REVIEW: Limited Edition Watermelon and Cherry Haribo Gold-Bears

Limited Edition Haribo Watermelon and Cherry Gold-Bears

What is it about Haribo gummies?

They’re always especially fruity. It’s as if a Fruit Roll-Up got bitten by a mutant Gusher, morphed into a carnivorous mammal, and had its DNA enhanced with fruity powers that allow it to shoot delicious, sugar-laden laser beams from its squishy eyes.

So mark me excited when I saw that there were not one, but THREE new flavors out: Cherry, Green Apple, and Watermelon, all in a race to be the next Haribo Bear.

Now, before we get into tasting, I would regret not mentioning how difficult these gummies seem to be to find. The Green Apple? Seems to not even exist within a 30-mile radius from Los Angeles, proving itself more obscure and elusive than a 1979 Boba Fett action figure. If you find them, stock up and watch as you make yourself a mini fortune on eBay. (Yes, I will be your customer.)

In good fortune, I finally tracked down the Watermelon and Cherry at the checkout aisle of a fringe Walgreens. Let’s see how they stack up.

Limited Edition Haribo Watermelon and Cherry Gold-Bears 2

Right out of the package, the beary gems have a perfect stretchy, squishy bounce. For a second there, I wasn’t sure if I should eat them or pile them together and make a mattress to sleep on.

(You should eat them. Just FYI.)

Limited Edition Haribo Watermelon and Cherry Gold-Bears 4

Behold! The Watermelon bear!

This guy tumbles from the pack, pinker than a flamingo wearing a cotton candy muumuu in the Barbie aisle. A little sour, a little tart, a little flowery, and a little I-don’t-knowy, the taste of this bear must be what happens when a Watermelon Jolly Rancher gets squishified with a Strawberry Starburst.

It’s got a bit of sourness without veering into the “Warhead” zone and has a lightness, sweetness, and unseasonal summery joy that’s welcome in this January chill. Good show, Watermelon bear!

Now, to our next contender: Cherry.

Limited Edition Haribo Watermelon and Cherry Gold-Bears 3

Witness the Cherry. He is a simple fruity ursine. Squidgy and soft like his Watermelon brethren, he comes in a humble shade of mahogany that would make Franken Berry blush. The taste is reminiscent of what might happen if a bottle of grandma’s cranberry juice got sneezed on by a box of Cherry Jell-O: extremely tart, a little bitter, a smidge cough-syrupy, and barely sweet.

I had been hoping for a brighter, more sugary riff closer to a Sonic Cherry Limeade or a Cherry Jolly Rancher, so this version hinges toward being too tart for my tastes. I’d also like to pretend I have a more sophisticated palate than someone who adores sugary, maraschino-laden flavors, but who am I kidding? I’m more likely to have a flying magical moose drop a diamond-encrusted Dyson vacuum on my head.

Limited Edition Haribo Watermelon and Cherry Gold-Bears 5

So, at the end of the day, while the Cherry did fine, I’m giving my vote to Watermelon. It’s a bright, summery flavor, doesn’t taste like cough syrup, and will go smashingly with the lemon, raspberry, orange, strawberry, pineapple, and, lime they’ve already got rolling in the line.

But I also have an astronomically high tolerance for sugar. At $1 per package, I say give them a go and see what you think. You may love them. You may throw them against the wall. You may have profound revelations equivalent to kissing the philosophy of Albert Camus in the candy aisle. Who knows? Go forth! Find out! The great unknown awaits!

(Nutrition Facts – 17 pieces – 140 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, 33 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1 each (on sale)
Size: 4 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walgreens
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Watermelon)
Rating: 4 out of 10 (Cherry)
Pros: Squishy enough to make a mattress with. Cherry could make Franken Berry blush. Watermelon is sweet enough to provide summer in the middle of January. Fruitiness is equivalent to a Fruit Roll-Up bitten by a mutant Gusher.
Cons: Cherry tastes like Cherry Jell-O and grandma’s cranberry juice. Being unable to find Green Apple. Realizing that I have the palate of a 3-year-old. Having a flying magical moose drop a diamond-encrusted Dyson vacuum on your head.

REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Cinnamon Roll Fudge Stripes Cookies

Keebler Limited Batch Cinnamon Roll Fudge Stripes Cookies

Those funny little tree dwelling elves at Keebler really caught my attention last year. After being pushed to the back of my junk food brain, they officially put Fudge Stripes back on the map with killer Birthday Cake and Peppermint flavors that stood up to all of the limited release cookies I had in 2016.

To the resounding excitement of cinna-sluts like myself all across the nation, they’re kicking off 2017 with a Cinnamon Roll rendition of their famous striped confections.

Keebler Limited Batch Cinnamon Roll Fudge Stripes Cookies 2

Immediately the rich robust smell of cinnamon and vanilla icing float out of the cool brown package. The aroma mimics that unmistakable head-turning scent that wafts out all Cinnabon’s in the finest shopping malls of America, resulting in the starry-eyed activation of the salivary glands.

The crunchy snap of the cookie is more pronounced than your average Fudge Stripe, which tends to occupy that space right between a soft and hard cookie. Leading the flavor is a soft cinnamon rush that is beautiful and balanced by the the thick and smooth vanilla glaze. It has a little bit less of a buttery taste than the usual Stripes’ shortbread base, and the dark tan cookie is speckled with brown giving an even and full cinnamon burst in every bite.

Keebler Limited Batch Cinnamon Roll Fudge Stripes Cookies 3

The overall flavor is less sweet than their standard cookie but also not too aggressively spiced. For people who love cinnamon, like myself, there’s enough to satisfy, but not so much that they would turn someone off who may be more adverse to a strongly spiced cookie. Taste-wise the product they are most reminiscent of are cinnamon Teddy Grahams.

Keebler Limited Batch Cinnamon Roll Fudge Stripes Cookies 4

Unlike an Oreo, there’s no real way to separate the baked base from the coating, but it’s pretty apparent that the cinnamon comes from the brown speckled cookie and the sweetness driven by the glaze. Surprisingly, the frosting flavor comes across much sweeter in the smell than it does on the tongue, which makes me feel like I could eat approximately 45 of these before any kind of “stop” registers in my brain.

For cookies that were baked inside of a tree, these are an impressive and satisfying take on one of Saturday morning’s greatest indulgences. Hopefully the Keebler clan can continue to channel their elfin voodoo and crank out a pancakes and syrup flavor so I will never have to cook breakfast again.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 10 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.49
Size: 11.5 oz package
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Perfect cinnamon bun smell. Amazing cookie crunch. Balanced cinnamon and vanilla flavor. Potential to save breakfast cooking time in the future.
Cons: Could use some yeasty bread “roll” flavor.

REVIEW: Double Chocolate and Oatmeal Chips Ahoy Thins

Nabisco Double Chocolate Chips Ahoy Thins

If you find yourself standing in the cookie aisle because someone broke your heart, you’re stressed out, or “me want cookie” is thumping in your head with an EDM beat, you’re going to be faced with a wall of cookie choices.

Let me help you by figuring out if Double Chocolate or Oatmeal Chips Ahoy Thins will temporarily fill that hole in your heart, bring you down from pulling out your hair, or get the Cookie Monster voice loop out of your head.

As you probably know Nabisco offers Oatmeal Chewy Chips Ahoy and Choco Chunky Chips Ahoy, which appear to be the inspiration for these new thin cookies. To be honest, I haven’t had the oatmeal ones in years. In fact, it’s been such a long time that I forgot they have chocolate chips and not raisins (I know it’s CHIPS Ahoy and not RAISINS Ahoy).

Nabisco Oatmeal Chips Ahoy Thins

As I mentioned in my Chips Ahoy Thins review, I love their texture, and both new varieties have that distinctive crispiness. But while the Original Chips Ahoy Thins are uniform in shape and size, these new flavors aren’t. I don’t know if it’s a production error, but in the packages I purchased half are circular and the other half are oval.

Oatmeal and Double Chocolate Chips Ahoy Thins

The Double Chocolate had a pleasing deep chocolate flavor because of the one-two chocolatey punch of the chips and cookie. While I loved the original Chips Ahoy Thins, I have to say the amped up flavor of these made my taste buds prefer them slightly more. They’re so tasty that it’s been hard trying to limit myself to a single serving size of four cookies in one sitting. Actually, I’ve failed almost every time.

