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REVIEW: Mountain Dew Kickstart (Limeade and Black Cherry)

Written by | February 25, 2014

Topics: 7 Rating, 8 Rating, Mountain Dew, Soda

Mountain Dew Kickstart (Black Cherry and Limeade)

In an increasingly health conscious market full of zero-calorie sweeteners and unpalatably low-fat Chobani yogurt, PepsiCo decided to throw a proverbial middle finger in the face of personal trainers and inclined-treadmill-users everywhere when they released the first two flavors of Mountain Dew Kickstart back in 2013.

For those of you who don’t know, Mountain Dew Kickstart’s first flavors, Orange Citrus and Fruit Punch, are literally soda for breakfast. Like something out of a cartoon-binge induced dream of a seven-year-old, these two caffeinated flavors promised to give your humdrum morning that “kick” it so desperately needs.

Yet, amid skeptics (myself included), this year Mountain Dew Kickstart was ready to expand its caffeinated scissor-kick not just to our boring and mundane mornings, but to our boring and mundane evenings as well. Now available in (the rather unimaginatively named) Limeade and Black Cherry, the energy that these nighttime themed Mountain Dew Kickstarts provide can help you complete the important junk in your life, like applying for a job or finally getting around to completing that custody paperwork for your daughter. I was intrigued.

Because seeing a Mountain Dew product marketed as a breakfast beverage is not something one easily forgets, I knew exactly the retailer that would be carrying its nighttime themed companions. Looks like I was taking a little field trip to my local Walmart.

Amid familiar blue aisles of ridiculously low-priced goods and boxes of $5 movies containing twelve copies of Shrek the Third and an 80s Val Kilmer action flick, I found both new flavors of Mountain Dew Kickstart displayed humbly, at room temperature, on a rack near the checkout. Much like the Orange Citrus and Fruit Punch varieties, the first thing I noticed is that both the Limeade and Black Cherry flavors look suspiciously similar to their energy drink competition. I could not help but think that the familiarly shaped tall 16-ounce cans, colored pull-tabs, and generic labeling were channeling the style of both Monster and Rockstar.

Yet, what these Mountain Dew Kickstarts lack in originality, they certainly make up for in taste, which is surprising considering the executives over at Mountain Dew HQ decided to go with the uninspiring ubiquitous choice of Limeade and Black Cherry. However, I have nothing against these two flavors and I was excited to see how Mountain Dew (now famous for making a variety of beverages that actually have nothing to do with the original Mountain Dew itself) handled each one.

Mountain Dew Kickstart (Black Cherry and Limeade) Closeup

I have always been skeptical of flavors labeled “limeade”. Deep down I really want to believe, really, it’s just that anything labeled “limeade” usually just tastes suspiciously similar to lemon-lime, or just plain lemon for that matter.  Yet, despite my general feelings towards the marketing maneuver of all things “limeade”, this Mountain Dew Kickstart incarnation is fantastic. If Mountain Dew can do nothing else, it’s create an exemplary citrus drink. The flavor itself tastes (unsurprisingly) similar to the original Mountain Dew, but totally in a good way. Compared to other energy drinks, Mountain Dew Kickstart Limeade is a refreshing deviation from the guarana fueled, syrupy norm. In fact, if you didn’t tell me this was an energy drink, I would be hard pressed to tell it was anything other than just a new flavor of Mountain Dew.

However, as surprisingly good the Limeade flavor was, I enjoyed the Black Cherry variety even more. I have to admit that yes, I am a bit biased. Of my specifically colored fruits, I’d have to say black cherry trumps blue raspberry any day (get at me Jolly Ranchers!). With this in mind, I was happy to find this Mountain Dew Kickstart version did my beloved black cherry justice. But seriously, this was one of the best black cherry flavors I have ever had. It’s sweet and pleasant, but, like its Limeade companion, not overwhelmingly sugary or “chemical”.

Even though both Limeade and Black Cherry Kickstart may not offer the most original first impression, their fantastic flavors are proof that Mountain Dew absolutely knows what it’s doing in the beverage game. Although, I wouldn’t mind if Mountain Dew tried to pave some completely new path in the world of carbonated beverages.

I kinda want Mountain Dew to get freaky.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – Limeade – 80 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of total fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 19 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein. Black Cherry – 80 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of total fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of total carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 19 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Mountain Dew Kickstart (Limeade and Black Cherry)
Purchased Price: $1.49 each
Size: 16 fl oz.
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Limeade)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Black Cherry)
Pros: Exemplary flavor. Barely tastes like an energy drink. Great flavor execution.
Cons: Lackluster packaging. Kinda boring flavor names. The fact that Walmart employees are incredibly underpaid.

