REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Turkey and Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips

Trader Joe's Turkey and Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips

“We’ve all heard of Thanksgiving leftovers, but Thanksgiving pre-ftovers?” No laughs. I exit the room. I come back in, trying to make a better entrance. “Guys, if Trader Joe’s keeps this up, we’re going to have to rename Thanksgiving Christmas.” I exit the room. I enter again. “You know what they call three strikes in a row in bowling? A turkey. You know what they call four strikes in a row? Obama’s labor policy. That one’s for you, Uncle Jeff!” No laughs. I exit the room, fill my pockets with rocks and march into the ocean.

At least I died after getting to try Trader Joe’s attempt at a Thanksgiving cornucopia shoved into a snack, the Turkey Stuffing and Seasoned Kettle Chips. What it made me realize is that Thanksgiving is about dull, comforting tastes that feature varying textures, and that a subtle flavor with a light description of the product can possibly induce taste hallucinations.

Opening the bag, a waft of powdered mashed potatoes enters the air. Upon first bite, it tastes a little like powdered mashed potatoes, and maybe a hint of sage. It kind of looks like it’s dusted with powdered mashed potatoes.

We’re going to take a timeout from this review for a reassessment: Of course it tastes like potatoes, you dope. It’s a potato chip. And 80 percent of all the stuffing you’ve eaten has been dried and pre-mixed from a plastic bag, which is like the cousin of the powdered mash potato.

Trader Joe's Turkey and Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips 2

Let’s read the packaging. “These thickly cut, kettle cooked chips are tossed in a seasoning that tastes like a traditional American Thanksgiving meal—first you taste the turkey, then comes the stuffing, and if you close your eyes, you’ll swear you can taste the creamy gravy, too.”

On a second taste a muted stuffing flavor appears. It’s good. Was it always there or was I eating the words on the back of the bag? Does it matter? Nibbling on one at a time, I even catch some dark meat turkey flavor, but only a whisper of umami. Eating the chips by the handful, the overriding flavor is stuffing seasoning before sodium overload makes it all taste like other non-Thanksgiving kettle chips. The aftertaste has a black pepper hum that resembles the outline of a gravy, that lends a tail of personality that elevates the final product.

The chip itself has a slight grit, which is not unpleasant but highlights the main difference between this and a real Thanksgiving dinner. There is no celery snap, no meat gristle, no butter gooey bread crumbs. A potato chip is a potato chip. A potato chip is not a Thanksgiving meal. Are all the flavors there? Sure. I caught them, whether they were real or not. And they serve as a pleasant nostalgia, priming the pump for all the other garbage food on the holiday table.

At best this chip has hints of just about all the main meal touchstones of a Thanksgiving dinner, which is pretty amazing. And even at its worst, it’s a decent kettle chip with sage flavoring. It would have been nice to have a little more kick in there at some point, like cranberries, maybe, or something acidic? But we must dance with the date we came with. And that date is racist Uncle Jeff and a crispy stuffing. Maybe slap them on the leftovers sandwich you’re eating in line for Best Buy at 4 a.m. Oh, that’s right, no Black Friday for me. I’m dead! What a blessing.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz. – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of cholesterol, 130 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 0 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Trader Joe’s Turkey and Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 7 oz. bag
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Stuffing flavors, turkey flavors, possibly present and enjoyable.
Cons: A tad dull. Could just be powdered mashed potatoes flavor.

REVIEW: Hershey’s Kisses Deluxe

Hershey's Kisses Deluxe

Does anyone remember Roller Riders? The early 90s As-Seen-On-TV “Scootboard” product with the catchy jingle (“It’s a scootboard!/That’s what it is!/Steers like a racecar/Glides like a skateboard/Roller rider: It’s a scootboard!”)

The thing looked something like this, but was targeted toward teens and tweens. Anybody? Anybody??

Because, presuming YouTube videos encompass all public knowledge, Roller Rider never existed. Indeed, there’s no visual archive, Vimeo documentary, botched soundtrack, or VCR-spliced upload that visually confirms it was a consumer product. Yet there’s a small handful of people who deeply miss it. Who long to scoot, race, and sing the song in the break room at our day job. We may be small, but our love for the product? Is significant.

Hardcore fans of Hershey Kisses are similar. We’re small time, but our devotion is huge. We seek the simple life, although there was that one incident where we had to get a root canal after we ate an entire bag of them at Timothy McDonald’s birthday after he busted open an entire piñata of them in 3rd grade. But other than that, totally simple. I am one such fan. Perhaps you are, too. We are the proud. The few. And we will not whither and die.

Knowing this base of steadfast devotees, Hershey generated a brand new Deluxe Kiss to fancy it up a bit. Filled with ganache, crispities, and a full hazelnut, it strays just enough from the original to be different, and yet remains simple enough to appeal to its pre-existing fans. Its profile sounds much like a Rocher truffle without the fancy name, thus making it both potentially delicious and a solid contender for the stocking-stuffing holidays ahead. But the question is: would Santa approve?

