REVIEW: Keebler Red Velvet Fudge Stripes Cookies

Keebler Red Velvet Fudge Stripes Cookies

Like Salted Caramel, Maple Bacon, and Sriracha, Red Velvet is a food trend which will not go away until it’s been flavorized into every edible object this side of gluten-free dog treats. While I’m quite positive this has driven some of you mad, I’m more than willing to accept and embrace this necessary step in flavor evolution.

Sneer all you want about how diet yogurts and Pop-Tarts can never match the mellow cocoa flavoring and rich cream cheese frosting of an actual slice of homemade Red Velvet Cake, but unless you possess a time machine allowing you to conveniently travel back to the 1930s or 1940s, I’m going to call you out as just another fan of the latest bastardization of the classic southern cake.

And you know what? I’m totally cool with that, just like I’m totally cool with the idea of the Keebler Elves adapting their classic Fudge Stripe cookies to Red Velvet. These are magical elves, after all, and there are far worse food trends they could be adapting for cookie construction.*

Keebler Red Velvet Fudge Stripes Cookies 2

At first glance, the fudge stripe template seems a curious choice to adapt Red Velvet to. Fudge is supposed to be dense, super chocolaty, and for lack of a better word, fudgy.

Meanwhile, even bastardized conceptions of Red Velvet carry a certain connotation of a light cake crumb and more restrained cocoa flavor. But when you think about it, good old Ernest J. Keebler’s reasoning checks out. Not nearly as iconic at E.L. Fudge yet distinct enough from your garden-variety Chips Deluxe, the Fudge Stripe begs for a makeover, or at the very least a new twist on the contrast of artificial chocolate glaze and crisp shortbread.

Keebler Red Velvet Fudge Stripes Cookies 3

If nothing else, the little men slaving away in those treehouse factories certainly craft an aesthetically pleasing product. Lined in a perfect row of red and white, as if drizzled with a cream cheese and buttercream fondant by skillful elfish hands, the cookies look appetizing enough to devour in one fell swoop. It’s a thought not completely unrealistic, if only for the obsolescent non-resealable packaging. Really, Ernest J.? You’ve created a magical factory in a tree capable of mass producing cookies yet you can’t prevent my cookies from going stale? Priorities man, priorities!

Keebler Red Velvet Fudge Stripes Cookies 4

The white coating is predictably waxy—the kind of artificial, “look that’s going to be your arteries!” stuff that we’ve been told to avoid, but still secretly love. At first, it’s slow to yield a distinct flavor, but after several licks and precise, tiny bites, the faux-glaze takes on a unique flavor. I’m reminded quite a bit of the yogurt coating of the raisins in one of my favorite cereals (Basic 4—completely underrated) but also pick up a hypersweet note of white chocolate and an element of cream cheese.

Beneath the glaze is the shortbread cocoa cookie. Crunchy with a superfine crumb, there’s both a distinct mellow cocoa element but also a deeper and richer chocolate flavor. You won’t mistake it for dark chocolate, but sure enough, the semisweet chocolate listed on the ingredient list makes itself known, giving each cookie an over-the-top chocolate flavor which pairs wonderfully with cream cheese glaze.

I have to admit though, there’s an odd acidity in these cookies which tempers the chocolate; a sensation which makes me almost pucker. Sharp to a point but still very sweet, there really is a distinct Red Velvet flavor that goes well beyond just mellow cocoa and red food coloring. Truth be told it’s sort of unexpected (who ever heard of a crunchy Red Velvet cake, for one thing!), yet somehow satisfyingly addictive. One might, when considering the hands which built it, even call it magical.

I wasn’t expecting to like the Keebler Red Velvet Fudge Stripes Cookies as much as I did. I know, I know. Who am I to doubt whatever source of supernatural craftsmanship guides the Keebler elves. Yet lulled to sleep by countless Red Velvet flavor imposters, my expectations were dimmed, so much so that when one of the most accurate representations of the flavor in mass produced form graced my lips, I was blown away. Red Velvet Oreos, you ask? I’m not holding my breath just yet, because as far as I’m concerned Ernest J. and the magical elves have crafted a near-perfect Red Velvet cookie.

