REVIEW: Nabisco Red Velvet Chips Ahoy Cookies

Nabisco Red Velvet Chips Ahoy Cookies

Wouldn’t life be more fun if humans were stuffed with sugary white crème?

Doctors would use frosting bags instead of syringes. Getting a paper cut could help you ice that last cupcake. Donating blood would be as easy as pushing down on your nose like a whipped cream nozzle. What a good ol’ gooey world it would be.

Hey, I see you groaning out there. Why don’t you try writing an entertaining introduction to yet another processed snack cookie?

Today’s Instagram-able and instantly grab-able treat is Red Velvet Chips Ahoy!, a new flavor from Nabisco’s cookie brand that loves pissing off autocorrect by requiring exclamation points in the middle of sentences.

Look Chips Ahoy!, just because you’ll never live up to big brother Oreo’s legacy doesn’t mean you have to take it out on us.

Speaking of brothers, Red Velvet Chips Ahoy! debuted alongside S’mores Chips Ahoy!. But while S’mores is the extroverted cookie that goes to bonfires, Red Velvet is the basement-dwelling “womanizer” who tries to act classy while lamenting to his body pillow.

Nabisco Red Velvet Chips Ahoy Cookies 2

Like any such basement “gentleman,” these cookies are super oily, more than a little buttery, and have a belly full of cream cheese. Slick and crumbly to the touch, my moist cookie practically melted under the weight of my gaze, let alone my teeth.

With one cookie down, I can already say these taste a lot like real red velvet cake. Well, maybe not “As Seen And Drooled Over on the Food Network” real, but definitely “As Purchased from the Walmart Bakery” real red velvet cake.

The maroon dough has a great fluffy, sweetened cocoa base inside of its squishy exterior, and there are persistent pulses of browned butter throughout.

Nabisco Red Velvet Chips Ahoy Cookies 3

I’m not sure if the cream cheese chips and crème core are supposed to taste the same, but as I crammed entire cookies into my mouth like they were plastic pizza disks into that retro Ninja Turtles toy we all owned, they certainly had the same flavor. The crème and chips are quite buttery, creamy, and buttercream frosting-y, with a slightly off-putting — but no less authentic — granulated texture.

As for red velvet cake’s signature, slightly sour tang, it can be tasted in these Red Velvet Chips Ahoy! cookies, but not if you nibble on ‘em slowly. To get “astronaut beverage” levels of biting tang, you have to cram entire cookies into your mouth like they’re obscure Ninja Turtles metaphors crammed into my reviews.

Red Velvet Chips Ahoy! cookies really do taste like 1-2 bite sized versions of grocery store red velvet cakes —- the kind you buy on clearance because they already have “Happy 74th Birthday Clarence” sloppily iced onto them. Though these cookies have a more tactile cookie “crust” than a real cake, they share all the buttery ups and gritty downs of the real thing.

They even have the faint chemical aftertaste from the food dye. While this artificialness may be off-putting to some, I’ve tasted eau de Red 40 in so many red velvet cakes that it’s become a welcome part of the red velvet experience.

Nabisco Red Velvet Chips Ahoy Cookies 4

These pleasant, yet shamelessly processed cookies would nonetheless work as a welcome snack at a summer picnic or a dessert pizza at an action figure birthday party.

And if that last picture didn’t clue you in:, let me tell you: I am not a S’mores Chips Ahoy! in real life.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 65 milligrams of potassium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 13 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein..)

Purchased Price: $2.59
Size: 9.6 oz
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Grocery store-grade red velvet authenticity. Moist and spongy cookie “crust.” The underrated joy of buttery saturated fat. Lifesaving cookie crème transfusions.
Cons: Mostly unwanted dye aftertaste. The necessary evil of gritty cream. Secretly being a basement-loving cookie in real life. Accidentally spilling cookies on my floor while checking nutrition facts.

REVIEW: Wendy’s Bacon Mozzarella Burger

Wendy’s Bacon Mozzarella Burger

Listen close, boys and girls: today’s secret word is “twang.”

Yep, “twang:” everyone’s favorite flavor descriptor that’s fun to overuse and hard to explain, but easily recognizable when you taste it. And every time I use it in my review of Wendy’s new Bacon Mozzarella Burger, I want you to scream as loud as you can like it’s Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

My apologies to any librarians reading this.

There’s a lot going on in this sandwich, and as the kind of easily overwhelmed person who can’t even decide which grocery aisle to go down first, it helps for me to quickly break it down into parts. So after fixing my hair in the bun’s reflective gloss and becoming That Guy Publically Pointing A Camera At His Hamburger™, I started dissecting.

Wendy’s Bacon Mozzarella Burger 2

Let’s start with that Brioche bun: it has a hyper garlicky and buttery glaze on top of a fragile and well-browned shell that hides fluffy, doughy innards. It’s addictively lick-able, but make sure you don’t touch your camera lens after handling it, unless you like having your review photos look like something out of a hazy movie desert scene.

The festive leafy greens on my Bacon Mozzarella Burger ranged from “fresh, and crisp” to “dark and damp clumps that belong in an amateur production of Little Shop of Horrors.” However, every leaf does a good job of absorbing the addictive twanginess (AHHH!) of the Parmesan Garlic sauce.

And speaking of Parmesan Garlic sauce: Parmesan Garlic sauce! It’s easily the best part of this sandwich, as it combines a buttery base with a biting garlic twang and nostril-tickling notes of nutty cheese that’s been carefully aged in the remote hills of Italy by a wise hermit.

The combo of cheesy and creamy really did remind me of Italian restaurant Alfredo sauce. When doused in this sauce, the burger’s raw red onions deliver a welcome two-pronged bite effect. That’s right: this twang’s got fangs.

