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.

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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.

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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.

REVIEW: S’mores Crispy M&M’s

S'mores Crispy M&M's

Crispy M&M’s are one of those snacks you’ll find on many lists on the internet with titles like “20 Foods You’ll Never Eat Again” or “19 90s Snacks Your Taste Buds Will Never Experience Once More.” But those writers didn’t heed the wise words of Justin Bieber, “Never Say Never.”

The creamy and crispy candy came back with the might of a multi-million dollar promotional campaign about two years ago. And now there are flavored varieties. Meet S’mores Crispy M&M’s.

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If Skittles is “Taste the Rainbow,” then these would be “Taste the Neutral Color Palette in a Home Depot Paint Department.” The candy pieces come colors that I will describe using names one might find in a Home Depot paint section: Vancouver Snow, Orange Moss, and Ghana Cocoa.

While their colors might not be exciting, the smell that comes out of their bag every time I open it is an aromatic come-hither. I imagine it’s similar to what the original Ghostbusters had to smell for days after getting drenched with Stay Puft Marshmallow Man goo, a toasted eau de mallow, if you will. It’s an artificial exaggerated marshmallow aroma, but it’s still a scent I enjoy. Hey, Glade! Bottle it or turn it into a candle.

The artificial marshmallow flavor is as strong as the artificial marshmallow aroma and it has an equally strong chocolate flavor, but it’s hard to taste the graham. They don’t taste exactly like those messy treats I used to eat sitting around the campfire I had to make and later extinguish in order to earn my Fire Safety Merit Badge, but they’re s’mores-ish enough for me.

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All the flavor is in the chocolate. I thought the rice crispy center might have some flavor, but after letting a piece dissolve in my mouth, it turns out it’s blander than Rice Krispies Cereal. However, it does give each candy a graham cracker-like crunch. Oh, that crunch! That wonderful crunch that was one of the reasons why I liked a Facebook page called “Bring Back Crispy M&M’s.”

I really like S’mores Crispy M&M’s. But that’s not surprising since they have the same marshmallow flavor that’s in those great Hot Chocolate M&M’s that came out last year. I do wish the graham was a bit stronger, but I’d still recommend them. So if you see these crispy s’mores-flavored M&M’s on a store shelf, go Taste the Neutral Color Palette in a Home Depot Paint Department.

(Nutrition Facts – 1.5 ounces – 200 calories, 70 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 25 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 8 oz bag
Purchased at: Cub Foods
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: S’mores-ish. Artificial marshmallow aroma and flavor are pleasant. The crunch of Crispy M&M’s. Crispy M&M’s still live!
Cons: Hard to taste the graham. Rice crisp center is flavorless. Using the word “never” in your discontinued foods list.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Bacon Supreme Omelet Breakfast Sandwich

Dunkin' Donuts Bacon Supreme Omelet Breakfast Sandwich

Supreme is, undoubtedly, one of my favorite adjectives. It has a connotation that’s both physically big and exceptional, not to mention it lends its name to the highest court in America, a groundbreaking female vocal group, and that mysterious bad guy we saw in The Force Awakens.

Supreme is bigger, better, and tastier than super. Supreme is what superb aspires to be but will never be. Supreme is what adults say when they want to describe something but don’t want the ambiguity of stupendous.

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Dunkin’ Donuts’ Bacon Supreme Omelet Breakfast Sandwich does not look like it deserves the title supreme. Flatter than a pancake and shoved into an America Runs on Dunkin’ bag amidst the morning rush hour, its appearance might best be described as, “that’s it?”

But looks can be deceiving, and when it comes to taste, the Bacon Supreme Omelet Breakfast Sandwich delivers.

But first, a word about croissants. Yes, the French can be annoying. Likewise, I understand southern food and, by extension, biscuits are all the rage in breakfast sandwich land. But I don’t care, because even in it’s smushed, mass-produced form, a croissant is a supreme choice for a breakfast sandwich bread.

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Dunkin’s version is buttery, slightly sweet, and wonderfully compliments the hearty egg mixture. While that mixture isn’t much to look at, it has crunchy bits of flavorful potatoes, peppers, and onions, not to mention just a rich eggy flavor. A slice of perfectly melted, salty American cheese helps bring the flavors together. Finally, the bacon is exceptional. If Arby’s bacon is brown sugar bacon is divisive, then Dunkin’s bacon is a great uniter. It’s meaty and smoky, with that perfect combination of crispness and fat to appease all bacon lovers.

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For as wonderful as the buttery croissant, gooey American cheese, smoky bacon, and egg and pepper mixture come together, I found the taste exactly like it sounds: a bit heavy. It’s rich and fatty and salty and everything else I want in a supreme breakfast sandwich, but it’s also missing an element of sweetness and relief.  

