REVIEW: Lay’s Beer ‘n Brats Potato Chips

Lay's Beer 'n Brats Potato Chips

With it being cookout season, I imagine many of you will find yourselves outside with a cold beer in one hand, a nice bratwurst in the other hand, not enough sunscreen on your body, and way too much bug repellant because those reports on the evening news about the Zika virus are freaking you out.

Frito-Lay is celebrating summer with the rollout of Lay’s Beer ’n Brats Potato Chips, which is a flavor that I imagine is causing some of you to spew profanities at your screen right now because it was your entry for the Lay’s Do Us a Flavor contest.

Full disclosure: I am not a beer drinker.

Full disclosure 2 Electric Boogaloo: But I am a beer-flavored potato chip eater.

I’m a huge fan of Kettle Brand’s Cheddar Beer Potato Chips. I voted for it during Kettle Brand’s first People’s Choice vote in 2005. I love its combination of maltiness and tangy cheesiness, and how those flavors really popped. Oh, God, I want some right now.

So how do these Lay’s chips get their beeriness and bratiness?

With Beer ’n Brats seasoning, of course. No really. That’s what it’s called in the ingredients list. Thankfully the seasoning is broken down. Here are some of the highlights in no particular order: salt (of course), onion powder, cheddar cheese, brown sugar, sugar, yeast extract, whey protein concentrate (imagine me flexing right now), spices, butter, Romano cheese, chicken broth, chicken powder, buttermilk, chicken fat, dijon mustard, natural extractives of beer, and beer solids.

What’s a beer solid? It sounds like a favor that’s sealed when two people drink beer with their drinking arms intertwined. It’s not, but the knowledgeable ingredients list also breaks down what beer solids are — malted barley, corn syrup, hops, and yeast.

Lay's Beer 'n Brats Potato Chips 2

The Lay’s Beer ’n Brats Potato Chips have an aroma that smells like the undercarriage of a lawnmower that just ran over an herb garden and New York City hot dog carts. It’s sweet, herby, and mustard-y. My nose likes it and my nose also thinks it smells somewhat similar to turkey and stuffing potato chips I’ve had in the past.

A beer-like flavor registered once I put them into my mouth. But quickly after that it got a little more complex. It’s slight herby, there’s a mild onion flavor, the cheese gave off a slight funk, and the chicken ingredients gave the chips a greasiness that tastes like a bratwurst. But overall, the chip leans more towards a bratwurst than a beer, and that taste lingered in my mouth long after I ate them. They have a unique flavor and my palate enjoyed them, but they don’t make me say, “Don’t you dare take these off shelves or else I will cut you!”

As much as I liked these chips, I could see how others might think they’re gross. Herbs, onion, funk, and grease don’t sound like an awesome combination to some, but I guess, much like beer, it’s an acquired taste.

Thanks to my pal Candy Hunting for sending this bag to me. If you have an Instagram account you can follow her @candyhunting.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 330 milligrams of potassium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: N/A
Size: 7 3/4 oz bag
Purchased at: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Initial flavor is beer-like. It also tastes somewhat like a brat. Complex flavor. Unique flavor. Kettle Brand Cheddar Beer Potato Chips.
Cons: Some might find its flavor off-putting. I wish the flavor popped a bit more. Might be difficult to find. Zika virus.

REVIEW: General Mills Strawberry and Blueberry Tiny Toast Cereals

General Mills Strawberry and Blueberry Tiny Toast Cereals?
Toast is so en vogue right now. You’ve got your avocado toast, your restaurants that only serve toast, and your beer made from toast. Hell, at this point, you’d half expect toast to start singing “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It).”

Toast wasn’t always the critical darling it is today. For years, it perched precariously on the side of breakfast platters everywhere, only there to sop up the remnants of runny yolks (or last night’s bad decisions, if you know what I mean).

But then, in 1984, the cereal wizards at General Mills introduced Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and the rest was history. What then followed were years of toast cereal offshoots like French Toast Crunch and Peanut Butter Toast Crunch, which led me to believe that General Mills should just change their name to “That Cereal Company That Only Makes Toast Themed Cereal.”

Enter Strawberry and Blueberry Tiny Toast cereals to prove my point.

In what is apparently General Mills’ first new cereal brand in fifteen years (I know, I was just as surprised as you), Strawberry and Blueberry Tiny Toast cereals were developed to have an “all-family appeal.” I’m not sure where General Mills finds their test families, but I imagine that the folks who thought this cereal would appeal to everyone are the same folks who think Pop-Tarts are a good source of your five-a-day.

