REVIEW: Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino

I thought it was a late stage April Fool’s Day joke, like the Rainbow Drink or possibly a foreign exclusive since only they get the cool, wacky Starbucks drinks. Take a moment to Google “American Cherry Pie Frappuccino” that is available only in Japan, (sigh) of course.

Once the Unicorn Frappuccino finally became official, though, my mind started racing. Would it be made with the tears of unicorns? Has Starbucks finally figured out how to manufacture eternal euphoria? So many questions, but one thing was clear – I absolutely needed this in my life.

The drink is marketed to play up its mythical nature rather than provide too many specifics on its actual composition. I’m glad they didn’t go low budget, though, when sourcing their rainbows as the in-store menu informed me it’s made with only the finest ones. I’ve had cheap rainbows before and they were not very good (very dull in color and lacking intense flavor).

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino 2

The drink’s actual contents are a crème Frappuccino with mango syrup, a sour-flavored interior drizzle and sour-dusted whipped cream. I couldn’t taste an iota of mango flavor, but I did get intense vanilla and sour notes. It’s as if little extremities of sour patch kids had invaded my vanilla milkshake.

Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino 3

I do applaud Starbucks for thinking outside the box with its creative claims that it changes color and flavor when you stir, although, execution wise, the color transition was very, very subtle and there didn’t seem to be enough of the blue sauce in my drink for it to completely change flavors.

The nutrition facts are frightening since a Venti supposedly contains 76 grams of sugar and 500 calories, but as only a rare treat, they are somewhat understandable. I was very concerned this meant it would be a sugar bomb that was so overly sweet and heavy it would be rendered nearly undrinkable. However, I was pleasantly surprised that it was instead both creamy and pretty delicious.

Overall, though, while this was a gimmicky drink through and through, Starbucks hit it out of the park on creativity and marketing. Seeing the hysteria ensue makes me wonder if it will be destined for a yearly reemergence. I just hope they push the envelope even further, like with a special iridescent straw that would glisten majestically like a horn, which I WOULD CAMP OUT FOR THE DEBUT OF.

Oh and your move, Starbucks Japan.

(Nutrition Facts – Venti – 500 calories, 18 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of trans fat, 55 milligrams of cholesterol, 310 milligrams of sodium, 79 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber, 76 grams of sugar and 7 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $5.45
Size: Venti
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: A domestic Starbucks drink that for once can make international outposts jealous. Not a revolting sugar bomb. Flavor that’s like the offspring of a vanilla milkshake and a sour patch kid. Destined for McRib-like limited edition runs.
Cons: Low budget rainbow sourcing. Nutrition facts that I wish were mythical. No glistening iridescent straw. So-so execution of flavor/color changing nature.

REVIEW: Ritz Crisp & Thins (Salt & Vinegar and Cream Cheese & Onion)

Ritz Crisp  Thins  Salt  Vinegar and Cream Cheese  Onion

When I first heard that Nabisco’s Ritz Crackers were moving into chips, I was terrified. I have PTSD from Cheez-It’s attempt to move into chips with Grooves. Grooves didn’t do the Cheez-It cracker justice! I have almost the same love for Ritz as I do for Cheez-It; I love those damn buttery Ritz crackers. Point is, I had high expectations for Ritz’s new Crisp & Thins.

So, what are they?

It’s Ritz’s attempt to hop on the “Better For You” train – touting oven-baked, not fried, potato & wheat chips. It launched in the U.K. first and now they’re rolling out globally. There’s a lineup of four flavors on U.S. shelves: Sea Salt, Bacon, Salt & Vinegar, And Cream Cheese & Onion. I picked out Salt & Vinegar (because I like salt & vinegar chips) and Cream Cheese & Onion (because I kept thinking it was sour cream & onion and wanted to see why Ritz had to be all frou frou about it).

Ritz Crisp  Thins Cream Cheese  Onion

I first smelled the Cream Cheese & Onion ones, which didn’t really smell like much. On that basis, I vigorously inhaled the Salt & Vinegar, which was a mistake. The pungent vinegar invaded my olfactory with no mercy. 100 percent user error, not Ritz’s fault.

The chips themselves were very, for the lack of a better word, artsy but the kind of pretentious and annoying artsy. I say this because they couldn’t just choose a damn circle or square like all other crackers. Instead, they chose a puddle shape. But we all know that it probably took their manufacturing team way too long to perfect the mold for these. These puddles also had seemingly random air pockets/bubbles.

Ritz Crisp  Thins Cream Cheese  Onion Orange

In the same vein of pretentious artsy, it looked like they tried very hard to have a baked look – one side of the chip had scorch marks. They really reminded me of naan bread – oblong-ish shape, air pockets, and with the occasional imperfect scorch marks. The Cream Cheese & Onion had a slight orange tinge, while the coloring of the Salt & Vinegar was just normal, pasty cracker color.

