REVIEW: Burger King Pumpkin Spice Oreo Shake

Burger King Pumpkin Spice Oreo Shake

Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies never had much appeal to me. Of the 487 (unofficial count) flavors Oreo has on the market, I wanted to try that one the least. Then I heard Burger King was offering a Pumpkin Spice Oreo Shake that was apparently different from the cookies of the same flavor. Now you’re speaking my language.

Instead of liquefying the shelf version of Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies, Burger King made a pumpkin spice flavored shake with bits of the classic chocolate Oreo cookie. Brilliant decision.

I initially thought the color was going to be off-putting, but when I got a closer look, I liked it. The shake was a very subtle orange color with the familiar black cookie crumbles mixed in.

The shake smelled good. It looked good. How could it not be good?

At first I thought it was better than good. It was surprisingly delicious. Don’t get me wrong, I expected to like it to a degree, but it blew away my expectations.

Once I got beyond the whipped cream that I couldn’t resist adding on, I expected the pumpkin spice flavor to be totally overpowering. It did have a little of that “potpourri” taste on the back of my tongue, but compared to other pumpkin spice products, it was mild.

The bits of Oreo were the best part. The hint of vanilla soft serve actually gave off a flavor reminiscent of the classic Oreo crème filling. The consistency of the cookie pieces held up pretty well for the most part and gave the shake a tiny bit of texture which meshed well with the pumpkin base.

Despite the slight potpourri flavor, it didn’t leave a bad aftertaste. It was quite pleasant. It did however stick around a lot longer than I would have ever expected.

With all that said, it wasn’t perfect.

Burger King Pumpkin Spice Oreo Shake 2

Like a lot of milkshakes, I did get sick of it about halfway through. It wasn’t over-the-top sweet, but even the small size was a bit of a struggle to finish. Not to mention that it lost a lot of its appeal as it melted. Drinking it as a milkshake was delicious. Drinking it as milk wasn’t even close.

I’d actually be thrilled if Oreo teamed with an ice cream company to manufacture this as a flavor. I’d buy a pint in a second, and without the threat of it melting as fast, I could see it jumping to the top of my favorite ice creams list.

I’m a plastic cup half full kinda guy, so I’m giving this a high score despite the last few sips. If I had just stopped midway and called it a day, you’d probably be looking at a 9 out of 10.

Oh, and in case you are considering it, don’t pair one of these with a burger and fries. It would be too much on your stomach. I say get it as more of a standalone dessert.

(Nutrition Facts – 12 ounces – 500 calories, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 45 milligrams of cholesterol, 360 milligrams of sodium, 83 grams of carbohydrates, 66 grams of sugar, and 10 grams of protein..)

Item: Burger King Pumpkin Spice Oreo Shake
Purchased Price: $3.41
Size: 12 ounces
Purchased at: Burger King
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Delicious. Pumpkin spice not overpowering. Chocolate Oreo cookie pieces. Undoubtedly better than the Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookie. Burger King reminding me they are still an option.
Cons: Potpourri-y. Tastes pretty bad in liquid form. Aftertaste lingered… and lingered. Would probably make a better ice cream than shake. Burger King reminding me they are still an option.

REVIEW: Hot Chocolate M&M’s made with Dark Chocolate

Hot Chocolate M&M's Made with Dark Chocolate

Whenever I drink hot chocolate and look down into my mug, I think about dirty storm water. And when I see the brown water in flooded streams and rivers, I think about hot chocolate. It’s a shame they look similar.

Of course, Hot Chocolate M&M’s made with Dark Chocolate doesn’t taste like dirty and/or sewage-y like I imagine storm water does, but it also doesn’t taste like hot chocolate.

But then again, my experience with hot cocoa involves dumping a packet of Swiss Miss powdered hot cocoa mix into a mug, pouring hot water into said mug, stirring it until it looks like storm drain water, taking a sip, burning my mouth, waiting a few minutes to let it cool, taking another sip, and then thinking why I made all this effort to make chocolate flavored water. (I know I could use milk, but it would ruin the transition to the next paragraph. But then again, this aside probably ruined the transition.)

But these M&M’s don’t taste like chocolate flavored water. They taste better.

Each bag comes with three colors of candies: black, white, and off-white. I guess the black represents chocolate, white represents milk, and off-white represents marshmallows, even though marshmallows are as white as milk.

