REVIEW: Hostess Limited Edition Cherry Chocodile Twinkies

Hostess Limited Edition Cherry Flavored Chocodile Twinkies

Dear Hostess,

I would like to commend your recent decision to revive Chocodiles, those chocolate-coated, cream-filled sponge cakes. Their reappearance was honestly the most surprising comeback of something dead since Hologram Tupac did a little dance at Coachella. Kids these days, am I right?

But alas, all is not right with the world. Though our precious chocolate-covered Twinkies have returned, the beloved mascot of Chocodile snack cakes, Chauncey Chocodile, remains missing. Many years ago, you chose to remove his image from both Chocodiles boxes and the Hostess website, and he hasn’t been seen since. Without a goofy, spectacles-wearing, anthropomorphic crocodile encouraging the American youth to consume sugary treats, we are lost.

Where is Chauncey? Is he locked away in some Hostess factory basement, surviving on a diet of Zingers and stale fruit pies? Is his disappearance a result of witness protection, having seen countless victims fall to the gun-slinging Twinkie the Kid? Rumors have spread that Chauncey’s been spotted smuggling Ho Hos into North Korea alongside Captain Cupcake and King Ding Dong, but I have my doubts — everybody knows Kim Jong Un prefers Little Debbie products.

Hoping to discover a clue related to his disappearance, I recently purchased a package of Limited Edition Cherry Chocodile Twinkies. To my disappointment, I found no hostage letters inside. The box only held nine chocolate-covered sponge cakes filled with cherry-flavored cream.

Though my quest for answers will not be smothered by snack foods made with hydrogenated oil and xanthan gum, I decided to eat the cakes anyway.

Chauncey’s catchphrase was “it takes a while to eat a Chocodile,” but I’m afraid I have to disagree. Each cake is a meager 1.45 ounces, whereas the original Chocodiles were 2 ounces. Even so, I can’t decry the portion size. The snack cakes are so sugary sweet that 1.45 ounces is plenty.

Hostess Limited Edition Cherry Flavored Chocodile Twinkies 3

I expected the cherry flavor to be exaggerated, with a cough syrup-like sharpness, but it was surprisingly subtle. Each bite contained an ample amount of the cherry filling, which offers a creaminess reminding me of cherry-flavored buttercream. The fruity filling feels natural alongside the chocolate and sponge cake flavors of a traditional Chocodile.

Cherry and chocolate is one flavor pairing that just works, and Cherry Chocodiles are no exception to the rule. Chauncey would be impressed.

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My only complaint is that the chocolate feels low quality. As a previous review mentioned, the Chocodile chocolate glaze is somewhat waxy. After consuming just a single Chocodile, I felt the chocolate clinging to the back of my throat in a disagreeable fashion. Hostess, once you take care of this Chauncey Chocodile issue, you should probably get to work on improving your chocolate.

Ah, crap. I’ve digressed a bit. Anyway, back to my main point.

I beseech you, Hostess. Prove to the public you have nothing to hide and disclose the whereabouts of Chauncey Chocodile. It’s time for his visage to once again adorn the boxes of Chocodiles lining the aisles of my local gas station convenience store.

Sincerely,

A concerned citizen

PS – I expect to see a hologram Chauncey take the stage with Dre and Snoop at the next Coachella. Just sayin’.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cake – 160 calories, 70 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 10 milligrams of cholesterol, 140 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Hostess Limited Edition Cherry Chocodile Twinkies
Purchased Price: $2.98
Size: 9 cakes
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Ample filling in each bite. Subtle, creamy cherry flavor. Cherry and chocolate pairing works. Hologram Tupac.
Cons: Waxy chocolate clings to back of throat. The unexplained disappearance of a Hostess mascot.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Lay’s Wavy Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

Limited Edition Lay's Wavy Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips

If you look at the Limited Edition Lay’s Wavy Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips, you might think this review is easy to write. The dark chocolate and potato chips combination looks like a slam dunk, and I could write an entire review using these seven words:

“These are awesome. Go get some…NOW!”

And then after hitting “Publish,” I pick up my keyboard, drop it onto the floor, make an explosion motion with my hands as I say “BOOM”, and walk away from my desk bobbing my head to a beat in my mind and with each hand held up high with the number one sign.

Since this review is already much longer than those seven words, you’ve probably assumed that I don’t think these dark chocolate covered potato chips are awesome. They aren’t, but they’re good. Not very good, just good.