Ritz Salt  Vinegar Crisp  Thins Salt  Vinegar

At this point, I concluded that these would probably be nothing like the buttery crackers that I know and love. But, you know what, I was okay with it – I knew I couldn’t hold Ritz back from their healthy chip dreams.

The Cream Cheese & Onion surprisingly tasted more like subtle cheddar & sour cream than sour cream & onion. Trusty ol’ cheddar & sour cream is always salty cheesy goodness, but it’s nothing mind blowing and I’m still eye rolling at the artsy fartsiness. However, I can’t believe I dismissed the air pocket/bubbles because they made the texture. Something about the crunch of the cracker with the extra oomph from the air pockets is amazing. Never judge a book by its cover, y’all!

As for the Salt & Vinegar, same textural amazingness but unlike other salt & vinegar flavored chips, there was a subtle-y sweet aftertaste. After almost an entire bag of them, I concluded that it might just be from the chip itself being wheat and potato that’s helping to balance out the vinegar tang.

After two bags of munching, I really appreciated that my fingers weren’t left with a greasy, powdery residue. There was some, but nothing like the usual chip residue mess.

Valiant “Better For You” attempt, Ritz! It might actually work; I liked the Salt & Vinegar ones so much that I’d consider replacing my usual salt & vinegar kettle chips with them.

(Nutrition Facts – 21 Pieces – 130 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 200 milligrams of sodium, 270 grams of potassium 21 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 1 gram of sugar and 2 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price:
Size: 7.1 oz. bag
Purchased at: Kroger
Rating: 7 out of 10 (Cream Cheese & Onion)
Rating: 9 out of 10 (Salt & Vinegar)
Pros: Nothing like a Ritz Cracker, but tasty AND “better for you”. Textural amazingness. No greasy, powdery residue.
Cons: Why the artsy fartsy chip shape & names? Cream Cheese & Onion is just semantics for cheddar & sour cream.

REVIEW: Dunkin’ Donuts Pretzel Croissant Breakfast Sandwich

Dunkin Donuts Pretzel Croissant Breakfast Sandwich

Is salt a food?

If it wasn’t such a ridiculous answer to a question literally no one is asking me, I might say salt is my favorite food.

I use way too much salt, admittedly. I once ate a plate of pineapple with salt on it. Why? Why not? My calorie counter has stopped using numbers to log my daily sodium intake, opting to just warn me with a skull emoji.

It’s bad. Soft pretzels are ambrosia to me. Your restaurant promoting a new pretzel bun? I’m in. Salted pizza crust? Hit me. Salted anything sweet? Straight cash, homey. I really need to stop eating so much damn salt.

Ahhhhhh, but I’ll cut back tomorrow. Today is Dunkin’ Donuts Pretzel Croissant Breakfast Sandwich Day, and ain’t no death emoji gon’ stop me.

I’m from New Jersey, so there’s no shortage of good places to get a breakfast sandwich. From diners to bagel places boasting recipes that include the fabled New York tap water, I’ve never really had a reason to opt for Dunkin’ Donuts’ savory fare. I’ve dabbled, but never been too impressed. If I’m feeling fast food breakfast, I’d take a McDonald’s or Burger King over Dunkin’s in a heartbeat.

I think I’m about to change my tune.

This new salted pretzel croissant from Dunkin is so good, I feel inclined to pronounce it “Qua-sahn.” I can’t believe how blown away I was by a $3 sandwich from a donut joint.

It had all the elements of a delicious qua-sahn AND a delicious soft pretzel. The exterior was crispy, but still flakey and soft. While it was flakey and soft, it was still structurally fit to hold a sandwich together.

Dunkin Donuts Pretzel Croissant Breakfast Sandwich 2

It had a subtle buttery taste that reminded me of an Auntie Anne’s mall pretzel. As far as the salt goes, I may have gotten a lucky draw. There was a perfect amount of exterior salt crystals, so I didn’t have to do my usual salt bagel routine and scrape some off with a butter knife. The salt crystals did their job giving me my extra salt boost, while also providing a welcome crunch.

I basically went into this knowing I’d love the croissant, but thought I’d hate the contents of the sandwich itself. Dunkin’s bacon always looked flimsy and gross, and that filet of plastic egg they use never seemed all that palatable either, but I’ve been enlightened.