Cutting them in half reveals…ACK!

Hot Chocolate M&M's Made with Dark Chocolate 3

They’re like chocolatey evil horizontal cats eyes looking at me! Those eyes are following me around! I promise to do your bidding, chocolate cat eyes! Just stop staring at me!

The iris of the chocolatey evil horizontal cats eyes appears to be the dark chocolate and the pupil looks like milk chocolate. I could be wrong, but I’m too scared to look directly at them again.

When popping the candy into my mouth, the first thing I notice is a coconut flavor, which is strange, but it’s fleeting. Once I took a bite into them, that coconut was replaced by the chocolate and an artificial marshmallow flavor. Yeah, I know artificial marshmallow flavor sounds bad, but it’s surprisingly tasty in this candy and I’d take it over Swiss Miss mixed with water any day. But I could see others not enjoying the artificial flavor.

Hot Chocolate M&M's Made with Dark Chocolate 2

I’m not sure if the marshmallow flavoring comes from the dark chocolate, milk chocolate, both, or if the chocolatey evil horizontal cats eyes have hypnotized me into thinking there’s marshmallow, but the tiny dots in the milk chocolate make me think it’s coming from it. The overall chocolate flavor leans slightly towards the dark, but I think the combination of the two chocolates, plus the artificial marshmallow flavor, does create a flavor that can be recognized as hot cocoa. I’m not talking chocolate flavored water hot cocoa, I’m talking chocolate flavored milk hot cocoa with lots of marshmallows.

As a whole, these Hot Chocolate M&M’s are wonderful. There doesn’t seem to be a difference in flavor between the three colors, but who cares because they’re awesome. But, damn, why did the bag have to be smaller than previous M&M’s flavors. It’s almost 20 percent smaller and around the same price as previous flavors. That makes me want to throw a hot cup of Swiss Miss at the person who decided to sell it in a smaller bag.

So if you’ve got on your ugly holiday sweater and want some hot chocolate, don’t settle for some storm runoff-looking Swiss Miss. Instead, pick up a bag of these Hot Chocolate M&M’s.

(Nutrition Facts – 1.5 oz. – 210 calories, 80 calories from fat, 9 grams of fat, 5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 20 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 26 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein, 2% calcium, and 2% iron.)

Item: Hot Chocolate M&M’s made with Dark Chocolate
Purchased Price: $2.88
Size: 8 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Better tasting than chocolate flavored hot water. Artificial marshmallow flavor is surprisingly nice.
Cons: 20 percent smaller bag than other flavors. When split in half the candy center looks like evil eyes. Artificial marshmallow flavoring might not appeal to some.

REVIEW: Cracker Jack Holiday Sugar Cookie Popcorn

Cracker Jack Holiday Sugar Cookie Popcorn

The Christmas and holiday food season is filled with minefields of discontent. Like the hand-knit Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer sweater your grandma has given you every year since you were seven, it means well with its eggnog this and candy cane that, but for some of us, it’s all just too much of the same old same old.

A man’s pants can only expand so much between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day; and really, do you want another slice of pumpkin pie since you’ve been eating pumpkin spice everything since September?

There’s one exception: sugar cookies. I’ve never met someone who has grown tired of sugar cookies. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking crisp snowman-shaped cutouts with royal icing or chewy circles sprinkled with demerara sugar, the fact is that sugar cookies are nearly impossible to resist.

Just think about it; if Santa can eat millions of them in a single night year after year, you know there has gotta be something ineffably transcendent about the combination of sugar, butter, and flour. Or, Cracker Jack might say, sugar, sprinkles, and popcorn.

What is this, you say. An early present in my stocking, or a lump of coal to fan the flame on the pyre of holiday themed food trends past? In the case of Cracker Jack’s Holiday Sugar Cookie popcorn, it’s not just a present, it’s a present with a prize.

Now that’s a win-win.

Cracker Jack Holiday Sugar Cookie Popcorn 2

The line between sugar cookie and birthday cake flavoring seems to be getting blurrier each year, and this faux-frosting coated Cracker Jack doesn’t help separate the two. Not that frosting is bad, because the one on this popcorn is excellent. It’s sweet, crunchy, and it has everything the glaze of normal Cracker Jack’s have, including those trademarked hints of molasses and caramel flavor.

