REVIEW: Silk Pumpkin Spice Almond Nog

Silk Pumpkin Spice Almond Nog

I like almond milk. It gives me a break from soy milk, which gives me a break from regular cow milk, which gives me a break from soda, which gives me a break from water, which gives me a break from food, which gives me a break from having a conversation with someone who won’t shut up about The Walking Dead. I’m sure it’s a wonderful TV show, but I’m not going to watch it. So you don’t need to convince me.

I also like pumpkin spice and am not sick of everything being pumpkin spice-ified. So seeing my two likes together in one carton made me as excited as a Walking Dead fan minutes before a new season starts.

Silk Pumpkin Spice Almond Nog isn’t the first pumpkin spice product from the brand. It has a pumpkin spice soy milk, which I enjoy and have purchased a few times. Since Silk has added pumpkin spice to their almond milk, it wouldn’t be surprising if we see the autumn spices with their coconut milk, cashew milk, and whatever nut milk Silk develops in the future. My money is on Brazilian nut.

Silk’s Pumpkin Spice Almond Nog has wonderful scent. When I pulled back the safety ring and took a whiff, it was like what I imagine motorboarding two pumpkin pies would smell like. It has an orange tint that looks like the result of a Creamsicle that’s been completely melted into a puddle mixed with the tears of a child who’s crying because he or she dropped that Creamsicle. Its texture is about the same as almond milk, not as creamy as soy milk, but not as thin as skim milk.

But its texture is also a bit weird and I’m not sure how to describe it. I guess it has an artificial creaminess to it. Actually, now that I think about it, all Silk products, thanks to thickening agents and emulsifiers, have an artificial creaminess, but this nog seems different than the other products.

Silk Pumpkin Spice Almond Nog 2

While the beverage’s aroma reminds me of the Thanksgiving dessert staple, its flavor does not. The spices are there — with cinnamon being the strongest, followed by ginger and nutmeg — but instead of pumpkin pie, its taste reminds me of cinnamon pancakes drowning in Mrs. Butterworth’s or Aunt Jemima. Yes, that does sound tasty but not at all what I was hoping for and I did not enjoy it much.

Also, I don’t know if many people care about this, but this beverage is nutritionally empty. A cup of Silk’s almond milk has 45 percent of your recommended calcium and 50 percent of your recommended vitamin E. A half-cup of this provides no calcium or vitamin E. Almonds are a great source of vitamin E, so how could it not have any vitamin E?

If you need a non-dairy pumpkin spice beverage fix, there are other options. I know there’s Almond Dream pumpkin spice-flavored milk and Califia Farms has a pumpkin spice latte with almond milk, but I haven’t had them so I can’t compare. But I can compare it with the Silk Pumpkin Spice soy milk and I think the soy milk version is much better tasting.

(Nutrition Facts – 1/2 cup – 50 calories, 10 calories from fat, 1 gram of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 80 milligrams of sodium, 8 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 8 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of protein.)

Item: Silk Pumpkin Spice Almond Nog
Purchased Price: $4.69
Size: 1 quart
Purchased at: Safeway
Rating: 4 out of 10
Pros: Free of soy, dairy, gluten, lactose, cholesterol, eggs, casein, and carrageenan. Smells nice. The Walking Dead (so everyone says).
Cons: Free of decent flavor. Provides no vitamin E, which is weird because it’s made with almond milk. Not as good as Silk’s pumpkin spice soy milk. Weird texture.

REVIEW: Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink

Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink

If you want to hoard Starbucks Pumpkin Spice drinks so you can enjoy them year round, you either have to freeze Pumpkin Spice Lattes and then later warm them up in the microwave or hit the black market for expired Starbucks pumpkin spice syrup pumps. But this year there’s a third way and it’s available at Costco.

The Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink may not be handmade by a Starbucks Barista who wrote PSL on the side of the cup, but because it’s Costco, it’s available in bulk. It’s 12 bottles to be exact. So if you buy a pallet of them, you’ll have enough to last you until next pumpkin spice latte season.

