REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Empower Mint Ice Cream

Ben & Jerrry's Empower Mint

What’s that old adage about pizza and sex? I think it’s something like, “Hey, both of these things are good, even when the quality is less than ideal.” Well, ice cream is sort of the same way. I mean, when was the last time you took a large spoonful of ice cream and immediately spit it out in disgust? Never, that’s when.

But that’s not to say that all ice cream is necessarily created equal, either.

Eschewing brick and mortar operations where your cone is packed by a surly teen, and the potentially terrifying experience that comes with purchasing something from a rusty truck piloted by an angry man of some vague, eastern European origin, one is left with the dizzying array of options from the local supermarket.

As a generally indecisive person, the ice cream aisle cripples me. So I just always go with what I know: Ben and Jerry’s. The two cordial hippies from Vermont really do make a fine ice cream. Really, it’s hard to find a bad entry in their catalogue. They’ve made an art-form — and a gajillion dollars —- out of something simple: quality ingredients melded together masterfully in interesting ways with complete disregard for the health of the partaker.

God bless them, I reckon, for giving the people what they want.

And EMPOWER mint (that’s how it’s spelled on the label, anyway) is no different. The packaging explains that it is “peppermint ice cream with fudge brownies and fudge swirls,” and brother, that packaging ain’t lying.

Ben & Jerrry's Empower Mint 2

Pulling the top off is like crashing your car into a candy cane factory and it only gets more insane from there. The base cream is exactly what you’d expect: an overPOWERing amount of mint (haha, get it?). And, as a fan of mint ice cream —- typically featuring chocolate chips, though -— I enjoyed this aspect. Your mileage may very.

Not too far beneath the surface, you’ll encounter something chewy and dense and absurdly chocolaty… this is the brownie. It sticks your teeth together and makes your heart hurt, and man, is that good brownie chunkage.

Interspersed between the mint and the brownie explosion are delectable teases of fudge ribbon. It tastes like hot fudge, only not hot and a little less pliable.

Ben & Jerrry's Empower Mint 3

Everything in this ice cream works together toward the greater good: giving the recipient a terrible stomachache after imbibing far too much. And maybe that’s the point? Freedom of choice? This ice cream carries some sort of political agenda, as many of B and J’s treats do. The label proclaims “Democracy is in your hands,” and that’s true enough, I guess.

If I had some sort of vote pertaining to his particular iteration, though, it might be: let’s add some kind of nut, dudes. Because, really, that’s my only complaint. Everything is smooth, creamy, and soft. Why not chuck in some chopped walnuts? The texture variation would provide a welcome break and, I mean, don’t all sane people like nuts on or in their brownies?

In the end, though, this is a minor quibble and EMPOWER mint is just fine on its own. Although it doesn’t seem like rocket science to combine mint ice cream and gigantic, pulsating hunks of brownie (oh, and the fudge swirls), I guess nobody had really done it before. Kudos, gents, enjoy your next million.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 270 calories, 140 calories from fat, 15 grams of fat, 9 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 75 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams of carbohydrates, 26 grams of sugar, and 4 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: 2 for $7
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Delightful. The Full Minty. Super Brownied. Cures what ails you.
Cons: Richer than the people who make it. Holy fat, calories, etc. Could use some sort of crunch, maybe.

REVIEW: Dairy Queen Royal Oreo Blizzard

Dairy Queen Royal Oreo Blizzard 2

The concept of a “core” of filling is nothing new. Think of Earth, the planet which most of you who read this live on. Its core is filled with lava. Then there’s the Drumstick Ice Cream Cones that have a core of fudge or caramel among other things.

I’ve done some dabbling in this core business myself, like when I was in high school and I would pray to the green goddess, and while my lungs were still filled up with holy smoke I’d take a shot of whiskey, which would act as the core. Then I’d run to the bathroom and fill the toilet with a core of vomit.

