REVIEW: Monster Energy Mutant Super Sodas

Monster Mutant Super Sodas

I wonder if internally at Monster Energy Headquarters, which I imagine is a radioactive green building with giant ramps on its sides that allow action sports stars to jump over the building, they called their new Super Sodas, Monster Dew.

In the world of radioactive colored sodas, Mountain Dew is far and away the most popular, and probably the most radioactive colored. So I understand why Monster decided to go after Mountain Dew’s marketshare. It could be successful or it could end up like Coca-Cola’s Surge, discontinued until a rabid following helps bring it back in limited markets

The new soda line is available in two varieties — Original and Red Dawn. If you Dew the Dew, you probably figured out Red Dawn is Monster’s version of Mountain Dew’s cherry-flavored Code Red.

The green one is good, but it’s slightly different than Mountain Dew. To be more exact it tastes like it’s missing something. And that something is orange juice concentrate. The lack of it leans the soda more into lime territory. You might think Monster decided not to use it in case Pepsi decided to Mountain Sue them, but that’s unlikely because Red Dawn has it.

While the Hulk green Monster Super Soda kind of tastes like original Dew, Red Dawn tastes exactly like Mountain Dew Code Red. If you secretly replaced my stash of it with Monster’s version, I don’t think I’d be able to tell. And if you did that, how dare you sneak into my home and you will be getting a bill for all the locks I have to change.

They have the same amount of calories and slightly less sugar than Mountain Dew. But the number many of you care about when it comes to radioactive colored sodas is the caffeine amount. While 20 ounces of Dew has 91 milligrams of caffeine, a 20-ounce bottle of Monster Super Soda has 115 milligrams. I think that’s a difference most drinkers won’t notice. And that’s a number without Monster’s proprietary energy blend, which if used would’ve upped the caffeine content significantly, but the bitterness from it might’ve made the beverage taste more like Mountain Ew than Mountain Dew.

Another significant number was the price. At my local 7-Eleven, the Monster Super Soda was $2.29, while a 20-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew was $1.89. So they taste similar and have slightly more caffeine, but are more expensive.

The two are fine Mountain Dew alternatives, but, for me, price negates the fact they have slightly more caffeine. If they were the same price, I’d definitely pick them up more often.

(Nutrition Facts – Original – 290 calories, 0 grams of fat, 90 milligrams of sodium, 74 grams of carbohydrates, 70 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 100% niacin, and 100% vitamin B6. Red Dawn – 290 calories, 0 grams of fat, 60 milligrams of sodium, 72 grams of carbohydrates, 72 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 100% niacin, and 100% vitamin B6..)

Purchased Price: $2.29
Size: 20 oz bottles
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Fine Mtn Dew alternatives. Red Dawn tastes like Code Red. Slightly more caffeine than Mtn Dew.
Cons: Pricer than Mtn Dew. Why does Red Dawn have orange juice concentrate, but the green one doesn’t? Using Mountain Sue and Mountain Ew in a review.

*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: 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.


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.