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REVIEW: Sonic Cheesy Bread Dog (Ultimate Cheese & Bacon and Garlic Parmesan)

Written by | July 21, 2014

Topics: 5 Rating, 8 Rating, Fast Food, Sonic

Sonic Ultimate Cheese & Bacon Cheesy Bread Dog

Is there any sight that makes you want to scream “America!” more than a hot dog? Well, I guess the American flag. Oh, and a bald eagle. A soldier in uniform. Eating loaded cheese fries a monster truck show. Rappers sipping on purple drank in music videos. Playing video games on the toilet. The government spying on us. Going to other countries and asking, “Don’t you speak English?” Hulk Hogan.

Okay, so there are plenty of other things that say America more than a hot dog, but the fact is the beef treat still says America, and in a different voice depending on what city you are in, as places like New York and Chicago are famous for the toppings they use. There’s also pretzel buns, which totally changes the game of a dog.

Now, Sonic is changing the game again with the new Cheesy Bread Dogs.

The last time I was excited by a hot dog to the level the Cheesy Bread ones brought me to was my first and only time at Wrigley Field in 2010, when I ordered a famed Chicago Dog.

A Sonic Drive-In obviously isn’t as scenic and majestic as Wrigley but if I imagined really hard the concrete turned to grass, my car seat to a seat in the bleachers, and my Sonic car server person (their official title, I’m assuming) morphed into Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro. Usually in my dreams I’m the one delivering hot dogs to Starlin! I mean… that’s never happened.

I did go into a slight panic when the Sonic worker brought the food to my car, as I had never eaten at the drive-in before and was not sure if these people get tipped or not. He dropped a “well, have a nice day,” and then hesitated before leaving, so I’m assuming I was supposed to tip him. Great, like I need more bad karma!

I ordered both varieties, Garlic Parmesan and Ultimate Cheese & Bacon, but what you want to know about is the cheesy bread, right? I hope so; otherwise I look like a damn fool.

Sonic Cheesy Bread Dog Bun

The first thing you’ll notice before you even taste the bun is how greasy it is. I use a lot of napkins to begin with but I really went over board on these. You can just poke it gently and your finger would be glistening like you just wiped your sweaty brow, which maybe you got from playing pickup basketball, or walking your dog on an exceptionally sweltering afternoon.

This minor inconvenience is quickly dismissed once you taste the bread though. It’s very doughy, and kind of reminded me a stuffed crust pizza because of the cheese flavor, which was a pleasant cheddar. It is a thick bun, too, and I’d be careful ordering two as you may come to regret it later. I know I did. But that’s one for the vault.

The better of the two was easily the Ultimate Cheese & Bacon. Why? AMERICA! It’s the same thing as the Cheesy Bacon Pretzel Dog Sonic offers, but when you replace the pretzel bun with cheesy bread you really get one ultimate cheese and bacon experience, hence the name of the hot dog. It’s a hot mess of cheese, bacon and grease, and I’m using hot mess in a good way. The salty bacon, mild cheddar on the bun, and creamy, sharp cheddar cheese sauce blend together in an explosion of tasty, salty goodness.

The only knock is it’s a bit salty. I happen to enjoy salt so it was fine by me but if you’re not in love with a salty taste I would look to the Garlic Parmesan Cheesy Bread Dog.

Sonic Garlic Parmesan Cheesy Bread Dog

It has a creamy garlic parmesan sauce and onions. I was a bit confused by this one, as I wasn’t really sure how I felt about the sauce, and the onions seemed out of place to me. I think the onions could easily be lost and the dog would be just fine. The sauce seemed out of balance to me, as it was unlike other garlic parmesan sauce I have tasted. I suspect too much or too little of one of garlic or parmesan. Still tasty but could have been better.

Again, the cheesy bread makes these dogs quite filling (especially the Ultimate Cheese & Bacon) so unless you want to see how both taste, just order one. Maybe complement it with a nice slushie? Don’t complement it with tip confusion though. Seeing that Sonic worker do a sad Charlie Brown walk after not receiving a tip has been in my nightmares ever since!

(Nutrition Facts – Ultimate Cheese & Bacon – 550 calories, 290 calories from fat, 32 grams total fat, 14 grams saturated fat, 60 milligrams cholesterol, 1580 mg sodium, 47 grams total carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, 3 grams sugar, and 21 grams protein. Garlic Parmesan – Not available on website.)

