REVIEW: Limited Edition Peeps Oreo Cookies

Limited Edition Peeps Oreo Cookies

Goodbye red velvet and strange emoticon hearts!

Hello hoppy bunnies and pastel pallets!

As if there weren’t more Peeps flavors popping up than a rabbit’s litter in heat, this year Nabisco is gifting us the collaboration I’m not sure anyone anticipated or wanted – Limited Edition Peeps Oreo. This spring offering combines the Golden Oreo cookie with a fluorescent pink marshmallow Peeps flavored creme that unfortunately has no head you can rip off to begin your snacking.

Limited Edition Peeps Oreo Cookies 2

The package exudes a very “Golden” aroma, with a strong vanilla, buttercream kind of sweetness that reminds me of a super intensified Nilla Wafer. It smells more like a cookie than a marshmallow, with no notable Peep perfume mingling in the wash of creaminess. They’re also very visually appealing – the spring colors and golden yellow glow simply look tasty.

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The cookie is essentially a very sweet Golden Oreo, not too different from the Candy Corn flavor, which for me always tasted like a white frosted cupcake. What sets this one apart is a gritty sugar crystal crunch in the pink Peep creme that emulates the sparkly outside of the iconic marshmallow chick. This is the element I was most hoping Nabisco would incorporate into this mash up and they nailed it. It isn’t too intensely tough, but the creme adds a nice, smaller crunch to the bite of the big crumbly cookie.

Limited Edition Peeps Oreo Cookies 4

The problem is that the Peeps Oreo doesn’t really remind me at all of a Peep. What they share in common is that they are a big blast of sugar; but the cookie is completely devoid of any of the marshmallow nuances that contribute to Peeps’ notoriously fluffy flavor. After eating two or three in a row, a strange artificial tang developed on my tongue and left a little bit of a filmy feeling in my mouth, but surprisingly it still wasn’t as unpleasant as some other weird food dyed flavors I’ve encountered over the years.

If you’re a diehard Peeps fan who simply can’t get enough cute marshmallows in your life, then definitely give this a try for the novelty texture in the creme. If you’re looking for the next greatest limited Oreo flavor, or a worthy follow up to the beloved Marshmallow Crispy version, you can probably skip over these and instead make a melted masterpiece by exploding a Peep in the microwave and stuffing it inside of two Golden Oreo wafers, which might be just a tad more fun.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 10.7 oz.
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Fun spring colors with pretty poppin’ pink. Gritty sugar-laced creme filling. Buttercream frosting sweetness. Classic golden Oreo sparkle.
Cons: Doesn’t really taste like Peeps. Slight artificial frosting tang buildup during snack-age.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Cap’n Crunch’s Blueberry Pancake Crunch Cereal

Limited Edition Cap'n Crunch's Blueberry Pancake Crunch Cereal

I have fond childhood memories of the Cap’n, but like many childhood heroes, he’s faded into irrelevance for the adult me. But, Quaker Oat’s latest innovation, Cap’n Crunch’s Blueberry Pancake Crunch drops the Cap’n right back into my consideration set! I should’ve guessed that this limited edition cereal would be delicious because there was only one left on the shelf. It was a lone box nestled all the way in the back, so I had to contort myself to even reach it.

The age-old debate: do you pour milk or cereal first? If you answered milk, you’re a monster. My vote is always cereal first, so you can taste the cereal in its untainted form. Plus, you have better control of the milk to cereal ratio. Tangent aside – as I poured the cereal out, pretty teal blue and cream corn/oat cereal orbs tumbled out. The pretty teal orbs reminded me of little Saturns; maybe the Cap’n is at the helm of a new spaceship because this cereal is out of this world. Ha – get it? Too much? Fine.

To complement the pretty coloring (yay, blue 1), there was a rich, sweet syrupy smell. No, not like the finest Canadian maple syrup, but more like Aunt Jemima high fructose corn syrup syrup. I say that in the most endearing, nostalgic way possible. I grew up with Aunt Jemima and kid-me loved that syrup. But, we all know, Aunt Jemima doesn’t have anything on Canadian maple syrup. So, if this nostalgia factor doesn’t resonate with you, I could see how this artificial smell would be off-putting.