Dairy Queen jumped on the core bandwagon with the Royal Blizzard, which is the famous Blizzard treat filled with a core of topping. There’s only three flavors currently (Rocky Road Brownie and New York Strawberry Cheesecake) but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see more drop.

Being in a cookie mood as opposed to a cheesecake or brownie mood, the Oreo Royal was the easy choice.

Dairy Queen Royal Oreo Blizzard

I didn’t watch them make the Blizzard and I wish I had to see how the core is injected into it, but there was a Bugs Bunny cartoon on a TV and I was drawn like a moth to a box of old clothes.

The Blizzard looks just like the normal Oreo version for the first few bites, since the core doesn’t start at the top. You have to dig a little before you strike fudge. When you do see the gooey chocolaty goodness you will feel like a miner from the California Gold Rush, only you’ll probably be better dressed and much cooler because you have an iPhone and they didn’t.

The fudge core was actually wide, which I was not expecting. All the cores in ice cream products seem to be light in total area and some really get slim at the bottom. The fudge area actually got wider as I went further into the Blizzard.

Dairy Queen Royal Oreo Blizzard 3

Now I wasn’t totally sure if the fudge was supposed to be hot or not but since it is surrounded by ice cream it gets cool and congeals, meaning you’ll have to put a little more effort when you want to spoon out a nice bite of it. Kind of reminds me of McDonald’s hot fudge sundae. If you’ve had one of those, the fudge at the bottom is what you can expect in the Blizzard. Still tastes great but would be better if it was hot.

The fudge really adds a lot more punch and richness, blends exceptionally well with the crunchy Oreo cookies, and, honestly, it made the thought of a regular Oreo Blizzard just seem kind of average. It’s like taking a shot of really good tequila and then taking a shot of well tequila right after. You would never want to touch the well tequila again. Now I’m not a regular consumer of Blizzard treats, but if I were to go back and get something with Oreo, it’s most definitely going to be the Royal variety.

(Nutrition Facts – 760 calories, 270 calories from fat, 30 grams of fat, 21 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 50 milligrams of cholesterol, 430 milligrams of sodium, 111 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 85 grams of sugars, 14 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $4.09
Size: Small
Purchased at: Dairy Queen
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Fudge core is good sized. Blends well with Oreo cookies. Being better dressed than a California Gold Rush miner.
Cons: Would’ve been better if fudge was hot. Shots of well tequila.

QUICK REVIEW: Rockstar Revolt Killer Citrus Energy Drink

Rockstar Revolt Killer Citrus Energy Drink

For years I’ve wanted a caffeinated 7Up or Sprite. YEARS.

But despite my best efforts, which included whining under my breath to a cooler that was filled with 7Up and Sprite and begging on their Facebook pages, I haven’t had the chance to guzzle a clear lemon-lime soda with my favorite stimulant.

But that’s no longer the case thanks to Rockstar Energy and its new Revolt Killer Citrus.

Update: I forgot 7Up had dnL.

A 16-ounce can has 240 milligrams of caffeine, which, if my math is correct, is 240 milligrams more than 7Up and Sprite combined. The heart-thumping beverage doesn’t taste exactly like either big brand soda, but it does have a crisp and clean lemon-lime flavor that could easily be mistaken for a store brand soda with a name like Sprittee or 7Lemon.

I’m not sure why the can has camouflage, but I also don’t know why folks who aren’t hunters or in the military wear camouflage. Maybe it is meant for hunters and the “killer” in Killer Citrus, represents what hunters do to their prey. Also, if I had to wait all day for some deer or bird to show up, I’d need something to keep me awake too.

Also, I’m trying to figure out why it’s called “Revolt.” The word could mean rising up against something or it could mean feeling disgust. I mean, the beverage doesn’t make me feel disgusted, but why give it a name that could mean that? I dunno.

Overall, thank goodness for Rockstar’s Revolt Killer Citrus Energy Drink. Because now I don’t need to put in more than the 0.5 percent of effort I was making to help make a caffeinated lemon-lime soft drink a reality.

