with that said, I think it’s a decent cookie because I like the candy-fied Fuji apple flavor and it won’t force my mouth to say open for long periods.

Although, I should admit, I don’t know what would happen if I tried to stuff four cookies stacked on top of each other into my mouth at one time.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 15 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Limited Edition Caramel Apple Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 12.2 oz.
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Apple-flavored creme taste like Fuji apples. Strong caramel aroma. Creme has the same colors as Kermit and Fozzie.
Cons: Lacks caramel flavor. Getting teeth stuck in a caramel apple. Target exclusive flavor. Granny Smith fans will be disappointed. Having no front teeth in a school photo.