Upon opening the box, the tiny toast cereals have a scent reminiscent of fruit and cream instant oatmeal. While it’s totally artificial, it brings back memories of all of the times in college I didn’t have the time or the initiative to make a more nutritious breakfast. Then upon pouring it out, I was greeted by an adorable bowl full of tiny pieces of toast. We’re talking Honey, I Shrunk the Kids tiny here. Rick Moranis would be proud.

General Mills Strawberry Tiny Toast Cereal

The look of the cereal is a different story, as the specks of fruit on each piece of tiny toast look a little more like measles and mold than anything natural. If Cinnamon Toast Crunch is the “taste you can see,” this cereal is more like the “taste you should see a doctor about.”

As a cereal purist, I first tried both cereals sans milk. Upon scooping out my first bite, I noticed the toasts had a dry and dusty appearance, which was affirmed when they immediately dissolved on my tongue. While the texture isn’t the most pleasant (think arid desert), the taste is much better, with both giving off muffin-like oat flavors mixed with the fruit.

General Mills Blueberry Tiny Toast Cereal

Tired of the Sahara-like climate inside my mouth, I drowned the cereals in milk. Let me tell you – Milk. Is. A. Game. changer. The milk immediately fluffs up the tiny toasts, giving them a more pleasant appearance and mouthfeel, and making the cereal much more enjoyable to eat. It’s like that Lubriderm commercial where they apply it to an alligator – it works that well.

Overall, the Tiny Toast cereals are a pretty good, albeit artificial, addition to your balanced breakfast. Let’s just hope that General Mills doesn’t come out with a crappy sequel.

(Nutrition Facts – 3/4 cup – 120 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 120 milligrams of sodium, 22 grams of carbohydrates, 9 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.99 each
Size: 11.1 oz box
Purchased at: Star Market
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Blueberry)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Strawberry)
Pros: R&B jams. “Honey, I shrunk the breakfast.” Muffin-like fruit flavor. Moisturized with milk.
Cons: Need for cereal antibiotics. Dusty texture sans milk. Remembering bad decisions.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Fruity Crisp Oreo Cookies

Nabisco Limited Edition Fruity Crisp Oreo Cookies

Well, I guess this is how it starts.

Yes, “it.”

Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s only the single worst thing in the universe; the thing people have been warning us about for years. It’s the reason why I’ve been stocking up the shelves in my basement, quietly prepping for the disaster I knew would eventually befall us. And to think the harbinger of the impending doom is America’s most beloved cookie company.

The cerealapocalypse.

After tasting the new Fruity Crisp Oreo Cookies I’m convinced the end of cereal eating as we know could be near. We already knew people were ditching cereal because they’ve been too damn lazy to wash out their bowls, but now that Oreo has managed to pack the flavor of Fruity Pebbles in between their Golden wafers, well, Post might as well file Chapter 11.

Every time Oreo releases a new flavor people say things like, “This is a game-changer.” But I’m not here to tell you what is and is not a gamer changer; I’m here to tell you these cookies taste exactly like Fruity freaking Pebbles, right on down to that initial Paleolithic burst of cloying artificial fruit flavor.

Nabisco Limited Edition Fruity Crisp Oreo Cookies 2

From the moment I opened the bag the unmistakable aroma of Fruity Pebbles assaulted my nostrils like a friendly prehistoric child with a large club, while an initial sampling of the Golden Oreo base revealed the distinct aftertaste of the Fruity Pebbles cereal we all remember from the days when we smuggled it into our mommies’ shopping carts at the supermarket.

Nabisco Limited Edition Fruity Crisp Oreo Cookies 3

After effortlessly separating the filling from the cookies, I sampled the frosting-like creme on its own. This is not your standard Oreo creme. It’s not as chalky or stiff as regular Oreo creme, and it has a shelf-stable frosting like quality in the way you can pluck it from the cookie with your finger. The taste, bursting with crispy, fruity cereal pieces, is unmistakably milky and sweet, like cereal that’s been steeped in milk for the better part of a day. If I was going to make an ice cream out of cereal, I imagine it would taste a lot like the creme.

Yes, the cerealapocalypse is upon us.

Biting into each cookie, you get every element of a bowl of Fruity Pebbles; the milk is there, the crispy cereal texture is there, and of course, the hypersweet fruity taste dominates. Basically, each cookie renders the cereal box and carton of milk a relic from the past. As a traditional cereal eater, even I will admit it tastes insanely awesome.

But there may be one hope for those of us used to eating cereal the old fashioned way. For as much as I enjoyed the first couple of cookies, I couldn’t get into the same kind of mindless cookie eating groove that I can get into with a standard Oreo. I mean, you have to really love Fruity Pebbles to make it through an entire package, mostly because the overwhelmingly sweet, artificial taste of Fruity Pebbles is so accurate that you feel like you’ve just eaten 3-4 bowls of Fruity Pebbles after just 3-4 cookies. With that in mind, I can see some Oreo fanatics loving these cookies, but not making them a repeat purchase.