Last year, I wrote the following about the Limited Edition Lay’s Wavy Milk Chocolate Covered Potato Chips:

“Salt plays a huge part in what makes potato chips so addictive, but my taste buds didn’t regularly register any. And for those times I did, it wasn’t as potent as I hoped it would be. I think I can get a more pronounced saltiness on my tongue if I ran in place for 20 seconds and then licked myself.”

Limited Edition Lay's Wavy Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips Closeup

Well, I’m happy to say lack of salt wasn’t an issue with the new Limited Edition Lay’s Wavy Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips. According to the computer generated picture on the front of its packaging, it’s got what slugs hate. Salt. There weren’t large grains of sea salt on mine, but most times it tasted like there were. Actually, there were times when when these chocolate covered Lay’s Wavy chips were disturbingly salty, like waves in the ocean.

Another issue I had with the milk chocolate version of the chips was how the flavor of the potato chip got lost in the chocolate. I thought the salt might help the potato chip flavor pop a little bit more, but it didn’t. Although, the salt did help the dark chocolate pop a little bit more.

Just like last year’s milk chocolate covered chips, these come in a 5-ounce bag. If you’re wondering how many chips that equals to, here’s a photo.

Limited Edition Lay's Wavy Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips Contents

For most of the chips, the decent tasting dark chocolate covers only one side, which was the case with last year’s chips. It’s a thick layer of chocolate, which gives each chip a nice heft. Even with that thick layer, the potato chip underneath still lets out a hearty crunch.

I know it reads like I’m super down on these Limited Edition Lay’s Wavy Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips, but I really did like them. They are tasty and I love the crunch, but they don’t blow my mind because those bursts of salt were a bit weird to me and the balance between potato chip and chocolate leans way too heavily on the chocolate side.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz/about 3 chips – 160 calories, 90 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Limited Edition Lay’s Wavy Dark Chocolate Covered Potato Chips
Purchased Price: $3.99*
Size: 5 oz. bag
Purchased at: eBay
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Good. It’s potato chips in frickin’ chocolate. Lay’s decided to make a dark chocolate version. This time I could taste salt. Salt helps dark chocolate pop more. Chips still have a hearty crunch.
Cons: Not awesome. At times, the chips were disturbingly salty. Potato chip flavor is hardly noticeable. Nutrition facts are for only three chips. Not something I would eat as often as regular potato chips. Some might think $3.99 is pricey for what you get.

*Desperate to buy these, I had to get them from eBay. I paid $26 for three bags. No, $26 is not a typo. The $3.99 is the retail price that the person who sold me the chips probably paid.

REVIEW: Pepsi True

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High fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. To some, they’re just ingredients on a label. To others, they’re a plague that has destroyed society. To me, they are the sweeteners that’ll haunt my liver for the rest of my life.

You will not find high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners in the new Pepsi True. Instead, you will find and taste old school and new school plant-based sweeteners — sugar and stevia. There’s also carbonated water, caramel color, phosphoric acid, natural flavor, and caffeine.

Don’t let the green can fool you. It’s not a natural, environmentally friendly, St. Patrick’s Day celebrating, green tea containing, or 4/20 celebrating version of Pepsi. (Although I do imagine the can is bong-able.) It’s just a cola for those who stay away from high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners. Coca-Cola has a similar product on the market called Coca-Cola Life.

However, while Coca-Cola Life can be purchased from stores, the only way to get your hands on Pepsi True is through online retailer Amazon. And you can’t just buy a 12-ounce can, a six-pack, or a 12-can fridge pack. You have to buy a nine dollar, 24-count case made up of adorable 7.5 ounce cans. Right now I imagine some of you doing math in your head. Stop what you’re doing and let me be your abacus.

SPOILER ALERT: Buying a case of Pepsi True from Amazon is pricey.

A 12-pack of regular Pepsi/Diet Pepsi/Pepsi Next in 12-ounce cans go for around three bucks. So if 24 cans will be around six bucks, then it’ll cost two cents per ounce. Now a 24-pack of 7.5-ounce cans of Pepsi True has 180 ounces and costs nine smackers. So it ends up at five cents per ounce. So Pepsi True per ounce is more than twice as expensive as any other Pepsi in cans. Oh, but nine dollars is not Pepsi True’s true cost. There’s also the shipping cost or the other items you have to buy in order to get free shipping on Amazon. Sometimes it’s a pain to spend $35.