Item: Sonic Cheesy Bread Dog (Ultimate Cheese & Bacon and Garlic Parmesan)
Purchased Price: $2.89 each
Size: N/A
Purchased at: Sonic Drive-In
Rating: 8 out of 10 (Ultimate Cheese & Bacon)
Rating: 5 out of 10 (Garlic Parmesan)
Pros: Bun is cheesy, doughy, and delicious. Ultimate Cheese & Bacon ingredients blend perfectly. America! Hulk Hogan. The power of imagination.
Cons: Bun is annoyingly greasy. Unbalanced garlic to parmesan ratio in sauce. Purple drank. Spying government.

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REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Limeade Oreo Cookies

Written by | July 11, 2014

Topics: 8 Rating, Cookies, Oreo

Nabisco Limited Edition Limeade Oreo Cookies

I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t been more than a little hesitant about some of Oreo’s most recent flavors.

As America’s favorite cookie continues to test its boundaries, you are bound to get some exciting, albeit hellishly unnerving, flavor combinations. While the new Reese’s Oreo leans more towards chocolatey and ready to be dipped in milk, flavors like the pungent Fruit Punch represent some of Oreo’s more interesting varieties that, let’s just say, might not be compatible with Oreo’s signature companion beverage (to each his own, though). In that same vein we are introduced to Nabisco’s newest flavor, the summer-ready Limeade Oreo.

I always get excited to see what summer flavors companies will go for. Unlike fall standbys of pumpkin, candy corn, and caramel apple, as well as the winter classics of gingerbread, egg nog, and sugar cookie, summer, much like spring, is often a bit harder to place flavor-wise. As a Rhode Islander who knows his summer season—shout out to the beaches of the Ocean State—I highly doubt that Oreo will start making such summery flavors as clambake, corn-on-the-cob, or beer. However, a limeade flavor is certainly a welcomed refreshment.

And let me tell you, in all the ways a cookie can be, and as weird as it might be to say, Limeade Oreo is indeed refreshing. The green creme, which is a brighter shade than Nickelodeon Slime, is tasty enough to take the edge off of the summer heat.

Let me just stop for a second and say, to anyone who has ever seen those commercials claiming the proper way to eat an Oreo is to remove the top cookie, take a big slobbering lick of the creme, reassemble, and then continue eating as you would any regular cookie, I choose not to eat Oreo cookies the “proper” way. Maybe once or twice during my “experimental phase” early in college, but never happily…or soberly. There is something about eating an Oreo that has never made me wish I had just protected it from being eaten by a seventh grade bully with a penchant for snatching up others’ snacks.

Nabisco Limited Edition Limeade Oreo Cookies Innards

I say all this because that creme in the middle of the Limeade Oreo is so good that I found myself enthusiastically eating that bright green paste off of each Oreo like it was Nutella on a day when I was feeling sad. Despite the collective tendency to confuse lemon and lime flavors, this Oreo variety did a great job of matching an actual lime’s sweeter, less sour taste. Although a small part of me wishes the cookies used were the traditional chocolate ones, Oreo’s Golden wafers allow the emphasis to remain on that fantastic lime creme. 

Unfortunately for me, I suffer from what I like to call “Double Stuf Syndrome.” Like many, I have chosen the noble Double Stuf as my default Oreo, making all regular-stuffed Oreo cookies seem under-stuffed. Just like with drug use, my body now craves higher levels of that creme, which, unlike “cream,” lacks dairy and (hopefully) the sexual innuendo when combined with the end of this sentence, for maximum satisfaction. If they ever make a Double Stuf version of this cookie I might actually die, but until then, Limeade Oreo is a damn fine summer treat that I would absolutely buy again. Keep the bizarre flavors coming Oreo!

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less 0mg cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 12 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Limited Edition Limeade Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: $3.00 (on sale)
Size: 12.2 oz.
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Great summertime vibe. Creme tastes fantastically like real limeade. “Creme” not “Cream.”
Cons: “Double Stuf Syndrome”. Only available for a limited time. Oreo not having a beer flavor.

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REVIEW: Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies

Written by | July 9, 2014

Topics: 8 Rating, Cookies, Pillsbury

Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies

The Pillsbury Doughboy sat back in his recliner, grimaced, and with his finger placed on the trans-fat laden rolls on his triple chin, proceeded to take up a position of pondering. It had not been a very promising summer in the mass-produced, ready-to-bake sweets business.

