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.

REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core Ice Cream

Ben & Jerry's Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core Ice Cream

Ben and Jerry are game changers.

As far as the most innovative people of the last 200 years goes, I’d rank them fourth behind the guy Edison stole his ideas from, the inventor of basketball’s three point line, and Tony Stark. Also, I have Ben just behind Mr. Franklin in the “Best Ben’s” category, and Jerry tied for first with Seinfeld.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t skeptical when I first heard of Ben & Jerry’s Core ice cream line. They already had plenty of choices on the market. I just assumed they were repackaging old flavors with a shiny new gimmick.

For the very first time in my life, I was wrong.

Enter Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core Ice Cream.

Sure Ben and Jerry messed around with a cheesecake flavor in the past, but not like this.

The base ice cream flavors here are chocolate and cheesecake. Chocolate is, well, chocolate. Don’t expect them to reinvent the wheel there. The cheesecake ice cream wasn’t really all that strong either. If I didn’t know, I would have said it was just vanilla. It was subtle, almost giving off a malt flavor, but I think that was intentionally done to not overpower the star of the show – the core.

It’s perfect.

Ben & Jerry's Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core Ice Cream 2

I think cheesecakes are one of those foods that are either incredibly delicious or downright boring. There’s no in-between. No core, if you will. For me, the sign of a good piece of cheesecake is when I don’t even remember it’s actually a cheese-based dessert. That’s what you get here. It’s perfectly sweet without being cloying like a lot of Cheesecake Factory’s fare. The soft texture was exactly what it should be. It gets cold, but not quite as cold as the ice cream surrounding it, so there’s a nice difference in flavor and texture. I would have thought cheesecake à la mode would be overkill, but now it’s all I want.

That’s not to say this concoction is perfect. The chocolate cookie pieces, while necessary to make a “cookies and cream” ice cream, brought little to the table. They tasted more like brownie pieces and were somehow dry despite being speckled in ice cream. I would have liked it if they went a little wackier with it. Perhaps a play on a chocolate chippy topping may have suited this better, but that’s just a nitpick.

Ben & Jerry's Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core Ice Cream 3

Cutting the carton in half results in something that looks like a delicious seismic chart. The core and the cheesecake ice cream are kind of indistinguishable in color, so any time I tasted the core it was a pleasant surprise.

So while it was basically a normal swirl ice cream with boring cookie pieces, the core was so damn good. I kind of understood Ben & Jerry’s choice to go that route. This flavor is a one ingredient CORE-de-force. Eh? Right?

That being said, I did get the urge to buy this flavor again and perform ice cream Frankenstein surgery. I want to de-core it and swap it into various other Ben & Jerry’s varieties. Imagine the possibilities! Phish Food with a cheesecake core. Chubby Hubby with a cheesecake core. Americone Dream with a…oh, who am I kidding, I’m far too lazy to do this.

I’ll just stick with their Cookies & Cream Cheesecake Core as an enCORE. Eh? Right?

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 270 calories, 15 grams of fat, 10 grams of saturated fat, 65 milligrams of cholesterol, 90 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 24 grams of sugars, and 5 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.00
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Perfect cheesecake core. Nothing wrong with a swirl. Good balance of ingredients. Game changers. Cheesecake à la mode. Steph Curry from downtown. Puns.
Cons: Uninspired cookie pieces. Destroying the package and forcing yourself to eat the entire thing in one sitting. Thomas Edison is a thief. Puns.

REVIEW: Burger King Dr Pepper Shake

Burger King Dr Pepper Shake

I, Vin, know all of Dr Pepper’s 23 flavors.

I know em all, and I’m ready to tell the world. I’m not afraid anymore. What are they gonna do, sue me? Arrest me? Bust into my house, incapacitate me, take me away in a black van and finish this blog post pretending to be me, while never actually telling you guys the 23 flavors? Pff, I’d like to see them try. They don’t have the guts.

So without further ado, here are the 23 flavors that go into every batch of Dr Pepper.

Cola

Cherry

Vanilla

(knocking at the door)

Ah, come on! Gimmie a sec, someone’s banging on my door. I’ll be back before you can say “Dr Pepper’s deepest darkest secret.”