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As a Pepsi fan, I was excited to try Pepsi True, but after drinking through the four cans I received from Pepsi, I don’t think I’ll be filling my Amazon shopping cart with cases of it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I like Pepsi True. It’s smoother and cleaner than regular Pepsi and Pepsi Next, which I adore. It has 10 fewer grams of sugar than a 7.5-ounce can of regular Pepsi. I dug that slight kola nut extract vibe it has, making it taste kind of like Pepsi Natural (although there isn’t any kola nut extract in the ingredients). Also, there isn’t any bitterness that usually comes with some stevia-sweetened products.

But it’s not good enough to make me want to pay a premium for these tiny cans from Amazon, even if I do have an Amazon Prime account. If Pepsi True ends up in brick and mortar stores and comes in larger sizes with prices equal to its HFCS and artificially sweetened bretheren, then I do see myself buying it on a regular basis.

However, if you’re a soda drinker who avoids high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, I imagine you would be willing to pay extra for Pepsi True since real sugar and stevia sodas tend to be pricier, like Mexican Pepsi and Coke, which are sweetened with real sugar, and Zevia soda, which contains stevia and monk fruit. So if you’re one of those people, I think Pepsi True a good option to have in the mostly high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweetener world we live in.

DISCLOSURE: I received free Pepsi True samples from Pepsi.

(Nutrition Facts – 7.5 ounces – 60 calories, 0 grams of fat, 20 milligrams of sodium, 17 grams of carbohydrates, 16 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Pepsi True
Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 7.5 ounces
Purchased at: Received from Pepsi
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Smoother and cleaner than regular Pepsi. Fewer grams of sugar than regular Pepsi. No HFCS or artificial sweeteners. Has a kola nut vibe to it.
Cons: Right now, only available only on Amazon by the case in small 7.5-ounce cans. You’ll have to pay a premium for it. Spending more money to get free shipping on Amazon.

REVIEW: International Delight Very Vanilla Nog

International Delight Very Vanilla Nog

Are you one of those weirdos who lets vanilla ice cream melt into a liquid before consuming? Well then, Mr. or Miss Melty Pants, I know of a product that will save you some time if you want liquified vanilla ice cream. No, it’s not a microwave oven. It’s International Delight’s Very Vanilla Nog.

Speaking of weird, it’s odd to see an International Delight product that has nothing to do with coffee. Although, technically, one could use ID’s Very Vanilla Nog as a liquid coffee creamer.

To be honest, it also feels a bit weird to call this product a nog.

I don’t want to use the fifth grade tactic of using a dictionary definition to make a point, but I feel I must here. According to my computer’s dictionary, nog is short for eggnog. Nog also “a small block or peg of wood,” so feel free to use the word “nog” as new slang for male genitalia that has shrunken from cold weather.

Anyhoo, if we’re to go by the definition, International Delight’s Very Vanilla Nog is not nog. It’s notg. It doesn’t have eggs, cinnamon, or nutmeg. International Delight does have a Classic version of their nog that, according to the ID website, has “a hint of sweet nutmeg flavor and notes of light rum.” But it has no eggs, so it’s also notg.

Not having eggs in a holiday nog that has dairy is like having Thanksgiving without the turkey, Christmas without mall Santas, and Black Friday without the YouTube videos of folks getting into fights over cheap crap at Walmart.

International Delight Very Vanilla Nog Closeup

While International Delight’s Very Vanilla Nog doesn’t have eggs or the spices associated with eggnog, it does have a couple of ingredients found in most store-bought eggnogs — delicious guar gum and carrageenan. Wait. Did I say “delicious”? I meant, necessary to thicken this beverage so that it’s the consistency of melted ice cream.

Now with all that said, I wish International Delight’s Very Vanilla Nog never goes away because it really does smell and taste like vanilla ice cream, and, oh my goodness, it makes eating things you usually consume with milk much better.

Cereal…better.

Hershey’s syrup…better.

Oreo dunking…better.

So International Delight should just drop the nog name so that they can sell it throughout the year. Call it Magic Milk. That’s probably taken, so they should go with a different spelling, like Majic Mylk. I mean, if International Delight can get away with calling their Very Vanilla Nog a nog, they can probably get away with alternate spellings.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 120 calories, 20 calories from fat, 2 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, 4 grams of protein, and 15% calcium.)