I won’t lie to you; I grew up eating eggs with ketchup, and that’s exactly what I wished I had grabbed after my first few bites of the sandwich. While I doubt ketchup is something the Dunkin’ test kitchen chefs would consider, I do think the sweet crunchy flavor of good old fashioned, fresh sliced tomatoes would make a world of difference. A slice of Romaine lettuce, too, would go a long way to cementing the sandwich in the premium category, not to mention boost its aesthetic appeal beyond smushed UFO-looking vehicle of saturated fat and sodium (not that I’m complaining).

Dunkin’ Donuts’ Bacon Supreme Omelet Breakfast Sandwich is definitely super, and maybe even makes the case for superb, but without a bit of sweetness and extra heft, it’s not quite the supreme it could be. Nevertheless, it’s a tasty addition to Dunkin’s menu and a hearty start to any day.

(Nutrition Facts – 600 calories, 37 grams of fat, 16 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 245 milligrams of cholesterol, 1200 milligrams of sodium, 43 grams of carbohydrates, 2 gram of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 23 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Dunkin’ Donuts
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Croissant has buttery, savory flavor that compliments the eggs perfectly. American cheese is wonderfully melted into the nooks and crannies of the croissant. Egg mixture is flavorful with ideal texture. Hearty, put-you-to-sleep type sandwich.
Cons: Could use more bacon to increase coverage to every bite. Needs an element of sweetness or relief from tomatoes. Potatoes don’t make much of an impact. Hearty, put-you-to-sleep type sandwich.

REVIEW: Kellogg’s Frosted A&W Root Beer Pop-Tarts

Kellogg's Frosted A&W Root Beer Pop-Tarts

I really expected to love these Kellogg’s Frosted A&W Root Beer Pop-Tarts, write a review that just said “G.O.A.T.,” drop a mic, light my keyboard on fire, do a touchdown dance, buy a new keyboard to write a Buzzfeed article with the title “Pop-Tarts You Have To Pop Into Your Toaster and Then Pop Into Your Mouth Right Now”, light the new keyboard on fire, flip a baseball bat, salute, and then walk away with two thumbs up raised above my head.

But after trying them at room temperature, toasted, chilled, frozen, and with a goat on a boat, I have to say these new soda-inspired Pop-Tarts aren’t the Greatest of All Time.

But they are good.

I think my expectations were too high (ya think) because of all the great root beer float-flavored snacks that have made their way onto shelves over the past few years. There’s been the Nabisco Ice Cream Creations Root Beer Float Chips Ahoy Cookies (awesome), Betty Crocker’s A&W Root Beer Float Cookie Mix (awesome), and Limited Edition Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies (good).

What I loved about the Chips Ahoy and Betty Crocker cookies was how the root beer flavor stood out. But what prevented the Root Beer Float Oreo Cookies from reaching the pantheon the other cookies did was how the Golden Oreo wafers muted the creme’s flavor. Unfortunately, that’s similar to what’s going on with these Pop-Tarts.

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I thought not having the “float” part in the toaster pastry would’ve made the root beer flavor stand out even more, but, sadly, the crust and frosting are the pillows that smother the root beer filling’s flavor. The crust, although dark in color which makes it appear it might be flavored, tastes like regular Pop-Tarts crust. The same can be said about frosting’s flavor. As for the brown, red, and orange crunchlets (yes, that’s what they’re officially called), they’re just decoration.

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The filling has the sugar and spices one would taste in A&W Root Beer, and it’s good, but, again, I do wish it was stronger. I thought toasting would help, but it doesn’t. I thought that was strange because with most Pop-Tarts the flavor hits my taste buds harder when toasted.

There’s no optimum way to eat them. I enjoyed them equally at room temperature, toasted, chilled, and frozen. Also, it may have just my imagination but I might’ve felt a little bit of fizzing.

Of all the big root beer brands — Barq’s, Mug, and A&W — A&W is my favorite. I can’t specifically explain why I like it, but drinking unlimited A&W Root Beer from a tap at an A&W Restaurant is one of favorite food-related memories. Tasting these Frosted A&W Root Beer Pop-Tarts probably won’t break into my list of favorite food memories. They also don’t make me want to walk away with two thumbs up raised above my head. But I’ll give them one thumbs up.

Disclosure: I received this sample for free from the Kellogg Company. Being free didn’t affect this review in any way. If it did, the whole review probably would’ve been just “G.O.A.T.”

(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.)

Purchased Price: FREE from Kellogg
Size: 8 pack
Purchased at: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Great idea. One thumbs up. Filling tastes like root beer. Fizzing? Enjoyable at room temperature, toasted, chilled, or frozen.
Cons: Not G.O.A.T. Crust and frosting hinder the root beer flavor. I wish root beer flavor was stronger. No Dr Pepper Pop-Tarts, yet.

QUICK REVIEW: Limited Edition Triscuit Sriracha Crackers

Limited Edition Triscuit Sriracha Crackers

To be honest, I’m more interested in the Limited Edition Triscuit Sriracha box than the actual crackers inside of it. What can I say, the black box is sexy. You may disagree, but it definitely looks better than every Triscuit box that’s come before it.