Limited Edition Cap'n Crunch's Blueberry Pancake Crunch Cereal 2

I proceeded to try each of the three orbs by themselves. First up was the teal blue one – it didn’t register until the aftertaste that this was supposed to be the blueberry. The initial taste was very much a generic, sugary cereal. I was worried that once these hit milk, it would dye the milk blue and it would be like drinking liquidated Smurfs. Yuck.

The next up was the semi-teal orbs – these looked like an accident, like the teal orbs brushed up on the cream ones and transferred some color. But, the box does show various shades of teal so maybe it’s intentional. It did, though, have a slightly different aftertaste. I imagined this is the equivalent of a blueberry buried in the pancake batter.

The final orb was the cream colored one. I was guessing this was supposed to be the pancake part of it. It just tasted sweet, nothing to write home about.

Limited Edition Cap'n Crunch's Blueberry Pancake Crunch Cereal 3

Then, I ate them all together. I liked the subtle complexity of the cereal. Don’t get me wrong, the Blueberry Pancake Crunch clearly isn’t some fantastic molecular gastronomy or anything. Heck, if you blindfolded me, I probably would have a 50 percent chance of guessing that it was blueberry pancake-flavored.

If you add milk, it decreases my chances of guessing to about 5 percent. The milk somehow really washes out the flavor instead of enhancing it like I hoped. I was glad that the teal didn’t come off and dye the milk blue, though! But, honestly for a $3 box of sweetened corn and oat, I’m not complaining.

By the way, National Blueberry Pancake Day was on January 28th so pick up a box and have a belated celebration with me!

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Cup – 110 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 125 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 15.4 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Making the cap’n relevant again! No liquidated smurfs (a.k.a blue milk). Pretty teal orbs.
Cons: High Fructose Corn Syrup smell can be off-putting for some. Eating it with milk (which is the whole point of cereal) really washes out the flavors.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Mac Jr.

McDonald's Mac Jr.

When I was sharing the news that McDonald’s now has a Mac Jr. with a co-worker (side note: we’re marketers, so creativity is always on the brain), we both deemed it a lack of innovation on Mickey D’s part for calling it Jr. since so many other chains Jr.-ize their burgers.

Personally, I think it should be called the Baby Mac. So much so, in fact, that I’ve had to stop myself from writing Baby instead of Jr. several times already.

McDonald's Mac Jr. 3

But lack of creativity in the name is not what I’m here to judge, so let me tell you about the size and the flavor. While the good old Big Mac has two meat patties, you’ll find just one on the limited time only Mac Jr. From bottom to top, the burger was built as so: Bun, cheese, meat, pickle, onion (very little onion on mine), lettuce, Big Mac sauce and bun.

I’m going to have to agree with Leonard here, I wish the meat was more prevalent in size. Because the patty was so thin, it left me wanting more. (Thank goodness I also picked up an Oreo McFlurry. Purchase price? $1.99 for a snack size.) I easily polished off the burger without feeling completely satisfied.

McDonald's Mac Jr. 4

But that being said, the taste was on point. There was a great ratio of cheese to meat, and the pickles were fresh and crunchy. And the sauce? Oh, the Big Mac sauce. My only gripe is that my friendly McDonald’s Mac Jr. assembler was a little heavy-handed on the sauce. As soon as I unwrapped the paper, it was oozing out of the sides. Delicious and warm, but slightly too much. I think this is the case where it’s just a tad too much of a good thing.

McDonald's Mac Jr. 5

If you’re in the mood for the Baby Mac, err… Mac Jr., you won’t be disappointed in flavor. McDonald’s definitely gets that right. However, I caution to you add some fries or that beautiful, sweet McFlurry if you’re looking for a complete meal but don’t want the extra meat and bun of a Big Mac or Grand Mac.

(Nutrition Facts – 460 calories, 240 calories from fat, 27 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 830 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 7 grams of sugar, and 21 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: N/A
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Cost is less than my morning coffee order. It’s the adorable little sibling of the Mac family.
Cons: Pretty thin meat patty, a bit too much sauce (but is that really a problem?)

