REVIEW: Cheerwine Kreme

Cheerwine Kreme

The Southern favorite, Cheerwine, used to be on my soda bucket list.

Yes, I have a soda bucket list.

Cheerwine. Chugged.

Moxie. Imbibed.

Big Red. Knocked back.

Coco Fizz. Consumed.

Faygo. Someday, yo.

Dublin Dr Pepper. Unfortunately, never, since it’s not being made anymore.

To be honest, for a while, I thought Cheerwine was an alcoholic beverage. But thanks to the internet and one really boring evening at home, I learned it was not. A few years ago, I had the opportunity to drink it, and, holy cheer, it’s one sweet cherry soda. Sweet because it made my sweet tooth dance like the inflatable tube guy you see at car dealerships and sweet because it’s one awesome soda. Think of it as Dr Pepper, but instead of having 23 flavors, it has one flavor — cherry.

Being both from the South, Cheerwine and Krispy Kreme decided to join forces to create a Cheerwine with a hint of Krispy Kreme icing. This would’ve been a nice flavor to introduce next year, since 2017 is Cheerwine’s 100th birthday, but maybe the company plans to introduce Cheerwine with a hint of birthday cake to celebrate.

This is not the first time the two brands have come together for a product. They also did a Cheerwine-flavored Krispy Kreme donut, I mean, doughnut.

Cheerwine Kreme 2

Cheerwine Kreme is noticeably lighter in color than original Cheerwine. While the original is Dr Pepper dark, the limited edition soda is like a slightly darker Big Red soda. It has an aroma that instantly makes me think of Vanilla Coke. It also has a vanilla flavor that instantly makes me think of a red creme soda.

I love red cream soda, so I enjoyed Cheerwine Kreme immensely. But it tastes exactly like a red creme soda. That’s an issue because Cheerwine has a unique flavor and the flavor of this isn’t.

A special thanks goes to Impulsive Buy reader Robert Harris who sent me the bottles of Cheerwine and Cheerwine Kreme. Cheers, Robert!

(Nutrition Facts – 8 fl oz – 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 17 milligrams of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrates, 28 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: Received from reader
Size: 20 oz bottle
Purchased at: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like red cream soda. Smells like Vanilla Coke. Probably less Red 40 than original Cheerwine.
Cons: Tastes like a red cream soda. Was available in very few markets. Not being able to drink Dublin Dr Pepper.

REVIEW: Nestle Nesquik Protein Plus Vanilla Milk

Nestle Nesquik Protein Plus Vanilla Milk

Protein. We need it for body stuff.

Yeah, I don’t know what body stuff exactly. I have an English degree and got C’s in every class that ends with -ology or -ience.

What I do know is that protein is big. A big money maker. Everywhere you look in the grocery store, companies are putting the stuff into everything they possibly can. And I guess Nesquik Protein Plus Milk, is Nestle’s way to get a little bit of that sweet, sweet protein drink money.

Some of you might be thinking, regular Nesquik is milk so it already has protein. That’s true, but it just has more. According to the bottle, Nesquik Protein Plus has “10% more of the daily value for protein per 8 fl oz than regular Nesquik.” A cup of it has 13 grams of protein, while regular Nesquik has 8 grams.

Wait.

I got C’s in every class that ends with -athematics, but I’m pretty sure the difference between 13 grams and 8 grams is more than 10 percent.

Anyway, this protein enhanced milk gets its protein from the milk and an ingredient called milk protein concentrate. What’s milk protein concentrate? Again, C’s in every class that ends with -ology or -ience.

Nesquik has always been a brand that targets kids. But Nesquik Protein Plus is for adults, or as the bottle says, “For Adults Young At Heart.” But from afar, it looks like any Nesquik bottle. So other adults are going to look at you and think to themselves, “Oh my God, how can you drink that? You’re not lactose intolerant?”

As for its flavor, well, if you’ve had regular vanilla Nesquik milk, you will know what this tastes like. It’s sweet, creamy, it’s better tasting than a vanilla protein powder shake, and I enjoyed drinking it. The added protein doesn’t affect its flavor.