As for the Oatmeal flavor, they’re good, but not as enjoyable as the Double Chocolate (or any of the other Chips Ahoy Thins varieties). But you probably knew that because I’m going to say 95-98 percent of you will agree with the following: Chocolate chip cookies > oatmeal cookies.

Sure, they have rolled oats in them and there’s raisin paste. Who doesn’t love raisin paste? But the ground up oats kind of get in the way of the chocolate and the raisin paste doesn’t raise the flavor of the cookie. So, basically, if you’re dealing with crap, these are not the cookies to help you cope.

So after reading this review, if you still find yourself in front of a wall of cookies at the store, pull out the Double Chocolate Chips Ahoy Thins, take a deep breath, and say to yourself either, “you deserve someone better,” “everything is going to be all right,” or “STFU, Cookie Monster!”

(Nutrition Facts – 4 cookies – Double Chocolate – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 60 milligrams of potassium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein. Oatmeal – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 65 milligrams of sodium, 45 milligrams of potassium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.00 each
Size: 7 oz. package
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Double Chocolate)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Oatmeal)
Pros: Double Chocolate is wonderful and I’m having a hard time stuffing my mouth with them! Love the crispiness of them. Double Chocolate ones might help you if you dealing with crap. Hearing Cookie Monster say “me want cookie” a few times.
Cons: Just thinner versions of regular Chips Ahoy varieties. Oats get in the way of the chocolate. Raisin paste doesn’t raise the flavor of the cookie. Stress. Breaking up. Hearing Cookie Monster say “me want cookie” over and over for several minutes.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Dunkin’ Donuts Frosted Chocolate Mocha Pop-Tarts

Limited Edition Dunkin' Donuts Frosted Chocolate Mocha Pop-Tarts

Pop-Tarts were never my first choice of breakfast pastry as a kid. Toaster Strudel always seemed more exciting to me, with the interactive DIY frosting packet and an ochre canvas to create masterpieces such as improved superhero emblems and schematics for a homework-completing robot. Toaster Strudel also seemed fancier thanks to an effective marketing campaign that trash talked Pop-Tarts more than a Ronda Rousey opponent.

Pop-Tarts, challenging the notion of Toaster Streudel being more “upper crust,” has introduced two coffee-inspired flavors.

Limited Edition Dunkin' Donuts Frosted Chocolate Mocha Pop-Tarts 2

The Chocolate Mocha packaging created immediate skepticism, as the tie-in with Dunkin’ Donuts did not scream sophisticated. Furthermore, the Pop-Tarts Arts Peeps were not worthy of my failed palindrome attempt, as they appear to have re-purposed rejected images from their A&W Root Beer Float flavor.

The packaging lead to a revelation: Rather than using the toaster, the microwave directions called for just three seconds on high. Three seconds for fully cooked food? Is this the Tang of the 21st century? Call Elon Musk and tell him that, while his efforts were greatly appreciated, we have no reason to venture to Mars anymore.

Before you go selling your Tesla stock, however, please know that it took much longer before the pastry was actually warm. Although they largely tasted the same from the microwave and from my brand-new Toastation (thanks Staci Claus!), the toasted version seemed crispier on the less desirable outer crust, and should still be the preferred version for anyone living on this side of the asteroid belt.

The light brown pastry exterior does not impart as much chocolate as other choco-heavy varieties of Pop-Tarts, but the subtle cocoa flavor is far more effective than the silent B in “subtle.” I didn’t wince when biting into the center from the “sweetsplosion” that is typical with Pop-Tarts. The flavor of the filling isn’t muted like in the pastry crust, but rather more complex, featuring the bitter coffee notes. It was the most balanced Pop-Tart I can remember and tasted great.

Limited Edition Dunkin' Donuts Frosted Chocolate Mocha Pop-Tarts 3

I purchased the drink that inspired the product to enjoy alongside it. As a guy who aspires to someday film a “most expensive Starbucks drink ever” video for YouTube, I had to restrain myself in ordering a simple Dunkin’ Donuts mocha, but it was worth it. The similarities between the products were very evident, with complimentary chocolate and coffee flavors moving in unison like a Tour de France team.

