REVIEW: Coca-Cola Plus Ginger (Japan)

Coca-Cola Plus Ginger (Japan)

For most of my life I’ve thought of ginger as more of a medicine than an ingredient.

When I felt nauseous playing DOOM, I sucked on ginger candy. When I felt something funny in my tummy while watching someone play DOOM, I drank ginger ale. And when it felt like the room was spinning around every time I closed my eyes after playing DOOM, I hung out next to the toilet.

While ginger ale is quite possibly the most popular beverage with ginger, more drinks are being offered with it, like ginger beers, ginger kombucha, and, last year, Pepsi put some into their wonderful 1893 Ginger Cola.

Because of my love for Pepsi’s craft ginger cola, the first thing I sought out during my Japan trip was the new Coca-Cola Plus Ginger.

While Pepsi Japan comes out annually with limited edition soda flavors you’ve never seen in a PETE plastic soda bottle, Coca-Cola Japan keeps it simple by just adding a bit of flavor to the standard Coke and does it at an Olympics-like frequency. About three years ago, Coca-Cola Japan sold a delicious orange-flavored Coke.

It’s funny that the Pepsi Japan flavors are like ideas from a cocaine binge (cucumber, baobab, cherry blossom), while the cola that once had actual cocaine in it ends up being tame.

Much like the amount of orange flavoring in the last limited edition Japanese Coke I had, this soda had the right amount of ginger flavor. You can’t miss it, but it doesn’t overwhelm the cola. To be honest, it tastes right at home with the cola spices. Also, it didn’t burn, like it does with ginger beer. Coca-Cola Plus Ginger is such a great tasting soda that I bought two more bottles at the end of my trip.

If you enjoyed Pepsi’s ginger cola, you’ll like this, if you get your hands on it. It’s only available in Japan for a limited time (it was available in Australia in 2016) or from an online Japanese snack seller. If you think you’ll be able to replicate it by mixing Coca-Cola with Seagram’s Ginger Ale, you won’t because I tried using various ratios and none of them tasted anything close.

I really hope Coca-Cola Plus Ginger ends up in the United States, or at least be an option on a Coke Freestyle machine.

(Nutrition Facts – 100 ml – 44 kcal, 0 grams of fat, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sodium, and 0 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: 130 Japanese Yen
Size: 500 ml
Purchased at: Lawson Station
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: If you’re a fan of Pepsi’s 1893 Ginger Cola, you’ll like this. Right amount of ginger flavor. Ginger complements the cola spices. Doesn’t have ginger burn.
Cons: Not available in the U.S., but might be available through online Japanese snack sellers. The nauseous feeling I got when playing DOOM.

REVIEW: McDonald’s Chocolate Shamrock Shake

McDonald's Chocolate Shamrock Shake

It’s that time of the year again, lads and lasses. St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner.

You know what that means. It’s time to drink! Drink like you’ve never drank before. Drunk like you’ve never dronk before! Just dance a lil’ jig and drink!

Drink what? Jameson? Guinness? Come on, guys! This is a family site. Drink McDonald’s Shamrock Shakes!

Unless you got beat with the stupid shillelagh, or have been living under the Blarney Stone, a Shamrock Shake is a mixture of reduced fat (lol) vanilla ice cream, mint flavored “Shamrock” syrup and green sugar crystals. The result is a light green minty spin on a standard McDonald’s vanilla shake, and like the weed it borrows its name from, we’re lucky to have it.

From this point forward, I’ll try to keep this review short of stereotypical Irish things. Leprechaun. The Boston Celtics. Corn beef. Sully. Murph. Go Sox! Ok, starting now.

This year marks the expansion of the famous Shamrock Shake line. Not only is the original back, but McDonald’s has released four new drinks under their McCafe label. With shakes, fraps and hot cocoa choices to choose from, I opted for the Chocolate Shamrock Shake.

I can’t remember the last time I had a chocolate shake. It’s been ages. I guess I’ve just been subconsciously holding out for McDonalds to get frisky and cross pollinate their chocolate shake with my all time favorite item they offer, the Shamrock Shake. Seriously, I’m a Shamrock Shake junkie. If a group of nutjobs traveled the country for this like they did for the McRib, I’d consider abandoning my life and hitching a ride.

McDonald's Chocolate Shamrock Shake 2

Like I mentioned above, the shake had the familiar green pastel like color, with a couple of brown blotches. It looked nothing like the press release photo that had the two colors perfectly halved in a cup, but what fast food ever looks like the press release photo?