Yes, it does have a good amount of sugar in it (22 grams per serving). But the bottle does say it has “28% less sugar than the leading Protein Enhanced Flavored Milk.” So, there’s that. Although, as we’ve learned earlier, this bottle isn’t good at stating accurate percentages.

But if you want to consume a lot of protein, be young at heart, and satisfy your sweet tooth, this milk is a tasty way to do it.

Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 14 fl oz
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (8 ounces) 170 calories, 25 calories from fat, 2.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 450 milligrams of potassium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 22 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies

Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies

Life tip number one: Always write your name in big, bold letters on your cowboy hat.

Life tip number two: Never say no to cheesecake, especially when it involves pumpkin.

Ever since Hostess rose from the crumbling sponge cake edifice of its 2012 bankruptcy filing, the company has been churning out seasonal flavors with Pop-Tart like alacrity. You might just say that Twinkie the Kid (who’s actually a 55-year old man who apparently doesn’t believe in wearing shirts) is a Twinkie of many hats, except, well, Twinkie the Kid always wears a cowboy hat.

Well, Twinkie the Kid must be hiding a chef’s hat under his Stetson, because his new Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies might just be the pinnacle of artificial pumpkin spice cheesecake flavor.

I wrote this in an endearing manner; one only expects so much authenticity in a cheesecake-flavored product that contains hydrogenated beef tallow, yet for what the Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies lack in their simplicity of ingredients, they more than make up for in surprisingly unexpected guilty pleasure appeal.

The key to enjoying the flavor of the Twinkies, like the key to enjoying so many mass-produced bakery snacks, is to judge the flavor as a sum of the cake’s part. I won’t sugarcoat this, because the 18 grams of sugar in each Twinkie already do, but the white fudge coating is waxy and saccharine on its own. The Twinkie cake, is, well, a slightly dry sponge cake that could just last into eternity. And the cream? A cinnamon and nutmeg explosion spilled into equal parts sour cream and marshmallow fluff.

When I first ate the Twinkie in three distinct parts, I thought it was mediocre. But then, since I’m a complete glutton who absolutely loves pumpkin spice cheesecake, I stuffed a whole Twinkie in my mouth.

Hostess Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies 2

The flavor was unexpectedly if not unequivocally pumpkin spice, with a sweet, slightly tangy filling providing notes of cheesecake. The white fudge coating, commingling with the cakey and cream filled elements, suddenly provided both a textural contrast that mimicked a cheesecake crust, while also serving as a rich and sweet topping. I’m not saying it was a Cheesecake Factory experience par excellence, but as each Twinkie wrapper fell to the floor and crumbs of white fudge coating smeared onto my shirt, both the cheesecake and pumpkin spice flavor became more pronounced.

Which brings me to my major problem with Twinkie the Kid’s latest concoction: It’s hard to say no. Actually, it’s downright impossible, even though the cloying nature of the white fudge and the cinnamon heavy flavored cream tell your brain that this is not exactly the most authentic representation of pumpkin spice cheesecake you could buy.

But that’s the thing about both cheesecake and pumpkin spice: there’s a margin for error that doesn’t demand Philadelphia cream cheese, toasted nutmeg, or Saigon cinnamon. The flavor can be artificial; it can be overly sweet. Yet as long as it works within the constraints of the ingredients to conjure up the flavor of pumpkin spice cheesecake, it’s not something you’re going to say no to.

And judging by the how quickly I plowed through the nine snack cakes in my box of Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Twinkies, I won’t be saying no to buying these again.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Cake – 170 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 6.0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 0 gram of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 9 cakes
Purchased at: Kroger
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Admirably complexity in the pumpkin spice flavored cream. Cream has a cheesecake tang and thicker viscosity than normal Twinkie cream. White Fudge coating binds the whole cake together with rich and sweet flavor. Doesn’t screw up one of the best flavors of fall.
Cons: The white fudge coating is almost uneatable when sampled alone. Exceptionally sweet. Made with the same great stuff that McDonald’s used to fry their fries in. Eating 720 calories in Twinkies and still feeling famished.