I was impressed with the effort as something different from the standard Pop-Tart fare. Despite the reduced sweetness, my kids also scarfed these down happily. I guess their plans for soda-spewing garden sprinklers and dragon winged bunnies will have to be drawn in notebooks moving forward.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 pastry – 190 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 230 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 18 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.00
Size:
Purchased at: Food Lion
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Believable mocha flavor. Less sweet than most Pop-Tarts. The Flash’s timeless logo. Enjoyable with real coffee. Drinking Starbucks out of a vase for internet glory.
Cons: Strange packaging choices. Silent consonants. May not be chocolate enough for chocolate Pop-Tart lovers. Like everything else about him, Aquaman’s logo is a letdown.

REVIEW: Taco Bell Double Stacked Tacos

Taco Bell Double Stacked Tacos

For being their titular item, I rarely find myself craving Taco Bell’s tacos. While I’m a lover of their items, the standard crunchy taco has always felt skimpy. A paltry line of beef, a cascade of limp lettuce, and a sprinkling of unmelted cheese – it’s forgettable.

So thankfully, the Bell has pumped them up for their latest iteration. Taco Bell’s Double Stack Tacos bulk up their classic standard tacos by wrapping the corn exterior with a flour tortilla, slathered in sauce and cheese. With an extra layer, each one is hefty – especially for a $1 item. Two of these could make a comfortable meal, something that can’t be said for the Bell’s un-enhanced tacos.

Taco Bell Cool Habanero Double Stacked Taco

First up is Cool Habanero. The taco is the same as you’d expect, but with a generous hit of sour cream. Around it is wrapped a flour tortilla with a spray of habanero sauce, alongside melted cheese. The intention is for the sour cream to counteract the spice, though the balance isn’t quite there. There’s more sour cream than habanero by a healthy margin, and the sauce isn’t all that potent. As a full bite, it came off blander than most Taco Bell items.

Taco Bell Nacho Crunch Double Stacked Taco

The Nacho Crunch Double Stack adds a layer of red tortilla strips to the basic taco, then surrounds it with a duet of nacho and shredded cheese. If you’ve lost count, that gives this one item three different forms of tortilla – and three total servings of cheese. Predictably, it tastes like tortilla and cheese.

The meat and lettuce are lost in this fatty carb bomb, smothered in gooey yellow. It’s puzzling why this option dodges the habanero sauce of the other two tacos, which would’ve given this a needed a kick of flavor.

Taco Bell Spicy Sweet Double Stacked Tacos

Most interesting of the trio is Spicy Sweet, featuring a sweet chili sauce unique to the item. The red sauce has a loose texture, saturated with chili flakes. It’s very sweet, but was applied conservatively across the meat. While the first bite was initially heavy on sugar, it was countered by the savory beef.

Once the habanero sauce broke through, all three flavors really clicked. The sweet chili sauce has a light heat of its own, and a bit of a fruit jam flavor. This tasty blend is spread a bit thin, though. Between the lettuce, corn tortilla, flour tortilla, and double helping of cheese – the serving of meat and sauces feels underwhelming.

Taco Bell Double Stacked Tacos

Overall, the Double Stacked Tacos are mostly notable for their price. The Nacho Crunch and Cool Habanero tacos are cheaper and bulkier than their counterparts – making them a solid pickup. Spicy Sweet is the real highlight though, and is definitely worth a try.

(Nutrition Facts – Cool Habanero – 350 calories, 180 calories from fat, 20 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 630 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 3 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein. Nacho Crunch – 380 calories, 170 calories from fat, 19 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 650 milligrams of sodium, 39 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein. Spicy Sweet – 340 calories, 160 calories from fat, 18 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 35 milligrams of cholesterol, 640 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.00 each
Size: N/A
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Cool Habanero)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (Nacho Crunch)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Spicy Sweet)
Pros: Very hearty for the price, while delivering classic Taco Bell flavor. Spicy Sweet variety is unique, and nails the sweet/savory/hot mix. Spices up otherwise boring tacos.
Cons: Cool Habanero needs more heat. Nacho Crunch should be Haberno Crunch. All three could use more meat.