*Kale, for instance.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 130 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 85 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 11 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Keebler Red Velvet Fudge Stripes Cookies
Purchased Price: $2.50
Size: 11.5 oz.
Purchased at: Mars Grocery Stores
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: ACTUALLY TASTES LIKE RED VELVET. Mellow cocoa crumb. Unexpected chocolate depth. Addictively complex cream cheese/buttercream/white chocolate glaze. Needed makeover for a classic cookie.
Cons: Possibility of Red Velvet flavored gluten-free dog treats. Seventeenth century cookie packaging. Will turn your arteries into waxy faux cream cheese filling.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice

Jif Whips Limited Edition Pumpkin Pie Spice

Plunging pretzels, crackers, and yes, even fingers into the peanut butter jar have always been saved only for the dead of night while shooting paranoid, cautionary looks over each shoulder.

That is, of course, until Jif Whips came along.

Jif knew our secret all along, and last year they finally acknowledged that PB&Js aren’t the only things that the good people of the world have been gracing with the spreadable goodness of everyone’s favorite legume. Now, the inviting wide-mouthed tub of Jif’s Whips welcomes those same activities that once made us feel so dirty inside. George Washington Carver would have been proud.

With the warmest days of summer behind us and the flashing lights of the Christmas season already looming in the back room of every Target, Walmart, and dollar store, the brief(ish) window we call the “Fall Season” is finally, and thankfully, upon us. To celebrate, Jif Whips has whipped up something special for us (and it’s way better than my puns): A limited edition Pumpkin Pie Spice flavor of their crowd-pleasing whipped peanut butter.

To get myself in the mood, I grabbed a warm chai and put on my most autumnal sweater. I would have carved a ceremonial pumpkin too, but I didn’t really feel like moving. Also, I was itchy from the sweater.

Fixed in my chair, I decided that the best vehicle to deliver the peanut butter concoction into my mouth, without overshadowing the Pumpkin Pie Spice, would be graham crackers, a snack so boring on its own that they were actually invented to make everyone masturbate less. The outcome was definitely spectacular.

Jif Whips Limited Edition Pumpkin Pie Spice Closeup

The texture of Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice is much creamier and palpably sweeter than traditional ol’ PB. It’s also much lighter, making dipping with even the most flimsy cracker possible. While maintaining that base peanut butter flavor of brown-bagged happiness Jif is known for, the cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice work cohesively to bring back cozy memories of last fall.

Unlike many seasonal products that feel like someone at corporate just checking off the typical flavors, the pumpkin pie spice (despite being the king of obligatory seasonal flavors) complements the robustness of Jif’s whipped peanut butter. From all angles, Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice is a great combination of two beloved flavors. And while you’re welcomed to follow my graham cracker example, scooping with your fingers work just as well.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 Tbsp – 140 calories, 100 calories from fat, 12 grams of total fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 0 milligrams of sodium, 6 grams of total carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of protein.)

Item: Limited Edition Jif Whips Pumpkin Pie Spice
Purchased Price: $3.49
Size: 15 oz. tub
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Combining pumpkin pie and peanut butter. Very spreadable. Not having to feel bad about using your fingers to eat peanut butter.
Cons: Probably shouldn’t be used to replace all peanut butter. Getting caught dipping your fingers in the peanut butter jar.

REVIEW: Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato

Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato

In a world where everything flavored pumpkin, or pumpkin spice, is disbursed to the masses before the first autumn leaf even has a fighting chance to touch the ground, I figured finding Talenti’s Pumpkin Pie Gelato would be a piece of cake…ha-ha…get it? Cake? Instead of ……oh, nevermind.