Dunkin Donuts Pretzel Croissant Breakfast Sandwich 3

The sandwich was supposed to come with black forest ham, but I suspect I got bacon. That looks like bacon, no? It tasted like bacon. Either way, the bacon/ham was flavorful and didn’t chew like pure gristle. The egg patty was standard, but had a nice texture to it, and the melted piece of Wisconsin aged white cheddar brought it all together.

Maybe it was just the pretzel qua-sahn high I was on, but the flavors and textures all married to form a nearly perfect breakfast sandwich. If you’re a savory-sweet fanatic, chasing this with a donut might ruin your afternoon, but it’ll probably make for a fantastic morning.

Look folks, I’ve never been to Paris. I’ve probably never had a gourmet qua-sahn in my life, so this review might seem a bit hyperbolic. That being said, I really think it’ll pleasantly surprise you.

I’ve never been a repeat buyer of a Dunkin savory menu item, but I will be now. Not only was this sandwich awesome, they sell the pretzel croissants separately, so you can probably customize them however you please if you ask nicely. Give it a shot.

(Nutrition Facts – 500 calories, 300 calories from fat, 33 grams of fat, 15 grams of saturated fat, 1 grams of trans fat, 200 milligrams of cholesterol, 1270 milligrams of sodium, 44 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of sugar, and 22 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.79
Size: N/A
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Crispy, flakey, buttery, salty, delicious. Egg and bacon/ham weren’t gross. Aged cheddar was a great cheese choice. Dunkin coming through in the savory department.
Cons: Was gone in five bites. Probably not the best start to your day. Sodium addiction. Trolling calorie counting apps.

REVIEW: Spicy Jalapeño Fritos

Spicy Jalapeno Fritos

Long live Fritos.

To misquote the legendary Braveheart, William Wallace:

“They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our FRITOS!”

Now you might be thinking that only the brave of heart would dare try the new Spicy Jalapeño Fritos. Well, let me tell you something, cowardly sirs and madams, you’d be doing yourselves a disservice with that thought process.

When a new flavor of Fritos corn chips hits shelves, I hit the ground running. They might not drop with the frequency of their flashy brother Lay’s, but they’ve kept me quite happy over the years.

So with the assurance that Fritos have always been good to me, I grabbed their “newest” flavor with a ferocity that nearly popped the bag. I put “newest” in quotes because there have been Jalapeño Fritos varieties in the past, but these are new to me.

Spicy Jalapeno Fritos 2

After intentionally popping the bag, I was hit with a smell reminiscent of Taco Supreme Doritos. Remember those delicious bad boys?

The corn chips looked standard. They had a light coating of flavor dust, but that was almost undetectable to the naked eye.

The taste was distinctly jalapeño. They’re spicy, but not crazy spicy. I’m not one of those hot sauce aficionados who likes to marathon sweat when I eat, so I can imagine these being pretty tame to all you Spiceboys and Spicegirls. Whether your Taco Bell sauce is Mild or Diablo, I think they pack enough punch for all to enjoy, so spice up your life.

Spicy Jalapeno Fritos 3

I got down about half a bag and had to stop, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I can easily get lost in a bag of Fritos and polish it off in one sitting, so having to pace myself didn’t bother me one bit.

As I say that, it would be remiss of me not to mention the fact regular Fritos are super oily. They’re amazing, but they’re so oily there’s almost a layer of moisture on each chip. Despite being addictive, after awhile Fritos usually give me the dreaded agita. Spicy Jalapeño took care of that problem.

Spicy Jalapeno Fritos 4

The powdery coating and the spiciness of the jalapeño seemed to neutralize the usual oiliness of Fritos. I’m sure this isn’t actually the case, but I think this also affected the crunch. The bag I bought was perfection.

I’d confidently go on record saying these were the freshest Fritos I’d ever had.

I guess I should try to give you a gauge on the spiciness. I had no clue they even made Flamin’ Hot Fritos, so I unfortunately cannot compare it to those. Taking flavor out of the equation, I would say these were about on par with Spicy Nacho Doritos. I always enjoyed those, but could never eat as many as the originals. That’s where I landed with these.

The aftertaste will actually trick your brain into thinking you just had some Doritos. The good thing is it doesn’t linger very long. I wasn’t feeling any burn a few minutes later.

Again, I’m no Spicehead, so keep that in mind. Sure, I like jalapeño in my burritos, but I don’t get too adventurous beyond that. That’s a perfect level of spice for people like me, but they’re not exactly setting the Scoville Scale ablaze.