I’m back. It was just a…vacuum salesman. Yup, just a boring, non-threatening salesman.

I know you’re anxious to read your best pal Vin’s review of Burger King’s new Dr Pepper shake…and this is most definitely Vin.

Where was I?

Burger King Dr Pepper Shake 2

This shake is nothing to look at. It’s just tan. A few syrup ribbons of dark red would have been nice, but I have to imagine that was deliberate on Burger King and Dr Pepper’s part. They don’t need to win you over with flashy colors. It’s not like they’re Surge.

Ever walk into a bakery after a fresh batch of amaretto cookies are brought out? It’s an amazing almond smell with a hint of cherry in some cases. That’s what this shake smells like.

As far as the flavor goes, here’s a very specific taste for you to imagine. Have you ever gotten a vanilla shake with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry on top, but just let those ingredients sink to the bottom? You know those last few pinkish sips of vanilla infused with the juice runoff from the cherry? That’s what this tasted like. Vin likey.

Burger King Dr Pepper Shake 3

The Dr Pepper you know and love is definitely there, but it’s more subtle than you’d expect. It punches through a bit more once the shake starts to liquefy, but that’s only on the last few sips as this holds its texture well. Dr Pepper may have 23 amazing flavors, but I really only tasted the cherry and vanilla, which is totally fine. In fact, don’t even worry about the other 21 flavors, they don’t concern you, and trying to figure them out will not end well for you…or anyone for that matter.

Moving on…

Some shakes are so cloying they’re tough to finish. That isn’t the case here. The Dr Pepper Shake is delicious from the first sip to the last.

People like to write Burger King off, but they’ve been crushing it with menu items like this. They’re trying to offer innovative choices as of late, excelling mostly with their drinks. Here’s hoping they expand on this concept and blend up more sodas into shakes. I mean, they’ll probably be good, but not Dr Pepper good.

In conclusion, Mr. Pibb worships Satan. Drink Dr Pepper.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 fl oz – 330 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 250 milligrams of sodium, 52 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams dietary fiber, 44 grams of sugar, and 8 grams of protein..)

Item: Burger King Dr Pepper Shake
Purchased Price: $3.19
Size: Small (12 oz.)
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Great cherry/vanilla flavor. Olfactory satisfaction. Perfect shake consistency. Maraschino cherry flavor without the plastic fruit. Burger King owning the shake game. Doctorate degrees.
Cons: Secretive recipes. Dr. Pepper flavor could have been somewhat stronger. Super thick shakes. Home invasions. Mr. Pibb.

QUICK YOGURT REVIEW: Chobani Flip Limited Batch Peppermint Perfection Greek Yogurt

Chobani Flip Limited Batch Peppermint Perfection Greek Yogurt

Minty Greek yogurt flavors are rare; there aren’t many of its kind.
So it’s nice Chobani added Peppermint Perfection to the Flip line.
White peppermint and dark chocolate chunks bring winter and bitter.
While the numerous dark chocolate cookies bits are crunch emitters.
They’ll take a short trip into vanilla Greek yogurt when you flip.
They’ll drop into the yogurt as if a dunk tank bullseye you hit.
The peppermint’s power won’t clear your nostrils like Altoids would.
If it was peppermint yogurt it might’ve cleared your nose real good.
It would have been nice if the peppermint was turn up several bits.
Then it would always taste like Chobani with Girl Scout Thin Mints.
Some spoonfuls had peppermint flavor, but most had none at all.
Not having enough white chocolate chunks is its only downfall.
But while peppermint wasn’t in every spoonful I put into my mouth,
the dark chocolate cookies and chunks kept the flavor from going south.
The cookie pieces stayed crunchy as I ate through the mixture.
And the chocolate chunks had a snap that gave it a varying texture.
Chobani’s Peppermint Perfection isn’t perfect, but it’s still a hit.
It’s a seasonal flavor so head to your nearest store and get it quick.

Chobani Flip Limited Batch Peppermint Perfection Greek Yogurt 2

Chobani Flip Limited Batch Peppermint Perfection Greek Yogurt 3

Purchased Price: $1.75*
Size: 5.3 oz.
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 8 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: 200 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 26 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, 12 grams of protein, and 15% calcium.

*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.