REVIEW: Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Bob Marley’s One Love Ice Cream

Ben  Jerry s Limited Batch Bob Marley s One Love Ice Cream

For some people, when reggae plays, they skank.

When I hear reggae, I sleep.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike reggae. But its mellow beat is musical melatonin to me. At first, I’ll bob my head to it, but then that bobbing turns into nodding off.

The genre is big here on this rock in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I heard a lot of Bob Marley throughout high school, which might explain why I had a hard time staying awake during my teen years.

Ben & Jerry’s has a flavor that honors the great sandman (to me) Bob Marley — One Love. It made its debut in the U.K. last year and it’s now popping up in the U.S. for a limited time at retailers and Scoop Shops. The flavor features banana ice cream, caramel and graham cracker swirls, and fudge peace signs.

Ben  Jerry s Limited Batch Bob Marley s One Love Ice Cream 2

Because I like to scrape away the top layer with my spoon after first opening a pint, I got only the ice cream and swirls for my first few spoonfuls. Just those three ingredients created a combination that made me sing, “We’re jammin’, we’re jammin’, And I hope you like jammin’ too.”

Being a fan of banana-flavored anything, I love the ice cream base. Its flavor is mild and it works well with the buttery caramel and graham cracker swirls. Actually, the gooey caramel, gritty graham cracker swirl, and creamy banana ice cream brought back memories of Magnolia Bakery’s Banana Pudding. Although One Love is less natural tasting than the popular dessert.

As I mowed through the top layer, I kept thinking this could be the best Ben & Jerry’s flavor I’ve had and could replace Americone Dream as my new favorite flavor.

But then I hit a very small speed bump.

Or “peace bump” might be more appropriate.

Ben  Jerry s Limited Batch Bob Marley s One Love Ice Cream 3

I finally dug out a fudge peace sign and thought if just the ice cream and swirls are that awesome, then the addition of fudge pieces would take it to the next level. Except I didn’t expect that next level to be one down.

Now let me say that it’s really good with the fudge peace signs, but I think it tastes better without them. I just want to be alone with the ice cream and swirls and not have fudge popping up on us every so often to make sure we aren’t getting into trouble. I mean, the fudge pieces are fine. They’re similar in flavor with the fudge flakes they use in seemingly EVERY SINGLE FLAVOR. But I’ve been digging around them instead digging them up like I usually do.

With that said, Ben & Jerry’s Limited Batch Bob Marley’s One Love Ice Cream is definitely near the top of my list of favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavors. It’s a flavor that makes me want to skank.

DISCLOSURE: I received this pint for free from Ben & Jerry’s. I was not asked to review it, but I do think they expect me to post a photo on Instagram. Receiving a free sample did not influence my review in any way, although it probably reads like it did. But I assure you it did not.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 290 calories, 140 calories from fat, 15 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 60 milligrams of cholesterol, 115 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 29 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: FREE
Size: One Pint
Purchased at: Received from Ben & Jerry’s
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Really good with the fudge peace signs. Wonderful without the fudge peace signs. Makes me want to skank.
Cons: Slightly not as good with the fudge peace signs. Limited edition. Reggae makes me sleepy. Banana ice cream might not appeal to some.

QUICK REVIEW: Rockstar Organic Strawberry Energy Drink

Rockstar Organic Strawberry Energy Drink

The Rockstar Organic Strawberry Energy Drink doesn’t come in a color that makes you think of strawberries. Instead, clear gummy bears or dirty fish tank water might come to mind.

I was hesitant about drinking it, but not because of its color. I was uncertain because the original Rockstar Organic flavor, Island Fruit, is one of the worst tasting energy drinks I’ve had. I don’t remember what was so bad about it, but I do remember thinking to myself, “Do not buy this again.”

But I really like this strawberry version, even though the fruit isn’t listed in the ingredients. It smells like strawberry Jello and has a familiar flavor I can’t quite place, but maybe two years from now it’ll pop out of my subconscious while in the shower and I’ll update this review. Hopefully it’s not discontinued by then, but I think its tasty enough that it won’t be.

Rockstar Organic Strawberry Energy Drink 2

As for the organic-ness of it, to be honest, as someone who drinks the unnatural looking regular Rockstar, I obviously don’t care if the ingredients in my energy drink are USDA Organic. All I care about is taste (which is great) and whether it gives me a lasting energy boost (which is good at 160 milligrams of caffeine per can).

Although because it uses organic ingredients, is lightly carbonated, and doesn’t contains the usual proprietary Rockstar energy blend, it’s smoother than the usual Rockstar varieties.

Overall, even though every time I take a sip I’m afraid I’m going to swallow someone’s goldfish, I think Rockstar’s Organic Strawberry Energy Drink a great beverage.

Purchased Price: $2.39
Size: 15 oz. can
Purchased at: 7-Eleven
Rating: 9 out of 10
Nutrition Facts: (8 fl oz.) – 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 23 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.

REVIEW: Twix Dark

Twix Dark

Chocolate is a funny thing. Almost everyone loves it, few despise it, and most people, when you start chattin’ it up about the candy aisle, have strong feelings about types of chocolate – most notably dark and white.

While standard milk chocolate is agreeable to most palates, some find white too sweet or boring, and others find dark too strong or bitter. Seemingly running out of ideas, or, being struck with the idea of brilliance in simplicity, it’s more common these days that candy companies put an alternate choco-spin on an already existing product than come out with an entirely new one to see how their classic bars stand up to the light or the dark.

The latest of this hot trend is Twix Dark, which takes the signature cookie and caramel mashup of the original and dunks it in a dark coating.

Twix Dark 2

The first thing that jumps out at me when opening the package is that the bar seems smaller, and upon comparing it to the original I can confirm that it is shorter in both width and height than the milk version.

After further investigation, it turns out that Twix actually has different sized bars in their regular and king sized versions, with slightly smaller ones in their king sized, clocking in at 110 calories instead of 125 for both varieties – interesting.

Twix Dark 3

Flavor-wise, the dark chocolate is thin, smooth, sweet, and reminds me a lot of the chocolate coating on a Milky Way Midnight with a touch more creaminess. It isn’t super dark, more semisweet, and while it’s definitely different from the milk chocolate Twix, it’s only slightly bitter and melds with the caramel well in a cohesive and not too dominant way.

The chocolate is almost too thin for my taste and seems thinner than on the original version, but the balance between the components is on point and the flavors feel focused and refined.

Twix Dark 4

The cookie, as expected, is crunchy, crumbly, and dry, with a slight butteriness that steers far away from shortbread but isn’t bland either. The caramel is soft and sweet with the perfect ratio of dense and chewy providing most of the sugar burst I want from a candy bar. The dark chocolate really comes into play here, as the overall flavor is less sweet and buttery than on the milk chocolate version.

Through and through, it’s a Twix, covered in dark chocolate, and done really well. Unlike the White Twix, which suffered greatly from a low quality, bland white coating, and the Peanut Butter Twix, which I find falls flat, the chocolate here is executed well and is just as enjoyable as a regular Twix. It’s a more complex, less sweet and buttery experience with a more chocolate-focused profile than the original, and while I can’t say it’s better than the O.G., I like it, and will definitely buy it again.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 bar – 110 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 35 milligrams of sodium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 9 grams of sugar, and 1 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $1.49
Size: 3.02 oz (4 To Go)
Purchased at: Vallero
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Smooth and creamy dark chocolate. Classic Twix taste. Not too sweet. Great shiny purple wrapper.
Cons: Chocolate coating a little thin. Less buttery than the original.

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.