Not only had his brother, the Michelin Man, begun a diet eschewing Grands biscuits and cinnamon rolls in favor of Eggo S’mores, pancakes, and Krave S’mores cereal, but preliminary second quarter reports showed a bottoming out of his cookie sales, with the culprit identified as a new cookie flavor developed by those damn elves at Keebler.

If that weren’t bad enough, he had spent the last month with a nonsensical ditty stuck in his head, something about “some more for you and some more for me,” that managed to give him an inexplicable urge to get some ice cream.

That was when it occurred to him; he, master of sweets and lover of all things giggly and ticklish, was late to the party. Suddenly seized with the same innovative spirit of Dr. Emmett Brown following a nasty spill on the toilet seat, he set off to develop a s’mores-inspired treat that would outdo any packaged Keebler cookie or Dairy Queen Blizzard with an annoyingly melodic theme song.

Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies Before

I speak, of course, of the new Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies. Some people look down upon ready-to-bake cookies, but I am not one of those people. Like any Pinterest browsing cookie fanatic who has never quite mastered the creaming method, I appreciate the dummy-proof nature of a 350 degree oven and 11 to 15 minutes of my time. I also get off on breaking rules like “Do Not Eat Raw Cookie Dough,” but that’s a completely different and much more frightening story.

Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies Baked

In any case, the adorable, square-ish cookies are delicious. There’s little to no graham flavor to speak of, but you’ll hardly notice thanks to the winning combination of that classic chocolate chip cookie taste and the oooey-gooey marshmallow filling, which bursts out in an abundant river obstructed only by crunchy semi-sweet chocolate chips and a light, brown-sugar crumb that’s altogether crispy on the cookie’s edges. It’s this winning texture of crunchy edges and super-moist filling which makes eating a single cookie a mathematical impossibility, while a liberal dose of the hyper-sweet chocolate icing provides an extra punch of cocoa flavor reminiscent of Hershey’s syrup.

Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies Closeup

Complaints are minor; the icing is more chocolate syrup than ganache, while the cookies’ unique filling makes them extra soft when pulling from the oven. There are no instructions for baking over an actual open flame and nine cookies per package seems like an odd number for all those not living in a mixed family with the last name of Brady. All can be forgiven, however, thanks to the marshmallow crème filling, which remains admirably gooey even a day after baking and still provides the needed burst of unabashed sweetness to compliment the eggy and toasted cookie flavor.

Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies Sexy Sexy

The Pillsbury man need not fret over his business prospects for the second half of 2014, because the S’more Sensation Filled Cookies are a worthy addition to the ever-growing array of campfire-inspired sweets that arrive this time each year. With a more enjoyable crust than the ubiquitous S’mores Pop-Tart and a fresher, more authentic s’mores flavor than cereal or prepackaged cookies, you might even be able to pass them off as homemade.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cookie with icing – 150 calories, 50 calories from fat, 6grams of fat, 2.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 14 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Pillsbury Melts S’more Sensation Filled Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 11.5 ounces (9 cookies)
Purchased at: Harris Teeter
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Like eating a chocolate syrup and marshmallow panini inside a chocolate chip cookie. Oooey-gooey filling, even when cooled. No stand mixer required. One of the few Pillsbury ready-to-bake products not containing partially hydrogenated oil.
Cons: Graham flavor is lackluster. Could have a richer chocolate coating. The ever-present temptation of eating raw cookie dough.

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REVIEW: Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes Cereal

Written by | June 23, 2014

Topics: 8 Rating, Cereal, Rice Krispies

Kellogg's Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes Cereal

It can be said that the less excited you are about something, the greater the opportunity it has to pleasantly surprise you. That’s the optimistic view, anyway. So when a product’s name contains the words “Rice” and “Multi-Grain,” well, it has a pretty good chance to impress you by being even halfway decent.

Fair or not, I tried to temper my expectations to reasonable levels when buying Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Multi-grain Shapes. I like regular Rice Krispies just fine, but they don’t top the list of my absolute favorite cereals, and multi-grain bread and I are historically not friends. (Actually, thanks to my younger daughter’s allergies, ANY store-bought bread and I aren’t friends, but that’s another story.)

That said, the box itself mitigates this a bit, offering hope via Pop’s sign proclaiming the cereal to be “lightly sweetened graham flavored.” That’s promising, and though it carries a hint of trying to have their cake and eat it too (“Hey parents, we’re healthy, buy us… wait, kids, come back, we also taste like graham crackers and have fun shapes!”), they’re certainly not the only cereal to try that tactic. Frosted Mini-Wheats, anyone?