The sexy box suggests putting shrimp, avocados, peanut sauce, and cilantro on the sriracha-seasoned crackers to make hors d’oeuvres. Since I don’t have fancy ingredients around me and shrimp makes me pass out, I ate them sans topping.

They have a sweet, savory, peppery, and garlicky flavor, and that’s almost everything I want sriracha flavoring to be. Yes, almost. It’s lacking in one of sriracha’s most notable characteristics — spiciness. The crunchy crackers barely register a blip of heat on my tongue. They’re Doritos Nacho Cheese spicy. But they’re also Doritos Nacho Cheese delicious, if you’re into sriracha.

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However, the crackers in the box had varying degrees of flavor. It’s easy to tell the differences by looking at them. Some looked like plain Triscuit, but had a light sriracha flavor; some had a stronger flavor and looked like they got caught in a paprika dust storm; and some were sriracha potent and so red that they could be served to folks waiting to get through the Gates of Hell.

Maybe it’s a production error or maybe it’s Triscuit getting back at me because I’ve always said Wheat Thins are better. But I think the seasoning should’ve been applied evenly on every cracker.

Limited Edition Triscuit Sriracha Crackers are a nice addition to the vast Triscuit lineup. But it’s a bit disappointing they’re a limited edition, not spicy, and the seasoning wasn’t applied evenly. If they were to fix those issues, I’d probably like them more than the sexy box they came in.

Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 9 oz box
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (6 crackers) 120 calories, 35 calories from fat, 4 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 2 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 120 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of fiber, less than 1 gram of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Uncured Bacon Jam

Trader Joe's Uncured Bacon Jam

There has to be some mandate from Trader Joe’s corporate that gives talking points to the Hawaiian-shirted cashiers flanking the stores. The bespectacled, olive-skinned gentleman scanned all my groceries and stopped at the new-ish item, Trader Joe’s Uncured Bacon Jam.

“Have you tried this before?” he asked. This is a popular question I get when I’m not just, like, buying six handfuls of dried pasta and a gallon of Charles Shaw wine. I have also gotten “I like your shirt,” and “Why did you stare at that box of Joe Joe’s for fifteen minutes, grunt really loud, and then drop kick that bunch of bananas onto the conveyer belt?” The answer to that one is actually something reasonable about trying to look good for girls, but I have to shop at the other Trader Joe’s now.

I hadn’t tried the Uncured Bacon Jam. The man recommended toasting a sliced baguette and drizzling olive oil on it, then spreading a bit of jam on each piece during a dinner party, with a tinkling piano playing in the background, I’m sure. That sounds really nice. I went home and slathered it on some white bread with peanut butter. It was good.

I was fully prepared to hold up the container and point, declaring, “But it says ‘jam’ on the jar! Like peanut butter and jam!” in a dumb voice, but the sandwich was good. The ingredients complemented each other. In fact, I would say it’s a suitable substitute for any fruit jam use, for better or worse.

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The jam itself is spreadable meat immersed in liquid. So, that seems kinda gross. It looks a little like the contents of a sink’s garbage disposal. At first taste, it’s sweet, like any fruit jam would be. It has a baby food-texture that ends in little chewy bits of meat. The sweetness subsides and opens up a smoky, savory roundness that eventually lands on a tart aftertaste.

I ate it off a knife (and only cut my tongue a tiny bit… ladies) and it proved too sweet to eat alone. Even with some bread, anything more than a dollop was too sweet to bear. Like any other jam, a little goes a long way. One thing I did notice is that one of the main ingredients is “dark brown sugar,” which makes this more of a faux-maple bacon food item. The jam definitely needs to pair with something bold to counteract the cloying element.

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The jar itself says to add it to pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and appetizers, but I only had it in a peanut butter sandwich and with a grilled cheese. If you use a sharp cheddar/muenster combo, it helps balance the flavor profile nicely, if you don’t use too much. I can’t really think of too many other times I’m putting jam on things, though. With the bacon trend in the rearview mirror, the usefulness of this is a little in question.

Perhaps the jam is not as versatile as the jar would have you believe, but I can see how a tiny spot of this stuff would work at a dinner party with all your Trader Joe’s cashiers in attendance. They’re all sitting around the table wearing Hawaiian shirts, serving tiny paper cups of coffee and commenting on each other’s groceries. Man, I want an invite. Do you think they serve that half-popped popcorn there? And cookie butter? Oh, rainbow carrots and hummus! That’s it. I’m going to march back there and compliment them on their shirts.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 tablespoon – 45 calories, 2 grams of fat, 1 grams of saturated fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 75 milligrams of sodium, 5 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: 8.5 oz jar
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Goes well with a peanut butter sandwich and a grilled cheese. Can be used to substitute any jam.
Cons: When do you put jam on anything? Can be a little too sweet.