Hershey's Kisses Deluxe 2

Right out of the wrapper, things get off to a swift start with the unwrapped dots looking shiny as a Porsche dried with microfiber terry cloths. The little bell-like chocolate cones smell of nutty fudge and are about 2-3 times as big as the average Kiss, making them certified monsters. Delicious certified monsters.

Indeed, the experience only gets better once you bite in. On the front end, you get a shell covering a more creamy, ganache-like center that tastes distinctly of Hershey chocolate: a little chocolate frosting, a little vanilla, and that special twang of Whatever The Hell’s In There. There’s a whole, if somewhat diminutive, roasted hazelnut tucked in the middle, which adds a solid, nutty crunch to the creamy-crispy experience. Consuming said Kiss can be accomplished in two or three nibbles or one full, melty bite. I support the latter, always opting for the “Go big or miss out” philosophy.

Hershey's Kisses Deluxe 3

I have ridden in a Mercedes once in my life. The seats had air conditioning and sorta hugged you as you turn. It was cool, but I don’t see myself wanting to do it everyday. These Kisses are similar: they’re fun once in a while, but I could see them getting a little too frou-frou for everyday, especially with the high price point ($1.19 for 3 kisses).

But, perhaps money isn’t what’s important. Perhaps what’s important is that the Kiss, at its core, is still delicious. The addition of crispies and hazelnuts only highlight that fact. While I may not be able to afford them all the time, in my dreams, I will eat a bag of them while driving a Roller Rider into the sunset. Note to Santa: that would be a stunning Christmas gift.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 Kisses – 130 calories, 70 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Hershey’s Kisses Deluxe
Purchased Price: $1.19
Size: 3 Kisses
Purchased at: Rite Aid
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Chocolate frosting. Crispy texture. Ganache-like center. Crunchy roasted hazelnut. Eating a bag of Kisses out of a piñata. Roller Riders.
Cons: Pricey. Crispities add only poofy, texturized air. All those questionable ingredients. Where have all the Roller Riders gone? Mercedes seats that hug you are mildly creepy.

QUICK YOGURT REVIEW: Yoplait Plenti Strawberry Greek Yogurt

Yoplait Plenti Strawberry Greek Yogurt

Yoplait’s Plenti Strawberry Greek Yogurt has 140 calories, so this review will have exactly 140 words.

The highlight of this yogurt are the whole grain oats, flax, and pumpkin seeds floating IN the yogurt. There’s no side mix-ins compartment like Chobani Flip or mix-ins in the cover like YoCrunch. Yoplait continues to make it so easait for folks who like simple yogurt instructions.

The yogurt tastes and looks like regular Yoplait strawberry yogurt with bits of fruit. As for the texture of the whole grain oats, flax, and pumpkin seeds that have been sitting in yogurt for days or weeks, they were soft and squishy like quinoa in a quinoa salad. Their texture was weird at first, but halfway through I didn’t mind it. To be honest, if they were still crunchy I would’ve yelled, “Science, what have you done!”

Yoplait Plenti Strawberry Greek Yogurt 2

Purchased Price: $1.49
Size: 5.5 oz.
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 140 calories, 15 calories from fat, 1.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 50 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, 12 grams of protein, 4% vitamin A, 10% calcium, 2% iron, and 20% vitamin D.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Boss Wraps (Fully Loaded Steak and Steak & Potato)

Taco Bell Boss Wraps


It’s what can make Taco Bell, which is usually coins under your car’s floor mats cheap, expensive. But if you want to splurge at the fast food chain because you have $6 in bills instead of $2.26 in loose change, might I suggest Taco Bell’s Boss Wraps.

The new menu item is available in two varieties: Fully Loaded Steak and Steak & Potato.

The Fully Loaded Steak comes with a double portion of steak, reduced fat sour cream, avocado ranch sauce, lettuce, pico de gallo, guacamole, a crunchy tostada shell, and a 3-cheese blend wrapped up in a tortilla. The Steak & Potato Boss Wrap features a double portion of steak, chopped bacon, chipotle sauce, a 3-cheese blend, reduced fat sour cream, a crunchy tostada shell, and crispy potatoes in a tortilla.

Taco Bell Boss Wraps 2

Because of its name, I felt as if it was necessary to start my order with either a “hey man,” “yo,” or a “whaddup” and then emphasize the word “boss.” My cashier didn’t care.

Taco Bell Steak & Potato Boss Wrap

If you have to choose one of the two varieties, go with the Steak & Potato. The potatoes weren’t crunchy when I bit into mine, but, to be fair, they were sitting in the tortilla while I took too many photos. But their flavor made up for their lack of crispiness. Their seasoning reminds me of curly fries and they go well with the chipotle sauce. If Taco Bell ever offers their crispy potatoes with a side of chipotle dipping sauce on their value menu, I’d buy that.