Moving on, the rest of the box is rather bland, swapping out the classic blue Rice Krispies palette for bright yellow. On the plus side, the elves remain in their classic form; Kellogg’s hasn’t tried to youthanize them with baggy shorts, earrings, and baller shades.

The back of the box is surprisingly busy, combining bad jokes, a recipe for Popcorn Munchie Mix, and myriad reasons to buy this product. One touts that buying this cereal is a “Smart Move, Mom,” so as far as Kellogg’s is concerned, all you stay-at-home dads and men who do the grocery shopping can go fuck yourselves.

Opening up the plastic bag immediately wafts a strong smell into your nostrils, and I’m sorry to report it isn’t pleasant. Describing aromas is always hard, but just know that it smells slightly musty and not at all sweet, like your grandmother’s attic minus the slim chance of finding a copy of Action Comics #1. Not ideal, but then the taste is ultimately the only thing that really matters. So here we are: spoon in hand, milk in bowl, do-or-die time. Will the taste send Multi-Grain Shapes home in ignominious defeat?

But no! Far from it, that first bite is the equivalent of, if not a home run, at least a line drive past a diving shortstop for extra bases. This may actually be the only product I’ve ever tasted where the multi-grain version is more flavorful than the “regular” edition. Which is both surprising and terrific, frankly.

Oddly enough — because this is maybe the last cereal in the world I’d have expected to compare multi-grain Rice Krispies to — the taste isn’t entirely dissimilar to Waffle Crisp. I know, it sounds crazy and/or blasphemous, but the texture is very similar and the graham flavor of the Krispies shapes is somehow akin to the faux syrup flavor of the WC.

Honestly, if you’re a regular patron of Waffle Crisp, consider Multi-Grain Shapes as a viable alternative, if only because they’re a smidge healthier. (Only a smidge, though, in case you thought this was the breakfast equivalent of eating celery.)

Kellogg's Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes Cereal Closeup

I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to the shapes because they sort of morph a bit in milk, plus I’m ostensibly an adult. They’re not the most interesting of shapes, really — nothing like little C-3PO heads or ghosts. There are four in total: a stick figure, a tree, a Star of David, and a (Jesus?) fish. Which makes them pretty welcome in our dual faith household, and since the tree obviously represents Wiccans, it’s almost a shame the stick figure isn’t (as far as I know) a recognized symbol of Islam, or we’d have a damn progressive cereal on our hands here. Or maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way and it’s supposed to be a Wicker Man. Got to throw those pagans a bone too. (Lucky Charms don’t count.)

Okay, I’m getting weird, which generally means it’s time to wrap things up. Bottom line: don’t let the “multi-grain” part turn you off if you demand taste over healthiness. Conversely, if you ARE concerned with good nutrition first and foremost, you get a nice bonus of some delicious cereal to nom nom. Whether tempered expectations helped or not, I can honestly report that this is a pretty darn good breakfast option. Enjoy!

(Nutrition Facts – 1 Cup – 110 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of total fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 0.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 100 milligrams of sodium, 50 milligrams of potassium, 24 grams of total carbohydrates, 3 grams of dietary fiber, 6 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Item: Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes Cereal
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 10.8 oz box
Purchased at: Acme
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Tastes better paired with a beer than you’d expect. The price is right. Religiously inclusive breakfast cereal. Who ever thought a Rice Krispies affiliate would ever evoke Waffle Crisp? Reasonably healthy.
Cons: Smells like a mummy’s tomb. Distinct lack of any snap, crackle, and/or pop sound. I lied that none of the elves have been modernized, Crackle actually is wearing sneakers and jeans… you watch your ass, son. Now I’m going to expect ALL healthy cereals to taste good.

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REVIEW: Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Cinnamon Bun Cookies

Written by | June 20, 2014

Topics: 8 Rating, Cookies, Pepperidge Farm

Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Cinnamon Bun Cookies

Like a phantom Girl Scout here to haunt me, Pepperidge Farm cookies make themselves available year-round in an increasingly baffling number of varieties, rendering me (the consumer) into a primal mental state of chaos and delight I like to call, “The Paint Swatch Effect”: the mental state that unfolds when one is bombarded with an infinite amount of choices, be it paint samples, Oreo cookies, or high capacity power drills.