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QUICK REVIEW: Jack in the Box Nacho Monster Taco

Written by | February 11, 2014

Topics: 7 Rating, Fast Food, Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box Nacho Monster Taco

Purchased Price: $1.99*
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Jack in the Box
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Best tasting of the Monster Tacos, so far. Has more flavor than the Bacon Ranch Monster Taco. My goodness there’s a lot of gooey nacho cheese sauce; so messy, but so tasty. The jalapeños give it a lot of flavor and a decent level of heat. Crispy shell…well, crispy on the shell’s outer edges. Jack in the Box expanding the Monster Taco line.
Cons: Could’ve used a bit more jalapeño slices. If you hate having to lick nacho cheese sauce off your skin or clothes, you may not enjoy eating this messy taco. Grease-soaked shell…well, soaked on the shell’s inner part. Jack’s 2 tacos for 99 cents is a better deal. My desire for Jack in the Box to make a sweet Monster Taco variety.

*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.

Jack in the Box Nacho Monster Taco Innards

Nutrition Facts: 333 calories, 196 calories from fat, 22 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 17 milligrams of cholesterol, 930 milligrams of sodium, 241 milligrams of potassium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 9 grams of protein.

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QUICK REVIEW: Starbucks Caramel Flan Frappuccino

Written by | January 27, 2014

Topics: 7 Rating, Fast Food, Starbucks

Starbucks Caramel Flan Frappuccino

Purchased Price: FREE (Starbucks Card offer)
Size: Tall (12 oz.)
Purchased at: Starbucks
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Wonderful buttery caramel flavor. A delicious way to make your body extra cold during these cold winter months. Caramel-infused whipped cream is tasty and I’d shoot some in my mouth if Starbucks sold it in a can. Creamy. 65 milligrams of sweet, sweet caffeine. Barista correctly spelled my name.
Cons: Caramel is overwhelming because the flan flavor isn’t noticeable. Coffee flavor is nonexistent. I think I may have gotten a cavity after drinking it. Some might consider it to be too sweet, but alas, such is the Frappuccino. Drinking it too fast gave me brain freeze.

Nutrition Facts: 12 ounces (whole milk) – 280 calories, 90 calories from fat, 11 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 45 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 44 grams of sugar, 3 grams of protein, 8% vitamin A, 10% calcium.

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REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Cookie Dough Oreo Cookies

Written by | January 25, 2014

Topics: 7 Rating, Cookies, Oreo

Nabisco Limited Edition Cookie Dough Oreo Cookies

It’s safer to lick the creme of these Limited Edition Cookie Dough Oreo Cookies than a wooden spoon covered in chocolate chip cookie dough, because, you know, E. coli, salmonella, and splinters.

Although, after eating these new Oreo cookies, you’ll probably wish you had a spoon coated in raw cookie dough and a phone with 9-1-1 already dialed and your finger above the send button instead because these Oreo cookies have a flavor that no blindfolded person would describe as “cookie dough.”

During an episode of The Nosh Show, I wondered if the creme would taste similar to the cookie dough chunks in Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream. After buying a pint, digging out almost all the cookie dough, and turning it into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Ice Cream, I discovered the creme also tastes nothing like the Ben & Jerry’s cookie dough, which has a strong chocolate flavor.

Instead, the creme filling tastes more like caramel with a slight coffee aftertaste. To be honest, it was a little off-putting at first lick, but after the initial shock, my tongue enjoyed the flavor. Maybe Nabisco was trying to capture the vanilla extract or maybe Nabisco’s food scientists didn’t taste actual cookie dough because, you know, E. coli, salmonella, and they’re scientists who know bodily fluid stains are the worst.

Nabisco Limited Edition Cookie Dough Oreo Cookies Closeup

The chocolatey chips in the creme couldn’t cut through the caramel flavor, because, with most of the cookies I ate, there weren’t many of them. To be honest, I think they were included just for looks so that the creme could look cookie dough-ish. They don’t add flavor or a chocolate chip-like texture. All the chocolate flavor comes from the crunchy chocolate wafers, which do a wonderful job of cutting through the sweet, tan-colored creme’s flavor.

It’s disappointing the chocolatey chips didn’t add flavor or a different texture because I’m all for Oreo cookies with a little something in the creme. One of my favorite Oreo flavors is the Limited Edition Candy Cane Oreo which has crunchy candy bits. They enhance the flavor of the peppermint-flavored filling and give the entire cookie a distinct crunchy texture beyond what the chocolate wafers provide.

While I think they taste more like a caramel Oreo and the chocolatey chips didn’t really add anything, Limited Edition Cookie Dough Oreo Cookies make my taste buds happy. So if you happen to see them, I say pick them up. And if you miss the opportunity to try them, do not cut up a log of refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough and place the slices between two Oreo chocolate wafers.