I started browsing for this fairytale gelato flavor mid-to-late September. To my surprise, it was nowhere to be found.* But how could this be? Every other item you pick up in any grocery store during pre-fall is conjoined with some sort of natural or artificial pumpkin flavor. Pumpkin spice yogurt? Aisle 3. Pumpkin spice gum? You got it. Pumpkin pie vodka? You betcha (and totally trying it). Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato? No dice.

C’mon, Talenti, step up your game! There was even a Durex Pumpkin Spice Condom hoax before your pumpkin pie flavor hit the shelves. To say I was a little frustrated is an understatement.

I can honestly say I’ve never, in my life, searched for or used the word “gelato” as much as I did during two weeks when I was looking for it. I became a gelato crackhead, calling stores day and night begging and pleading that they go check their frozen food section for this mythical product. Some were pleasant, some scoffed at me, replying with “It’s obviously seasonal – it won’t be out for weeks.”

“Are you shitting me? There are pumpkin pickles** on Aisle 12!”

Pfft. And I’m the crazy one.

Fast forward to now. There I am, strolling through Safeway with some Bausch & Lomb Eyewash in my hand, when suddenly, the gates of heaven opened and a light shined down over a cold case end cap. There it was – Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato – and there I was, staring back with a look of disbelief. I finally found you.

They say when you stop looking for love, it will find you.

The same can be said for gelato.

Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato topview

If I were solely to base my opinion of this product just by appearance, by the illuminated orange of your traditional pumpkin pie compared to the appearance of the dull beige color of the gelato, I’d say, “forget it, save your money, move on and nothing to see here people.” But that’s not what we’re all here for, now is it? Thankfully so.

Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato spoonful

My first spoonful in I was completely overwhelmed with “This is gooooooodddddd!” (I’m not kidding – I said it that exact way to my roommate as I shoveled it into my face.)

The prominent flavor that really smacks me in the face is a heavy hand of gingerbread. Which throws me off a bit. I have never really thought of a traditional pumpkin pie having a gingerbread flavor. I attribute this flavor to the cinnamon and nutmeg. I am not mad about it.

One thing that really surprised me were the chunks of “crust” folded into the gelato. PIE CRUST?!

Well played, Talenti, Well played.

I can’t think of anything more that I enjoy about a piece of pumpkin pie, than the crust. The pieces have a chewy texture with a nice buttery undertone, which compliment the pumpkin spices perfectly. I don’t know exactly what the pieces are made of – probably flour and brown sugar – but they definitely add to the overall experience of a “pumpkin pie” flavor.

Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato spoonful_close

Once my childlike excitement for pie crust pieces subsided, and after a few more spoonfuls, the alleged star of the show finally arrived. Welcome to my tastes buds, Pumpkin, you delicious little bastard, you.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are pumpkin undertones to this product but by no means does it taste solely like pumpkin. The spices overwhelm the pumpkin, but it’s there if you dig really deep inside your senses. I mean, it IS a “pumpkin pie” flavor, not a “pumpkin” flavor.

And that’s exactly what you get. It tastes eerily similar to pumpkin pie filling. If you’re one to enjoy a nice slice of pumpkin pie after your holiday feast, you will undoubtedly love this product. If I could take a pint of this and dump it out into a store bought crust while drowning it in Reddi-wip without the fear of being judged, I’d jump on that wagon in a heart beat.

I secretly hope someone puts me in charge of bringing a pumpkin pie to Thanksgiving this year because I can’t bake a damn and my family won’t know to be specific and say, “Not the gelato variety.”

Taylor – 1
Family – 0

*I live in Oregon – nobody ever thinks to include Oregon in things. We’re like the last kid picked for a dodgeball game.

**Pumpkin pickles are not a thing. That would be disgusting. Dramatic effect FTW.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 220 calories, 11 grams of fat, 7 grams saturated fat, 40 milligrams of cholesterol, 55 milligrams of sodium, 30 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 29 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of protein.)