Unlike a pumpkin spice latte you can purchase at a Starbucks location, this version has no pumpkin in it. But it does have an ingredient list short enough that I could type it here to slightly boost the word count of this review: Brewed Starbucks Coffee, Reduced-Fat Milk, Sugar, Skim Milk, Maltodextrin, Cream, Natural Flavors, and Pectin. Mmm…pectin.

At first, I thought the ginger flavor stood out a bit too much for my tastes. I think the coffee makes the spice stand out more. But, since I purchased 12 bottles of the stuff, I’ve had to drink a lot of it. And the more I drink it the more I like it. Perhaps I’m getting Pumpkin Spiceholm Syndrome.

There’s also a little nutmeg, a bit of cinnamon, and a whole lot of sugar in each sip, which makes the beverage really sweet. There’s also a lot of milk too, but it’s not whole milk so it has a thin texture. While I could see it being too sweet for some people, me and my future cavities are fine with it.

The bottle suggests to serve it chilled or over ice, but since I’m a rebel (and have 12 bottles of the stuff), I did some experimenting and warmed up a mug of it in the microwave for 30 seconds. It was wonderful and it reminded me of a pumpkin spice latte. Actually, I think I might prefer it heated over chilled.

A question some of you might be asking is if it’s an adequate replacement for when the Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino is erased from the boards from Starbucks locations for the year. No, of course not. These bottled Frappuccinos are no match flavor-wise for those handmade, wonderful, blended, sweet, and brain freeze-inducing beverages that have a nutritional bio similar to many fast food burgers. But if you’re jonesing for a pumpkin spice coffee drink in February, this’ll do.

(Nutrition Facts – 210 calories, 30 calories from fat, 3 grams of fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 15 milligrams of cholesterol, 105 milligrams of sodium, 37 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of fiber, 32 grams of sugar, 7 grams of protein, and 25% calcium.)

Item: Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Starbucks Frappuccino Coffee Drink
Purchased Price: ???
Size: 12 pack/9.5 oz bottles
Purchased at: Costco
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes good chilled or warmed up. Hoardable. Better nutritional bio than a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino you can get at Starbucks locations.
Cons: Ginger flavor might be a bit strong for some. Might be too sweet for some. Available in 12 packs, so if you don’t like it, you’ve got 11 more bottles to go through. Not as delicious as a Pumpkin Spice Frappuccino you can get at Starbucks locations.

REVIEW: V8 Healthy Greens Veggie Blends

V8 Veggie Blend Healthy Greens

When poured into a glass, V8’s Healthy Greens Vegetable and Fruit Juice Beverage looks like I’m using that glass to shovel out water from an unkept backyard swimming pool. It doesn’t look very appetizing, but…now at this point, because I typed “but” after a negative comment, you might think I’m about to say something positive. Maybe say, “but it brings immense pleasure to the thousands of taste buds on my tongue.”

But I’m not going to say that.

It doesn’t look very appetizing, but it’s what I expected for a juice called “Healthy Greens” that contains spinach puree, yellow carrot juice concentrate, cucumber juice concentrate, celery juice concentrate, kale juice, romaine lettuce juice, and green bell pepper juice. But it’s not all vegetables. To prevent the juice from becoming completely gag-alicious, there are also apple and pineapple juices.

Now some of you might think I’m being an unappetizing green beverage hater, but I assure you I’m not. I’m a big fan of Odwalla’s Superfood Smoothie that has kale, spirulina, wheat grass, barley grass, wheat sprouts, Jerusalem artichoke, and Nova Scotia dulse. And it looks like pond scum.

So what does this V8 vegetable and fruit juice that doesn’t have eight vegetables taste like?

V8 Veggie Blend Healthy Greens Closeup

Its flavor reminded me of Campbell’s Vegetable soup, but cold and not as salty. It smelled tomatoey, even though there’s no tomatoes. It’s a bit sweet due to the apple and pineapple juice, but the vegetable flavor is dominant. I know that’s a bit gross, but the thing is, I didn’t feel compelled to spit it out.

Actually, the first sip was the worst, because I wasn’t sure what flavors were going to hit my tongue. And I got used to it after a few more sips. It’s the same reactions I had when I tasted the Odwalla Superfood Smoothie for the first time.