Item: International Delight Very Vanilla Nog
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 1 Quart
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Smells and tastes like vanilla ice cream. Has a consistency similar to melted vanilla ice cream. Makes eating things you usually consume with milk much better.
Cons: It being called “nog” even though it doesn’t have eggs or spices. It’s weird this product has nothing to do with coffee. Getting a nog in cold weather.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Cereal

Limited Edition Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Cereal

Dear Nick,

First off, I hope you don’t mind me using your first name. I figure now that I’m older and no longer writing to you on a yearly basis with my egregious gift requests, we could drop the excessive formalities. Speaking of which, I want you to know I harbor no ill will about my letter dated 5 December 1998. Turns out little girls with Olympic aspirations are much more deserving of a pony than any 10-year old boy trying to recreate a scene from Indiana Jones in his backyard. Besides, horses poop. I wouldn’t have wanted to deal with that.

Anyways, I’m writing to you this year as one cookie fiend to another. You should know that when you shimmy down chimneys this year you may not find the usual assortment of gingerbread men, peanut butter Kisses, and snickerdoodles arranged neatly beside a glass of milk. What you might find is a bowl of cereal in milk.

I know. It certainly sounds like an egregious attempt to circumvent the spirit of Christmas Eve, or at the very least a cabal by concerned parents trying to teach their children a lesson about saturated fat intake. I also had many reservations. But you, Nick, are more familiar with the inexplicable magic of the season than most, so it should come as no surprise to the man who guides his sled by flying reindeer that cereals can transform into cookies.

How else can you explain a transformation that defies reason? Not to mention evidence that bakeshop-inspired cereals suck.

But this cereal doesn’t suck. Actually, it’s pretty freaking good. While looking the same as 2012’s less than memorable Frosted Toast Crunch, Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch is much better. And it’s a worthy substitute for fresh baked cookies in your Christmas Eve travels. And believe me, Nick, I’m a certified expert when it comes to sugar cookies, thanks mostly to the complimentary sugar cookies offered at the Harris Teeter store they opened on our street about a year ago. (Side note: You won’t be putting me on the naughty list for taking more than one on each visit, will you?)

Limited Edition Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Cereal 2

But back to the cereal, or should I say the mini sugar cookies, because that’s what each one of these little squares taste like. They have a lighter texture on the tongue than the other cereals of the Toast Crunch family, but keep that delightful crisp exterior, which in this case glistens with specks of superfine sugar that mirror freshly fallen snow.

There’s a Frosted Flakes taste going on when you eat the squares dry. It’s not cloying and there isn’t any hint of the toasted richness French Toast Crunch used to have, but there’s something about the crispy texture and vanilla flavor of the sugar which inexplicably registers as sugar cookie. It’s as if, by some commutative property of Christmas magic, the essence of whatever makes a sugar cookie a sugar cookie and not, say, a snickerdoodle, has been extracted and sprinkled over each square.

Limited Edition Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Cereal 4

I know you’re not one to eat cookies without milk, and the good news for you (and me) is that Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch tastes amazing in milk. The combination of sugar and milk creates an instant flavor of royal icing, and leaves a rich and sweet end milk which should be bottled and sold. Come to think of that, maybe I’ll add that to my Christmas wish list.

Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch isn’t perfect, Nick. It’s still not as great as Frosted Toast Crunch, and I personally still love Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Chocolate Toast Crunch better. But when it comes to recreating a cookie taste, don’t be so quick to pass over a bowl left out this Christmas Eve. I think you’ll find it’s worth a few presents in some kid’s stocking. Oh yeah, and please send me a pony.

Sincerely,

Adam

(Nutrition Facts – 31 grams – 130 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 180 milligrams of sodium, 55 milligrams of potassium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 2 gram of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 1 grams of protein.)

Item: Limited Edition Sugar Cookie Toast Crunch Cereal
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 12.2 oz. box
Purchased at: Weis Markets
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Good representation of sugar cookie flavor. Light and crispy texture plain, with a Frosted Flakes-like aftertaste. Not too sweet. Sucks up milk like a fat man in a red suit. Better than Frosted Toast Crunch. Leaves sugar cookie end milk.
Cons: Still not French Toast Crunch. Possibly laced with Christmas magic dust. Lacks buttery crumb. Still not getting a pony.