In any case, that’s my only hope for the cereal industry, because these cookies are so accurate in copying the taste of Fruity Pebbles, they’ll make you forget Fred Flintstone existed.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 mg of cholesterol, 80 mg of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugars, and less than 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: 10.7 oz
Purchased at: Giant
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Perfectly captures the taste of Fruity Pebbles in every bite. Milky, frosting-like creme. Crispy textural contrast. Golden wafers that have fruity cereal taste.
Cons: Exceptionally sweet and artificial, to the point where the Fruity Pebbles taste can wear on you. Packaging literally out of the Stone Age. Not as good as some of the other limited edition Oreo flavors. Needs a chocolate lovers equivalent with chocolate wafers and Cocoa Pebbles.

QUICK REVIEW: Kellogg’s Frosted Crush Orange Pop-Tarts

Kellogg's Frosted Crush Orange Pop-Tarts

Kellogg’s Frosted Crush Orange Pop-Tarts taste better than actual Crush Orange soda. There, I said it. Send your assassins after me, Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc.

In order to make that comparison, I had to buy a Crush Orange soda, which, like rock climbing and doing the Dab, is something I’ve never done before. Oh, I’ve consumed several bottles and cans over the years when it was the only choice in the cooler towards the end of a cookout. But I’ve never spent a dime on one until now.

Crush Orange tastes like generic orange tablet candy. Yes, those probably aren’t the most flattering words to describe it. I’m mean, it’s a serviceable beverage and I won’t hesitate to drink one if the only other options are bottled water and that swill known as Mist Twst.

These Pop-Tarts also have a generic orange candy flavor. But it doesn’t taste like the tablet candy you get from the junk trick-or-treat houses in your neighborhood. The filling also has a mild sourness that complements the sweet citrus flavor. Sadly, there isn’t any fruit in the filling. Instead, the flavor and sourness appears to come from orange oil and malic acid. Mmm, malic acid.

Kellogg's Frosted Crush Orange Pop-Tarts 2

I was worried about having hot soda flavor in my mouth due to my less than positive experience with hot Dr Pepper as a teenager, but these Pop-Tarts were great toasted, chilled, or straight out of the foil wrapper. Also, the crust and frosting didn’t dampen the filling’s flavor, which is what I experienced with the Frosted A&W Root Beer Pop-Tarts.

Overall, I enjoyed Frosted Crush Orange Pop-Tarts. They have a nice sweet and tart flavor, the orange and white icing remind me of BB-8, and they, along with the root beer ones, make me look forward to other soda-inspired flavors. Maybe Dr Pepper and/or 7Up Pop-Tarts?

Disclosure: I received a free sample of these Pop-Tarts from Kellogg’s. Receiving the sample did not influence the review.

Purchased Price: FREE from Pop-Tarts
Size: 8-pack
Purchased at: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 pastry) 200 calories 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 15 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Pecan Sticky Buns Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Pecan Sticky Buns Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry’s flavors that are exclusive to one store or area carry a strong sense of injustice, for me at least. I saw a flavor last year that was exclusive to Texas. It’s like, hey, what’s wrong with (insert other 49 states here)!? You think you’re better than us?

Driving to Texas for an exclusive flavor is one thing, but it’s frustrating enough when I can’t go to my precious Wegmans to get a certain flavor and I have to go to a Target or Walmart instead. Bleh!

Even though Pecan Sticky Buns sounded really enticing, the thought of going to a Walmart in Rochester sounded anything but. I don’t think I’d been to one in a good two years. I hadn’t had sticky buns in a few years either, not since the last time I attended an adult caramel party. Think of the party from Eyes Wide Shut, only a lot weirder and with a lot more caramel.

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Pecan Sticky Buns Ice Cream 2

With this ice cream, Ben & Jerry’s did a really good job with getting certain flavors of an actual sticky bun down. The buttery brown sugar ice cream was pretty accurate. You definitely get a strong brown sugar flavor with this. I know because I used to pour a pound of brown sugar into my oatmeal when I was little.

There are chunks of sticky bun dough to further nail the brown swirly ooey-gooey parts of the sticky buns. You know what I mean. The sticky bun dough chunks were exactly like the cinnamon bun dough chunks from Ben & Jerry’s Cinnamon Bun flavor, which I’m not even sure is a flavor anymore. I know they have different names, but I’m suspicious they were the same exact chunks. Think they tried to sneak one by us here.