While molasses might not be the first pairing that comes to mind with sugar cookie, in this case it works, It’s made even better by a pleasant artificiality of sprinkles and those cute little nonpareils the Pillsbury Dough Boy manages to bake into every Funfetti product this side of Fourth of July.

Cracker Jack Holiday Sugar Cookie Popcorn 3

Sweeter than an actual sugar cookie, each crunchy, perfectly popped kernel may lack the grainy chew of flour and butter, but it’s still highly enjoyable to munch on. There’s still that lingering taste of salty popcorn on the backend, which, although far from the traditional sugar cookie experience, makes the popcorn all the better. It’s as if sugar cookie has finally picked up some of the synergy created by the sea salt chocolate chip or peanut butter cookie fads, and even though the popcorn isn’t as rich, it works.

There’s only one downside, as far as I’m concerned: the glorious prize, so beautifully advertised on the bag to suggest images of unwrapping gifts around the tree, is nothing more than a sticker. But I won’t complain too much. After all, it could have been a Rudolph sweater, which now that I think about it may have been worse than coal.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz. – 110 calories, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 15 grams of sugars, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Cracker Jack Holiday Sugar Cookie Popcorn
Purchased Price: $1.28
Size: 4 oz. bag
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Like having frosting coated popcorn. Crunchy popcorn mimics light give of sugar cookie. Salty-sweet combination with back notes of molasses and caramel. SPRINKLES.
Cons: Typically weak Cracker Jack prize. Doesn’t come in cute holiday cut-out shapes like snowmen or Santa Clauses stuck in chimneys. No peanuts.

REVIEW: Mtn Dew Game Fuel Berry Lime

Mountain Dew Game Fuel Berry Lime

I’m a bit past my gaming “wonder years” when I would spend hours on end using one hand to make Kirby eat his enemies whilst blindly stuffing corn chips into my own gaping maw with the other.

Growing up means learning to manage my time more wisely. Gobbling down Doritos with two hands is way more efficient!

Despite this, I’ve vowed to never become that uncool adult who calls every Xbox “a Nintendo” and insists Pokémon is pronounced “Pokee-mans.” So to stay hip, I’ve decided I need to start drinking Mtn Dew Game Fuel again.

Wait, kids don’t say “hip” anymore? My apologies. I believe the correct term is “#$wag.”

I haven’t had a sip of Game Fuel since it was first released in Citrus Cherry flavor to promote Halo 3 in 2007. I’ve mentioned before how I still have 3 cans of sealed Halo 3 Dew in my basement, and while they probably have the corrosiveness and flavor of Xenomorph blood now, they remind me of a simpler time when Mtn Dew actually spelled out the word “Mountain.” Back in my day, vowels were cool! Whippersnappers!

But now in its 6th iteration, Game Fuel is back to promote Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. Citrus Cherry has returned, as usual, but 2015’s flavor n00b is Berry Lime.

Mountain Dew Game Fuel Berry Lime 2

With the color of a melted Gumby, the tempting turquoise liquid hissed at me as I cracked it open. And as I took a sip, that hiss became a bite. The fizzy carbonation here is strong enough to lift you into the ceiling, which now has to be washed and sterilized! So you get nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!

But the burn of the bubbles is paired pleasantly with the initial hit of berry flavor. The berries form a potent good cop/bad cop duo: first, a wave of bright, friendly blueberry sweet-talks your taste buds, but then a puckering tang of blue raspberry lays the smack down on ‘em with a surprise suplex from behind.

It’s a charming one-two punch that segues smoothly into the palpable lime aftertaste. More light and tropical than it is sour, this lime is what really appeals to me, because it tastes almost exactly like a liquefied Lime Skittle. And everyone knows Lime was the best Skittle before it was unceremoniously killed off and replaced with that bastard Green Apple Skittle.

R.I.P., Lime Skittle: I’ll pour a little bit of Dew out for you, my homie.

As the candied lime flavor peters out, I’m left again with the unfortunate back-of-mouth-funk and throat-stickiness that all new Dews seem to give. But unlike the grittiness of the recent Mtn Dew Black Label’s real sugar, the corn syrup here leaves my throat feeling slimier than a ’90s Nickelodeon game show.