REVIEW: Doritos Loaded Cool Ranch

Doritos Loaded Cool Ranch

My seven year old son is clearly a college “dudebro” in training. His perfect day involves lying on the couch in his underwear watching cartoons and playing video games. His favorite bands are Fall Out Boy and Green Day. He’s earned the nickname “Dude Imperfect” for his desire to watch, recreate, and innovate sportz trickshot videos.

His eating habits are the most reflective of his inner fratboy. However, as he’s a decade away from the Freshman Fifteen, no junk food seem to put a pound on his lanky frame. This is most evident in his Doritos Locos Tacos appetite, and he was rush-week excited to try the new Doritos Loaded Cool Ranch.

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I prepared four pieces in the toaster oven and eight pieces in the conventional oven.

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Slightly smaller in diameter but four times as thick as traditional Doritos, these snacks are sprinkled with something breadcrumb-ish, as well as a muted version of the expected red and green Cool Ranch seasoning.

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The pieces looked practically the same fully cooked, except that some interior cheese spurted out of every piece onto to the pan via both cooking methods. The cheese did remove easily and remain on each piece, resembling a cross between a mohawk and a pizzelle.

The whole family weighed in positively. Comparisons to pizza rolls and mac ’n’ cheese bites were both apt. The consensus views:

  • Same from the toaster and conventional oven
  • Not crisp like a chip
  • Tasted like Cool Ranch, but should have been seasoned more liberally
  • The interior cheese has nice salty flavor and softer textural elements, but the product failed entirely to deliver on the graphic shown on the box of stretchy pull-apart cheese. In fact, the autopsy photo below indicates a nearly hollow product with slight remnants of cheese clinging to the outer walls.

Doritos Loaded Cool Ranch 5

Despite the noted shortcomings, we all enjoyed these. As predicted, the future Epsilon Kappa Gamma founder was the most effusive, instantly rating them a 10/10 and subsequently remarking they would have earned an 11/11 had the center cheese been as displayed.

He clearly hasn’t developed certain college attributes yet, including a sense of cynicism that regresses most every experience toward the mean. After all, he’s 7 — and so is the rating for this product.

(Nutrition Facts – about 3 pieces – 270 calories, 140 calories from fat, 15 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 30 milligrams of cholesterol, 690 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 8 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.98
Size: 15 oz. box
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Compares favorably with other breaded appetizers. Cool Ranch taste. Tasty interior cheese. Potential scholarships in dizzy golf and slip ’n’ slide football.
Cons: Too little interior cheese. Not enough Cool Ranch seasoning.

REVIEW: Pringles LOUD Crisps (Mighty Margherita Pizza and Salsa Fiesta)

Pringles LOUD Crisps (Mighty Margherita Pizza and Salsa Fiesta)

I have a confession to make: I love eating ketchup on Pringles. I love it to the point where my posture is currently italicized just thinking about it.

Pringles and ketchup is a tradition passed down in my family for generations. I’ve made intricate catsup illustrations on Pringles canvases that would make a Subway sandwich artist‘s cold cut craftsmanship look like a kindergartener’s elbow macaroni picture frame.

Heck, I even have the family record for most ketchup-squelched Pringles stacked and eaten in one bite (thirteen).

So imagine the personal offense I take when people scoff —- if not outright wretch -— at me for sharing this tasty tradition with them. Sure, some rational souls agree that, since ketchup on French fries is good, it should work on Pringles, too. And sure, Ketchup Pringles exist in Canada. But most Americans react like I just sneezed unshaken ketchup water on them.

Thankfully, Pringles seems to be on my side, as two of their five new LOUD Crisps varieties prominently feature the humble tomato. This line of “bolder flavored” and “epically crunchy” crisps also includes Spicy Queso, Super Cheesy Italian, and Fiery Chili Lime, but I’m here to tell you about the ones that will (hopefully) bring glory to the “ketchup and Pringles” name: Mighty Margherita Pizza, which swaps the brand’s traditional “potato-flavored crisp” base for one made of grains and more vegetables than a Biblical children’s show, and Salsa Fiesta, which builds its flavor party on a dance floor of corn flour.