I have no problem saying these are my new favorite Fritos. Chili Cheese used to stand alone, but hi ho the derry-o, we have a new leader in the pack. Thankfully there doesn’t seem to be a “Limited Edition” slapped on the bag, so these might be around for good. Get on it.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 oz. – 160 calories, 10 grams of fat, 2grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 210 milligrams of sodium, 16 grams of total carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $3.69
Size: 9.25 oz. bag
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Great jalapeño flavor. Spot on spice level for me. No usual Frito oiliness. No agita. Ideal crunch. Scoops variety next? These would make for a great walking taco. Spice Girls reunion?!
Cons: Spice bordered on overwhelming after awhile. Powder fingers. My inability to commit to a 10 score. My unawareness to Flamin’ Hot Fritos. Taco Supreme Doritos aren’t on my shelves anymore.

REVIEW: Keebler Limited Batch Lemon Cream Pie Fudge Stripes

Keebler Limited Batch Lemon Cream Pie Fudge Stripes

The three essential steps to enjoying Keebler’s new Lemon Cream Pie Fudge Stripes:

  • Do not decapitate any woodland humanoids.
  • Buy a bouquet of flowers for our country’s dying circus industry.
  • Have a questionable taste in Starburst.

See what I did there? I opened this review with a deviously BuzzFeedian listicle that practically begs you to read the whole thing for comprehension.

Though I’m sure you were going to read anyway, because this latest elven attack in the Great Oreo–Fudge Stripe War is a doozy. Sure, Oreo has been churning out countless milk-dunked slam dunks, and Ernie the Keebler Elf probably doesn’t even know what a slam dunk is. But that hasn’t stopped him from firing back with new disc-shaped Fudge Stripes faster than a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy fires plastic pizzas.

Case in point: these new Lemon Cream Pie Fudge Stripes. Coming hot off the heels of Cinnamon Roll Fudge Stripes and just before Keebler’s upcoming Strawberry Cheesecake Fudge Stripes, Lemon Cream Pie hopes to beat over milk’s favorite cookie aisle behemoth with odd specificity. See, Oreo has had Lemon and Lemon Twist varieties, but it’s never put its money where its pie-hole is.

But enough talk: let’s put some Fudge Stripes where my pie hole is.

Keebler Limited Batch Lemon Cream Pie Fudge Stripes 2

In my eagerness, I totally guillotined poor Ernie getting my Fudge Stripes open. This ultimately worked against me, as I now have no way of storing my rapidly staling cookies. Good thing I could eat the whole package in a sitting, because these are seriously good.

The delightful shortbread base may look like cross-sectioned lasagna noodles, but it tastes like the brown butter-smacked lovechild of a Nilla Wafer and a Barnum’s Animal Cracker. And given that the real Barnum’s circus just closed down, those crackers need to procreate if we want to preserve their nostalgic legacy.

All school lunch classics aside, these Fudges Stripes’ airy crumble, cozy lattice print, and pleasant twist of oily sweetened flour remind me of every cookie I ever bought from a church bake sale. And I’ll say “amen” to that.

Keebler Limited Batch Lemon Cream Pie Fudge Stripes 3

As for the lemon, it’s far more subtly sweet than sinisterly citrusy. Meanwhile, the pristinely white dip and drizzle has all the hyper-sugared, slightly fatty vanilla sweetness of half-and-half mixed with marshmallow fluff. Taken together, the whole cookie tastes a lot like the Turkish Delights my 3rd grade teacher made while we read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which is fitting, because I’d happily betray Narnia for these Fudge Stripes, just like Edmund.

Though perhaps “Yellow Starburst smothered in whipped cream” is a more fitting analogy, because your love of Yellow Starburst will be a good litmus test to determine if you’ll enjoy Lemon Cream Pie Fudge Stripes. Yellow is tied for my favorite alongside Pink, so I loved these cookies. But since I’ve been fiendishly mocked and pelted with hard candy morsels since childhood for this opinion, I know there are many Red Starburst diehards out there who will sour on these Stripes.

Keebler Limited Batch Lemon Cream Pie Fudge Stripes 4

Ignoring the haters, I think these Fudge Stripes have more than earned their stripes. They’re light, accurate to their namesake pie, and have a crispy-creamy combo that’s irresistibly snack-able. They’re not memorable enough to topple any Oreo Empires, but I can’t think of a Fudge Stripe that could.

Can’t the two sides just sign a peace treaty and produce Oreo cookies with Fudge Stripes instead of wafers?

(Nutrition Facts – 2 cookies – 140 calories, 6 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 19 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and less than 1 gram of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: 11.5 oz. package
Purchased at: Meijer
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Church-approved cracker-wafer marriage. A Yellow Starburst Sundae that Pinterest probably has a recipe for. Bisected pasta dinners. Cookies > Aslan.
Cons: Divisive, bully-angering candy flavor. Nabisco’s unchallenged cookie aisle monopoly. Out of touch—and now lobotomized—elder Elves. Cookie-bait headlines.