The bacon bits add a smokiness and saltiness, but when eaten alone, I didn’t immediately think of bacon. Instead, I thought of how Taco Bell’s sad bacon bits depress me. While the potatoes didn’t have any crispiness, the tostada shell still had a nice crunch, giving the menu item a different texture.

The double portion of steak, which seemed more like a single portion, was easy to bite through and lightly seasoned. But the steak’s flavor does take a back seat to the chipotle sauce and potatoes. I wish it stood out a bit more.

Taco Bell Fully Loaded Steak Boss Wrap

As for the Fully Loaded Steak Boss Wrap, I liked the avocado ranch sauce, there was a good amount of guacamole, the steak’s flavor was more noticeable, the pico de gallo wasn’t, and the tostada shell still had its crunch. It’s got a lot of nice flavors, but while eating it, I couldn’t help but think I was experiencing Taco Bell deja vu.

If you’re a fan of Taco Bell’s Crunchwrap Supreme, think of these Boss Wraps as upscaled versions with prices to match. The national advertised price is $4.99 and I paid $6.19 each for mine. The Fully Loaded Steak version tasted like something I’ve had before from Taco Bell, but I just can’t put my sour cream, avocado ranch sauce, and guacamole stained finger on it. But, yo, I think the Steak & Potato Boss Wrap is definitely boss.

Am I writing that right?

(Nutrition Facts – Fully Loaded Steak – 760 calories, 39 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 1610 milligrams of sodium, 69 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 32 grams of protein. Steak & Potato – 870 calories, 46 grams of fat, 13 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 100 milligrams of cholesterol, 1960 milligrams of sodium, 78 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fiber, 5 grams of sugar, and 37 grams of protein.)

Item: Taco Bell Boss Wraps (Fully Loaded Steak and Steak & Potato)
Purchased Price: $6.19*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Taco Bell
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Fully Loaded Steak)
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Steak & Potato)
Pros: Both taste fine, but the Steak & Potato tastes better. The chipotle sauce and potatoes in the Steak & Potato Boss Wrap. Tostada shell still crunchy.
Cons: Fully Loaded Steak tasted like something else on Taco Bell’s menu. Pricey. Double portion of steak seemed like a single portion. Steak’s flavor doesn’t really stand out. Taco Bell’s bacon needs an upgrade.

*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: Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink

Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink

If you want to hoard Starbucks Pumpkin Spice drinks so you can enjoy them year round, you either have to freeze Pumpkin Spice Lattes and then later warm them up in the microwave or hit the black market for expired Starbucks pumpkin spice syrup pumps. But this year there’s a third way and it’s available at Costco.

The Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink may not be handmade by a Starbucks Barista who wrote PSL on the side of the cup, but because it’s Costco, it’s available in bulk. It’s 12 bottles to be exact. So if you buy a pallet of them, you’ll have enough to last you until next pumpkin spice latte season.

Unlike a pumpkin spice latte you can purchase at a Starbucks location, this version has no pumpkin in it. But it does have an ingredient list short enough that I could type it here to slightly boost the word count of this review: Brewed Starbucks Coffee, Reduced-Fat Milk, Sugar, Skim Milk, Maltodextrin, Cream, Natural Flavors, and Pectin. Mmm…pectin.

At first, I thought the ginger flavor stood out a bit too much for my tastes. I think the coffee makes the spice stand out more. But, since I purchased 12 bottles of the stuff, I’ve had to drink a lot of it. And the more I drink it the more I like it. Perhaps I’m getting Pumpkin Spiceholm Syndrome.

There’s also a little nutmeg, a bit of cinnamon, and a whole lot of sugar in each sip, which makes the beverage really sweet. There’s also a lot of milk too, but it’s not whole milk so it has a thin texture. While I could see it being too sweet for some people, me and my future cavities are fine with it.

The bottle suggests to serve it chilled or over ice, but since I’m a rebel (and have 12 bottles of the stuff), I did some experimenting and warmed up a mug of it in the microwave for 30 seconds. It was wonderful and it reminded me of a pumpkin spice latte. Actually, I think I might prefer it heated over chilled.

A question some of you might be asking is if it’s an adequate replacement for when the Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino is erased from the boards from Starbucks locations for the year. No, of course not. These bottled Frappuccinos are no match flavor-wise for those handmade, wonderful, blended, sweet, and brain freeze-inducing beverages that have a nutritional bio similar to many fast food burgers. But if you’re jonesing for a pumpkin spice coffee drink in February, this’ll do.

(Nutrition Facts – 210 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 32 grams of sugar, 7 grams of protein, and 25% calcium.)

Item: Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink
Purchased Price: ???
Size: 12 pack/9.5 oz bottles
Purchased at: Costco
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes good chilled or warmed up. Hoardable. Better nutritional bio than a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino you can get at Starbucks locations.
Cons: Ginger flavor might be a bit strong for some. Might be too sweet for some. Available in 12 packs, so if you don’t like it, you’ve got 11 more bottles to go through. Not as delicious as a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino you can get at Starbucks locations.