Pringles LOUD Mighty Margherita Pizza Crisps

From Ducks to Morphin Power Rangers, “Mighty” things tend to be pretty great, and original Pizza Pringles are my all-time favorites, so I expected big things from Mighty Margherita Pizza.

These new crisps smell just like Pizza Pringles, but their taste is a bit more artisanal. They open with a familiar pop of tomato paste, garlic, and onion, but quickly fade into a more complexly sun-dried and herbal tomato back end. These late flavor notes also smack of tangy basil and spinach, making it feel like Julius Pringle gave a Godfather-esque Kiss of Death to my taste buds. Pleasant at first, this aftertaste becomes peppery and bitter enough over time to make my tongue “sleep with the fishes”—by which I mean, “yearn for a glass of water.”

What really irritates Don Dan about Mighty Margherita Pringles is their supposed “LOUD” crunch. Despite being made with a grain and vegetable blend that gives them a subtle carroty finish, these Pringles LOUD Crisps are no louder nor crunchier than normal Pringles.

Instead, they just feel like the hipster, organically cauliflower-crusted pizza version of original Pizza Pringles. If plain Pizza Pringles are Papa John’s, Domino’s, or Little Caesars, then Mighty Margherita Pizza is Father John Misty, Settlers of Catan, and Little Hannibals —- you know, the guy who crossed the Alps to invade Rome before it was cool.

Pringles LOUD Mighty Margherita Pizza Crisps 2

Oh well, at least they make great hyperbolic hors d’oeuvres when you top ‘em like Lunchables.

Pringles LOUD Salsa Fiesta Crisps

Even though Mighty Margherita Pizza was pretty good, I hoped Salsa Fiesta would be better. These crisps’ feverish appearance made me think they’d have more tomato taste, and I was right. While M.M.P. oozes the vine-ripened juiciness of a wise old tomato, Salsa Fiesta strikes fast with the aggressive and salty zest of a sassy vine-dropout.

This punchy tomato taste fades quickly into notes of tongue-prickling red onion and mouth-watering green chile. On their own, these flavors might be spicy, but their burn is tempered by Salsa Fiesta’s delightful aftertaste of roasted corn and black bean dip. It’s a very tasty re-creation of the “tortilla chips and salsa” restaurant ritual, but it’s also over far too soon, as the airy crisps completely dissolve into the ethereal Pringles beyond before I can say “holy frijoles!”

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And even though a mild salsa makes a great pairing for these zippy Salsa Fiesta Pringles, their fragile paraboloid slopes tend to crack under the pressure. Be sure to have a platoon of rescue chips handy to fish these fallen chips out of their juicy graves.

Overall, if you’re a fan of tomatoes ‘n’ taters like me, the respective veggie and corn bases of Mighty Margherita Pizza and Salsa Fiesta will bring starchy satisfaction to your catsup-coated carb cravings. The sweet ‘n’ tangy sauciness and contemplative herbs of Mighty Margherita Pizza make for a great evening snack, while the peppery jabs of Salsa Fiesta are perfect for a bustling party.

But if you hate tomatoes and oxymoronically quiet “LOUD” Crisps, you might want to pass these up for something with more bulk —- or extreme nacho cheese.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have two new Pringles flavors to shamelessly slather with Heinz.

(Nutrition Facts – 14 crisps – Mighty Margherita Pizza – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein. Salsa Fiesta – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 310 milligrams of sodium, 18 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.40 each
Size: 5.1 oz. can (Mighty Margherita Pizza)
Size: 5.4 oz. can (Salsa Fiesta)
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Mighty Margherita Pizza)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Salsa Fiesta)
Pros: The savory French kiss of a Pringles Mafioso. The taste bud-smacking sadism of juvenile salsa delinquents. Elegantly stacking Pringles with feta and Chipotles. Ancient pizza elephant warfare.
Cons: Crunching not with a bang, but with a whimper. Herbs that overstay their welcome. Crisps more fragile than a leg lamp. Un-elegantly cramming a stack of 13 Pringles and ketchup into my mouth.