Chocolate and mint were noticeable on the nose, even though the shake itself was buried under a mountain of “whipped topping.” I always forget to ask for no “whipped topping.” Don’t get me wrong, I like phony whipped cream, but sometimes it’s completely unnecessary. I don’t need a maraschino cherry either. I always let it sink, and forcefully suck it into my straw when I somehow forget it’s there. I’d suggest just skipping the toppings and letting the mint and chocolate shine.

Speaking of mint and chocolate, whenever something has those flavor profiles, reviewers seem to default to, “Ummm, It tasted like Andes Mints.” Well, in this case, I’m gonna default as well. This shake instantly put me in mind of those after dinner mints. The familiar – in no way overpowering – cool mintiness of the Shamrock was the more powerful of the two flavors, but the chocolate definitely added a perfect new element.

McDonald's Chocolate Shamrock Shake 3

As I chugged on, the colors melted together into a delicious camouflage. Well, they would have if I gave them much of a chance to melt. I drank it so quick, I considered calling Guinness, not Guinness as in “Irish stout,” but Guinness as in “Book of World Records.” Ripley’s won’t return my phone calls. Long story.

The last few sips actually flip-flopped and were stronger on the chocolate, but I’m not complaining. When, and it’s only a question of when, I get this again, I’ll opt out of the whipped topping, and give it a few spoon swirls just to make sure the flavors are distributed properly.

You have until March 24th to give this a try. Get shakin’.

(Nutrition Facts – 16 ounces – 610 calories, 150 calories from fat, 17 grams of fat, 11 grams of saturated fat, 1 gram of trans fat, 70 milligrams of cholesterol, 78 grams of carbohydrates, 84 grams of sugar, and 13 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.99
Size: Medium (15 oz.)
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Delicious harmony of mint and chocolate. February and March are the best McDonald’s months of the year. No brain freeze. McRib disciples. A happy and healthy St. Patrick’s Day.
Cons: Whipped Topping and plastic cherry are unnecessary. Could’ve probably been blended a bit better. Limited availability. McDonald’s suddenly giving all new drinks the fancy “McCafe” moniker. Sat fats. 84 grams of sugar!

REVIEW: Milka Oreo Chocolate Candy Bar

Milka Oreo Chocolate Candy Bar

Oreo has become the Lego of food.

Years ago Lego was just Lego, but at some point they decided to dip their blocks in everyone else’s product pool. You can get a Lego set of any entertainment brand you want these days. I just Amazon one-clicked a Lego set of The Max from Saved by the Bell.

I’m a liar of course, but maybe The Impulsive Buy’s clout can get that set made. Let’s make this happen, people!

Anyway, Oreo seems to be following Lego’s model on the culinary scene. A new Oreo flavor seems to drop every month and they’re collaborating with other food brands. Oreo has become the Lego of food! Of course to the dimwitted adventurous child, Lego is the Lego of food.

The most recent Oreo collaboration I stumbled upon was the Milka Oreo Chocolate Candy Bar.

I wasn’t too familiar with Milka chocolate before they decided to bunk up with Nabisco. I’d seen it many times, but never actually bought it, and ya know what? I’m dumb. It’s pretty great.

The label boasts that Milka is Swiss-made with Alpine Milk, which lends to its overall creaminess. Is that the secret? Alpine Milk? Can I buy Alpine Milk in pints, because I think I love it?

Milka Oreo Chocolate Candy Bar 2

Let’s be real here for a second, European chocolate destroys our American brand chocolate. Sure I like Hershey’s or Russell Stover, but Euro chocolate is just more decadent. It’s creamier. It just flat out tastes better, and Milka certainly holds up to that billing in my opinion.

The chocolate here is everything I just said it was. It had a perfect texture, a sweet flavor that wasn’t overbearing, and it melted in my mouth.

I really enjoyed the Oreo cookie crunch as well. It’s not as prominent as say a Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme bar, but that’s a good thing. This candy bar has the perfect amount of crunch. Each square gives you two or three small crunches.

Milka Oreo Chocolate Candy Bar 3

I wouldn’t necessarily say that I KNEW the cream was Oreo. Well, I knew because the label told me. But without it, I would think this was Milka’s take on a cookies and cream bar. That being said, I still think it’s awesome to look at. Seeing a layer of Oreo cream dotted with bits of cookies inside of a candy bar is a marvel to behold. A marvel I say!