REVIEW: Pizza Hut Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza

Pizza Hut Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza

Pizza Hut’s Stuffed Crust Pizza was a mind-blowing idea when it first came out. Pizza fanatics rejoiced. Nutritionists cried. Dairy farmers pumped their fists and shouted, “Ka-ching!” And dairy cows yelled, “Moo!”

I was super excited about it. But after eating a slice I realized the problem with the Stuffed Crust Pizza was the fact the cheese inside wasn’t different than what’s on the pizza. So if you were to take a bite of it with the pizza, it would pretty much taste like a normal pizza with a double dose of mozzarella cheese.

But Pizza Hut is doing something different with their new Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza. There’s a little mozzarella in there, but the big cheese is, um, cheddar.

Yeah, I don’t know what uppity artisan sandwich shop the folks who work at Pizza Hut’s test kitchen eat at for fancy grilled cheese sandwiches, but for us regular folks, our grilled cheese sandwiches have good ol’ U.S. of American cheese that’s as American as the idea of a grilled cheese stuffed crust pizza. So why doesn’t the orange goo contain it?

Pizza Hut Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza 2

The crust is also topped with butter and breadcrumbs. Not a sprinkling of breadcrumbs, but enough to make some slices look like they’re connected to a chicken cutlet. They also provide a satisfying crunch that the actual crust does not.

Pizza Hut Grilled Cheese Stuffed Crust Pizza 3

The ends were quite flat. I don’t know if my pizza was made the right way, but it looks like a bean bag chair that lost a war between it and the butts of an entire football team’s offensive and defensive lines. I thought there wouldn’t be a lot of cheese in it, but as I pulled a slice away, a crown of orange goo peaked out from the crust.

The flavor combination of cheese, butter, crust, and breadcrumbs, doesn’t remind me of a grilled cheese sandwich, but then again, my grilled cheese sandwiches don’t use cheddar or mozzarella. But with the added garlic in the butter, it tastes more like cheesy garlic bread than a grilled cheese sandwich. That’s not a bad thing. I liked its flavor even though it was not what I was expecting. Maybe cheesy garlic bread is what grilled cheese sandwiches at uppity artisan sandwich shops taste like.

While I enjoyed the crust, I thought combining bites of it with the pizza were odd. Not gross, just different because of the cheddar. The pizza itself was typical Pizza Hut fare, so I won’t go into any further detail about that.

The whole point of Pizza Hut’s Stuffed Crust Pizza is to encourage us to eat the crust, and I think it was successful with this pizza. The crust was saltier than the pizza itself and I wish it came with a container of tomato soup as a dip, but I have to say this is the first time I felt like eating the end crust and throwing away the pizza, instead of eating the pizza and throwing away the end crust.

Purchased Price: $17.99*
Size: Large pizza
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (1 slice) 400 calories, 20 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 860 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 18 grams of protein.

*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. These are being advertised for $12.99 for a one topping large pizza at participating locations.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Dannon Light & Fit Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt

Limited Edition Dannon Light & Fit Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt

If there’s a Real Housewives franchise in the yogurt world, it would be Dannon.

The yogurt has so many spin-off varieties. Not as many as The Real Housewives, because I’m pretty sure the producers of the reality show have been scraping the bottom of the Earth and have plans for The Real Housewives of Ottawa (Canada) or The Real Housewives of Butte (Montana).

With so many yogurt spin-offs, it gives Dannon the opportunity to make pumpkin pie-flavored varieties for every one of them. The company has already done one for their Oikos line and now it offers a Light & Fit Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt.

If I had to compare the light pumpkin pie-flavored yogurt with a Real Housewives show, it would have to be all of them. With the light yogurt and the reality show, you know what you’re going to get and it’s not for everyone. With a Real Housewives show, there’s going to be a lot of cray cray, and with the light yogurt there will be sucralose and ace-k.

Limited Edition Dannon Light & Fit Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt 2

For a fat-free Greek yogurt, it’s very good and pumpkin pie-ish. The use of cinnamon helps with the flavor, and I think there are cinnamon specks floating in the yogurt.

Also, even though there aren’t any other spices listed, I could taste those others you’d get in a pumpkin pie. Yes, the artificial sweeteners slapped my mouth like the Housewives do amongst each other, but that’s the reason why it’s “pumpkin pie-ish.”