Purchased Price: $2.29
Size: 16 fl oz
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (8 fl oz) 130 calories, 0 grams of fat, 45 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 32 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, 100% niacin, 100% vitamin B6, 100% vitamin B12, and 100% pantothenic acid.

REVIEW: Honey Maid Vanilla Graham Crackers

Honey Maid Vanilla Graham Crackers

In 1829, minister Sylvester Graham invented the graham cracker as an intentionally bland food that would suppress “carnal urges.” No, I’m not making this up:

Graham crackers want you to stop masturbating.

But despite Sylvester “No Fun Allowed” Graham’s best efforts, people have continued masturbating for 187 years, and they seem to have no plans to stop masturbating in the immediate future.

If regular old crackers weren’t exciting enough to get people to choose grahams over ‘gasms, I can only imagine that Honey Maid’s new Vanilla Graham Crackers are another attempt to make a properly thrilling masturbatory alternative.

Honey Maid Vanilla Graham Crackers 2

And just look at them: with their supple graham pores, their lithely aerated edges, and their dazzling crystal coating, these are sexy crackers. In fact, they’re so attractive, I could just about…

Keep it together, Dan! At least take them out for dinner first!

Speaking of eating, these babies are still very similar to plain Honey Maid Graham Crackers at their wafered core. The base tastes of mildly sweetened, brown sugar-dusted wheat flour. This is veiled in a thin layer of golden toasted, slightly floral honey.

Honey Maid Vanilla Graham Crackers 3

Upon first bite, the smattering of sugar crystals on top provides only a subtle kiss of vanilla extract stickiness. But if you really kiss the crackers (and I mean full on “sliding into first base like a hungry Frenchman” kissing) the syrupy honey and vanilla flavors blend into something vaguely like birthday cake frosting.

Of course, becoming a snack time succubus like this leaves behind a fairly gritty and dry cracker. And like all graham crackers, flour chunks will inevitably get stuck in every toothy crevasse. This may be a massive low point for some meticulous munchers, but I personally enjoy tasting graham-flavored phantoms on my palate for an entire afternoon. After all, if I’m picking crumbs out of mouth, my hands are too busy to do “other things.”

Honey Maid Vanilla Graham Crackers are certainly pleasant, but far from mind-blowing. They’re essentially flatter, more rectangular Nilla Wafers that are better for making s’mores.

And speaking of s’mores: s’mores! Besides boring ministers and that weird kid you knew in 3rd grade few people eat graham crackers plain. That’s why this review wouldn’t be complete without a crackpot cracker concoction.

But since these aren’t your Grandma’s graham crackers, the ordinary “Jet-Puffed and Hershey’s” s’more simply won’t do. No, we need a hip, extreme s’more for a hip, extreme generation. Since I’m a dumb, poor college kid with the heart of a dumb, imaginative child, I’m gonna have to take a few creative liberties.

Honey Maid Vanilla Graham Crackers 4

I proudly present my “S’More v2.016.” In lieu of a toasted marshmallow, it has a rainbow gob of half-melted Lucky Charms marbits. And in place of Milton Hershey’s famous, yet boring chocolate? The frosted and fudgy decapitated top of a Hostess Cupcake. This s’more tastes fantastic, but it also kinda tastes like I belong in a mental hospital.

Despite their lack of originality, these graham crackers are a sweet platform for the imagination. In fact, I’d say they’re my favorite commercially available graham snack that isn’t bear-shaped. They’re also in third place behind powdered doughnuts and cocaine binges when it comes to covering everything in white powder.

Honey Maid Vanilla Graham Crackers are just good, wholesome fun. But sorry, Sylvester: most people still won’t be “picking the vanilla bean” instead of…well, you know.