The beef burger itself is impressive, too. It tastes freshly browned and salted without being dry, while its core is juicy without being messy. I just wish the bacon and cheese had as much flavor. The Applewood Smoked Bacon tasted of neither apples nor fresh cedar planks, and it had little charcoal-smoked twang.

The mozzarella, meanwhile, was smooth but practically tasteless—it’s a boring cheese choice that really puts the sleepy “zz” in mozzarella.

Wendy’s Bacon Mozzarella Burger 3

It doesn’t matter too much, though. Just like in nature and in many other multi-ingredient burgers, when eaten as a whole, the Bacon Mozzarella Burger’s strongly flavored ingredients swallow many of the weaker ones. In this case, the bun, burger, and Parmesan Garlic sauce dominate with a tasty trio of buttered garlic beef.

It’s like an Olive Garden meal (with breadsticks) in squeezable sandwich form and on a drive-thru budget. Though my single burger rang up at $5.99, the suggested price is $4.69. At that dollar figure, I’d highly recommend this “Taste of Fast Food Italy Burger.”

Even though some ingredients underwhelmed, the rest were impressive enough that you’d think Wendy brought them back from a study abroad trip in Italy that she won’t shut up about for the next five years.

Now I think I need to stop licking butter off my camera and get out of this restaurant before the secret Wendy’s police hauls me off kicking, screaming, and babbling about twangy Italian cheese hermits.

(Nutrition Facts – Single burger – 620 calories, 330 calories from fat, 37 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 1.5 grams of trans fat, 120 milligrams of cholesterol, 1430 milligrams of sodium, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 37 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.99
Size: Single
Purchased at: Wendy’s
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Italian-American fusion you can eat at 70mph. Buttery Brioche worth ruining technology over. Parmesan cave gurus. Everybody have fun tonight. Everybody Twang Chung tonight.
Cons: MozzZzzZZarella. Having to go to Home Depot for properly woody bacon. Burger price variability. Limp spinach swamp monsters. Eternally being “That Guy.”

REVIEW: Lay’s Creamy Bacon Potato Salad Potato Chips

Lay's Creamy Bacon Potato Salad Potato Chips

Barbeque season is upon us once again, and your old friend Vin is here to share a dirty little secret with you.

No one really likes your potato salad.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the side dish you made/bought is not as big a hit as your well-meaning friends are making it seem. There’s a reason it’s the last thing remaining on the table as the sun drops, just rotting there in a warm, gelatinous clump of misery as the guests head for their cars.

In terms of the salad offerings at any given BBQ, potato almost always ranks behind macaroni. If chicken salad is on the menu, forget about it! Hell, potato salad usually ranks behind regular salad. With all due respect to all the red headed stepchildren of the world, potato salad is truly the you of summer BBQ staples.

Lay's Creamy Bacon Potato Salad Potato Chips 2

Crispy chips are tastier than starchy spud cubes slathered in a gross mayo concoction and the good folks at Frito-Lay are well aware of this. That’s why they’re ready to make the summer of ‘16 potato salad-free with the introduction of their “new” flavor, Creamy Bacon Potato Salad.

Now that I think about it, potato salad was probably an easy flavor to reproduce in chip form. You’re already working with potato. Add a buzzworthy ingredient – possibly the buzziest – in “bacon,” and yup, this seems like it might actually work.

They certainly smell the part. These are the best smelling chips I’ve had in some time. Upon tearing open the bag, I was hit with the aroma of bacon bits. It’s a bit more artificial than freshly cooked bacon, but amazing nonetheless.

I guess the initial flavor is the “salad” component of the chip. There’s a sharp vinegary, mayonnaise taste, but that is immediately trounced by bacon. Beyond that quick surge, these are basically a loaded baked potato.

Lay's Creamy Bacon Potato Salad Potato Chips 3

Sure, I was put in mind of potato salad for a split second, but it doesn’t seem like they even tried to steer this away from loaded baked potato. Sour cream, onion powder, and cheddar cheese are listed in the ingredients. It’s a potato chip and bacon is the star of the show. What’s missing? That’s a loaded baked potato.

Think of them like this – If you filled three-fourths of a bowl with 3/4 loaded baked potato chips and then filled the rest with salt and vinegar, this would be the end result.

These chips are a delicious sham. Lay’s repackaged a slight variation on an old flavor and designed a shiny new bag. I’m not mad at ‘em, and when you try these, you won’t be either. I am however mad about one minor thing.

I realize sour cream and onion is one of the most popular chips in the world, but why is “Creamy” necessary here? First of all, “Creamy Bacon” is a weird combination of words that illicit some weird thoughts in my brain. Second of all, it’s a chip. It’s not creamy. Even if you’re mimicking the taste of “creamy” potato salad, we don’t need to know it’s creamy, it’s assumed. Not to mention, “creamy” is a disgusting word. It’s my “moist.” This concludes my creamy rant.

Next time you’re considering bringing potato salad to a BBQ, think better of it. Grab a bag of these and pick up some macaroni salad. Your hosts/guests will appreciate it.

Fans of any of the numerous bacon-centric flavors Lay’s has put out in the past will love these. If you like potato skins appetizers, you’ll love these. If you like summer, you’ll love these.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 ounce – 150 calories, 90 calories from fat, 10 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 170 milligrams of sodium, 15 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugars, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.48
Size: 7 3/4 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: One of the better new flavors in a while. Worthy replacement for gross potato salad. Smells great. Buzzworthy bacon.
Cons: Basically a retread flavor in a shiny new bag. Imagining what creamy bacon might taste like. The word “creamy” in general. Potato salad.

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.