Item: Talenti Pumpkin Pie Gelato
Purchased Price: $4.49
Size: 1 pint
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Delicious. Tastes like pumpkin pie filling. PIE CRUST PIECES!!!! Pumpkin pie spices give it a gingerbread taste. Pulling a fast one over my family members.
Cons: Searching for two weeks to find it. Being a gelato crackhead for two weeks. Actual pumpkin flavor isn’t prominent. Pumpkin pie spices give it too much of a gingerbread taste that I don’t generally feel relates to a traditional pumpkin pie. Not being able to bake my own pumpkin pie.

REVIEW: Trader Joe’s Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter

Trader Joe's Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter

Has everyone gone on vacation without you? Are they lounging in their getaway cabins while you swoon from your dusty, fluorescent-lit alcove? Are they showing you their long weekends on various social media mediums, tempting you with visions of homemade apple cobbler and piles of fall leaves? Are you feeling very much like you are not one of these vacationers? Maybe now is the time for an acceptable pity party. And I have just the snack to wash it down.

Trader Joe's Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter And we get a close up

Gooey, spreadable, and with just enough grit to give it crunch, cookie butter came to America in a surge, flooding aisles with a vow to nourish the Food Pyramid’s need for palm oil and pulverized cookie nubs (I’m pretty much sure my brain is composed 10 percent thought and 90 percent cookie nubs). This Trader Joe’s Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter extends that promise, allowing for the concept of bittersweet fudge cookies and sugary frosting to come together in a surface that’s as smooth as all the freshly fallen snow outside of Mr. Puff’s house.

A swipe into the smooth white cream brings me straight to the sugar frosting of an Oreo: a little gritty, very sweet, and a hint of coconut. Not “tropical sunscreen” coconut, just a slightly floral whiff, like the gentle breeze on a summer day if that summer day were also doused in super sugary goo.

The Oreo taste profile also makes its presence known on the dark chocolate end: cocoa, a hint of coffee, an edge of that dark, nearly-burnt crunch, and a solid sugar surge give it all it needs to feel at home in the Oreo family. The two flavors combine to form a smooth, easily consumed Oreo-like spread, and, thus, my brain is now composed of 95 percent cookie nubbins and 5 percent thoughts (3 percent of which are centered around which cookies to bake for spreading said cookie nubbins on).

Trader Joe's Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter Right off the spoon

Oreo built a reputation around eating cookies in wacky ways, so it should come to reason that this spread might encourage similarly adventurous snacking styles. Having consumed three servings in 7.5 minutes, the sugar rush cracks open the spread’s possibilities in my mind. Make s’mores. Dollop on ice cream. Spread on Pop Tarts. Drizzle on cinnamon rolls. Eat from the jar. Finish jar. Realize you must now buy another jar and eat from that jar. Eat all the jars! With this expansive ability to transform, you carry the equivalent of the body of an ancient wizard in your pocket. Just remember: with such great power comes great responsibility. Dunk wisely.

Trader Joe's Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter Dunk wisely

With its brave interpretation of two already-loved staples, this Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter reminds me to live life on the edge: adopt a highway! Learn Butoh! Become the Government Agent specializing in Meteorology and Produce Distribution! You never know when you’ll slip into a coma and get stuck in the confines of your subconscious, so you might as well put on your badass pants.

And definitely get this cookie butter. Plunk it on stuff. Watch as the object you consume transforms it into something stupendous. You’ll forget about that pity party you were planning. Promise.

(Nutrition Facts – 2 tablespoons – 210 calories, 130 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 3.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 95 milligrams of sodium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 17 grams of sugar, and 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Trader Joe’s Cookies & Creme Cookie Butter
Purchased Price: $3.69
Size: 14.1 oz. jar
Purchased at: Trader Joe’s
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Dark, dutch cocoa-y fudge. Both smooth and chunky. Sweet frosting. Easy medium to eat more Oreo-like goods. Allows you to forget about pity parties. Highway adoption. Butoh.
Cons: Really, are there any? Okay, maybe it’s hard to stop eating. Really hard. And it may be too sweet/overly chocolatey for some. But it’s so good. May cause brain to be composed of more cookie than thoughts. Not being on vacation.