Note: I received a free sample of these cookies from Nabisco for this review.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 45 milligrams of potassium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Limited Edition Cookie Dough Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 12.2 oz.
Purchased at: Received from Nabisco
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Makes my taste buds happy. Creme has a sweet caramel flavor with a coffee aftertaste. Crunchy chocolate wafers work well with the sweet creme. Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream.
Cons: Tastes more like caramel or coffee. Doesn’t even taste like the cookie dough chunks in Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream. Chocolatey chips don’t add flavor or a different texture to the cookies. E. coli and salmonella. Scooping out all the mix-ins in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and leaving just the ice cream base for others.

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REVIEW: Wendy’s Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger

Written by | January 17, 2014

Topics: 7 Rating, Fast Food, Wendy's

Wendy’s Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger

Chipotle.

What does it mean?

They tell me it’s a smoked jalapeño, but the word has been repeated so much in recent years, it might as well be Klingon on my tongue. Assembled in an American trend factory, “chipotle” has been introduced to the public, pumped full of hype and then abandoned, surreptitiously left outside to slowly evaporate. My brain doesn’t even register it anymore. It took me three passes to not just read “Wendy’s Spicy Jr. Cheeseburger.” Chipotle. Chipotle. Chipotle. Oh no, I just summoned a Beetlejuice made of peppers.

Standing in line waiting for my order at the local Wendy’s, the question suddenly presents itself: What exactly am I about to eat? And then I look up to see this sign.

Wendy’s Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger sign

Thoughts, in order: Is this Russian? I can read “brioche.” Can I … read Russian? Am I in Russia right now? (I am waiting in a line for food, after all). Have I been in Russia my entire life? Does Wendy’s serve cold beet soup? … What is chipotle again? Am I ordering a cheeseburger with a mediocre Mission-style burrito on it? A cheeseburgeritto? Well, at least I know nobody in Russia would come up with “cheeseburgeritto.” I must be in America. Whew. Anyway, I got the cheeseburger and it wasn’t bad!

The Wendy’s website lists the components of the Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger in a handy list. “Sandwich bun, junior hamburger patty, spicy burger sauce, pepper jack cheese.” If you’ve dabbled in the Wendy’s value menu before, the bun and patty are familiar. The bun is springy, functional, and inoffensive. The patty is chewy like a warm ground up sponge, but, like, a reasonably tasty sponge. The meat is also noticeably less greasy and flavorful than the non-“Right Price Right Size Menu” burgers.

Oh, boy.

“Right Price Right Size?” Shut it down, Wendy’s. Nobody wants to say that many words. I’ll eat at Wendy’s every day for a year if one person has ever said the name of that menu out loud in casual conversation. (Someone say it! I need an excuse to eat Wendy’s for a year!)

Wendy’s Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger Topless

Let’s get to the flavor portion of the pageant. There’s the sauce, cheese and jalapeño, which, in concert, give a decent kick to the burger. While the aforementioned “spicy burger sauce” is a little too mysterious for my liking, it has a hit that immediately dissipates into a soft numb that barely lingers at all. The tiny pile of jalapeño looks like it fell off a truck on the way to a Subway, and definitely exhibits that earthy jalapeño taste, for better or worse. The peppers are sliced but not chopped, and the texture of “full” vegetables along with the spiciness kind of recreate the feeling of eating some sort of torta-burger concoction. The cheese adds a reliable, creamy counterbalance to the bite of the sauce, rounding out the burger.

The Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger is a decent choice (great for the price point) but feels a little like a relief pitcher, good enough to get you through a few innings but not the entire game. It has a unique heat that seems to draw inspiration from Mexican sandwiches, rather than the sharp, aggressive burn from most other fast food spicy fare, which almost marginalizes it as a novelty or a side dish. Since it lives on the value menu, perhaps that’s by design.

I would recommend getting this item in a collection of foods, as it serves as a good change-of-pace burger. Okay, we ain’t in Russia for sure. We eat so much we got change-of-pace burgers, y’all. And I’ll eat Wendy’s every day for a year if Vladimir Putin has ever eaten anything that had “chipotle” in its name.

(Nutrition Facts – 340 calories, 170 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 930 milligrams of sodium, 210 milligrams of potassium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of sugar, 2 grams of fiber, and 17 grams of protein.)

Item: Wendy’s Spicy Chipotle Jr. Cheeseburger
Purchased Price: 99 cents
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Great price. Well balanced flavor. Good chance of pace from regular Jr. Cheeseburger.
Cons: Some may not cotton to the taste of jalapeño. Not satisfying enough to eat just one. Saying “Right Price Right Size” out loud. “Chipotle” means nothing. Never learned Russian.

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