However, V8’s Healthy Greens juice is not anywhere close to being as tasty as an Odwalla Superfood Smoothie. But that’s understandable since the smoothie has more than twice the amount of sugar than the V8 juice.

It doesn’t bring immense pleasure to the thousands of taste buds on my tongue, but it tastes okay enough that I don’t mind drinking it in order to get a serving of vegetables.

(Nutrition Facts – 8 ounces – 60 calories, 0 calories from fat, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70 milligrams of sodium, 320 milligrams of potassium, 14 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 11 grams of sugar, 1 gram of protein, 20% vitamin A, 2% calcium, 100% vitamin C, 20% vitamin E, and 2% iron.)

Item: V8 Healthy Greens Veggie Blends
Purchased Price: $1.79 (sale price)
Size: 46 fl. oz.
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: Not gross enough to make me spit it out. A serving of veggie per 8 ounces. Provide 100% of your vitamin C. No added sugar. No artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives.
Cons: Looks like algae infested swimming pool water. Doesn’t have eight vegetables. Should’ve been a little bit more sweeter. Since it just juice, there isn’t a lot of fiber. Learning romaine lettuce juice is a thing.

REVIEW: Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk

Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk

Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk has 50 percent more protein, 30 percent more calcium, and 50 percent less sugar than regular reduced fat chocolate milk. It has no lactose, it’s been ultra-filtered, and comes from cows that are not treated with rBST. The cows that produce Fairlife milk listen to classical music all day, receive daily massages, go to cow hot yoga classes twice a day, are read bedtime stories, eat grass from silver troughs, and have the sound of crashing waves play while they sleep.

Actually, that last sentence I’m not sure about.

According to the bottle, the producers of Fairlife milk provide “extraordinary care for our cows.” I don’t know what that means, so I just assumed they are treated better than the wagyu cattle used to make Kobe beef.

Speaking of producers, if you think this milk comes from some farm in the middle of Indiana, you’d be wrong. It’s comes from some farm in the northwestern part of Indiana. Also, it’s distributed by some small beverage company that you’ve probably never heard of. I believe their name is Coca-Cola.

So how does this milk have more protein and calcium and less sugar than regular chocolate milk? You could watch this video that’ll explain it with cute animation. Or you could read the following boring words: ultra-filtering involves separating the different parts of the milk and then recombining them, but including more of the protein and calcium and leaving out the sugars.

Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk smells and looks like every other chocolate milk on the market. It also has a nice thickness, thanks to the added carrageenan. Its flavor is mostly similar to other reduced fat chocolate milks, but it has a different aftertaste. It’s probably because of the added ace-K and sucralose sweeteners (sugar is also added), but I should make clear that the difference in flavor isn’t as dramatic as regular cola and diet cola. The aftertaste is not a deal breaker for me and my diet soda drinking taste buds, but I can see how it might be an issue for others.

Another issue others might have is the milk’s price. Fairlife is being marketed as a premium milk, so it has a premium price. A half-gallon…oh wait. A 52-ounce bottle retails for $3.99, which is more expensive than the average price for a gallon of whole milk, which I obtained from the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

You’re probably thinking, “Holy crap! That is some expensive milk.” And it’s probably being followed by, “Holy crap! You did actual research for this review.”

Fairlife’s Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk is pricey, contains artificial sweeteners, goes through an unfamiliar filtering process, and is distributed by one of the world’s largest beverage companies, but I really like it. I think it has a surprisingly nice flavor for something that has artificial sweeteners, I’m all for more protein and calcium, and the price doesn’t bother me too much because of what it offers over regular milk.

Dairy milk hasn’t changed much over the years. It’s the same milk that did the body good when I was growing up. That milk is still fine, but I like having the option for “super” milk that does the body better.

(Nutrition Facts – 1 cup – 140 calories, 40 calories from fat, 4.5 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 20 milligrams of cholesterol, 280 milligrams of sodium, 13 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram of fiber, 12 grams of sugar, 13 grams of protein, 10% vitamin A, 40% calcium, and 25% vitamin D.)