Dannon’s Light & Fit Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt is thick, creamy, a great source of protein, and has a pleasant pumpkin pie flavor. It’s a great addition to the yogurt company’s limited edition fall flavor lineup and, like many of The Real Housewives shows, I expect to see it again next year.

Purchased Price: $1.50
Size: 5.3 oz
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 80 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 140 milligrams of potassium, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein.

REVIEW: White BOO-tterscotch M&M’s

White BOO-tterscotch M&M's

Does anyone under the age of 60 like butterscotch besides me?

I know I instantly think of the candy dish at my Grandmother’s house, where at any given time you could treat yourself to a hard butterscotch stuck to its orange wrapper, a root beer barrel, or a button from an old sweater. On a good day you might even find a Chocolate Riesen. If you asked most kids they’d probably consider the button over the butterscotch, but I wasn’t that kid.

If you’re like me, seek help.

But also, if you’re like me, you probably wondered “what exactly is butterscotch?” I’ve had it 1000 times, but I don’t actually know what it’s made of. I’m perpetually in a state of mild inebriation, so I can’t really tell. It can’t possibly have actual scotch in it, right?

No. It’s basically just brown sugar and butter. According to trusty Wikipedia, “Butterscotch is similar to toffee, but for butterscotch the sugar is boiled to the soft crack stage, and not hard crack as with toffee.”

I guess “butterscotch” was a better name than “soft crack toffee.”

Ya know what’s a better name than “butterscotch?” BOO-terscotch!

I worry about our elderly butterscotch aficionados. These new White BOO-tterscotch M&M’s might be a bit too scary for their old hearts to take.

White BOO-tterscotch M&M’s, or “BOOMM’s” as the kids call them, are the latest Halloween tie-in from the Mars company. Not sure if you guys have seen the new commercial, but the jingle is pretty catchy – White B, double O, double T, E-R, with a SCOTCH, double M and an S. YES!

I made that up, and I can’t apologize enough for it. On to the review –>

In terms of smell, these are the most distinct M&M’s I’ve ever opened. They stink like butterscotch. Stink. I honestly can’t decide if I like it or not. It’s probably too strong, but I appreciate the fact you know what you’re in for.

White BOO-tterscotch M&M's 2

As with most of their special releases, they are about the size of Peanut Butter M&M’s. Once you crunch through the familiar, but boring fall colored shells, the inside is white chocolate.

I’ve found that white chocolate style M&M’s tend to be creamier than the normal, but don’t fret folks, they still won’t melt in your hands. Since these are fashioned after a “sucking candy,” I ate them that way, and let each piece melt in my mouth like the famous slogan goes.

White BOO-tterscotch M&M's 3

For such a strong smelling candy, the butterscotch flavor is pleasantly light. The white chocolate has a really nice flavor, and there’s a perfect marriage between that and the butterscotch. It’s distinctly there, but not so much that you have Nam-style flashbacks of Grandma’s candy dish.

The flavor is obviously different, but these put me in mind of the Candy Corn M&M’s, which I was actually a big fan of. Those are another “old people” candy that M&M’s did right. Pairing these flavors with white chocolate was a wise decision, because they mesh so well together.

Remember earlier when I made up that jingle? Sorry again. At least I didn’t shoehorn in a Ron Burgundy quote.

So yeah, these are good. They don’t specify, but I assume they’ll strictly be a fall release. They kinda limited their window with the name “BOO-tterscotch,” but I guess if they’re popular enough they can change it.

These are probably gonna find their way to Grandmother’s house this Halloween. Maybe even beyond that. Ya better watch your back, Werther’s.

(Nutrition Facts – 1.5 ounces — 210 calories, 100 calories from fat, 11 grams of total fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 40 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 28 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.19
Size: 8 oz bag
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Butterscotch flavor isn’t too overpowering. Creamy white chocolate. Distinctive smell. Memories of Grandma’s house. The name “Boo-tterscotch.”
Cons: Boring color tone. Specific store exclusives. Memories of Grandma’s candy dish. Potentially too scary for the elderly. Halloween gets earlier every year. So sorry about that jingle.