(Nutrition Facts – 8 crackers (2 full sheets) – 130 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3.5 grams of fat, 0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 150 milligrams of sodium, 50 milligrams of potassium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 14.4 oz box
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Guts made of good ol’ graham. Suckling on birthday cake pixie dust. Postmodern s’mores. Snack cake lobotomies. Being a dumb, imaginative child.
Cons: Not quite enough vanilla. Won’t reshape autoerotic history. The divisive nature of graham-flavored tooth cement. Naming your kid “Milton.” Being a dumb, poor college kid.

REVIEW: Chick-fil-A Frosted Coffee

Chick-fil-A Frosted Coffee

If there’s a third rail of fast food menu boards — a single item deemed too risky to sell consistently — it might just be coffee flavored milkshakes.

Think about it: you can get a green minty Shamrock Shake at McDonald’s, a Dr Pepper-flavored shake at Burger King, and about seven billion milkshake flavors at Sonic, but none of them coffee.

You can get frappes and frozen lattes and all sorts of sugary, cold coffee “drinks” at most chains, but with the exception of a few outliers in which coffee is really just a supporting flavor — like Arby’s Jamocha Shake and Wendy’s discontinued Coffee Toffee Twisted Frosty — coffee remains untouched when trending closer to the shake side of menus.

Why coffee-flavored shakes are so underrepresented has got to be among the greatest mysteries of all time, especially since 64 percent of Americans drink at least one cup of coffee a day.” What the hell, fast food companies? Do you not want to sell milkshakes or what?

Chick-fil-A’s new Frosted Coffee is not quite a milkshake, but it’s damn near close. And it’s damn near delicious.

If you’re a coffee snob but have never had Chick-fil-A’s iced coffee before, you’re missing out. Not quite as bitter as Starbucks, but much more sophisticated and full-bodied than McDonald’s, it could definitely pass for an independent coffee shop’s brew. Well, at least it could pass for better than fast food coffee. That flavor is apparent as soon as you take a sip of the Frosted Coffee. It has a robust-but-not-really dark flavor that conjures up images of happy farmers in some Latin America country.

Not that into coffee? Great, neither am I, which is why I’m happy to report a milkshakes worth of Chick-fil-A soft-serve Icedream goes a long way into making this much more a dessert than a breakfast. The combined flavor is a good deal lighter and refreshing than just the coffee itself. And combined with the rich milky notes and sweetness, the shake-drink-frappe hybrid might as well just text the family of the late Dave Thomas and be like, “What’s up, Wendy? We made a better coffee Frosty than you ever did.”

Chick-fil-A’s Frosted Coffee is awesome, but it would be even more so if it got the full milkshake treatment and was a bit thicker and came with whipped cream (but not a cherry, because, you know, coffee and cherry sounds gross).

Chick-fil-A Frosted Coffee 2

While it’s thick enough to eat with a spoon, annoying little pools of coffee crop up as you make your way down in the container, which makes me think that some kind of additional thickener wouldn’t kill the purity of the experience. The flavor is definitely there; now they just gotta up the texture a bit and you have a fast food dessert item that at least two-thirds of us caffeine-dependent Americans want.

Why don’t more fast food companies hit the ground running with coffee-flavored milkshakes? I don’t know. Most have already taken the first step with Frappuccino-like beverage, and Chick-fil-A has added a much needed leap by adding ice cream. Here’s to hoping it sticks around well into summer.

(Nutrition Facts – small – 240 calories from fat, 55 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of sat fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 160 milligrams of sodium, 41 grams of carbohydrates, 38 grams of sugar, 7 grams of protein, 25% DV calcium..)

Purchased Price: $2.69
Size: Small
Purchased at: Chick-fil-A
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Sophisticated and full-bodied coffee flavor in the guise of a milkshake. Smooth, creamy, sweet soft serve balances the coffee’s flavor perfectly. Not watered down with any syrups or off flavors. Milkshake-like appeal at only 240 calories.
Cons: ould be richer and more indulgent. Begs for whipped cream. Fair-trade farming propaganda.