When under the spell of the Paint Swatch Effect, one tends to undergo a spontaneous craving to try as many new things as possible, conducting an inner dialogue that goes to the tune of, “So many options! Everywhere! Must try them all! ALL!!”

It’s a nutso, frightening, wonderful way to live.

Which was perhaps why I stood, once again, under the shadow of Milano planks and Xtra Cheddar Goldfishies by the Pepperidge Farm display. But I was not after the square Cheesmen Shortbread, nor those dashing Milano Melts. Nay. My eyes were locked on the newest stud, the sole snagger of my heart.

Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Cinnamon Bun Cookies Breakfast- The Sequel

Breakfast will never be the same.

Like a traumatic childhood experience or a very good buddy movie, finding a spectacular packaged cookie is a rare, fleeting moment. To find one that can also gracefully glide across your palate in the wee hours of the morning? Mark it in the History books for that is a moment that should be treated with respect as it brands its gooey, cakey, fudgy-wudginess into the nostalgia of your taste buds. Eating this bag of cookies qualifies as one of those Historical Moments.

Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Cinnamon Bun Cookies C is for cookies and cookies is plural

At first snag, the cookie feels light and nimble as though it could morph into a back-flip-twisting, baton-twirling Rhythmic Grand Prix gymnast at any moment, yet, once bitten into, the texture holds a dense, doughy crumb that’s delightfully more fudgy than some of the other Soft Baked specimens I’ve experienced. Not too fluffy nor styrofoamy, the end result sits in you like a brick. A tasty, tasty brick made of carbohydrates, sugar, and questionable vegetable oils that, when put in the microwave, it becomes a goopy, melty, warm brick. Where are the architects to build me a house out of such materials?

Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Cinnamon Bun Cookies A utopian abode made of cookies

And that’s just the beginning: the top, with its layer of brown-beige speckles, looks like a pastry-itized reinterpretation of a 1934 Oklahoma landscape after a Dust Bowl storm. If that dust storm was made of cinnamon sugar. Said sugar not only brings sweetness and a sandy texture, but also tows a comfy warmth from the cinnamon without going into the Hot Tamale realm.

Bringing the cinnamon experience even further are little crunchy cinnamon chippies mixed in the dough that are dense with cinnamon and crispity enough to put Snap, Crackle, and Pop to shame. And those white “confection” chips? While I have no clue what they’re made of, they melt like butta. A slight zing of artificial vanilla and sugar is all it takes to knock it home as the chip melts away into goopy sweetness. When all the elements combine, you have sugar, cinnamon, goo. The whole experience is as comfortable as lounging on a couch playing Super Nintendo in bunny pajamas. The ones with the footies.

Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Cinnamon Bun Cookies chippies and crispities

Across from the U.N. Headquarters in New York rests a tiny shop that states itself as the, “United Nations Plaza Dental Care Facility.” I imagine that, if each of the world leaders were given a bag of these cookies, the number of cavities elicited from the consumption of said cookies would result in enough cavities to pay the shop’s rent for the next 15 years. A steep price to pay for a little cookie…

Or is it?

I dare say, if I were a world leader, it’d be worth it. The offer of dense doughy cookie? Of cinnamon, sugar dust with sugar-frosting fudgy nubbins? All pre-made and wrapped in a little baggie just for me? Put a microwave in the room, set one in there for 5 seconds, and you get a warm, gooey circle of world peace. Who doesn’t want a warm, gooey circle of world peace? Isn’t that what the United Nations is all about? I dare say it is! Maybe, to bring peace, you just need a little sugar. And a toothbrush so you don’t have to visit the Dental Care Facility.

So, world leaders, bring your toothbrushes and we’ll provide your bag of cookies! Pepperidge Farm has a new offering and it may just be good enough to unite us all.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cookie – 130 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, Less than 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 21 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of dietary fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Pepperidge Farm Coffee Shop Cinnamon Bun Cookies
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 1 bag/8 cookies
Purchased at: Met Foods
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Great reason to have cookies for breakfast. Soft chew. Fudgier than some other Soft Baked specimens. Thick cinnamon sugar crusting. Melty confection chips scattered in good ratio. Crispity cinnamon chippies. May result in world peace. Super Nintendo. Bunny pajamas with the footies.
Cons: Lots of funky oils. Still not as good as homemade. What are white confection chips really made of? And why are they so good? 1934 Oklahoma dust storms. Phantom Girl Scouts.

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