Ben & Jerry's Limited Batch Pecan Sticky Buns Ice Cream 3

The pecans were ridiculously flavorful. They appeared to be normal pecans but they tasted like those cinnamon roasted one you get at a baseball game or festival. They had that boiled in something sweet taste and it is pretty magnificent. I mean, there are not many things that wouldn’t be delicious if you boiled them in cinnamon. I bet Hannibal Lector boiled some of his victims in cinnamon before going to Chowtown. I just know there’s a deleted scene of that. Probably.

Lastly, there’s a cream cheese frosting swirl whose presence in a bite will always surprise you because it blends in perfectly with the ice cream. The swirls aren’t very thick, which was nice because you don’t get surprise flavor slammed by cream cheese, and they are a nice touch as they take you away from the cinnamon taste for a second.

Overall, it’s a good concoction, but it is SUPER rich, even for Ben & Jerry’s. I’ve had other exclusive Walmart flavors, but they were subpar (I’m looking at you, Cotton Candy). This one was worth the trip.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 300 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of total fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of total carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 23 grams of sugars, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.09
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Has flavors very reminiscent of real pecan sticky bun. Adult caramel parties.
Cons: A bit too rich. Having to go to Walmart to get it. Ben & Jerry’s exclusive flavor injustice.

REVIEW: Project 7 Birthday Cake Gourmet Gummies

Project 7 Birthday Cake Gourmet Gummies

Science!

It is long-winded!

What with its Bunsen burners, vacuum filters, and radioactive delocalized atoms, science can leave even the most educated scratching their heads about what in the world C12H22O11 is. Indeed, the mere mention of the periodic table can transform the average-and-everyday into the daunting, ruthless, and unfamiliar.

But, as I learned the time I used physics to whack open a piñata while bouncing on a trampoline, just because science can be unfamiliar doesn’t mean it’s bad. Sometimes one must use science to venture into the unknown. Must harness it to go where no one has gone. Must employ it to take up fly-fishing, win at Ping-Pong, or do the moonwalk in polka-dotted boxer shorts. As humans, we must push, pull, challenge, wring, and wrestle so that we may grow. Science can help us do this.

And sometimes this integration of science involves transforming a fluffy, frosted loaf into blushing ursidae-shaped confectionary. Such is the case with these Project 7 gummies, which dare to take on birthday cake as the inspiration for their squishy bears. But will science follow through? And, if so, will it serve us better? Or will we be consumed by gelatinous radioactive sludge? Fire up the atomizer. We’re diving in.

Project 7 Birthday Cake Gourmet Gummies 2

Well, pull out your shades and put on your blinders ‘cause these bears tumble out with a red-pink hue that’d rival Kirby eating strawberries in a Hello Kitty Store. The gummies smell quite unique, wavering between whiffs of vanilla Jell-O, pound cake, and, oddly enough, that first moment one walks into a Laser Tag room when the fog machine is at full blast. Special effect smells aside, the bears are soft, squishy, and with their massive googly eyes, likely to both inspire and scare the living daylights out of you.

You wanted your birthday cake chocolate? Strawberry? Coffee caramel with marshmallow fluff? This terrain is not for you. Soft and stretchy with a hint of Chuck E. Cheese Birthday Cake, these bears are straight up vanilla. Nothing more. Nothing less. The bears start with a sweet, saccharine sugar spike that mellows out into the mellow vanilla. It’s not too exciting, but definitely pleasant enough in a humble, uncomplicated way. There’s even a certain brightness at the end, probably from the 100 percent vitamin C they’ve crammed into ‘em. That’s right: you can prevent scurvy. Birthday Cake Gummies can help.

Project 7 Birthday Cake Gourmet Gummies 3

Science came. Science saw. Science did a bunch of chemical interactions. Maybe something exploded (because what’s good science without explosions?).

What emerged from the mist are these wacky, vanilla-forward gummies tinted in a pink so deep they could stomp on Barbie’s trademark. While the flavor doesn’t blow my mind, the vanilla is pleasantly simple and the concept of specialty gummies is kind of (definitely) spectacular. Perhaps Project 7 will Jelly-Belly-ify their gummies, expanding into the realms of pancakes and pina coladas. My appreciation of this gummy’s vanilla flavor, coupled with a hope that Project 7 will create a buttered popcorn-flavored gummy, is enough to encourage me to pick these up on occasion. If you like your pink with a shot of vanilla and vitamin C, these are worth a shot.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 pieces – 130 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 20 milligrams of sodium, 0 mg of potassium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 2 oz package
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Squishy. Sweet. Mellow, non-chemically vanilla flavor. Prevents scurvy. Kirby at the Hello Kitty Store. Using physics to whack a piñata. Polka-dotted underwear. Science!
Cons: Has googly eyes that haunt you. Not inclusive of all Birthday Cake flavors (yet). Questionable smell of fog effects at Laser Tag. May bring back traumatic Chuck E. Cheese Birthday memories. Radioactive sludge.