Real quick – Is it Oreo cream or Oreo crème? I can’t keep up with products that have “crème” vs. those with “cream.” Is there a difference? “Crème” is just a fancy way of spelling “cream,” right? This being a European, and thus fancy candy bar, I feel like I should say “crème,” but I never know. The battle of “cream” versus “crème” rages on. Hell, one snack cake I picked up even claimed it was filled with “Kareem!” I put that one back on the shelf.

So as far as this collaboration goes, Milka is the deserved star. Oreo plays the supporting role nicely though despite the cream being a bit indeterminable.

Great balance. Great freshness. Great texture. For $1.50, you can’t go wrong. Milka has a new fan. This might be my new favorite “cookies and cream” candy bar.

Hopefully the Milka Oreo Chocolate Candy Bar becomes a gateway snack, and they start making chocolate bars with the other various crazy Oreo cream/crème flavors.

But hold the Swedish Fish.

(Nutrition Facts – 6 pieces – 220 calories, 120 calories from fat, 14 grams of fat, 8 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 23 grams of carbohydrates, 1 grams of dietary fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $1.50
Size: 3.52 oz. bar
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: Delicious, creamy chocolate. Just the right amount of crunch. Great balance between ingredients. A brand marriage made in Heaven. Alpine Milk!
Cons: Not necessarily Oreo Cream flavor. Never knowing whether to write “Crème” or “Cream.” Kids who eat Legos. The inevitable Oreo Movie.

REVIEW: Exclusive Villains Edition Frosted Chocolate Sugar Cookie Printed Fun Pop-Tarts

Exclusive Villains Edition Frosted Chocolate Sugar Cookie Printed Fun Pop-Tarts

If you ever wondered whether or not this is the greatest time to be alive in human history, chew on this: each and every one of us can now waltz on into the local Walmart and buy The Joker, Lex Luthor and a whole host of other fictitious mass murderers and megalomaniacs in breakfast pastry form.

Capitalizing on the success of last year’s D.C. Superhero Printed Fun Pop-Tarts, these Wally World exclusives give us the downright surreal pleasure – no, the absolute privilege – of being able to eat such obscure comic book bad guys as Cheetah and Captain Cold for breakfast. And when I mean “obscure,” I’m talking super-duper-mega-hyper-obscure: if you would’ve told me this time last year Kellogg’s would be putting Atrocitus on its flagship toaster pastries, I probably would’ve tried to get you committed.

Exclusive Villains Edition Frosted Chocolate Sugar Cookie Printed Fun Pop-Tarts 2

Serving as the breakfast equivalent of trading cards, each of the 16-pack boxes (there are two in each metallic sleeve, as always) contain a random grab-bag of iconic and not so iconic rogues, including but not limited to Sinestro, Two-Face, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy and Catwoman.

Exclusive Villains Edition Frosted Chocolate Sugar Cookie Printed Fun Pop-Tarts 4

Exclusive Villains Edition Frosted Chocolate Sugar Cookie Printed Fun Pop-Tarts 5

By and large, the “Tartwork” varies in quality – some Tarts look pretty smooth and colorful while others look blurred to the point of being Rorschach tests. I’m not sure how many different characters got the Pop-Tart treatment, but if anybody out there finds a Gorilla Grod, please email me ASAP.

Exclusive Villains Edition Frosted Chocolate Sugar Cookie Printed Fun Pop-Tarts 6

As for the flavor, we’re working with something Kellogg’s calls “frosted chocolate sugar cookie.” That may sound a little vanilla, but as soon as these things touch your taste buds, you’ll probably start doing backflips. Folks, these are basically OREOS-flavored Pop-Tarts, right down to the taste, texture, aroma and even mouthfeel of the interior creme. Really, it does a better job of aping Nabisco’s beloved twist-top sandwiches than even the Cookies & Creme Pop-Tarts, and those things were still pretty spot-on.

Exclusive Villains Edition Frosted Chocolate Sugar Cookie Printed Fun Pop-Tarts 7

These Tarts are good fresh out of the box, but if you really want to get your $4 worth, you have to eat them heated. The interior creme practically liquefies in the shell, and this is without question one of the best tasting fillings Pop-Tarts has ever trotted out.