REVIEW: Peeps Mystery Flavors (2016)

Peeps Mystery Flavors (2016)

Like the Star Wars fans who avoided watching, reading, or listening to anything before seeing The Force Awakens to make sure they didn’t accidentally come across spoilers, I’ve steered clear of anything about these 2016 Peeps Mystery Flavors so I wouldn’t have any idea what the flavors could be. I’ve avoided reviews, tweets, Instagram pics, Facebook posts, Snapchats, and Peeps sexts. That’s a thing, right?

I’ve even avoided comments from this post we did about them when they first came out.

(covers eyes) LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA.

And I intentionally haven’t read any of the comments from this Instagram photo I posted the other day.

(covers eyes) LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA.

So I finally had all three Peeps Mystery Flavors and I’m slightly disappointed. I’m not disappointed with the flavors Peeps chose, which I’ll get to a bit later. I’m disappointed with the flavors Peeps didn’t choose.

If I owned a marshmallow making company called Tweeps, I would’ve had some fun with our mystery flavors. I would’ve had Ghost Pepper Tweeps, Lobster Tweeps, Garlic Bread Tweeps, or Bacon Tweeps. Or maybe go the Jelly Belly BeanBoozled route and have Cat Food Tweeps, Vacuum Bag Contents Tweeps, Motor Oil Tweeps, or Interior of a Ten-Year-Old Microwave That Has Never Been Cleaned Tweeps. Sure, those may have caused gagging and our eventual bankruptcy, but it would’ve been so worth it.

Well, I’m not happy to report that Peeps kept it safe, like they do all the time, and didn’t make any mystery flavors that they’d regret or cause them to lose money.

Peeps Mystery Flavors (2016) 2

Let’s start with Mystery Flavor #2 of 3.

After opening the package, my nose detected a familiar smell from my childhood — butter and sugar toast. Mmmm. Those were the sweet days (of cavities). As for the flavor of these colorless Peeps, they also had a buttery flavor. I’m leaning towards buttered popcorn, because they kind of remind me of Jelly Belly’s Buttered Popcorn, but it could also be a butter roll or a stick of butter. I’m not a huge fan of buttered popcorn jelly beans, but I did enjoy these buttery Peeps. Although they are my least favorite of the three.

Next, I’ll go with Mystery Flavor #1 of 3.

They smell like chocolate frosting. Obviously, they also have a chocolatey flavor, but what it is I’m not exactly sure. The flavor was lighter than the other two, so it’s hard to pinpoint what it’s trying to emulate. My original guesses were chocolate birthday cake, chocolate mousse, or hot cocoa. But they couldn’t be hot cocoa-flavored Peeps since they already exist. So I’m going to say birthday cake. I liked them, but I wish they had a stronger flavor.

Finally, there’s Mystery Flavor #3 of 3.

They smell like fruit punch, but they definitely couldn’t be fruit punch since one of last year’s Peeps Mystery Flavors was fruit punch. Although, it would’ve been funny if they threw a curveball and it actually was fruit punch. But after tasting it, it’s definitely not fruit punch. I get a slight citrus vibe from them, but they mostly remind me of Haribo peach gummies. But my taste buds think it could also be grape. So I’m going to say they’re grape Peeps. While I’m not 100 percent sure if they’re peach or grape, I do know I liked these the best out of the three Mystery Flavors.

(Nutrition Facts – 5 chicks – 140 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 32 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.00 each
Size: 3 oz./10 chicks
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 7 out of 10 (#1 of 3)
Rating: 6 out of 10 (#2 of 3)
Rating: 8 out of 10 (#3 of 3)
Pros: No gross flavors. All were decent to good. The sugar crystal exterior of Peeps. The fun in trying to figure out what the heck they are. The smugness I’ll feel when it turns out I’ve correctly guessed the flavors.
Cons: No gross flavors. Trying to avoid spoilers. #1 of 3 could’ve had a stronger flavor. Buttered popcorn jelly bean haters might not like #2 of 3. Vacuum Bag Contents Peeps.