Item: Fairlife Chocolate Reduced Fat Milk
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 52 oz. bottle
Purchased at: Target
Rating: 7 out of 10
Pros: Tastes like chocolate milk. Surprisingly good flavor for something that has artificial sweeteners. 50 percent more protein, 30 percent more calcium, and 50 percent less sugar than regular reduced fat chocolate milk.
Cons: Pricey. Contains artificial sweeteners. Slightly off aftertaste. Not sure what “extraordinary care for our cows” mean.

REVIEW: Vitaminwater Zero Drops Revive Fruit Punch

VitaminWater Zero Revive Drops

Finally, a drink that combines two of my favorite things: a Vitaminwater brand beverage and the toil and satisfaction of making something with my own two hands. Enter Vitaminwater Zero Drops. With only a few effortless squeezes, you can enjoy the familiar taste of Vitaminwater right out of any glass of water or water bottle you have lying around.

In what could only have been a response to the general public demanding an additional step in the Vitaminwater drinking process (which was just too goddamn simple before), you can now forgo the accuracy of a formula created by food scientists and received positively by millions in favor of what you think should be done. That’s right, you.

Remember when you forgot your keys yesterday, walked into your house to get them, blanked for a second, ate some pretzels you had lying around, and left your house without your keys? Yeah, well now the creation of your own Vitaminwater can be in those same hands.

VitaminWater Zero Revive Drops with regular Revive

With the pressure on, I decided to try the Revive Fruit Punch flavor. Being a longtime fan of the bottled version, I was wondering how close the two would be in taste. Unfortunately, my local Stop & Shop only had the full calorie version of Revive, apparently unconcerned with what Google tells me will take a 30 minute walk to burn off, so it will have to do.

Because Vitaminwater Zero Drops offer little detailed instruction on how much concentrated fluid to add, my strategy was to slowly keep adding it into a glass of water until it matched the color of bottled version. After a few tries, I matched the same reddish pink tone as closely as I think is possible.

VitaminWater Zero Revive Drops comparison

Had I any last minute doubts which was which, the taste comparison would have revealed which one was made by a Glacéau bottling plant and which one was made on my living room table. While the Vitaminwater Zero Drops were able to create that distinct and pleasing Vitaminwater taste that is much lighter and less sweet than its sports drink and soda competition, it is definitely apparent that something is…well, off.

But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s like eating cereal dry because you’ve already poured it into a bowl before realizing that you’re out of milk. Even without milk, cereal is still pretty good, but, just like any type of make-it-yourself beverage, it’s still gonna taste just a little bit different. Despite the clear presence of that original fruit punch tastiness, it’s still hard to shake the feeling that something is definitely missing, and not in the regular zero-calorie way.

But you know, maybe the problem is just me. Try as I might, I will never be as accurate as the industrial robots that pump this stuff out in gallons per minute. Not really helping this issue however, is the fact that Vitaminwater Zero Drops use the word “drops” pretty lightly. Instead, its a laser beam of concentrated flavor firing at an incalculable rate into your water. (Be thankful Glacéau doesn’t make eye drops). So, until you are a veteran at administering Vitaminwater drops (which I have set as my next life-goal) you are going to have to get pretty familiar with administering intermittent taste tests after each squirt. But don’t worry, this isn’t really a problem unless you purchased Vitaminwater Zero Drops because you were hoping for a fast, convenient way to effortlessly enjoy Vitaminwater on the go.

But all in all, at least the “do it yourself” aspect of this product allows you the opportunity to finally connect with your grandfather the next time he reminds you he built his own damn house using only his “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” mentality, and his subtle yet still uncomfortably palpable racism. Vitaminwater Zero Drops may require some elbow grease, but if for some reason you plan on being away from actual Vitaminwater for a while, it’s certainly the next best thing.

(Nutrition Facts – 8 fl oz prepared – 0 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans fat, 0 milligrams of cholesterol, 70mg potassium 0 milligrams of sodium, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of sugar, and 0 grams of

Item: Vitaminwater Zero Drops Revive Fruit Punch
Purchased Price: $3.99
Size: 3 fl oz.
Purchased at: Stop & Shop
Rating: 6 out of 10
Pros: 18 servings of vitamin water for only four bucks. Stays mostly true to fruit punch flavor. Zero calories is not a lot of calories.
Cons: Not as effortless as it may appear. Forgetting your keys. Tastes mildly off from the original flavor.