Mountain Dew Game Fuel Berry Lime 3

The whole experience really is a bit like a more carbonated (thumbs up) and more artificial (thumbs down) version of Black Label. But it’s still as addictive as Minesweeper, and it’s hard to stay mad at a drink that simultaneously reunites me with my dearly departed Lime Skittle while also making me feel like I’m a vampire suckling on the life essence of a Blue Raspberry Jolly Rancher.

So while it probably won’t make me a Major League Gamer, this nostalgic and tasty Dew will at least make sure I don’t confuse Mario with Chef Boyardee.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bottle – 280 calories, 0 grams of fat, 85 milligrams of sodium, 75 grams of carbohydrates, 74 grams of sugar, 0 grams of protein, and 113 milligrams of caffeine.)

Item: Mtn Dew Game Fuel Berry Lime
Purchased Price: $1.79
Size: 20 fl oz bottle
Purchased at: Campus convenience store
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Two berries of blue in my Dew = woo-hoo! Lime Skittle memories. Willy Wonka levels of carbonation. Flavor suplexes. Repeatedly whispering the phrase “tempting turquoise” to myself in an empty room.
Cons: Nickelodeon levels of throat sliminess. Probably too sweet to drink with Doritos. Whpprsnpprs. “Thank you Chef Boyardee, but our princess is in another pasta can.”

REVIEW: Peeps Pumpkin Spice

Peeps Pumpkin Spice

For someone who is patently terrified of being pecked to death by chickens, I consume a large number of poultry-themed products. Chicken-in-a-Biskit. Donald Duck orange juice. Lemonade Peeps.

Have I mentioned the giant chocolate hen I tried to make after watching the Jacques Torres classic, “Chocolate on the Farm”? There is a reason I do not own a chocolate store.

You would think I would have worn out my consumption on bird-themed objects by now.

I have not.

Peeps Pumpkin Spice 2

Continuing in my inane tradition to contribute to the financial wellbeing of the Just Born Company, I shelled out the $1.99 for my pack of 3 Peeps Pumpkin Spice and promptly consumed them in 82 seconds. The sugar and vanilla presides, both in smell and in flavor, while a touch of cinnamon-nutmegy earthiness lingers at the end. The spice isn’t too strong by any means, but it goes just far enough to help round out the hyper-sweet nature of marshmallow, giving it a slight “cinnamon roll” edge.

The chew is mightily squishy while the fudge is sweeter, meltier (not a word), and more questionably sourced than all the Cool Whip of my grandma’s Jell-O cakes, but what can I say? I dig ‘em.

Even with their waxy eyes and red dyes, all that chemical mish-mosh combines with the sweet spice to give these Peeps a unique zing. While I enjoyed mine in their unaltered form, I imagine these fitting just fine in some hot chocolate or, if you have a pair of scissors and some gumption, chopped into fall-inspired bowl of Lucky Charms.

I bet 9 out of 10 scientists agree that it is more fun to start your day with a bowl of chicken-shaped marshmallows, and that one other scientist who disagreed probably had a traumatic encounter with a burnt s’more as a child, so you should ignore him. Enjoy your marshmallows for breakfast.

Peeps Pumpkin Spice 3

Look, I try to eat sophisticated sometimes, but it’s about as useful as saying I want to go to the symphony when all I really wanna do is play Donkey Kong in my turtle pajamas. The most fun proposal wins, and Peeps are audaciously fun.

Despite being overpriced and promoting tooth decay, I am likely to purchase these again, if only because they have nudged me toward the compelling notion that food created in the spirit of fun is intrinsically more delicious. Even Peeps’ Carnauba Wax googly eyes appear mesmerized by the world around them and, thus, encourage me to look at the world in the same curiosity-driven light. On taste alone, I give these a 7. For diversity, fun, and encouraging a more creative life outlook, let’s bump them up to an 8.

(Nutrition Facts – 3 chicks – 160 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3.5 gram of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 25 milligrams of sodium, 32 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 30 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Peeps Pumpkin Spice
Purchased Price: $1.99
Size: 1.5 oz. package/3 chicks
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 8 out of 10
Pros: Smooshy. Well-balanced spice with sweet. Melty fudge. Potential for bowl of Lucky Charms. Playing Donkey Kong in turtle pajamas. “Chocolate on the Farm.”
Cons: Carnauba wax eyeballs. All the dyes of the rainbow. So much sugar, so much potential for tooth decay. Failed attempts to become a chocolatier. Traumatic encounters with s’mores.