REVIEW: Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies

Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo

I used to think the world didn’t need more pumpkin spice products. The number of pumpkin spice-ified products has grown to comical levels. I think there are enough of them that they would outweigh the world’s largest pumpkin, which is over 2,000 pounds.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Pringles, Pumpkin Spice Country Crock Spread, Pumpkin Spice M&M’s, Philadelphia Pumpkin Spice Cream Cheese, and a dozen or so pumpkin spice beers are just a small taste of all the pumpkin spice products out there.

But after learning about these Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies several weeks ago, something in my mind snapped and now I want to see MORE pumpkin spice products. Actually, I take that back. I want complete pumpkin spice shelf domination.

That means I want see Rockstar Pure Zero Pumpkin Spice Ice Energy Drink, Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, Sprite Pumpkin Spice Soda, Pepperoni and Pumpkin Spice Hot Pockets, Pumpkin Spice Tide Laundry Detergent, Pumpkin Spice Egg Beaters, Pumpkin Spice Spicy Doritos, Pumpkin Spice Scope Mouthwash, Pepperidge Farm Pumpkin Spice Goldfish, Pumpkin Spice Spam, and so much more. Hell yeah!

I think pumpkin spice and Oreo were meant to come together, because Oreo is also something that folks say there are too many of. So it’s funny the flavor that has too many products and the product that has too many flavors ended up coming together.

Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Package

The Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookie’s smell reminds me of the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Lattes I purchase about this time every year. Out of all the Oreo varieties I’ve tried this year, this cookie’s aroma is the most inviting, slightly ahead of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Oreo. It doesn’t smell like an artificial version of what it’s trying to emulate, which is the case with other flavors, like Fruit Punch, Root Beer Float, and Caramel Apple.

Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Closeup

The orange-red creme has that familiar pumpkin spice flavor. I could taste ginger, cinnamon, and a bit of nutmeg. However, the ingredients list doesn’t contain any of those spices. Well, technically, the creme contains something that sounds like a spice, paprika oleoresin, but it’s just there for coloring.

When licking just the creme, the flavor doesn’t excite my taste buds. The pumpkin spice flavor is good, but it’s surprisingly not that strong despite direct taste bud-to-creme contact. However, just like I experienced with the Caramel Apple Oreo, the creme’s flavor is enhanced when the cookie is eaten whole. I don’t know what it is about the Golden Oreo that makes that happen, but I’m glad it happens. Damn food science!

If you’re a fan of pumpkin spice, the Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies will make you happy. If you’re one of those people who think there are too many pumpkin spice products, then this will further support your beliefs. And if you’re bored and happen to have regular Oreo cookies and Pumpkin Spice Oreo cookies around, I’d suggest doing a creme swap. The pumpkin spice creme with the chocolate cookie is also quite tasty.

Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies Surgery

(Disclosure: I received a free sample of these cookies from the folks at Oreo. I gave my honest opinion of them. Receiving a free sample did not influence me to write something positive. To satisfy possible doubters, I will say something bad about Oreo. Mega Stuf Oreo was a dumb idea.)

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 150 calories, 60 calories from fat, 7 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 15 milligrams of potassium, 20 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Item: Nabisco Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo Cookies
Purchased Price: FREE
Size: 12.2 oz.
Purchased at: Received from Oreo
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: If you love pumpkin spice, you’ll like this cookie. Pumpkin spice stands out more when the cookie is eaten whole. Aroma reminds me of Starbucks PSL. Also goes well with chocolate Oreo wafers.
Cons: If you think there are too many pumpkin spice products, you’ll continue to feel that way. Licking creme isn’t satisfying. Pumpkin Spice Spam.