I’ve got to give Kellogg’s major props here. With the D.C. character angle, it would’ve been so easy to just churn out a bland product, but they actually went the extra mile and made sure the food itself was grade A stuff.

Fast food/junk food marketers, take note: THIS is how you do a “tie-in” gimmick right.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 pastry – 190 calories, 40 grams from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 1.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 1 gram of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 36 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, 14 grams of sugar and 2 grams of protein..)

Purchased Price: $3.68
Size: 28.2 oz. box/16 pastries
Purchased at: Walmart
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: The Oreos-esque flavor remains excellent, cold or heated. the interior creme is absolutely delicious. The sheer awesomeness of being able to snap Bane in half and eat him for breakfast.
Cons: Having to buy five or six boxes until you find a mint condition Solomon Grundy. Getting two Harley Quinns when you’d settle for just one Killer Croc. The way your girlfriend looks at you when you tell your toaster to “kneel before Zod.”

REVIEW: Limited Edition Dunkin’ Donuts Frosted Vanilla Latte Pop-Tarts

Limited Edition Dunkin' Donuts Frosted Vanilla Latte Pop-Tarts

Ugh. Coffee. Know what I hate about coffee?

  1. The taste. Gross.
  2. Endless choruses of “I can’t function until I’ve had my kawfeee.”
  3. Griping of coworkers choking on the terrible brew they insisted I make as an intern, despite my warnings that I was bad at it.
  4. This:

Limited Edition Dunkin' Donuts Frosted Vanilla Latte Pop-Tarts 2

So why am I reviewing COFFEE Pop-Tarts? Because, as a woman of many contradictions, I love java-flavored foods. Jelly beans, ice cream, potato chips – I’ll eat ‘em. Kahlua? Yessir! When the short-term marriage of Pop-Tarts and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee was announced, I was ready. I particularly coveted the Frosted Vanilla Latte flavor – I imagined it would be like eating a non-alcoholic White Russian.

But for the sake of scientific review, I had to compare them to the genuine article. So I popped next door to the Dunkin’ where they give me extra Munchkins if I go in 10 minutes before closing, got a small Vanilla Latte and hunkered down with it and my Box O’ Joe Tarts.

Limited Edition Dunkin' Donuts Frosted Vanilla Latte Pop-Tarts 3

I took deep breaths of each. The same lovely coffee and vanilla aroma was present in both, but the Pop Tarts had an additional, nutty/wheaty scent, which I assumed was the pastry.

Limited Edition Dunkin' Donuts Frosted Vanilla Latte Pop-Tarts 4

The appearance wasn’t exactly exciting. They looked pale – not like the rich tones Pop-Tarts usually come in. The pastry, frosting and filling were all a washed-out monochromatic tan with a white squiggle blended in on top. It reminded me of squirting SPF50 on my embarrassingly colorless skin during a tropical vacation.

Limited Edition Dunkin' Donuts Frosted Vanilla Latte Pop-Tarts 5

On first bite, I loved the taste. As I suspected, this was a Pop-Tart White Russian. (I know there’s a Big Lebowski joke to be made here, but I’ve never seen it, so…) They were coffee-ish, milky and sweeeeeet – exactly what I hoped for.

Limited Edition Dunkin' Donuts Frosted Vanilla Latte Pop-Tarts 6

Next, I downed a mouthful of the DD Vanilla Latte, which confirmed my hatred of coffee. The Pop-Tarts don’t have the bitter punch of the latte. I appreciated that, but if you’re looking for that edge, it’s not there. That could be due to the lack of actual coffee product in the ingredients list. I guess “natural and artificial flavors” don’t impart quite the same zip.

Limited Edition Dunkin' Donuts Frosted Vanilla Latte Pop-Tarts 7

Overall, I really enjoyed these Pop-Tarts, but I’m cool with a less-than-authentic flavor. If you’re not, you might want to dunk them in the real McCoy.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 pastry – 200 calories, 50 calories from fat, 5 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 190 milligrams of sodium, 35 grams of carbohydrates, less than 1 gram of fiber, 16 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of protein.)

Purchased Price: $2.00 (on sale)
Size: 14.1 oz. box/8 pastries
Purchased at: Food Lion
Rating: 9 out of 10
Pros: It’s a White Russian Pop-Tart! Spot-on coffee aroma. Delicious, sugary approximation of taste.
Cons: Won’t get you drunk like a real White Russian. Ghostly appearance. If you want authentic coffee flavor, look elsewhere.